My freshman year of college was certainly a rough one. My first semester I was taking multiple difficult classes, trying to figure out how to live on my own, I joined a new sorority which was struggling to stay afloat and there for was extremely demanding on my time, and I also started drinking alcohol. All of these things added up to me gaining at least 15lbs. By the time I came home for Christmas I was well over 200lbs at 5’2. I went Christmas shopping with my grandma and aunt and cried when I realized the only jeans that fit were a size 16 and I had wear an XL in everything. After all, my mother wore a size 5/6. I really hit the tipping point.
My second semester of college I was taking a psychology class. We were very briefly studying the holocaust when I heard the professor say that if you cut your caloric intake in half that you would lose a significant amount of weight and fairly quickly. Now, I certainly did not want to be emaciated like the people in the screen, but I did want to lose a lot of weight and the quicker the better. This may have been a sick and twisted thought, but struggling with your weight really is a mental disease and you are sick. This idea began my journey into calorie counting.
I think at this point in time it’s universally known that 2000 calories is the recommended daily amount. I read somewhere that woman should eat 1200. I don’t know if that’s accurate or not, but at the time to me this was an important number. If I had to guess I would say I was eating over 2000 calories a day, so logically 1200-1000 calories would be cutting my calories in half, but that was not enough for me. If 1200 was recommended for woman who were trying to lose weight than I would eat 500-600 calories. For the next 2-3 weeks I used my fitness pal to track my calories. I was eating 1 whole sandwich a day and a side, usually a bag of chips. I quickly realized that this was not healthy and that for me counting calories was not going to work. I could not trust myself to eat an adequate amount of food. I am a numbers person and I knew the less calories the better.
After I realized that counting calories was not an option for me, I realized that I needed to change my eating habits. So, I started to make changes. First, I needed to learn how to eat breakfast, which is something I hadn’t done since about kindergarten because it physically made me sick, thank you acid reflux. I started to eat a granola bar for breakfast every day. Then I cut out sides unless it was a fruit or veggie. I would eat a sandwich for lunch and dinner on wheat or vegetable bread with no dressing being sure to have both meat as well as veggies on it. I would also eat a snack twice a day fruit snacks generally or some sort of fruit. This system worked well for me. I would assume I was eating an appropriate amount of calories. I cut out a lot of bad habits and added calories. I lost a fair amount of weight. I did not really notice until a pair of size 14 jeans I had not been able to previously wear were the only pair of jean I had and even they were too big, I needed to wear a belt with them.
When I returned from school my freshman year and I weighed myself I was 185. Now over the course of those 5 months, I cannot tell you how much weight I actually lost because I did not weight myself before I started on this journey, but I would guestimate 30lbs. Throughout this time, I did periodically go to the gym and take exercise classes, but my focus was not so much on exercising and was more focused on changing my eating habits.
What I learned:
*Counting calories is not for everyone and can in fact be dangerous
* Nutrition is one of the most important factors to weight loss
- If you’re like me and you really like mayo or other dressings on your sandwich making a Panini, especially if you add a piece of cheese can really cut down on the need for dressing.
- Switching from white bread to some sort of whole grain whether it is wheat or a veggie bread makes a big difference.
- I would recommend cutting down on carbohydrate intake, but do not cut it out complex carbohydrates are good for you
This is me my at the beginning of my freshman year. I probably gained 15 lbs after this picture was taken.
*** disclaimer I am not a medical or health expert these tips are purely from research and are self tested. Be sure to talk to an expert for proper health and nutrition recommendations.