Time to shake off your winter fluff
It's the time of year that all women dread.
Time to peel off those tights, take off that jumper and expose your pale, unshaven flesh to the spring sunshine.
(NB: Men, sorry to lure you in with a bikini pic, but that's probably the most excitement you'll get out of this article.)
The transition from winter to summer can be a traumatic process.
I read recently that the average woman carries an extra kilo on her frame heading into spring. I believe them.
If you're anything like me, the cold weather inspires you to hibernate with a block of chocolate and a good book.
Winter clothes can hide a multitude of sins, a fact I take full advantage of. Pantyhose to suck in the stomach and hide unshaven and unexfoliated legs, winter hats to cover unwashed and undyed hair - you can be a furry winter bear and no-one is none the wiser.
Then, suddenly and cruelly, the sun comes out and you're pushed out of your cave and are suddenly expected to emerge as a summer stunner. As much as I love the sunshine, summer clothing leaves a little less to the imagination - especially the dreaded bikini.
Usually, I leave my run a little late. I'll be sitting on the beach people-watching and wishing I had made more of an effort (Why did you take that 'All you can eat buffet' sign as a challenge, Anna!?)
But this year, I've got extra inspiration to be bikini-ready. I'm off to the Bahamas in January for a healthy dose of sunshine, sand and cocktails and I want to be feeling confident on the beach.
That won't necessary be an easy task given how many fit and tanned people I imagine visit the Bahamas and the fact I will have just spent two weeks in the dead of New York City winter before visiting the isles.
I'm not a fan of crash diets (mainly because most of them involve cutting carbohydrates and I think I would lose the will to live if I had to give up pasta and bread), so I decided I'd have to start early.
I'm making a conscious effort to cut down on just a few of my treats, e.g. that cookie that usually perks me up around 3pm or that second glass of wine on a Friday night, and go for an extra run a week. My theory is, by the time that January arrives these small changes will have paid off enough that I'm feeling fabulous.
However, if you want to cling to the vestiges of winter a little longer or my theory doesn't work, here are my emergency tips to transform from a winter bear into a summer babe:
* Give yourself a mani/pedi - Soak those feet, give them a scrub and apply a bright nail polish. This can be an instant mood booster and will help your feet look great in those summer sandals.
* Fake it till you make it - a slight fake tan can work wonders on your confidence. If you're not a fan of traditional fake tan (which does have a tendency to go a little streaky), try a tinted moisturiser for the body which you can see as you apply and washes off in the shower.
* Get a wax - Legs, armpits, bikini line - this one is pretty simple. If your skin is smooth and moisturised you'll feel more confident about flashing it around.
* Update your summer wardrobe - The word 'shopping' is enough to get most females enthusiastic for a new season. Get a cute new dress or a flattering bikini and you'll actually want to wear it and show off. If your budget is tight, invest in some new accessories instead. Something simple as adding a flower to your hair can make you feel instantly better.
* Relax - Ultimately, it's much better to enjoy yourself than to sit on the beach fretting about how you look. Your life is not actually going to be adversely affected if you don't look like Miranda Kerr in a bikini, as nice as it would be. We don't get sunshine all year round so we've got to make the most of it.