It's common for women to want to look their best when attending a special event, and while a few extra pounds may not be noticeable to anyone but you (as you unkindly critique your body in front of the mirror), shedding them may help to improve not just your looks, but also – more importantly – how you feel about yourself.
What can you do about it? Here are 10 tips to help you slim down for the big day.
1. Take an extra step … or two … or ten!
If you find it difficult to make time for the gym, incorporate a little more activity into your everyday life. Go for a walk at lunchtime or choose a parking spot that's farther away than you'd usually park, to give your legs an added stretch. Escalator or stairs? Always take those stairs! Wear a pedometer to measure the amount of walking you do and strive to increase the number of steps you take each day. Experts recommend 10,000 steps a day (about 5 miles) to improve overall fitness and help control weight.
2. Eat regular meals
Skipping meals may save you short-term calories, but the long-term repercussions will set you back in your quest to shed pounds. Regular meals will help you prevent bingeing.
3. Fill up on low-calorie foods
Replace calorie-rich foods with nutritious alternatives that are not only healthier for your body but will also leave you feeling full and satisfied – diminishing the urge to snack on those tempting treats that are sure to pack on pounds. Consider some tasty smoked salmon for dinner, or splurge on lobster. According to the experts at Reader's Digest, lobster contains just 83 calories in three ounces, while smoked salmon has just 66 calories in two ounces. Check out these recipes for salmon and lobster.
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4. Try hot yoga
An effective workout will make you sweat, and nothing makes you sweat more than a one-hour hot yoga class! Performed in a room that typically ranges in temperature from 32 degrees Celsius to 40 degrees Celsius, hot yoga (or bikram yoga, as it's known), is a great way to sweat off pesky pounds. The heat softens muscles, helping them burn fat more easily, and the series of poses will leave your body feeling supple and well stretched.
5. Drink water with your meals
According to Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist, "research does suggest that drinking plenty of water may help you lose weight." Citing various studies on the subject, she says "people who drank two glasses of water 20 to 30 minutes before every meal lost weight more quickly initially and lost significantly more weight than those who didn't." According to a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, "people who drank water before meals ate an average of 75 fewer calories at that meal." So consider increasing your water intake, particularly before or during meals. It will help to curb the number of calories you consume.
6. Read labels
If you're not in the habit already, start now. Reading the labels on the food products you buy and educating yourself about what the foods you eat contain may change the way you shop. Compare nutrition information on multiple products before deciding which is the best, healthiest choice for you.
7. Try the new Wii Fit Plus
The Wii in the living room isn't just for your kids. Make your workout fun with the new Wii Fit Plus. Featuring yoga, strength training and aerobic exercises, getting fit was never this much fun – and you can do it all in the comfort of your own living room! Visit wiifit.com for more information.
Page 2 of 3 – Find out why skipping breakfast can hinder your weight loss on page 3
8. Cut out the salt
Salt is a known culprit when it comes to bloating; it's known to make your body retain water, leaving you feeling heavy and uncomfortable. Eliminate salt from your diet whenever possible and say bye-bye to the bloat.
9. Don't skip breakfast
A well-balanced breakfast will kick your body's metabolism into gear and give you the energy you need to get through your day. Don't fool yourself into thinking you're saving yourself calories by skipping this all-important meal. In the end, you'll feel hungry, tired and sluggish and are more likely to turn to unhealthy alternatives to stave off the hunger.
10. Take a hike
Or a long walk around your neighbourhood will do the trick, too. A brisk walk on a warm evening won't even feel like exercise. And if you do it with a friend, the workout will become quality time together and something you look forward to, instead of something you dread.
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Natalie Bahadur is the senior editor of styleathome.com and is a regular contributor to CanadianLiving.com.