Self-Help Advice to Fit into a Bikini

Written by Jennifer Strailey

You see these fit, taut male bodies on the beach and you want to cringe. Time to squeeze into a bikini? Check out our nine ways to slim down without dieting.

"Bikini." How can a word jiggling with so much glee and sunshine, fill me with so much dread each spring? Truth be told, even aone-piece bathing suit with a skirt scares me right now.

Sure, I have a couple of months to get the old bod beach-ready, but here's the thing: I refuse to go on a diet.

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I don't have to and neither do you. But we do need to be realistic. So here are nine ways to make friends with Lycra by summertime without making food your enemy. 

1. Break a sweat often. Exercise for at least 30minutes a day, six to seven days a week, advises fitness expert KarenAndes. 

2. Strength train two times a week. Muscle burns more calories than fat. Add three pounds of muscle to your frame and you'll speed your metabolism by as much as 7 percent. At first, focus on doing theweight lifting exercises properly, says Andes. Then take the intensity up a notch so you aim for failure. In other words, work your muscles until you can't do another rep.

3. Banish processed foods. Skip the snacks and convenience foods, and keep white flour out of your diet.

4. Use low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Supplement or substitute the low- and fat-free dairy products with dairy alternatives such as soymilk, rice milk or soy cheese.

5. Eat slowly and enjoy your food. The slower you eat, the less you are likely to consume.

6. Minimize it; don't super size it. Eat frequent, small meals, 400 to 500 calories, at each meal if female, 500 to 600 at each meal if male. Eat more, even in the form of non-fat food, and your body will probably store it as fat, warns Pat Booth, assistant director of the Nutrition Services Department at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center. Active women can eat 1,500 to 2,500 calories a day. Active men can eat 2,000 to 3,000, depending on size and how active you are. Ideally, every time you eat, your plate should have a little protein, a little fat and a little fibrous bulk to ensure you feel full and satisfied.

7. Eat man, don't drink woman. There are a whopping 140 calories in each can of Coke you slurp down with lunch. Add juices, lattes and alcohol to your diet and you need a calculator to tally the calories that don't do a thing for your fullness. Stick to drinking water and tea and eat your daily calorie intake.

8. Become a water baby. Don't forget to drink those eight glasses of water a day. People who exercise need to drink even more to replenish lost fluids.

9. Don't call it quits with carbs. No-carb diets area fettuccine Alfredo binge waiting to happen, says Andes. But while you need some carbs for energy, it's a good idea to lighten up on carbs at dinner. Eat half your normal portion of rice, potatoes or pasta. Fill up instead on all thevegetables you want.

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