Study Abroad Corner

Tips on losing weight and staying healthy


Right after graduation in May 2014, I ended up eating a lot and gaining a lot of weight. I was over 65kg (over 140lbs) in July. Starting from August, I aimed to lose at least 10kg (around 22lbs) by the end of December. I signed up for gym membership, took cycling and yoga classes, and paid more attention to what I eat. I was very determined and committed to losing weight.

In early December, I weighed myself and realized that I had successfully reached my goal! I lost over 10kg after 4 months. I looked at myself in the mirror one day and thought to myself, “Damn, I look really good!” I didn’t lose weight to impress anyone. I decided to lose weight for myself. I want to be healthy (physically and mentally), I want to be fit, I want to increase my confidence, and I want to look good. Losing weight was not easy for me, but it certainly wasn’t something impossible to do. It took a lot of time, sweat, effort, and determination. But in the end, I am proud to say that I was able to accomplish my goal!

It’s very likely that you’re going to put on a few extra pounds in college, especially with the endless dining hall food, AYCE (All-You-Can-Eat) restaurants, & discounted or free food from school events. Yes, Freshmen 15 is real, & it can be quite scary if you’re not aware of it.

Below is a list of tips on losing weight and staying healthy that I’d like to share with y’all. I’m no health expert, but a lot of these advice came from my own experience and talking with friends and actual personal trainers. If I can do it, so can you! You just have to be committed and motivated to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Stop making excuses such as “I have so much homework/ assignments due this week, thus I won’t have time to go to the gym at all this week”, or “I can always do it tomorrow, I’m already too busy today”, etc. Just get up, go to the gym, go on a jog, and add vegetables and fruits to your meals. Ready? Let’s get to work!

Source: Buzzfeed

  1. Drink a glass of water when you wake up every morning, and lots of water throughout the day

  2. Source: Samui Times
    This may seem like a trivial tip, but you’ll be surprised at how easily people forget to do it daily! There are so many benefits to drinking water. First and foremost, it keeps you hydrated. Water keeps your body functioning, avoid fatigue and headache from dehydration, balances our your fluids (since about 60% of your body is composed of water, so pretty much every system in your body depends on it), energizes us, and has many more benefits. In short, don’t forget to drink lots of water everyday since it’s extremely important and can aid with weight loss.

    I highly recommend drinking a glass of water (or water with lemon and honey) when you wake up every morning, as it helps detoxify your body, makes your skin glow, and boosts your body’s metabolism, which ultimately leads to losing weight and staying healthy. Prepare a glass of water beforehand and place it next to your bed so when you wake up, you can just reach over and drink it. Also carry a water bottle with you to class or work as a self-reminder to drink enough water.

  3. Eat more vegetables and fruits

  4. Source: Pop Sugar
    Add vegetables and fruits into all of your meals. Vegetables and fruits are nutritious and are rich in vitamins and minerals for your body. At the same time, they’re low in calories and can help reduce the risk of diseases such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Don’t just stick with one type of veggie or fruit since there are so many varieties for you to choose from. You may not be a big fan of Brussels sprouts and broccoli, but you may like kale and carrot instead. Explore the different ways to prepare your veggies: you can either boil, stir-fry, grill, or even eat them raw!

    Be aware of the dressings and dips that go along your salad and veggies. They can very well be over 100 calories and contain quite a large amount of fat. Another suggestion is to have healthier snacking habit. If you’re craving for a snack, eat veggies and fruits instead of the typical chips and candies. A bag of carrot and celery (although less satisfying) is always healthier and better in the long-term than a bag of potato chips or cookies.

  5. Eat fewer unhealthy food that are high in carbohydrates

  6. Source: Fitness Mentality
    There are the good kinds of carbohydrates (carbs) and the bad kinds of carbs. Unhealthy food that are high in carbs include cakes, cookies, candies, sugary cereals, potato chips, jams & preserves, refined grains (for breads, toasts, bagels), soda and other sugary drinks. Consuming too much of these food can lead to obesity, diabetes and even cancer. If you want to have a healthier lifestyle, eat fewer of these unhealthy food that are high in carbs. Instead, eat healthy high in carbs food, including leafy green vegetables, legumes, fruits, whole grain and nuts.

    I also recommend reducing your carbs intake at dinner time, and eat more proteins and veggies instead. I once learned from a nutritionist that carbs take up to 6 hours to be fully digested and not turn into fats. So if you eat a bowl full of rice at 7PM for dinner, it won’t be fully digested until 1AM. For me, I eat a lot more carbs such as rice, bread and pasta during lunch, and eat more protein and veggies during dinner.

  7. Avoid skipping meals

  8. Source: Lucas James Personal Training
    Do not skip meals. I repeat: Do. Not. Skip. Meals. Especially breakfast! I was a regular at skipping breakfast in college because well, I wasn’t much of a morning person, and because I thought it would help me to lose weight that way. Many of my friends also ditched breakfast, either because they didn’t have time, or they wanted to be on a diet. But being on a diet doesn’t mean starving yourself.

    You may think that not eating breakfast, or lunch, or dinner means that you’re not consuming the calories, which will lead to weight loss right? Nope! When you skip meal, you’ll get hungry. And when you get hungry, you’ll eat even more = consume a lot more calories during your next meal. Try to eat less and in smaller portions, instead of completely skipping your meal. As I mentioned above, eat your breakfast! It can range from cereal and milk, oatmeal or pancake, to bacon and eggs, breads, noodles or fruits. Eating breakfast provides you with energy for the day, prevents you from binge-eating at lunch, and helps you stay healthy.

  9. Eat from smaller plates and in smaller portions

  10. Source: ILoveCooking
    One thing that greatly surprised me during my first year studying broad in the U.S. was how big the food portion is at restaurants. Back in Vietnam, we have moderate food portion. But in the U.S., everything is huge! Like the “you can totally bury your face in it” huge. This can be a good thing because you’re essentially getting more food. But it can also be a bad thing because you may be more inclined to finish everything on that huge plate, which increases the chance of gaining weight. So my tip here is to eat from smaller plates and in smaller portions, especially when you’re cooking at home. Instead of using large size plates, use plates that are a few sizes smaller. This gives you the illusion that there is still a full plate of food. Buy smaller plates and bowls.

    If you’re dining out with huge food portions, divide the food up into smaller portions and eat from them. You can also ask for a box and to-go half of the food first and only eat the remaining half. Eating in smaller portions many times is still better than overloading yourself with tons of food during lunch or dinner. Take your time when eating a meal as well, instead of rushing it down to your stomach. This allows better digestion and also tricks your stomach in feeling full faster. I’m a slow-eater, and I like to take time devouring and tasting every bit of my food (unless I’m rushed on time of course).

  11. Avoid eating after 9PM

  12. Source: Bookish Tumblr
    This is my #1 tip on losing weight and staying healthy. During my freshman year of college, I ate like crazy at night. I usually stayed up late to stay at night, and was often hungry. So what did I naturally do when I got hungry at night back then? Grabbed the nearest bag of chips, cookies, ice-cream, and all sort of other unhealthy food and chow them down. And that was how I got Freshman 15 – by eating junk food and unhealthy snacks late at night.

    In my sophomore year, I made a promise to myself and stopped eating any kind of food after 9PM. I struggled to commit to it at first. But over time, it became my habit. If I feel hungry after 9PM, I would just make myself a cup of tea or eat some fruits. You should definitely give this tip a shot as well! It worked for me, and I’m positive that it will also work for you. If you’re really craving for something at night, try nuts, veggies or fruits instead of snacks and other sweet treats. Go to sleep at an earlier time and drink lots of water are other ways to prevent yourself from feeling hungry at night.

  13. Avoid soda drinks, or drinks that have high sugar contents

  14. Source: GifLoop.Tumblr via Giphy
    Sodas stopped being my go-to and thirst-quenching drinks since my sophomore year of college. I still drink it once in a while, but I had long stopped drinking it daily. The reasons are because sodas, for me, contain lots of sugary contents, and they only make me thirstier afterward. If you want to cut down your calories intake, avoid drinking sodas is a highly recommended way.

    Besides soda drinks, I also suggest avoiding drinks with high sugar contents, such as milkshakes, smoothies and frappuccinos. Even though these drinks may taste good, they are essentially filled with sugary contents and tend to be very high in calories (a 16-ounce drink can contain up to 500 calories)! Instead, switch to drinking the healthier alternatives of water, tea and pure juice.

  15. Exercise, exercise, exercise – turn in into a habit

  16. Source: Healthi Nation
    Actually get up and exercise! You just gotta do it! Turn exercising into a habit. Instead of treating it as a burden and forcing yourself to do, view exercise as an automatic routine that you’re motivated to do. You don’t need to be all hard-core and work out for 5 hours everyday (well, you can if you want to and have the time). I recommend exercising for at least 30 minutes to an hour every day and taking 1-2 days off every week for a break. Start with something as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator!

    Don’t rely on some miracle pills that will help you to lose weight, because they don’t work (See the next tip below)! If you want to drop a few pounds and stay healthy, exercising is the way to go. When working out at the gym, don’t just do light stretches and spend the majority of time playing with your phone (Yes, I’ve seen so many people spending the majority of their time “working out” on their phone at the gym). Have incremental workout goals and really push yourself to become stronger. Also don’t be afraid of other people judging you while exercising. Just focus on yourself, your goals, and what you’re doing to achieve those goals.

    There are plenty of ways to exercise, it doesn’t have to be limited to just running or going to the gym. You can go swimming, attend a dance class, play tennis, or take a martial art class. Just remember to sweat a lot to burn those calories! My personal favorites are cycling and yoga. My legs always get super sore after every cycling class, but I really enjoy the workout and the music. Whenever I feel like giving up during cycling class, I always think “I can do it, I can effing do this!” in my head to push myself to ride even harder. And it always works. Yoga, on the other hand, increases my flexibility and allows me to relax my mind and body. If you’re pressed on time, check out fitness apps such as 7 Minute Workout by Johnson & Johnson, or Sworkit.

  17. Weight loss pills are ineffective

  18. Source: Pinterest
    I’m just gonna help you save some money by saying straight out that weight loss pills are ineffective. They won’t work. Why? Because I tried it, and saw no improvements whatsoever. I’ve came to the realization that there’s no easy way to lose weight. Just like I mentioned earlier in the post, it takes a lot of time, sweat, effort, and determination. You’ll need to sacrifice your time, you’ll need to sweat a lot to burn off the calories, you’ll need a lot of willpower and determination effort to motivate yourself for the journey. Just ask your friends who are fit and healthy if they rely on some sort of weight loss magical pills to maintain their body shape. I can guarantee you, 99% will say that they workout, eat healthy and have a positive mindset. So don’t bother spending your money on weight loss pills, thinking that they’re an easy way out and hoping that they would work!

  19. Keep track of your progress

  20. Source: Ztkobayashi Tumblr
    Setting goals and keeping track of what you eat, your calories intake, workout progress and the changes of your weight are 2 important aspects if you’r serious in achieving the weight loss and healthy lifestyle goals. Writing everything down and keeping track of your progress allow you to be aware that you’re on the right path and what you’re doing is working. That doesn’t mean you have to step in your scale every 10 minutes and freak out whenever your weight goes up by 0.01lb! If you prefer to have a digital journal, download and use a fitness tracking app, such as Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal, Calorie Counter by MyNetDiary, Lose It, Diet Assistance, Endomondo, or Fitocracy.

    Setting monthly, weekly, and even daily goals and really committing to achieving those goals give you an outline of what you still need to work on. Remember to set realistic and achievable goals, not something crazy like “Lose 50lbs in 1 week” or “Only eat 100 calories worth of food per day”! I usually set a big overall goal (e.g. “Lose ___ lbs by the end of September), then break it down with how I can achieve it by setting smaller goals (e.g. “Go to the gym for 1 hour every day 5 days per week”, “Do 30 push-ups every day”, “Only eat 1/3 of a rice bowl during dinner”, etc.).

  21. Love your body and have a healthy mindset

  22. Source: New Country Z100
    Love yourself and think positively about yourself. I used to (and sometimes still do) wish that I could be taller, prettier, skinnier… and I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has that thought. But then I realized that if I don’t love myself, no one else would, and started learning to be comfortable in my own skin. No one is perfect, and we’re all awesome in our own ways. So why bother making your life miserable and gloomy by hating yourself and constantly having negative feelings about yourself? Loving yourself will also inspire you to take better care and be appreciative of yourself. It motivates you to eat healthier, get enough sleep, go to the gym more often, and care for yourself more. Just like the picture above from Inspiremethin Tumblr: Healthy Living = Positive thinking + Feel good + Regular exercise + Eat better.

  23. Be committed

  24. Source: Pinterest
    You probably have heard a lot of weight loss success stories of people losing tremendous weight over a period of time. One common key factor that all these people had is that they’re very committed and determined to lose weight. Be committed. I repeat: Be. Committed.

    You may think that there’s a quick and easy way to lose weight (such as supplements and pills). Nope. Not at all. Like I mentioned above, losing weight will take a lot of time, sweat, effort, and determination. It will take real commitment and a strong mindset for hard work in order to succeed and maintain being healthy.

    My previous tip of keeping track of your weight in a journal or an app is a way for you to be committed to losing weight and staying healthy, by being aware of how your weight changes over time. Another tip is to develop a habit and routine for exercise, as I mentioned briefly in #6 above. An example is to set a certain time of the day and promise yourself that no matter what happens (with the exception of emergencies of course), on this time and days of the week, I’m going to go exercise. For me, I set the time of 5pm everyday, 5 days per week to hit the gym. Usually there are several gym classes that I like at this time so that acts as another motivation for me. After a month, this slowly became my habit. So now at 5pm everyday for 5 days per week, I’m automatically set to hitting the gym. My last tip for staying committed is to find a workout partner who shares the same goal and can constantly motivate you. After all, it’s more fun to work out knowing that your buddy is also there.

Losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle aren’t easy, but also aren’t impossible to accomplish. They require a lot of time, sweat, effort, and determination. Hope these tips are helpful to you. Any additional tips on losing weight and staying healthy that you may have? COMMENT BELOW!

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Hue La

About Hue La

Hey there, I'm Hue (pronounced “huay”, not “hue” like how you would normally say it in English). I'm a USC graduate and traveler with 6+ years of study abroad experience in the U.S. I founded Study Abroad Corner with the goals of providing helpful advice and building a social network for fellow study abroaders around the world.

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