If you want to boost your self-esteem ASAP, your best bet is to adjust your expectations and your attitude, *not* your weight.
That said, there are ways you can beat bloat and improve the way you feel when time is of the essence — and you don’t have to starve yourself, invest in unsafe weight loss supplements, or double up on workouts to achieve results.
Instead, try this flexible approach that lets you pick from weight-loss tips that work but won’t completely ruin your life.
Choose at least four of the nutritionist- and fitness expert-backed tips that follow, and work them into your schedule for seven days straight. If you feel ambitious, tack on a few more. The more changes you make, the more weight you can expect to lose between now and the end of this week.
1. Drink Mainly Water
A sports or energy drink, fruit smoothie, or light beer — each serving contains about 100 calories. Yet these beverages don’t satisfy you the way 100 calories of food does, so they’re a waste. Other liquids may be high in sodium and carbohydrates, which trick your body into retaining water, puffing you out.
Water, on the other hand, has zero calories and carbs and little to no sodium, making it the perfect slim-down drink. And, strangely, it actually helps flush out excess water weight as well as jumpstart your metabolism.
If water is too boring, add lemon wedges or mint leaves using an infuser.
20-Ounce Glass Water Infuser With Insulated Sleeve, LOCO MOTIVE, $15, (Available at Amazon)
2. Swap Refined Carbs for Veggies
The simple carbs in white rice, spaghetti, and sandwich rolls can “wreak havoc on your weight because they’re digested very quickly, leaving you hungry and more likely to overeat later,” says Jana Klauer, M.D., author of The Park Avenue Nutritionist’s Plan.
Instead of replacing these foods with healthier whole-grain bread products, which contain filling fibers that can sometimes trigger bloating, sub in vegetables for the week: Instead of rice, try cauliflower “rice” made by grating cauliflower.
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Instead of chips and dip, go for carrots and dip. The complex carbs from these vegetables are digested more slowly than simple carbs , so you’ll remain full longer. And because veggies are mostly water, they also help flush out excess water weight.
3. Do Cardio 30 Minutes a Day
Any workout that gets your heart rate up will burn calories. But you’ll use more calories if you pick a cardio routine that engages multiple muscles simultaneously, says Wendy Larkin, personal-training manager at Crunch’s Polk Street gym, in San Francisco.
Three to consider: spinning, cardio kickboxing, and boot-camp workouts. Half an hour of each torches 200 to 300 calories while toning up your arms, legs, and core so everything appears sleeker and tighter.
You’ll burn even more calories per session if your workout incorporates interval training: alternating short bursts of intense cardio with slower activity. Experts aren’t sure why it works, but trainers swear by it.
4. Drink Coffee an Hour Before Working Out
This is the one exception to the stick-to-water-only rule: Just as a coffee run makes your morning at work more productive, a pre-exercise cup of java with a splash of skim milk (about 11 calories) or black (just 5 calories) will energize your workout, explains Dr. Klauer. “You’ll burn more calories without realizing you’re pushing yourself harder.”
5. Have Nightly You-on-Top Sex
Not that you needed an excuse to hook up with your guy every night, but the fact is, this position is a fat blaster. Being on top means you do the rocking, and the more active you are, the more calories you burn — up to 144 for 30 minutes.
Sex also pumps levels of feel-good neurotransmitters, endorphins, helping you ride out food cravings. Get on top in reverse-cowgirl (i.e., facing away from your guy) to give your thigh and butt muscles an extra push.
6. Do 36 Push-Ups and Lunges Every Other Day
These gym-class staples will help sculpt muscle, so you’ll sport a more streamlined appearance. Do three sets of 12 of each exercise every other day. “Push-ups target your upper body, while lunges work your butt, hips, and thighs,” says Larkin. Quick tip: Make sure your back and legs remain in a straight line during your push-ups; it’ll improve muscle tone. Also, you can build even more muscle with the lunges if you hold free weights in each hand while doing them.
6-Piece Dumbbell Set With Stand, AMAZON BASICS, $24.99 (Available on Amazon)
7. Sleep 30 Minutes More a Night
That extra half an hour, whether you sleep 5 hours or 8, can refresh you enough that you will make better food choices (in other words, no quick sugar fix for breakfast in search of energy) and won’t feel lethargic and skip the gym, says registered dietician Esther Blum, author of Eat, Drink, and Be Gorgeous. More restful sleep (7 to 8 hours is best) also boosts your metabolism. And because your body builds muscle while you snooze, getting zzz’s equals better muscle tone.
8. Make One Food Sacrifice
Cutting out one indulgence — such as the chips you have with lunch or the chocolate dessert you eat after dinner — can subtract a few hundred calories from your diet, which translates into less flab, says Blum. “Your body won’t even notice their absence.”
9. Eat Salmon
It’s packed with nutrients that build muscle tone and give your skin a healthy glow. Some nutritionists claim that consuming a portion (doesn’t matter how it’s cooked) may immediately make your face look a bit more contoured.
10. Pop an Anti-Gas Pill
Take one of these chewable tablets, sold over the counter at drugstores, to relieve bloating in your abdomen and to break up gas bubbles in your digestive tract, leaving you with a flatter tummy.
18-Count Chewable Antigas Tablets, GAS-X, $13.06 (Available on Amazon)
11. Stand Up Straight
Keeping your spine rigid and your shoulders back while sucking in your belly toward your spine gives you a slimmer, more streamlined middle.
12. Do Squats and Sit-Ups
Bodybuilders use this technique before competitions, because it adds definition to muscle. Do three sets of 12 of each exercise to tighten your abs, butt, and legs temporarily.