how to lose weight

The Most Helpful Advice I Have Learned Regarding Weight Loss

Toss out diets and listen to the hunger in your stomach.

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My mom goes through weight loss fads like a child devouring Halloween candy. Giving up sugar (she's tried this at least three times by now), giving up meat, giving up dairy, giving up wheat, intermittent fasting — the list goes on. Each fad is a new one for her to taste and toss out when she's tired of it, so most of these attempts never last.

I remember a claim my mom made when I was at home for spring break during my second year of university. We were discussing food and health.

"I'm going to try to stop eating meat, dairy, and wheat by the time you come back home for summer," she said. I laughed. She wanted to become gluten-free and almost vegan in three months. I wasn't fooled. It was an unrealistic idea (and, not surprisingly, she didn't accomplish it).

Last summer, however, my mom read a book that recounted a woman's interviews with skinny girls, girls who never struggled with their weight, to learn what they do that keeps them thin. My mom would share with me some of the tips and information in the book that the author discovered from these girls.

The most helpful statement I have ever heard regarding weight loss came from this book: Eat when you're hungry.

Hearing my mom say it, I felt like I experienced a life revelation and came out a new person. I couldn't believe I had to hear this from an external source to realize, "That's the disconnect I, and my mom, have had for years." I almost felt ashamed I couldn't figure it out on my own. It's so simple but so true and it makes so much sense.

Food is fuel for your body. Until you can view food that way, you will never have a healthy relationship with food.

Dieticians and health experts like to make varying claims about what to eat and when to eat: Eat three meals a day, snacking is bad, meat is healthy and you need to eat it, make sure one quarter of your plate is vegetables, another quarter should be fruit, no you should actually eat two snacks a day, no actually meat isn't necessary for your body to function and might not be as healthy as we once thought.

In the end, none of these claims matter. There are varying sources that disagree with each other and requirements in the food pyramid change too often for claims like these to be perfectly stable.

Yes, eating healthy is important. Don't stuff your body with manufactured fake food all the time. But you don't need to police your stomach on how often it should be digesting food. If your body isn't craving food, why are you trying to feed it?

I haven't eaten three full-fledged meals a day since I was in elementary school. My body doesn't get hungry often enough for me to need three full meals a day. This is something that will be different for every person.

Eat when you're hungry. It's a difficult adjustment when you've spent your life eating when you want rather than when you need food. I still stress eat. Cultivating a healthy relationship with food won't happen overnight. It requires diligence and time, lots of time.

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I Weigh Over 200 Lbs And You Can Catch Me In A Bikini This Summer

There is no magic number that determines who can wear a bikini and who cannot.
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It is about February every year when I realize that bikini season is approaching. I know a lot of people who feel this way, too. In pursuit of the perfect "summer body," more meals are prepped and more time is spent in the gym. Obviously, making healthier choices is a good thing! But here is a reminder that you do not have to have a flat stomach and abs to rock a bikini.

Since my first semester of college, I've weighed over 200 pounds. Sometimes way more, sometimes only a few pounds more, but I have not seen a weight starting with the number "1" since the beginning of my freshman year of college.

My weight has fluctuated, my health has fluctuated, and unfortunately, my confidence has fluctuated. But no matter what, I haven't allowed myself to give up wearing the things I want to wear to please the eyes of society. And you shouldn't, either.

I weigh over 200lbs in both of these photos. To me, (and probably to you), one photo looks better than the other one. But what remains the same is, regardless, I still chose to wear the bathing suit that made me feel beautiful, and I'm still smiling in both photos. Nobody has the right to tell you what you can and can't wear because of the way you look.

There is no magic number that equates to health. In the second photo (and the cover photo), I still weigh over 200 lbs. But I hit the gym daily, ate all around healthier and noticed differences not only on the scale but in my mood, my heart health, my skin and so many other areas. You are not unhealthy because you weigh over 200 lbs and you are not healthy because you weigh 125. And, you are not confined to certain clothing items because of it, either.

This summer, after gaining quite a bit of weight back during the second semester of my senior year, I look somewhere between those two photos. I am disappointed in myself, but ultimately still love my body and I'm proud of the motivation I have to get to where I want to be while having the confidence to still love myself where I am.

And if you think just because I look a little chubby that I won't be rocking a bikini this summer, you're out of your mind.

If YOU feel confident, and if YOU feel beautiful, don't mind what anybody else says. Rock that bikini and feel amazing doing it.

Cover Image Credit: Sara Petty

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The Lazy Girl's Guide To The Gym

Also, everything else you should know if you're a slightly out-of-shape girl (like me).

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With my freshman year coming to an end, I realized a lot of things. I made new friends, I found new hobbies, and I learned a lot of lessons. One of them being that the "Freshman 15" is very real and very scary.

While my friends and family have attempted multiple times to convince me that I'm just being dramatic (I am), I still want to make a change in my lifestyle or I will, in all seriousness, be on track to the "Sophomore 20".

Here is a list of my best gym and healthy lifestyle tips that I am slowly attempting to live by this summer in order to resurrect Emily's 18-year-old body and health.

1. Increase water intake.

2. Find a gym buddy.

3. Start off with cardio.

4. Don't stop on your cardio until you're dripping in sweat.

5. Chug a LOT of water an hour before the gym.

Do not do it right before, or you will be in pain.

6. Eat light beforehand but just enough to hold you over. 

7. Plan out what your routine will be BEFORE you get there.

My routine: Elliptical for a mile, Stairmaster for 10 minutes, ab HIIT workout for 10 minutes, 5 more minutes on Stairmaster.

8. Buy healthy foods while you're feeling motivated.

9. Find a gym that isn't too far from your house. 

10. Don't get mad at yourself if you don't see results in a day.

I know this is a hard one.

11. Try fitness classes. 

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