If your New Year’s resolution was to get into shape and shed off those Freshman (or Sophomore, or Junior, or Senior) 15 pounds, there are two places you could be right now: 1) Almost at your goal weight but close to eating your own fingernails due to the number of meals you’ve been skipping, or 2) Not seeing the scale budge one bit and as a result surrendering to any pastry opportunity you encounter because you’ve given up. If either of these sounds familiar, I want to congratulate you. That’s because you’re about to learn some valuable information right here that will get you back on track and on your way to keeping that get-healthy resolution! The good news is that there are many, many, many girls in the same boat as you – those of us who have been slowly packing on the pounds ever since all the Halloween candy went on sale at Wal-Mart. The bad news is that losing weight is such a popular goal for people (especially around this time of year), that there are hundreds of diets out there that not only won’t help you lose weight, but also aren’t healthy weight-loss methods at all. First, let me give you a heads up on some of these dangerous diets so you don’t even waste your time (since we know you’re a busy girl):
- The Grapefruit Diet (or any diet focusing on one type of food.) Limiting yourself to one food group will not give you the nutrition you need and will eventually make you start craving foods that you used to eat – including the ones that weren’t very good for you.
- Detox Diets, laxatives and bodily cleanses. The weight you lose from these diets is usually just water weight and will just be gained back as soon as you start eating normally again. Laxatives are also particularly dangerous because they can lead to dehydration or even intestinal paralysis (webmd.com, 2009).
- Extreme Low Calorie diets and fasting. Even though you might see quick results with these methods, you are actually slowing down your metabolism, and not providing your body with enough energy to be active.
- Miracle Diets and pills. You’ve all heard of these. “I lost 43 pounds in 2 weeks!” That’s not possible, not healthy, and not going to last. Kellie Nadeau, a certified nutritionist and former Nutrition Care Coordinator and Services Manager, says losing about a pound a week is what you want to shoot for if you are dieting correctly. “Not any type of ‘magical’ pill is going to help you. You can’t eat anything you want and still lose weight,” says Nadeau.
My most important piece of information to give you is called the Triple P. No, this is not an over-the-counter miracle weight loss drug. Did you not learn anything from my list above? The Triple P is what you need to remember while your passing by the McDonald’s or when you tell yourself you’ll just hit the gym tomorrow. It stands for Purpose, Persistence, and Patience. Let me break it down for you. Purpose: Why do you want to lose weight? If it’s for anyone but yourself, you may want to reevaluate your goals. If it’s to look like Kate Moss or Mary-Kate Olsen, you aren’t being realistic (or health-conscious). My sister told me that Jennifer Aniston eats two meals a day, one of them consisting of baby food. Glamorous, huh? Persistence: Keep going! I can’t stress enough the importance of this one. Once you’ve set up a regimen and a goal, you need to try as hard as you can to stick to it. The hardest part is the beginning. It’s so easy to give up and fall back into old bad habits, but you’ve got to remind yourself why you’re doing this and how good you’ll feel in the end! Patience: Losing weight for good doesn’t happen overnight, just like gaining 15 pounds didn’t. Just because you don’t see the results you want right away doesn’t mean you should give up. Be realistic with your goals and try not to get frustrated or discouraged as you go along. Now that I’ve let you in on the optimal mindset to have while dieting, I’ll let you in on the diet that’s going to work for you no matter how much you’re trying to lose or how many times you’ve failed in the past. Some of you may not like what you’re going to hear, and most of you have already heard it, but it’s truly the only way to develop a healthy lifestyle and look and feel great. Ready? It’s called eating right and exercising! Here’s your challenge: I’ve listed below HC’s top ten tips for weight loss. Over a span of 10 days, I want you to slowly build on one rule at a time – the first day only concentrating on the first one, the second day adding on number two, and so on. By tip ten, you’ll be feeling so great that you’ll be motivated to stay healthy and adopt these tips as a permanent part of your lifestyle! Good luck Her Campus Readers!
Top Ten Tips for Weight Loss Success
- Limit your portions. Nadeau says to remember that “energy in has to exceed energy out.” That means to lose weight, you must burn more calories than the amount you eat. Put those measuring cups to use and literally measure out serving sizes if you have to! If you’re eating out, try to save half of your meal to eat for lunch the next day. If you’re eating in, you can use smaller plates to create an illusion that there’s more food in front of you than there actually is.
- Find a way to be active that you enjoy, and switch it up when you get bored with it. “Too many people see exercise as a chore, something to be endured rather than enjoyed. But in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Exercise should release endorphins, also known as happy hormones. These should enter the bloodstream and make you enjoy the exercise as a result,” (familyfitnessexpert.co.uk). If you’re bored with your routine, try something else to get your blood pumping, because the more you enjoy exercising, the more consistently you’ll do it. Also, try going on a jog or swimming laps with a friend – you’ll feel more motivated and see it as a social event versus a burden.
- Try eating slower and really savor what you’re eating. “Savor those aromas, relish the meal's presentation, and don't just dig in like you've got to finish it off in a hurry,” researchers say from The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Studies also show that eating too fast may result in overconsumption and can block out the hormone that tells you you’re full (webmd.com, 2009).
- Drink plenty of water. You may have heard that you should have at least eight glasses a day. This isn’t exactly true because you can get your fill of liquids from other sources, too – like zero-calorie sodas, juices, coffees, teas, and even some water-based foods like celery. However for dieting, drinking water is more of a “helpful tool” because “you can keep your mouth busy without food and get the sense of satisfaction" (npr.org, 2008).
- Consider keeping a food diary to keep track of your diet. According to the January 2010 edition of SELF magazine, their number one way to “eat and slim” was to keep a meal log. Citing a study from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, “dieters who logged their meals and exercise sessions every day lost twice as much as those who didn’t,” (Self, 31 Ways to Eat and Slim, Jan. 2010). It makes you realize if you’re snacking too much through out the day, and where you can improve your diet. Look online for free organizing tools that help you keep track of your meals, like on Self.com!
- Learn how to decipher between hunger and boredom. This one is especially important – I know I’m not the only one with the habit of mindlessly opening the fridge when I’m not even hungry! If you start getting a craving, think back on when you ate your last meal, how much you ate, and why you suddenly want to munch on something. Is it because you just saw a Pizza Hut commercial on T.V.? Or, because you had a nice, long workout earlier that day? If you do grab a snack, make sure it’s just enough to hold you over until the next meal, and see tip number eight below.
- Don’t deprive yourself of your favorite foods (but eat them in moderation). “If you’re a big ice cream fan, don’t deprive yourself of it, just keep in mind the serving size,” says Nadeau. If you restrict yourself too much, you might eventually break down and binge. If you can’t live without chocolate cake, you can try portioning it out in small slices ahead of time, so you’re not inclined to take more. Also, never ever eat right off of a big plate or whole container. You may not think you’re eating that much, but it’s hard to tell when it’s just going straight to your mouth. Always portion out on a separate plate, and that way all your favorite foods can be safely eaten in moderation.
- Surround yourself with healthy snacks so you’re not tempted to splurge (I personally love 100-calorie packs of popcorn!). SELF magazine points out that “smart noshing keeps you from getting ravenous between meals and reaching for junk,” (Self, 31 Ways to Eat and Slim, Jan. 2010). Some good snacks they list include low-fat cheese and whole-grain crackers, hummus and sliced veggies, or nuts mixed with dried fruit. These healthy alternatives are full of protein and fiber, which SELF says will fill you up longer.
- Eat a filling, healthy breakfast. Do not take this tip lightly! With all of the on-the-go options for breakfast, there is no excuse for skipping it. It not only jump-starts your metabolism, but helps you avoid overeating throughout the day and gives you energy to increase your physical activity. Make baggies of whole grain cereal to grab as you head out the door, or try some healthy breakfast granola bars from brands like Kashi, Nature Valley, or Odwalla.
- Get enough sleep, (between seven and eight hours per night.) For all you hardworking college girls, this may be the hardest tip to follow. Between homework, studying, practice, club meetings, and keeping up with your social life, it is extremely difficult to hit the hay early. If you have a habit of watching T.V. before you go to bed, try to set a time limit. Also, don’t procrastinate during the day or put things off for later. Get it done when you have to time so you can get to bed at a decent hour. According to Kenneth G. Berge, M.D. from Mayoclinic.com, “getting enough sleep boosts your immune system,” and SELF magazine also notes that “sleep deprivation may increase cravings for high-carb sweet foods,” (Self, 31 Ways to Eat and Slim, Jan. 2010).
Nadeau says to remember that dieting to be healthy shouldn’t be an off and on thing. That’s how you’ll end up “yo-yo dieting” and going up and down on the scale – which isn’t healthy. You have to think of it more as a lifestyle change. Like we’ve always been told, (before any of those crazy Hollywood diets came out), eat a balanced diet, exercise and be active, and get all your nutrients. It may sound old-fashioned, but it’s some of the best advice you can follow! Sources: Kellie Nadeau, nutritionist and former Nutrition Care Coordinator and Services Manager http://www.familyfitnessexpert.co.uk/exercise-recreation-rather-than-cho... http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/food-and-nutrition/AN01119 http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/how-many-hours-of-sleep-are-enough/AN01487 http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89323934 http://www.steadyhealth.com/articles/Unhealthy_Ways_to_Lose_Weight_a1042... http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/15-best-diet-tips-ever?page=3 http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/detox-diets-purging-myths?page=2 http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/worst-diets-ever-diets-that-dont-work http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20091104/eating-slowly-may-help-weight-co...