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Cut calories now and when the heat returns, you'll have a body to match.
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updated 3/14/2011 9:22:16 AM ET 2011-03-14T13:22:16

Sure, winter seems bleak. During dark, chilly days, we shroud ourselves in bulky down parkas—and our bodies have that overstuffed look even when we take our coats off. That’s why now’s the time to start thinking about another garment you’ll want to slip into: Your swimsuit.

Note that we said “fit into,” not “spill out of.”

It's not spring yet, so there’s plenty of time to shed the parka-shaped pounds you may have gained over the winter. Act now, and when the heat returns, you’ll have a body to match.

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Bonus Tip: If you have more than a few pounds to lose, we’ve got your fitness plan right here.

That’s where the "Lean Belly Prescription" comes in. We wrote the book because we’ve found in our own lives, and among our friends who’ve succeeded on the plan, that feeling great, and feeling great about yourself, are all part of living life to the fullest — and that’s better than leaving the dinner table at your fullest.

So how could you drop significant weight in the short time before swimsuit season? Let’s do some math: It takes about 3,500 calories to build a pound of fat. It stands to reason, then, that if you can shed those calories from the foods you eat, and burn more in your everyday activities, you’ll drop pounds quickly, and gain sex appeal and self esteem at the same time.

We’re here to help.

To lose 15 pounds in two months, you’d need to ditch about 875 calories per day. Impossible? Hardly! Here’s how we’ll get you there, based on the principles of The Lean Belly Prescription:

Start your day with breakfast. Simple, right? So how come there are so many portly breakfast skippers out there?

Savings: 200 calories a day. According to Donald Layman, Ph.D., a professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Illinois, people who start the day with a protein-rich breakfast consume 200 fewer calories a day than those who chow down on a carb-heavy breakfast, like a jam-smeared bagel.

Bonus Tip: Speaking of the most important meal of the day, avoid these 20 Worst Breakfasts in America! Some of them have a day's worth of calories, fat, sodium, or sugar in one meal.

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Drink seltzer water, unsweetened ice tea, or ice water with a squeeze of lemon juice, instead of soda.

Savings: 450 calories a day. According to a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, that’s how many calories you drink every day from sweetened beverages. We’re already three quarters of the way to our goal of 1,250 calories saved in a day.

Turn off the TV when you eat dinner.

Savings: 300 calories a day.  Distracted eaters eat more food, and eat for longer periods of time, according to a study published in Trends in Food Science & Technology. The average: a whopping extra 300 calories per meal. That’s 950 calories! Why not lose more?

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Bonus strategies (In case you don’t like either of the above, or simply want to shed winter flab that much faster):

Stand up when you talk on the phone (49 calories per 20 minutes). Park at the far end of the office parking lot (50 calories, to the mall and back). Play vigorously with your pet or your kids for 30 minutes (160 calories). Wash the dishes by hand, then go for a walk through the neighborhood (75 calories).

Savings: 334 calories a day. Notice how we didn’t even suggest that you hit the gym? Everyday activities burn the most calories; walk more, play more, weigh less!

Pack a lunch and eat dinner at home, instead of out at restaurants or fast food joints.

Savings: 200 calories a day. The United States Department of Agriculture calculated that we consume an extra 106 calories every time we eat out.

Incorporate all these easy life changers, and you’ll shed almost 1,500 calories per day, and lose more than a pound every week. So start fighting parka body right now.

© 2012 Rodale Inc. All rights reserved.

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