If you want a lean, athletic, eye-catching body, a lifestyle that combines exercise with a nutritious diet is the best method. However, you may be in a situation where a quick, one-month diet and exercise plan is your only option. Fortunately, the same weight-loss methods apply, and you could lose up to 8 pounds by following this diet and exercise plan.
You should eat a meal with whole-grain carbohydrates one to three hours before you work out. To make the most of your time spent in the gym, consume protein and carbohydrates as soon after your workout as possible. Carbohydrates refill your energy stores and protein builds firmer muscles. A diet rich in whole-grain carbohydrates fuels your workouts and provides energy. Lean sources of protein build stronger, firmer muscles. Choose fresh vegetables, fruits, meat and dairy. Avoid calorie-dense processed foods. If your current eating habits are poor, slowly substitute self-prepared healthy meals. Over the course of the month, you should be able to replace most unhealthy meals in your diet with better choices.
You can tone and firm your muscles through strength training with gym machines, free weights or your own body weight. Pick one exercise for each major body part: chest, shoulders, triceps, biceps, back, abs, glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves. Use a resistance amount high enough so you can do three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions but no more. During weeks one and two, split your upper and lower body into two workouts. You should do each workout once per week. During weeks three and four, combine the two into one full-body workout. Complete this workout two or three times per week.
Cardio exercises, which include running, cycling and elliptical machines, exercises are effective in helping you burn calories. Pick a cardio exercise you can do for 45 to 60 minutes at an intensity that's challenging but doable. For weeks one and two, complete two cardio workouts per week. During week three, add one additional workout and during week four, add one more, for a total of four cardio workouts. During the first two weeks, you can limit cardio workouts to 20 to 30 minutes if going longer is too tough. But by week four, your cardio workouts should last as close to 60 minutes as possible. It's fine to do a cardio workout following a strength-training session. Just make sure to drink plenty of water and consider a sport's drink for extra energy.
A weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week is considered healthy. This diet and basic exercise plan can help you lose weight, but will fail at keeping the weight off if you return to eating as before and stop exercising. Thus, consider this plan a permanent lifestyle change. Only when you make exercising and eating properly part of your daily life will you experience permanent changes in how your body looks and how you feel.
Marcus Schantz is an author and licensed attorney based in Chicago. He holds a Juris Doctor from the Northern Illinois University College of Law, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology and microbiology from the University of Texas at Austin.