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Summer slimdown: 7 simple tips to lose weight

Linda Melone, CSCS, is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and certified personal trainer based in Orange County, CA. Visit her website at www.LindaMelone.com.

Seven steps to a slimmer summer

You may want to power up your abacus for this little weight-loss lesson. Here's the scoop: You need to create a 3,500-calorie deficit to lose one pound of unsightly fat. You can accomplish this by eating 500 fewer calories each day, burning 500 more calories each day or doing a combination of both. A little more walking and a bit less noshing does the trick. Losing weight is even easier when you try a combination of the following calorie-cutting tricks, which can get you on your way to a bikini body in time for your summer vacation.

Woman dancing

Shake your booty

Those rumors about Dancing With the Stars participants dropping serious poundage is more than just hype. Vigorous dancing can burn up to 250 calories an hour. A couple of back-to-back hours each week and you'll be good to go.

alarm clockSnooze to lose

Research shows that the less you sleep, the more likely you are to be overweight. Experts recommend getting at least seven hours of sleep -- preferably seven and a half hours of Z's a night.

Skip the fancy salad toppings

Salad's great when you're trying to lose weight -- until you top that no-cal lettuce with bacon bits, cheese cubes, dried fruit, croutons and vinaigrette dressing. You've just turned a healthy meal into one that will show up on your hips. Stick with steamed or raw veggie toppings, lean protein (tuna, chicken breast) and use low-fat dressing or a flavorful balsamic vinegar on its own.

Eat off smaller plates

It may sound silly, but studies show that swapping your big plate for a smaller one tricks you into eating as much as 25 percent less. Plus, you'll find you won't even miss the extra food.

6 Easy ways to cut portions >>

Portion out snacks

Eating out of a bag promises you'll finish the entire thing long before the end of that nail-biting movie. Avoid mindless eating by portioning out the serving size and stashing the rest away. This way, if you do go back for seconds you'll be fully aware you're doing so and are more likely to skip it.

Skip the whip

Like salad, coffee is virtually calorie free -- until you start piling things in and on top of it. Sure, ordering a frappa-zappa-latte-extra-whipped-cream may sound like fun, but you can add enough calories to rival half a day's calorie intake. Black or with a dash of sweetener and skim milk saves you hundreds of muffin-top-inducing calories.

Read the restaurant nutrition guides

Most restaurants now provide calorie and fat counts with their menus. Instead of pushing it to the side so as not to spoil your enjoyment, look for light, low-fat, tasty alternate choices. It will be worth it when you step on the scale at the end of the week.

More health tips for women

6 Alarming health threats to women
Why women don't take care of their health
8 Surprising secrets to live longer and look better

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