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Here’s your countdown-to-the-holidays diet

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What’s the holiday season without at least one big party where you can show off your shape? Roll out the red carpet. It’s your equivalent of Oscar night — and you want to look your sexiest.

Not ready? Don’t panic! To help fine-tune your look and rev your confidence, we’ve teamed up with Linda Gassenheimer, author of “Low-Carb Meals in Minutes” to present a fabulous-tasting, seven-day, 1,500-calorie diet that’s designed to help you shed five (or more) pounds — fast.

“This low-carbohydrate, lean-protein plan features delicious, quick meals that work with your body’s production of insulin to minimize fat storage and increase fat burning,” says Gassenheimer. For an added calorie burn, our countdown diet also includes an exercise component. But don’t let that deter you.

Want to look fabulous for the holidays? With this plan to help you prep, it’s no sweat!

Seven-day holiday-party diet

Day 1

Exercise: To jump-start fat burning, “do 45 to 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise before breakfast,” suggests fitness instructor Bonne Marano, owner of Fit to Be Tied Online (www.fittobetiedonline.com). Jog, walk fast, or do 30 minutes on the elliptical machine and 30 minutes on the lifecycle.

Breakfast: Smoked salmon pinwheels: Mix 2 tablespoons of low-fat cream cheese with one-and-a-half teaspoons of skim milk. Spread on slices of smoked salmon (one-third pound). Roll up and cut crosswise into one-half-inch pinwheels. Top with slices of cucumber and tomato. Season with salt and pepper.

Snack: 1 ounce of low-fat string cheese

Lunch: Mozzarella tomato salad: Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil on two slices of tomato. Top with one-quarter pound shredded, reduced-fat mozzarella cheese. Place on a bed of leafy greens and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper.

Dinner: Shrimp scampi with roasted asparagus (See recipe)

What about beverages? To maximize your calorie burn, Gassenheimer advises sticking with non-caloric beverages, such as seltzer, water, diet soda and herbal tea.

Day 2

Breakfast: Salsa and sliced eggs: Fan two sliced, boiled eggs on a plate with slices of cucumber; top with one-quarter cup of no-sugar-added tomato salsa.

Snack: 2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds

Lunch: Turkey Bundles: Using one-third pound deli turkey breast and nine lettuce leaves, distribute the turkey among each leaf. Add a spoonful of coleslaw and a tomato slice and roll up.

Exercise: Hit the weight room. Before switching to a new machine, jump rope for three minutes.

“Combining a circuit of cardio with weights is an efficient way to strengthen and tone as well as burn calories and fat,” Marano says.

Dinner: Salmon and vegetables: Serve one-third pound salmon fillet with 1 cup steamed broccoli and 1 cup steamed, yellow wax beans.

Day 3

Breakfast: Pesto scramble: Mix one-half cup egg substitute with two tablespoons of prepared pesto. Scramble in a heated, nonstick skillet. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Exercise: To sweat big and create a sizable calorie deficit, take a spin or cardio-kickboxing class.

Snack: ¼ cup dry-roasted almonds

Lunch: Tuna salad wraps: Divide 1 cup of tuna salad among six large lettuce leaves; sprinkle with alfalfa sprouts and roll up cigar-style.

Dinner: Pan-glazed, balsamic chicken with roasted squash and snow peas (See recipe)

Day 4

Breakfast: Sunny-side-up Swiss melt: In a nonstick skillet, cook one egg sunny side up. When yoke is set, top with two slices of reduced-fat Swiss cheese. Cover, and cook for one minute more. Salt and pepper to taste.

Snack: ¼ cup low-fat cottage cheese

Exercise: For a last-minute tone up, focus on isolation weight-training moves like bicep curls, tricep pressdowns, front and lateral raises and cable leg raises to the side and back.

Lunch: Greek salad: Toss 3 cups of lettuce, one-half cup of sliced cucumber, three sliced radishes, one-half cup scallions and 2 tablespoons of capers with 1 tablespoon of no-sugar-added oil-and-vinegar dressing. Top with one-quarter pound sliced deli turkey breast; one-third cup crumbled, reduced-fat feta; and kalamata olives. Salt and pepper to taste.

Dinner: Tex-mex meat loaf with sliced avocados: Serve one-half-inch slice of meat loaf with no-sugar-added salsa and a sliced avocado drizzled with no-sugar-added oil-and-vinegar dressing.

Day 5

Exercise: Time for an early-morning session on the treadmill. To ignite calories, interval train. Alternate a brisk, 2-minute walk with a 30-second jog for a total of 30 minutes.

Breakfast: Sizzling ham and tomatoes: Saute one-quarter pound of ham until heated through. Top with three tomato slices and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.

Snack: Jicama, celery and carrot sticks with 2 tablespoons of low-fat ranch dip

Lunch: Roast Beef and Watercress Wraps: Divide one-third pound thinly sliced, lean roast beef among six large lettuce leaves; top with 1 tablespoon of horseradish mayo and 1 cup of arugula; roll into lettuce “cigars.”

Dinner: Chicken with fresh herbs: Stuff a 6-ounce chicken breast with a mix of 1 tablespoon of nonfat yogurt, 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, one sliced scallion and one chopped mushroom; cook in a nonstick skillet until chicken is opaque and juices run clear. Serve with spinach salad.

Day 6

Breakfast: 2 deviled eggs

Snack: 1 ounce almonds

Lunch: Chicken chopped salad: Toss together one-half cup chopped celery, one-half cup chopped bell pepper, three chopped broccoli florets and 2 tablespoons of sliced scallions. Top with one-quarter pound deli chicken breast with 2 tablespoons of no-sugar-added oil-and-vinegar dressing.

Dinner: Sirloin burger: Top one-quarter pound cooked, ground sirloin patty with one slice of reduced-fat cheddar.

Serve with 2 cups coleslaw.

Exercise: Take a break. You deserve it.

Day 7

Breakfast: Swiss scramble with spring onions: Beat one whole egg with three egg whites; add 1 cup sliced scallions and two slices Swiss cheese, which has been torn into pieces. Season with salt and pepper and scramble in a small, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Snack: 1 ounce of turkey deli meat

Lunch: Chesapeake shrimp salad: Combine 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise and 2 teaspoons of Old Bay seasoning. Add one-third pound cooked shrimp, cut into one-half-inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve on a bed of lettuce.

Exercise: To calm pre-party jitters, finish the week with a stretch class, such as Pilates or yoga.

Dinner: Steak and greens: Serve 5 ounces of filet mignon with 1 cup steamed green beans, and 1 cup of tossed salad with mustard vinaigrette.

Updated 4:30 pm, July 9, 2018
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