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It wasn't uncommon for people to shed 25 pounds or more on this eight-week summer slim down. Here's a maintenance plan to follow to keep you trim and fit.
I've received countless e-mails with feedback from individuals around the world who found great success from following an eight-week summer slimmed-down plan.
Even though I knew the plan was effective and people would drop unwanted pounds and shape up by following it, I wasn't prepared for people letting me know they dropped more than 25 pounds and the plan had changed their life.
Because of this, I thought it was necessary to write a follow-up plan to help and encourage those of you who did get success so you can stay the course and not fall back on old eating and lifestyle habits.
The first thing I learned from reader feedback was that many people dislike cottage cheese. Dislike might be too nice of word; some people can't stand it. They downright hate it and find it repulsive. My number one question was: "What can I substitute for cottage cheese?" For those of you who didn't take the step to e-mail me that question, substitute fat-free, sugar-free yogurt.
Get Ready For Summer.
Welcome to the "Get Ready For Summer!" Super Feature. Inside we will give you all the tools to get beach-ready in time for summer!
[ Check Out The Summer Super Feature Here! ]
After completing the full eight weeks, you need to ask yourself if you're satisfied with the results or do you want to keep going and burn off some more body fat. We're all different and some of us have more to lose or some people want to challenge themselves more and go for the ripped look and show off a six-pack on their tummies.
If you're satisfied and want to stay where you're at, I'll explain that process later on in the article. (Staying where your at is called a set point and I have two articles on that subject and you can read them right here on bodybuilding.com.)
If you still want to drop a few more pounds, I could simply say to continue on with the plan for another 8-16 weeks, but that would be too easy on my part and I don't think it would be the best advice either.
I do, of course, recommend following the plan for another eight weeks, but not without a little break. Now that doesn't mean to indulge by having an entire week's worth of cheat days! Gluttony will get you nowhere.
Cheat Meal Tips Articles:
Take two weeks and increase your carbs slightly and, yes, go ahead have a few more cheat meals too. I still recommend eating for four to five small meals per day during this time, but eat a few pieces of fruit each day and have a small dessert once or twice a week. Concentrate on enjoying the food and think of it as a mental break and keep the mindset that is NOT your normal eating pattern.
I recommend that you continue the 20-minute walk first thing in the morning; it's still a great way to start the day and it wakes you up. As far as exercise goes, take one week off from weight training or strength training, but continue doing the cardio workouts.
When the two weeks are up, go back to the Eight-Week Summer Slimdown and go through it again. You can substitute tilapia for salmon and switch to cashews instead of almonds. Any of the deli meats can be substituted with grilled chicken chunks or even beef jerky on occasion.
There might be days when you don't have time to pack up your food for the day. On those days you might consider using whey protein or a meal replacement powder. Although I don't think you need take three MRP shakes a day for months at a time like some plans recommend, MRP's can be a great way to get all the nutrients you need in an easy-to-make shake.
These MRP's are available in medium- and low-carb varieties. Whey protein is readily available and just find a flavor you like. My favorites are banana flavor from Optimum Nutrition and Apple Ecstasy and Kiwi Strawberry from Syntrax.
Staying Where You're At
For those of you who want to stay where you're at, and don't want the fat to sneak back onto your frame, I suggest also taking the two-week break from the plan. Have some tasty foods and don't feel guilty about it. After the two weeks are up, do the exact plan again for one week only. This will get you back on track and the discipline you have already achieved will be back in full swing.
With the Eight-Week Summer Slimdown, you've taught yourself how to control your habits by preparing meals in advance and scouring menus at restaurants to find items that you could eat without sabotaging your results.
You need to keep following these exact principles from now on. Those two principles will make up a foundation that will catapult you on a life-long journey of successful, healthy eating. And you need not be burdened by thinking food that tastes good is always wrong, sinful, and bad for you. You know why you don't need to feel guilty about that? Because Sundays are and will always be cheat days! (I can hear the cheers already!)
The New Course
Rather than an entire meal and exercise plan this time, I'm going to give you some key guidelines to follow so you can make up your own eating plans according to your likes and dislikes and take your own daily schedules into account.
Remember this is now maintenance and you're trying to stay where you're at, but you might still drop a few pounds. The fat shedding progress, however, will not be as rapid as when you followed the original plan.
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Without further adieu, here are the eating guidelines that you can incorporate into a healthy eating plan to allow you to stay where you're at.
- Eat five to six smaller meals each day
- Keep protein intake high
- Keep starchy carbohydrates intake low (1-2 small servings per day)
- Eat lots of green, red, yellow and orange vegetables (no limits)
- Grill your food or pan frying using a non-stick spray
- Trim excess fat off of meat before cooking
- Protein sources should mostly come from poultry and fish, but lean red meat is okay too
- Eat 2-3 oz. of raw almonds, cashews and peanuts daily for healthy fats
- Use olive oil and vinegar dressings (make your own without sugar)
- Eat a serving of fruit after a weightlifting workout
- Have a cheat meal on Sunday
- Have a SMALL dessert once or twice a week
- Eat 2 servings of fruit each day
- Make one day per week a low-carb day (no starches, no fruit)
- Avoid deep-fried foods
- Eat 1-2 servings of low-fat dairy products per day (not necessary, but many people like dairy products and they're okay in moderation)
- Use whey protein or MRPs when in a pinch for time
- Consider supplementing with fish oil capsules (healthy fats good for your heart)
- Avoid packaged meals and ready-to-make meals
- If you totally blow it, shrug it off and get back on track tomorrow and don't look back
There will be times when your willpower diminishes and you eat more than you want and end up gaining a few pounds. When that happens, drop your starchy carbs for two days and eat more green veggies and lean meats.
Drink lots of water and use the carb-cycling principles you learned in the original plan and you'll be back to where you want to be very soon.
Here are the training and exercise principles:
- Do weightlifting or strength training 3 days per week
- Do cardio workouts 3-4 days per week
- Mix up cardio by doing interval training (20-25 mins.) one day and then long, slow-duration (40-45 mins.) the next day
- Do one hour of fun cardio activity on Saturday or Sunday or both
- Every 12 weeks, take one week off from weightlifting and rest your joints
- Strive to increase the amount of weight you lift, but don't sacrifice form
- Keep your reps between 8 and 15 on weightlifting exercises
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator
- Do stretching exercises while watching TV at night instead of just sitting there
- Play with your kids or nieces and nephews. (This is always an available quick workout!)
Good luck and I wish everyone continued success in your ongoing journey towards a healthy and active lifestyle. If you have questions along the way, go ahead and shoot me an e-mail. It might take a while for me to reply sometimes, but I do try to answer every one of the e-mails I get.
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