Months before the con, as you’re planning your cosplay, set goals. Be realistic with yourself about what you have time to do and what will happen if you don’t reach your goals. We’ve all set weight loss goals that we didn’t reach. Will you have to give up this cosplay if you’re shy of your goal?
When you decide on your costume, give yourself plenty of time to lose weight in a healthful, safe way. Crash diets don’t work. Most healthy weight loss should be less than two pounds in a week. There are ways to lose weight faster than that, but it’s hard to keep going for a long time.
These are the best ways I’ve found for getting in better shape for cosplay!
Set an exercise schedule and stick to it.
I don’t like to work out in the morning because I work over 10 hours a day and I need to be alert at work. Some people don’t like to work out at night because they’ll make excuses not to exercise. Whatever works for you, schedule that time and don’t make exceptions.
Include weight training in your exercise routine.
This is especially important for us women. Women have been told that using weights will make them bulky, and that’s simply not true. Women won’t gain muscle the same way that men can. By including simple free weight training in your exercise plans, you’ll burn more fat. This page is a much more detailed account of strength training that beginners can do. I also love these workouts because they’re geek-themed and use body weight to build strength.
Reward yourself for working out.
I’m talking about giving yourself a reason to exercise. Maybe consider only allowing yourself to watch a favorite show or movie when you’re working out. For example, I don’t re-watch old favorite anime unless I’m at the gym or lifting weights at home. Or let yourself get coffee or tea with a friend once a week only if you stick to your exercise routine.
Work out with friends or join a class.
Having a workout buddy makes you stay accountable. You won’t want to disappoint your friend or waste their time! You might even be able to work your chosen sport or activity into your cosplay. There are lots of sports anime like Kuroko’s Basketball, and plenty of popular characters are cheerleaders or martial artists. Check out activities at a gym, or see if a local school or community center offers classes like spinning, dance, or karate.
Replace a heavy breakfast with smoothies.
They help keep you hydrated, and you can taste something sweet without eating a lot of sugar or carbohydrates. Fruit is great, but consider adding green vegetables too! Most people don’t get enough servings of veggies. This is also a time-saving breakfast, so you’ll have more time to work on cosplay. If you need inspiration, check here and here for ideas of different drinks you can make for breakfast (or snacks).
Avoid salty foods.
They make you retain water! You don’t want to look bloated in your costume. You also need to stay hydrated so you don’t look and feel tired. Remember that your skin will show when you don’t get enough water, and salty foods don’t help!
Not soda, not coffee (unless it’s black), not juice. Drink lots and lots of water. Tea is fine too, as long as it’s unsweetened, because it has antioxidants. But water is what you should drink all day, every day. I try to drink a minimum of 2L (about half a gallon) of water daily.
Try carb cycling.
One of my best short-term weight loss strategies for cosplay is carb cycling. This is where you change your diet on a three-day cycle. On day one, you eat a normal amount of carbohydrates – whole grain breads, brown rice, and fruits especially. On day two, you eat a low-carb diet. On the third day, you eat no carbs and load up on protein. Then the cycle restarts. I lost about 8 lbs (3.5 kg) in just two weeks doing this. It’s not a long-term solution, but it does help you drop weight if you only have a little time.
My final thoughts.
Ultimately, you should cosplay what you want and be happy with your body. Don’t starve yourself (you’ll only retain weight when you do eat) or hurt yourself by overdoing exercise. When you get injured, it’s easy to talk yourself out of going to the gym again.
Even if what works best for you is walking or bicycling more often, that’s still more activity than you were getting before. Keep at it! You’ll see results. If you’re not seeing results, change something else and try again.
Don’t be afraid to be a cosplay nerd who works out!