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When you book a week at a world-class spa like Canyon Ranch, you're virtually guaranteed to lose weight. The mouth-watering menus, all-day-fun activities, and stress-free atmosphere take the pain out of shedding pounds. But who can afford to drop in whenever a "fat day" -- or week -- pops up?
Now you don't need to. We asked the experts at Canyon Ranch to create this exclusive seven-day weight-loss plan, providing an average of 1,700 calories a day, enough to help you drop a pound per week. (You'll lose more if you include a daily workout; Canyon Ranch visitors typically spend up to 90 minutes per day being active, whether it's riding a mountain bike, running, or circuit training.) Not only is the program easy to follow, but it's also one of the most delicious diet plans we've ever presented.
A smaller waistline isn't the only benefit of following this diet, says Canyon Ranch Lenox director of nutrition Lori Reamer, RD. "Our guests also leave with the confidence to make positive long-term changes in their eating habits," she says. Follow the plan for seven days -- or as long as you need to reach your goal. With food this good, and weight loss this effortless, you can't afford to skip it.
1. Eat mindfully. "Mealtime should be a total sensory experience," says Canyon Ranch's Lori Reamer. Whenever you prepare a dish, take a few moments to add a garnish. Appreciate the aroma, taste, and texture of every bite. All this slows down your eating, so you'll feel satisfied with less.
2. Take 10. Even though a day at a spa is often packed with treatments and activities, there's always time to relax -- even if it's just for 10 minutes by the pool. Stress hormones trigger weight gain; conversely, chilling out helps keep your metabolism in prime fat-burning mode.
3. Fill up on quality foods. "Everything that's served at Canyon Ranch is top-notch," explains Reamer. "The more wholesome the ingredients, the more flavorful they are." Don't skimp on high-quality ingredients, whether you go for a pricey olive oil or an heirloom tomato.
4. Focus on fiber. If there's one magic bullet when it comes to weight loss, it's fiber. "It fills you up, so you ultimately consume fewer calories," explains Reamer. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and choose whole-grain breads, cereals, and grains with 2 or more grams fiber per serving to help meet your daily quota of at least 25 grams per day.
5. Pump up the protein -- wisely. "Protein helps prevent cravings and enhances satiety," says Reamer. Choose from beans, skinless poultry, fish, soy products, and low-fat dairy or lean meats.
6. Make healthy fat choices. Don't be afraid to include small amounts of higher-calorie items like avocado, nuts, and seeds in your daily menus. Just a tablespoon of toasted nuts instantly upgrades a salad, and a sprinkling of diced avocado brings buttery richness to grilled seafood.
7. Go local. "Using locally grown ingredients ensures that everything is at its peak of freshness," says Reamer.
8. Get wet. "Dehydration drains your energy and may even hamper metabolism," says Reamer.
Originally published in Fitness magazine, June 2005.