Have you enjoyed the Endless Winter of 2015? Seriously, this one's gone on so long that you might not have even realized April started, which means beach season is— gulp— exactly six weeks away.
So we asked trainers, weightlifters and people who are generally described as "strapping" how to start working out around Easter and become Chris Hemsworth by Memorial Day, and they all said the same thing: That's the wrong question.
"Eighty percent of weight loss comes from diet," said Aaron Ruth, a trainer at Indianapolis's St. Vincent's Sports Performance center, which handles professionally fit people like the Indianapolis Colts. "Twenty percent is exercise."
So while you should definitely do whatever exercise you can— especially lifting weights— it turns out you'll make quicker impact in the kitchen than you will by trying to blast, chisel, crush and otherwise rage-verb yourself into a spontaneous mass of beach granite. Follow these emergency steps to shirtless glory.
1. Kill your vices
Maybe you're into candy bars, or Cabernet nightcaps, or those Doritos where like every ninth one is unconscionably spicy for some reason. Whatever it is, it's out for the next month and a half. "Coffee by itself doesn't seem like anything," says Virginia dietician Jim White. "But if you add sugar and cream, and then have three Hershey's kisses, and then a glass of wine at night, that adds up. Cut down on all those little things."
Alcohol is a particularly nefarious little thing, as it slows down the fat-burning process. You need thirty minutes of walking to burn off one lousy glass of wine, and GQ's anecdotal research indicates that drinking leads to more drinking (which will, in turn, lower your inhibitions regarding portion control). You can lose weight while drinking, but as with most things alcohol-related, it'll take longer and be messier.
2. Eat all day
You may think you'll see results with fierce calorie-deprivation tactics— but that'll just make you lose muscle weight, which is bad. Don't skip meals either, as that'll make you ravenous enough to favorably regard a Burger King. The smart move is to have five or six small, light meals instead of two or three gutbusters. This will more more evenly disperse the calories you're consuming, so your body burns off its most recent fuel instead of packing it away for later. If you're not still a little hungry when you're done eating, you're doing it wrong.
3. Cook at home
Americans consume 1,494 calories on an average restaurant trip, according to a Tufts University study. "If you're gonna eat out," White says, "drink a glass of water first. Get some appetizers or split an entree. And skip the bread— two pieces of bread and butter is 400 calories."
Taking a six-week break from restaurant (and bar) tabs will also save you money, enabling you to turn around and book an extra night or three in the sun-drenched coastline of your choice. And when you get there, you can slug mojitos and feast on seafood. Goal met, lifestyle restored.