I have a month to lose some weight without the help of cardio!
May 2, 2012 3:50 PM   Subscribe

I have about a month to lose 5-10 lbs for an upcoming wedding that requires me to wear a dress that does not fit and cannot be altered. Normally I'd cut back on calories and just go running a lot, but I've been rendered unable to run or elliptical or bike due to an Achilles injury that I don't want to worsen. What dietary things and other workout things can I do during this time to ensure weight loss? In my twenties, no health problems, no dietary restrictions, reeeally need to fit into this god forsaken dress.
posted by blackcatcuriouser to Health & Fitness (41 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It's so possible to do this in a month with just calorie restriction. I can't comment on how many calories you should be eating, but I've lost this amount on Weight Watchers with no exercise.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 3:53 PM on May 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

In my experience, the most effective crash diets are low-carb diets (Atkins Induction or similar) because you get the added boost of depleting your glycogen stores. You'll gain the weight back when you go back to your usual eating habits, but it doesn't sound like that's an issue for you?
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:59 PM on May 2, 2012 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I have lost that much in a month on the Induction phase of Atkins using Atkins. I used the New Atkins for You book. You don't need to buy their products unless you want to.
posted by Snazzy67 at 4:00 PM on May 2, 2012

I've had tremendous success following the Whole30 Program. It takes some planning and willpower, but you'll absolutely get results.
posted by katie at 4:02 PM on May 2, 2012 [6 favorites]

I once went on a diet of mostly lentils and veggies for a couple of months and lost some weight. I didn't bother tracking calories, but probably consumed less due to the monotony of it all.
posted by markhu at 4:04 PM on May 2, 2012

Basically, you need to eat healthy and lower calorie for a month.

Healthy is controversial. Everyone agrees that it means: lots of vegetables, plenty of protein, limited processed food, and some healthy fats.

Some people will tell you to eat fruit and whole grains, and not too much fat. If you do this, you'll probably be fine.

Some people will tell you to restrict carbs instead, and eat lots of fat. If you do this, you'll probably be fine too.
posted by insectosaurus at 4:05 PM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The thing about doing a low-carb crash diet vs. a low-fat crash is the glycogen depletion advantage. Jockeys are constantly doing Atkins Induction in order to make weight for races for this reason, because in their case every ounce matters.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:07 PM on May 2, 2012

Whether or not this is possible and the techniques to be used depends entirely on your current weight. If you are 250lbs, 10lbs would be trivial to lose simply through minimal calorie restriction. If you weigh 120lbs, losing 10lbs would be a lot more difficult.
posted by modernnomad at 4:08 PM on May 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: 2 lbs a week is considered safe. 1 month is 4 weeks, so 8 lbs.

Or this way - 10 lbs is 35000 calories, which works to a 1167 calorie deficit a day ( for a 30 day month).

Track everything all the time. FitDay is a good tracker.

Fats and proteins are, to me, more satiety-inducing than carbohydrates, and you will probably find is easier to cut out refined sugars.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:08 PM on May 2, 2012

If you're currently eating a fairly "conventional" American diet (ie >200 carbs per day), you should easily drop 5-10 lb in two weeks of low carb eating (50 carbs or less per day).

We tend to gain fat when we gain weight and lose a combination of fat and muscle when we lose weight. Therefore, keep in mind that your body will not necessarily go back to the same size and shape as it was the last time you weighed X lb, so I would line up a contingency plan.
posted by telegraph at 4:15 PM on May 2, 2012

In addition to the weight-loss strategies, you might look into slimming foundation garments (shapewear in this vein).
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:17 PM on May 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

Yeah, I don't know how much you weigh now, but I -- at 120 -- can lose 5 pounds in a month if I do super strict Weight Watchers and drink zero booze. I couldn't lose 10 in four weeks without pretty extreme measures, I don't think. Personally, I'd cut carbs and, again, sweet booze. Lots of protein.

Re: working out, can you swim?

And don't underestimate the power of Spanx!
posted by Countess Sandwich at 4:22 PM on May 2, 2012

In terms of aerobic exercise that won't wreck your tendon: how about swimming, possibly using only your upper body? Alternatively, something like this set of exercise pedals, which can be used with the arms. Since you're a woman, I wouldn't worry about getting bulky arm muscles.
posted by jedicus at 4:23 PM on May 2, 2012

5 pounds in a month is absolutely doable with pure dietary restriction. It won't be fun but it's definitely possible without using any tricks or special diets.
posted by Justinian at 4:24 PM on May 2, 2012

You can definitely cut out alcohol, if that's an option for you (i.e. if you already drink). That might help make a big difference, as would cutting out any calories that you drink instead of eat (soda, hot chocolate, tea with honey, coffee with sugar...).

But like others have said, a lot depends on how much you currently weigh. I'm not asking you to publish your weight on a public forum, although that might help people give better suggestions, but you might take a look at your diet and think about how you can cut 500 to 1,000 calories a day, depending on what you eat now.
posted by k8lin at 4:25 PM on May 2, 2012

Low carb, so low as to be no carb, no alcohol, and steam baths or sauna and Spanx. This isn't forever, so I'd bet you'll be fine.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:25 PM on May 2, 2012

Swimming is pretty good exercise both for cardiovascular health and general calories and muscle tone as well as minimizing injuries. Even just walking on a treadmill will use calories if you do it long enough. You can track food any number of ways including MyFitnessPal and the sites other people have mentioned. Track every single thing that goes into your mouth. If you eat a normallish diet, it should be easy in the short term to do calorie restrictions just by seriously cutting down where your calories come from [i.e. no alcohol, cut waaaay down on dairy, no dressings and most other fats, just good proteins and some fats, lots of leafy vegetables, drink water] but be careful to stay healthy and don't eat so few calories that your body shuts down and kicks your metabolism down [people call this "starvation mode" and there is a lot of debate about when it kicks in]. Best of luck.
posted by jessamyn at 4:49 PM on May 2, 2012

I like everyone's answers. Just realize that its easy to lose the first 10% of weight, after that you'll struggle. But if you shove that chair back from the dinner table, it will make a difference at this point.
posted by misspony at 4:52 PM on May 2, 2012

That Whole30 program Katie linked to looks fantastic. As far as I can tell, it's Atkins induction without the dairy. I was coming in here to Nth Atkins, but if you do Induction without the dairy (ie, follow the Whole 30 guidelines on the page she linked to), you will definitely shed a considerable amount of weight in one month. As a bonus, you won't feel like you're starving. (You may feel like crap the first few days to the "induction flu," though, so be warned!)
posted by artemisia at 4:57 PM on May 2, 2012

Unless you're rail thin, I don't think you need to resort to Atkins just to drop 5-10 pounds in a month. I'd up your salad intake (no or little dressing), cut out between meal snacks, start walking every evening after dinner, and watch how much of your calories you're drinking -- those can really add up.
posted by jabes at 5:02 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I also had great results with the Whole30 eating plan. In one month I lost 10lbs eating meat (beef, pork, chicken, and fish), lots of veggies, some fruit (the equivalent of around 3 servings per day), nuts and seeds (almonds mostly - 1 serving per day = 10 almonds), and lots of eggs and egg whites. The only fats I used were olive oil and coconut oil. And a bit of homemade mayo if I was eating canned tuna.

What I didn't eat - dairy, bread, rice, soy products, pasta, or anything processed.

I'm not gonna lie - it was difficult at times, but I felt like a million bucks and it really made me cognizant of what I was putting into my body.
posted by kelrae3 at 5:02 PM on May 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

I didn't say my bit right so here it is: "the best exercise is pushing your chair back from the table" SO TRUE... just read an article in the news that 70% of weight loss is DIET. If I were you I would be eating near to nothing, lean meats, and veggies. However, I was feeling a bit chub this time last year and a half hour walk a day for 2 weeks put me back into a (fake) size 2 SATIN (no stretch evil) sequin cocktail dress.. weight didn't change that much.
posted by misspony at 5:03 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Also forgot to mention - my 'treat' after dinner was usually frozen berries with a bit of coconut milk splashed on top, or a frozen banana mixed with the food processor that turns out like soft serve.

There are lots of good recipes on chowstalker that are Whole30 compliant. Sorry no links, I'm posting from my crappy phone.
posted by kelrae3 at 5:07 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you can't run, can you do relatively stationary weights? How about a rowing machine?
posted by jacalata at 5:10 PM on May 2, 2012

Best answer: Nthing low to no carb. I've done calorie restriction and I've done low carb, and with the calorie restriction I did lose about 1 to 2 lbs per week with some serious effort, but when I did the low carb thing, and did it for real, cutting out all the bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, and everything, the weight just melted off me - and the difference was I didn't have to watch portions, I could eat as much as I wanted to as long as it wasn't grains (and that includes tons of high fat dairy and fruits even). I only weighed 128 lbs to begin with and within a month I had hit 115. Haven't been this skinny since high school. Wish I knew about this trick back before my own wedding!
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:11 PM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Seconding what was said about about losing weight generally resulting in muscle+fat loss, whereas gain-back tends to disproportionally fill in with fat. Now, more than any other time, it is important that you engage in intense exercise such as lifting or interval training to ensure that this does not happen to you. With proper exercise, you might even wind up being in better shape after the nearly inevitable re-gain.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 7:22 PM on May 2, 2012

And since running is out of the question, I would really look into weight training. There have been a large number of threads on AskMefi about the topic, so I encourage you to research further.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 7:24 PM on May 2, 2012

Do include just a little bit of exercise as it'll help keep your metabolism happy. It might not even seem like "exercise" just make sure you don't become one with your chair. Pushups and planks, squats if you can; if you've got a sitting job make an effort to stand up and do a walk down the hall and back at least every hour, etc.
posted by aimedwander at 7:40 PM on May 2, 2012

If you drink soda, stop. 5 pounds right there. Drink plenty of water and cut back on bread and sweets. That should take care of the rest.
posted by myselfasme at 10:28 PM on May 2, 2012

My question would be how fast do you want to do it, how easy does it need to be, and do you want to lose more than that?

In the long term, losing 2 pounds a week should be the goal if you want to lose weight. When you first start, though, you can lose a lot more than that without having to deal with the negative side effects.

Keep in mind, you are carrying 5-10 pounds of excess water and sugar in your system. This is what your body stores for quick energy. The reason it is easy to lose weight at first is because you aren't actually losing fat, but are burning up the excess sugar in your system, which causes the water which is bound to it to leave your body. (someone please correct me if I am way off base here, but this is how I understand it).

My suggestion would be to watch the film "fat, sick, and nearly dead", which is about how 2 people lost a lot of weight doing a juice fast (one person lost hundreds of pounds). Now, you won't be in the same position as these people were, but the same basic principal applies. By drinking vegetable and fruit juice, you are reducing your calorie intake significantly, but you are consuming a massive amount of vitamins and minerals and other good stuff, so your body doesn't just shut down. It takes a little dedication, but it's pretty much fool proof, since there is no way you are going to be able to keep all of your weight on if you are consuming nothing but vegetable juice. You could probably lose 10 pounds in 1-2 weeks, and once you've gotten to where you need to be, start introducing whole foods back into your diet in small amounts (you don't want to just shoot back up to where you were right away), monitoring your size as you go.

If you're worried about the cost of a juicer, I see them for less than 10 dollars at my local good will and other thrift stores all the time.

It's worth a try if you don't think you will be able to do portion control or low carb or anything else which is just a slight modification to what you are doing now. I lost 15 pounds in a month, and that was after juicing for a week and then watching what I was eating after that.
posted by markblasco at 10:40 PM on May 2, 2012

For exercise: swim
For food: eat salad for every dinner (vinaigrette-type dressing, no croutons, just veggies) and no snacks after dinner
posted by deborah at 12:06 AM on May 3, 2012

Try introducing green smoothies (if you have a blender) into your diet as a replacement for say, a meal.

On preview, sort of what markblasco said.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 12:08 AM on May 3, 2012

WTF, there's absolutely no reason to go to extremes. You're talking about a pound or two a week. That's a normal amount of weight to lose.

Get a calorie tracker like MyFitnessPal and it will tell you how many calories you need to eat to lose weight. It will have a minimum below which you're not allowed to go.
Just write everything down in there.

You won't want to use up your calorie allowance on junk food, so you'll lean towards the more filling stuff. Meanwhile, exercise about an hour a day (which will let you eat more).
posted by tel3path at 4:04 AM on May 3, 2012

Another thing: it's quite easy to gradually wind up eating too much just through not paying attention in our culture, but that doesn't mean you were really hungry for it. If you have a moment of 'HURF DURF EAT EVERYTHING' it probably means you're hungry, so eat something.

You won't starve to death. Your body is supposed to be slim if you're eating the right amount, so you won't really be missing anything but a bad habit if you recalibrate your appetite to eat less.
posted by tel3path at 4:08 AM on May 3, 2012

I literally just finished the "6 Day Diet Makeover" last Saturday. Since Monday, I've been using sparkpeople.com... and I've lost 12 pounds in that time!

From what I gathered from my 6 days, the 6 Day Diet makes you improve good healthy habits, such as taking a walk every day, upping your metabolism by eating every 3-4 hours, and assuring you drink a ridiculous amount of water. Sure, I missed carbs (not to mention salt) but it was totally worth it. I even got a "cheat day" on Sunday where I got to eat a full bowl of chocolate ice cream and 4 pieces of delicious pizza-- my metabolism was so high at that point that it really didn't matter. Hope this helps!
posted by camylanded at 6:49 AM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

I was on a diet for gestational diabetes while pregnant and lost weight *in my third trimester of pregnancy.* It would absolutely work for you to lose five pounds quirky and without being an "crash diet."

In essence, stop eating any sugars. Limited carbs. No refined sugar of any kind. Diet sodas. No juice. Limited amount of fruit. Try to eat high-protein foods in several small meals per day without snacking. My diet had lots of chicken and veggies in varying forms with some whole grain bread thrown in for variety. It's *sort of* like the Atkins diet without being quite that extreme. Here is some info on the restrictions I was working with - you can, of course, ignore everything about pregnancy and just focus on the food guidelines.

If I ever needed to lose weight quickly, I would absolutely go back on that diet. I mean, hell, I lost five pounds and I was concurrently growing a fetus.
posted by sonika at 6:50 AM on May 3, 2012

Best answer: I've lost about 20 lbs in the past two months just by tracking calories on LoseIt. I'm sure MyFitnessPal and the others mentioned are similar. You just plug in a goal weight, a time frame for the loss, and keep track of absolutely everything you put in your body. Treat it like a game. I didn't find it to be too awfully restrictive, but I did cut way back on cooking fats and condiments other than mustard. I got one of those olive oil spray pumps, which was really useful for getting an even coat of oil on the pan without using much at all.

I find my daily intake to look basically like this:
Breakfast: Cheerios and milk, coffee with milk: 235 calories

Mid-morning snack: Chobani 0% yogurt: 140 calories

Lunch: Sandwich, 2-3 oz turkey or ham on regular-calorie wheat bread, with low-calorie fixings like cucumber, tomato, sprouts, pickles, mustard, and a spray of olive oil on the bread (and sometimes half an avocado): 350-400 calories

Afternoon snack: 20 almonds: 140 calories

So that totals to about 1000 calories, and then for dinner I don't measure quite as exactly but I make a reasonably-sized portion of fish or chicken plus a big salad tossed with a carefully measured 1/2 tbsp olive oil and dijon dressing and maybe a light dusting of freshly shredded cheese. I usually end up coming in at between 1300 and 1400 calories per day, which is within target for my goal weight loss.

I did quit drinking booze and cut out liquids with any calories.

Obviously this is just an example and not a diet menu plan, but I hope it can illustrate that you probably don't even need to be that restrictive. Obviously I don't know where you're starting from, but just keeping track for a few days should give you an idea of where calories are sneaking in.

Good luck.
posted by CheeseLouise at 7:51 AM on May 3, 2012

Oh another thing that was helpful to me: EatingWell.com has menu plans and recipes that include nutritional info, so you don't have to calculate everything yourself if you don't want to.

Also, I didn't cut out booze and junk food altogether, as there have been several special occasions that I've celebrated since I started. I just skip a day of tracking calories every now and again. No big deal.
posted by CheeseLouise at 7:54 AM on May 3, 2012

South. Beach. Diet. Phase one is 2 weeks--they say average loss is 8-13 lbs, I lost 6. South Beach is, in my view, healthier and less gross than Atkins (although to be fair I'm a vegetarian so Atkins isn't much of an option for me.)
posted by supercoollady at 9:26 AM on May 3, 2012

Make sure to cut your sodium -- read labels, especially diet sodas and other things you might not think of it lurking in. It encourages you to retain water. I inadvertantly cut my sodium by half this week (not below healthy levels by any means - I ingest too much as is) and lost 5 pounds in 2 days. It's all water weight that'll go back on if I go back to my regular diet, but if I was 5 pounds away from fitting into a dress, that'd temporarily do it.
posted by telophase at 2:32 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

When was 16 my best friend and I were noticing that our poor choices in food and activities were robbing us of a rich life. We were gaining weight, our lives felt like the soap operas we'd become addicted to, our friendships were shallow. We decided it was time to transform our lives. We found a book called the Self Healing Cookbook. It was an introduction to macrobiotic foods. Eating in balance, eating whole foods. (that means cutting out all processed foods.) My good friend and i read the book together and tried all it's suggestions. The results? I lost 17 pounds in two weeks, felt more energetic, my thoughts were noticeably more positive, our friendship became more joyful and even my vision seemed sharper. the food was beautiful, smelled wonderful, tasted great, felt clean and best of all, after eating, we felt perfectly satisfied and nourished. There was no down time like you'd experience from a fast or a cleanse. No "shock" to your system. Only your system saying "ahhhhhh this is perfect!" I dropped 17 pounds in two weeks without doing any real exercise. if you can't find the book, look for a good, fun, informative cookbook on macrobiotics. I hope this helps all the readers who're unhappy and looking to transform their lives. Have fun at the wedding!
posted by canalien at 3:17 PM on May 12, 2012

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