Monday, March 31, 2014

START HERE: 10 Weeks to a Slimmer Summer

by Rebecca J. Clark
NSCA & ISSA certified personal fitness trainer

In less than three months, it’ll be summer. Does that excite you? Or does the thought of wearing shorts and tank tops make you want to bury your head with the groundhog?

If yours is the latter reaction, maybe I can help. I have a 10-week plan to ease you into a better diet and more active lifestyle. If you’re looking for a quick fix or a way to drop a quick 30 pounds, then you’ve come to the wrong place. But if you’re looking for a lifestyle change, then keep reading.

As you can see from my blog, I am a romance author. But I’m also a personal trainer and have worked as one for more than 10 years. Recently, I published my first diet book, THE CHECKLIST DIET--10 simple steps to check off each day for a better diet.

I will be basing these next 10 weeks on that book. You don’t have to buy the book to do this plan with me but I’d sure not mind if you did. You can buy it for the Kindle here, and the Nook here; if you want the paperback copy that comes with a journal, buy it here. The book only deals with your eating. But in this 10-week series on my blog, we’ll talk about exercise, too.
Each week I will give you one step to add to your day, one lifestyle change to focus on. Each week builds on the last until the end of 10 weeks, when you’ll have completely overhauled your diet and activity levels.


Step One from The Checklist Diet
Keep track of what you’re eating in a journal or online app

Starting from this moment on (no, you can’t wait until tomorrow, or next Monday or next whenever), you will keep track of everything you eat. Every meal, snack, bite, taste, sip. Track in whatever way is easiest for you. I like,, and (all free). You can also do it the old-fashioned way and write it down in a notebook or journal. Or, if you want to spend the money, you can order my Checklist Diet & Companion Workbook here.

Why is this the first step? Well, it’s going to hold you accountable, for one. Sometimes, we don’t realize how much we are eating until the evidence is staring at us in black and white.

Several studies have shown that people who keep track of what they’re eating are more likely to lose weight and keep it off. Dieters who keep a food diary six days a week will lose about twice as much weight as those who track their food one day a week or less. I know that’s true for me. If I track my food, and write down EVERYTHING I eat, I will lose weight and/or maintain (depends on my goals); once I stop keeping track, even if I’m choosing healthy foods, I tend to eat more than I should.

At the end of each week, review your food diary. See if you can find any patterns — you can’t make a change if you don’t know the problem. For example, do you mindlessly reach for food at night before bed even though you’re not hungry? Do you reach for something sugary every day mid-afternoon? The first step to fixing a problem is identifying it.

That’s it for the diet this week. I'm not telling what you can and can't eat. Just write it down. How’s that for easy-peasy? All I ask is that you’re completely honest with yourself. No one else will see your food diary. But if you want, imagine I am staring over your shoulder to make sure you write everything down.

Now, for the fun part. EXERCISE.

What? You don’t think exercise is fun? Well, I may or may not be able to change your mind, but I can help ease you into it. This 10-week plan is geared toward those of you who aren’t exercising at all (or very little). If you are already working out regularly, good for you! Keep doing what you’re doing.

Week One Workouts:
Don't worry--you can do this. I'm assuming you either don't exercise now or aren't exercising much. 

Five days this week, choose one of the following cardio workouts. Feel free to mix and match, or do the same one each day:

Walk out your door. Walk for 5 minutes. Turn around and come back.

Get on a cardio machine of choice (treadmill, elliptical, bike, etc). Go slow for two minutes. Pick up the pace a bit for 6 minutes. Cool down at a slow pace for 2 minutes.

Pick three of your favorite fast-paced songs. Crank the speakers. Dance around your house until the songs are over.

Two days this week, do the following strength moves (can be done on the same day as the above workouts)

10 Pushups (against a wall, counter, or on the floor)
10 Sit and stands from a chair or bench
10 seconds of elbow planks (lie on the floor on your belly, propped on elbows. Lift your body up until you’re balancing on your elbows and toes. Hold.)
Repeat those three exercises 

That’s it! See? I told you I would ease you into this. You can totally do this. You’re on your way to a slimmer, fitter body.

As we get started, I’d love for you to tell me your goals. Do you want to lose weight? Do you want more energy? Do you want to develop an exercise habit? Whatever your goal is, please let me know in the comments. Tell me where you are now, and where you’d like to be 10 weeks from now.


  1. My eating habits have gotten atrocious now that I'm juggling several jobs. My goal over these 10 weeks is to build a better diet - and hope that'll help the energy level.

    1. Cathy, eating better will definitely help your energy levels. I hear you on the juggling more than one job. When I don't eat right, I can't do any of my jobs well. :)

  2. How timely! I just put up a blog post about evaluating my habits now that it's Spring, and one thing I'm changing is making a point to exercise and eat better. This will help tremendously! Thank you. :)

    1. Hey Angel, the first step in changing your habits is knowing that they need to be changed. :) Good luck. This weekly challenge will get progressively harder.

  3. My goal is to lose that last five pounds. I lost 16 pounds almost immediately after I read your book, but that last five pounds is being stubborn and I need to dig in and get them off. I'm eating well, but eating out more which is a challenge to losing weight IMO.

  4. Hey Kate--I hear you on those last few pounds. They can be really stubborn. I have about 7 I want to lose. My downfall is my busy days at work. I don't get many breaks, so when I do, I need to have healthy snacks handy. :)

  5. They are and I'm not as motivated as I was because clothes are fitting so much better, but with summer coming and more skin showing I want them gone!

    1. You can do it. Your diet sounds pretty clean. You probably just need to up your game with your workouts. Email me privately if you need suggestions how. :)

    2. Thanks. Encouragement helps a lot.

  6. great starter ideas. I have a long way to go but have lost 52 lbs since December. I feel better. I have Asthma so walking for really long periods of time is hard. But I go to the gym 3 days a week, I track what I eat everyday, and I try to get out and walk outside all the other days and sometimes get a second walk in on gym days. I have a wedding in August (my son is getting married) and I also do not want to die the way my dad did (obese, unwilling to move or change, and alone). I continue to work hard every day to stay the course, but I deny myself nothing. If I really want chocolate I have it but I have a piece (hershey kiss). Thanks for the added Ideas on things I can do at home.

  7. I'm totally going to be following your advice. I need to lose at least 30 (probably 40) pounds according to my doctor. But I'm never sure where to start.

    1. Lynn, you can SO do this. Start with these baby steps. Each week, we'll build onto the diet and workouts. You can stay with each week as long as you need though; move on when you're ready. Email me privately if you ever need more encouragement. rebeccajclark(dot)author(at)gmail(dot)com

  8. Thank you so much for posting all this info! This post has reaffirmed a new decision I am going to stick to, to just exercise for the love of it.

    1. Excellent! Exercise for the love it--that's awesome. We should all love to exercise, because exercise just means movement. Who doesn't love to move, eh? Let me know if I can help.