The Beauty Reel’s piece – Look Good In 4 Weeks  featured in the December 2015 issue of The Juice magazine by

Shape Up for NYE: 4 Weeks to Go

You have four weeks to New Year’s Eve. Your sexiest Gaurav Gupta gown has been dry-cleaned, your Jimmy Choos have been broken into, and your latest purchase –a pair of gorgeous Isharya earrings – has just arrived. Your outfit’s on point, but is your body?

In preparation for 2015’s best night out, we consulted a multitude of beauty, health and fitness experts – from a YouTube sensation to a CrossFit guru – on how to get glowing and fit. Ready to kick your get-gorgeous efforts into overdrive? The countdown is on!


Focus on: Laying down the groundwork

Drawing up a plan, sticking to it and figuring out how to sustain it is the goal this week.

Fitness Routine: Get Moving

Sandeep Achanta, co-founder and head coach at Strength System, says, “If you’re already exercising, start raising the intensity of your workouts. If you don’t exercise, get started!” Your fitness routine needs to focus on burning fat mass while building muscle mass, stresses sports nutritionist Minacshi Pettukola.

So what exactly should you be doing? “If you’ve always been doing cardio, switch it up a little – lift some weights and see how much of a difference it can make. If you already have ‘leg day’ and ‘chest day’, incorporate compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, push-ups, bench presses and pull-ups,” suggests Prashanti Ganesh, co-founder and head coach at Strength System.

Diet Mantra: Eliminate Bad Foods

Holding-3Anandini Swaminathan, dietician and founder of blog, Confessions Of A Dietitian, says, “Removing foods that don’t enhance your health is a good way to begin. Cut down on (if possible, eliminate) fried foods, refined sugars and processed food.” Shiny Chandran, a sports nutritionist who is part of the International Olympics Committee, stresses on drinking at least three to four litres of water daily, upping protein intake and getting a good night’s sleep. “The easiest way to up your protein is with a protein-rich breakfast of eggs, eaten within two hours of waking up,” she says. Ideally, sleep “no later than 10 pm,” but since that’s close to impossible in today’s late-night-Snapchat-binge era we’ll put it this way: get seven hours of sleep.

Sample Meal Plan

Holding-2On waking: Drink a cup of warm water with a slice of lemon, eat up to 8 almonds soaked in water overnight.

Breakfast: 2 whole-egg omelette with a slice of seeded bread (gluten-free toast if you want to go the extra mile).

Lunch: A cup of lentils, a bowl of vegetables and half a cup of brown rice or roti.

Dinner: Stir-fried vegetables like broccoli, asparagus and mushroom with grilled paneer or meat.

Snack on: A handful of raw nuts, berries, a cup of yogurt, a piece of raw dark chocolate (try Earth Loaf’s Smoked Salt & Almond Raw Chocolate Bar).

Drink: Green tea, black coffee, detox waters like cucumber-infused water.

The 101: Prep And Plan

Decision fatigue is a big reason why people fail when it comes to making good nutrition choices. Prashanti says, “Set aside some time on Sundays to prep and plan your meals and snacks. This way, you don’t have an excuse to order in unhealthy meals.”

Get Glowing: Keep It Simple

Start a customized skincare routine. Be diligent and consistent. If you’ve had too much red wine and can’t fathom taking off your make-up, imagine your face as a clogged drainpipe pleading to be cleaned (gross but works every time!).


Focus on: What works for you

Don’t design your health and fitness goals around trending hashtags. What works on Instagram may not necessarily work in real life. Prashanti says, “Figure out what works for you and stick to it. Sure, you read about a new juice cleanse or a ‘100 squats every day’ workout, but it’s best to talk to someone who will help you come up with something that will suit you.”

Fitness Routine: Take It Up A Notch

Now that the groundwork is done, the next step is to take it up a notch. Minacshi says, “If you’ve begun burning fat and boosting muscle mass, build on that.” Sandeep explains that progressive overload is key. Raising the intensity every week is the best way to see results. “Lift heavier weights than you did last week and add 10 minutes of cardio or high-intensity interval training at the end of your strength training workouts,” he says. Ask yourself if your workouts are a little harder than last week’s. If your answer is yes, you’re doing it right.

Diet Mantra: Control Portions

Moderating your fooHolding-4d intake is key when it comes to weight loss and maintenance, says Anandini. Shiny recommends cutting back your grain and sugar intake (including natural sugars found in fruit). The idea is to eat till satiety, and the key is to chew your food thoroughly. “The slower and longer you chew, the more time your brain has to register that you’re full, which leads to lesser consumption,” she says.

Sample Meal Plan

On waking: Drink a cup of warm water with a slice of lemon, eat up to 8 almonds soaked in water overnight. (Skip almonds during intermittent fasting.)

Breakfast: Have superfood-rich protein shake made of almond milk, 5-6 slices of apple or a fist of mixed berries, a handful of raw spinach, a tablespoon of chia seeds and one tablespoon of hemp protein powder. Add a teaspoon of spirulina or wheatgrass if you want.

Lunch: Stir-fried vegetables with half a cup of millets thrown in.

Dinner: Grilled meat or tofu steak with a side of salad and homemade guacamole.

Snack on: A handful of raw nuts, a piece of raw dark chocolate, eggs, salad sticks served with a homemade yogurt dip and hummus.

Drink: Green tea, black coffee, detox waters like mint- and lime-infused water.

The 101: Intermittent Fasting Vs Skipping Carbs 

How many times have you heard those words? I’ve tried them both. My metabolism is super stubborn, but what works is when I skip carbs for one meal a day, every day, and do intermittent fasting every alternate day. You’ll find a lot of good and bad things written about both weight loss methods on Internet, but I suggest you try them out and see if they work. How? Skip carbs for dinner every day and every alternate day fast for 13-15 hours between dinner and your next meal. During this fasting period, you’re allowed water, green tea and black coffee, so don’t stress, it’s doable.

Get glowing: It’s time for an at-home facial

By now your skincare routine is in full swing and your skin’s looking happier than it did last week, yes? If your skin is not acting up, add in a weekly at-home facial.

Step 1: Start with a lymphatic drainage facial massage to aid in detoxing and de-puffing. It will boost circulation, help with cell regeneration and give you a mini facelift. (There’s an easy video tutorial on this technique on The Beauty Reel’s YouTube channel.)

Step 2: Move on to your favourite facemask. I pamper myself by layering masks and I make them at home using natural ingredients. Start with the classic bridal mask, made of turmeric powder, gram flour and yogurt, and then work your way to a mask of raw honey and a pinch of nutmeg powder. If DIY is not your forte, try Juicy Chemistry’s Blackhead Buster Face Mask and then Madhulika Nourishing Honey Lep by Forest Essentials.


Focus on: Keeping calm and carrying on

Eating clean and exercising are just two slices of the pie, there are multiple factors that contribute to looking and feeling good, says Prashanti. Are you getting six to eight hours of sleep, are you drinking enough water, are your stress levels in check? Stop reading and take 10 deep breaths. Remember, the tortoise won the race, not the hare.

Fitness routine: Push yourself

By now you’ve figured out what works for you. Now that you’re comfortable in this routine, get uncomfortable. Push yourself. The more number of muscles you work per training session, the more effective your workouts will be, explains Prashanti. Sandeep recommends, “Add exercises that focus on your weak areas by challenging various muscle groups. Start with lighter weights and higher reps at the beginning of your training session and with each consecutive set go heavier and lower the reps; this way your body will stay in the fat-burning mode even after the workout is over.” If you’re having a good day, make it better by performing five minutes of intensive cardio between each circuit.

Diet mantra: Go for the guts 

Getting your gut an army of its own is crucial for maximum nutrient absorption. Probiotics are essentially good bacteria and aid the functioning of our digestive system and the absorption of nutrients after digestion, says Anandini. Our favourite natural sources of probiotics are homemade yogurt, fermented coconut water, idlis and kombucha.

Sample Holding-8meal plan

On waking: Drink a cup of warm water with a slice of lemon, eat up to 8 almonds soaked in water overnight.

Breakfast: 2 whole eggs as you like, with a bowl of steel-cut oats.

Lunch: Green dal dosa with coconut chutney and vegetable stew.

Dinner: Chicken or paneer tikka, with a side of raw vegetables and soup.

Snack on: A handful of raw nuts, homemade yogurt, a piece of raw dark chocolate and hummus.

Drink: Green tea, black coffee, kombucha, fermented coconut water, detox waters like mint- and lime-infused water.

The 101: Forgive yourself for cheating

Holding-13Yeah, we figured that there are a lot of cupcakes and doughnuts being delivered to your office this time of the year, so the question really is, how do you avoid OD’ing? The answer is surprisingly simple: quit stressing. Calmly approach the box of mini-cupcakes on that desk in front of you, take one, have a bite, chew and devour. Now go back to doing what you were doing. Prashanti says, “There’s negligible difference between sticking to a plan 100% and 80% of the time.” Cut yourself some slack and eat that cupcake if you’ve been on Santa’s good list so far.

Get glowing: Try oil pulling

It’s time to detox your skin from within. You’re going to need to start oil pulling, dear reader. Oil pulling, an Ayurvedic technique, involves swishing oil in your mouth on empty stomach and spitting it out when the volume of oil doubles and it turns milky white. Be consistent. I did it every day, 20 minutes each day for two weeks, and there was a visible difference. Start off with cold-pressed coconut oil and once you get used to oil pulling, try the more potent cold-pressed sesame oil.


Focus on: The low-hanging fruits

Pamper yourself this week. Without wasting too much time and money on quick fixes, pick the low-hanging fruits: eat good food, stay active, sleep six to eight hours a night, drink a lot of water and keep stress levels low.

Holding-15Fitness routine: Do what you’re doing best

It’s the last week of the countdown, so you might be thinking of adding extra hours of training. Don’t. It can have a negative impact because of the added stress it causes. Instead, continue to stay active through the day and stick to three to five hours of training per week, says Prashanti.

Diet mantra: Hang in there

Holding-16Resist the urge to go in for quick fixes. Cutting calories and barely eating to lose those last few kilos will backfire. Your resting metabolic rate will fall, meaning how many calories you burn at rest will drop. Shiny stresses the importance of continuing to eat three meals around the same time daily. “If you’re going to cut a food group this week, cut dairy,” she says. Minacshi suggests that if you want something to focus on this week, focus on getting at least a palm-sized serving of lean protein in every meal.

Sample meal plan

On waking: Drink a cup of warm water with a slice of lemon, eat up to 8 almonds soaked in water overnight.

Breakfast: 2 whole eggs as you like with a millet porridge.

Lunch: A cup of vegetable brown rice stir-fry.

Dinner: Mushroom soup with steamed head of cabbage and/or grilled chicken.

Snack on: A handful of raw nuts, hummus, salad sticks, berries.

Drink: Green tea, black coffee, kombucha, coconut water, detox waters like mint- and lime-infused water.

The 101: Skinny hacks

Calorie counting: Out! Power dressing: In!
Vishwa Dave, fashion blogger at Embellvish, says, “No matter what size you are, your waist is always going to be the slimmest part of your body. Cinching in the waist, by way of a fun peplum top or belt, will give the illusion of a more hourglass, aka Beyonce-like, figure.” Vishwa also recommends wearing one colour head to toe, or ‘tone on tone’ to appear taller.

Get glowing: Contour

Holding-18Glittering disco-ball look: Out! Contouring Kim K style: In!
Akriti Sachdev, founder of Mesmereyes Makeup and YouTube sensation, teaches us mere mortals how to fake it till we make it using a shading technique called contouring. She explains, “Contour any part of your face that you want to camouflage or slim down, and highlight the parts that you want to emphasize.” Use a matte contour two shades darker than your skin tone, and apply it on the sides of your nose, around the forehead, hollows of your cheek and underneath your jawline to give the illusion of a slimmer face. Don’t forget to apply a shimmering or bronzing body lotion, before slipping into your NYE’s ensemble, so that your legs and arms look supermodelesque.


P.S: Happy New Year peeps! Thank you so much for your love and support. I think you’re beautiful, no matter what.

– For your convenience, by clicking on the underlined terms you will be redirected to the website where you can buy them or learn more about them.

– Want to know the secret behind Beyonce’s bod? Click here to read about her fitness routine.

– Want to know about my day at the gym? It involves breasts. Click here to find out! 

– Want to know what the best natural acne treatment is? Click here to find out! 

– For more pressing press, click here

  • Ami
    December 17, 2015

    I love your website but I’m disappointed to see that yet another intelligent Desi female blogger has given in to the craze of using only Caucasian women in your articles. It’s so sad that we are more than half a billion beautiful Indian women yet we hate ourselves so much that we’re not seen on a single blog or mag anywhere. Try to use some gorgeous Indian models pleaasseee! And what’s wrong with throwing some cute desi boys in there too- don’t they also need to get fit for NYE?

    I don’t mean to nag and bitch but media representation is so important and photos like this send out an unintentional message than only girls need to look hot and the only way to do that is be Fair and Luverly. Hope you take this in the right spirit xoxo

    • Ishika Sachdev
      December 17, 2015

      Hi Amrita, hope you’re well. I completely agree with you and I’m so glad to know that I have wonderful, aware and intelligent readers. Unfortunately, I did not do the layout of this piece, as it was a feature piece for’s The Juice magazine. My job ended with the writing. This was a press feature and hence I had no control over the images and graphics.

      Regarding the cute boys, I totally need to add more eye candy to my site but in the meanwhile do check out my very own cutey here ->

      Regarding your point on the bullshit ‘fair is lovely’, you couldn’t be more in tune with my thoughts. I did a piece talking about Dark & Lovely, titled “Fairness Creams, Dimpled Bums and Aunties” that you can check out here if interested ->

      Thank you for taking the time to comment and for sharing your valuable (and completely agreeable) thoughts. Have a lovely weekend. Best, Ishika

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