Slimming in 20 days?
October 9, 2008 1:15 PM   Subscribe

I need to slim up a little for a Halloween costume. How to reasonably get there?

Male, 23, 6", roughly 175 pounds, 36-inch waist. I've been losing a pound or two a month for a little while now, without dropping any waist sizes. I can physically wear my halloween costume for this year (okay, yes, so I take it seriously enough to shop waaay ahead) but I still look a little pudgy since the clothes are made for skinnier body types (DEAR GOD foreign/industrial clothing comes small!)

What are things I can do to slim up over the next 20 days? Obviously I'm going to step up my meal-replacement program--cereals rather than Burger King and celery rather than Doritos. Propel rather than sweet tea. Should I work out, or will building muscle mass in the short term make the clothing a tougher fit? Obviously I don't plan to do anything unhealthy, like skipping meals altogether. And I hope to continue on this program well past Halloween, since I seem to have little problem maintaining a weight once I reach it. I just need to lose a little water weight, or a few pounds, or an inch off my waist, or whatever.

Help me slim!
posted by Phyltre to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If the point is really the costume, could you also just alter it?
posted by Salamandrous at 1:22 PM on October 9, 2008

Run. Hands-down the fastest weight loser.

If you're able to budget the time, exercise some before work, some at lunch, and some after work - at least 20 min.

Granted I was in great shape when I started this, but I went from 174 to 163 in 21 days earlier this year. However - I was swimming before work for 45 min, four days a week, running 4 miles every day (sometimes six, occasionally three), and riding at least 10, usually 25 every night.
posted by notsnot at 1:26 PM on October 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

Yes, work out. Bulking up is hard -- in 20 days, you couldn't get too "big" for your clothes if you tried. Building muscle is very good for slimming down, contrary to what some say.

If you worked out for just 30-60 minutes a day, no matter what exercises you do, it'll help. Good luck and have fun!
posted by iguanapolitico at 1:29 PM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Just as a tid bit:

-Cereal is mostly just empty carbs, maybe it is better for you than Burger King, but you can probably 1-up that without too much pain.
-Why Propel? That is also just adding unnecessary calories without much benefit. Straight up water is what you are looking for.

Couple ideas:
-Don't eat in front of the TV
-Whenever a commercial comes on, do 10 push ups
-If you eat celery, don't fill it full of peanut butter, or dip it in ranch

It really does come down to the little stuff. PM me if you want other ideas.
posted by milqman at 1:39 PM on October 9, 2008

Honestly, over the next 20 days there's not a whole ton you can do. I mean, there is stuff you can do, but none of it's particularly healthy.

You can cut weight like fighters do for wrestling/MMA. This will get you looking a little slimmer in your costume. However, it is not permanent - the weight you lose is all water - and it is definitely not healthy. I don't recommend it at all, especially not if you plan on drinking on Halloween.

Or you can get Spanx - or whatever the dude equivalent is - to suck it all in. You'll look better, but you won't lose weight, and these things aren't miracle workers, and you might be a touch uncomfortable. If you can find something that doesn't have a built-in bra, this is the route I recommend.

There are all sorts of reasonable healthy modifications you can make to your eating and exercising habits that will help you in the long run. They might have you feeling a ton better and more energetic in just a week or two. However, don't bet on your body making any noticeable changes in under a month. It might, but it probably won't.

My other recommendation is that you just wear the costume as is and don't worry too much. It's Halloween and I guarantee there will be people looking much, much more ridiculous than you.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:40 PM on October 9, 2008

For a few days leading up to Halloween, try cutting your sodium intake substantially. Most Americans get way too much, and it causes you to retain water. This shrinks you in basically the same way (visually) that losing fat would.
posted by justkevin at 2:08 PM on October 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

I agree with justkevin, cutting sodium is a big help.

Whenever I need to *only* cut waist size by a few inches, I find that doing several different kinds of crunches every day helps immensely. I'm sure this would be the same for a male. These muscles can tighten up substantially within only a few days and (for me) show a dramatic difference within the first little time frame. I do a mix of normal crunches, some where I'll reach to one side then another, and some where I'll just hold myself higher off the ground for a count of 10.

Running helps strengthen these muscles as well as tone many others and will help you lose body fat. The crunches just help to suck it in temporarily. ;)

Good luck!
posted by jaynedanger at 2:18 PM on October 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

If it's just for a week? Scarsdale. Seriously. Works like nothing I've ever tried for a quick weight loss.
posted by essexjan at 2:19 PM on October 9, 2008

Sorry, wrong link. Here's the actual diet.
posted by essexjan at 2:20 PM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Don't eat any sugar or refined carbohydrates for the two weeks. You'll lose a ton of water weight in the first few days and then some actual weight.
posted by peacheater at 2:55 PM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you want to be crazy, do The Velocity Diet. You live off of micellar casein protein shakes and flax seeds for a month. But it works for many, many people.

If you want to be less crazy, but still effective, go crazy low-carb, like Atkins-style. Eat nought but chicken and broccoli (or just lean protein, healthy fats, and green vegetables). You WILL slim down, though it will suck.

Exercise isn't going to do shit, honestly. Exercise helps build muscle, it helps maintain muscle, it builds your cardiovascular system, but it isn't going to help for fast, short-term fat burning. I highly suggest doing a heavy lifting program (lots of squats, deadlifts, presses) in order to preserve your muscle mass, and if you want to be serious throw some HIIT in there as well.

The main thing to remember is weight loss is 80% diet. FAST weight loss is more like 95% diet. You will HAVE to cut out the carbohydrates. Don't worry, you won't die, and after the first week of feeling crappy you will feel awesome. Just make sure you're eating tons of green vegetables to get nutrients and fiber.
posted by Anonymous at 6:02 PM on October 9, 2008

Start three months ago.

Seriously, man, I'm sorry to have to tell ya, but them's the breaks. You could go on some crazy crash diet but that's seriously unhealthy and, IMHO, not worth it to to avoid looking "a little pudgy" in your costume.

It's Halloween, I guarantee your friends will be so drunk they won't notice. So don't sweat it. Trust me.
posted by word_virus at 7:51 PM on October 9, 2008

Best answer: I disagree with some of the people who have expressed that loosing a significant amount of weight in 20 days is not feasible without a crazy diet.

There are a number of athletes who go through dramatic physique changes in the 3-4 month off season without drug assistance. There is no reason you can't reap some of those benefits in 20 days with proper training and nutrition.

My recommendation would be to eat 'like a hunter gatherer' for 4-5 days and then take a cheat day where you ate the comfort foods that make you feel good, and repeat.

Hunter gatherer diet is really simple, each day have 3-6 meals that consist mostly of vegetables with around 4-6 ounces of meat or fish. As a snack, or 1 or 2 of your meals (not your first) have a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts.

Vary your sources of meat, vegetables, fruit and nuts every day or two, there is fairly compelling evidence the body mounts an increased immune response to food that's eaten again and again and again without a few days break in between. Limit your choice of beverages to things without sugars in them, water, tea, coffee etc.

Also think about cutting your calories by 20-30% 2 out of 6 days.

As for exercise I think the research is pretty clear that interval training is superior to all others for loosing body fat, three main reasons as I understand it.

First athletes who participate in sports that involve interval work (sprinting, basketball, soccer, etc) exhibit lower body fat levels than those who participate in endurance sports.

Second, the hormonal response to intervals seems favorable to fat loss, including increased growth hormone, decreased progesterone and decreased cortisol production compared to endurance training.

Third, the glycolysis is not particular efficient compared to the krebs cycle, so if you keep the intensity high enough you can burn as many calories in far less time than aerobics. Studies looking at 24 hour energy expenditure on interval vs endurance training show the same relative energy use with significantly shorter work periods for the interval groups.

A great way to start doing intervals is with what's called tabata (after the japanese researcher who published this interesting paper). The basic idea is to pick something like squats, lunges, pushups, pullups, burpees (anything as long as it involves a large amount of muscles) and do them as fast as you can (like 80% don't get hurt, and it's really hard) for 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds.

20 seconds on, 10 seconds off is 1 set, and your goal is to do 8 sets. I would start with 3 or 4 and work your way up, I didn't walk that well the next day after 86 squats in 5 sets my first workout.

Once you can do 8 sets of 20/10 extend the time periods while maintaining a 2:1 ratio, 30/15, 40/20 etc.

You also might consider increasing your omega-3 fatty acid intake, either by eating lots of wild caught fish and grass fed beef, taking fish oil or flax oil (fish preferred), lots of walnuts or figuring out your own sources. Populations that have significantly higher levels of omega-3's in their diet as compared to americans have fewer inflammatory diseases (diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, age relative cognitive impairment) and are less obese than we are. There is also decent clinical evidence that increasing your omega-3 consumption by 10-15 grams is safe, should reduce your cholesterol, make you less depressed, help your arthritis and painful joints, and reduce your bodyfat.

I would also take a multivitamin, as minerals likes zinc and magnesium are involved in thousands of biological reactions, as are the b vitamins cofactors in just about everything. You should ensure you have more than the minimum levels needed to prevent disease, particularly given there is question whether our not our diet provides enough of these things.

I like this product but you might want to talk with a physician, I am told some of the best multivitamins come prescription only. If you choose your own, I would look for lower levels of manganese and a chelated magnesium like glycinate, taurate, ascorbate (not oxide) as higher quality supplements use forms of minerals that are more expensive, and more bioavailable.
posted by zentrification at 8:44 PM on October 9, 2008 [3 favorites]

I'd pop open the seams on the sides and do inserts of a material with give, like jersey or elastic panel or something along those lines and wear a waist minimiser (they come in bands you can just slip yourself into or you can make one yourself by sewing a tube of strong spandex).

Drinking water and cutting out unnecessary calories from carbs, sugars, and flavoured drinks and limiting salt should help minimise bloat, too.

Good luck - I know what it is to take a costume that seriously. Just don't hurt yourself in the process.
posted by batmonkey at 11:04 PM on October 9, 2008

Eat a little less than you usually do and run or play sports. I dropped 10 pounds in about 20 days by simply playing basketball two to three times a week. I am 6'4" and was 225 lbs, hovering around 215.
posted by pmbuko at 8:25 AM on October 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

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