Longing to to fit into that dress or show off at your reunion? If you need to lose weight stat, there's no need to splurge on a gym membership. You can get a fantastic workout right at home without wasting a minute sitting in traffic. A word of warning: There is such a thing as too fast when it comes to weight loss. It's safe to lose a pound or two per week max -- any more, and you're shedding water and muscle instead of fat.
Aerobic exercise, or cardio, is the cornerstone of your exercise routine. This activity torches calories and improves endurance, lung power and cardiovascular fitness. If you're stuck indoors, jump rope to shred more than 500 calories in 30 minutes if you weigh 155 pounds. Dancing, performing jumping jacks or walking up and down stairs are also terrific options. If you can get outdoors, go for a brisk walk or run. Whichever exercise you choose, perform cardio an hour a day, five days per week to jump-start fat loss.
There are myriad strength-training moves that fit comfortably in your living room. These not only shred calories as you perform them, but also build muscle for a faster metabolism in the future. If you're worried about bulking up, don't be -- women don't build muscle mass the way men do, especially without heavy weights. Get a well-rounded workout with lunges, squats, assisted pushups, V-ups, side leg lifts, isometric chest presses and Supermans. Perform two sets of 12 repetitions for each exercise.
Take it easy by exercising your mind instead of your body for a change. It may seem counterintuitive, but chilling out with meditation, gentle yoga or breathing exercises can help you remove weight. That's because these activities reduce stress, which may decrease your urge to overeat. What's more, less anxiety translates to lower cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress-induced hormone that tells your body to store visceral fat around your abdominal organs. This type of fat contributes to chronic diseases such as diabetes while adding inches to your waist.
If you're serious about losing weight fast, you need to change your eating habits. For women, the Mayo Clinic recommends cutting back to 1,200 calories per day for safe, effective fat loss. Fewer calories means fewer opportunities to get needed vitamins and minerals, so fill up on nutrient-dense foods including fruits and vegetables, whole grains such as corn tortillas and wild rice, and low-fat proteins such as garbanzo beans and tofu. Skip the butter and get your fats from seeds, nuts and other plant foods.
- HelpGuide.org: Healthy Weight Loss & Dieting Tips
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise for Weight Loss: Calories Burned in 1 Hour
- American College of Sports Medicine: Metabolism is Modifiable with the Right Lifestyle Changes
- Harvard Health Publications: Taking Aim at Belly Fat
- MayoClinic.com: Fewer Calories, Healthy Food Best Weight-Loss Plan
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.