College life can be amazing — there’s a newfound freedom that comes with being away from the prying eyes of your parents, driving out on your own (if you have a driver’s license) and staying out as late you want!
However, with great freedom comes great responsibility. As a young adult, you are accountable for your well being, including your health. On that note, while college life and late night yum cha sessions go hand in hand, before you know it, you’ll be sporting a new look — love handles.
If you need some help to shed that extra weight you’ve been carrying around since the start of the semester, we’ve got your back.
Here are 10 steps you can take to curb your growing waistline without stepping foot in the gym!
#1. Walk the extra mile
One of the easiest ways to burn off excess calories is to find more ways to incorporate walking — or running — into your day. That’s right, using your legs for their actual function.
Skip the lifts and take the stairs, or walk to the coffee shop instead of driving to help you clock in your 10,000 steps a day.
In time, you’ll also notice your glutes strengthening with the additional walks, and it can also help tone your thighs and reduce the appearance of cellulite too!
#2. Stay hydrated
Who knew you could blast off those extra kilos with the help of H2O?
Several studies, including this one, suggest staying hydrated can help with weight management. This doesn’t only include drinking enough water, but consuming hydrating foods such as watermelon, apples, carrots and cucumbers too.
If plain water is not for you, why not try green tea? It’s rich in antioxidants, flavonoids and catechins that may help slow down your body’s ageing process, improve your brain function and help you lose weight!
#3. Get your 8 hours of sleep
We cannot stress enough about the importance of sleep!
#4. Cook your meals and meal prep for the week
The siren call of the latest food trend (nasi lemak burger, anyone?) may tempt you to eat out more often, but many of these food options are loaded with fat, sodium and sugar. It doesn’t help that we often fall prey to promotions such as “upgrade to a large for only RM2!”, which contribute to the spare tyres around our bellies.
Instead of eating out, why not cook your meals instead? Contrary to what you may think, cooking isn’t necessarily difficult. With so many quick and easy recipes available, you won’t have an excuse not to meal prep anymore.
If you need an incentive to cook up a storm, just know that you may end up consuming an extra 200 calories each time you eat out, compared to if you ate at home. All the more reason to bring on those Tastemade videos!
#5. Cut down on unhealthy carbohydrates
Although carbohydrates are a source of energy, too much leads to weight gain, especially if you live a sedentary lifestyle.
So while you may not be able to live without rice, white bread or roti canai, you can swap some of your unhealthy carbs with healthier versions. This includes brown rice, whole grain bread or thosai, and gradually work towards cutting down the amount you consume to aid your weight loss.
Additionally, avoid second, third and fourth helpings at family occasions, dinner parties and Ramadan buffets. If you can’t resist testing every food displayed, opt for smaller portions instead.
#6. Get your friends to join your weight-stomping crusade
Everyone knows having a gym buddy makes working out more fun, and it’s supported by science too.
Several studies, including this one, suggest that working out in a group can make people “feel physically and mentally better than working out alone”, in addition to helping to lower your stress levels and improve your quality of life. You may also perform better when exercising with a friend.
So partner up with a friend or 2 and make it a weekly date to workout together. You can also set challenges for each other (e.g. who can do the highest reps of push-ups) for some healthy competition!
#7. Eat a protein-filled breakfast
We know that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, but did you know the type of breakfast you eat could also be the key to your weight loss?
Studies suggest that eating a protein-filled breakfast “may help cut cravings and aid in weight loss”. Additionally, “the more high-quality protein you eat, the less belly fat you have”.
So start making time for breakfast and incorporate more protein into your most important meal of the day. Whether it’s eggs, peanut butter or Greek yoghurt, losing weight doesn’t mean starving yourself.
#8. Opt for healthier snacks
Snacking in between meals can be good for you as it can prevent overeating during your next meal. However, if you’ve always snacked on chips and biscuits, then it’s time to rethink what you’re putting into your mouth.
Some snacks, such as granola, flavoured yoghurt, dried fruits and bottled fruit drinks, masquerade as healthy foods, as they’re often loaded with sugar.
If you have a sweet tooth, why not swap some of your unhealthy snacks with fruits such as bananas, mangoes and Fuji apples? If you’re craving for a fruit drink, try blending your own. You can also whip up a chia seed pudding, which is rich in calcium and fibre, as a healthy dessert. These make good snacks in between classes too!
#9. Cut the late night mamak sessions and binge-drinking
We get it — the best part of the college experience is the nights spent gossiping with your friends at the mamak or partying at Zouk. While we’re not suggesting that you quit these fun activities cold turkey, it pays to cut back on the unhealthy late night suppers and the social drinking, for the sake of your health and waistline.
There is research that suggests that eating in the company of others makes us gain weight. Additionally, while research has yielded mixed results over the effects of eating late in the evening, it may be worth testing the waters to see if different eating schedules (e.g. shifting your meals and snacks to the daytime rather than late in the evening) affect your weight, and adjust accordingly.
#10. Log your progress into an app
There is an abundance of fitness and health mobile applications available, so why not make use of one to keep track of your weight loss journey? Some fitness apps such as Google Fit log your daily exercise routine and the number of steps you take each day while there are others that remind you to stick to your daily workouts.
So tap into free apps such as Lose It and MyFitnessPal, which lets you input and track your weight and calorie intake. Other apps may recommend workout exercises for you based on your height, weight and body mass index (BMI), so feel free to explore your options.
Even with a busy schedule, there are many ways you can lose weight while in college without hitting the gym. The simplest workouts or tweaks to your daily habits can aid in your weight loss, so dig deep and get to it today!