“Thankfully, I have another two months to hide behind this,” my friend said, playfully tugging her chunky wool oversized sweater as she contemplated the dessert menu.
“Don’t shoot the messenger,” I replied, mentioning her upcoming two-week Honolulu vacation.
Frigid temperatures make spring feel a world away, but trust me: you’ll soon be turning your calendar to March, watching the snow thaw, and shopping for warm-weather attire.
That’s why I want you to take control to ditch those stubborn winter pounds now to look fabulous as warm weather approaches. Employ these five strategies to lose weight fast and effectively, and you’ll shed that excess fat as easily as ditching as that heavy down coat. (You can thank me in early April.)
How You Can Lose That Extra Winter Weight
1. Burst training.
It’s cold outside, but that doesn’t mean you need to sweat it out for hours every day in a stuffy gym to get lean and toned by spring. Fortunately, you can get great results in just minutes a day with burst training, which makes you an all-day fat-burning machine.
I combine burst training with weight resistance for toned arms and killer abs in my 4 x 4 Workout, which takes just 15 minutes, three times a week (less time than you’ll spend looking for a parking spot at the gym!).
Related: The 7 Best Bodyweight Exercises You Can Do Without Going To The Gym
2. Double protein shakes.
A protein shake creates a fast, affordable, efficient meal replacement that takes minutes to make but keeps you full for hours. Load non-soy, non-dairy plant-based or animal protein with frozen raspberries, kale, or other leafy greens, flax or chia seeds, with unsweetened coconut or almond milk.
Double up for fast fat loss: Have one shake for breakfast and then another at lunch or dinner. Focus your meal on clean lean protein, lots of leafy and cruciferous greens, good fats like avocado, and slow-release high-fiber carbs like sweet potatoes or quinoa.
3. Get sufficient sleep.
Just because your neighbor’s farewell-to-winter party goes into the wee hours of the night doesn’t mean you have to. If you want to lose weight, beauty sleep is a must. Sleep keeps your fat-burning hormones in check to reduce cravings and hunger. One study found even a partial night’s crappy sleep could make you insulin resistance, paving the way for obesity and type 2 diabetes.
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, replenishing sleep.
Related: 8 Bedtime Hacks: A Cheat Sheet For Getting A Good Night’s Sleep
4. Drink up.
I’m talking about water, not tequila. Proper hydration keeps your cells functioning at peak performance and optimizes your 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.
5. Optimize recovery.
Chronic stress keeps cortisol revved up when this hormone should be tapering down, leading to muscle breakdown and fat storage. If regular massages aren’t in your budget, try deep breathing or meditation. Figure out what works for you and prioritize it. Just as important as what you eat, de-stressing becomes essential to lose weight quickly…and make it last.
Celebrity Nutrition & Fitness Expert JJ Virgin helps clients lose weight fast by breaking free from food intolerances and crushing their sugar cravings. She is author of New York Times Bestsellers The Virgin Diet: Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 Pounds, Just 7 Days, The Virgin Diet Cookbook: 150 Easy and Delicious Recipes to Lose Weight and Feel Better Fast and The Sugar Impact Diet: Drop 7 Hidden Sugars, Lose up to 10 Pounds, Just 2 Weeks. JJ is also a frequent blogger at Huffington Post, Mind Body Green, and other outlets as well as a popular guest on TV, radio, and in magazines. Learn more at www.jjvirgin.com.
Photo by Ashley Plumey