We’ve all been there—the big event or special occasion is just days away, and those few pounds that we pledged to lose before beforehand are still stubbornly affixed to our thighs/stomach/butt/etc. But whether you’re trying to get bikini-ready for a once-in-a-lifetime tropical vacation, or just trying to show your high school buddies that you’ve still got it, the good news is that dropping a few pounds in a few days is completely doable. Follow these tips to make your weekend weight loss goals a (safe and healthy) reality.
Get Some Sleep
Your weight-loss instincts may tell you that in order to lose weight quickly, you need to put in some marathon gym sessions, stopping only to refuel on lettuce leaves and bottled water. But that’s not the case at all, and, in fact, not getting enough rest can actually derail your efforts to slim down quickly.
“Research shows that at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night helps with fat loss,” says Maurice Williams, owner and head personal trainer of Move Well Fitness in Bethesda, Maryland. “It does this because it cuts down the amount of cortisol and insulin (stress hormones that are not good for fat loss) that are floating around in your blood stream at night. You want your body using hormones such as leptin and glucagon in order to help get rid of fat. 8-10 hours of sleep every night does this.”
Try a fusion workout
Getting rest is a priority when you’re looking for speedy weight loss, but you also know that you’re going to have to get some exercise, too. Not sure whether to focus on cardio or strength training when time is tight? Squeeze in both, says Andrea Fornarola Hunsberger, NYC-based fitness expert and founder of Elements Fitness Studio in East Hampton, New York.
“Workouts that integrate strength exercises and cardio conditioning in an interval-based format (like doing a set of jumping jacks into a set of push-ups) are the best way to burn calories, build lean muscle mass and tone existing muscles,” Hunsberger says. “Cardio-based conditioning increases the heart rate and jump starts the bodies metabolic rate, like turning on an engine and then reviving it up. Strength training helps to increase muscle mass, and create an increased calorie burn during and after your workout.”
Cut ALL sugars
Yes, the donuts are out. And so are the candy bars and sugary lattes from your favorite coffee shop. But when you’re serious about losing weight quickly, it’s also important to remove all sugars from your diet—including foods that your body recognizes as sugar (in the form of glucose), even if they don’t actually taste sweet.
“Your digestive system converts carbs into glucose,” explains Shane Allen, a certified sports nutritionist and weight management specialist. “Your body then converts glucose into glycogen and stores that away in your liver and muscles for energy, but they can only hold so much. That extra glucose has to go somewhere, and your body stores it as fat deposits for energy later on. When you limit those starchy carbs, your body is forced to feed on its own fat for energy.”
In addition to sweet treats, Allen also recommends eliminating foods like bread, rice and noodles, as well as alcohol.
Cutting carbs isn’t the only way to make over your dinner plate maximize your meals for weight loss. Limiting animal proteins and loading up on veggies will scorch the pounds even faster. “Go vegetarian for breakfast and dinner—spinach, bell peppers, onions, broccoli, carrots—anything you want,” says Allen. “For lunch, have more veggies and any protein, like chicken, steak, fish, etc. This ‘flexetarian’ plan launches your body into fat burning mode. You’ll find you have more energy than you’ve ever had, and your clothes will get more and more loose.”
Nervous about giving up your morning oatmeal? Don’t be, adds Allen, who is also a personal trainer with the meal delivery service PersonalTrainerFood.com. “We’ve seen an average weight loss of 7-8 pounds in one week on this plan. If you keep going, I’ve seen an average weight loss of 32 pounds in ten weeks! Vegetables for breakfast may sound weird, but how many times have you had pancakes for dinner?”
So, the big day finally arrives and you’re still a pound (or three) short from your goal. According to Eila Mell, style expert and author of How to Win at Shopping, just getting dressed in the right clothes can make you look sizes smaller. A few tips:
Always start with the right foundation: “Low hanging breasts or bras that make you look like you have four breasts will add pounds for sure. Make sure you’re wearing the right size bra and cut for your body.
Go monochromatic: “When you wear separates in different colors, it breaks up the body, and the eye is drawn to one section more than others. Going with one color, or similar shades of that color, will create the illusion of height and thinness.”
Avoid clothes that are too tight: “Just because you may be able to fit into a size 0 doesn’t mean you should wear a 0. Clothes that are too tight will create rolls of skin where you may not normally have them. Think body skimming, not skin tight.”
Define your waist: “So what if you don’t naturally have an hour glass figure? You can create one by cinching in at the waist. You can also wear your belt slightly above your natural waist, where you are even slimmer.”