Here lies your guide to lose 10 pounds…or whatever amount you’re aiming for in a short-ish period of time.
Chances are, unless you are a complete hermit or completely scaling back on life, you have something that you’re looking forward to in the next month. For me, I have a vacay to Puerto Rico at the end of the month. If I want to look a little farther out, I’m going to Mexico at the start of the year. I have a birthday party or two mixed in there somewhere, maybe a holiday party…in either case, I face the normal conundrum of this situation.
It’s time to make some changes to this body.
I’m actually not completely displeased with where my weight and size stand right now, but I know that I could do better, and I feel the need to always have a goal. As you probably already know, I’m a huge proponent of more realistic changes like I explain in the Total Body Transformation series, even if they don’t carry the allure of super restrictive, hardcore diets and fitness plans. However, I also believe in major sacrifices in order to get results – that’s that work hard, play hard mentality that I totally embrace.
So, whether you have an event coming up, or you just want to enter into the fall with a smoking, new figure, here are 5 things that I would start doing today if I wanted to lose weight sooner than later.
Cut out the carbs
Many will disagree, but carbs are very often the reason you can’t get rid of the stubborn pounds. What, really?! I know. It’s not intuitive for most of us. We’ve been told for many years that carbs are the biggest section ever on the food pyramid. We are surrounded by carbs at restaurants and fast food places. Carbs are also ridiculously delicious and make us feel good. (Did you know that corn is not a vegetable or a grain and is actually classified as being a fruit? Random research while writing this!)
The evolution of the totally unreliable food recommendations from our federal government.
By carbs, I’m talking about things like breads, wheat, grains, rice…that kind of stuff (not to be confused with the fact that carbs are in fruits and veggies). To be honest, there is no amount of research that is really clear to me on this topic. I’ve just seen it work in practice. People get on diets like Paleo, Atkins, and South Beach and the pounds just melt away. The common thread: zero to very minimal carbs.
Here’s my theory on why this works: Carbs are just so magically delicious and other foods are just ok, so without carbs we eat less! Same thing with buttery, salty things – which tend to accompany carbs. Think about it – even the best chicken and vegetables in the world has a hard time time competing with mediocre pizza. A least for me. Meh.
Now, I don’t think a zero-carb diet is totally sustainable or even all that enjoyable (who really wants to live without pasta and sandwiches forever?). However, if you’re looking to drop some pounds and want to switch you diet temporarily, consider a low carb diet. You can check out the Paleo challenge that I tried for a little inspiration.
Do an activity you can stick to and don’t hate at least 3 times/week
As a fitness professional, I have to admit that fitness is a tricky thing. There’s a million different workouts out there that do a million different things and all you really care about is the one that works, right?
Well, for me right now, that’s quick workouts. A few months ago, it was high energy classes. A year ago, it was short-distance running.
Fitness is just as much about the results as it is about how it makes you feel. Some people love a low intensity workout where they don’t do too much sweating, and they swear by it. Others love to work out for over an hour. The most important thing with any workout program is that you stick with it. Period.
I like to look at different workout options within 3 buckets:
- Things I love and will do no matter what
- Things I like and will do if convenient
- Things I hate but make me feel amazing
Where possible, I suggest completely eliminating anything in the third category.
Those are the things that you’re going to quit. You’re also not going to feel all that great about them. For me, long distance running and kickboxing go here – just not my things. Hate working out in general? Try dancing or a sport that you like. Go for a quick walk to your favorite store – 3 times a week! Whatever it is, try to fit in as much of something either love or just kind of like, do it about every other day, and stick with it.
I realized that me and long-distance running were not the best of friends when I did a 10K a couple of summers ago, and a 10K isn’t even that long! Who knows…it may be my thing again in the future, but for now, it goes into bucket #3 for me.
Lift, lift, lift
If the item above involves weight training, then you may be good to go. However, if you only had cardio in mind, you need to add some lifting to your life. Strength training works wonders for your figure and even helps you burn more calories.
Here’s the thing: As long as you continue to limit how much you eat and burn calories, you’re going to lose muscle. This is not a good thing. You’ll end up slowing down your metabolism and making it harder to lose weight and you’ll turn your body to mush. That’s not cute.
One way to add some strength training is through HIIT workouts like those in the SweshFit 30-day challenge. There are also good ones at Bodybuilding.com like this one for beginners that lay out a nice plan for you. Similar to the carb thing, this one is not intuitive to us. Cardio seems to equal weight loss. Weight training usually does not. People think lifting will actually make them bigger, but you have to lift a lot of weight and eat a lot of food for this to happen. Unless that’s something you’re trying to do, it won’t happen on accident.
Without the carbs, you’re going to be hungry. In my opinion, protein shakes can be an absolute godsend when you’re starving and don’t want to eat more calories. It’s probably the most efficient way to satisfy your appetite, get a nice balance of nutrients, and minimize calorie intake.
Most people automatically associate “protein shake” with “disgusting”, but this isn’t always the case (although there are a lot of horrible-tasting protein shakes out there). One of my favorites is EAS Myoflex. It’s one of the most popular ones (you can find it at almost any grocery or convenience store) and tastes pretty good. I lean more toward the pre-made shake opposed to the powder, but that’s a preference thing. The key thing about it is that there are 20 grams of protein in a 170 calorie serving. Avoid anything will less than a 1:10, protein:calorie ratio (this is the case with a lot of protein bars). You can do better than this and get a more low calorie protein shake, but of course, you could be sacrificing flavor. There are also dairy free and gluten free options out there if you want to go that route.
- When I have absolutely no time for a meal and need to grab something quickly
- After a night of drinking where I would otherwise get super unhealthy, late night food
- Between meals when I need something to tie me over
Stay away from the scale
*Weight-watchers fans: Prepare to protest*
This one may sound silly, but it can be the difference between you sticking with the plan and quitting altogether. The scale can be a super emotional experience. What if you’re on your way to the gym and you check your weight and realize you gained 2 pounds? Or what if you have a really hard day of dieting and still don’t lose anything? Or my personal favorite – what if you totally cheat on your diet and you actually lose 5 pounds? (Although I love when that happens)
Needless to say, the scale can be really deceiving. When you’re losing inches off of your waist, you’re not always losing pounds. You may even be gaining weight if you’re putting on more muscle and losing fat. We tend to pay the most attention to the scale because it’s the easiest way to measure progress, but do we really care whether the scale says +5 or -5 pounds as long as our pants fit looser?
Again, the hardest thing about any weight loss program is sticking to it. You always want to stay aware of your progress so that you know you’re doing the right things, so measuring yourself once a week can be a good idea. The most important thing is not to micro-manage your progress. Do the right things, and do them consistently. That will get you much farther than checking for validation from a scale.
So there’s my two cents on weight loss in a month.
It’s based on my own experience as well as what I’ve seen with others, but everything I said isn’t for everyone. See what works for you and do as much of that as possible!