As of Sunday, spring will officially have sprung. We're psyched for cute spring dresses, but not so psyched about the winter flab they'll bare, which is why we've got a two-week plan to set healthy, long-term slimming into motion. Here, the first five days:
Take small steps to slim down.
Do: Start slow: 15 minutes on the bike or a brisk 30-minute walk. Don't plan a big workout and wind up disappointed in yourself for not being able to make it through; a good experience will get you motivated.
Avoid: Your usual (bad) diet. Identify 10 bad habits (like scarfing down your kid's fries). Rank them from hardest to change to easiest and start slowly knocking items off, starting with the simplest.
Get a jump start with this all-over body blaster.
Do: Plan ahead. Stash smart snacks (rice crackers, raw almonds) in your purse to prevent junk-food binges. Bring your gym bag to work so you can head straight to the gym.
Avoid: Get-fit-quick gimmicks. Don't fall prey to the false promises of wacky diets. Stick with small and lose big: Lifting dumbbells during the nightly news, walking the dog... All easy calorie burners.
Rev up your metabolism in 14 easy steps.
Do: Go with the flow. "It's okay to do shorter or easier workouts when you're crunched for time, as long as you balance it out by doing a little more on your high-energy days," says Gunnar Peterson, who trains such stars as Jennifer Lopez. You don't even have to do bona fide exercise every day. Just keep moving!
Avoid: Starving yourself -- something you may contemplate in your stressed-out state. "You're likely to binge if you go four or more hours without eating," says Slayton. Don't skip meals -- especially breakfast.
Learn the tips that keep the stars in shape.
Do: Rest up. If you're sleep-deprived, you won't get the most out of your workout anyway. But if you just a little boost, try a rejuvenating meditation in which you focus on breathing deeply and slowly for 10 minutes. Then choose an activity that's easy, such as walking the dog, instead of taking a spinning class.
Avoid: Being too strict about eating. If you obsess about the candy bar or cheddar-cheese sandwich you're not having, you're more likely to give in and pig out, so take a positive approach. Out with the girls? Drink a light beer instead of your usual piña colada and save 153 calories a round.
Don't do these! Here are 9 ineffective exercises that you can skip.
Do: Be patient. If the weight isn't falling away as fast as you want, think of your new healthy-living plan in terms of past accomplishments (finishing college, learning to play a musical instrument, even having a baby): There were trade-offs, but they were worth it in the end.
Avoid: Obsessing about how you look. A beautiful body will never bring you the satisfaction you imagine it would. Focus instead on a goal, like finishing a 10K race, or mastering a new skill, such as tai chi or tennis.
GET WITH THE PROGRAM: SEE THE REST OF THE TWO-WEEK PLAN
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.