It’s that time of year. Women everywhere can sense Spring right around the corner and are suddenly really motivated to get serious about their bodies. Of the women who read my blog that are not already fit, most have about thirty pounds or less of body fat to lose. Ladies, that is completely doable in the three months that you have between right this minute and June 1st.
This post is not like those magazine covers that start showing up in the Spring, promising that you can have the best body of your life in 4 or 6 weeks. I’m not about to give you some new starvation diet or trendy body cleanse.
What I’m about to share with you are ten steps that you can take to lose up to 30 pounds of body fat and start seeing some serious changes in the shape and definition of your body. Not only that, but you will be boosting your immune system, increasing your energy, correcting hormonal imbalances and improving your blood sugar level as well. You will do these things without starving and without depriving yourself completely.
I promise you that if you follow these ten steps, you will be much more comfortable in a bathing suit this summer than you think is possible.
#1 – Don’t bother to count calories.
One of the most aggravating and discouraging things about dieting to lose fat is counting every calorie you swallow or mixing and matching meals to try to come in at or just under some magical number. The truth is, that’s counterproductive.
First of all, if you follow the other nine steps I’m going to give you, you will lose fat and you will probably lose it faster than you expect or have done in the past. Second, trying to figure out how to spend the 200 calories you have left in a given day isn’t worth the stress. You’re better off having to go over by 100-200 calories. The fact is, your body doesn’t tabulate calories on a daily basis, it does so over the course of several days to a week. But nickel-and-diming yourself over a few calories will raise your cortisol level and destroy your motivation level.
I know that you probably have it ingrained in your mind that you must track all of your calories, but you need to trust me on this one. After the first two weeks, you’ll see for yourself that following the nutritional guidelines I give you is all you need.
#2 – Cut out the processed foods.
Those of you who have read my blog for even a short time have heard this before: processed foods are your enemy, for a long list of reasons. But for the purposes of this post and your fat loss goals for summer, it’s enough to say that processed foods mess
up your fat loss hormones, are loaded with empty calories, create cravings for more junk and lead to insulin resistance, which will make your body store even more fat.
Get rid of the packaged and prepared meals, snacks and desserts. Forget about fast food. Cut out the refined sugars, refined flours and unhealthy fats. Instead…….
#3 – Eat only fresh, whole foods.
I know that many of you will protest this. You’ll think that you don’t have time to prepare meals from scratch. That’s fine; you don’t have to make every meal a three-course, sit-down affair. Maybe you’ll need to have a smoothie or protein shake once in a while. Maybe you’ll eat several salads a week. But cooking with fresh, whole foods doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend an hour to prepare every meal.
You can easily prepare a week’s worth of soup, chicken breasts and prepped fruits and veggies on a Saturday afternoon. You can use your slow cooker, prepping everything in a few minutes the night before and popping it from the fridge to the slow cooker in the morning. Many delicious scratch meals only take minutes to prepare anyway, like a delicious salad with grilled shrimp and mango or a really wonderful stir-fry dish.
Base your diet on lean meat, fresh seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds and healthy oils such as olive or coconut oil. Eat as much as you need to, but eat only these foods.
#4 – Get 90% of your carbs from veggies and fruits.
If you have excess abdominal fat, chances are very good that you also have some degree of high blood sugar and insulin resistance. Getting rid of the processed foods will have a huge impact on that issue. But you should go one step further and get 90% of your daily carbs first from fresh vegetables and then from fruits. You’ll need to do a little trial and error with your sweet tooth and your energy level, but go for 60-70% veggies and the rest in fruits. When you do choose fruits, stick with low-glycemic fruits such as berries, watermelon, apples, pears and bananas.
The remaining 10% of your daily carbs can come from grains such as steel cut oats, brown rice and whole grain breads and pastas.
#5 – Eat the right carbs at the right time.
Not all carbs are created equal. Carbs in the form of starches and grains should be eaten when they are most likely to be immediately utilized by the body to replenish glycogen stores. This means limiting these types of carbs to your post-workout window, when your glycogen supply is depleted. This ensures that those carbs don’t end up being stored as fat because your body doesn’t need them right away.
This is true even if you tend to work out late in the evening; as many of us busy women have to do. So get the majority of your carbs throughout the day from fresh fruits and vegetables, and limit things like breads and cereals to a post-workout treat.
#6 – Get plenty of vitamins and antioxidants.
If you eat a wide variety of vegetables in fruits in all different colors, plus get enough lean protein from eggs, lean meats and seafood, you should be fine. Multivitamins are not the insurance policy that everyone thinks they are. Most are made from substandard ingredients, don’t include enough of some micronutrients and have too much of others.
Make sure that you get at least some green, some yellow, some red, some orange and some blue or purple produce each day and you’ll most likely get the antioxidants you need to boost your immune system, support healthy hormone function, keep your energy high and stimulate fat loss. Go for dark leafy greens, yellow squash and yellow peppers, raspberries, beets, tomatoes and apples, carrots and sweet potatoes, blueberries and black plums and you should be fine.
#7 – Drink a ton of water.
You’re about to embark on a very high-fiber, low starch diet. This is going to do great things for your digestive system, but you need to provide it enough water to clean out your digestive tract, liver and kidneys. Drink a minimum of 64 fluid ounces of water per day. If you have trouble drinking water, squeeze in some lemon juice or slice up some lemons and limes, put it in a pitcher of water and let it steep overnight.
#8 – Get enough sleep.
I can’t stress enough how important sleep is to losing fat and building muscle. Inadequate sleep, for even a few nights, wreaks havoc on your leptin, ghrelin and cortisol levels, stimulating your body to store fat. It also leaves you too tired to follow through on your exercise plan or give your workouts your all.
Get a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night, but eight is better. If that means going to bed a little earlier than you’re used to, so be it. You can record your favorite TV shows or catch up on Facebook during the day. Besides, which do you want more, a new body or a couple more hours of TV?
#9 – Start a muscle-building workout program.
The fastest way to lose fat and lose it permanently is to build lean muscle. For every pound of muscle you gain, you lose a corresponding pound of fat. Adding muscle also allows you to eat more, because you’re burning more calories throughout the day.
There are a ton of weight-training videos on my website, as well as a whole array of my YouTube videos that you can use to create a weight-training program. Or you can sign up for my new Curvalicious workout program to keep it straight and simple. But you should either be doing a split-body program 6 times per week or a full-body routine 3-4 times per week, every week.
You’ll start seeing results in the smaller muscle groups, such as your arms and calves, within just a few weeks. By the time June comes around, you will be well on your way to a whole new body, with a more defined waist, sexy legs and arms and a curvier backside.
#10 – Start doing interval cardio.
Forget about doing an hour on the treadmill or elliptical. Static cardio does nothing more than burn carbs and a few hundred calories. Interval cardio burns more calories, even after your workout is done and also stimulates fat loss, which static cardio does not do.
If you have been doing fairly strenuous cardio fairly regularly, you may be ready for high-intensity interval training. If not, regular interval cardio is where you should start. This means that you alternate about two minutes of moderate work with one minute of strenuous work for a total of about thirty minutes.
You can take an interval cardio class, or you can alternate walking with running, running with running up hill or up stairs, or change up the gears if you’re cycling. It’s very easy to incorporate intervals into your cardio and it is one of the most important things you can do to boost metabolism and stimulate fat loss.
I know this seems like a long list, but none of these things are drastic and none of them are painful. You won’t be hungry, you’ll have a ton of energy, you won’t have mood swings and you won’t be spending money on supplements and “fat loss aids.”
And best of all, you will see serious results by June. It is very possible to lose as much as thirty pounds of body fat in three months by following these steps. If you have less to lose, then once your reach your fat loss goal you can eat more of the above foods or add a treat here and there.
But the best treat of all will be the confidence, pride and sense of accomplishment you feel when you hit the beach or pool this summer.
If you need suggestions for workouts, here are a few that I recommend:
Muscle-Building Workout (including interval Cardio) Programs: