Five steps for getting back into shape in a week

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Monday, January 11, 2016

Getting in shape (and staying fit) is something we all struggle with every day. It's a topic we hear about over and over again after the holidays, and there are countless opinions on how to do it in the easiest, fastest way possible. Although I openly detest cardiovascular exercise and am guilty of Googling "How to lose 5 pounds in a week," I don't think it's crazy to think that getting into shape should be easier and faster.

A long time ago, my mom told me to buy expensive pants so that I wouldn't allow myself to go up a size. Might be a strange strategy, but it works well for me as a gauge. Instead of using a scale, I trust that when my pants are getting tighter, it's time to dial back. Post-holidays, my favorite leather leggings were getting a little uncomfortable, so I employed my go-to five step plan for getting back to normal. It's something that works for me, stitched together with tips from nutrition books, my personal trainer, and trial and error:

#1 Eat only between 1 and 8 p.m.
There are thousands of nutritionists who may disagree, but this really works for me. Technically, it's called intermittent fasting. The core principle is that when your body isn't digesting and burning food for energy, it's in a fasted state - this means that your body taps into fat stores for energy that are inaccessible when your body has easy sources of energy such as a Costco-sized bag of SkinnyPop.

In the morning, I have a tablespoon of organic coconut oil to tide me over (it has lots of benefits, including appetite suppression), and don't eat anything until the afternoon. Then, I'll have two simple meals within a 6-8 hour period.

#2 Eliminate all processed foods and starchy carbohydrates
The only exception I make to this is for frozen chicken and fish, and obviously the daily tablespoon of organic coconut oil mentioned in #1. Occasionally, if I can't stave off a sweets craving, I'll have a Fudgesicle (Healthy Choice brand). This cuts down on your sugar and salt intake, which both impact your health and weight dramatically.

Basically, limit yourself to lean meats, eggs, nuts, and vegetables. I eat all the greens and green vegetables I want (seasoned only with olive oil, lemon, kosher salt and pepper), but avoid root vegetables, legumes, fruits and other "natural" foods that fall into the carbohydrate category. This sounds hard, but is actually much easier to do when you think of trade outs. I love Thai food, but will replace my takeout rice with a salad base to stick to the rules.

#3 Cut liquid calories
I drink only water during the day, and allow two cups of coffee with a tiny bit of heavy cream (which has no carbohydrates) in the morning and two glasses of red wine at night. No soda, no beer, no margaritas.

#4 Do at least one weight training or HIIT morning workout 
For almost two years, I've been working out once-per-week with a personal trainer on Saturday mornings. There have been long stretches where that was the only workout I was getting, and it was enough. On Saturday mornings in my fasted state, I'll run a mile to warm up and then do 30-45 minutes of weights with my trainer. It burns fat, boosts my metabolism, and makes my muscles look great.

#5 Do at least one Bikram (or hot) yoga class
As a Bikram devotee, I am biased but truly believe that this form of yoga relieves stress, resets your appetite, sheds water weight, strengthens your muscles, and burns an incredible amount of calories in 90 minutes. However, I should mention that it is a MUST that you have eaten properly before class. If I'm trying to reset and get back in shape, I'll go to Bikram in the afternoon after eating a protein and green vegetable combo. If you haven't eaten properly (or at all), you'll feel very sick!

(Because I've been off track for awhile, my trainer suggested that I add a few cardio workouts in addition to my weights and yoga. I've been swimming laps once per week, and dragged myself to try spinning and rowing. While they may not become lifelong loves, it's doing the trick.)

If you've got any great strategies for getting back in shape, I'd love to hear them! Always trying to find easier ways to stay fit...

P.S. Do you want to get to your ideal shape even faster? Click here to subscribe and download a free copy of my secret (and very controversial...) shortcuts to fast-track weight loss.
13 comments on "Five steps for getting back into shape in a week"
  1. I need to start juicing asap.. I am becoming a whale too quickly... :(

  2. Love this article and the outfit!
    I agree, our clothes are a better measure of our weight. Scale isn't always accurate and our weight fluctuate in a day.
    I run 20-30 miles a week and this year I am going to run my first full marathon in August. I try to do weights as much as I can, but I admit, mostly when I am watching TV. Weight training is really great for women.
    totally agree on the no eating after 8pm thing! also I drink lots of water and water only.
    Let us keep on working out, encouraging each other, because not only does it make us look good, it also makes us feel good :)

    1. That is amazing that you are such a dedicated runner! Where do you find your motivation? Need some help in the cardio department :-) Are you running the San Francisco Marathon? Imagine there will be lots of hills... And yes to the encouragement on working out and staying healthy. I might need a reminder in a few weeks!

    2. I am going to run the Santa Rosa marathon, because the course is mostly flat haha...I hate running uphills!(I ran the Marin half marathon 2 years ago, the course was hilly, and at mile 9 we started climbing!!) funny thing is just a few months ago I did not want to run the full marathon, I just didn't think I was ready for it. but then one day I thought, why not give it a try? I might like it! I would at least try it once.
      Honestly I just love running, I guess that's enough motivation for me.
      After reading your article, I started thinking about yoga, I need to have varieties in my work out routine. Would love to get advice from you :)

    3. Would LOVE to get some running motivation! Maybe I'll follow in your footsteps once all the snow melts... as for yoga, happy to provide advice! I'm all about Bikram but know that there are so many varieties to meet different health goals :)

  3. I know this isn't what the post is about but I have to say that your outfit in that very first picture is on point!

    1. Thank you for stopping by, and for your comment! This leather leggings + black tee shirt is the base of so many winter outfits, just add a coatigan or jacket + scarf and there's my winter wardrobe :-)

  4. I really like this post and its contents
    You have a interesting blog. Visit mine if you want

    1. Thank you for visiting and for your sweet comment! I just checked out your blog and love all the winter style inspiration! :-)

  5. Thanks for sharing! :)

    1. Anytime! Thank you for visiting and reading :)

  6. Hi there, Colleen, and thank you for another great post!

    The numbers on the scale make me panic when they're not what I want them to be. That's why I use the same strategy in gauging my weight - and must say that it has worked very well for me over the years.

    I also almost never eat in the morning. (Weekends are an exception as my husband and I like to sit down and reconnect over a long breakfast.) This goes against all the nutritionists' recommendations of course, but most of the time I am just not hungry/can't stomach food early in the morning. Also, I find that if I eat breakfast I get more hungry during the rest of the day and, consequently, tend to overindulge. But whether I eat breakfast or not, I always try to pay attention to how and what I eat/drink without being too rigid about it.

    Over the years I've incorporated an exercise routine into my life, albeit begrudgingly. Because I get bored easily I try to change it up every so often, but dancing, strength training, outdoor walking, and yoga have worked the best for me. I try to do any of these for 20-30 minutes every day - that way I don't get overwhelmed to the point of wanting to quit.

    I like that you've included wine in the liquid calorie allowance. I drink plain tap water 99% of the time, so I feel like it is only reasonable to have a glass or two.

    P.S. Good job on the sleek new page design!

    1. Hi, Ivanka! Thanks for your thoughts on this - glad I'm not alone in ignoring the nutritionists about breakfast!!! But I'm like you - it stimulates my appetite rather than keeping me full. Your point about paying attention to everything you eat and drink is a really good one - it's something that is so important to do for health and fitness, yet no one really talks about this aspect. I like to know that a little bit of my favorite vices (red wine, dark chocolate) are built in to my plan so I don't feel as though I'm depriving myself! Your "20 minutes a day" workout plan is genius - it sounds so do-able! Will need to try that trick on myself...