It’s that time of year again – self-loathing! After hanging outdoors all summer, being active and getting trim. You chucked it all away by hitting the pubs, watching too many hours of televised sports, and putting off the gym again, and again, and again.
Now, with just a few months to go before summer, you realize there is a reason why your jeans are just a wee bit tight around the belly – your new belly, that is. Well, all is not lost. You might not be able to get your body looking as buff as Daniel Craig, but that’s no reason not to try! June is still months away, and you can work some magic on your flab and start making some abs.
Get out your calendar and circle your start and end dates. Next, you need to plan your workout schedule and your diet. Your goal is to lose weight, increase your metabolism, lower your caloric intake, and exchange fat for muscle – so let’s get started!
You’re probably asking yourself, how much can you realistically do in 6 months? That’s the wrong attitude to have, as workout regimes take time. But a good schedule is key to getting things in motion. Your body needs to break into the routine slowly, but make sure you change things up quickly as your body will quickly adjust and you need to keep your metabolism high.
Step 1: You need to quickly increase your metabolism. This can be done in a variety of ways, but the main point is you need to re-introduce cardio exercise into your life. Start walking, running, jogging, rowing, biking, and playing sports. Try to do 3 days a week of 40-60 minutes, varying the type and intensity of cardio you perform.
Step 2: After a month of cardio, you will now have the lungs and the energy to increase your cardio and add in a bi-weekly weight routine. Your new cardio routine should be no less than 3 days per week, and make sure you change the intensity while performing the exercise. Weights will help you lose weight, and re-direct excess fat energy into muscle.
Step 3: Stick to the routine! You should now be up to 60-minute workouts, 5 days a week. You should also be playing a recreational sport at least once or twice a week.
You may not notice anything right away, but your body will respond quickly. The heavier you are, the more you have to lose. For those who were thin to begin with, then you might not see the results as quickly, but you will start tightening and firming by the end of 6 months.
The fastest way to lose weight is to change your eating habits. You don’t have to do this in a dramatic fashion – at first. Instead, replace bad, fattening foods with lower calorie, healthy choices. Here are 10 easy tips that can knock a thousand calories a week out of your diet:
Butter – replace with olive or vegetable oil. Never butter your toast or potatoes – just switch it for oil. You can season the oil with garlic or other spices, and you will not miss butter. Plus, oil is healthier for you and low in fat.
Chips – potato chips are fattening and salty (and tasty!). You can replace your crunchy tasty snack with popcorn, pretzels, baked crackers or chips, and rice chips. Need more flavor? Try humus! Healthy and tasty!
Pasta – delicious pasta can be very fattening. But this does not mean you can’t eat pasta. Sub your usual Mac & Cheese with multi-grain pasta and a tomato sauce full of fresh vegetables.
Red Meat – the word you want to learn is LEAN! You can still eat meat, just spend more and get healthier, leaner cuts. Plus, avoid huge portions of meat and add in extra veggies.
Snacks – focus on eating three meals a day at the same time each day. Train your body to expect food at a certain time, and avoid snacking and binge eating.
Drinks (non-alcoholic) – real juice instead of pop, skim instead of whole milk, regular coffee or tea – avoid those high calorie lattes!
Drinks (alcoholic) – you can still drink, but you need to drink smarter. Beer has lots of calories, as do mixed drinks involving pop. Soda water gives you some fizz, and you can add in lemon or lime for flavor – then add in your favourite alcoholic beverage!
Potatoes – they are tasty and healthy, but when you add sour cream, butter and bacon bits they become calorie laden. You can use oil and seasoning (not salt!) to make any potato dish taste great, and you won’t add in 100s of calories.
Rice – rice is a great side dish. It is healthy, low on calories, and comes in many varieties. Rice is easy to digest, and brown rice is supposed to lower your cholesterol.
Eat Veggies, nuts, and fruit! Need we say more? Vegetables and fruit are nature’s snack food (at least that’s what my mom used to say!). Plus, the health benefits of eating more fruit and veggies are tremendous. Nuts are also a great source of vitamins and ‘good’ fat, so keep some of the unsalted variety around for a quick energy snack.
How much can you realistically lose?
If you take the approach we listed above – attacking your diet and exercise at the same time. You will simultaneously increase your metabolism, decrease your caloric intake, and build up muscle mass. This means your body is forced to do more with fewer calories, and the calories you are ingesting are healthier.
If you stick with it, you should be able to easily burn off 1-2 pounds per month. By the time the beach season rolls around, you will have lost 10-12 pounds, and probably exchanged some fat for muscle as well. The net result will be a trimmer body, and you will have the energy to play Frisbee with the beach babes.