I'll admit it: I gained a couple lbs. I'll spare you the before-and-after photos, but just know that after college I put on (quite) a few pounds. The funny thing was, I didn't even realize it. I slowly started gaining after graduation. My work life was intense: 80+ hour work weeks, travel with an expense account and great restaurants, and no time for exercise. I was getting married to Andrew and loving life - I was literally fat and happy. I can't believe I didn't even notice as I kept having to buy bigger pants!
As I started to educate myself on proper weight and nutrition information, I was completely surprised by how little I knew. I found out that my BMI classified me as "overweight". (Are you kidding me?!) Lesson learned.
The good news is that the weight came off pretty easy, actually. I lost 40 pounds in the last two years with proper diet and exercise. (I told you I wasn't showing "before" photos!!) It was a complete lifestyle shift for me. And although I miss the BOGO doughnut deal in the Microsoft cafeterias after 3pm, the skinny jeans are worth it.
But now I look around and realize I wasn't unique in my experience. Many of my twenty-something girlfriends have struggled with weight gain. According to a study published by USA Today, it's very common:
Many married and single people in their late teens and early 20s gain a significant amount of weight — an average of 15 to 30 pounds — over five years. But newly married men and women in that age group gain 6 to 9 pounds more than their peers who are single and dating.
Check out this list of Challenges We Face in Our 20s by Small Steps to Health (summarized):
- Our lack of an exercise habit
How many of you were active in high school or college, but stopped once you got a real job? Am I the only one with my hand raised?
- Our lack of a nutritional diet
This is result of a diet consisting of french fries, sugary cereals, pastries, chips, and pizzas (the typical college diet).
- Our lack of self acceptance
We learn to pass judgment on ourselves from the women in our lives, especially our moms. If we had moms with a healthy relationship with her food and body, chances are we will have a healthy relationship too.
- Our lack of knowledge about our bone mass
After 35, we stop adding to our bone density. By the time we are 18, we accumulated 80-90% of the bone density we will ever have. Chronic dieting, eating disorder, and lack of physical activity lead to weight gain, but they also lead to a depletion of our bone mass.
- Do It: My girlfriends who have been most successful have cut their calorie intake. This alone made a huge difference for me, personally. Simply not eating the Big Mac seemed to work well.
- Do It: Get your friends on board so you can avoid diet-bombing party food, binge drinking and 4th meals. Plus, exercising with a friend is awesome! I have a yoga membership with Kara, a marathon-training plan with Lori, and a strength training schedule with Andrew. I also track it all online to keep the course.
- Reward. For me, it's shopping for new (skinny) clothes. Celebrate your success with your girlfriends by having a night out, going to the spa or having an exercise-oriented outing (like a game of tennis or skiing).
These are tools I've found or that have been recommended to me that sincerely help make the process interesting, fun and easy.
- Weight Watchers Online: I've been an online-only member for 2 years and think it's the simplest system on the market. The Points Plus program (new) has worked well for me and lots of my friends. The have great recipes, a tracking tool, an iPhone app and lots of information about how to be healthy.
- Food.com: I love this site because it's got thousands of recipes and they include the nutritional information, so it's fool proof planning!
What do you do to say fit, informed and healthy?