Best diet is healthy food, exercise

Recently I was successful, after years of yo-yo diets, at safely losing 20 pounds. As many students do, I gained my share of the infamous “freshman 15” and that’s why I chose to share how I finally lost that weight.

Between beer drinking, late-night pizza or Taco Bell runs, and too much homework to find time to exercise, it is too easy to gain weight in college. I admit, for the past four years, I tried it all; giving up fat, giving up meat, giving up sweets, Slim Fast, Weight Watchers, you name it, I tried it. I was even stupid enough to attempt the Atkins Diet, but that didn’t even last through breakfast.

Even though I did not lose the weight I was looking for with these “diets”, I did walk away with a little more knowledge each time. When I cut back on fat, I did get into a good habit of choosing lean meats, such as chicken or turkey, over hamburgers or hot-dogs. This was also the time where I started to consume way too many carbohydrates and calories.

Cutting back on sweets is the hardest thing I ever tried. Although I do know it would be the sure way to drop pounds, it made me a miserable person. I live on candy, so I decided to stick with the sweets to keep me sane, but made appropriate decisions when eating it (for example, eating only fat free candy). A little weight was lost, but a few more cavities gained.

The Slim Fast diet did not work because the first time I tried the shake in a can, it tasted like I was eating a tin can. Too much iron for me. I bought the powder mix and made my own with extra fruit. These tasted great, but the diet is too restrictive for me. It worked as a crash diet before a trip to the beach, but now it collects dust in my cabinet.

Weight Watchers is the most reasonable option of the above. I never joined or attend the meetings. I did, however, mirror the “point system” and recipes off my sister’s membership booklet. I did lose weight with this one but gained it back after I lost interest.

In terms of my success, there is no secret, there are no strict guidelines. There are two places to start; stop drinking soft drinks and exercise, exercise, exercise! You don’t have to give up beer, cake, meat, fat, or candy. And you definitely should not cut out carbs.

I was drinking at least one 20-oz. Sprite a day last year. As soon as I stopped, I lost five pounds within the first month. Many college students do not realize the empty calories one soft drink puts in their body, and there is no nutritional value. Beer and wine at least have some proven health benefits.

In addition to frequent cardiovascular exercise, something else I found that helped keep my weight down is weight training. Building muscle is important in order for our bodies to be able to burn calories all day long as we use this muscle.

Another tip I have is to increase your fiber. It is not that hard. I am lucky because I love vegetables, but there are cereals and other food that have enough fiber to aid in the digestion process.

Fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates, and protein are all important. Eating a balance between all of these, with everything in moderation, losing weight is easy.