New Year’s Resolutions — “I Want to Lose Weight!”
by Sasha Mazikins
The year is coming to an end, and one of the most common responses to “What is your New Year’s resolution?” is to lose weight, or to change your fitness habits. It’s easier said than done, but here are a few steps that can change your life:
Firstly, do not diet. Dieting is temporary, which makes the weight that you lose temporary. Losing weight or becoming fit is a lifestyle change. Not starving, cutting out carbs, or doing some other kind of fad diet. Dieting is far from healthy.
Secondly, don’t cheat yourself. This basically means do not skip reps, or skip workout days. Don’t cheat on your healthy eating for a binge of junk food- it’s not worth it. However, a cheat meal is acceptable.
A cheat meal is one day where you indulge in your favorite food or drink, once a week. It is a cheat meal, not a cheat day. Originally, cheat meals were used from bodybuilders, and they were used to cause an intentional spike in hormone activity with the goal of sustained fat loss. So, a cheat meal can actually cause increased weight loss.
Make compromises, and gradually change your eating habits. Don’t eat breakfast? Start. Skipping breakfast actually ends up making you gain weight. Eat an unhealthy breakfast like sugary cereal, pop-tarts, waffles, or pancakes? Switch to a healthier alternative. Eat a cereal with less than 10g of sugar in it, and make sure you follow the serving size. Look up whole grain pancake or waffle recipes, and have a side of fruit with it. Short on time? Make some oatmeal. Personally, I like to add a bit of cinnamon to my oatmeal because it is known to speed up your metabolism.
Don’t eat when you’re bored. Before you open up your fridge or pantry, ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” If you don’t feel like physically you need food, don’t eat. If you are having a really bad craving and can’t resist, try a few of these tips. Make herbal tea or coffee; this fills you up without filling you up with calories. I prefer green tea because it speeds up my metabolism. If you’re craving sugar, have a small serving of dark chocolate (it’s good for your heart). If you’re craving salt, have some salted nuts (healthy kind of fat).
I have read so many different articles, rumors, and myths about losing weight. The only accurate one is the one we’ve all learned in gym class in Elementary school “eat healthy food and exercise for at least thirty minutes a day.” The type of exercise that you can do depends on who you are. Not everyone can afford a gym membership, but it is still no excuse. There are infinite amounts of circuit workouts that you can do in your own home, or you can simply run outside and time yourself for thirty minutes.
If you have been working out and aren’t seeing any results, then I suggest you continue reading. There are two different types of running: high intensity sprints, and low intensity distance. “HIIT” workouts (high intensity interval training) workouts can be done on a bike, or on a treadmill. Basically, you run at 30/30 second intervals. Set the treadmill to the fastest speed that you can run on (I would aim for 7.0-10.0 mph) run for thirty seconds, and then jump to the sides of the treadmill and wait for the next sprint. Repeat this set for fifteen minutes. If you struggle with making time to work-out, this one is perfect for you because it takes a mere 15 minutes. Low intensity workouts include walking, jogging, or running for 30 minutes to an hour. If you want results, it’s important to switch off doing both of these workouts.
Earlier I mentioned something called “circuit workouts.” These are sets that include multiple workouts like push-ups, squats, curl-ups, etc. I find most of mine on twitter from @expertrain, and from my Kayla Itsines’ workout book.
Tip: if you don’t have a gym membership, or a place to run, try jump roping. When I first heard about it, I thought it sounded ridiculous. However, trying to jump rope at a vigorous pace for two minutes straight is a killer workout for your legs.
Accepting your body and how your body works is the first step to becoming fit. For basically my entire life I have struggled with the battle between my weight and my health. Everyone is different, and each body is built differently. This includes natural body appearance, and metabolism speed. Unfortunately, I was born with a slow metabolism and a big boned body. I was so envious of girls who were naturally skinny, and could eat huge amounts of junk food whenever they wanted. Then there was me, if I ate one slice of cake I would gain five pounds. It was beyond frustrating, because it’s so hard to deny “good” (junk) food. It’s everywhere- at parties, at social gatherings, and at school. I felt like since everyone else was eating it, that it wouldn’t affect me. However, since my body is built differently it would react accordingly- I hated it.
I still struggle with accepting my body, but I’ve come a long way during the past four years. I learned to appreciate it, because even though I can’t pig out on junk food, I can learn how to be healthy and fit for now- for future years to come. That’s something that a lot of people my age don’t grasp. The eating and exercising habits that you develop now are the same habits that you are likely to have when you’re older, so it’s important to make sure that those habits are good ones, because as you age so does your body.
The sooner you realize that it’s important to be healthy and fit not only for now, but for your future health, the sooner you will be happy. So, what are your body goals? The results that people want also depend on the type of body they have; you can want to lose weight, gain muscle, or even gain weight.
Nutrition and working out go hand-in-hand when it comes to the process of losing weight. Some people say that if you go the gym frequently you can eat whatever you want all the time- false. If you do that, you will see no difference with your weight, whether that’s gaining or losing, doing that simply maintains your current weight.
In order to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you eat. In order to gain weight, you eat more calories than you burn.
What truly changed my outlook on health was a woman named Kayla Itsines. She is a personal trainer from Australia, and she has written two guides to help achieve a “bikini body.” One with guidelines and recipes for nutrition, and another for work-out plans. After looking at her Instagram and Twitter, you will believe that her product works. I am only two weeks into her guide (it’s a 12 week process) and I already feel better about myself. Although it takes four months for other people to notice a difference in one’s body, physically I feel better. I am more energized, and oddly enough, I’m sleeping better. The following is an excerpt from her healthy eating and lifestyle plan guide:
“Generic Rule: In my own experience, if you eat 500 calories less per day than you burn (both to maintain your body and any exercise you do), then theoretically, it is possible to lose approximately 0.5 kg per week with appropriate exercise training, if that is your goal. This comes from the understanding that 1 pound of human body fat is roughly equivalent to 3500 calories. Over 7 days of eating at a 500 calorie deficit you will be around that same 3500 figure.”
Stop focusing on the losing weight and dieting idea when it comes to becoming fit. Think about eating as restoring your body, and preparing it for the next workout. My French professor Madame Kacko once said “French people eat to live. American people live to eat.” It’s smart to imitate the French method. So what do you need to eat? Here’s a quick health lesson flashback: six serves of grains, five serves of vegetables and legumes, two serves of fruit, two and a half serves of dairy, two and a half serves of lean meat/poultry/eggs, two serves of healthy fats, and 8 cups of fluid. What is healthy fat? Avocados, polyunsaturated margarine, monounsaturated olive oil, and nuts are a few examples.
I cannot stress how an important reading food labels is to your health. Some things that you wouldn’t even expect to have sugar and salt in it, does in fact have 10 or more grams of it. Basically, read the ingredients label. Food products will put things like “High fiber,” and “Low calorie” on the front of their packaging to convince you to buy it, but read carefully. For example, I used to buy granola bars but after reading the packaging I realized that it is extremely high in saturated fat, sugar, and salt. A basic guideline to follow when reading food labels is to not buy anything with more than 10 grams of sugar, salt, or unsaturated fats.
Don’t think of losing weight and becoming healthy as a chore or a pain. It’s easier than you think, and it can be fun! Workout with a partner, or sign up for group fitness classes, it’s up to you to become the best version of yourself in 2015.