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Some people are happy with their bodies. No matter their weight or height or so on they are comfortable in their skin. It’s an amazing feeling. This is not the case for everyone. The significant changes associated with college cause many students to gain a few pounds. This comes from a change in routine, eating habits and stress. Things get worse when alcohol is eventually added to the mix. As a result, many people turn to fad diets and ways to cut their calorie intake while still getting the right amount of nutrition.
If you’re reading this, you may have finally decided it’s time to make a change. Maybe you realized just how many times you ate pizza this week, maybe you just aren’t feeling as fit as you used to. A simple “weight loss” Google search can be intimidating when it turns up fad diets like the “lemon cleanse” or the “baby food diet.” Starting a diet can be just as difficult as picking one. Often, people feel sluggish and frustrated after the first day of a fad diet and will give up within a few days.
You are not alone, many people have been in your position before. It’s important to remember that a diet isn’t a temporary state. It isn’t something you do for two months to drop a few pounds and then stop. A diet should be a lifelong commitment. This doesn’t mean you have to give up every food you love for the rest of your life. Once you reach your goal you can ease up and make modifications to your diet without returning to old bad habits. Dieting is a lifestyle choice.
If you maintain your motivation and enthusiasm, then there is no limit to how healthy you can become.
Many people advocate for dropping to 1200 calories a day, but this may not be the best solution for everyone. The best place to start is by calculating your BMR, or Base Metabolic Rate. This is the energy required for your body to perform vital functions while at rest. It is essentially the amount of calories you would burn if you slept all day.
The BMR calculation uses your age, gender, height, and weight. For example, a 20 year old female, who weighs 135 pounds and is 5′ 0″ the BMR is 1,304 Calories/day. Next, multiply that number by the amount that you exercise every week.
If you exercise:
The female in our example exercises about 1 to 3 days per week. This means the amount of calories she would need to eat every day to maintain her current weight is 1,793. But what if she wants to lose weight? To do this she would subtract 500 calories, making the number of calories she should eat to lose wight at a healthy rate 1,293 a day.
Why 500 calories a day? A pound of fat has 3,500 calories. To lose 1-2 pounds a week (a healthy rate), you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose 1 pound. Therefore, if you cut 500 calories a day, you would lose about 1 pound a week (500/day x 7days/week).
Food and Portion Distortion
“Eat as much as you want and still lose weight!”
“Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!”
When you search “lose weight fast” these are some of the claims that pop up. But not everyone has the same metabolism. That means that two people on the same diet and doing the same exercises will have different results.
Your body and goals are different than the person next to you, so don’t compare your weight loss journey to others. The best thing to do is to eat as healthily as you can. Gets lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Limit or eliminate junk food and processed foods. Get as much exercise as is comfortable or possible for you. You may not lose as much or as quickly as you want, but you will become healthier. Focus on you and what your body needs.
A good place to start is with the liquid calories you consume each day. On average over 30% of the calories people consume come from beverages. If you drink two sodas and one energy or sports drink a day, you are consuming over 400 liquid calories. Switching to water can help you cut down. Turn to black coffee or tea to get a needed caffeine fix.
My Fitness Pal is a great app to keep track of calorie intake. It knows the menu in almost every restaurant you may go to. The app can also help you track your progress with weight loss, nutrition facts, and exercise. It can help you make smarter choices while still enjoying the foods that you love. For instance, pasta has a lot of calories. Instead of cutting it entirely, My Fitness Pal can help you choose a healthier brand and serving size.
“Eating and exercise are not separate issues. They’re intimately connected. Too many people think these large doses of exercise are an excuse to eat whatever you want”(WebMD).
Exercise is the main ingredient to boosting your metabolism. According to the America College of Sports Medicine, exercise can boost your metabolism for up to 24 hours after the fact. You can optimize this by adding intervals to your cardio routines. Do this by injecting brief moments of intense effort into your walk, run, swim, etc. This essentially resets your metabolism to a higher rate and it will be hours before it slows down again. As a result, calorie burn continues long after your workout.
One of the best (and most fun) cardio exercises is actually something you probably did as a child. Jumping rope is a great way to burn calories. It burns about 10 calories/minute (the equivalent of running an 8 minute mile). Inserting this activity into your normal routine adds a fun twist and makes exercising more interesting.
Congratulations! You reached your goal. Now what? At this point many people end their new lifestyle. The key to successful weight loss is keeping the weight off. Rather than returning to your old habits you can make a few modifications to help maintain your healthy lifestyle while also easing up a little.
If you were exercising 4 to 5 times a week you can now cut down to 3 to 4 times a week (just don’t cut it out all together). You can also use the BMR calculator to adjust your daily calorie intake based on your new exercise routine. Remember, weight is a factor in this number, so as you are losing weight be sure to recalculate your BMR.
Don’t deny yourself of the foods you love. Many diets fail because people cut out everything that they are used to eating. The best diet plan is the one that fits your needs. If you love cake, bake your own healthier cake that has less sugar and fewer carbs. Only have a serving of that cake. Don’t eat it every day. Also, as you loose weight your stomach will get used to smaller serving sizes, and eventually you won’t feel as hungry as you used to.
Most importantly, focus on YOU! Don’t focus on anyone else. Set a goal you are happy with and stick to it. Other people may have opinions about your body, but remember, if everyone looked the same the world would be a boring place. Just do you.