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20 things I learnt from doing Project Bikini

July 19th 2015 / Emma Bartley / 1 comment


Emma Bartley has spent 12 weeks exercising, carb-dodging and spirulina-ing her way through Get the Gloss’s holiday prep plan (now known as Project Me). She’s emerged slimmer, healthier and ready to share her tips. Such as...

1 There are spices that can speed up your metabolism
*Sprinkles cayenne pepper on to Dairy Milk*

2 You don’t need to drink alcohol to have fun
You do however need to drink it to stop everyone going, “Seriously though why aren’t you drinking you’re pregnant aren’t you, wink if you’re pregnant, you can’t fool us, you NEVER diet.” So I suppose what I’m saying is, you do need to drink to have fun, but not for the reason you think.

3 I’m nowhere near as fit as I thought I was
Having a toddler keeps you active… but high intensity interval training it ain’t. Unless you’ve got the kind that likes to run into the road, which I currently haven’t. Touch wood, touch wood, OMG there is no wood here, dear reader please touch wood on my behalf and if it feels right say a prayer.

4 Every minute of your life that you are not doing a renegade row is a wonderful, wonderful minute
I did them anyway, because when I googled them one of the top articles that came up was titled “How To Get Ridiculously Hard Abs”, but I’m still in a sulk about it.

5 Chia seeds are a food
I had heard of chia seeds, obviously - probably in some magazine, probably in relation to Gwyneth Paltrow - but it was a fairly abstract concept. Here’s what Gwyn should have told us: “I know they look like mouldy poppy seeds, but if you soak chia seeds overnight they become this amazing cereal thing to eat with fruit and yoghurt that’s sort of nearly as good as cornflakes.”
© E Bartley, 2015 - I’m not having her stealing this for Goop

6 Good gym kit can make you feel sportier than you are
I feel like a right tit doing some of the more complex exercises on PB, but my green H&M leopard-print leggings allow me to brazen it out in the gym. “Hi, yeah, I do this all the time which is why I have a variety of leggings and not just black, see?”

7 If you cut sugar out for long enough, you don’t really miss it
Now the cornflakes are gone, I spend about three hours less per day fantasising about brownies (ie, only 21 hours) (kidding) (mostly).

8 The same is not true of hamburgers
I don’t know why as I never eat fast food but since about week six my body has been screaming, BIG MAC I WANT A BIG MAC GIVE IT TO ME NOW. I haven’t given in; not because of Project Bikini but because I’m a North Londoner and couldn’t live with the social stigma if anyone saw me enter a McDonald’s.

9 If somebody tells you to do, every minute, three lunges per leg, five burpees and five squat jumps, before waiting for the start of the next minute and repeating, you had better do it quickly or you will find that you get only FOUR SECONDS of rest.

10 People love a diet
Love them! Everyone was so interested in what I was doing, and it was fun to be able to tell them something sensible rather than, “I start each day with a cold shower and a cup of black coffee, after which I hit myself in the face a couple of times and wait four hours for my lunch of a celery stick”.

11 You might as well use coconut oil
My notes from interviewing nutritionist Zoe Stirling are all like “higher melting point, free radicals, blah blah”, but whatever. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, which means you use less; it’s not expensive and it tastes pretty good.

12 Sleep is really important
Duh, obvs, but it’s particularly important if you’re trying to exercise and manage your diet. I came to appreciate sleep even more for the recovery it gave my body, and the fact that without it I am a slave to caffeine and sugar.

13 Do not make buckwheat pancakes with buttermilk
Aside from undermining the entire point by being whatever percent fat, the resulting product will be genetically closer to a Spontex than a pancake. Done with skimmed or almond milk, they’re actually my favourite of chef Nina Parker’s dishes.

14 Spirulina is very good for you but it is quite important to seal the packet properly
Otherwise, you will return to an unholy green mess that smells of pond scum.

15 Single-legged deadlifts are kind of fun
I actually got quite into PB trainer Joslyn Thompson-Rule’s old-school, bodyweight resistance exercises.

16 I have a waist
I thought this was a gift, like long legs or curly hair, that you either had or did not - but no, it turns out that everyone has a waist if they just don’t eat so many carbohydrates for a while. (I refuse to give any of the credit to the renegade row, OK?)

17 My ideal weight was achievable
I’d never really believed I could weigh 65kg, having been nearly 80kg in my early twenties (student kebabs). Since the baby I’ve settled at 68kg and figured that was as low as I’d go, but after 12 weeks of low carbs and constant workouts I’ve hit 65.5 and I’m not even that thin. Which is slightly disappointing TBH because what is the point of a weight-loss plan if you don’t finish looking as if you’ve been seriously ill? (NB Being told I looked like a model in week six may have turned my head.)

18 Twelve weeks is kind of a long time
I’m sorry, but it is. There’s clearly a conflict in writing about Get the Gloss’s healthy living guide on - oh, Get the Gloss - but the team allowed me to be honest when my motivation dropped in week two. And week four. And week eight. It is hard to keep something like this up for three months, but as we all know...

19 There are no shortcuts
I do appreciate that Project Bikini is clear about this. You need to eat healthily AND exercise, and you need to do that for a sustained period. Of course, that didn’t stop me constantly looking for shortcuts, from cutting out the warm-up and cooldown to finishing the toddler’s toast because “crusts don’t count”.

20 You have to keep it up
I plateaued in the middle of Project Bikini because I got sloppy with exercise and diet… for best results GTG are actually offering another 12-week exercise plan, presumably because they know that people like me will complete the plan, put on our bikinis and immediately start shovelling croissants into our mouths. Which reminds me, I’ve got a ferry to catch…

Follow Emma on Twitter @Barters and Get The Gloss @GetTheGloss


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  • Diana McCormick
  • July 17th 2015

Fab article, made me chuckle... I think life's too short to worry about how you look in a bikini. I'm off to Italy next week - carbs and booze by the bucketload, can't wait!

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