Trim down and tone up

Beach weather is right around the corner. Before we know it, classes will be done, finals will be over (and some of us will be graduating), and we’ll all be expected to squeeze into our unforgiving swimsuits. This wouldn’t be such a problem if we hadn’t been so pre-occupied with papers and tests during the semester and actually had the free time to dedicate to daily physical activity. So when you feel compelled to reach for the Doritos during that study session, keep in mind that the summer months are creeping upon us, and there’s no better time than now to start preparing.
Before anything else and to ensure your long-term success, you must assess if you
truly want to lose weight enough to make lifestyle changes. You have to be honest enough with yourself to admit whether or not your desire to shed the pounds is larger than your desire to scarf down that twinkie after meals. It’s one thing to complain about your flab and it’s another to commit to action.

“Yes, losing weight is difficult, but not impossible,” said English major Genna Federico. “It takes motivation, willpower and the right mindset.”

First and foremost is to drink lots of fluids. Although it may be a bit of a lofty goal to guzzle down the widely accredited eight glasses of water a day, a slightly heightened fluid intake, at the very least, is a must for most of us who only drink with meals. Researchers from the National Institutes of Health have found that the amount of water the body uses varies widely from person to person, therefore obscuring how much fluid intake is required to compensate for loss each day. Other experts insist that the majority of Americans are under hydrated. Despite this uncertainty, some feel that it aids in weight loss simply through relieving constipation (which can induce bloating and the feeling of weight gain) and preventing you from eating when you are, in fact, actually thirsty.

“When I’m really making an effort and drinking as much water as I can, I find that I’m less hungry,” said Junior Anthony Perez. “I also feel better overall, and get less headaches. But my coffee in the morning is a must.”

According to researchers at the Center for Human Nutrition in Omaha, caffeine does have mild diuretic effects, but there were no significant hydration differences found in people that quenched their thirst with coffee, water or soda. However, this is no excuse to guzzle down sugary, fizzy drinks. Sweet beverages only add unnecessary calories, which you could be using towards a small treat at the end of the day like a pudding cup or a box of animal crackers, or simply cutting these calories completely. Stick to water, coffee, tea and diet sodas, on occasion.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if you haven’t already, it’s time to come to terms with the fact that at least 50% of your diet should be fruits and vegetables. To spice things up a bit, you can add veggies to your omelets or cook them with your meats. Add crumbled bleu cheese to any salad for a burst of flavor, and make sure to drizzle heart-healthy olive oil on top, which has been proven to keep good cholesterol levels up and bad cholesterol levels down, according to the FDA. Despite the plethora of possible pitfalls in Marillac caferia, some St. John’s students are looking past the fast food and into the future.

“I try to eat healthy for the most part”, said economics major Luis Ortiz. “I consistently try to have vegetables, grilled chicken, roasted chicken and fish.”
To boost your muscle strength and metabolism, eat lean proteins. According to a 2007 Journal of Nutrition study, eating a moderately high protein diet can curb hunger and the body’s desire to eat, as well as help maintain muscle mass and provide energy for an active lifestyle. Some high-protein foods you should consider adding to your grocery list are boneless, skinless chicken, tuna, eggs, lowfat yogurt, almonds, skim milk and fresh or frozen fish.

A quick weight loss tip is to simply cut your consumption when dining out. Get a cup of soup as an appetizer, instead of a bowl. Instead of eating an entire sandwich, split it with a friend or take half of it home. If you are absolutely dying for a scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, make sure you order the smallest portion they have. Surprisingly, eating smaller portions will help satisfy your cravings, and can facilitate the idea of eating six to eight small meals a day instead of three large ones, which overwhelms the digestive system.

“I feel a lot better physically when I eat more often throughout the day and in smaller amounts,” said Junior Stephanie Adler. “I usually a snack in between breakfast and lunch, and then between lunch and dinner. I’ll usually have a piece of fruit, a couple handfuls of nuts or a cup of yogurt, that way I don’t overreat during meals.”

In terms of physical activity, about five hours of weekly exercise may bring about the biggest weight loss for adults who are also watching their intake of fat and calories, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s health and physical activity department. In order to build endurance, begin with 30 minutes a day, gradually increasing by increments of 10 minutes, until you reach a full hour. Your workout should not only consist of aerobic exercise, but also strength training, which has been shown to increase the body’s ability to burn calories, even long after you’ve completed your workout.
If you can’t afford a gym membership, which can be costly, get inventive! Try riding your bike to the park, rollerblading, working with free weights in your room or even making use of the St. John’s fitness center after classes. Make sure to eat a small meal of complex carbohydrates, i.e., grains, fruits, legumes (peas and beans), and other vegetables, about two hours before you work out. This will supply you with energy to burn and enough time to digest.

“You really have to want to change your lifestyle, and every little bit counts,” said Federico.

Remember, when feeling frustrated with your weight loss endeavors, ask yourself what you desire more– that chocolate bar or beach body confidence.