Hi, Byrdie readers. As you know, I try to eat healthy and exercise regularly, but before a big event, shoot or holiday, I’m like every woman—I go into SOS mode! A couple of weeks before, I make a few tweaks to my diet, exercise and beauty routine to help me look leaner and feel more confident, because the camera (or that bathing suit) never lies. Keep scrolling for my tips for slimming down in a fortnight.
Every morning, but especially in the lead up to a shoot, I’ll start the day with a glass of hot water and one lemon. I add a pinch of turmeric as this is really healing, helps get rid of bloating and aids digestion. It’s good to have one litre of water first thing, 45 minutes before breakfast. If you don’t have any lemons, then a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar works well too.
I tend to avoid sugar before an event, holiday or shoot. So as not to get the taste for sweet food, I kick-start the day with a savoury breakfast with some carbohydrates for energy, and I always have protein with it to fill me up.
So half a sweet potato (their potassium helps prevent you from retaining water, which can make you feel bloated), or a piece of rye toast with eggs and avocado. I sometimes make omelettes and throw in leftover veggies and goats cheese, or I’ll make up a breakfast bowl with quinoa, kale, two poached eggs and pesto. Yum!
Mid-morning I’ll have a green juice; if I’m at home, I’ll make this in my Nutribullet. I’ll put in coconut water, celery, ginger, kale, lemon and half an apple. If I’m having one after a workout, I would add half a banana.
If I’m out, I try to look for cold-pressed juices and total greens, so very little fruit. I’m really conscious of my sugar intake two weeks before a big shoot, so if I want anything sweet, I might have a chia pudding, some dark chocolate or blueberries.
Lunch will be chicken breast with a quinoa salad, broccoli, olive oil and lemon. I also really like to season with low-salt soy sauce and chilli flakes, which are both low-calorie seasoning. Don’t go for sugary sauces. For a little extra flavour, I might crumble on a little goats cheese or pesto (I put pesto on everything!).
If you’re trying to lean up, you need to increase your protein intake. It keeps you full, and because I try to drop my carbohydrate intake after lunch to just vegetables, and then either quinoa or sweet potato at breakfast, you need the protein for energy. I try to eat little and often, so I always have a Tupperware container of chicken with me! I also make protein shakes using vegan protein powder in vanilla or chocolate, blended with ice, almond milk or coconut water and a spoon of nut butter—it's a good alternative for dessert if you are still hungry after dinner, or as a snack on the go.
If you retain water, you won’t look as lean. For dinner I’ll have either chicken, turkey or white fish and then load up my plate with plenty of greens and some roasted veggies. Asparagus is a diuretic, so I make sure to have this with every meal a few days before a shoot. Try to limit your salt intake, too.
Everyone says it, but drink plenty of water. If I’m out I will have clean spirits—so vodka or tequila with soda and fresh lime, or a tequila on the rocks—but remember if you have been out drinking, you won't burn off fat in the gym the next day, only the sugar from the alcohol.
I learnt this from Elle Macpherson: She doesn’t eat red meat, as it causes inflammation. Since I’ve dropped it from my diet, I feel really good just eating fish and white meat.
In my book Made: A Book of Style, Food and Fitness (£9), I have a recipe for chicken and turkey meatballs with ginger, garlic and chilli, which is a really yummy dinner, and they’re great as a snack!
If you’re stressed, your cortisol levels rise, and this can lead to fat and water being stored around the abs. I really try to meditate in the run-up to a big event or shoot. I use the Headspace app, which has a great sequence to help with sleep and a quick SOS one if you’re feeling really stressed at work. Restorative yoga, massages and long hot baths with Epsom salts and a relaxing bath oil (I love the Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax Bath and Shower Oil, £45) are great to help you unwind too.
I will be extremely dedicated to exercise if I know I need to get lean. I never usually work out in the evenings, but if it’s the only time I can fit in before a shoot, then I do it. I plan to meet friends at the gym so I don’t miss out on seeing them.
I throw in more cardio: tabata circuits of 20 seconds effort (plyometric moves like squat or box jumps, for example), 10 seconds rest. I will add in a couple of extra spinning sessions too. If you’re a good self-motivator and want to work out at home, then I would recommend Jillian Michaels; her workouts are tough but really easy to follow. Just make sure you up the intensity of every single workout you do and never take the easy option; show up and put your all into it.
A week before I need to be in perfect shape, I’ll book in for a lymphatic drainage massage and a brightening oxygen or vitamin C facial. At home I’ll use the Ren renewal face mask (£32)—it helps my pores look really refined and is perfect to use on the day of an event! And a spray tan, of course! It helps give you a healthier glow and makes you look more defined; I love St Tropez.
Will you be trying any of Millie's tips? Let us know in the comment box below.