Body Image Series Part 3: Healthy Habits that Work

In my first body image post I talked about the issues I’ve faced with my body image, and in my second post I detailed my interest in karate as a form of exercise. For this post, here is my list of five easy tips and tricks that I personally use everyday at school to not only help maintain my weight, but make me feel wonderful in the process.

#1: Just because you can eat as much as you want in the cafeteria does not mean that you should eat everything you see.

I think this is the biggest challenge for every new college student. College students are stereotypically short on cash, and one of the best quick, cheap food choices for the average college student is eating anything and everything in the cafeteria. With as many food choices that are available, one might be tempted to get one (or two…or three…) of everything. However, do you really need to eat that much to get through to the next time you’ll eat? The answer is likely no. Pick one or two things you’d like to try, get appropriate portions, and enjoy!

#2: Do NOT outright ban any foods that you love.

When first starting this transition of eating healthier, I started out by banning any food I perceived as ‘bad’. I was almost restricting myself to fruits, vegetables, certain carbohydrates, and almost zero sodium and fat. I went about two days with this regimen until I started losing my mind. I couldn’t eat any of my favorite foods and I was so unhappy! I soon realized that I could get results while still eating almost whatever I want. All that I required myself to do was to not go crazy with whatever I ate. It would not be a big deal if I had pizza for lunch–I just would limit myself to a certain amount. That way I could eat what I want without feeling terrible about it minutes later.

Banning favorite foods for the sake of weight loss has never made too much sense to me and it has never worked too long with my personal experience. I’ll ban a food and then end up completely binging on it after days of doing alright because I had an insatiable craving for it. Instead of going down that route again, I decided if I really loved a food and could not live without it, I would allow myself to have it.

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I have banned certain foods from my diet, however. If I seldom enjoyed an unhealthy food and could live without it, I would not mind to cut it from my diet. Cutting chocolate from my diet would be impossible, but cutting out a food like fettuccine alfredo would not bother me too much. That way I could have some of what I could not live without and I wouldn’t worry about the foods I could live without!

This relates to my next tip…

#3: Portions, portions, portions!

Any unhealthy food I eat that I really do enjoy I must make sure to control how much of it I eat. It’s totally fine for me to eat chocolate, but if I go crazy and eat five whole bars of it, that would not go over well. Anything in huge amounts can be dangerous, and this certainly applies to food. Portions are a happy medium between banning foods and binging on them later, and being conscious of portion sizes is a wonderful habit to have in general even if you are not trying to lose weight.

#4: Walk everywhere (within reason).

Walking is a hallmark of college life, and especially here at LMU, a lot of students choose to walk to their nearer classes. I have classes in two of the buildings on campus: one is a short walk from my dorm and the other is quite far away from it. I will always walk to class in the closer building since it is so close. It takes just a little longer, but it is a form of easy exercise and I usually am able to walk with a friend as I go. Since LMU is a little hilly, walking up a small incline is also incredibly common. This adds another dimension of exercise to your routine: walking up an incline is a more strenuous form of exercise and can help build more muscle in your legs. However, if it is pouring down rain, I would likely not walk if I had another option, nor would I probably walk to class in the farther building. These can make walking a burden, and can easily make people want to resort to just driving everywhere. By only walking when it is reasonable, it sets a good precedent for future habits and can be a small but significant help in the journey towards weight loss.

#5. Back away from the scale.

This tip seems to be a little counter-intuitive; why would you not want to look at the scale to see how much weight you’ve lost? Scales have always been frustrating to me. The thing is, you can get thinner appearing with exercise but the scale will say you’ve stayed at the same weight or, even worse, gained weight.

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People with more muscle tone can certainly weigh the same, if not more, as people who are a little more overweight and have less muscle. With karate, I can visibly see a difference in the amount of fat that has turned more into muscle, but the scale has said that I’ve gained weight. For once in a very long time, the number on the scale has not meant anything to me. It’s a number, but it can’t say how much better I feel. And that, to me, makes all the difference.

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions feel free to email me or leave a comment on my blog. If you want to see more posts like this one, subscribe to my blog and receive a new post every other Thursday!

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