Ask the Experts

Heavy Habits

Ever since I’ve been a college student, I’ve been gaining weight. It happens slowly sometimes and more quickly other times, but it seems like it’s always happening. I don’t know if it’s the beer or the food in the dining hall, but something about my college lifestyle is really messing with my health! I’m too busy during the week to work out or run, and on the weekends, to be honest, I’m usually at parties or watching Netflix. I know I need to change, but I don’t know where to start. Any tips?

You’re not the only college student to fall victim to the dreaded ‘freshman fifteen.’ A full 70% of college students gain weight during their university years. It starts during freshman year, when students gain an average of 5% of their body weight, which works out to an average gain of about 10 pounds. For some, the trend never reverses: 36.5% of American adults are obese.

What can you do to reverse this trend? Well, that’s a simple answer that relies on some more complex strategies. Your question shows that you already know the basics of dieting. While ‘calories in, calories out’ is not the end-all and be-all of fitness (to say nothing of health, which includes more than weight and is even more complicated), it’s a good place to start any dieting discussion: you need to consume fewer calories and burn more in exercise. You should eat better, too, not just less: more vegetables and ‘whole foods,’ and fewer processed foods.

Start with this foundation and you can add to your plan with other details. Doctors and pharmaceuticals can even play a role, as the experts at NetNutri are one main purveyor of Fastin Diet Pills which they say have helped many of their clients on their diets. The key to even the most complex approaches remains the simple formula of eating better and less while exercising more.

But, how can you do this? The key may be in your habits. Studies show that our habits are key factors in our health, and some of the ones you listed are bad news. Drinking, for instance, can really pack on the pounds: a sweet alcoholic drink will hit you with an average of 300 to 500 calories, and beer isn’t any better. Your Netflix nights may not be much better: experts have witnessed streaming services changing our viewing habits to form “binge watching” sessions, which mean prolonged periods of inactivity–and if you’re one of the many people who have a habit of pairing food with your entertainment, Stranger Things may not be the only thing you’re binging on.

Habit experts recommend mapping out your habits, looking for the systems that run your life–and trying to replace the unhealthy ones. Do you reach for the chips when it’s time for Netflix? Maybe you should reach for something else–or change your Netflix habit, which could trigger changes to your eating habits. Your habits are the key to making that simple formula of diet and exercise work, so, look closely at how you spend your time and try to find ways to change your habits for the better.

“Cakes are healthy too; you just eat a small slice.” ― Mary Berry

Martin J. Young is a former correspondent of Asia Times.