8 Weeks to a Slimmer You
Your Complete 8-Week Diet and Exercise Plan (No Deprivation Required!)
We've partnered with fitness guru Ellen Barrett and nutrition authority Lisa Young, R.D., to offer you three customizable eight-week diet and workout programs that will help you get fit(ter) and feel like your most confident self.
Fuel your Barrett-designed workouts with the satisfying, nutrient-packed recipes developed by Lisa Young, R.D., author of The Portion Teller Plan and adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University. "Each meal includes a healthy dose of hunger-dampening protein and fat to keep you satisfied and prevent overeating," Young reveals. The sample eight-week weight-loss meal plan listed contains 1,200 calories and is designed for a 15-pound weight loss. If your mission includes how to lose less weight than that, eat even more. To drop 10 pounds during the eight-week diet plan, you'll aim for 1,500 calories a day. Shave off 5 pounds by aiming for 1,800 daily. (Need help with accountability? The Noom app might be worth considering for your weight-loss diet plan.)
8-Week Weight-Loss Meal Plan: Breakfast
Fruit and Yogurt Parfait
- 15-pound weight-loss diet plan: Layer 6 ounces Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup blueberries, 1/2 cup high-fiber cereal (try Fiber One or Kashi Heart to Heart) and 1 teaspoon honey. Coffee with skim milk. (270 calories, 60g carbs, 21g protein, 1g fat)
- 10-pound weight-loss diet plan: Add an extra 1/2 cup blueberries. (310 calories, 71g carbs, 21.5g protein, 1.5g fat)
- 5-pound weight-loss diet plan: Add an extra 1/2 cup blueberries and 1 tablespoon crushed walnuts. (360 calories, 72g carbs, 23g protein, 6g fat)
8-Week Weight-Loss Meal Plan: Lunch
Turkey Pita Pocket
- 15-pound weight-loss diet plan: Stack 3 ounces turkey in a whole wheat pita with 1 cup mixed salad (lettuce, celery, cucumber, tomato), 2 tablespoons hummus and an optional 1 teaspoon low-fat mayo. Add mustard to taste. (240 calories, 27g carbs, 26g protein, 4g fat)
- 10-pound weight-loss diet plan: Add 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable soup (try Amy's or Tabatchnick). (320 calories, 42g carbs, 28g protein, 5g fat)
- 5-pound weight-loss diet plan: Add 1/4 cup sliced avocado to pita and 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable soup. (380 calories, 45g carbs, 29g protein, 10.5g fat)
8-Week Weight-Loss Meal Plan: Midafternoon Snack
- 15-pound weight-loss diet plan: 1 stick part-skim string cheese and 1 medium apple. (145 calories, 25g carbs, 6.5g protein, 3g fat)
- 10-pound weight-loss diet plan: Add 1 rice cake spread with 1 teaspoon peanut butter. (211 calories, 34g carbs, 8g protein, 5.5g fat)
- 5-pound weight-loss diet plan: Add 1 rice cake spread with 1 tablespoon peanut butter. (274 calories, 36g carbs, 11g protein, 11g fat)
8-Week Weight-Loss Meal Plan: Dinner
Salmon with Veggies
- 15-pound weight-loss diet plan: 2 cups mixed green salad (romaine lettuce, cucumber, celery, red pepper, carrot, tomato) with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinaigrette topped with 3 ounces grilled salmon basted with 1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce and 1 teaspoon olive oil served with 1/2 cup quinoa plus 1 cup broccoli and cauliflower drizzled with 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil. (425 calories, 38g carbs, 30g protein, 18g fat)
- 10-pound weight-loss diet plan: Increase salmon to 4 ounces (and if you like salmon, then you should certainly save these scrumptious seafood recipes!). (480 calories, 37g carbs, 37g protein, 20g fat)
- 5-pound weight-loss diet plan: Increase salmon to 4 ounces and quinoa to 3/4 cup; use 1 to 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil. (571 calories, 47g carbs, 39g protein, 23g fat)
8-Week Weight-Loss Meal Plan: Snack/Dessert
Fruity Fro-Yo or Pudding
- 15-pound weight-loss diet plan: Mix 3/4 cup low-fat frozen yogurt with 1/2 cup each strawberries and raspberries. (156 calories, 24g carbs, 3g protein, 1.5g fat)
- 10-pound weight-loss diet plan: Add 1 tablespoon slivered almonds and 1 cup air-popped popcorn on the side. (190 calories, 31.5g carbs, 5g protein, 5g fat)
- 5-pound weight-loss diet plan: Add 1 tablespoon slivered almonds and 3 cups popcorn. (221 calories, 43.5g carbs, 6g protein, 5.5g fat)
Cardio Weight-Loss Exercise Plan to Lose 5 Pounds
"This weight-loss exercise routine ramps up your heart rate for an incredibly efficient two-for-one workout," explains Ellen Barrett, a Family Circle Health Advisory Board member, personal trainer and co-author of The 28 Days Lighter Diet. "All these elements boost your heart rate and keep your muscles warm, which enhances the sculpting moves and prevents injuries."
Equipment Needed: Just yourself!
Workouts per week: 5
Minutes per session: 25
How this weight-loss exercise plan works: Perform each of the following exercises for 1 minute with as short a pause as possible between moves. Repeat the entire sequence 4 more times for a total of 5 rounds.
- Wall Push-Up: Stand facing a wall, 2 to 4 feet away (the farther your feet are from wall, the more intense the move). Place palms on the wall, shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back flat and abs and butt tight, bend your arms until your face is 3 inches from the wall, then straighten. Repeat at a tempo you can maintain for the full minute.
- Plié to Knee Lift: Stand with feet wide apart, toes turned out. With your hands gently clasped behind your head, elbows out, sink into a plié. As you straighten back up, lift your left leg off the floor, bringing your knee toward your left armpit, crunching sideways to meet it. Drop your left leg back down, bend into another plié and repeat on the right, alternating sides.
- Jumping Jacks: Aim for at least 20, ideally 30—or go for even more!
- Seesaw Left Lift: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointed out, legs straight, hands at waist. Shift your weight onto your right foot and, without bending your right leg, extend your left leg out to the side as high as you can. Return to starting position and alternate sides.
- Triceps Dip: Sitting on the floor, knees bent, feet hip-width apart, place hands on the ground directly beneath shoulders, fingers pointing toward your body. Lift your hips up to assume a crab-walk position. Keeping hips elevated, bend and straighten your arms.
Interval Weight-Loss Exercise Plan to Lose 10 Pounds
"Multiple bursts of high-intensity work, like explosive jumps and shoulder presses, will maintain an elevated heart rate while continually challenging your body, keeping your muscles on their toes," says Barrett. (This is one of several factors that can make a BIG impact on the efficiency of your metabolism.) "Variety is critical to maintaining a stoked metabolism: When your body gets too familiar with a workout, it stops burning as many calories." Each combination pairs upper- and lower-body moves for a true full-body routine. (If you’re feeling strong, tack on these five calorie-blasting moves.)
Equipment Needed: A pair of 3- to 5-pound hand weights
Workouts per week: 4
Minutes per session: 27
How this weight-loss exercise plan works: Perform each single exercise for 1 minute and complete each combination twice (4 minutes per combo.) Then immediately do a 15-minute power walk.
- Plyo Jump: Begin by standing with your feet together. Launch a big, powerful jump to the right, sticking the landing with soft knees, feet planted close together. Jump back to the left; stick and hold. Repeat for 1 minute.
- Lateral Shoulder Press: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, weights in hands. Bring weights to shoulders, exhale and press overhead. Return to shoulders and repeat for 1 minute. Return to plyo jump.
- Wall Sit: Stand with your back against a wall, feet a few feet away. Bend your knees and slide your back down the wall until your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Hold for 1 minute. (Can't last the full minute? Raise your tush a few inches above knee height.)
- Side Fly: Stand with feet hip-width apart and legs bent very slightly. Hold weights in hands, palms facing in. Lift arms straight out to sides until nearly parallel with floor. Lower to starting position and repeat. Return to wall sit.
- Front Kick: Stand with feet hip-width apart, hands on hips, and kick your right foot straight out so your leg is parallel to the floor. (Think Rockette, not karate.) Repeat with left leg, alternating for 1 minute.
- Biceps Curl: Hold weights in hands, palms facing forward, elbows near waist. Raise the weights to your shoulders and back down for 1 minute. Return to front kick.
Boot Camp Exercise Plan: Lose 15 Pounds
"You'll need to invest some time in slimming down, so why not turn your home into a gym?" suggests Barrett. "The payoff: You can work out any time—even when the weather's bad. And you don't need to buy any expensive equipment." These moves are so much fun, your kids will want to—and can—jump in. (Try these three strategies to fast-track your workout results.)
Equipment Needed: Jump rope (we like the Ballystyx Premium Speed Jump Rope; $23.86, amazon.com) and a step or stair
Workouts per week: 6
Minutes per session: 30
How this weight-loss exercise plan works: Perform each exercise in the cardio step series for 1 minute, each power arm exercise for 1 minute, then jump rope for 7 minutes straight. Mix up your moves: Hop from right to left, skip, try a double hop. Repeat the entire routine. Avoid taking any breaks except for sips of water for a total body fat-burning workout.
- Cardio Step Series: (5 moves, 1 minute each)
Step up and down on a step or stair, leading with your right foot first, then your left foot. V-step up and down on a step or stair. Lead with your right foot, planting it just past hip-width apart on the stair. Follow with left foot, past hip-width as well. Step back down with right foot, then left. Repeat, leading with left foot. Alternate. Turn your right side toward the stair and step up and down. Turn your left side toward the stair and step up and down. Face the step and jump up with two feet together.
- Power Arm Series: (3 moves, 1 minute each; be sure to pace yourself!)
- Wide Stance Push-Up: Kneel 2 to 3 feet in front of your step and place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on top of it. Bend your elbows until your nose is 6 inches from stair. Extend arms and repeat.
- Triceps Dip: Flip around and perform triceps dip on the step or stair: Plant hands on stair directly under shoulders, fingers facing your body (they may curl around the stair). Walk your feet out until your knees are directly above ankles. Keeping your hips elevated, use your triceps to dip your body up and down.
- Diamond Push-Up: Perform push-up as in move 1 above, but place hands close together so index fingers and thumbs touch, forming a diamond (your thumbs may curl over the step). Aim your nose toward the middle of the diamond.