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Some of us are very happy with how they look. That is an amazing feeling. It doesn’t matter how much you weigh or what your height is. As long as you are a happier you that is what matters. For some of us this isn’t the case. Most students my age may have gained a few pounds in college. This is the cause of stress, over eating and of course drinking. It’s that time of year where people, including myself look up fad diets and ways to lose a ton of calories while also ingesting the right amount of nutrition.
If you are like me, you’ve finally decided it’s time to make a change and start down the path of weight loss. You realized that maybe you went out for pizza too many nights in a row. The worst place to start is by going online and Googling “weight loss”. You sort through crazy diet fads like “lemon cleanse” or “the baby food diet”. Starting a diet can be very intimidating. When you try fad diets you get through the first day feeling sluggish and frustrated and will end up giving up within a few days.
I know exactly what it feels like to be in your position. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I am still on this journey as well. A diet isn’t something that you have done for 2 months to lose a dozen pounds and then stop once you’ve reached your goal. It is something that is a life long commitment. That doesn’t mean that you give up every food you love for the rest of your life. Once you’ve reached your goal you can ease up and make modifications to your diet without going back to your old habits. Dieting is a lifestyle choice.
If you are full of motivation and encouragement, then you will become as healthy as you want to be.
Calories A Day: Every one says that you should drop to eating 1200 calories a day and stick to that. This may not be the case for everyone. The best place to start is by calculating your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). This is the energy required for performing vital body functions at rest. This is the amount of calories burned a day just by the body completing it’s most vital functions to stay alive.
This is calculated by combining a series of information, including 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 you need to multiply that number by the amount you exercise every week.
This female from our example exercises about 1 to 3 days per week. The amount of calories she would need to eat every day to maintain her current weight is 1,793. But this female wants to lose weight. For starters, she would need to subtract 500 calories from that number. This means for this female to lose weight at a healthy rate she would need to eat 1,293 calories a day.
Now why a 500 calories deficit a day? A pound of fat has 3,500 calories. In order to lose a healthy 1-2 pounds a week then you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose 1 pound. Generally, if you cut 500 calories from your typical diet each day, you’d lose about 1 pound a week (500 per/day x 7 days in a week).
Food and Portion Distortion:
“Eat as much as you want and still lose weight!”
“Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!”
When you type in “loose weight fast” these are some of the claims that will pop up immediately. Different people have different metabolisms which means that two people eating the exact same amounts of the exact same foods and doing the same exact exercises will have different results.
The best you can do is just eat as healthily as you can with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, severely limit or eliminate junk food/processed foods, and get as much exercise as is comfortable for you. You may not lose as much or as quickly as you’d like, but you should lose some and you will definitely end up healthier as a result. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Everyone is different, everyone has different goals, everyone starts from a different size. Focus on you and what your body needs.
A good place to start is to look at the amount of liquid calories you are consuming. Over 30% of the amount of calories a person takes in, is just from beverages. The female from our example use to drink one can of Monster Energy, three cans of Coke, and a bottle of Pepsi. That is a total of 872 calories just from beverages. Switch out your drink of choice with water. If you need your caffeine fix then try drinking regular coffee black. To be honest, it will taste awful, but then you will get used to it and no longer mind.
My favorite app to keep track of my calories is My Fitness Pal. It knows almost every menu in every restaurant you go to. Also it is very handy for keeping track of your progress including, weight loss, nutrition facts, and exercise. The app will help you with making, smarter choices but with allowing you to still enjoy the foods you love. Our female example from earlier, loves eating pasta, but pasta has a lot of calories. With My Fitness Pal she can still eat pasta, but make a healthier choice of which brand she eats as well as how many servings. You can make a wonderful tasting dinner with Smart Taste Pasta and a home made marinara for 206 calories. If you are really hungry, you could have 2 servings of the pasta with sauce and the dinner will still only be 386 calories.
Exercising: Dieting is only one part of this equation.
“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).
To boost your metabolism exercising is the main ingredient. The American College of Sports Medicine reports that you can elevate your metabolism for up to 24 hours post-exercise. Part of what helps is by adding intervals to your cardio routines. Inject brief moments of intense effort to your walks, runs, swims, bicycling, or which every cardio session you prefer. The intensity effectively resets your metabolism to a slightly higher rate and takes hours for it to slow down. This means that calorie burn continues long after your workout. Personally, when I am on the treadmill I will start at 4mph and then increase it to 6.5 mph every 5 minutes and leave it at the high speed for a minute. The goal is to make sure you are breathing heavily after each intense period.
One of the best cardio exercises for, you will surprise you. It is something you use to do as a child. Jump roping is a great calorie burner. You burn on average about 10 calories per/minute of jump roping. You’d have to run an eight-minute mile to work off more calories than you’d burn jumping rope. What is also fun is adding it to your workout routine. Sometimes what I do is for every 10 sets of 20 reps of my strength workout, I will add 60 seconds of jump roping. It adds a fun twist and keeps your routine more interesting.
Sucess: Congratulations! You burned the amount of pounds that you wanted to loose. Now what? As crazy as it seems some people just stop their new lifestyle. The key successful weight loss is keeping the weight off. Now at this point you can make a few modifications. If you chose to work out 4-5 times a week, maybe cut it down to 3-4 times a week. Don’t cut out exercising all together. A diet is a lifestyle.
You don’t need to eat at a 500 calorie deficit anymore. Use the BMR calculator to calculate how many calories you can eat a day to now maintain your new weight. Remember! As you are loosing weight this number changes. You added different habits to your life, this means your BMR is also going to change. For every few pounds you drop, check this number.
Don’t stiff yourself of the foods you love. Many diets fail because you cut out everything that you 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 carbs. Only have a serving of that cake. Don’t eat it every day. Whats nice is as you lose weight your stomach will get used to serving sizes. Over time you won’t feel as hungry then you use too.
Most importantly, focus on YOU! Don’t focus on anyone else. If you want to weigh 150 and you are happy with that, then that is great, if you want to weigh 170 and that makes you feel good, then that’s perfect. Everyone has a different body. In a world where body shamming is the most trending topic it can be hard to research weight loss or weight gain. The internet is filled with options that all relate to being one type of body. If everyone looked the same, then the world would be a boring place to live in. Just do you.