It seems like weddings and weight loss go together like peas and carrots. Regardless of if you're the person tying the knot, nothing can provide the motivation to lose 20 pounds like an impending wedding.
I recently went through this myself. One night, about four weeks before a good friend's wedding, he called and said, "Hey, I never asked, but I was hoping you'd be my best man."
Yikes! That meant I had one month to drop some unwanted weight, otherwise I'd risk looking like a hippopotamus in a tuxedo. Fortunately I've got some formal strength and conditioning experience, so I was able to achieve my weight loss goal. And I'll tell you exactly how I did it, so you can follow my strategies.
Disclaimers: I'm outlining the steps I took to drop 20 pounds in less than a month. Every body is different, so your results could vary, even if you follow my guideline to the letter. Also, be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any weight loss program. Actually, in the interest of legal liability, check with your doctor before doing anything. My point is that you can't hold me liable - I'm just trying to help, but it's your responsibility to take care of yourself.
There. Now that that's out of the way, let's get down to business.
1. Skip Any Beverage Other Than Water or Skim Milk
There are a ton of calories in most drinks. And sadly, they don't make us feel full - which means we don't even realize we've consumed them. Most small cans of soda contain at least 100 calories and a glass of fruit juice can top 300 calories. I say skip them all. I drank water almost exclusively during my 30 days, as it has zero calories and has some major benefits within the body (it's been shown to help boost metabolism and speed up the fat burning process).
2. Don't Eat Fried Foods
French fries, hamburgers, fast foods... they are all loaded with greasy fat. Cutting them out not only helped me keep my fat consumption down, the absence of all that grease actually made me feel better. I had more energy, slept better and didn't get tired as easily. Not only that, my indigestion (which I get from time to time) vanished as soon as I said goodbye to McDonald's and its fast food cousins.
This also works at home, though. Just because you're cooking your own meals, don't think you can drop your grub into the boiling vat of vegetable oil!
3. Don't Eat Processed Foods
As a general rule, anything that I bought in the grocery store's frozen food section didn't make my cut. These foods are so loaded up with preservatives and other nasty chemicals that they could probably survive a nuclear winter. Instead, opt for fresh, natural ingredients such as lean meats, fruits and vegetables and whole grains.
4. Stay Away From High Fructose Corn Syrup
Technically this step should probably be a side note for step 3, but it's so important that I'm giving it its own space. I religiously scanned the ingredients lists on everything before I bought/ate it, and refused to eat anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this nasty chemical, it's a synthetic sweetener created by over processing the natural sugars found in corn. It's so cheap to produce that most food companies, especially processed food companies, use it in everything from TV dinners to soda pop to even health food.
Granted this has been the topic of plenty of debate, as some say it's not bad for you at all. I'm not going to get into that argument, but I will tell you it was one of my most important steps for losing weight.
5. Go Running
I personally believe that none of those fancy cardio machines at the gym can hold a candle to good, old fashioned running. As long as you run at a pace that's comfortable, and don't' have any nagging injuries, I'd highly recommend it over pretty much any other form of cardio. I tried to run every day, but realistically only did so three or four times per week on average. But every time I did, I felt great and, believe it or not, actually felt "tighter" afterwords.
6. Do Some Resistance Training
Cardio is great, but if you really want to lose weight in a hurry, you better combine it with resistance training. You don't have to go overboard, as spending hours in the gym is, I feel, a very lame way to spend a day. However, if you can put in just 10 to 15 minutes per day of muscle work, you'll be that much farther ahead.
I'm sure some of you are saying, "But I don't want to bulk up." Don't worry, you don't have to. Simply use lighter weights and perform more reps.
But keep in mind that working your muscles burns calories like crazy. And because muscle burns more calories than fat, you'll actually be burning more lard even when you're at rest. I think of resistance training as "working smarter, not harder."
Do some push ups and pull ups, or go to the gym and run through a short routine. I think you'll be satisfied with the results.
7. Get Some Sleep!
I hate sleeping. I'm such a night owl that I'll stay up all night given the opportunity. But I also know that sleep plays a vital role in repairing and enhancing the body. Even if you set your bed time to an hour before you normally would, you're giving your body a huge advantage.
8. Positive Reinforcement
Losing weight isn't easy, and it requires plenty of will power. And even when you can tackle all these tips on your own, some body will inevitably offer you a gooey pastry or oily donut. Saying "No thanks" in these instances was the hardest part for me, but I noticed that when I did, I felt great about myself, as if I had passed some huge test. I guess this isn't "positive reinforcement" by definition, but passing the oppotunity to eat junk food with friends made me feel better about myself, and strangely enough, made me more confident in my commitment to lose weight.