Day one: Quit the carbs
Make your body work on the store carbohydrates in your body rather than using the easy-to-eat pasta or bread carbs you usually eat. That way, you’ll burn off more fat when you’re exercising. You’ll also probably feel slimmer because carbohydrates can cause bloating too.
Eat egg on slices of tomato for breakfast, eat salad rather than sandwiches for lunch, and try mashing up carrots or cauliflower instead of potatoes or pasta with dinner.
Exercise: Rather than going for aerobic exercise, build some muscle, which will help you burn more calories even when you’re not doing anything. So lift weights or do some bodyweight exercises such as lunges, squats and push-ups.
Related: Your home muscle-strengthening programme
Related: The truth about carbs
Day two: Quit the booze
You might not think your nightly glass of wine makes much of a difference to your waistline but when you think of the 840-odd calories per week that adds (with one serving being around 120 calories), not to mention the snacks you’re more likely to indulge in eating during or after your wine, you’ll realise the importance of quitting alcohol if you want to lose weight quickly.
Exercise: Give your muscles a chance to rest today and go for a long walk, swim or cycle today. Don’t push yourself hard, the idea is a slow burn over a longer period of time. That way you won’t get overtired and decide to give up on tomorrow’s exercise.
Related: Swim your way to fitness
Related: Are you drinking more than you think?
Day three: Flavour your water
Drinking more water helps you in so many ways but for weight loss it’s especially useful. Being properly hydrated will give you more energy making you more likely to stick to your exercise plans, it’ll help you digest your food properly which means you won’t get so bloated and you’ll also likely to feel less hungry if you drink just before a meal.
Add a sprig of peppermint, a squeeze of lemon or a splash of juice to make water seem more appealing and help you drink more throughout the day.
Exercise: Do short bursts of high-energy exercise today, every hour or so. So spend an hour reading or writing on the computer, then do 20 jumping jacks before you sit back down again.
Next, jog on the spot for two minutes as fast as you can, then get on with what you were doing before. Doing short bursts like this means you’re more likely to really push yourself each time, burning lots of calories without exhausting yourself.
Related: How much water do you really need to drink?
Day four: Nibble on berries and oranges, instead of apples
Apples might seem like the obvious healthy diet food and they are good, but berries are better. That’s because berries, grapes and citrus fruits contain less fructose than apples or melon or pears, for example, which eases digestion, reducing bloating and helping you lose weight as you’re eating high-fibre foods.
Exercise: Hit those muscles again with some weight or body weight exercise moves.
Related: The top 20 things to eat
Day five: Skip the salt
You might be surprised to discover that shaking the salt cellar over your dinner is what’s making your trousers tight. That’s because too much salt makes your body retain more fluid, making you feel sluggish (and possibly preventing you from exercising too) and adding to your waistline.
So check labels of dressings and sauces that you add to your food, and rather than adding salt at the cooking stage when it can be hard to gauge how much you’re using, add it afterwards.
Exercise: Have a long walk, swim or cycle, again aiming for a longer time exercising but without too much effort.
Related: How to get rid of water retention
Day six: Do some research
Go online and search for recipes with high vegetable content. Cooking from scratch and trying new recipes will help you feel more in control of your diet and your weight, and it’ll allow you to find new dishes that are both healthy and tasty. So look for recipes with kale, spinach, broccoli, green beans and cabbage, for example.
Filling up on veggies like this will help you on your quest for weight loss because they are full of water and fibre. Just as important, eating vegetables makes you feel healthy, which helps give you the confidence to stick to your diet and exercise regime. Now cook up a storm in the kitchen.
Exercise: Do shorts bursts of high-energy exercises throughout the day, as above.
Related: How to cook kale
Day seven: Go shopping!
Invest in some comfortable exercise clothing. It needn’t be lycra or even sporty-looking, the point is that you feel comfortable moving about in it.
All too often exercising feels uncomfortable because your bra straps or underwire make movement difficult, or your tummy feels squeezed as you do crunches, or the material makes you sweat too much. Spending money on new clothes specifically for exercise will also give you an added incentive to stick to it!
Exercise: Take a break. Have a long bath, get your partner to give you a massage, go to the local sauna. Treat your body kindly so that you feel good about it!
Related: Find flattering fitness wear
Nb: If you aren't used to exercise, see your GP before you start. They'll be able to tell you the right type of exercise for you, and give advice on starting slowly and building up gently.