An approaching new school year always feels like an opportunity to present a new you. For many young adults, teens, and even kids, losing weight is the desired goal before school starts up again. Resist the temptation to wait until the last minute and then try to shed several pounds quickly (and unhealthily and unsustainable).
Your best bet for a healthy, happy, and successful weight loss program before school starts is to start early, follow healthy guidelines for diet and exercise, and build a support network that can help you achieve your sensible goals.
Setting Your Goal Weight
Write down your weight-loss goals and give yourself a deadline. Be as specific as possible when you do this; for example, instead of saying you want to “lose weight,” decide on a specific weight or size that you’d like to be. Keep your goals healthy and realistic, at a rate of no more than one to two pounds per week.
Get active. You don’t have to follow a crazy exercise program to lose weight, you just need to keep your body active. Go for a walk, ride your bike or participate in a summer sport. Focus on having fun and getting your body moving, instead of just plopping down in front of the television for hours. Try to get at least 30 total minutes of activity each day — it’s fine if you don’t do the 30 minutes all at once.
Eating healthy meals. Start your day with a nutritious breakfast, such as oatmeal and fruit, so you won’t get too hungry and overeat later in the day. Have a light lunch midday, such as a turkey sandwich or chicken salad. If your family eats dinner together, suggest a few healthy meal ideas, such as spaghetti squash and marinara sauce, or baked fish and steamed veggies, so everyone can eat a nutritious dinner together.
Snacks Between Meals
Snack on nutritious foods when you get hungry. Between meals, it’s okay to have a couple of snacks as long as they are healthy options, such as a piece of fruit or a cup of yogurt. You should avoid junk food most of the time, but it’s okay to let yourself have a treat once in a while.
Drink plenty of water. Not only will water hydrate you and help you feel full, but it’s
a great way to cut calories. Sodas, juices and other sugary beverages contain a ton of sugar and calories. Swapping these drinks out for water can help you dramatically reduce your daily calorie intake.
Controlling your Eating
Avoid eating out of boredom. It’s easy to snack mindlessly if you have nothing to do. Find activities to occupy your time when you get the urge to munch. When you do reach for a snack, ask yourself if you’re really hungry, or if you’re just eating because you have nothing else to do. Try not to eat in front of the television or when you’re on the computer because it’s easy to lose track of how much you eat when your mind is busy doing other things. If you have a smartphone, consider exploring fitness apps to track your goals and connect with friends for support. Also, instead of sitting around when you talk on the phone, get up and go for a walk while you chat.
Talk with your doctor and parents before starting a diet or exercise program. If you’re already thin, weight loss may be unhealthy. If you are obsessing over weight loss and think you may have an eating disorder, talk with an adult you trust to get the help you need.