As a holistic health coach, one of the questions (and text messages) I get most often is along the lines of, “OMG, I have a wedding/first date/big event this weekend. How can I get more toned ASAP?” While we should be playing the long game when it comes to our health, I get it: Sometimes, you want a quick fix for a little boost. Whether it’s an event you want to feel your best for or you just feel like you need a little motivation, I’ve compiled my best tips and tricks for feeling more toned by tomorrow.
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Just so we’re clear, “toned” is not a way you look in the mirror. It doesn’t mean six-pack abs or defined biceps. At The Everygirl, we’re redefining being “toned” to mean feeling strong and healthy in your body. No matter your jeans size or how many pounds you can bench press, you deserve to feel like the strong, toned badass you are, and you deserve to feel it by tomorrow. Read on for instant tips to help you get there.
1. Sweat it out
It should come as no surprise that working out is at the top of the list. Getting your heart (and endorphins) pumping will not only leave you feeling your best but also give you the confidence boost to take on the day. To get the most out of your workout and leave you feeling stronger, try strength training. The best part? Pumping iron revs up your metabolism so your workout will pay off even after you’ve put in the work. Don’t have time for the gym? Sprinkle in movement throughout the day: Opt for the stairs instead of the elevator, park farther away to get some extra steps in while running errands, or take a break from work and walk around the block.
2. Drink a lot of water
Water seems like the magical cure-all—because it really is. Water not only helps with digestion, but it also helps muscles feel stronger. “Drinking water is important if you want to build muscle because it’s the primary vessel for carrying the nutrients your muscles need,” said Tami Smith, an ACE-certified personal trainer. “It also helps prevent your muscles from breaking down by avoiding the shrinking of muscle cells.” Next time you’re tempted to reach for a pre-workout supplement, remember that water is the best possible accompaniment for your strength training. Staying adequately hydrated not only helps you get the most out of your workouts, but it also helps muscles continue to grow.
3. Rethink your nighttime snack
Forget those rules that say you should stop eating two hours before bed or that a midnight snack is bad for you. Bottom line: Eat when you’re hungry (that’s how the body is meant to work), but just be conscious about what you reach for when you start to get those pre-bedtime hunger growls. For example, Heather Hanks, MS CAM, a medical adviser for Medical Solutions, recommended produce and lean protein. “Try fresh, whole foods and vegetables that contain de-bloating and toxin-flushing nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, water, and antioxidants,” she suggested. “Eating lean protein can also provide adequate amounts of amino acids that are needed for muscle synthesis.”
4. Stretch before bed
Stretching is one of the best health hacks, but it’s also one of the most overlooked. “Stretching out your muscles can help lengthen them back out after they’ve been in a contracted state,” Smith explained. “When your muscles are loose, you tend to have a more lean, toned feeling than when they are tight.” To be your healthiest, strongest self, you don’t just need to be working your muscles to strengthen; you need to be stretching them too. Stretching helps the muscles repair, but certain stretches and yoga poses can also be used to help digestion or decrease bloating to feel your most toned. Try to stretch out the muscle group you worked, do some go-to stretches for the entire body (bonus: these stretches might also help ease anxiety), or use a foam roller to get deeper into the muscle.
5. Get a good night of sleep
Sleep is beneficial for recovering energy to work those muscles again tomorrow. Muscle-building hormones are also produced during sleep, which means your muscles are actually able to grow during and because of sleep—AKA the easiest way to feel more toned by tomorrow. According to Sleep.org, the growth hormone (or the hormone responsible for building muscle) is typically produced during deep sleep. “During sleep, the human growth hormones are activated, helping muscles recover, repair, heal, grow, and rest from the micro tears occurred during the day,” agreed Dasha Einhorn, a Pilates instructor and NASM-certified fitness specialist. As if you needed more reason to shut off Selling Sunset and get to bed early tonight, muscle growth actually happens while you’re getting your beauty sleep, so rest up to help your body feel more toned by the AM.
6. Choose your ‘fit wisely
Sometimes, feeling more toned is not about how we change the body but about how we celebrate the body we already have. We all have that one outfit that hits different, and there’s no denying the confidence you exude when you rock it. Whether it’s a power suit or your go-to athleisure ensemble, your outfit can make the difference between feeling like you’re on top of the world and just bleh. Set out a head-to-toe look that highlights your favorite features: Show off those sexy shoulders with an off-the-shoulder or sleeveless top, accentuate your strong stems with a flirty dress or skirt, or flaunt those curves by grabbing a belt and playing up your waist. Bottom line: Give your body the starring role that it deserves.