Get a bikini body at your desk

by JACQUI RIPLEY, Evening Standard

It happens every year; you are desk-bound but desperate to get your body in shape for the summer holiday season.

Before you hit the beach, ideally you would like to ditch, say, five pounds, in just two weeks.

Think it can't be done? Yes it can with four easy moves!

The new order for lunch

Stress, tiredness and nutritional laziness are some of the reasons why office life adds unwanted weight.

But if you're serious about shedding the pounds, you need to follow the diet secrets of celebrities.

Oz Garcia, the American nutrition guru who counts Kim Cattrall and Hilary Swank among his devotees, advocates eating five or six times a day.

"You've probably been told that eating between meals makes you fat. But if you swap biscuits, chocolate and crisps for protein-based snacks, you keep your fuel supply on an even keel."

The upshot? Ditch the sandwich along with biscuits - according to Garcia all wheatbased carbohydrates equal empty calories, slow down your metabolism and speed up the rate at which you store fat.

Instead prepare a healthy packed lunch, such as salade niçoise, made with egg, tuna, lettuce, tomato and cucumber with a dressing of oil.

For snack attacks turn to lean poultry such as chicken breast or a piece of cheese.

If you are finding it hard to give up bread be encouraged by research at Arizona State University which revealed that twice as many calories were burned digesting food after a high-protein meal as after one loaded with carbohydrates.

Watch what you drink

While modifying your diet is half the battle, don't forget that many calories lurk in drinks.

A typical day could include a caffe latte early morning (132 calories), a large orange juice with lunch (99 calories), two cups of sweet tea early afternoon-40 calories each) and a can of Coke (129 calories). Grand total? 440 calories.

For two weeks your office liquid intake should only be water (zero calories). It acts as a diuretic, helping to flush out toxins and minimises water retention, especially around the stomach.

Stick it in the fridge as your metabolism will have to speed up to warm the water to body temperature, burning a few more calories.

Drink six to eight glasses daily. If you're well watered then you should be visiting the loo every two to three hours.

Result: Those extra pounds could be fluid that you're retaining in response to hormone-fluctuations.

Drinking water helps flush out the excess and could aid weight loss as often, when we think we are hungry, we are actually thirsty.

Work out at your desk

A rushed lunch break leaves no time to slim at the gym. So exercise at your desk.

"The key to tightening bikini flab if you can't sweat it off is isometric movements," says personal trainer Sarah Maxwell of Professional Fitness Management.

"This means contracting your muscles, which is useful for when there is insufficient space for sweeping movements. You may feel stupid doing them in the office, but they do work if done often."

Inner thigh muscles:

Sit on your chair and extend your leg with your foot flexed and turned out - ankle pointing upwards. Raise leg to knee level and bounce slightly. Repeat eight times.

Then, lower leg and slowly squeeze down to the knee level eight times. Repeat both stages twice more on each leg.

Shapelier waist:

Try twists. Sit with your back straight and abdominals in.

Place feet hip width apart and extend both arms in front at shoulder height. Bend your elbows and, keeping your hips square to the front, twist your upper body slowly as far to the right as you can.

Twist back to the start position and repeat, turning to your left. You need to do a lot of twisting to tackle love handles, so repeat often.

Thighs and bottom:

Place your hands on your desk while standing with a chair behind you. Your feet should be shoulder width apart.

Slowly lower your buttocks to the chair without actually sitting in it. Straighten up and repeat 10 times.

Correct your posture

"Sitting down all day encourages weak back muscles, which can lead to slouching," says personal trainer Sarah Maxwell.

"Improve your posture and abs will flatten, you will stand taller and give the illusion you have instantly dropped five pounds."

To help elongate the spine and strengthen the back, carry out the superman arm raise. Sit on a chair with your chest on your thighs and hands by your feet.

Look down at the floor so your neck stays in line with your spine.

Extend your arms in front of you, reaching out as high as you can, palms facing in. Feel your spine getting longer with each deep breath you take.

Contract your back and abs as you hold for 30 seconds.

Result: If this plan is stuck to, expect to lose five to eight pounds in 14 days, equivalent to dropping a dress size.