9 Ways To Shape Up For That Special Event

A woman zipping up a pink satin skirtWhat is the healthiest party diet? People who are trying to get in shape for a special event, such as a wedding, an award show, a class reunion or a vacation, often do extreme things to slim down and get in shape.

Common drastic measures can include bizarre food combinations, dramatic detox plans, such as the Master Cleanse…or just plain starving.

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Even more extreme, there have been many reports of people wiring their mouths shut or resorting to the K-E Diet, where a feeding tube is used to slowly drip 800 calories of protein, water and fat from the nose, down the esophagus and directly into the person’s stomach every day for up to 10 days.

Dangerous Effects Of Dramatic Weight Loss

Yes, any and all extreme diet measures can result in quick and dramatic weight loss, but the downside is that, because these are all temporary fixes, the weight loss not only will not be long-term, but in many cases, will re-appear quickly, sometimes along with a few extra pounds. Aside from these diets being non-permanent solutions, medical experts also are alarmed by the extreme dangers that these women are putting themselves at risk for.

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“Rapid weight loss increases the risk of heart arrhythmias, dehydration, and electrolyte disturbances,” says Ethan Lazarus, a family doctor in Denver who specializes in obesity medicine. “Shedding pounds this quickly, he says, makes it likely that you will lose more lean body mass and water than fat. This can slow metabolism and result in an instant regain of weight once you go off the diet. You may gain more than you lost,” says Lazarus.

Experts also point out that your waistline isn’t the only thing that suffers from rapid weight loss. Other effects include shrunken fingers and feet and a drooping face—which can result in a loose wedding ring, flopping shoes, and a blushing bride with a dull expression.

What’s The Right Way To Get Fit?

If you want to lose weight before an event, you should actually start your weight loss program at least 10 weeks before the event date, says Heather Mangieri, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Some people, especially with those with more than 20 pounds to lose, can safely lose more. Experts agree that eventually things will level out to 1 to 2 pounds a week for the average person.

Last-Minute Diet Tips That Experts Can Agree On

Eat a low-carb diet. There is no question that low-carb diets work well. But experts caution against eating too few carbs, and advise brides to consume between 50 and 75 grams per day to safely speed up weight loss. This can be achieved by eating lean protein, leafy greens, and healthy fats, such as nuts and seeds (watch the portions), and cutting back on processed grains, dairy, soy, sugar (including fruit sugar), and starchy vegetables.

Eat more often. That’s right! Eat five or six times a day, spaced out every two, three, or four hours, says Amira Lamb, a holistic nutritionist and personal trainer in New York. This can be three meals and two snacks or all mini meals. Eating regularly helps to maintain stable blood sugar and control hunger.

Stop eating out. Eat all of your meals at home if possible, suggests Keri Gans, a registered dietitian and author of The Small Change Diet. That way, you can control portion size and how food is prepared (without a half-stick of butter, for example). Remember this is only temporary, she says.

Drink the right drinks. Drink as much water as you can. Naturally fruit-flavored bottled water is OK. She also suggests drinking 1 to 2 cups of plain green tea before or with lunch or dinner. Green tea has been shown to boost metabolism.

Eliminate sugar and artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners can intensify sugar cravings, making it harder to resist temptation. Also, there are studies that have shown that artificial sweeteners may somehow affect the body’s ability to lose weight efficiently.

Eat protein with meals. Protein fuels your metabolism and helps you stay full. Try an egg-white omelet with vegetables for breakfast; a large vegetable salad with shrimp or chicken for lunch; and broiled salmon with steamed spinach for dinner. A snack may be nonfat, plain Greek yogurt, which contains more protein than traditional yogurt.

Start dinner with a non-starchy vegetable. Non-starchy vegetables, such as tomato or cucumber slices, baby carrots, sugar snap peas, and broth-based vegetable soup (without pasta, rice, or beans) help make you feel fuller, faster.

Don’t Forget To Exercise. Try sculpting your body faster by doing high-intensity interval training workouts. Power-circuit training—a superset of four to six different exercises with no rest in between—is the preferred method of Jackie Warner, celebrity trainer and author of 10 Pounds in 10 Days. She recommends doing the workout five times a week for 20 to 40 minutes.

However, too much exercise can undercut weight-loss efforts, says Pete McCall, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise.

“Overtraining syndrome” can cause an overproduction of the hormone cortisol, which can prompt the body to conserve (not burn) fat. If you start feeling dizzy or nauseated or you notice that it is taking too long for your heart rate to return to normal, you may be overdoing it, McCall says. Pain is another signal that something is wrong.

Ask An Expert For Help. A personal trainer can help you design an effective exercise routine that’s right for you, while a registered dietitian can help you design a sensible plan that will result in a slimmer but still healthy-looking body. Experts can also help keep you motivated, challenged and accountable.