Losing weight is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions and it will not happen overnight. The secret is that there are no secrets.
The key elements to weight loss are managing what you eat, staying hydrated and exercising, said Dr. Nicole MacDonald, associate professor of kinesiology and program director of the Athletic Training Education Program.
Losing weight does not have to be a miserable process. It starts with simple changes, MacDonald explained, such as portion sizing: “Eating half of what you normally would eat … your stomach adjusts to that after a few days.”
MacDonald also said that it is important to add a lot of fruits and vegetables to your diet. You can eat as many vegetables as you want if you “keep the rest of your meals pretty small.”
MacDonald said it is important to plan meals. For a good representation of what meals should look like, MacDonald recommended choosemyplate.gov. The site also provides daily, food-plan worksheets based on the amount of calories one wants to consume in a day.
“Eat every three to four hours” in small portions because when you go five to seven hours without eating, you feel like you are starving and end up eating too much, MacDonald explained.
MacDonald said that some good snacks are fruit, carrots, nuts, yogurt, oatmeal, half a sandwich and peanut butter with apples or celery. These options have few calories and are more satisfying, she explained.
Dr. Melissa Wigginton, assistant professor of health science, said to keep a food diary and an exercise journal to keep yourself accountable. Wiggington said she uses the app MyFitnessPal.
“One of the things I tell students when they’re eating in the cafeteria,” MacDonald said, is to “stick to one plate.” MacDonald explained that when a person gets several different plates, he or she cannot really see how much the person is eating.
“It’s basically controlling portions and choosing wisely,” MacDonald said of eating healthy. “It doesn’t mean that you can’t eat (what) you love … but you limit that maybe to once a week.”
Wiggington said that if one ignores cravings, he or she ends up giving up, and when the person gives up he or she usually ends up gaining even more weight back.
“You can have whatever you want in moderation,” Wiggington said.
The other important part of losing weight is exercise. MacDonald said students have the perfect opportunity now that the Recreation Center has just opened.
It is important to ease into exercising. An easy way MacDonald suggested is to walk for 30 minutes a day, but most importantly, choose an activity that the person likes to do; otherwise, he or she will not actually do it.
Wiggington explained that there is no magic exercise that is going to make a person lose weight so “don’t force yourself to do an activity that you hate because you won’t do it.”
Wiggington said it helps to have friends to exercise and lose weight with for extra encouragement.
“We all are responsible for our own decisions at the end of the day…Remember that it’s a lifestyle. It’s not fast. It’s not quick. It’s not easy,” Wiggington said.
Losing weight takes a lot of commitment but is only as difficult as a person makes it.