5 Ways to Lose the Last 5 Pounds
More Simple StrategiesIncorporate Interval Training
"Replace two cardio workouts a week with high-intensity interval training to improve aerobic fitness and torch more calories," says Jessica Matthews, an exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise. "After a five-minute warm-up, do one minute of sprinting followed by three minutes of active recovery. Continue for 20 minutes before cooling down. As you get better at it, experiment with longer sprints, shorter recoveries, or a longer workout."
Our tester: Ava Somogyi, 42, Glen Ridge, New Jersey
"In the past few years I've completed several half-marathons, one full marathon, and a bunch of smaller races. But recently I've hit a fitness plateau; I barely break a sweat during leisurely runs."
"Every time I've followed a marathon training plan, I've conveniently ignored the part about speed training. It's hard! On my first interval run, I wanted to see how long I could sprint. I didn't clear one minute before I was gasping for air and had to walk.
"I learned that to be able to finish a whole workout, I had to slow down my recovery pace to handle the speed bursts. Each time I finished, I was exhausted, breathless, and dripping -- a far cry from my usual no-sweat jogs. But as tough as it was, it was also fun. Instead of dreading a hill, I challenged myself to pick up the pace on the incline. Or I sprinted the last few blocks home, laughing at how ridiculous I must look running through my neighborhood as if someone were chasing me.
"When the six weeks were nearly up, I ran a 5K. There were thousands of runners, so I had to maneuver to get around the pack, constantly speeding up and slowing down. I had enough energy to sprint the last leg, and I shaved 39 seconds off of my fastest mile.
"I lost five pounds, and I feel more toned. Not too shabby, considering that I also went to a lot of barbecues and steak house dinners for work. Marathon training starts next month; this time, I won't skip the speed sessions."Beat Stress Like a Guy
"Women tend to eat their feelings, while men take stress out physically," says psychologist Susan Albers, the author of But I Deserve This Chocolate! "Whenever you get stressed, do something active for five to 10 minutes. Exercise boosts dopamine, a chemical that promotes self-esteem, which takes you away from the kitchen."
Our tester: Samantha Schmidt, 22, Cincinnati
"Stress makes me reach for food to feel better. But that backfires and causes me to feel bad about myself."
"This assignment couldn't have come at a better time: I was moving to start a job in a new city (can you say stress?) and was shocked by how often I reached for food when I was bored, tense, or watching TV. But I would put down the snack and run around the block or do five minutes of push-ups, sit-ups, and squats. It wasn't always feasible; one weekend I had friends visiting -- they would have thought I was nuts if I had just started lunging.
"By the time I began my new job at a cereal company (yikes, food everywhere!) three weeks into the experiment, it was easier to recognize true hunger as opposed to cravings caused by stress or boredom. When a craving hit, I'd walk the stairs for five minutes. It felt great to channel anxiety into something positive. At the end of six weeks, I had lost nine pounds and gained tons of self-esteem. There's a pride in making healthier choices, and that comes across in the way I present myself now."
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