11:45 16 November 2009
Whether you're planning to shimmy into a little black dress for the Christmas office do or glam it up for a friend's house party, losing a few inches doesn't have to be painful.
All you need is a little will power, determination and to follow this plan to get you ready to party the night away with confidence.
The general principle is to reduce your calorie intake by 500 calories (aim to eat 1,000-1,250 calories a day) and work off an additional 500 to lose a realistic 2-4 lbs a week by following these rules:
First and foremost, crash dieting doesn't work. It will leave you feeling hungry, grouchy and far from the party spirit, and once you start eating normally again the weight will pile right back on.
By eating healthily however, you'll have more energy, look radiant and ready to wow at the festive celebrations as well as being more likely to keep your new trimmer figure for the New Year.
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Cut the grease
Too much fatty and greasy foods are always a bad idea for your overall health, but if you're wanting to shed the pounds, they're a definite no-no. Fizzy and caffeinated drinks are out too, as are crisps, chocolate and definitely take-aways.
You're sweet enough
Anything with refined sugar is best avoided as it quickly turns to fat as well as raising then dipping your energy levels leaving you tired and craving snacks. This includes "skinny" options too; don't be fooled by these empty calories.
Eat little and often
Instead, try eating five or six smaller healthy meals in place of your normal three meals a day. Each should have a source of protein (poultry, fish, tofu, soya and nuts such as walnuts and almonds) and a small portion of complex carbohydrates (potatoes, other root vegetables, oats, rice, beans and lentils).
If you can, try to prepare your food at home so you have something healthy to snack on instead of resorting to the vending machine. You should also eat two portions of fruit a day.
Lose that bloated feeling
Stay clear of bread and pasta to look instantly trimmer, as these quickly turn to sugars which leave you looking and feeling bloated.
Try chewing more slowly too as munching down your food not only doesn't let your brain recognise when you're full, you are likely to take in excess air which leaves you bloated and gassy not great for a flat tum.
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Start the day with cleansing hot lemon and ginger: add the juice of one whole lemon and freshly-grated ginger to hot water and drink.
Also make sure you drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Swap fizzy drinks and coffee for warm herbal teas. Blends such as lemon verbena, camomile and mint help aid digestion. Dandelion coffee will help break down fats to detox your liver, and acts as a mild diuretic to reduce water retention.
However, alcohol is virtually off the menu avoid all weekday drinking and reduce to a couple of glasses of wine over the weekend to instantly reduce your calorie intake by up to 500 calories a day.
Pop some pills
As a precaution to the reduced calorie consumption, to keep your energy levels steady and give you the vital nutrients your body needs, take a multivitamin and mineral supplement to get the vital nutrients.
Write it down
Keep a food diary, keeping track of what you eat and when. This helps you to be honest about how you are doing, and you can reflect on what worked and what didnt.
By telling family or friends this can help reinforce your efforts and hopefully help keep you on track to slim city. And don't take the weekends off as you can easily undo all your hard work with weekend drinking and bad food habits.
To ensure great results, you need to combine your healthy eating plan with exercise. If you diet without exercise, at least half of your weight loss comes from lean body mass (muscle and non-fat tissue), which in turn slows your metabolism, setting you up for weight regain as soon as you increase your food intake.
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Cardio is key
The key to losing that layer of flab is everyday cardio exercise get your heart rate up and breathing heavily.
This can either be four 15-minute walks, two half-hour walks or a full one hour. Get your arms moving, legs striding fast enough to get your heart pumping and so you start to sweat.
Alternatively, half hour sessions at the pool or gym will work to get your heart rate up and burn calories.
Whether it's outside at home at the gym or in a workout class, be sure to get at least 20 minutes of cardio exercise every day to see and feel results. Be sure not to overdo it so you put yourself off though, be sensible.
Time to tone
Show off your leaner body with trim and toned muscles. First you need to identify the problem areas that require most attention. Stand in front of a mirror and jiggle your arms, legs and bum. If everything stays fairly motionless, you're fit and toned. If, like most people, your skin flaps about however, you need to work out.
Lunges: Stand with feet slightly apart and step forward with your knee bent while dropping the back knee down towards the floor, keeping the upper body upright.
Use slow controlled motions, focusing on lowering and raising the back knee, rather than just bending and straightening the front leg.
Squats: Stand with feet apart bending your knees, then slowly lower your bottom as if you're about to sit on a chair, and then straighten up. Lowering the bottom is the focus here, rather than bending the knees.
Leg lifts: Lie on your stomach, with your arms bent and your head resting on the back of your hands.
With your legs straight and together, your tummy pulled in and hips pressed towards the floor, lift one leg and lower. Then lift the other.
Your body language
Planks: Lie down as if you're about to do press-ups, either on your knees or raised on your toes, but with your arms out flat underneath you facing forward. Keep in this raised position with your back flat, focussing on tightening your tummy muscles, until you can no longer maintain it. Then lower yourself down.
Start with 10 seconds at first working up to 30-90 second holds. Make sure you're not cheating by exercising in front of a mirror, making sure the line from your shoulders to your feet is straight and your hips and back don't sag. Planks will help trim up your abs, hips and back.
Clenches: Make use of every situation, whether it's waiting in line, talking on the phone, or standing in the lift, perform slow and controlled bottom clenches for an extra tight behind and don't forget to squeeze in when walking upstairs.
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