Dieting may be a short-term fix to dropping a dress size but it will prove unsustainable in the long-term. Instead, why not drop a dress size through exercise and not dieting?
Does this sound at all familiar? You've tried lots of different diets but in the end, they've all failed. Now you feel frustrated and you wonder if you'll ever fit into that dress from several years ago. Well, help is at hand because the basic fact is that diets don't work. Embarking on a diet to lose weight typically follows the pattern below:
- Initial successful weight loss when the diet starts
- A plateau where your weight stays the same
- It becomes harder and harder to lose weight
- The diet is abandoned
- The weight is rapidly regained
- A further weight increase occurs
Super six toning areas
The 'drop a dress size without dieting' plan focuses on training six key problem areas. By toning the 'super six', specific muscles will become firmer and everything will be 'pulled in', resulting in an all-round leaner physique.
Super six toning areas
- Underside of upper arms
To target the super six, complete the following exercises:
Drop a dress size exercise 1: Stomach exercises
Upper stomach muscles: Sit-ups and crunches
Lower stomach muscles: V-sits and leg extensions
Drop a dress size exercise 2: Obliques (Sides of the abdomen)
Oblique crunches on a stability ball
Drop a dress size exercises 3 & 4: Thighs and bottom exercises
Any aerobic activity such as cycling, walking, jogging, running, rowing etc, which uses the legs.
Drop a dress size exercise 5: Underside of upper arms
Any triceps exercise, for example:
- Tricep dips
- Tricep extensions
- Tricep kickbacks
Drop a dress size exercise 6: Core exercises
Core exercises train your inner postural muscles. These muscles aren't visible but are fundamental to holding you in and keeping you upright.
Drop a dress size exercise 7: Good core exercises include
- The plank
- Sitting on a stability ball
- Stability ball floor bridge
When targeting specific areas, it is extremely important not to neglect the opposing muscle and ensure that the body remains in postural balance at all times.
Example 1: If the triceps are being exercised to tone up the upper arms, exercises for the biceps muscles should be included.
Example 2: If stomach exercises are carried out, back extensions for the lower back should also be completed.
Drop a dress size, question 1: Bulking up through exercise?
Many women focus solely on cardiovascular exercise (working the heart and lungs) because they are concerned that if they start weight-training, they will bulk up their muscles. Women are not naturally predisposed to building large muscles and will find it virtually impossible to develop anything remotely like a muscular physique. What training with weights will achieve, will be a lean, toned, slim body, with additional spin-off benefits including:
- Increased calorie burn 24 hours a day due to the higher 'energy cost' of toned muscles compared with body-fat.
- Reduced risk of osteoporosis (brittle bone disease) as the skeleton is strengthened when resistance training is carried out.
Drop a dress size, question 2: How often should I train?
To optimally tone muscles, training for a minimum of two sessions per week is necessary. After 72 hours, the physiological improvements that occur following a training session begin to ebb away, so a single weekly session reduces training gains. However, by completing two sessions per week, (with a suitable rest period in between sessions), you ensure that improvements are maintained. It is also important to note that training for seven sessions per week will not produce seven-fold improvements. Rest is the key ingredient in any training program and it is vital to allow time for the body to recover following training. A minimum of one day's rest between sessions is necessary to facilitate recovery and the rebuilding that occurs after training. If rest is omitted, fatigue and over-training can occur, resulting in reduced gains because the body is still tired from the previous session.
Drop a dress size, question 3: How many times should I complete an exercise?
Frequently, advice is given that to tone up muscles, lots of repetitions with light weights are necessary. This advice is suitable for basic maintenance but to reactivate dormant muscles, challenging the body with fewer repetitions using a higher weight will bring about quicker and more improved results.
Resistance exercises (triceps, obliques and stomach)
Build up to completing three sets of 12 repetitions, with a 60 second recovery between sets.
Build up to holding each exercise for 60 seconds.
Build up to completing three, 20 minute sessions each week.
The end results of dropping a dress size without dieting
Simply by carrying out the specific exercises outlined above, within six weeks, you will notice that your body has become noticeably leaner and firmer. Additionally, you will have broken out of the yo-yo diet syndrome and by sticking to your new-found healthy regime, you will see your dress size falling instead of rising!
Why that's BS: It depends on the type of fats you're eating, says Tricia Psota, RD, a nutritionist based in Washington D.C. "Fats in chips, cookies, and greasy foods can increase cholesterol and your risk for certain diseases. But good fats, like nuts, avocados and salmon, protect your heart and support your overall health." And when paired with a healthy diet, the right fats can help keep you from being, well, fat, adds Sharon Palmer, RD, author of The Plant-Powered Diet.
Why that's BS: Eating in small, frequent amounts is a great way to curb hunger, control portion sizes, and make better nutritional choices, says Mike Clancy, CDN, a personal trainer at David Barton's Gym in New York City. "Smarter snacks like nuts, fruits, and yogurt will keep your energy levels high throughout the day." (Need proof? Our 400 Calorie Fix plan -- which involves three or four meals plus snacks -- can help you lose 11 pounds in just two weeks!)
Why that's BS: "Not all calories are the same," says Clancy. "The type of calories, the timing of the calories, and the quality of the calories can significantly alter the effect of the calories on the body," he says. "Food creates reactions within our bodies and the type of food you eat is an important component in diets." For example, 50 calories of an apple will cause a different internal reaction than 50 calories of cheesecake, says Clancy. "The quality of the calories is also important because the chemicals, hormones, and general byproducts that are found within processed food effects the absorption of real nutrients." Quality calories are nutrient dense, like spinach. Calories that don't contain any nutrients -- also known as "empty" calories -- are like the ones found in French fries. Bottom line: Calories are important for understanding portion control, but they’re not the only factor in good nutrition, says Clancy.
Why that's BS: The research on carbohydrate intake is often misinterpreted, says Chrissy Carroll, MPH, RD, founder of Inspired Wellness Solutions, LLC. "Yes, it is true that excessive intakes of refined carbohydrates, like white bread or white rice, may lead to weight gain or increased cardiovascular risk. But there is no research suggesting that healthy carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, or legumes, can negatively impact health or weight. On the contrary, many studies suggest a diet high in these plant-based foods is associated with better overall health." Case in point: A 2002 American College of Nutrition study that found replacing refined grains with whole-grain and minimally processed grain products, along with increasing the intake of fruits and veggies, can help lower dietary glycemic load and insulin demand. This, in turn, can ultimately reduce the risk of both type 2 diabetes and heart disease, says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, manager of wellness nutrition services for the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. So, keep the carbs! And aim for those that come from 100% whole grains or fruits, adds Kirkpatrick.
Why that's BS: Sorry, caveman lovers: eating lots of protein is not the key to healthy weight loss. Why? The body needs three macronutrients: Protein, carbohydrates, and fat, says Rania Batayneh, MPH, a nutritionist and author of the forthcoming The One One One Diet (published by Rodale, which also publishes Prevention), and focusing exclusively on protein for weight loss makes no sense. "You not only deprive your body of fiber and other antioxidants found in healthy carbohydrates -- whole grains, fruits, and veggies -- but you also run the risk of eating too much fat in your diet which can lead to high cholesterol and triglycerides.”
Why that's BS: There's no scientific evidence that gluten is a particularly fattening ingredient, says Palmer. "The problem is that we eat too many refined grains -- foods made of white flour or other refined grains," she says. And cutting gluten without checking with your doctor first can lead to deficiencies in important nutrients, such as fiber, iron, vitamin B12 and magnesium, says MaryAnne Metzak, CDN, a nutritionist in Southampton, NY. In the meantime, focus on getting healthy whole grains in moderate portions.
Why that's BS: Working out with or without food in your stomach doesn't affect calorie burn -- but skipping meals before sweat sessions may result in muscle loss, finds a study published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal. And before you settle for a sports drink, know this: While a quick sip of sugar energizes your muscles, the drink’s other artificial additives can be harmful to your health, says Sanda Moldovan, DDS, MS, CNS, a diplomat of the American Academy of Periodontology. Instead, go for naturally sweet fruit, like bananas, peaches, and mangos before your sweat session. Or try an ounce of dark chocolate for the same caffeine fix you get from a half cup of coffee. "Chocolate also contains feel-good substances, called neurotransmitters, which are the same release during a 'runner's high,' " says Moldovan.
Why that's BS: Going four or five (or even eight!) hours between normally-sized meals will not make your metabolism slow down, says Monica Reinagel, MS, a nutritionist based in Baltimore. "Eating more frequently may help stave off hunger, which can help you fight temptation. But if you want to do this, you have to be careful to keep your meals and snacks really small," she says. "Otherwise, eating every 2 hours can simply lead to taking in too many calories over the course of the day."
Why that's BS: Throwing caution to the wind on the weekends can offset the consistency and success you had all week, says Batayneh. "On the weekends, we tend to sleep in, maybe missing our workout, typically drink more alcohol and have heavier meals. So if you lose about one pound between Monday and Friday, you just might gain it back -- or at least maintain it, really taking away the efforts towards weight loss." Which means if you're trying to lose weight, the weekends shouldn't be a free-for-all. You still need a plan, says Batayneh. Some suggestions: passing on the bread basket and limiting yourself to one cocktail.
Why that's BS: "We tend to be in 'all or nothing' mode when we diet and never seem to find a middle ground," says Batayneh. "You have to realize that you can’t have pizza, French fries, and chocolate cake all in the same day, but -- with careful planning -- you can enjoy these foods when they are presented to you. Just don’t go for seconds and share if you can." In fact, research shows that moderately indulging in "forbidden foods" is what keeps people from bingeing on the stuff.
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