Get the motivation you need to slim down and stick with it.
If you could design your dream diet, what would it include? Lots of variety so meals and snacks never get boring? Plenty of treats? A day to cheat a little? Well, we hear you—and we’ve worked all that into our program. Follow this easy plan for a month and enjoy real food (not just rice cakes and cottage cheese), your favorite treats, even a glass of wine. The keys: smaller portions, more protein and healthier carbs. Just mix and match one breakfast, lunch and dinner plus two treats for six days of the week. Then, on day seven, indulge with a cheat day.
300 CALORIES PER SERVING
1. Peanut butter and apple quesadilla: 8″ whole-wheat tortilla + 1 Tbsp peanut butter + 1 sliced apple
2. Apricot ricotta breakfast sundae: 1 cup nonfat ricotta cheese + pinch nutmeg + ½ tsp agave nectar + 4 chopped apricots
3. 1 egg scrambled in 1 tsp oil; 1 whole-wheat bagel thin; 1 turkey sausage link; 6 oz low-sodium vegetable juice
4. Strawberry French toast: 1 slice whole-wheat bread dipped in 1 beaten egg and cooked in 1 tsp butter + 1 cup sliced strawberries
5. 1 cup toasted oat cereal + 1 cup 1% milk or soy milk + 2 Tbsp tart dried cherries + 1 Tbsp chopped walnuts
6. Egg sandwich: 1 whole-wheat English muffin + 1 egg fried in 1 tsp olive oil + 1 oz Canadian bacon (about 2 slices) + 1-2 slices tomato
7. Pancakes and bacon: 2 frozen pancakes + 1 tsp honey + ½ sliced banana; 2 slices turkey bacon
8. 1 cup bran flakes + 1 cup 1% milk or soy milk + ¾ cup blueberries
9. Huevos rancheros: 6″ corn tortilla + 3 egg whites fried in 1 tsp olive oil + ½ cup black beans + ¼ cup fresh salsa + ¼ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
10. Sunflower pear waffle: 1 whole-grain frozen waffle + 1 Tbsp sunflower butter (tastes like sunflower seeds—loaded with protein) or any nut butter + 1 sliced pear
11. Maple almond oatmeal: 1 cup cooked oatmeal + 1 Tbsp almond butter + 2 tsp maple syrup
12. Smoked salmon roll-up: 8″ whole-wheat tortilla + 1 Tbsp whipped cream cheese + 1½ oz smoked salmon + 1 sliced scallion
13. Smoothie! 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt blended with 1 cup frozen peaches + ½ cup calcium-fortified orange juice + ½ banana + 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed + pinch nutmeg
14. Greek yogurt parfait: 8 oz nonfat plain Greek yogurt + 1 diced nectarine + 1 tsp honey + 3 Tbsp sliced almonds
500 CALORIES PER SERVING
29. 4 oz lean sirloin steak; ½ baked potato with 2 Tbsp nonfat plain Greek yogurt; 2 cups mushrooms sautéed in 2 tsp olive oil
30. Lemon pasta with salmon and asparagus: 2 oz grilled salmon + 2 oz whole-wheat penne, cooked and tossed with + 1 Tbsp olive oil + 2 Tbsp lemon juice + 1 clove garlic, sliced + 1 cup chopped asparagus + 1 Tbsp fresh basil
31. Mexican burrito bowl: ⅓ cup* brown rice, cooked + ½ cup pinto beans + ½ cup grilled vegetables cooked with 2 spritzes of olive oil cooking spray + ½ cup shredded lettuce + ¼ cup corn salsa + ¼ cup guacamole
32. Takeout! 3 oz ginger chicken with broccoli + 6 oz brown rice
33. Italian tilapia: 6 oz tilapia baked with 1 cup canned diced tomatoes + 4 chopped green olives + 1 tsp olive oil + pinch Italian seasoning; ⅓ cup whole-wheat couscous, cooked
34. 6 oz roast pork tenderloin; 1 baked sweet potato; 2 cups green beans sautéed in 2 tsp olive oil
35. Chicken stir-fry: 4 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast strips + 2 cups broccoli florets + 1 sliced scallion + 2 tsp peanut oil; ½ cup brown rice, cooked
36. Pasta with cannellini and feta: 2 oz whole-wheat pasta, cooked + ¾ cup cannellini beans + 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes + 2 tsp olive oil + 1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil + 1 Tbsp crumbled feta
37. Spaghetti and meatballs: 2 oz whole-wheat spaghetti, cooked + 3 turkey meatballs (1 oz each) + ½ cup marinara sauce; 2 cups tossed salad + 1 Tbsp Italian vinaigrette
38. Portobello burger parmigiana: 1 portobello mushroom cap, misted lightly with olive oil spray and broiled or grilled + ¼ cup marinara sauce + 1-oz slice part-skim mozzarella + fresh basil + whole-wheat hamburger bun; ½ romaine lettuce heart + 1 large sliced tomato + 1 Tbsp balsamic vinaigrette
39. 5 oz tuna steak; ½ cup brown rice, cooked; 2 cups broccoli sautéed in 1 tsp peanut oil
40. 1 cup summer chili: ¼ cup chopped onion + 2 oz lean ground turkey breast sautéed in 1 tsp olive oil + ½ cup canned white beans + ½ cup corn niblets + ½ cup canned diced tomatoes + hot sauce to taste; ½ cup brown rice, cooked
41. Pasta with chicken and spinach: 2 oz whole-wheat pasta (or mix 1 oz whole-wheat pasta with 1 oz regular), cooked + ½ cup shredded skinless rotisserie chicken breast + 1 cup baby spinach + 1 clove garlic, sliced and sautéed in 1 Tbsp olive oil + 1 Tbsp Parmesan
42. BBQ! Grill 4 oz skinless chicken breast, then baste with 1 Tbsp barbecue sauce; 1 ear corn; ½ cup potato salad
*Measure this amount of pasta, rice or couscous before cooking.
Snacks, sweets and treats!
150 CALORIES PER SERVING
•6-oz container 0% fat fruit-flavored Greek yogurt
•6-oz glass wine
•½ pear + two 1″ Brie cubes
•Three 2½” cinnamon graham cracker squares + 4 Tbsp nonfat ricotta
•1 hard-cooked egg sprinkled with celery salt; ten 1″ whole-grain crackers
•1 sliced bell pepper + ¼ cup hummus
•12 oz beer
•½ banana + 1 Tbsp peanut butter
•¾ cup light chocolate ice cream
•4 cups lowfat microwave popcorn tossed with 1 tsp cocoa + pinch chili powder
•12 oz nonfat latte; 1 Oreo
•1 mini cinnamon raisin bagel + 1 Tbsp soy butter
•½ cup soft-serve vanilla frozen yogurt + 1 cup mixed berries
•1.14-oz bag of pretzel M&M’s
You’ve made smart choices six days in a row—now it’s time to indulge a little. On the seventh day (or another day you choose), relax the rules and do one of the following:
•Add a third treat or snack from the “Snacks, Sweets & Treats” list above.
•Follow the slim-down plan for breakfast and lunch, skip the snacks, and eat whatever you want for dinner.
•Forgo the snacks and have dessert after dinner.
START YOUR DIET ON SUNDAY. Research finds that this guarantees the biggest weight loss success. The worst day to start? Tuesday.
EAT A FOOD THAT’S A CONTRASTING COLOR TO YOUR PLATE (think pasta marinara on a white plate). It can trim how much food you take (and eat) by 21%.
USE A BIG FORK TO EAT LESS. Researchers believe a big fork helps you gauge how much you’ve eaten better than a small one.
TURN OFF THE COOKING SHOWS. When dieters watch food-related TV programs, they inhale 60% more snacks than nondieters.
CHOOSE ONE STARCH (PASTA, BREAD, RICE) PER MEAL. Too many carbohydrates can spike your blood sugar, making you hungrier later.
HAVE WHOLE GRAINS AT BREAKFAST (like oats or whole-wheat toast). Their filling fiber curbs midmorning hunger pangs.
EAT EVERY 4 HOURS TO KEEP YOUR APPETITE IN CHECK. Wait too long between meals and you’ll end up hungrier and more likely to overeat.
KEEP HEALTHY MUNCHIES IN YOUR GLOVE COMPARTMENT. Try a granola bar, a single-serving bag of whole-wheat pretzels or a 1-oz bag of nuts.
STOCK THE FRIDGE WITH LOWFAT DAIRY PRODUCTS. They’ve got whey protein, calcium and vitamin D, which help burn fat and curb hunger.
EAT 15 TO 20 G PROTEIN AT EVERY MEAL (about 2 to 3 oz of meat, chicken or fish). Spacing it out is key to keeping your metabolism revved.
ADD PRODUCE TO MEALS. Fruits and veggies are the ultimate eat-less tool: They fill you up for fewer calories plus have crucial nutrients.
*Measure this amount of pasta, rice or couscous before cooking.
Train your brain to help you lose weight
You’ve found a meal plan and penciled in a daily walk on your calendar. Now it’s time to get your mind ready, which is “just as important as throwing out all the junk food in your pantry,” says Melanie Greenberg, PhD, a psychologist in Mill Valley, CA. Three ways to prepare:
ANNOUNCE YOUR PLAN TO AT LEAST THREE PEOPLE. Saying out loud that you’re planning to lose weight reinforces that you’re committed to change, and it keeps you more accountable. Tell the few people closest to you—and, if you’re comfortable, spread the word even further. Start a blog or post your progress on Facebook.
BE READY TO SAY NO. The best-laid healthy-living plans often fall by the wayside because you feel guilty about turning down invites or plans. So prepare your response in advance: “I would love to , but I’m really trying to make the time to get healthy, so I’m exercising instead. Thanks for the offer—and for your understanding!”
PUT YOUR WEIGHT LOSS PAST TO REST…LITERALLY. Saying goodbye to past failures in a concrete way can help you focus on succeeding this time. Jot down a list of the reasons you didn’t lose weight in the past, then tear it up and toss it in the trash or bury it in your backyard.