Getting in Shape for Swim Season
Picking a plan that works
There are dozens of fad diets promising quick and easy weight loss, but the truth is there's no magic formula, powder or pill to melt away weight. The trick is really no trick at all: A reduced-calorie diet coupled with exercise. You don't have to deprive yourself of your favorite foods or sweat for hours to see results, either. In fact, experts often advise that you shouldn't make changes you can't sustain over the long term. If you get frustrated, you're more likely to give up.
Here are some tips from the experts at the Mayo Clinic on the best ways to slim down for swimsuit season:
Pick a plan that works for you
There are dozens of diet plans out there, so do your homework. Make sure the plan you choose is a healthy one that includes all the major food groups, doesn't deprive you of the foods you like and fits your lifestyle. If you're not sure whether a plan is right for you or have questions about how many calories and other nutrients you need while losing weight, talk to your doctor.
Mind your portions
Portion control is key to losing weight, so it's important to learn appropriate serving sizes. For example:
- A 3-oz. serving of fish is the size of a deck of cards
- A half-cup serving of pasta or dry cereal is the size of a hockey puck
- A half-cup serving of fresh fruit is the size of a tennis ball
- A 1-teaspoon serving of butter is the size of a dime
You can also reduce your portions by curbing mindless eating. Prepare servings in a way that extra helpings aren't quite so tempting. For example, serve yourself a portion of chips out of the bag rather than snacking directly from the package.
You can lose weight through diet changes alone, but you'll see faster results -- and a shapelier body -- if you add exercise. It's important to make your goals realistic and attainable. You might not be a natural athlete, but if you experiment with various sports and activities you're certain to find something you enjoy. You might join your company softball league, sign up for an adult ballet class or walk with your family after dinner each night. The important thing is to move regularly.
If it's difficult for you to find time to exercise, then it's time to get resourceful. You might slip in a few walking breaks during the workday, work out while watching TV or squeeze in a little extra exercise by taking the stairs and parking farther away from your destination while running errands. Every little bit counts.
Keep your eye on the goal
With most diet and exercise programs, you can expect to lose about one to two pounds a week. There are times along the way when your weight loss will stall because you've slipped up, had a busy week, gone on vacation -- or seemingly for no reason at all. It's a frustrating but ultimately rewarding journey. The key is making small, sustainable changes you can stick with over the long haul, until you reach your goal.