10 Weight Loss Tips (Student Edition)

Weight Loss Before Picture

“Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.” – Tony Robbins

1) Become a Self Starter
No one is going to lose this weight for you. In fact, you will find many people resistant to changing their habits to help you achieve your dream. You have to decide that you want this enough that you will do it with or without the help of others.

2) Choose a Maintainable Plan
Crash diets may work in the short term but will rapidly reverse once you stop. You need to choose a plan that can work with your lifestyle. Extreme diet or exercise is never going to work long term.

3) Don’t Start Too Big
Many people make the mistake of going from overeating to undereating. If you were eating 3,500 calories a day, don’t then just drop to 1,300 a day. You will lose the motivation to keep it going because you will be miserable. Take smaller steps and you will achieve far more than you ever expected. Big weight loss takes time.

4) Plan Out Your Workout
Make a plan of what you want to achieve in your workout BEFORE you start. That way you don’t just stop once you start feeling good. Plus, who doesn’t like to accomplish something they set out to do? You would be surprised how fulfilling it is to cross something off of a list.

5) Success Is More Than A Number On A Scale
Progress isn’t all about the number on the scale. As you progress on your journey, you will gain muscle and your body will become more toned. Neither of these things will be reflected positively on a scale. Do something other than weighing yourself, like taking measurements. You will feel much better in those times that the scale doesn’t reflect your hard work.

6) Diet is Most Important
You didn’t become overweight by not exercising. You became overweight by not eating properly day after day. While exercise is important in the process, you can’t out-exercise your poor diet and maintain it for the rest of your life. Remember, six pack abs are made in the kitchen.

7) Push Yourself Once A Week
Try something new every week. It doesn’t matter if it is a new routine, longer/heavier sets, or trying a new recipe. These new things will keep you interested and motivated. You don’t know what you can accomplish if you never try it. I promise, you won’t regret it!

8) Know When You’ve Fallen Off the Wagon
You will fall off the wagon eventually. Many people will fall off after putting in all the hard work once they discover their newly improved body. It is important for you to take time to assess yourself and make sure you are heading towards a goal.

9) Surround Yourself With Experience
Find friends, trainers, and strangers who have gone through (or are currently going through) the weight loss journey. These people can help you better understand the process and struggles that come with a long weight loss journey. It is also wise to befriend a few trainers and experts.

10) Goals Make Dreams Come True
Writing down and accomplishing goals is the only way you can get that body you’ve dreamed about. It is important to set achievable goals that still push you. You will be surprised what you can accomplish when you break it down into small steps. Don’t worry about the length of the journey and just keep focused. You will get there.

10 Weight Loss Tips (Trainer Edition)

Fitness Climbing
1) Working out doesn’t have to be a bad experience
Everyone immediately correlates exercise to being chained to a treadmill for long periods of time. This is the wrong mentality: with all the different types of exercises and free online fitness information available, exercise can be more of a game or hobby than a painful commitment. Jazzercize, zumba, yoga, free running, parkour, ultimate frisbee, aqua cycling, and tabata are some of the new fitness trends that have become large in the fitness environment. These are just some of the new things that have come out, but we can’t forget finding enjoyment in simple things like hiking, bicycling, swimming, and (for some people), running. My overall point is that you should find something you enjoy if you want to have a long term plan that will provide you with various physical and mental benefits.

2) Learn some nutrition basics
Some of the major downfalls people experience when trying to lose weight are nutrition based. You need to feed your body in relation to your exercise levels; using only nutrition to control your weight gives only short term results, and as soon as you go off the diet the weight often comes right back. In order to keep weight off in the long term, it’s important to establish a healthy diet as well as healthy exercise habits. Make sure to stay hydrated!

3) Create a schedule and STICK TO IT
Most people who are starting an exercise program or are planning a workout regimen somehow decide that, even without a schedule, they will actually work out regularly. Unfortunately, most of us have lives that tend to interfere with our workout schedules, and many people instantly sacrifice the workout to do something else. By creating a strict schedule you will not only be able to keep you workouts organized, but your body will adapt to the schedule in unique ways. Also, after establishing a schedule, you might feel guilty when you skip a planned workout. Once the schedule starts to get neglected, it is usually all downhill from there.

4) Set a tangible goal
If your goal is just to “get in shape,” you will have no way to track it or ever know you’ve succeeded in reaching your goal. It’s important to have a specific goal or goals in mind; generalized goals can be ambiguous and lead to demotivation. Your goal can be anything from having a goal of doing a pull-up by a certain date to running a marathon or losing a specific amount of weight.

5) Track your progress
Seeing progress towards your goal will help motivate you when you are doubting yourself. When you can look back and see that you have made progress over time, it’ll be easier to stay on track.

6) Find people that you can work out with
If you have a schedule, it is easy to collaborate with friends to exercise. If you have a gym membership, another benefit of sticking to a schedule is that you might get to know others that work out on a similar schedule or attend the same fitness classes you do.

7) Don’t be afraid to talk about it
Often times people are afraid to admit they go to a gym or are self-conscious when speaking about weight loss. Even if you are upset about your weight, remember that at least you are taking action to improvement.

8) Hydration is key
Water allows your body to function at its best and also aids in cleansing your body of toxins. With all the diuretics we are exposed to on a daily basis (like caffeine, alcohol, and various medications), the average person rarely consumes enough water.

9) Focus on what you are working on
Many people try to distract themselves from workouts by listening to music, reading books, or watching TV while working out so that it is less of a chore. Personally, I feel it’s important to focus on the workout–this will help you improve yourself exponentially. When I work out I pay very close attention to what exercises activate specific muscle groups and how they all feel.

10) Trust yourself and your plan
When people get frustrated they often question if what they are doing is working. This is when you need to recommit and believe in everything you are doing. Many times, people will start a weight loss program and gain a small amount of weight at the outset. Often, people will take this to mean that working out isn’t “working,” so they give up almost immediately. However, it’s important to remember that muscle weighs more than fat, and before you lose fat, you might gain muscle mass.

Does SparkPeople Work?

Bridget’s Experience with the Diet Website

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As I progress through my twenties, I notice more and more that my peers are all about exercising, losing weight, and getting in shape. Despite many attempts to get in shape throughout high school and college, I’ve never been a huge fan of exercise–I’d much rather eat pizza and mozzarella sticks while reading a book or surfing the internet–but with a wedding a mere eight(ish) months away and a general desire to be healthier, I’ve grudgingly jumped back on the exercise bandwagon.

I’ll be the first to admit that I suffer from a touch of OCD. (Okay, maybe more than a touch.) I love being able to track things and measure my progress, or lack thereof. I had started using LoseIt on and off my senior year of college, but couldn’t quite stick with it. Then, about two years ago, the American Cancer Society, where I was working at the time, decided to begin a company-wide health initiative which included the use of Sparkpeople.com, in which employees could receive rewards for completing challenges that could only be tracked through Sparkpeople. I thought it seemed fun, so I decided to join Sparkpeople.

Some quick background: Sparkpeople, like LoseIt (our review), is a free online food- and exercise-tracking software. You input your starting weight and your goal weight, and you can choose to 1) plan to lose .5-2lbs per week (in which case, Sparkpeople will project a date at which you should reach your goal) or plan to reach your goal weight by a certain date (in which case, Sparkpeople will tell you how many pounds you need to lose per week to reach your goal).

Immediately, I noticed that it had quite a bit more to offer than Loseit. First of all, instead of giving a hard and fast calorie limit for each day, Sparkpeople provides you with a range that you should stay within. Maybe it’s a psychological thing, but it was easier for me to remain within a range than it was to consistently stay beneath a hard and fast daily calorie limit.

Second of all, it was much easier to edit the foods I had entered into Sparkpeople manually. Whenever I tried to edit something in LoseIt, even something that I had personally entered, I always got an error message saying that my edits would have to be approved by a moderator or something. So I was glad to find that I was able to easily edit my changes in Sparkpeople!

Something that I initially didn’t like about Sparkpeople was that entering calories burned through exercise didn’t increase your calorie limit for the day. However, this was just recently changed so that the trackers “talk” to each other. You don’t have to make them talk, but I find this incredibly useful.
Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 7.06.25 PMSparkpeople’s articles are informative and their message boards can be helpful, if badly punctuated (but that seems to be true of message boards everywhere). They have quizzes and trivia, and their articles focus on a variety of topics like healthy eating, exercising, and motivation. They also have healthy recipes and exercise videos. I really haven’t even begun to explore the depths of what they have to offer.

As far as results go, I’ve been using Sparkpeople more or less consistently since January and have lost about 15 pounds. That’s not a whole lot in 8 months, but being back in the 130s for the first time since high school or so has been a great confidence booster for me. With 8 months to go, I’m reasonably confident I’ll hit my 125-pound goal by the time I get married in April!

All in all, I would absolutely recommend Sparkpeople to anyone looking to lose or maintain their weight or just be more conscious about their health and exercise. It’s so much easier for me to lose weight when I can keep track of all of my food intake and exercise output. Once you get in the habit of updating it every day (which, admittedly, can be a pain until you’ve inputted most of the foods you eat on a regular basis), it’s pretty quick and easy to keep it up each day. So if you’re looking to lose weight, sign up at Sparkpeople.com (and friend me if you want, I’m bridget_germain)!

Guide to Free Weights

What You Need to Know

Working out with free weights has many benefits compared to using machines; however, it carries a much higher risk of injury. I recommend free weight workouts for intermediate to advanced individuals with a basic understanding of fitness. Exercising with free weights can help speed up your metabolism, will work multiple muscles at once, and will burn more calories than standard weight machines. They also promote balance and stabilizing muscles because there is no limit to range of motion, unlike a machine, which works in a single direction. Free weights are very versatile: it’s very easy to isolate muscle groups and do multi-joint exercises.
Free weight workouts can be utilized for both losing weight by toning muscle or for bulking up and gaining size. How you work out with free weights determines how your muscles will react to resistance training. There are two different strategies I would recommend: one for people who want to increase muscle size and another for people who want to slim down or tone muscle.

If you are trying to lose weight, tone muscles, or increase your stamina, then you should do many repetitions in your exercise sets. Choose a weight at which you can do 25-30 repetitions without stopping and then over time increase the number of sets that you do.

Building Muscle
If your goal is to bulk up, gain muscle mass, or increase your raw power, then you should lift heavy weights. Choose a weight at which you cannot do more than 6-10 repetitions. Over time, increase the number of repetitions to 12-15 and start increasing the number of sets.

Have a Plan
In either case, I would recommend doing resistance training 2-5 days a week and build up to 1-3 hours each day. Personally, I choose two or three muscle groups to focus on each time I work out and alternate muscle groups with each exercise. You should never work out the same muscle group every day because the body needs time for the muscle fibers to repair and strengthen (with the exception of the abdominal muscles). In order minimize the risk of injury, always make sure to research the proper positions and movements each exercise requires before you begin.

Things to look into if you’re interested in free weight resistance training:
1) Supersets
2) Diet logging (We reviewed the Lose It! App)
3) Powerlifting

Best App for Losing Weight

Review: Lose It! App (Android, iOS)

I came across this app after discussing weight loss and fitness goals with Alex. He showed me Lose It!, which he was using to gain weight through exercise and calorie tracking. I was looking for something basic that would keep me on track for losing weight. It had to be easy to use and not consume much time in my day in order for me to keep using it. The app I would also be happy if it could sync with my fitbit but I didn’t expect to find that for free. Lose It! seemed to meet all of my criteria in a weight loss/tracking program, so I decided to give it a try.

Price: Free (also has premium version for device syncing)
OS: Android, iOS
Maker: FitNow, Inc.

1) Free – This is a free app
2) Previous Meal Feature – If you tend to eat the same meal often this app allows you to find it quickly and add the entire meal or parts of that meal into your current day’s tracker
3) Barcode Scanning – Allows you enter nutrition facts by scanning a food’s bar code
4) Portion Input Options – Many items allow you to choose to put in portions in ounces, cups, fractions of bags, and more. This is great when you have no idea how many ounces something is.
5) Speed – It takes me about 5 minutes a day to input 3 meals plus snacks. That’s fast!
6) Weight Goal Tracking – It calculates when you will reach your goal based on how you have been progressing

1) Connecting fitness tracking devices costs money – In order to sync my Fitbit data with Lose It!, I have to upgrade to the paid version of the app.


This is an extremely useful app for weight loss. I find it to be very easy to use and it only takes about 5 minutes out of my day to input everything. The simplicity is really what makes this app so good. I have no excuses for not putting my daily food intake. Armed with some basic knowledge of calorie counts and weight loss programs, you can use this with great success. I lost 15lbs in the first month!