WEEK 1 ... Your six week guide to dropping a dress size for Christmas




Why not get ready for Christmas in the best possible way and try our LBD diet and fitness programme and drop a dress size in just six weeks.

Dropping a dress size might seem like an impossible Christmas present to deliver yourself, but it doesn’t have to be. Fitting into that little black dress one size down means losing half a stone.

“You can lose up to two dress sizes if you really work at it,” is the encouraging comment from consultant dietitian Aveen Bannon, who points out that 1lb of fat equals 3,500 calories. If you reduce your calorie intake by 500 calories a day, you lose 1lb a week — 6lbs in the next six pre-Christmas weeks.

“If you increase your energy output by exercising, you could double your weekly weight loss,” says Bannon, who recommends a seven-day meal plan - below - as the perfect accompaniment to this six week exercise programme from Laura Murphy.

LAURA MURPHY’S CHRISTMAS WORKOUT¦

Week One Video:


Squats

Feet shoulder-width apart, extend your buttocks backward and extend your arms in front. Ensure knees do not extend over your toes and your heels stay on the floor. Inhale and lower, until the fold in hips is in line with the knees. Reverse the move when your thighs are parallel to the floor, and return to a standing position, exhaling as you stand.

¦ 15 reps for 3 sets.

¦ Lunges

Feet shoulder-width apart and place hands on your waist. With feet facing forward, inhale and take a large step forward, landing on your heel first.

Knee bends at a right angle, with your thigh parallel to the ground, and ensure your knee does not travel over your toe. The back foot’s heel lifts off the ground. Make sure your spine is upright, in a neutral position and not rounded forward.

Exhale and push off the ground, with the foot in front coming back to the starting position. Alternate the legs.

¦ 10 lunges on each leg for 3 sets

¦ Push-ups

Position your upper-body weight on your hands and lower-body weight on your toes, facing down.

Hands slightly wider than shoulder-width and feet can be together, or slightly apart, depending on comfort.

Keep your body in a straight line from head to toe, without sagging or arching your back. Inhale as you lower your chest, as low as possible, to the floor, then push up, away from the floor, as you exhale.

¦ 6-8 reps for 3 sets or half push-ups (knees on the floor), 12-15 reps for 3 sets

¦ Bicep curl

Feet shoulder-width apart and your knees relaxed. Dumbbell in each hand; keep it light to begin.

Keeping elbows tight and by your side, lower the weights in front of your thighs and inhale, while raising the weights up to shoulder level, again keeping the elbows tight.

Exhale and lower the weights down towards your thighs, again. Do not lock your elbows, keep them slightly bent.

Make sure knees are soft, core is engaged, in a straight alignment with your back.

Do not swing your back as you perform the reps. This is a common mistake that can inflict injury.

¦ Aim for 15 reps for 3 sets of bicep curls using light hand-weights

¦ Plank

Face-down, leaning bodyweight onto your forearms, elbows in line with shoulders and hands together in front.

Extend legs straight-out behind, resting on your toes. There should be a straight alignment between the shoulders and toes. When in position, tighten your abdomen muscles as tight as possible.

Keep in mind to breathe in and out throughout this exercise; do not hold your breath.

¦ Hold this position for 20-30 seconds — challenge yourself by increasing the time.

¦ Bicycle twist

Lie on your back with both feet up in the air, thighs perpendicular to the floor and a 90-degree bend in your knee. Pull your left knee and right elbow in together, by raising the shoulder blade off the mat while extending your right leg.

The right leg should be reached out in line with the floor, but does not touch it.

Repeat this action alternately. Keep your neck aligned with your spine, lower back pressed into the mat, buttocks still and the twisting motion coming from the hips.

¦ Perform 12-16 reps for 3 sets

Find Laura on Facebook at ‘Laura Murphy fitness’ or phone: 087- 2219488.

Keep up the good work.....

¦ During the day, simply contract and relax your stomach muscles for 5-10 seconds each at regular intervals. Eventually you’ll get to the point where you do them unconsciously.

¦ Park your car at the furthest point to the entrance of the supermarket.

¦ Every time you go into your kitchen, fill a glass of water and drink it. Two litres a day is recommended to prevent dehydration.

¦ Always keep your posture aligned — standing tall, shoulders back opening up the chest. Prevents rounding of the shoulders causing back pain, it also makes you look and feel more confident.

¦ Take the stairs at work, shopping centres, car parks, etc.

¦ While out walking the dog, why not spice it up and do six walking lunges to every 20 steps.

¦ If you drop the kids off at their weekly sport, stay and walk laps in the hall or field until they’re ready to be picked up.

¦ Once you have reached a short-term goal, reward yourself with something other than food — an at-home facial, or magazine. If your goal is to lose inches buy yourself something new to wear when you drop a size.

Slim pickings to fuel your weight loss

Monday

¦ Breakfast: 3-4 dsp unsweetened muesli topped with mixed berries and low-fat milk; with herbal tea.

¦ Lunch: fresh vegetable-and-lentil soup with two oatcakes and hummus.

¦ Dinner: homemade chicken curry with chickpeas. Serve with brown rice and green salad.

¦ Dessert: pear-and-apple spread with a tsp of honey and natural, low-fat yoghurt.

Tuesday

¦ Breakfast: 30g porridge made with lowfat milk and sliced plums.

¦ Lunch: mixed bean-and-feta cheese salad with mixed leaves, tomatoes, red onion and peppers. Serve with multi-grain rice cakes or rye crackers.

¦ Dinner: spicy salmon. Dust salmon fillets with a little Cajun seasoning before cooking. Serve with quinoa and rich, green vegetables.

¦ Dessert: apple or blueberry-flavoured rice cakes.

Wednesday

¦ Breakfast: boiled egg on slice of granary toast.

¦ Lunch: medium wholemeal pita bread filled with tinned salmon, chives, ½ avocado and mixed leaves.

¦ Dinner: baked cod in the oven on bed of ratatouille. Serve with steamed potatoes.

¦ Dessert: chopped fresh fruit with natural yoghurt and sprinkle of sunflower seeds.

Thursday

¦ Breakfast: strawberry, spinach and oat smoothie — mix one banana with five strawberries, five leaves of spinach, 2tsp oats and 200mls low-fat milk. Blend and serve.

¦ Lunch: sardines and potato salad — slices of potatoes topped with sardines. Serve with mixed-green salad.

¦ Dinner: chilli con carne with lean mince and kidney beans. Serve with boiled brown rice and green salad.

¦ Dessert: rice cakes topped with apple and pear compote.

Friday

¦ Breakfast: sliced kiwi and apple served with pot of low-fat probiotic yoghurt and two spoons of flaxseed or unsweetened muesli.

¦ Lunch: medium wholemeal pita bread filled with breast of chicken, chives, ½ avocado, mixed leaves.

¦ Dinner: homemade bean burgers made with kidney beans, chickpeas and butter beans. Serve with sweet potato mash and mixed-green salad.

¦ Dessert: fresh fruit topped with low-fat custard.

Saturday

¦ Breakfast: poached egg, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms with slice of granary toast.

¦ Lunch: large bowl winter-vegetable bean soup.

¦ Dinner: beef stir-fry served with brown rice and green salad.

¦ Dessert: baked apple filled with raisins — remove core from apple and fill with a little brown sugar and raisins. Cook in oven for 10-15 minutes.

Sunday

¦ Breakfast: banana porridge — mash small banana into puree and mix with 30g of oats, and low-fat milk, before cooking.

¦ Lunch: tomato-and-red pepper omelette.

¦ Dinner: roast chicken served with one roast potato and lots of seasonal vegetables.

¦ Dessert: mixed berry crumble made with oat-based topping. Add seeds for extra crunch and fibre.

¦ Remember,week 2 of Aveen Bannon’s diet plan and Laura Murphy's exercise plan will be available first in this Friday's Feelgood magzine, free every week with your Irish Examiner.

Click here for week 2 of our fitness video

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