Going to college, like most steps of the American Dream, offers a wide and diverse array of ways to get fatter. Your mom isn’t there to tell you what to eat, your dreams of being a college athlete have been crushed, and suddenly it’s a lot easier to drink 1200 calories worth of alcohol on a Tuesday afternoon without anyone getting on your case. The “Freshman 15” have turned into the “Freshman 35..ish”, and now you’re fat. If they changed tuition by the pound, you’d be screwed. Nice going, tubby.
But fear not! All hope is not lost! Luckily for you, I (a college student with absolutely no background in weight-loss, exercise, or nutrition) have put together a little list of things to help you in your struggle against your ballooning waistline. This list is based off the techniques that have lead to my own moderate success at losing weight in college; hopefully they will bring moderate success to you as well!
Never, ever accept yourself as being a ‘fat person.’
This is critical. Every concession you make towards being a fat person makes it harder and harder to be a skinny person again. Seeing yourself as a fat person is the first step to making compromises that will further harm your health. If you think of yourself as being a fat person, it becomes all too easy to justify things to yourself. Telling yourself things like “I can have a second dessert; I’m already fat, so why not?” or “I should exercise, but its just too hard because I am fat” will make it nearly impossible to ever see any meaningful weight loss. Do not go out and buy fat people clothes. This is just another way of validating your girth. Besides, the fear of not being able to fit in your clothes will be good for motivation. I cannot stress how important it is for your weight loss program to think of yourself as a person who is getting fitter and healthier every day, not as a person who is fat.
Pay attention to what you are eating.
If you are living on a college campus, you have no doubt encountered the horror that is the cafeteria. Cafeterias are always inventing new and creative ways to suck the healthiness out of the food they serve. I’m sure you can figure out for yourselves the obvious unhealthy choices, but how keen are you on the sneaky ones? Lets look:
- Salad= Healthy. The trick? Your average salad dressing has over 400 calories per tablespoon, and your average salad has 2-3 tablespoons of dressing.
- Peaches= Healthy. The trick? Canned peaches come in a syrup that is pretty much straight sugar.
- Muffins= Healthy. The trick? When it comes to sugar and fat content, a muffin is basically a cupcake without the frosting.
Food companies will try and tell you that whatever they make is healthy. That’s because they want you to buy it. If you stop and actually think about what you are eating, you can save yourself quite a few unnecessary calories.
Go to the gym.
The gym, not surprisingly, is a good place to work on losing weight. Unless your campus is really ghetto, there ought to be one available that is free to students. The nice thing about the gym is that everyone there is working out, which makes it a lot less awkward for you to be working out. If you have no idea what the hell to do in a gym, just pick out somebody fit and watch them creepily for a while. Whatever they are doing is obviously working, so its as good a place as any to start. Most importantly, try to find a way to make going to the gym not a terrible chore. Everyone is different, but music helps for a lot of people, as does going with friends or joining a fitness class.
Don’t go to the gym.
Quite frankly, spending a couple hours a day in a smelly gym gets very monotonous. Unless you really love the gym, you will have trouble losing weight there, and even more trouble keeping the weight off when you’re done. Truly fit people stay fit doing something that they love. We’ve already established that you probably suck at sports, but intramural teams offer league play for basically any skill level and any sport. It doesn’t have to be some serious, Olympic-level sport either. Freaking Ultimate Frisbee will do a mighty fine job of getting your heartrate up and your muscles toned. See what your school has to offer, and try a couple to see what you like. You’ll start seeing a difference at the scales, not to mention make great friends and learn new skills.
Drink more… betterly.
The best advice I can give for drinking and losing weight is to not do it. Alcohol has the highest calorie density of any food, in addition to being unhealthy for a number of other reasons. However, drinking is also cool and awesome. If you insist on drinking while trying to lose weight, choose your drinks carefully. Beer is a bad choice; they call it liquid bread for a reason. When drinking mixed drinks, try to avoid using soda as a mixer. Try using no-sugar-added juice, then you can even count it as a serving of fruit. I guess.
Nickels and Dimes.
You probably nickel-and-dimed your way into getting fat. An extra cookie here, a can of pop there, and BAM! You’re fat. So why not nickel and dime your way back to being skinny? Everything you do burns calories; take advantage of that fact. Walk to class instead of driving or taking the bus. Instead of driving to the gym to run, why not run to the gym to run? Have a lofted bed in your dorm? Do pull-ups on it. Flex your muscles. Fidget. Pace. Try to get a pretty person to make out with you, that burns tons of calories. Every little bit helps, and you need all the help you can get!
With a little bit of trying and a decent amount of not giving up, even the fattest college student can become a pretty middle-of-the-road college student, and a middle-of-the-road college student can become a thin and fit one. Best of luck to you all. You can do it!