A Letter to My Weight-Gaining, 23-Year-Old Self
By Tina Haupert
Dear 23-year-old Tina,
It's been a tough several months, huh? I know graduating college and working in the "real" world hasn't been an easy transition, but I promise you things will get better, especially with regard to your recent weight gain. (I'm so sorry that you had to buy a whole new wardrobe because your clothing no longer fit.)
I know it's tough to wake up before your 9-to-5 job to exercise, but I promise that early-morning workouts will be key to your weight loss. Your active social life always seems to get in the way of your workouts (and I know you don't want to miss out on any of the fun!), so exercising first thing in the morning will help you stick with it. The first few mornings of waking up early will be really hard, but the more you force yourself to do it, the easier it will become. Eventually, it'll be part of your morning routine, and I promise that you'll never regret a workout!
Now, don't take this the wrong way, but you're eating too much. All of those Happy Hours, fancy dinners out, and multiple trips a day to Dunkin' Donuts are starting to really show up on the scale. Maybe counting calories—at least for a little while—will get you back on track? I don't think you realize just how many calories you are consuming, so tracking what you eat will help make you more aware of what you are putting into your mouth. You won't have to count calories forever, but looking at your diet in a different way can keep you accountable. At least give it a try; you might be surprised!
Remember when you tried the Atkins diet to lose weight? That was a total disaster, wasn't it? Like with most restrictive diets, you eventually caved and binged on carbs. Do you know that not all carbs are bad for you? I think you're carb confused. The key to losing weight is figuring out which ones to eat. The unhealthy kind, like doughnuts, ginormous Dunkin’ Donuts muffins, and chips aren't nutritious and won't do anything for your hunger, but the good kind—whole grains, beans, and fibrous fruits and veggies—will fill you up and satisfy you. Plus, when you eat good carbs, you'll be more fun to be around, and I know your roommate will appreciate fewer mood swings from you!
You know those fat-free cookies and cinnamon pita chips that you love so much? Well, they're too good to be true. I know it seems like you should focus on eating low-calorie and low-fat foods, but they're typically made with artificial ingredients and they won't make you feel as good as eating “real” food does. For instance, an apple with lots of fiber and nutrients will satisfy you much more than an apple-cinnamon rice cake. Don't think this means that you can't eat your favorite foods anymore. I know you love cupcakes, nachos, and beer, and you can still enjoy them from time to time. OK, this might seem like a “duh” tip, but just eat smaller portions of those foods and it'll help you lose weight.
Losing weight (and then maintaining it) is all about balance. If you overindulge at a weekend barbecue or mindlessly munch throughout the afternoon at your desk, don’t throw in the towel. Just make sure your next meal is healthy, and move on. With these small lifestyle changes, I know you'll be back at your Feel Great Weight before you know it!
The older and wiser 2011 Tina