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Here's my problem: As a medical resident, I am not only on duty 60 hours a week but also often pull overnight shifts in the Iowa City ER where I work. During my internship and residency I lived on lemon bars, chocolaty French silk pie, and fried cheese curds -- batter-coated cheddar served by the bowlful -- from the hospital cafeteria. I was too wiped out after 11-hour workdays to lift a finger, much less ride my mountain bike or find a pickup game of Ultimate Frisbee, my two favorite hobbies. I gained 20 pounds in two years -- and I'm a doctor! Although I tried jogging twice a week to lose the weight, the scale stayed stuck at around 160 pounds. I was griping to my sister Karla, editorial assistant at FITNESS, that I was running out of time to trim down for both my graduation and my June wedding. And before I knew it, I became the next makeover for this column!My Moment of Success
FITNESS set me up with a trainer and a dietitian, and suddenly I realized I did have pockets of time that I'd been spending watching hours of sports on TV and sleeping in rather than going to the gym. By following their advice and by swapping a few take-out and restaurant meals weekly for homemade ones, I've dropped 15 pounds and two dress sizes. Instead of dreading looking bloated on my two big days, I can't wait to see myself in all those photos looking the slimmest I've ever been.By the Numbers
|Weight||162 lb||147 lb|
Tone as you torch calories.
My trainer, Beth, showed me a way to get a serious sweat while also hitting the other muscles in my body that I'd been missing by solely running. I did this 20-minute variation of her strength-and-cardio routine when traveling.
1 minute: Triceps Dip
Sit on edge of chair, hands on seat, fingers facing forward. Slide forward and bend elbows 90 degrees behind you, lowering hips 3 inches from floor. Straighten arms; repeat.
1 minute: Plank Jack
Start on floor in full push-up position. Keeping upper body still, jump legs wide apart and then back to start (as if doing jumping jacks).
1 minute: Pike Push-Up
Start on floor in an inverted-V position, balancing on hands and feet, hips raised. Bend elbows 90 degrees to lower forehead toward floor. Straighten arms; repeat.
1 minute: Lunge to Kick Combo
Stand with feet hip-width apart and lunge backward with left leg, bending both knees 90 degrees. Rise up onto right leg as you kick left leg forward. Return to rear lunge; repeat for 30 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.
Complete circuit 5 times.
Make the time commitment.
My trainer told me it may take more than the recommended 150 minutes a week of exercise to really transform my body. I bumped up my runs to three days a week and did two to three days of circuits. My goal was to never skip a day, even if it meant doing a shorter workout.
Deal a meal.
To cure me of my five-night-a-week restaurant habit, Dawn helped me create a "dinner deck" of recipe cards filled with meals I can make in 15 minutes. I even learned to replicate my favorite eat-out dishes!
Greek Salad Pita
Toss 2 cups salad greens with lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Add 2 tablespoons each diced tomatoes and cucumber; 1/2 ounce feta; 3 olives, chopped; and 3 mint leaves, chopped; toss. Toast 1 whole wheat pita, smear with 1/4 cup hummus, and top with salad.
Tomato Flatbread Pizza
Top 1 whole wheat flatbread with 1 garlic clove, chopped. Slice 2 roma tomatoes and place on flatbread. Add 1 ounce goat cheese; heat in oven at 350 degrees until flatbread edges turn crispy and cheese begins to melt. Serve with 2 cups salad greens drizzled with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinaigrette.
Easy Shrimp Tostadas
Crisp 2 small corn tortillas in oven. Warm 1/4 cup canned low-fat refried beans. Top each tortilla with beans, 1/2 cup shredded lettuce, and 2 tablespoons diced tomatoes. In a fry pan, heat 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced, with 2 ounces precooked frozen shrimp for about 90 seconds a side. Top tortillas with shrimp and 1/4 avocado, chopped.
Reset the clock.
My ER shifts always alternate between day and night, so my dietitian, Dawn, gave me an eating schedule to keep my body in rhythm no matter when I'm on call. Rather than fixate on having breakfast or dinner foods, I simply numbered meals and made sure they were well balanced.
Meal 1: One hour or less after alarm rings
Meal 2: Five hours after meal 1
Meal 3: Five hours after meal 2
Two snacks that include produce and protein, such as a hard-boiled egg with 1 cup of chopped melon, eaten during the day when hungry
Snap to track your diet.
I now keep a food diary on the fly by taking photos of what I eat. I can see instantly whether I'm following Dawn's healthy-plate formula: 25 percent whole grains, 25 percent lean protein, and 50 percent fruits and vegetables.
Take a seat.
Instead of mindlessly eating on the couch in front of my TV, laptop, or Kindle, I began following Dawn's "plate, chair, table" rule. At each meal, I dished out a portion on a plate and sat in a chair at the table. It worked: I tuned in to when I was full much faster.
Compromise rather than deprive. "Don't order just salad if you really want pizza, because you'll overdo it later. Fill half your plate with pizza and half with salad," says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, author of The Flexitarian Diet.
Maximize your minutes. "To burn extra calories and make the most of your time, do moves that work more than one muscle group at once," says Beth Tennison, a trainer at Core Fitness in Iowa City. "Try a lunge with a biceps curl, for instance."
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, February 2012.