By CORNELL McCLELLAN
As spring begins in earnest and prom season commences, many teenagers are considering going on a diet to look amazing in their prom gowns.
While a healthy lifestyle is a worthwhile goal for people of all ages, teenagers are at risk of engaging in dangerous dieting activities. From skipping meals to sneaking diet pills, a “prom diet” can have serious consequences.
Fortunately, it is possible to lose weight before prom (or any formal event) without going into fasting mode. Consider the following:
Exercise the right way. Before you begin any diet, you should first get the green light from your doctor. Remember that not all exercise is created equal.
Rather than perform grueling exercises, try to work out at a moderate pace for three to four times a week.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you must be panting and almost passing out to lose weight. Moderate cardio (in which you are exercising at around 50 percent of your capacity) will be an effective and safe way to lose weight without straining the body or risking injury.
Along with cardio, you also should make sure to perform strength training one to two times a week. Strength training is a necessary component for any exercise program, particularly when it comes to events in which your arms and shoulders will be displayed in formalwear. Strength training will tone your muscles, and as your muscles grow, your metabolism will increase and you will burn more calories. Perform resistance exercises like squats, lunges, planks, and then mix things up with resistance bands, tubes, or kettle bells.
Trim the fat out of your diet. People tend to think that starvation diets are the best way to lose weight quickly. Unfortunately, this can backfire. Not only will you be tired, grumpy and running on empty, but you also will be likely to lose willpower and binge on junk food later. (Not to mention, you won’t be able to enjoy your prom if you feel weak and dizzy with hunger!)
Instead, make healthy, simple choices. Think real, whole and unprocessed foods, like fruits, vegetables, nuts and lean protein. Cut out sugar as much as possible. If you have a sweet tooth, banning sugar will be hard at first, but after a few days, you will find your sugar cravings dissipating.
Over time, your cravings will almost completely disappear, and when you eat something sweet, you might find it to be overpowering. Along with cutting out sugar, you might consider cutting back on bread and pasta, particularly those made with white flour. Whole grains are filling and full of fiber, but white bread offers little nutritional value and packs a lot of carbs.
Cut down on juices and soda (even diet soda). Instead, drink plenty of water.
Lastly, try to sneak exercise into your daily activities. Take the stairs, and opt for something active (a game of Wii Fit) over something inactive (such as watching TV).
Small lifestyle changes such as these have the power to change your body long after your prom is over, as long as you stick with it!
Since Mind&Body debuted in the The Chicago Sun-Times, Cornell McClellan has written the First Trainer column. Alas, his busy schedule has made it impossible to continue doing so. We’ve appreciated his down-to-earth advice.