Gaining Weight and Finding Balance

Gaining Weight and Finding Balance

So about a month ago, I decided to step on a scale. I hadn’t weighed myself for months, and I was curious to see what the result would be.

Well, let’s just say I was shocked. I had gained 7 pounds since the start of the school year, and I don’t gain weight very easily at all! Freshman year, while many students had their “Freshmen 15” due to the buffet-style meals in the dining hall, I remained the same weight throughout the year. I didn’t eat less then anyone else, I just didn’t gain weight very easily. And all this time I had been basking in the gift of a wicked fast metabolism…until recently when I realized that I could no longer take advantage of it.

Stepping on the scale for me was shocking, but it was also the motivation for me to change my eating habits. I called myself a “healthy” person, and even though I was eating mostly plant-based, nutritious meals, I was consuming unhealthy, out-of-control portions. For dinner, I would have 1 full plate of sautéed veggies, a bowl (sometimes two) of carbs and salad, and a bowl of yogurt or cereal. It was way too much food for my body to handle, and as a result, I did not feel so great after. Yet I would still eat more because it had become a sort of addiction. And I knew I was unhealthy and I was gaining weight, but every day, I refused to believe it. Until I stepped on that scale.

It was a wake up call. The shock of my weight gain made me realize that my stomach aches and bloated feeling at night, after eating a humongous dinner (and “midnight snack” afterwards), was not healthy at all. I had to make a change.

So, I started portion controlling-I would still eat mostly the same foods I used to eat, but I would regulate how much I ate.

For breakfast, my usual mason jar of oatmeal (equivalent to 3/4 cup oatmeal with 3/4 cup milk) was cut down to the actual recommended adult serving size-1/2 cup oatmeal with 1/2 cup milk. And I mindfully ate my breakfast-meaning I would take 1 minute breaks periodically to assess whether I was still hungry, or whether I was just eating because of the availability of food. A couple times, I found myself not even finishing the oatmeal because I was full already, but staying satisfied for the entire morning! So I realized that the 3/4 cup of oatmeal I used to eat was actually sometimes double the amount that I needed.

My usual lunch used to be a sandwich and salad on the side. But when there was “good” food in the hot bar, I would take that as well. This might include salmon, eggplant parm, roasted veggies, green beans, etc. And I would also take cereal or yogurt for dessert. So this time for lunch, I decided that I would either eat a sandwich and salad, or the hot food and a salad, without any dessert.

The snacks that I used to eat after school (trail mix, KIND bar) I still ate, but I portioned out the trail mix to recommended adult serving sizes of 1/4 cup and kept more fruit around.

Then for dinner, the 1 plate and 3 bowls of food that I used to eat turned into one bowl of salad and sautéed veggies/other hot food. Also, no more dessert, because I knew that I would snack at home anyway.

So after this experiment, in a month, I lost 6 of the 7 pounds that I had gained. But more importantly,

  1. I wasn’t feeling bloated and I didn’t get stomach aches
  2. I rekindled a healthy relationship with food through mindfully eating, not just shoving food down because it was available.
  3. I ate healthier and better quality meals, without all the excess and unnecessary dessert. Before having a buffet-style dining hall, I used to eat fruit for dessert, if anything at all. So, I’ve now attempted to go back to that healthy habit because dessert is truly unneeded. If I crave dessert, then I’ll have something sweet-like a banana with peanut butter, or a very small but full bowl of cereal (smaller full bowls give the illusion of eating more)

The bottom line of this month-long journey has been: eat in moderation! Don’t deprive yourself of the foods that you love-I think that’s my best advice for losing weight, ironically. I didn’t realize how much excess food I was eating until I ate a proper amount. And I hope you learned from this experience that I’ve shared.

Love,

Serena

 

How to Avoid the Freshmen 15

How to Avoid the Freshmen 15

Staying healthy in college is a major concern for those heading to college. While the Freshmen 15 may be a haunting threat to many, there are easy changes you can implement into your routine or tips you can keep in mind that might keep those extra 15 (or even more) pounds off.

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Now, I do want to preface that while weight gain is mainly considered as a bad and unhealthy thing, many might be surprised that people care a lot more about who you are and what qualities/characteristics you possess than how you look. It’s so easy to get caught up in the mindset of looking a certain body type and size, but guess what? Nobody cares as much as you.

Think of these tips and changes as long term, lifestyle changes for a healthier version of yourself rather than quick-fixes so you hit a certain number on the scale.

Just before I start, I do want to say, even though I am the one writing this post, I did gain about 30 lbs. my freshmen year of boarding school. I left the summer before freshman year with an eating disorder and a drastic 20 lbs. weight loss that happened because of my vulnerable 13-year self. However, I do attribute a lot to the buffet style dining hall, the wide availability of food (especially the bad ones), peer pressure, and stress eating. So don’t worry, I’ve been there too.

 

Once you sit down, stay down // This is one the hardest things for me to keep. It’s so easy in a buffet style dining hall to keep on going for seconds, thirds, and fourths. However, 99.99% of the time I stand up to get seconds, my stomach already feels full but my mind who denies it wins. So stick with your single serving. I think the most helpful tip for this tip is to eat slowly and really savor each bite in that single serving.

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Dampen the size, up the frequency // In the beginning of my freshmen year when I realized that the dining hall wasn’t open 24/7 (unlike the convenience of your pantry at home), I suddenly ate three very big meals because I knew I wouldn’t be getting in another snack/meal until the dining hall opened. This was such an amateur trick – instead of expanding your stomach, eat in moderate portions but eat whenever you’re hungry. This means that you’re going to have to keep healthy snacks at hand so even if the dining hall isn’t open, you’ll still have access to food. My favorites are apples, plums, bananas from the dining hall (just pick them up as you leave) or KIND bars and granola that I buy at Costco before coming to school.

 

Be picky //  I know when we were young, our parents told us to NOT be picky eaters, but here I am telling you to be. I mean picky in a sense of picking when to have your indulgences. Life is too short and precious to not eat those processed and fatty indulgences – so “schedule” when you’re going to have your indulgences and have them then and only then.

In a similar fashion, everyday at the dining hall, be picky about what choices you are making. That chicken breast look funny? Then don’t get it. The potatoes looking too oily? Don’t get it. We all know what’s good and bad for us, it’s just the matter of carrying out our inner-thoughts.

 

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Find a buddy // Everything is better with a friend….

This is so so true. Bring a buddy with you to the gym on campus or find a class nearby. Maybe it’s my Type-A personality, but whenever I have someone working out to me, I push myself to be better – to be better than them. But best of all, having a buddy helps to keep you accountable. Not only for working out, but eating habits. Serena is definitely my eating “mom” – she’s always with me for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and tells me whether I can or cannot get a bowl of yogurt (#yogurtlover).

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MOVE // Just move!!! There’s something about endorphins and breaking a sweat that makes you feel so productive and energized. My personal favorite is running – I love going on runs after a long day of classes as a stress reliever. I know that not everybody loves running, so just do whatever makes you happy and active. Walk, dance, do yoga, play tennis, just anything that makes your heart pump.

 

Don’t be obsessive – life is too short // While all these tips are great to keep those 15 pounds off, don’t make these tips restrict you from having late night pizza or dessert with friends! Remember, everything in moderation!

 

What are your tips for keeping your weight in check?

xoxo,

Stephanie

10 Surprisingly Unhealthy Foods

10 Surprisingly Unhealthy Foods

How’s everybody been doing with their New Year’s Resolutions? Still going strong after a week? Surprisingly, after posting my resolutions last week, I’ve been practicing balance a lot more than I thought I would. And let me tell you, it’s life-changing. I’ve been smiling more and overall feeling lighter and happier. I also let myself watch an episode of my favorite TV show last night. Usually, I coop myself up during the weekends and do homework since I think as a student I should only do work, work, work. However, I’m going to change that and live by the motto “Work hard, play hard.”

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Anyways, I’m sure a vast majority of people (myself included) set goals for 2016 with something along the lines of health. Whether it was to lose weight, maintain weight, gain weight, or just practice clean and healthy living. Regardless of whatever health goal you picked for yourself, I wanted to list 10 unhealthy foods that are regarded by many as healthy. The huge food-industry is notorious for thier branding and packaging that make it seem as if their products are healthy, when they’re actually not. So let me do you a favor and list a few not-so-healthy foods.

 

*As a disclaimer, I know that people are addicted to some of these foods. Therefore, I won’t go all out and have people eliminate their consumption on these foods completely since that’s impossible. Instead, I recommend going one day a week without one and gradually building up.

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1.Diet drinks

I think this is pretty self-explanatory. As long as I’ve seen diet drinks, I’ve heard how bad they are compared to their “regular” version. The loads of artificial sweeteners triggers insulin and makes your body go into fat storage mode which in other words, means weight gain.

detoxjuices.jpg2. Detox Juices

These have been in the rage for so long and attributed to the weight loss success of Hollywood stars. First, detox juices have no protein which is a problem since people need a daily supply of protein to build healthy immune cells. In addition, because the fruits and vegetables are all juiced, there is no fiber left. Fiber helps people feel full and satisfied. With no fiber, your body is going to be crying out loud for you to eat. However, if you’re on a detox cleanse, you can’t eat food or a lot of it, so you’re body is going to go in starvation mode and hold in all that weight you want to lose.

The list goes on for the detriments of detox juices, so if you want to read more, check out this link.

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3. Chicken/Tuna salads

I know, I know, this is my weak point too. I love chicken salad and tuna salad but we all know why it tastes so good: mayonnaise. And mayonnaise should be regarded as our enemy than friend, because it is pretty much artery clogging saturated fat. Instead of conveniently scooping up that chicken or tuna salad when you’re making your sandwich, take a few seconds and put slices of chicken, turkey, ham or tuna.

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4. Dried fruit

Eating those chewy and gooey fruit snacks aren’t that good for your body. These dried fruit are double or sometimes even triple the amount of sugar in fresh fruit. Even eating candy is better off than eating dried fruit in terms of sugar content.

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5. Couscous

Couscous is actually not a grain and lacks the nutritional benefits of whole grains. It’s a refined grain and the same as white pasta.

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6.Energy bars

No matter how healthy they may be, it’s better to reach for a banana or apple than an apple. Some energy bars have the same saturated fat content and sugar content as candy bars. Yes, I know they are convenient especially in our busy, on-the-go lives, but try holding back on stashing them in your bag just because you think they’re healthy (which they’re not).

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7. Granola

As long as I can remember, the word “granola” just sounded healthy, you know? However, these crunchy oat thingys are filled with a lot of sugar. So much sugar in fact that some have more sugar than regular breakfast cereals.

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8. Instant Oats

This actually came off as a huge surprise to me. I actually eat instant oats almost every morning. Because I’m away from home, I don’t have the luxury of cooking rolled oats, but have to stick with instant oats and hot water. The packages come with loads of added sugar, salt, and artificial coloring. Read: not good stuff.

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9. Multi-grain anything

This again, is an example of how clever the food industry is. Multi-grain as the name suggests, means that a food has more than one type of grain. However, these multiple grains are most of the time not whole grains but refined grains. So using multi-grain packages, the food industry is fooling people to eat a whole bunch of refined grains.

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10. Sushi

Of course, it’s healthy in moderation, however because the Japanese diet has been publicized as one of the healthiest diets in the word, people devour sushi like it’s no one’s business. People tend to eat a lot of sushi in order to feel full, but in order to reach this level of fullness, a lot of sushi has to be consumed. And this means a lot of carbs and very few veggies.

 

Hope this wasn’t too much of a shocker to you! What other foods do you know that are reputed to be healthy but actually aren’t?

 

xoxo,

Stephanie