Letters hit my email inbox all the time with people asking how they can quickly lose five pounds. They may have an upcoming reunion, wedding, or just want to fit back into the jeans they swore they’d never get too big for. While you can’t safely lose five pounds in a day, you can safely lose five pounds in two weeks without starving yourself. I hate crash diets that promise fast weight loss without long-term weight maintenance. This two-week plan isn’t a crash diet but instead a healthy, realistic way to drop five pounds and use the lessons learned to keep going with your weight loss, if necessary. First, make sure you are mentally prepared to work hard for two weeks. Don’t start a diet if you aren’t 100 percent committed, because there are few things more depressing to the dieter than failure. Second, if you have any pre-existing medical conditions, check with your doctor before starting a diet. Third, get ready to make a list, do some shopping, cook up some good meals, exercise at least eight times, and lose those pesky five pounds.
The Eating Plan
Eating to lose five pounds in a couple of weeks is relatively simple. You just need to keep your calories at a weight loss level for 14 days in a row. What’s a weight loss level? Well, that depends on the person. But in general, women should eat between 1,200 and 1,500 calories a day and men should eat between 1,700 and 2,200 calories a day. I recommend eating three or four meals a day and dividing your calories relatively evenly among the meals. For example, if you are eating 2,000 calories a day and want four meals, each meal should have about 500 calories. The truth is that in most cases, it doesn’t really matter what you eat so long as you keep your calories at a weight loss level. That being said, it matters to your health. Don’t lose five pounds eating Pop-Tarts for breakfast, Lunchables for lunch, and a frozen meal for dinner. If you do that, you will lose weight but you will also gain it back as soon as you begin eating regularly. Breakfast Options 1. Egg white omelets with vegetables and low-fat cheese 2. Oatmeal (regular or steel cut) topped with fruit, honey, or nuts 3. Greek yogurt with fruit or 1 tablespoon of nuts 4. A piece of fruit and a small bagel 5. Whole wheat toast with peanut butter, fruit, and a cup of juice Lunch Options 1. Pasta Salad with light dressing and vegetables, 3 ounces of grilled chicken, and 1 ounce of cheddar cheese 2. Mixed green salad with teriyaki-seasoned beef strips, cantaloupe slices, a small piece of crusty bread, and 1 tablespoon of dressing 3. Pita bread stuffed with seasoned grilled chicken, black beans, salsa, and a sprinkling of cheese; add a piece of fruit, a bit of guacamole or sour cream, and you have a delicious, filling lunch 4. Turkey burger on a lettuce bun: If you’re avoiding bread, use lettuce or other greens to wrap a well-seasoned turkey burger; top the burger with a thin slice of cheese, a bit of turkey bacon, and your favorite mustard and serve alongside a salad and an apple 5. Hearty minestrone soup: A bowl of minestrone soup has about 200 calories; have two bowls and a few whole wheat crackers for a meal that will leave you full until dinner Dinner Options 1. Black bean, corn, and salsa pizza made on pita bread: Slice the pita bread open and use both halves. Mix the beans, corn, and salsa together and put on pita halves. Top with some cheese and bake for about 10 minutes. Serve with Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, fruit, and some sherbet for dessert. 2. Angel hair pasta with meat or marinara sauce: Make your own spaghetti sauce using canned or fresh tomatoes, fresh basil and oregano, and tomato paste. Add lean turkey or beef to the sauce if desired. Serve over 1/2 cup of cooked angel hair pasta. 3. Hearty main dish salad: Use mixed greens as the base and add salmon or chicken, sesame seeds, olive oil dressing, and your favorite vegetables. Serve the salad with fruit and whole wheat bread. 4. Roasted chicken and vegetables: Roast a chicken in the oven or buy one already cooked from the store. Toss some vegetables such as potatoes, onions, Brussels sprouts, and butternut squash in olive oil and salt. Roast the vegetables for 30 minutes at 425 degrees until tender. 5. Beef or turkey chili: Use canned kidney beans, cooked beef or turkey, tomatoes, onions, green pepper, cumin, and chili powder to make a spicy chili.
The Exercise Plan
You don’t have to go crazy with exercise to lose five pounds in two weeks. Commit to regular exercise, and you will be surprised at how good you feel. Perform cardiovascular exercise four days each week, adding in two sessions of weight training on your non-cardio days. Here are some ideas that will help you burn 200-300 calories in 30 minutes, depending on your weight and your exertion level: – Moderate bike riding – Low-impact aerobics – Dancing vigorously – Using the elliptical machine – Walking at a moderate pace – Strength training – Jogging – Swimming – Participating in a martial arts class – Playing basketball (for an hour) You can see that losing five pounds in two weeks isn’t that hard, but it does take planning your meals, committing to an exercise plan, and not cheating.