Get Into Your Party Dress In A Fortnight

Okay, you can’t undergo a major transformation in two weeks, but you can shed a little excess weight, firm up slack muscles, overhaul your posture and get your body firing on all cylinders so that you can carry that party dress with confidence.

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Two weeks to get fit to party!

This 14-day plan tackles excess body baggage in three ways – aerobic exercise will increase calorie expenditure, and, of course, get your most important muscle of all in shape (your heart, girls, not your butt!). Your ‘daily dose’ of aerobic exercise aims to burn 300-400 calories per session, and it is best to vary the type of activity you choose, both to reduce the risk of injury and provide physical and mental variety.

Strength training will firm and strengthen weak, flabby muscles and prevent the loss of lean muscle mass that usually accompanies dieting. It will also improve posture by creating balance between opposing muscle groups, enhancing function of the stabilizing muscles and improving range of motion. The full body strength workout below gets all your major muscles involved with just nine moves, by working more than one muscle group at a time – saving time and getting you the best results.

The third prong of the fork is moderate calorie reduction – to maximize the deficit between the amount of energy you consume and the amount you burn. We suggest cutting 350 calories per day – (which amounts to a 17.5% reduction on a typical 2,000 calorie per day diet). It’s sufficient to make a significant difference but not so much that you won’t have the energy to complete the workouts. You’ll find some tips on cutting those calories below.

But bear in mind that this is a two-week plan – not a way to eat or exercise for life.

Read on to find out more about how to put the diet plan into action...

The aerobic exercise plan

Day 1

Daily dose: 45 minutes of brisk walking (at least 4mph pace) swimming or cycling.

Strength circuit.

Extra helper: Take a conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) supplement every day for the next fortnight – it has shown promising results in enhancing fat burning and lean tissue growth.

Day 2

Daily dose: 30 minutes running (at least 10 minute mile pace) elliptical training or rowing.

Extra helper: Drink a cup of coffee an hour before your workout today to maximize the use of fat as a fuel.

Day 3

Daily dose: 45 minutes of brisk walking (at least 4mph pace) swimming or cycling

Strength circuit.

Extra helper: Substitute one sugary canned drink or an alcoholic one with a fresh juice or fruit smoothie (with no added sugar).

Day 4

Daily dose: 45 minute to one hour aerobics or step class or exercise video.

Extra helper: Ensure you are getting eight hours sleep a night, to help you recover from the workouts.

Day 5

Daily dose: 30 minutes running (at least 10 minute mile pace) elliptical training or rowing.

Strength circuit.

Extra helper: Eliminate bloating by ensuring you eat plenty of potassium rich foods, such as dried apricots, bananas, potatoes and kiwi fruit.

Day 6

Daily dose: 45 minutes of brisk walking (at least 4mph pace) swimming or cycling.

Extra helper: Practice drawing your navel to spine throughout the day – this is the tummy flattening move you’ll need for that figure hugging dress!

Day 7

Strength circuit.

Extra helper: Stretch out classically tight hip flexors, chest and shoulders with yoga’s inverted staff posture. Lie face up across a foot stool with a pillow on it, with feet on the floor and arms outstretched beside your ears. Hold for at least a minute. You could use a Swiss ball instead.

Day 8

Daily dose: 30 minutes running (at least 10 minute mile pace) elliptical training or rowing.

Extra helper: Make sure you eat some protein with every meal – it helps you feel satiated and uses up more calories in digestion than fat or carbohydrate.

Day 9

Daily dose: 45 minutes of brisk walking (at least 4mph pace) swimming or cycling

Strength circuit.

Extra helper: Start body brushing, to boost circulation and aid the release of toxins. It gets your skin glowing, too. Always brush upwards, towards the heart.

Day 10

Daily dose: 45 minute to one hour aerobics or step class or exercise video.

Extra helper: Practice the carb curfew (no carbs after 5pm) for the next four days. That means no pasta, rice, bread or potatoes with your evening meal, but plenty of veg or salad. The body holds on to three grams of water for every one gram of carbohydrate it stores, so this strategy will help you shed weight by reducing overall carbohydrate intake.

Day 11

Daily dose: 30 minutes running (at least 10 minute mile pace) elliptical training or rowing.

Strength circuit.

Extra helper: Drink green tea – studies show that it boosts metabolism.

Day 12

Daily dose: 45 minutes of brisk walking (at least 4mph - or 6.43kmph pace) swimming or cycling.

Extra helper: Book yourself in for a professional fake tan or DIY it! Darker skin will make you look slimmer!

Day 13

Strength circuit.

Extra helper: Follow your final strength circuit with a full-body stretch, holding each position for at least 30 seconds. Alternatively, treat yourself to a sports massage to iron out tension and tightness.

Day 14

Daily dose: 45 minute to one hour aerobics, step class or exercise video.

Extra helper: Wear solid colours (black, brown and other dark shades are most slimming), put your hair up and wear heels to create a taller, longer, slimmer silhouette! Go girl…

Now consider the strength element of the plan...

The strength circuit

Perform the strength circuit after your daily dose to save time warming-up. On days where there is no daily dose, warm up for at least five minutes by walking, marching on the spot and performing some general gentle circling, bending and extending motions.

Aim to do one set of each exercise (the number of repetitions suggested is shown in each case) and then repeat the whole sequence again. Do the exercises in the order shown to give muscles that have just worked a chance to recover before they are called upon again.

Squat jumps

Works 70 per cent of the body’s musculature, according to studies, including pretty much every muscle below the belt!

Stand with feet below hipbones, tummy gently pulled in and arms relaxed by your sides. Lower your bottom down into a squat position (thighs close to parallel to the floor, knees behind toes) and then leap up as high as you can, landing straight back into the next squat. You can use your arms to help propel you.

Aim for eight repetitions.

Dips

Works back of the arms, upper back and shoulders.

Shuffle to the front of a low coffee table or use your bottom stair, with your hands gripping the edge (fingers pointing forwards) and your shoulders pressed back and down. Your legs should be bent, feet flat on the floor. Now, lower yourself towards the ground by bending the arms but do not allow the shoulders to roll forwards. Only go so far as to create a right angle at the elbow joint. Execute each repetition slowly, focusing on using the muscles at the back of the upper arm to push you up.

Aim for 12 repetitions.

Ball curl-ups

Works the abdominals.

Sit on a fit ball close to a wall and maneuver yourself so that your feet are against the wall and you are facing it. Lie back on the ball, with fingers lightly supporting your head and position your bottom at the very front of the ball’s surface. Now draw your navel to spine and curl the shoulders and torso upward. Pause then lower and repeat.

Aim for 16 repetitions.

Lunge with overhead press

Works the bottom, thighs, shoulders and back of upper arms.

You’ll need a little coordination for this one! Stand with feet below hipbones, and a weight in each hand, resting on your shoulders. Lunge forward with your right leg, bending the knee and allowing the left foot to come off the floor and the left knee to travel towards the floor. Simultaneously, extend the arms overhead – lifting the weights straight up, with palms facing forwards. As you return the right leg to the start position, lower the weights back to the shoulders. Lift them again as you step forward with the left leg.

Aim for 12 alternating repetitions.

Ball pullover

Works upper and mid back and chest and stabilizing muscles.

Take a weight in both hands (hold the stem with both hands) and carefully lower yourself back onto a fit ball, with the weight suspended directly over your chest. Stabilise yourself by keeping the bottom and ab muscles tight and your pelvis level, and then extend the weight up and over your head, allowing the arms to slightly bend as the weight lowers behind you. Pause, then without arching your back, draw the weight back to the start position and repeat.

Aim for eight repetitions.

Step-ups with biceps curl

Works hips, thighs bottom and biceps.

Stand in front of a step between ankle height and just below the knee (the lower the easier) with a weight in each hand. Step up with the right foot, ensuring the foot goes fully on to the step with heel down. As you step up, bend both arms, to bring the weights in towards the shoulders. As you step down, lower the weights by straightening the arms. Now step up with the left foot, repeating the arm curl.

Aim for 20 repetitions.

Incline push up with rear leg lift

Works chest, upper arms, shoulders, bottom and back of thighs.

Stand a metre in front of a sturdy table and place your hands shoulder-width apart on the edge. Draw your navel to spine and bring your body into a straight line from the heels to the crown. Now, lower your chest towards the table by bending the arms at the elbow. Simultaneously, extend one leg behind you, really squeezing the bottom to lift it. Lower the leg as you straighten the arms. Lift the other leg as you perform the next rep and continue to alternate for the rest of the set.

Aim for 12 repetitions.

Ball roll in

Works core stabilizers, abdominals, chest, front of shoulders, upper arms and hip flexors.

Lie face down over a fit ball, and shunt forward until just your knees are on the ball, and your weight is supported on your hands, arms shoulder width apart. Contract the abdominals and tilt the pelvis so your back is in a straight line with the legs. Now curl the ball in towards your chest by contracting the abs and rolling the ball towards your torso with your lower legs. Hips should never be below shoulder height - keep shoulders drawn back. Do the move slowly, with control four to five seconds each way.

Aim for eight repetitions.

Bridge with fly

Works glutes (bum), lower back and inner thighs and chest

Lie on the floor with knees bent, feet flat and a cushion, rolled-up towel or foam ball between your knees and a weight in each hand, held extended above the chest. Raise the body up by rolling through the spine enough to allow the pelvis to clear the floor, squeezing the cushion with your inner thighs to maintain the position. Visualise your knees moving away from your body. Now, holding this position, lower your arms out to the sides at nipple level (keeping the elbows slightly bent). Pause just before they reach the floor and return arms to start position. Complete all repetitions while maintaining the pelvic bridge.

Aim for eight repetitions.

As an additional element of the 14-day plan you can try some of these moderate calorie reductions strategies...

Calories cutting tips

To maximise the deficit between the amount of energy you consume and the amount you burn, we suggest cutting 350 calories per day – which amounts to a 17.5 per cent reduction on a typical 2,000 calorie per day diet.

It’s sufficient to make a significant difference but not so much that you won’t have the energy to complete the workouts above. Here are some top tips on how to cut those calories:

  • You might think the best way to zap 350 calories from your daily diet is simply to skip a meal. Wrong. Your body actually burns up calories in digesting food, so the fewer meals you eat, the less of a chance it has to do that. Space your meals out throughout the day.  
  • Downsize your portions by approximately a fifth on everything except for fruit and vegetables (potatoes don’t count!).  
  • Eat mindfully. Over the next fortnight, you can’t afford to ‘waste’ calories by eating mindlessly at the fridge, or straight from the saucepan – make sure that you sit down to savor all your meals and snacks.  
  • Don’t scrimp on protein. Eat a portion of protein at lunchtime – equal to the amount of carbohydrate you eat -- to help avoid an energy slump in the afternoon, which could have you heading for the vending machine.  
  • Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper to fit in with the body’s natural rhythm in metabolism – which is primed in the morning and tails off during the day.  
  • Go easy on the mochas, flavored lattes and hot chocolates with cream on top – stick to plain Americano coffee, tea or herbal tea for the next fortnight.  
  • Watch the booze. If you regularly drink alcohol, you could be adding hundreds (or even thousands) of calories on to your weekly intake. Just one 440ml can of premium lager weighs in at 260 calories, so opting for a soft drink instead over the next two weeks is wise.

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