January’s a brutal month. Among taxes, bad weather, post-holiday credit card debt, and a general anti-climactic blah feeling, you’ve got those lofty resolutions you created late last month that you swore to yourself and probably a few friends to maintain as the New Year unfolded.
Fat loss was probably among those resolutions. Much like gift buying skyrocketed your credit card bill, holiday indulgences probably expanded your waistline, and now you want to become lean and toned for a spring vacation.
I’m betting you need some serious damage-control intervention about now.
Over my nearly 30 years as celebrity nutrition and fitness expert, I’ve worked with some of the toughest weight-loss resistance cases. These people have tried nearly everything and they still struggle.
Almost every time, these seven strategies work. They probably won’t help you drop 10 pounds by this weekend (that would be a miracle), but incorporate them now and you’ll discover fast, lasting fat loss as the warmer months approach.
7 Ways to Get Healthy after the Holidays
1. Start every morning with a protein shake
Start your morning with a sugary, processed low-fat muffin alongside your dark roast and you’ve created a blood sugar spike-and-crash roller coaster that triggers cravings and hunger. Sorry, but those so-called healthy cereals and diet bars aren’t any better. Switch to a fast, filling protein shake to keep you focused and burning fat for hours.
I’ve had clients do nothing else and still get amazing results by ditching their carb-bomb breakfast for a fast, easy protein shake. I blend plant-based (but not soy) protein powder with freshly ground flaxseed, frozen raspberries, raw kale, and unsweetened coconut milk for a fast, filling meal that keeps me focused no matter how crazy my day becomes.
Related: 5 Benefits of Juicing
2. Meet your sleep quota
Take advantage of shorter, colder days to get deep, replenishing sleep. The hormonal whammy of even one night’s poor sleep can leave you engulfing a low-fat muffin with a soy latte, further stymying fat loss.
One study found the quantity and quality count, so aim for 7 – 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Prepare for sleep an hour before you hit the sack by turning off electronics and taking a hot bath with chamomile tea and a good but not great book.
3. Drink up
With a few exceptions, I want you to drink half your body weight in water ounces. If you weigh 150 pounds, that’s a minimum of 75 ounces per day. Start with a big glass upon waking, and carry a canteen to sip throughout your day.
One study at the University of Washington found everyone who had a tall glass of water before bedtime curbed nighttime hunger. The only time I don’t want you drinking liquid is during meals when excess amounts can dilute stomach enzymes that break down protein. Otherwise, drink up!
Related: 5 Big Benefits of Drinking Water
4. Step up your fiber
Fiber is my number-one fat loss aid that helps balance blood sugar and curb cravings. One study found even with no other dietary modifications, people who added just 14 grams of fiber lost an average of four pounds over as many months. I recommend gradually working up to 50 grams daily; don’t try it all at once!
Easy fiber sources include raw nuts and seeds, raspberries, non-starchy veggies, and avocado. If getting that amount from food becomes a challenge (hey, we’ve all had those days!), a professional-quality fiber supplement can help meet your quota.
5. 20 minutes and you’re done
Gyms are teeming with new members in January, but by early March it’s crickets as the dedicated few remain. If a gym isn’t your thing or you know you’re not going to take the time or commitment, you can get excellent fat-burning results with burst training and weight resistance.
Related: Why Burst Training is Your Best Fat Burning Workout
6. Keep your enemy out of the kitchen
No, not your irritating mother-in-law or your daughter’s bratty friend. I’m talking about that one food that consistently triggers your downfall. Even healthy foods can become unhealthy when you eat too much. (Note to self: a few tablespoons of almond butter are perfectly fine; devouring half the jar is not.)
Keep trigger foods – even healthy ones if they become a problem – out of the kitchen and you’ll be far less likely to succumb when temptation strikes.
Related: 8 Things Healthy People Do
7. Schedule in bliss time
Do you really need studies like this one that spanned five years and concluded stress, including “perceived stress and life events stress,” could make you gain weight? Our fast-faster society encourages overdoing, and the repercussions are showing up around our midsection.
Stress management is not a luxury, so schedule time for a massage, coffee date with your girlfriend, or even a leisurely walk around the neighborhood with your terrier.
Your turn: What would you add to this list for fast, lasting fat loss by spring? Share your thoughts below.
Celebrity nutrition and fitness expert JJ Virgin is the author of The New York Times Bestseller The Virgin Diet.
Featured photo by khawkins04
Additional Reference: University of Washington Study. 2002. Reported in Integrated and Alternative Medicine Clinical Highlights. 4:1(16).
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