Drop Up to 30 Pounds
Beach season is still months away, which means it's the perfect time to start fine-tuning your diet. But as experience will tell you, weight-loss success depends on finding a plan you can live with-one that suits your personality and lifestyle. For example, if your job involves racking up frequent-flyer miles, then asking you to whip up every meal from scratch may be a recipe for disaster.
So, rather than come up with a one-size-fits-all plan, we created mix-and-match meals that take your preferences into consideration and address your biggest obstacles, from controlling portions to curbing cravings. You can also choose one or more snacks totaling up to 260 calories. On days when you're really cranking up the burn (say, by combining the strength and cardio plans) and you feel you need a little more fuel, you can tack on an extra 100- to 200-calorie snack.
The only rule is that you have to stay within 1,600 calories, which should allow you to shed about 1 pound every five days. Start eating the foods you love today and you'll be striding around like a swimsuit model long before you take your first dip in the ocean.
What's your eating personality?
Meal preparation for you is relaxing rather than a chore. You have an impressive cookbook collection and dream up ways of combining flavors. Fast food is a no-no; your favorite go-to restaurants tend to feature organic or locally grown ingredients. But while you rarely eat the wrong foods, you often eat too much and too often. Your biggest challenges are preventing yourself from noshing on nuts all day long and stopping at one serving of whole-grain pasta at dinner. For your weight-loss plan to stick, you need portion-controlled meals that emphasize fresh, whole foods.
THE TAKEOUT QUEEN
Instant gratification is your MO: You've been known to call a cup of coffee breakfast and a granola bar lunch, and your favorite takeout spots are programmed into your cell phone.You know you often fall short of the recommended servings of nutrient-dense foods, like fruits, veggies, and whole grains, but you feel powerless to do anything about it-at least until your schedule clears. To eat right and trim down, you need flexible options in your daily menus, like quick, "assembly line" meals that require six ingredients or less, along with healthy supermarket and restaurant staples.
THE DIET REBEL
While you do enjoy good-for-you foods, they also have to taste good. A sandwich or omelet without cheese isn't acceptable, and you need to satisfy your sweet tooth on a daily (if not hourly!) basis. Unfortunately, your defiant nature means you sometimes fill up on high-calorie fast food and snacks, which can crowd out important vitamins and minerals and pack on the pounds. Your most effective slim-down strategy: to focus on flavorful, portion controlled meals that allow you to feel like you're indulging. A mix of fresh and healthy convenience foods works best for you, provided each meal or snack contains a little something special to tempt your taste buds.
1/2 CUP COOKED STEEL-CUT OATS sprinkled with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves and topped with 1 small sliced apple, 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, and 4 ounces organic skim milk
2 SLICES TOASTED WHOLE-GRAIN BREAD topped with 1/4 cup nonfat ricotta, 1 large sliced pear, and 1 tablespoon honey
Snacks (100 to 200 calories)
1 small sliced banana drizzled with 1 tablespoon honey
4 ounces nonfat milk blended with 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce, a dash of apple pie spice, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, and a handful of ice
3 OUNCES BROILED WILD SALMON; 1/2 cup wild rice; tomato and mozzarella salad (2 sliced plum tomatoes, 5 fresh basil leaves, 1 ounce fresh mozzarella, 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar, and 1 tablespoon garlic-infused extra-virgin olive oil)
1 WHOLE-WHEAT PITA spread with 1 tablespoon spicy mustard and filled with 3 ounces organic smoked turkey, 1 slice Swiss cheese, 2 large torn romaine leaves, and 1 sliced plum tomato; 10 baby carrots and 2 tablespoons hummus
Snacks (220 to 260 calories)
1/2 cup guacamole; 1 cup red bell pepper slices for dipping
2 tablespoons natural peanut butter; 2 dried Calimyrna figs for dipping
1 SPICY TUNA ROLL (8 pieces) with 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce; 1/2 cup steamed edamame; 1/2 cup miso soup
1/2 CUP COOKED WHOLE-WHEAT SPAGHETTI tossed with 3 ounces grilled organic chicken and 1 cup each broccoli florets and chopped red bell pepper; sautéed in 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and 1 minced garlic clove; and topped with 2 tablespoons shaved Parmesan
THE TAKEOUT QUEEN
1 WHOLE-GRAIN ENGLISH MUFFIN topped with 2 or 3 thin slices of avocado, 1 large egg fried with nonfat cooking spray, and 1 slice smoked Gouda; 1 cup red grapes
1 PECAN PIE LARABAR crumbled into 6 ounces nonfat vanilla yogurt; 8 ounces orange juice
Snacks (100 to 200)
Starbucks grande skim latte
2 large chocolate covered strawberries; 1 flute brut champagne
4-OUNCE GROUND-TURKEY BURGER pan-grilled in 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil; topped with 2 tablespoons all-natural barbecue sauce, 2 large torn romaine leaves, and 2 or 3 thin slices of avocado; and served on a whole-grain bun
PANDA EXPRESS BEEF WITH BROCCOLI; 1/2 side steamed rice; 1 serving egg-flower soup
Snacks (220 to 260 calories)
4 ounces nonfat plain frozen yogurt topped with 1 tablespoon shredded coconut and 2 tablespoons chocolate chips
1 bag no-salt, no-oil microwave popcorn sprinkled with 2 tablespoons shaved Parmesan
SEEDS OF CHANGE FROZEN TURKISH SEVEN GRAIN PILAF; 2 squares Ghirardelli 60% cacao dark chocolate
BOSTON MARKET 1/4 WHITE ROTISSERIE CHICKEN (no skin); regular-size garlic-dill new potatoes and green beans
8 OUNCES 2% ORGANIC CHOCOLATE MILK blended with 1 cup frozen pitted cherries and 2 tablespoons almond butter
6 OUNCES NONFAT PLAIN GREEK YOGURT blended with 1/4 cup all-natural granola, 1 small sliced banana, and 2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
Snacks (100 to 200)
1/2 cup strawberry gelato
4 medium celery stalks spread with 1/4 cup hummus and sprinkled with 1 ounce feta
AU BON PAIN BRIE, FRUIT, AND CRACKERS COMBO; medium black bean soup
PANERA BREAD SMALL GARDEN VEGETABLE SOUP; 1/2 turkey-artichoke hot panini
Snacks (220 to 260)
3/4 cup nonfat cottage cheese mixed with 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger, 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks, and 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
1 clementine; 1 ounce sharp cheddar; 6 picholine olives
1 CUP DAL (curried lentil soup); 1 skewer lamb and vegetable shish kebab
3 OUNCES GRILLED CHICKEN BREAST; 1/2 cup brown rice; 1/2 cup each broccoli florets and chopped red bell pepper sautéed in 1/4 cup vegetable broth, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 minced garlic clove, and 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger and topped with 1 ounce cashews (16 to 18 whole)