These 7 Sneaky Fitness and Food Hacks Give Your Look a Last-Minute Boost

We've all been blindsided by a calendar alert at one point or another. Maybe it's a birthday celebration for a friend planned at the eleventh hour, or a surprise beach day (hello, bikini!).

Adding small changes to your food and fitness routine can get your body and mind ready for an upcoming event (Image: Getty Images/Hero Images)

Maybe it's a date that's been looming for a while, and you were sure you'd be leaner or more toned or [insert goal here], but hey, we all get busy. So now you may only have a week, a day or just a few hours to prep — not enough to make any radical changes.

But here's the good news: Whether it's skipping gum or loading up on potassium, there are more than a few small-but-effective tweaks you can make to your diet, exercise and beauty routines that can help you look and feel your best for the big event. Add these expert-approved hacks to your arsenal when the time-crunch is real.

1. Get Your Sweat On

Sure, a solid cardio set can leave you looking just a little bit more toned, but the mood-boosting endorphins you'll reap are an even better reason to work it out before a big event, says Holly Perkins, a Los Angeles-based certified personal trainer and author of Lift to Get Lean. In fact, a sweat sesh both the night before and the day of is exactly what Perkins prescribed to supermodel Karlie Kloss before the 2018 Oscars. (However, if back-to-back workouts aren't part of your typical routine, choose one or the other to lower your risk of injury.)

In addition to triggering a happy-go-lucky feeling, endorphins released during exercise can help minimize anxiety, according to the Mayo Clinic. So if your big event has got your nerves on edge, use your workout to help get you back to a positive mental state.

Bonus: Amp up the feel-good factor by choosing a workout you enjoy, suggests Perkins, whether that's a spin session, bootcamp class or some hot yoga.

2. Pull Out the Coconut Oil

Oil pulling may give your smile a pearly glow (Image: Steve Debenport/iStock/GettyImages)

Oil pulling is becoming a popular teeth-whitening method among health-conscious individuals. A traditional folk remedy that dates back to ancient India, rinsing the mouth with coconut oil can help remove chemical and bacterial toxins from the teeth and tongue, according to a January 2017 article published in The Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine. There isn't extensive research to support the whitening effects beyond anecdotal evidence, but since coconut oil is relatively inexpensive and safe to swish, it's worth a shot.

So, how does it work? Before you've had breakfast or brushed your teeth, swish a tablespoon of liquid coconut oil around your mouth for 20 minutes (yep, 20 minutes). Move the oil between your teeth, and try not to swallow it. Pro tip: When the time is up, spit the oil into a trash can, as it can clog the sink.

While oil pulling shouldn't replace your regular oral care, adding it to your routine the morning of an event may give your chompers a brightening boost.

3. Swap Salt for Potassium

Cutting back on sodium both the day of and the day before a big event can help reduce water retention, according to Laura Iu, a New York City-based registered dietitian-nutritionist and founder of Nourish New York, which provides nutritional coaching focused on intuitive eating and body positivity. Consuming high amounts of salt causes the body to retain water in order to dilute the sodium. Water retention can feel similar to bloating, which is why you may feel puffy after a night out, Iu explains.

Potassium, on the other hand, can counteract this effect by flushing out excess sodium in the body. Iu recommends swapping salty foods like deli meats or processed cheese for potassium-rich sweet potatoes, berries or bananas to prevent any added bloat on the big day.

4. Hit the Sauna

On the day of your event, hit the sauna to boost blood circulation and give your skin a healthy-looking glow, recommends SJ McShane, a certified personal trainer based in the greater Boston area. When you expose your body to high temperatures, extra blood flow is directed away from the organs and directly to the skin, according to Harvard Health Publishing. This can help your skin appear fresh and gleaming.

Saunas and steam rooms are becoming a staple of self-care routines and are increasingly praised for various health benefits, according to Harvard Health Publishing. However, anyone with a heart issue should consult a doctor before spending time in such high temperatures.

5. Pump Some Iron

A quick lifting sesh that targets one muscle group can amp up definition temporarily (Image: Peathegee Inc/Tetra images/GettyImages)

Lifting weights strategically can help give your muscles (and confidence) added definition, according to McShane. Specifically, drop sets can help increase blood flow to your muscles and have been used by models and bodybuilders alike to give their physiques an added pump either a day or even several hours before an event, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

To drop set properly, begin with a moderate or heavier weight and perform an exercise (like a bicep curl or lunge) until you're unable to repeat another rep, according to ACE. Once you've reached this level of fatigue, rest just enough to swap for a lighter weight and again perform the exercise to fatigue. This high volume of work will increase blood flow to the muscle, giving you an instantly more defined look.

Warning

Drop sets can be a great strength-building strategy but should only be performed if you are a regular in the weight room. Pushing yourself to fatigue on a new exercise can result in injury, so exercise caution before hitting the weights.

6. Choose Your Veggies Wisely

In addition to avoiding sodium-laden foods, you may also want to nix certain vegetables in order to fend off bloating. Veggies high in fiber slow the speed at which the body digests, making them great for weight management, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. However, this same nutrient can also cause gas and bloating, says Iu.

To prevent gas buildup, avoid fiber-rich broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage. While cutting these veggies out forever is not necessary (and not advisable), avoiding them on the day or morning of a big event will help keep your tummy flat throughout the day, Iu says.

7. Shun Straws, Gum and Eating Too Quickly

Another potential cause of bloating or intestinal gas is, simply, swallowing too much air, according to the Mayo Clinic. A buildup of air, while usually harmless, can cause your stomach to feel uncomfortable and appear bloated.

Avoid activities that may cause you to swallow more air, recommends Iu. Often, these include chewing gum, drinking beverages through straws and eating too quickly. If you're feeling a gas buildup on the morning of an event — maybe last night's bean burrito coming back to haunt you? — add some turmeric or ginger to your breakfast to ease digestion, Iu advises.

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