When I was younger, I never had to worry about what I ate and definitely not about losing weight. I was an athlete throughout elementary school and then through High School. Running was fun, going to the gym was enjoyable, and eating anything I wanted was amazing. When I entered college, though, everything changed– except my diet. Because of an injury that kept me from even trying to play college baseball for a small Division III school, I gave up my athletic routines during my college years. I went from always playing seasonal sports and doing physical activities during Gym Class, to sitting in lectures and working behind a desk. All the while I kept the diet I had in high school, and this lead to a significant weight gain. After awhile of feeling bummed out by this, I decided to do something about it and I’ve learned a lot about weight loss since then. If you’re wanting to lose some extra pounds, the following tips are by no means comprehensive but they are simple steps to help you stay motivated and shed some weight.
1) Watch What You Eat…and Drink
In High School and most of college, eating out and drinking soda just seems natural. Unfortunately, this becomes the biggest problem for everyone. What we put into our bodies significantly affects us, often resulting in weight gains. For myself, on my quest to lose weight I had to give up my beloved Coca-Cola, fast-food runs, and late night snacking. If you want to know what foods and drinks are your pitfalls, ask someone who is close to you; they probably already know! If not, then write down everything that you consume for one week and then trace any common themes. Do you drink a lot of soda or eat a lot of candy? If so, it’s time to burn them (metaphorically speaking).
2) Replace “Pitfall” Foods with Alternatives
After giving up some of your favorite foods and drinks, you inevitably have to replace them with a healthier alternative. For myself, I found that instead of drinking soda I can buy certain seltzer waters or flavored waters that provided me with the “fizz” that I wanted, while adding next to no calories (or sugar, chemicals, and other nasty things) in my diet. It’s important to find healthy alternatives, otherwise you’ll fall right back into your beloved “pitfall” foods.
3) Have People Help You
It’s very helpful to have someone by your side as you try and lose weight. Being diligent in eating healthy and staying motivated can be a daunting take, but it can be made easier with the help of a trusted friend or significant other. For myself, I quickly found that my girlfriend was the best encouragement and help to me. What’s great about this accountability system is that it often spreads to the person who is helping you. In my case, my girlfriend wanted to get behind me as much as she could, which lead to her going on hikes with me, eating healthy with me, etc. Not only is accountability helpful, it becomes fun! After awhile of getting into the habit of living a healthier lifestyle, it becomes somewhat enjoyable; when you have someone else in the battle with you, that joy is multiplied because you can share successes and do fun, healthy activities together like riding bikes or making a healthy meal.
4) Get Up and Move!
If you want to lose weight, movement is required. Going to the gym is great, but if it’s not realistic for you than make sure you are going for walks and doing some exercises at home. If you can get to the gym, make sure you are diligent to do so; go at least 3-4 times a week and do both cardio workouts and weight training. Despite popular myths, a balance in both areas is extremely effective. Additionally, make sure you choose to do daily activities with a healthier mindset. For example, I chose to do a bunch of little things in my routine that added to my overall health (even if it was just in my mind, it made me feel good). I decided that I would not take the elevator in my college buildings anymore, but instead would climb the stairs every time. Also, I consistently chose the furthest parking spaces everywhere I went so that I would be forced to move more. These may seem like tiny steps, but every little bit counts!
Obviously, these are not mind-blowing tips but they are often overlooked. Sometimes all we need is a little motivation from someone reminding us of the basics (like in this article) to get us started! Please, don’t wait for tomorrow or the end of the week–start now! Putting things off in the area of healthy living becomes such a bad habit; trust me, I’ve done it and it’s hard to get back on track! The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be shedding some pounds and feeling better about it!