To Teen Girls On A Diet, Try These 6 Rules Instead

To Teen Girls On A Diet, Try These 6 Rules Instead

Counting calories will only make you feel worse; take it from me.

About a month ago, I tried counting calories to lose weight. I wanted all the usual things: a flatter stomach, thinner thighs. But mostly, I just wanted to feel better about myself and my body. And for some God-forsaken reason, I believed that counting calories would get me there.

It’s worth noting that my self-confidence has never been flawless; having struggled with anxiety for many years, I can say that my self-esteem oscillates much more than is healthy. And I’m really, really working on it. But sometimes, my organization-dependent brain looks to solve the wrong problem with a faulty solution. In other words, instead of handling the core issue of low self-esteem, I decided to count calories.

And I’m not the only teenager who does this, either. One in every 2 teenage girls and 1 in every 4 teenage boys have tried dieting as a way to change how their body looks. And about a third of teenage girls who diet are already at a healthy weight!

These numbers seem staggering to me, but they have been around for a long time. And the media is definitely to blame — but I’ll spare you from my melodramatic, millennial soliloquy.

But I’ll tell you what: counting calories didn’t fix my problem. Sure, I lost a little bit of weight, but I also lost my connection with food and my connection with my friends. I was so focused on eating the right amount of food, the right kind, the perfect kind, that I stopped being involved in group discussions. I secluded myself to my phone, where I looked up things like How to lose belly fat quickly and does drinking tea make you lose weight and Gigi Hadid abs diet.

And focusing so much on the numbers left me feeling detached from what I ate. It didn’t matter if I liked it, or if I was still hungry when I was “done.” I thought in macros and numbers. And it was unhealthy for both my body and my mind.

I checked my stomach in the mirror multiple times a day. I went to the gym intending to burn as many calories as possible in 30 minutes, which often led to very sore muscles and a sore ego. I thought about food all the time, even when I wasn’t hungry and especially when I was. I shouldn’t have had that ice cream last night. My stomach looks awful. I wish I had abs. I’m hungry again. Is it okay to eat?

If I’m honest, even after stopping counting calories, I still have some of these thoughts. I still am learning not to check my stomach every time I go to the bathroom, and I’m still trying to coach myself to not treat food as either “good” or “bad.” And I’m trying to enjoy what I eat, and eat what feels good for me.

I realize this may sound kind of sketchy if you’ve been on a diet and it has been helping you lose weight: but you don’t have to count calories to feel good about yourself and your body. I promise, it will only make you feel worse.

But what should you do instead?

Here’s my tentative plan for myself. I urge you to copy it.

Rule 1: Exercise a little every day. Do activities that you enjoy rather than the ones that burn the most calories.

Rule 2: Eat well most of the time: eat a few veggies, a piece of fruit or two, whole grains and non-whole grains, and have an indulgence or two every day.

Rule 3: Do not count calories. It is okay to be mindful of portions, but eat until you are full. Do not stop eating just because you feel like you should be full by now.

Rule 4: Eat slowly, and savor your food! Eat things that you enjoy and this shouldn’t be hard at all!

Rule 5: Drink lots and lots of water, especially before and after your workouts!

Rule 6: Make your goal to be healthy and strong, not thin.

If this is hard for you to envision for yourself, I understand. I’ve only made the switch to stop counting calories in the past few weeks, and sometimes I still find myself reaching for the calculator to estimate the calories in my meals or thinking that I shouldn’t eat something I enjoy because it is “bad” for me. But I still feel like I am making progress. Every day, I focus a little less on my body and a little more on fitness. Every day I Google less and less. And I eat things I like to eat! I exercise in ways that feel good for me, in ways that build endurance and strength, not a flat stomach. And I’m still working on it. But I know that these rules are much better rules for my overall health and wellbeing than anything I was telling myself before.

And it might just be the ice cream talking, but I think I feel a lot better about my body, too.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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Grocery Shopping Tips For Healthier Eating

Eating healthy starts in the grocery store.

A lot of people are trying to be healthier in the New Year and a lot of people are just about ready to give up, but that doesn't have to be! Being healthy is not just about going to the gym - a lot of living healthy starts in the kitchen... or, technically, the grocery store! Here are a few tips for healthy grocery shopping:

1. Shop Around the Perimeter FIRST

All of the fresh foods are located along the perimeter of the foods, and these are the healthiest ones - produce, meats, and dairy. Start by shopping in these sections, filling up your cart with REAL food.

2. Read Nutrition Labels

Don't judge a food by its box - judge it by the nutrition label! Look for foods that are low in added sugars and sodium. And check the ingredients lists! A lot of products claim to be whole grain... just check to make sure that whole grains are one of the first things listed! ALSO, check nutrients - the reason we eat is to obtain the nutrients we need!

3. Avoid Diet Foods

A lot of diet foods claim to be healthy, but don't be fooled! Low fat and fat free products of full of artificial ingredients. Stick to the real, whole foods.

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Exercise and Mental Health. They Go Hand in Hand.

Being Active Helps You Stay Healthy in More Ways than One

Dear the Couch Potatoes and Inactive Citizens of the World

Did you know... Exercise is not only for physical health! That is correct! Exercise has been proven to also help improve your mental health as well as physical health.

I remember when I was in high school, I would lay on the couch and do nothing for the majority of my free time. I was fairly active in high school through cheerleading all four years. Cheerleading took up a good portion of my schedule. But, I also remember how I felt after practice, energized and recharged.

After a long day of sitting in classes that I honestly did not really care for, I then had to go to practice. I would dread going to changing into my practice clothes and stretching. But, after practice I felt on top of the world. Physically, I was exhausted, but mentally, I felt unstoppable. So--why did I feel this way? What happened during practice to make me feel unstoppable?

I don't want to get you all lost with big science words (unless you love science like me) so I will try my best to keep it simple. With ADHD comes anxiety, however, the article I read over referred to depression and anxiety. The article comes from the Mayo Clinic. Now, keep in mind that I am not saying this is a cure for either of these, but exercise is simply a tool to help with the symptoms of them.

On a science note, the article states that exercising helps to release endorphins (I always think of Legally Blonde when this word comes up). Endorphins are a chemical in your brain that help you to feel "happier," or "better," all around, it's a good chemical to have too much of in my opinion. The article describes it as, "natural brain chemicals that can enhance your sense of well being." Exercise can also help to shift your focus from what you might be dealing with to the physical activity you are performing, easily taking your mind off the issues.

Another article from the American Heart Association, defines physical activity as, "anything that makes you move your body and burn calories." Then the article gives examples about daily household activities you can do that are considered to get someone physically active. You do not have to go to gym and lift weights or be able to run six miles in order to exercise. It can be anything that gets you moving!

I asked my friends to share some personal stories if they felt comfortable, here are their stories;

Taylor; "For me, the depression I've experienced in the past is not really intense, or "deadly," for me it usually lasts about a week, where all I do is feel sorry for myself and dream of what it would be like for others if I wasn't there. This makes me sit in bed and sulk, not get a shower, not put on makeup, I don't even try to feel better. That's how it went, until recently; I've gotten a gym membership! I've been trying to go at least twice a week, (full body work out and ending with cardio). When you work out there are hormones sent to your brain and throughout the body that boost your mood! The sweat and red flush to your skin after a workout adds to it as well. As you can see, going to the gym has been a huge advocate for my happiness lately."

Kailey; "I was first diagnosed with depression in January of 2017. I left college due to medical issues, and later found out that it was more serious than we thought. When I left college in December of 2016, I was heart broken. When June rolled around my medical issues continued. After many specialist I was diagnosed with something called 'Limited Diffusive Scleroderma,' an auto immune disease than can be deadly, by crippling you bones and/or insides, or very faint. That made my depression worse knowing that my life could change at any second.

On October 31st my boyfriend and I got invited to a party. I told my self I was going to drink until I wouldn’t have to wake up the next morning. And that, I did. I only remember one thing that night. I was laying on pavement, I gasp for air and open my eyes and see my mom praying over me, I woke up the next morning to my dad holding my hand. When he saw me open my eyes he cried. He knew instantly what my intentions were that night.

What made me realize that my life was important was the reaction my family and boyfriend had when they told me I was almost dead. I knew then I had to do something.I refused anti depressant medications, I tried therapy, new friends, drawing. Nothing worked. But then one day after a long night of work I came home and saw an ad online explaining how yoga releases stress. So I looked up some videos and began my first at home yoga class.

The amount of relaxation I felt was amazing. I felt, peaceful. I began to do it every morning that I worked and found out that not only was this taking my mind off of everything, it was also beneficial to my disease. That really helps a lot when your disease has no cure. I was able to enjoy life again after finding something so simple to take everything of my mind and shoulders. Yoga. Who knew that yoga could save someone from drowning in a dark pool of depression."

Some exercises to do at home could be walking up and down the stairs, walking the dog, cleaning the bathroom, mowing the lawn, and even just simple stretches and breathing, like yoga. Exercise is much more than just a person's physical health. It can have many benefits for people mentally as well.

Again, I am not saying exercise will cure anything, but it can simply help suppress symptoms that come with depression and anxiety.

Until next time,

Another ADHD Student

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