Here are a few quick facts about losing a pound: It will make your jeans feel a smidge looser, it's the equivalent of four sticks of butter (picture that for a second!), and it requires that you burn and/or cut a total of 3,500 calories. Sound like a lot? It adds up faster than you think.
To lose one pound in seven days you need to reduce your net calories by 500 every day. The easiest way to do that is a 250 split: Cut half from your diet and burn the other half through exercise. To come up with easy ways to do this, we enlisted trainer Heather Rider, founder and director of Rider Fitness Consulting in Los Angeles, and nutritionist Lauren Slayton, RD, of Foodtrainers in New York City. Choose one strategy from the diet and exercise columns each day (feel free to mix and match) and after seven days you will have cut out 3,500 calories. Losing four sticks of butter has never been such a cinch!
___ Replace your morning bagel and cream cheese with an English muffin and cottage cheese.
___ Skip the large bakery muffin in favor of 1 slice of whole wheat toast topped with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.
___ Swap your large bran muffin for 3/4 cup of bran flakes.
___ Replace eggs and cheese with scrambled egg whites.
___ Replace your 450-calorie lunch with a 200-calorie protein shake.
___ Replace large french fries with a yogurt-and-fruit parfait.
___ Modify your lunch: Skip the cheese on your salad or sandwich, substitute mustard for mayo, and replace potato chips with soy chips.
___ Have half a tuna salad sandwich instead of a whole, plus two cups of raw vegetables.
___ Skip the cheese in an omelet and a lunchtime sandwich.
___ Switch from cream soup to vegetable-based soup at lunch and dinner.
___ Switch from one cup premium to light ice cream.
___ Skip your afternoon frozen yogurt with ground nuts.
___ Resist the handful of M&M's at the receptionist's desk.
___ Cut out 1 biscotti and 1 large mocha.
___ Switch from a chai tea latte to lemon tea.
___ Have 1 ounce of soy nuts instead of 3 ounces of roasted almonds.
___ Substitute a serving of beef with shrimp or a white flaky fish like cod at two meals.
___ Leave behind one-fourth of breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
___ Have 1 cup of strawberries instead of a whole banana, and cauliflower instead of a baked potato with sour cream.
___ Replace ranch or blue cheese dressing with low-fat vinaigrette at lunch and dinner.
___ Have a vodka and soda instead of a margarita at happy hour.
___ Jog at a 10-minute-mile pace for 20 minutes.
___ Alternate sprinting and walking for 20 minutes.
___ Walk briskly for 30 minutes.
___ Spin for 30 minutes at a moderate pace.
___ Go for a 20-minute trail run.
___ Do 1 hour of housework.
___ Walk 1 mile in the morning and 1 mile in the evening.
___ Do 35 minutes of power yoga.
___ Do 35 minutes of Pilates.
___ Practice tai chi for 45 minutes.
___ Perfect your swing at the driving range for 60 minutes.
___ Practice capoeira (a Brazilian mix of martial arts and dance) for 30 minutes.
___ Hit a punching bag for 30 minutes.
___ Go in-line skating for 15 minutes.
___ Shovel snow for 30 minutes.
___ Ice-skate vigorously for 30 minutes.
___ Run up stairs for 15 minutes.
___ Jump rope for 20 minutes.
___ Do 25 minutes of circuit training.
___ Dance for 40 minutes.
___ Play Frisbee for 1 hour.
___ Wash windows for 1 hour.
___ Use a pedometer and log an extra 3,600 steps.
How to Lose 2 Pounds in a Week
Just switch to our amped-up plan, choosing one 500-calorie-zapping strategy from each column per day, and you'll burn a total of 7,000 calories — or two pounds — in seven days.
___ Instead of an egg salad sandwich on a kaiser roll, have a ham sandwich with 3 ounces of sliced lean ham and mustard on light bread.
___ Swap kung pao chicken takeout for this homemade dinner: 3 to 4 cups of steamed veggies and 4 ounces of tofu with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce.
___ Cut out all sugar for one day: Have a single serving of cereal such as Fiber One instead of a frosted variety, and skip the teaspoon of sugar on top. Leave the sugar out of your coffee and honey out of your tea; trade your peanut butter and jelly sandwich for two pieces of toast with sugar-free jam and skip the brownie for dessert.
___ Have breakfast for dinner. Replace a hearty meal of pasta with sauce, one piece of French bread and salad with vinaigrette with a bowl of low-fat cereal such as Special K with nonfat milk and 1 cup of blueberries.
___ Eliminate between-meal snacking. Skip your 10 a.m. cereal bar, your 3 p.m. yogurt with nuts, and the late-night ice cream.
___ Go halfsies: At breakfast have half of a bakery bagel or a mini bagel instead of a regular-size whole bagel. At lunch, have a half sandwich. At dinner, have one-half cup of rice or half a baked potato.
___ Hold all the bread. At breakfast, forgo the bagel with your fruit and cereal. At lunch, have the insides of your sandwich only. At dinner, skip the roll and any spread.
___ Do 1 hour of intense cardio (elliptical trainer, rowing, ski machine).
___ Do 70 minutes of power yoga.
___ Take a 30-minute walk in the morning, a 15-minute walk at lunchtime, and a 30-minute walk in the evening.
___ Swim laps for 45 minutes.
___ Do this 60-minute workout: Walk for 15 minutes at 4 mph on the treadmill, then jump rope for 5 minutes; repeat 2 more times.
___ Mountain bike for 45 minutes.
___ Play singles tennis for 1 hour.
Originally published in Fitness magazine, March 2006.