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Wait! Don't resign yourself to gaining weight over the holidays like you usually do. This eat-what-you-love-and-still-lose program makes it possible to put yourself at the top of your to-do list (and go to the office party looking hot).
On these pages, Melissa Clark and Robin Aronson, authors of The Skinny: How to Fit in Your Little Black Dress Forever (Meredith Books), give you a starter kit for eating right on the run with a week's worth of meals and snacks, including easy recipes you can whip up fast, as well as healthy takeout and prepared foods. Going to a party? Swap the day's snack and dessert for one of the goodies in "You Can Indulge Guilt-Free" on the final page.
Follow this plan and you'll consume about 1,500 calories a day and drop 5 pounds in a month. (For variety, replace some of the foods with your favorites; eat about half of your usual-size portion.) Even better: Combine the diet with our fat-blasting workout and you'll double your weight loss to 10 pounds in just four weeks!
Breakfast: 1 cup low-fat yogurt topped with 1 cup strawberries and 2 teaspoons almonds.
Lunch: Salad with chicken and vegetables (about 2 cups) tossed with 2 tablespoons dressing; 1 medium apple for dessert.
Dinner: 6-ounce salmon fillet, brushed with 2 teaspoons each molasses and olive oil and broiled. Two cups steamed broccoli and carrots. Small whole wheat roll.
Dessert: 3 mini Milano cookies and 1 cup skim milk.
Snack: Toasted whole wheat pita bread and 1 thin slice (3/4 ounce) reduced-fat cheese.
Breakfast: 1 cup whole grain cereal topped with 1 cup nonfat milk and 1/2 banana, sliced.
Lunch: Tuna-salad sandwich on a whole-grain roll made with small can (3 ounces) water-packed tuna, 2 tablespoons light mayo, and 2 tablespoons each chopped celery and bell peppers.
Dinner: 6 ounces skinless rotisserie chicken, 2/3 cup whole wheat couscous (made from 1/3 cup dry) and 1 cup string beans sauteed in 2 teaspoons olive oil and garlic.
Dessert: 2 small fig cookies.
Snack: 1 nectarine and 11 baked chips.
Breakfast: 1 1/2 cup oatmeal topped with 1/2 cup blueberries and a splash of milk.
Lunch: Sandwich made with 3 ounces turkey breast on whole wheat bread with lettuce, tomato, and Dijon mustard; 1 cup (about 30) grapes.
Dinner: 4 ounces shrimp stir-fried with mushrooms, garlic, and ginger (cook in sauce made by whisking together 4 teaspoons each soy sauce and rice vinegar and 2 teaspoons each olive oil and honey), 1/2 cup steamed carrots, and 3/4 cup brown rice.
Dessert: 1/2 cup chocolate nonfat frozen yogurt topped with 2 teaspoons chopped walnuts.
Snack: A medium apple sliced with 1 tablespoon almond butter.
Breakfast: Smoothie made with 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt, 1 large banana, 1 kiwi, 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup, and crushed ice.
Lunch: Roast beef sandwich made with 2 ounces lean meat, lettuce, tomato, and mustard on whole wheat bread; 1/2 cup baby carrots and 1 medium pear.
Dinner: Pad Thai (about 8 ounces, takeout) served with 1 1/2 cups broccoli and peppers stir-fried in 2 teaspoons olive oil.
Dessert: 2 shortbread cookies.
Snack: Reduced-fat string cheese (1 stick) and 12 almonds.
Breakfast: 2 pieces whole wheat toast, each topped with 1 slice reduced-fat cheese; 1/2 cup grapefruit juice.
Lunch: 1 cup black-bean soup, green salad with assorted veggies of your choice tossed with 2 tablespoons dressing; 3 chocolate kisses.
Dinner: 8 pieces assorted sushi (takeout), 1/2 cup shelled edamame, and 1 medium orange.
Dessert: 6 ounces plain nonfat yogurt topped with 1 tablespoon raisins.
Snack: 28 dry-roasted peanuts.
Breakfast: 2 poached eggs, 1 whole-wheat English muffin and 1/2 medium grapefruit.
Lunch: Green salad with 4 ounces grilled chicken strips, veggies of your choice (like peppers), and 2 tablespoons dressing; a small banana.
Dinner: 4 ounces prepared lean sliced steak (from the supermarket), 1 cup broccoli sauteed in 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1 small whole wheat dinner roll, and 3 clementines.
Dessert: 1/2 cup vanilla nonfat frozen yogurt and 4 small vanilla wafer cookies.
Snack: 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese and 3 small bread sticks.
Breakfast: 1 cup whole-grain cereal topped with 1 cup nonfat milk and 1 cup sliced strawberries.
Lunch: Veggie burger on a whole-grain hamburger roll with lettuce and tomato, and 1 small pear.
Dinner: 6-ounce halibut fillet brushed with 2 teaspoons olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and roasted 10 to 15 minutes (depending on thickness); 4 ounces cheese ravioli; 1 cup string beans sauteed in 1 teaspoon olive oil; 2 fresh figs.
Dessert: 2 shortbread cookies.
Snack: 1 ounce dark chocolate.
If you're heading to a party, replace your daily snack and dessert with one of these treats, which are about 300 calories each:
Next: Add this workout, only 4 weeks to getting slim, strong, and sexy!
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, December 2006.