How To Start Losing Weight For Summer NOW

Wake up full-time snackers: Getting fit for summer starts now. Which means you'll need a long term slim down plan that actually works. So, we've turned to two of the city's top fitness and nutrition experts to give us a rundown on what to do (and not) to feel our best by beach time. Tracy Anderson gives us the secret to her celebrity client's rock-hard bods while top Equinox trainer Christian Swain tells us which "healthy foods" are secretly sugary. Consider this an all-access pass to the new you. You might not thank us while you're doing that cardio, but we're sure by July you'll feel differently.
Click through for fitness and diet tips to know for spring!
Photo: Courtesy of H&M
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If you're looking to slim down long-term for an event or for the summer, what should your exercise plan be say, six months out, then three months, then one month, then a week before?

Christian Swain: "Six months out, I would suggest starting with weight training three times a week with an hour of cardio in between and see how your body reacts. If you are getting results, keep to that, making sure to vary your workout routines and cardio regiment. If you are not getting results by the three-month mark, you may want to consider an hour of cardio everyday and increasing the intensity.

Hopefully by the one-month mark, you'll have already met your goals and then you just need to maintain. If you are behind a month out, you may still be able to meet your goal, but you will have to really focus on a strict eating plan. And the final week before the event, you just want to get plenty of sleep and stay hydrated so you look healthy and rested."

Tracy Anderson: "I believe in exercise being a part of your daily routine and not something that you begin for an event or season. The most sustainable results are achieved through commitment and making it part of a routine. That being said, six months out you should be working out four to six days a week for at least an hour a day. It’s good to know your level and ability and increase the difficulty as your ability grows. Plan for challenges — always have a motivating playlist and be prepared for days when you feel you can’t do the workouts."
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Please tell us the same suggested routine for eating.

Christian: "Six months out, I would suggest eliminating things like sugar, bread, pasta, and large portion sizes. Basically, you need to make sure you are eating lean protein and vegetables at every meal with some healthy fats mixed in (i.e. nuts, avocado, olive oil). Get used to eating about six times a day. Just think of it as breakfast, lunch, and dinner… with snacks in between.

Also, try to eat out less. In New York, it's normal to eat out most nights and there is also usually alcohol involved. This pattern will never work if you are trying to get in shape. I see people spend hours in the gym with little to no results and this is usually because of their poor diet. A good eating plan does not have to be expensive food from a specialty store — just eat real food.

Three months out, I would start getting more serious with the diet. At this point, stick to just water and green tea for hydration. Eat plenty of grilled chicken, fish, and turkey with lots of green vegetables for your main meals, and eat things like unsalted nuts as snacks. The only trouble you can encounter at this point would be salad dressings and butter. If you don't like eating plain spinach with grilled chicken, I suggest balsamic vinegar, olive oil, or fresh squeezed lemon or lime.

With one month left, you should only have to fine tune your diet. If you are eating perfect and still have weight to lose, try eliminating fruits and dairy. Also, make sure you are not ingesting hidden sodium. Just because you eat out and ask for grilled chicken or fish doesn't mean the chef isn't adding salt — or worse — butter! A week before the event, the main thing to watch out for is salt; You don't want to work hard for months and show up looking bloated. The final week, it would probably be a good idea to prepare and cook all your meals yourself so that you know exactly what you're putting into your body."

Tracy: "There is a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to nutrition. I believe in getting to know what works best for your body. What causes you to bloat, which foods give you energy, and plan accordingly. I have a Nutrient Boost week of recipes in my Metamorphosis DVD packages that is a great cleanse to do for one week. After the cleanse, you can reintroduce foods and you will easily be able to see which foods cause you to gain weight as well as where you store fat on your body."
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What do you suggest if you want to look good for the beach TOMORROW — is there anything we can do?

Christian: "With one day until the beach, there isn't much you can do as far as major changes. No salt is the big one. A common mistake people make the day before the beach is to decrease their water intake which gives you a lean look. But, that is very dangerous and I wouldn't recommend doing it. The main reason it can be dangerous is that you will show up to the beach dehydrated, then sweat, and possibly drink alcohol, all of which make you more dehydrated and can lead to harmful results. A safer alternative would be to eat light meals that won't bloat you. Also, a quick full body workout wouldn't hurt."

Tracy: "No. Bikini season is not something that you can get ready for in a day! If you only have a day, focus on flattering your figure and making steps to making a workout a part of your life."
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What's your favorite cardio? Favorite ab workout?

Christian: "For cardio — anything outdoors. I also try to disguise cardio in normal everyday activities such as running errands, running with my dog, bike riding, etc. That way it seems less like a chore and more like I'm actually accomplishing something that I already needed to get done. I actually don't have a favorite ab workout. If you are eating somewhat healthy and working out regularly, you will have great abs! But, if you want to really improve your abs, try doing crunches as a daily routine, just as you shower or brush your teeth every day."

Tracy: "One of the reasons that I created my method was to target every single muscle in your body. I believe in a dance-based cardio so you are constantly changing your moves, body position, and strengthening your mind/body connection as you are constantly anticipating the next move. In addition to an ab workout on the mat, I have created standing abs, which are isolated movements done with your abdominals by standing. It’s fun and really engages your core without creating a boxy six-pack. It’s all about a feminine, sexy waist and not getting a jacked up six-pack look."

In general, how do you ramp up a slim down as time goes on, or, maintain a routine in the long term?

Christian: "I believe you just need to come to terms with the idea that fitness is a long-term routine that requires dedication and hard work. The good news is that it's only difficult in the early stages. Once you meet your goals, the maintenance stage is very minimal and you just need to be consistent."

Tracy: "Again, it’s all about lifestyle. Taking the time to workout, make it part of your day."
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What is the easiest way to get a non-exerciser interested in exercising?

Christian: "The key is to make it fun. Everyone responds differently to certain workouts and you just need to find what they enjoy doing the most and slowly incorporate more exercises as you go. Whether it's running, biking, swimming, or soccer, there is something for everyone. Also, once a non-exerciser starts seeing results, feeling better, and looking better, they seem to get into fitness more. Often they also become more confident and feel better about themselves, which can transfer into many other areas of their lives."

Tracy: "Don’t be intimidated and don’t put pressure on yourself. Put together a motivating playlist, buy some workout clothes that you can be excited about – such as my new leggings line — and don’t be hard on yourself if your endurance is low or you feel challenged. It’s all part of the process and building a routine is the best way to make it part of your day and commit to the challenge."
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What's one healthy food everyone should work into their routine?

Christian: "Spinach. It has a high nutritional value, is extremely rich in antioxidants, and is a great source of iron and calcium. I usually have it with chicken or fish. It is also great when added to your favorite green juice."

Tracy: "Sprinkle chia seeds on top of your favorite Greek yogurt, a delicious and healthy snack. One tablespoon provides an amazing array of omega fatty acids, protein, antioxidants, and fiber. And, kale — it’s a superfood and I can’t say enough about the wonderful benefits; The super antioxidants and iron cleanses. My wellness shake is also the perfect meal replacement."
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Anything we should stay away from?

Christian: "Fruit smoothies. There are too many sugars that people don't think about. Try a green juice instead."

Tracy: "Processed soy! Also, any proteins that are processed and don’t contain stamps that are organic or hormone free, or free range."

What are the dangers of crash dieting and how can dieters avoid them?

Christian: "Crash diets are dangerous because the people who usually do them go from one extreme to another. The diets rarely work and after you finish them, most people end up gaining more weight back than they originally started with."

Tracy: "I think the dangers of crash dieting have been well documented and it is never good to try a fad diet, as the health risks they pose can have long-term health effects. The word 'detox' has also been thrown around in an inauthentic way. Cleansing your body of toxins does not mean starving, juicing, or depriving your body of essential nutrients."
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What's one exercise mistake people make?

Christian: "The most common one is not being consistent with their workouts. You cannot take weeks off from exercise and expect to be in good shape. You actually don't have to kill yourself with crazy workouts everyday in the gym for hours, but it's very important to exercise consistently two to three times per week at minimum."

Tracy: "Not taking advantage of a heat component. You need to embrace sweat as the ultimate detoxifier and use that as a component of your workout."
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What do you eat on days when you don't work out? Is it different?

Tracy: "I would just suggest taking certain things out of what you normally eat, like not having the cheese on a salad or not having dressing. Definitely have Tracy's shake in the morning as your breakfast, and definitely don't only eat two to three giant meals for the day — spread them out and with smaller portions.

Your body goes into starvation mode if you starve yourself (mentally, if you don't work out, that's what we do) and will store those fat cells of whatever is being put into your body. So, the key is to spread it out over the day with smaller portions and eliminate any breads, cheeses, and extra carbs. It doesn't need to be extreme, it's just being aware."