Health and Well-Being

 By Lakyn Gardner

lagardner@lc.edu

Do you want to be more fit? Do you want to lose some weight? Do you want to live a healthier lifestyle? These three questions all have a simple answer and it’s all up to you. Throughout this article, I want to help explain and break down some common misconceptions and provide some information on how to live a healthier lifestyle. We’re going to be covering dieting, sleep and exercise.

To start off, the number one thing for losing weight or living a healthy lifestyle is your diet. If you’re wanting to lose weight you’re going to want to be in a calorie deficit, meaning eating fewer calories than what your body needs to function. To break it down there are 3500 calories in a pound of fat, so, if you do a simple 500 calorie daily cut you will be losing a pound a week. 

Unfortunately, there is no super diet that allows you to lose weight in the snap of a finger. Each diet has its own unique ways of working. For example, one of the most common diets right now is the keto diet, which consists of low-carb and high-fat foods. A lot of people claim that they lost ten pounds in a week, sadly that’s mostly water weight because carbs in our body hold water better than any other source of nutrients. So, when we deplete our glycogen storage of carbs we naturally lose weight because we’re no longer retaining that water. 

There are many other diets out there that promise to help you lose weight very quickly, but all it really is about is consistency. You need to consistently eat the same amount of calories every day. I know counting calories can seem intimidating at first, but there are many apps, like My Fitness Pal, that help you track things. I personally can’t recommend the keto diet, I recommend a more balanced diet of fats, proteins, and carbs; just something simple to get you in the flow of counting calories. I personally do a medium carb, low-fat, high protein diet but that’s to supplement my heavy, bodybuilder style lifts. 

There are a lot of YouTube channels that show you how to make healthy versions of your favorite foods, which is super nice for dieting. I wanted to throw this in at the end because I see it all the time: do not starve yourself or only eat one meal a day. Starvation is extremely counterproductive, it puts the body into a “starvation mode”, making it harder to lose weight.

Next, we will be taking on sleep. Sleep is the number one thing on this list that will aid in weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. Sleep is commonly overlooked by people because they think as long as they work hard and eat the same thing every day, they are going to gain a lot of muscle and lose pounds of fat, which is only true to an extent. A common misconception is that in the gym you’re building muscle, however, that’s the only place you’re not; the gym breaks muscle down. Sleep enhances muscle recovery through protein synthesis and releases natural HGH from the body. So, if you’re not getting good sleep, you’re essentially wasting all that hard work exercising.

Finally, we’re going to touch on exercise, which I think is a really big one. For some people exercise is scary, for some, it’s a form of therapy, for others it’s unnecessary. Personally, exercise and lifting weights are therapy. It’s the only place I can let my mind go and just do something I love. Pushing myself to the edge every lift, really making myself step to the next level, is something I enjoy. But I wasn’t always like that, I used to be a chunky kid who hated the idea of it and could never go into a gym because I was so nervous about my body. One of the best things I can tell you is that when you’re in the gym, nobody’s looking at you unless you’re cut like a Greek god. In the gym, there is nothing but mutual respect for one another’s goals. At times, there may be those that silently judge, but they are the people that are only going to be there for three weeks and then fall off the train. 

When it comes to exercise, consistency is key. If you’re wanting to lose weight, I would recommend something as simple as a light change-up; for example, if you’re doing no exercise right now, just go for a 30-minute walk every morning. It’s amazing what the small changes can do for a person, workouts don’t have to be hour-long weightlifting sessions, it could be a 10-minute calisthenics workout or plyometrics if you like. 

Additionally, don’t let people pressure you into thinking you have to be the skinniest or the strongest person; exercise is about being happy with your body and personal growth. It’s a hard thing that everybody struggles with. It comes along with life. I’ve been lifting for six years and I still want to be stronger and I still hate my body, however knowing that I keep pushing every single day and trying as hard as I can makes me happy.

To wrap this up I want to touch on some key points. Make sure you’re making time for your exercises; even if it is 10 minutes, make sure that 10 minutes has your undivided attention and you’re giving it 100% of what you have, because if you’re not, you’re just wasting your time. Next, you don’t have to starve yourself to diet, you don’t have to avoid your favorite foods either.  You can have everything you want, just in moderation. Also, there’s a lot of healthy options out there that you just have to look into and take the time to make. To briefly touch on sleep, it is a big part of life and should not be taken lightly; you need sleep, simple as that. 

People tend to say they don’t have time for workouts or they don’t have time to meal prep, but somehow they have time to drive to McDonald’s or mindlessly scroll social media. There’s only one thing that we’re guaranteed every day when we wake up; there are 24 hours. Those 24 hours are for whatever you want to do. Of course, eight of that is for sleep and another eight for work, that still leaves you with another eight hours to do whatever you want. I’m sure you could find 30 minutes to workout. I hope this helped motivate you or give you a kickstart with a little bit of information to get on a journey to better yourself.

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