Do you have any secrets for losing a few pounds, especially for my tummy bulge? I'm stumped because when I recently had my wisdom teeth out, I ate less than 800 calories a day that week but only lost a couple pounds (I know this because I wrote my calories in a little notebook). I'm 20 years old, 5’2”, and 115 pounds. My highest weight was 122 when I was 18 and my lowest was this past spring at 111. I drank lots of water! But usually I stay around 115 pounds even though it’s fluctuated a lot the past two years. I'd like to get down to maybe 107 pounds and maintain it. I exercise sometimes but nothing intense…jogging or walking 20 minutes a few days a week. But I can tell it's not nearly enough because of how quickly I get tired! Please let me know if you have any tips :) Thank you!
Thanks for a great question! Here are 3 points I’ve highlighted for your situation:
Decide on a healthy weight for you. A few tools can help estimate your healthy weight range. Height and weight charts for a small frame suggest your “desirable” weight range to be 108-121. Another rough formula is 100 pounds per 5 feet and then 5 pounds for each additional inch—about 110 pounds in your case. Your body mass index (BMI), a formula based on height and weight, is 21, which indicates a normal weight. According to these three formulas, your current weight of 115 pounds is considered healthy. If your lowest weight was 111 pounds, it might be difficult to aim for an even lower weight of 107 pounds. It also sounds like your body is comfortable at 115 as it rebounds to this after both weight losses and gains. Based on these factors, it would be better if you shifted your focus away from pounds and instead on eating healthfully and implementing a consistent, fun, and progressive exercise program. Aim to feel strong and full of energy rather than reaching an exact number on the scale. Attaining or maintaining an unrealistic weight will only make you miserable and frustrated.
You’re eating more than you think. Most people underestimate their calories. Calories sneak in where you least expect. I once had a young client who claimed she was “eating almost nothing” but was baffled she couldn’t lose weight. After a quick food recall, we found that she was drinking almost 1000 calories a day just from juices and Cokes. Inflated portion sizes and seemingly healthful restaurant entrees that are actually loaded with fat and calories are other common culprits of underestimated calories. Eliminating those sneaky calories will help control your weight. Some restaurants offer nutrition information but a safer bet is to simply limit how often you eat out.
Increase how often you exercise and how you exercise. Exercise is important for everyone, not just to lose weight. Focus first on a weekly exercise routine that gets your heart pumping and challenges your muscles: both will burn calories, shed overall fat, and give your body a more toned appearance regardless of whether you lose weight. Cardio exercises should be done at least 30 minutes almost every day. These include fast walking, jogging, cycling, and dance. Or try fun group classes at a local gym or YMCA like Zumba, step aerobics, or kickboxing. Strength training 2-3 times a week with free weights, resistance bands, or even your own weight will help build muscle. Muscle is a perpetually active tissue. The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn even when you're sleeping! In addition to cardio and strength training, to target your tummy bulge you can include core exercises that strengthen your abdominal and back muscles. Try these effective do-at-home ab exercises from YouTube: