Got a month? Then you’ve got time to achieve your dream body in time for your next beach getaway. Here, we’ve asked fitness and nutrition experts how to safely shed those extra inches while avoiding a binge-eating relapse. Who knows—you might just decide to stay fit and keep living a healthy lifestyle for good.
1. First Things First: Check With Your MD
When it comes to getting fit, hard work is everything. So if you haven’t worked out in a while, it might be best to check with your doctor first. “Before committing to any workout regimen, make sure you’re physically well,” advises Beth Shaw, founder of YogaFit. “If you are not in any type of shape, ease into it and listen to your body.”
2. Prepare to Work Hard
Want to see results in a month? You’re going to have to kick your workout routine up a notch. But if you don’t have the luxury of time to spend the whole day in the gym, here’s a good workout plan from Paulette Lambert, director of nutrition at California Health and Longevity Institute.
- If you have 60 minutes: Do 30 minutes of interval training for cardio, 20 minutes of strength training and 10 minutes of stretching.
- If you have 30 minutes: Do 15 minutes of intense interval training for cardio, 10 minutes of strength training and 5 minutes of stretching.
- If you have 10 minutes: Do quick, at-home exercises or exercises that don’t require any equipment: push-ups, sit-ups, planks and wall squats.
3. Mix It Up
Workout variance not only fosters optimal results, but reduces the risk for injury too. “Don’t do the same exercises every day,” Shaw warns. “If you’re constantly creating tears by training the same muscles, you are not allowing your muscles time to repair the tears and build strength.”
4. Ditch the Bad Stuff
You’ve likely heard before that fitness begins in the kitchen. As much as we love a good workout, we agree with this sentiment. So which ones do you need to ditch first?
- The Obvious Offenders: Foods with added sugars like desserts, refined carbs like white bread and alcohol
- The Sneaky Saboteurs: Foods with high sugar content and calorie count but with little to no nutritional value like fast food/convenience food, coffee creamers, soda and fruit-flavored juices
- The Water-Retainers: Dairy products like cheese and milk, processed food (which contains high levels of sodium) and gluten
5. Load Up on Water
According to experts, the first thing that should touch your lips in the morning is a tall glass of water. “Water awakens our internal organs, stimulating digestion and elimination of toxins,” explains Shaw. “It also hydrates us after eight hours of dehydration.” In addition to that, drinking the right amount of water will help to raise the metabolism, detoxify the body and (yes!) curb cravings, further empowering you to eat less of the bad stuff and shed unwanted weight faster.
6. Switch “Cheat Days” for “Treat Meals”
Cheat days may be an acceptable term in the fitness world, but some experts don’t agree it’s a good practice. “I personally don’t believe in cheat days,” says New York-based nutrition expert Natalie Thomas-Oliveira. “Spending a day eating anything and everything will just undo all the progress you’ve made during the week.” Shaw agrees—especially if you’re looking to see results in a 30-day window. “You’re simply not allowed to have a cheat day in a 30-day boot camp,” she says. “You should always take one day off from exercise every week, but you shouldn’t binge on junk food.”
On the other hand, some argue that cheat days are fine for maintaining motivation—as long as they’re not completely out of hand. “Total deprivation never works. You’ll end up feeling deprived and will eventually binge, “Lambert says. “Allow yourself a limited amount of ‘permissible indulgence’ each week—say about 400 to 500 calories—that you can ‘spend’ as you desire.”
7. Keep Moving
We get it: When it comes to exercise, getting to the gym in the first place is practically half the battle. But experts say you don’t always need long hours in the gym or big movements to actually make an impact. Remember, doing any exercise, no matter how limited your time, is better than not doing any type of fitness activity at all.
“Take the stairs instead of the elevator, take the longer route to your favorite lunch place and walk faster, or park at the farthest end of the parking lot,” says Thomas-Oliveira. “Even small habit changes every day can make a big difference.”
READERS—Do you have a go-to I-need-to-get-fit-fast routine? Share it with us in the comments section below.