Warm, sunny days should make us happy – yet the thought of donning a swimsuit can depress us faster than you can say “mu’umu’u.” But fear not – it’s not too late to get a beach body in time for summer. Our expert-approved fitness plan is packed with advice that will have you firmer and more toned in eight weeks flat. With hard work and determination, “it is absolutely possible to change your body in this time,” says Oscar Smith, owner of O-Diesel studios.
Week 1: Make a Plan “Get skinny by summer” is too vague. Instead, “make mini goals leading up to the big goal,” says Smith, who works with Sports Illustrated and Victoria’s Secret models. “It’s like stepping up a ladder.”Aim for a 30- to 45-minute cardio session 4-5 times a week, doing interval training every other workout. Include three weekly strength training sessions that target your major muscle groups.
Smith’s no-gym cardio workout:1. Run outside for 15 minutes.2. Jump rope for 10 minutes.3. Do 10 20-yard sprints (should take 5 minutes).4. Run up and down a flight of stairs for 5-8 minutes. If you don’t have stairs you can do step-ups on the curb.Slow and steady does the trick, so don’t strain yourself in the beginning. That being said, don’t coast through your workout either. If you’re doing cardio, “you should leave the gym in a sweat,” Smith says. And as for strength-training, lift enough weight to fatigue your muscles in 8-12 repetitions, but never so heavy that you start sacrificing form.
Week 2: Change Your Diet Embrace a dieter’s nutritional friend: fiber. “Fiber fills you up without filling you out,” says Tanya Zuckerbrot, a registered dietician and author of The F-Factor diet (Penguin Group, 2006). For weight loss, eat 30-35 grams of fiber a day. While no food can single-handedly melt flab, a high-fiber diet reduces bloat and keeps your tummy flat, Zuckerbrot says. On the other hand, refined (no-fiber) carbs get converted into glucose and are stored with water, which translates into a bloated belly.
Unlike a crash diet, you can sustain a high-fiber eating plan for the rest of your life, Zuckerbrot says. Some easy changes in The F-Factor Diet are: adding spinach to your omelet, choosing a baked potato (including the skin) over mashed potatoes and eating more leafy greens.
Try this healthy salad from The F-Factor Diet:Israeli salad (serves 4)
1 large seedless cucumber, diced
1 box grape tomatoes, halved
1 small yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup diced red onion
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juicesalt and pepper
In a large bowl, toss together all the vegetables. Add the lemon juice, olive oil and parsley, and mix thoroughly to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Serve cold or at room temperature. Nutritional Content68 calories • 9 g carbohydrate • 2 g fiber • 2 g protein • 4 g total fat • 1 g saturated fat • 46 mg sodium. Find more tips at TheFWordDiet.com.
Week 3: Mix It Up “Your body will adjust to a workout fairly rapidly, so you have to constantly change your routine to keep yourself challenged,” Smith says. This can be as simple as swapping a session on the elliptical trainer for a kick-boxing class. Celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson recommends moves that work multiple body parts at one time, such as squats with a shoulder press. Maximize rest time by jumping rope or jogging in place between sets. Having trouble toning your abs? Do this routine, created by Smith, three times a week on non-consecutive days.
1. Regular Crunches (15-20 reps, 2 sets)Lie on your back, soles of your feet on the floor, knees bent. Place your hands behind or touching the sides of your head (don’t pull your neck!). Pull your abdominals inward, raising your head, neck and shoulder blades off the floor, toward the ceiling. Hold for a moment, then return to the start position.
2. V-Ups (15 reps, 2 sets)Lie on your back, arms above your head and legs flat on the floor. Raise your legs to an angle between 45 and 85 degrees (whatever feels comfortable), with toes pointed so you are squeezing your leg muscles (legs should be straight). Reach your hands to your pointed toes, lifting your shoulder blades off the floor. Return to the start position and repeat.
3. Oblique Sit-Ups (12 reps each side, 2 sets)Lie on your back in regular sit-up position with knees bent. Cross your left foot over your right knee, so the left ankle is just above or below your right knee. Reach your left arm straight out to the side, your right arm bent and cupping your right ear. Curl your upper body diagonally toward your left knee.
Week 4: Plan Your Meals After several weeks, it’s common for people’s diet resolve to weaken. One solution is to plan your meals ahead. Knowing what you’ll be eating will keep you focused and not as susceptible to binging. Below is a sample meal plan from Zuckerbrot: Breakfast: Fage 0% Total Yogurt1/2 cup Fiber One cereal3/4 cup blueberries Glass of water with Crystal Light Orange Sunrise
Lunch:Israeli Salad (see Week 2)1 can of tuna2 fiber crackers 2 Kraft Singles Fat-Free or Low-Fat cheese
Snack: 1 oz. pistachios
Dinner:Shrimp cocktail with 2 Tbsp. cocktail sauce6 oz. lean steak1 cup sautéed mushrooms1 cup grilled asparagus
Dessert:Sugar-free hot cocoa
Week 5: Stretch! All your hard work in the gym is paying off. You want to keep up your workout intensity, but you don’t want to overdo it either.The solution is to add some gentler exercises to complement your current routine. “Yoga and Pilates help you stay agile, keep your muscles loose and make you less susceptible to injury,” Smith says. “They also offer some toning benefits.”Do these stretches three times a week for a long, lean look. (You can work them into your cardio days.) Always do at least five minutes of cardio to warm up your muscles and joints first.
1) Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Bend your right leg behind you and raise your right foot to your right buttock (hold onto your right foot/ankle with your right hand to assist this motion). Your right knee should be pointing toward the ground. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the left side.
2) Drop to the floor onto all fours (knees in line with your hips, wrists in line with your shoulders), palms on the floor. Keeping your hands in place, tuck your toes under and lift your hips to raise your buttocks up toward the ceiling. Straighten your legs as much as you can (without pain) until you’re in an upside-down V. Stretch your heels toward the floor. Hold for 30-60 seconds.
Week 6: Stay Motivated You’ve come a long way, but you still have a few weeks to go. “Motivation has to come from within,” Peterson says. “Think of how your life has improved so far.” Don’t be discouraged if the scale hasn’t moved, because muscle weighs more than fat. Use a tape measure on your waist, hips and bust – not the number on the scale – to determine the progress you’ve made. For an unofficial assessment, give yourself the once-over after you get out of the shower. “The mirror never lies,” Smith says. After losing weight, many of us reward ourselves with a food binge. However, not only does this create an unhealthy relationship with food, but it can also kickstart poor eating habits. Zuckerbrot recommends rewarding yourself with a new pair of shoes or a mani/pedi – calorie-free indulgences that won’t derail your weight loss.
Week 7: Finish Strong The end is in sight – it’s time to increase the intensity of your workouts, Peterson says. Try squat thrusts, push-ups, lunges, and plyometrics with some light weights, all of which have strength and cardio benefits. If all that jumping is too hard on your body, stick to low-impact moves.Smith suggests adding one additional interval training session a week to blast major fat. Try Smith’s 30-minute butt-boosting routine three times a week on non-consecutive days, completing 15 reps of each exercise unless otherwise noted.
1. Squats Stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Slowly lower your body down, as if you were going to sit in an invisible chair – no lower than 90 degrees. (You may need hold on to a chair for support.) Keep your knees in line with your ankles as much as possible. Hold the position for 5-10 seconds. Pushing with your heels (not your toes) return to the start position and repeat.
2. Supergirl Lie flat on your stomach, legs together and extended behind you, arms straight and reaching in front of you. Keeping arms and leg straight (but not locked), simultaneously lift your arms and legs up toward the ceiling, forming a gentle curve with your body. Hold for 2-3 seconds, then lower back to start position and repeat.
3. Donkey Kicks Start out on all fours. Bring right knee into chest, then straighten it out behind you, making sure you don’t arch your back. Repeat 14 times, then switch to the other leg.
4. Hip Raises Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, palms at sides. Slowly lift hips off the floor toward the ceiling, squeezing your butt at the top of the move. Hold for 2 seconds, then slowly lower back down.
5. Scales Stand with your feet together and your arms held out to the side. Lean forward and lift your right leg straight back behind you so it is level with your hip. Move your hands in front of you like you’re reaching for something. Lower to the ground. Do 14 more reps, then switch legs.
6. Mountain Climber Start off on all fours. Keeping your right leg where it is, straighten your left leg, reaching it straight out behind you. Return to all fours, then repeat on the other leg. Continue alternating legs for 30 seconds.
7. Leg Curls Lie on your stomach with legs together and extended behind you, resting your forehead on your hands. Keeping your hips on the floor, bend knees and curl your heels toward your butt. Release to start position.
8. Reverse Crunches Lie flat on your back, with knees bent and hands behind your head. Lift legs, bending your knees to a 90-degree angle. Pull knees in toward your chest, then slowly lower legs back to 90 degrees.
Week 8: Think Long-Term At this point, motivation won’t be a problem. After all, you only have one week left. Even if you haven’t lost all the weight you expected, don’t punish your body with drastic measures like three-hour runs and a diet of broth. Instead, just keep doing what you’ve been doing, including the more intense workouts from Week 7. And remember that slipping into a bikini is just one part of your overall commitment to fitness. “The first eight weeks are just the foundation,” Peterson says. “Afterward, keep revaluating and reassessing [your fitness routine].”
From the Sweat Talk Blog.
February 22nd, 2010