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The 10 Commandments of Weight Loss

The Top Ten Commandments of Weight Loss
We’ve all been there: you get some not-so-great numbers on the scale and a serious talking to – from yourself via bathroom mirror.  Here are my top ten rules of weight loss that I always go back to when I find myself getting too many of those talks.

  1. Thou shalt pay attention to what you eat.  I’ve seen slightly varied percentages, but here’s the general consensus among health experts: exercise alone will NOT help you lose weight – you must reduce your calorie intake as well.  If you live off cafeteria food like I do, it is really tricky to know exactly what’s going into what you’re eating.  My advice?  Make the salad bar your new best friend.  Just avoid caloric toppings like nuts, dressings, and cheese.  If you want to lose weight, avoid all three.  Add some balsamic vinaigrette or mustard if you must dress your dark leafy greens.
  2. Thou shalt do yoga.  Or meditation.  Or something.  With our busy lives as collegiettes, stress can add up really quickly.  If you take some time to focus on the moment, you will find yourself refreshed and way less likely to gobble down three servings of mac & cheese the night before that term paper is due.  One of the most important lessons that I have learned from practicing yoga is to have respect for my body; I simply can’t abuse it with overindulgences.
  3. Thou shalt own it.  I’m taking a page from Rachel Wilkerson’s fabulous blog post on this one.  In it she explains how she came to terms with ditching all the guilt in her life.  There is a great lesson to be learnt from this article: own your decisions. Own your faults.  Your friends say you’re too conscious of your health?  Own it.  You hate treadmills?  Owned.  You secretly love 90’s fashion?  Sorry you’re not sorry.
  4. Thou shalt avoid added sugars.  This goes along with commandment #1.  Sugars are not made equal: there is natural and refined sugar.  Natural sugar comes in the form of delicious fruit, and refined sugar is basically everything else.  I recommend that you educate yourself on the effects of added sugars on the body.  In addition to the obvious (obesity), there are a number of surprising and equally disturbing reasons why sugar is, in fact, the devil.  Alcoholism?  Heart disease?  Tooth decay?  No thanks.
  5. Thou shalt avoid nighttime snacking.  Unless you’re up until the wee hours of the morn (I hope not!), dinner should be the last time you eat for the day.  If you allow yourself to snack after dinner, it either means you did not eat enough (or enough of the right stuff!) at dinner, or you’re bored, stressed, and in want of some delicious goodies to ease the pain.  Stress eating is dangerous, friends.
  6. Thou shalt do push-ups.  I mean this one.  Push-ups will revolutionize your workouts.  They are extremely efficient for toning the body and building lean muscle.  And they’re not as scary as they seemed in middle school!  Just try one.  Right now.  I dare you.  In fact, thou shalt pump iron It burns the same amount of calories as cardio training and it shows results faster!  I suggest replacing two cardio sessions a week with strength training if you are exercising five days a week.  And I promise, it’s more fun than staring at a cement wall for thirty minutes!
  7. Thou shalt not think about it.  Seriously.  Obsessing over every morsel of food that goes into your mouth or counting every last calorie will make you crazy.  It will also make you feel deprived and give you more of an incentive to binge later.  Just let things flow!  Make good choices, but don’t whip out your calculator before dinner.
  8. Thou shalt find something you love.  If you find something you’re passionate about, you’ll do it, right?  Now apply that logic to exercise.  Love to run?  Find some awesome trails near campus.  Used to play soccer?  Find an intramural or club team that could use your mad skillz.  Just be careful not to overdo it – you don’t want to burn out your interest after a month or two.
  9.  Thou shalt understand why you want to lose weight.  This is crucial to your weight-loss success.  If you have a source of motivation to draw from, it’s more likely that you will put in your best effort.  So why do you want to lose weight?  For yourself?  For a big event?  For those really cute skinny jeans waiting for you in Bloomingdale’s?  Whatever the reason may be, make sure you internalize it and think about it when you make choices.  Having your motivation on your mind will help you decide whether you really need that extra muffin.
  10. Thou shalt sleep.  Sleep is absolutely vital to weight loss, and most of us don’t get enough of it!  Aim for 8-9 hours a night; that way, you’ll be able to pump out that extra set of reps during your workout the next day!

Whether you need to lose weight or are simply looking to maintain where you are, these guidelines will leave you feeling happy, healthy, and most importantly, sane!
Lots of love!
(photo credits: Christy Thompson, Anne-Mette Pederson, Stephanie Berghaeuser, Marcus Beltman, Sanja Gjenero, & Fabibel on sxc.hu.) 

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Elizabeth Bayne is a first-year at the marvelous Smith College. She adores running dusty trails, pumping iron, and everything yoga-related. Unfortunately she cannot seem to muster the willpower to stay away from decadent desserts or anything covered in that delicious fake yogurt they dip raisins into. In all seriousness, working out is a powerful stress-reliever for her and has invariably become a part of daily life. Most recently, yoga and weight lifting have become the most exciting parts of her workout routine, but she’s always looking for new ways to be motivated (Thursday night Zumba class, anyone?). Her workout goals for this season are to tone up and to adopt sensible eating habits to avoid the seemingly ubiquitous Freshman Fifteen. She also wants to be able to do a handstand for two reasons: to develop intense concentration skills and to have a cool party trick.
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