Fifty days is a great goal period for getting in shape. Over that duration, it's possible to make noticeable improvements in your eating habits, appearance and fitness -- and lay the groundwork for longer-term, sustainable weight loss. All you need to get started is a calendar and a well thought-out plan incorporating exercise, hydration, stretching, recovery and nutrition.
Schedule four or five workouts per week on your 50-day calendar, and remember that consistency is key to your success -- don't skip a session! Gym-lovers can alternate cardio work such as running, biking or swimming with strength exercises including lunges, situps and free-weight work. If you don't like the gym, try hiking, dance classes, tennis or brisk walking. No matter the type, each workout should be 45-60 minutes and challenge your body, leaving you tired and sweaty by the end.
Hydration and Recovery
On non-workout days, pencil in 45-minute recovery sessions to help your body restore itself. Light walking, yoga and massage are good examples of "active rest," getting the blood flowing but allowing your muscles and joints to recover.
Drink four to six eight-ounce glasses of water daily during the 50-day period, and add an extra two or three glasses on workout days. Adding lemon or lime juice to your water post-workout provides an electrolyte boost without the added sugar of packaged sports drinks.
Joint mobilization might not be as sexy as weightlifting or aerobics, but without it, any exercise and weight-loss program eventually runs into injury. For best results incorporate stretching into your routine from the very beginning of the 50 days -- it's as easy as setting aside five to 10 minutes after each workout session. Focus on your most important joints, such as the hips and shoulders, and large muscle groups such as the hamstrings, quads, chest and lats.
Simple improvements in your eating habits are critical in the 50-day goal period. If you find it difficult to make better food choices, remind yourself that you can revert to previous habits at the end of the seven weeks -- that is, if you want to!
The most straightforward change is cutting out junk foods, processed foods and sweets -- including juices, soda and other sugary beverages. Replace them with unsweetened iced tea, club soda and water.
What to Buy
Invest time in your health by using your 50-day calendar to schedule grocery shopping and cooking each week. Food purchases should be mainly produce and protein: vegetables, fruits, poultry, seafood and so forth. Healthy fats such as coconut milk, avocados and olive oil round out a shopping cart that supports weight-loss efforts. Back at home, cook meals in double or triple batches to have healthy leftovers for lunches later in the week.