The truth about your summer crash diet

January is long gone, and we’re guessing so are your resolutions. The good news? Just because it’s not the beginning of the new year doesn’t mean you can’t resolve yourself to lose those stubborn pounds. In fact, summer is upon us. What better way to celebrate then with a slimmer you? We can see it now: Outfits and cute swimsuits in your future.

Shedding your hibernation weight within the next couple of weeks (or at least starting to) may seem like a summer daydream. There’s a good reason for that, says Dr. Pamela Peeke, author of Body for Life for Women. We recently reached out to Peek for her best advice on how to safely shed pounds for bikini season.

It’s first important to ask yourself how much weight do you realistically need to drop? That will determine how many pounds you can safely lose on a weekly basis.

“Losing 2.5 pounds per week is the absolute outer limit (of weight loss),” says Peeke. “People who need to lose 50 pounds versus people who need to only lose 10, will have a considerably harder time.”

Why? It all comes down to math. “Weight loss is a matter of creating a caloric deficit. If you need to lose 2.5 pounds per week, and 3500 calories is equal to one pound, then you need to burn 8,750 calories per week, or a boatload of calories!”

Think of it this way: Next time you think you’re burning it up on the elliptical at the gym for a casual 45 minutes, check out how many calories you actually burned using the machine’s evaluative tools. Make sure to enter your height and weight to get accurate calorie burn, and then think about how many calories you ate for breakfast. Yeah, seems a little unfair, doesn’t it?

Before you jump into strict starvation mode (see how fasting really impact the body) take a step back and really evaluate where you’re at, health-wise. “Your body weight is a reflection of so many complex factors in your life – genetic, psychological, social, environmental, and biological,” says Peeke.

“Instead of using weight as your only measure of progress and success, how about looking at your overall health? Your body composition will begin to improve for the better once you’ve embraced a more comprehensive lifestyle plan. Staring at the numbers on a scale to assess your overall health is a recipe for continuing frustration as well as failure.”

So now the question awaits: Is it actually possible to drop 8 to 10 pounds quickly? Yes … for the seldom few.

“Those that are more likely to (lose quickly) are young, athletic males with excellent lean body mass,” Dr. Peeke says, adding “You obviously have to curb your diet but, no starving yourself! Eat the appropriate amount of calories and, you absolutely need to exercise – nutrition alone will not do it.”