"I was devouring leftover buffalo chicken dip the other day when it suddenly struck me that March is around the corner,” my friend wearily told me recently.
Her upcoming two-week Maui vacation practically demanded she shed holiday weight to become lean and toned.
Winter provides numerous excuses to pack on the pounds, conveniently disguised in bulky sweaters, loose-fit jeans, and oversized coats. Though it’s freezing now, warmth is around the corner and now becomes the time to get fast, lasting fat loss.
Ditch the “I’ll start Monday” and other logical-but-jeopardizing excuses. There’s no better time than right now to lose fat and gain optimal health. These five strategies will help you reach your goals so you look fit and fabulous as the days become longer and warmer.
1. Burst training.
Frigid, snowy weather can make visiting the gym a Herculean task. Fortunately, you can get great results in just minutes a day with burst training, which makes you an all-day fat-burning machine. Hotel, hospital, or mall stairwells are among the perfect places to burst. I combine burst training with weight resistance in my 4 x 4 Workout, which takes just 15 minutes, three times a week, conveniently in your own home. (Seriously: less time than you’ll spend looking for a parking spot at your overcrowded gym.) Grab a free 4 x 4 Workout here.
2. Double protein shakes.
Who has hours to spend prepping food or standing over a hot stove? A protein shake makes a fast, affordable, efficient meal replacement that takes minutes to make but keeps you full for hours. Load non-dairy, non-soy plant-based protein powder or defatted beef powder with frozen berries, kale or other leafy greens, flax or chia seeds, avocado, and unsweetened coconut or almond milk. I double up on super-hectic days: One shake for breakfast and then another at lunch or (lately) dinner.
3. Seven to nine hours of sleep.
Just because your neighbor’s dinner party spills into the wee hours of the night doesn’t mean you have to. Sleep keeps your fat-burning hormones in check to reduce cravings and hunger. Use the hour before sleep to power down, practice deep breathing or meditation, and take a hot bath with a trashy beach novel. Use earplugs, an eye mask, and a sound machine to drown out extraneous noise so you get seven to nine hours of deep, uninterrupted sleep.
4. Drink up.
I’m talking water, not tequila! Proper hydration keeps your cells functioning at peak performance and optimizes metabolism. Besides, cravings and between-meal hunger are often signs you’re thirsty. Start with 16 ounces of water at breakfast and sip throughout your day except during meals, when too much liquid can dilute stomach enzymes that break down protein. (For a more comprehensive water schedule, click here.)
5. Eat by the plate.
Focus your meals every four to six hours on clean protein, leafy and cruciferous veggies, healthy fats like avocado, and slow-release high-fiber carbs like sweet potatoes or quinoa.
Photo credit: JJ Virgin