We’ve all heard of the “Freshman 15”. If you have gained weight in college or have been an overweight teen and would like to make a change, there are many ways you can lose weight and make healthy lifestyle changes.
Exercise: Many people dread the thought of working up a sweat and getting their heart rate up so high they can’t breathe. This is what a lot of people believe exercise is, but this isn’t exactly true. Of course, exercise can be that intense, and some athletes actually enjoy that type of workout, but exercise shouldn’t be a chore. It should be fun, make you feel good, and of course, keep you healthy. How can you manage to fit exercising into your busy schedule, while still allowing yourself to have fun and lose weight?
1. There are many simple every day events that you can sneak some exercise in without working up a sweat. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park on the opposite end of the parking lot than the entrance, etc. Instead of sitting on the couch to text, why not go outside and walk while texting?
2. Exercise is always more fun with a friend. If you have a friend who is also trying to lose weight, or just likes to stay active, ask them to walk or jog with you, or play a game of basketball or other activity. If you get really into it, you could even start a walking, activity, or sport club with a group of interested people.
3. Check your local fitness center, like a community center or YMCA. If you can afford to spend the money, these places usually offer fun classes like kickboxing, pilates, yoga, or conditioning/strength training. If you aren’t into these type of classes, there’s usually a pick-up game of some sort going on, whether it be basketball, racquet ball, or volleyball. Also, these places usually have a pool, and swimming can definitely be a fun way to get a workout (not to mention you won’t get sweaty).
4. If you’re looking to set aside some time in your schedule for exercise, the number one thing to do is make a routine, but keep variety in your workout. For example, make a routine by working out on specific days at a specific time of day. It may not be a good idea to start working out intensely every day if you are just beginning. This could result in you feeling tired and sore, and may discourage you from continuing. You should work up to extreme workouts if desired, and alternate between tough workouts and easier workouts. This will also keep your body healthier as it prevents injury. To add variety, don’t do the same activity every time you work out. You can run, walk, bike, swim, roller skate/blade, dance, do pilates or kickboxing, etc. There are so many different cardio activities that will help your heart and your weight.
Keep in mind that although exercise is great for your body, you must also be able to prevent injury by stretching and resting. Realize that there is a difference between feeling hurt and feeling sore. If you are hurt, take care of the injury (Rest Ice Compress Elevate). If you are sore, it is okay to use ice, heat, or aspirin, but work through it.
Diet: The number one rule to follow when trying to lose weight when it comes to your diet is to not go on a diet. Too many people cut out too many foods they enjoy and end up binge eating or becoming discouraged. Instead of cutting out the foods you love, just don’t eat as much. Teach yourself or talk to someone in a health-related field about portions. When you’re really craving that specific evening snack, it’s okay to give in sometimes. As long as you don’t eat too much junk, or make giving in to your cravings a habit, you are still being successful in your mission to eat healthier and lose weight. The types of food you eat are also important:
1. Instead of “junk food” try eating healthy snacks like pretzels, popcorn, granola bars, yogurt, or fruit. It’s okay to feel hungry. Satisfy your hunger with something your body could use.
2. Instead of drinking pop, drink water. Drinking water is so important to everyone’s body. You need at least 8 glasses a day. If you can’t stand the taste of water, it is okay to drink juice, milk, or tea. In fact, fruit juice and milk should be incorporated into your diet every day. Just keep in mind when choosing drinks that your body prefers less sugar and more fruit and protein.
3. Fruits and vegetables are a must. Start adding them to your diet if you aren’t used to eating them. Fruit salad makes a tasty snack, and you can add vegetables to sandwiches or other foods. Of course if you like the taste of fruits and vegetables, you can always eat them plain.
4. Your body also needs protein. Meat and dairy products, as well as peanut butter and beans are excellent sources of protein. WebMD has a good listing of protein sources.
Eating a variety of foods will keep you healthy and feeling good. Learning to portion and eat the right foods will help you lose weight. If you feel that you need help with your diet, or aren’t sure what you should be eating, you can always talk to your doctor about a diet plan that fits you and your needs. Keeping a food journal may also be a good idea to help you get started and for you to see progress. Writing down everything you consume every day can open your eyes to the foods that you’re eating and can help you identify the areas in your diet where changes are needed. There are many online sources to help you track your progress with your diet and weight loss, like fitday.com, or you can use good old-fashioned pen and paper.
A site containing a lot of information is teenweightlossclub.com. You can get a personal report, set goals for yourself, and track your progress.
Healthy Snack Recipes:
Eatingwell.com; allrecipes.com; mayoclinic.com
Center for Young Women’s Health, “College Eating and Fitness 101: A Guide for College Students,” http://www.youngwomenshealth.org/college101.html