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Forget the gimmicks (read: the cookie diet) and quick fixes (as in,“Lose 20 pounds in 20 days”) and get fit the right way by breaking a sweat and eating right. The best part? You can do it as a team.

Your New Team Diet

1. Shop smart

First things first: Have something to eat. Making a grocery list while you’re hungry is Dangerous -- especially if what you’re craving begins with “D” and ends in “oritos.” Fill your list mostly with veggies and fruits, as well as lean proteins, like fish and chicken. Also add whole-grain breads, legumes, beans, and low-fat yogurts. And go shopping when the store’s less crowded, like on a Wednesday night. If you’re more relaxed, you’ll give more thought to what you’re buying.

2. Eat when you’re hungry

Newsflash: Not eating can make you gain weight. When you stop eating altogether, your body thinks that you’re starving (um, because you are) and then slows down your metabolism. In turn, you burn fewer calories. A better method: Keep your metabolism going with several small meals and healthy snacks throughout the day.

3. Know your portions

Your portion sizes depend on your weight. Here’s how it works: Active adults need about .6 grams of protein per pound of body weight. So if you’re a 180-pound guy, that’s 108 grams a day. Meanwhile, a 135-pound woman needs just 81 grams. It’s the same story with carbs -- you’ll each need about 2.3 to 3.2 grams for every pound. Don’t have time to calculate? Think of your food this way: A serving of meat should be the size of a deck of cards, and a portion of whole-grain bread or pasta should be no larger than a clenched fist.

4. Don’t be a pack rat

Those 100-calorie packs of cookies and chips won’t help you lose weight. Instead, fill up snack-size zip-top bags with things like dried or fresh fruits, carrot sticks, or unsalted nuts. For the most part, if it comes in a bag or wrapper, it’s not a health food.

5. Cut out alcohol

Even the majority of light beers start at around 90 calories, and mixes can turn no-carb vodka into the equivalent of sugary Kool-Aid. Plus, a hangover isn’t exactly the world’s greatest exercise motivator. So make a deal with each other: You’ll toss back a drink or two only on weekends.

Your New Team Fitness Plan

1. Loop it up

Most couples don’t run at the same pace, which means the slower person is exhausted and the faster person feels like she got cheated out of a full workout. Get over the speed bump by running on a track together or choosing a one-mile or half-mile loop in your local park. This way, you can stretch together -- and pass each other during the run while still going at your own pace.

2. Get jumping

Raining outside? Move those couches to the outskirts of the room and whip out two jump ropes. Put on your favorite music, and have contests to see who can go longer. Another idea: Jump in intervals of five minutes and then take a one-minute break -- repeat for half an hour. It’s worth it: One minute of jumping burns 11 to 20 calories.

3. Play patty-cake

The ab area is one of the top trouble zones for guys and girls, so try this one on for size: Get in a plank position (like you’re about to do a push-up) with your heads facing each other. Reach and slap each other’s opposite hand while holding steady -- so you slap his right hand with your left, and then vice versa. Do this 20 times, then turn on your backs with your feet together and slap hands as you come up from stomach crunches.

4. Pop a squat

You’ve seen the basic squat (stand with your back against a wall, and then slide straight down until your knees and hips are aligned) -- now take it to the next level. Start by standing side-by-side on the wall so that your left hand could touch his right hand. Squat first, then hold the position while he does two squats. Switch on and off.

5. Run in circuits

Turn your backyard into a gym. First, create several stations: a jump rope station, a running/sprinting station, a jumping-jack station, a push-up station, and an ab-crunch station. Start at a different spot than your spouse, and then move from exercise to exercise while cheering each other on. Go at your own pace for 30 minutes to an hour.

Nestpert: Laura Miranda, licensed physical therapist, certified fitness/nutrition coach and healthy living guru

-- The Nest Editors

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