Drop a Dress Size - Fast!
By: Karen Eull
If you're looking to tighten and tone up but don’t know where to start, try these 13 easy tips. The good news is that losing one dress size – equal to about 10 pounds – is a healthy and achievable weight-loss goal for most of us, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. (You can safely lose about one- to one-and-a-half pounds per week, they say.) A recent scientific review of 31 studies, conducted by UCLA, confirmed what many of us already know: traditional diets don’t work because most people gain weight back (and then some) once returning to their regular eating habits. So, use these tips to kick-start realistic, long-term changes and reach your initial goal!
1. Cut the Calories
By cutting 250 calories from your diet each day (that’s equal to one large, whole-fat latte), and burning roughly 250 calories through exercise (like a 30-minute run), you can expect to lose about a pound per week -- One pound equals 3,500 calories. That said, everyone is different, says Jennifer Rendfrey, certified personal trainer and owner of Dreamshaping Inc. Fitness Consulting in Boynton Beach, FL. Ask your doctor for a metabolism test to find out your ideal caloric intake.
2. Write Down What Youthe Weight Off
Keeping track of what you’re putting in your mouth is the easiest way to find out where those additional calories are coming from. Food diaries helped over 3,000 people lose an average of 66 pounds and keep it off for five years, according to research from The National Weight Control Registry. For tips on keeping a food diary, visit the American Academy of Family Physicians website.
3. Rethink Tube Time
We’re all busy, but somehow we still find hours to crash on the couch! Even spending just 10 minutes doing crunches, pushups, or planks during commercials can burn up to 100 calories. Or, turn the TV right off. A recent Harvard study concluded that new moms most likely to lose their baby weight watched fewer than two hours of TV daily, stayed away from trans fats, and walked for at least 30 minutes a day.
4. Buddy Up
Most studies show that it’s hard to lose weight on your own, so consider consulting a dietitian to help customize your eating plan. One 15-minute appointment every week or two will keep you motivated. Or, recruit a friend and exchange food diaries weekly for support. You might be surprised how your habits can change knowing a friend is tracking them.
5. Be on Portion Patrol
“Put excess food away before sitting down for meals,” says Hana Feeney, a registered dietitian in Tucson, AZ. And beware of placing serving bowls on the table – they encourage seconds, even if you’re already satisfied. Also, pay attention to what you serve your meals on. Using small plates for entrees and big bowls for salad and vegetable soups will control your portion sizes, for instance.
6. Don’t Pick At Kids' Food
“No picking off your kids’ plates when cleaning up or preparing food,” says Feeney. “Those little bites add up.” She also suggests purging your cupboards of kid foods loaded with refined sugars and fat, and using the “what’s-good-for-the-goose” rule. If you avoid toaster pastries for breakfast because they aren’t good for you, why feed them to your children? Set good eating habits for the whole house and stick to healthier food choices.
7. Become a Fiber Fiend
Recent studies confirm that increasing your intake of soluble and non-soluble fiber keeps you feeling full and satisfied longer, and lowers your long-term risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and stroke. So, what’s not to like? Savor whole-grain breads, high-fiber cereals, or a yummy black bean and couscous salad.
8. Work Out Less
You heard us right! You can burn as many calories in an intense 45-minute training session as you do in a regular 60-minute session with ‘active rest’, says Rendfrey. To boost your workout, keep your body moving between weight or exercise-machine sets. Doing jumping jacks or skipping rope keeps your heart pumping while still allowing your muscles to recover.
9. Snack Smart
Schedule snacks between meals to sustain your energy, instead of munching any time you’re bored. If you keep your blood sugar stable, you’re less likely to crave fatty, processed foods or to overeat at meals. “Try to eat balanced snacks,” says Feeney. “An apple isn’t going to provide much sustained energy, but an apple and a piece of low-fat cheese will give you energy that lasts.” Some other good snacking suggestions: veggies, unsalted nuts, seeds, cottage cheese, or edamame. You’ll love our lemon-drenched hummus recipe, too.
10. Treat Yourself – on Your Own Terms
Never eat to please others. If you’re not hungry or thirsty, turn down that piece of birthday cake or glass of wine – even if you think it’s impolite to refuse. Experts say you should limit treats to one or two times a week, so save them for the foods you really want. If you love chocolate ice cream, have a small portion and enjoy it without guilt.
11. Join the Resistance
Gyrotonic is a hot new workout that, like Pilates, combines mat-work and resistance training using pulleys and weights. Using the moves you’ll find in yoga, swimming, tai chi, and dance classes, this routine is all about promoting flexibility and strength. One-on-one classes with a certified instructor range from $50 to $70, but group-mat classes are less expensive.
12. Drink Yourself Slim
Drink lots of water and herbal teas, which suppress the appetite and help the body metabolize stored fat. Also, steer clear of soft drinks and juices with added sugar and try a metabolism stimulator like green tea.
13. Fake It ’til You Make It
Looking gorgeous doesn’t require a lower number on the scale. You can fake weight loss with body-skimming styles that sweep over curves without clinging. Try trendy dresses with graphic floral prints, for instance. Look for comfortable, curve-hugging wrap dresses to define your waist, and deep-V cuts to elongate the neckline.