I was no stranger to the freshman 15 in college — in fact, I experienced something closer to the freshman 30. It wasn't until I saw a photo of myself heading into my sophomore year that I realized I was carrying quite a few extra pounds and that it was time to do something about it. It took me a very long time to lose the weight (we're talking not until after graduation), all because I thought I knew what I was doing. Boy, was I wrong. Here are four things I wish I'd known at the start of my weight-loss journey.
You Can't Eat Peanut Butter Out of the Jar
While peanut butter is full of heart-healthy fats, it's not void of calories — one tablespoon contains 105. I found myself spooning it straight out of the jar, wondering why my jeans weren't any looser. This is important to remember with all healthy foods: just because they aren't considered junky doesn't mean you can eat as much as you want. Be aware of portion sizes when it comes to whole grains, nuts, seeds, and health-food-store snacks.
Being Vegan Doesn't Automatically Cause Weight Loss
My two roommates in college were tall, skinny, and vegan, so I thought eating a plant-based diet was the key to dropping pounds. I may have ditched animal products, but I ended up eating tons of pasta, bread, french fries, dairy-free ice cream, and vegan chocolate cupcakes instead. Had I focused on fresh fruits, veggies, legumes, and whole grains, a vegan diet might have helped me reach my weight-loss goal, but my junk-food vegan diet actually caused me to gain weight.
Walking Isn't Enough
Walking is definitely a better workout than just sitting on the couch, so I thought strolling through the mall and walking to class would do the trick. But walking isn't a major calorie burner like running. When it comes to losing weight, you need to burn or cut out 3,500 calories a week to lose a pound. A 30-minute walk only burns around 122 calories, which is well under the 500 it takes to affect a weekly weigh-in. If you want to lose weight, you'll need to kick up the intensity and the length of your workouts.
One Workout Doesn't Mean You Can Eat All You Want
After hitting a Step class with my college roommate, we'd hit the dining hall and fuel up. We worked out, so we deserved it, right? Little did I know I was undoing all the good I had done and actually eating way more than I had burned, which was making the scale numbers go even higher. If you need a little workout reward, don't do it with food. Download some new songs on iTunes, pick up a fitness mag, or buy yourself a new top to motivate you to get to the gym.