Hi My name is Kaila,
I am from the U.S. and am currently living in Spain for 10 months on an exchange program.
I am 17 years old and weight 56 kg, 5 foot 1.
Before leaving I weighted 48 kg 5 foot 1.
I don’t want to come back being like 20 pounds heavier. I don’t know if it’s normal or not to gain that much weight and not grow.
How can I lose that weight that I have gained quickly? I am self-cautious of returning and having my friends see me because I feel i look really heavy and am not happy with how much I weigh now. What can I do to lose it QUICKLY? I only have 2 months left.
I never gained weight so fast before and here I have put it on so quickly. It’s really weird for me. I am eating normal and not terribly. I am not sure what the problem is.
Thank you for your help
Dear Kaila thank you for your question.
Firstly I will answer your question about putting on weight so fast. There can be many absolutely normal reasons why that happened. Change of environment and climate could be one of them, you said you have been in Spain for about 10 months, and it may sound like a long time, however, our body can take time to acclimatised completely and go back to its usual rhythms. I would assume that also a lot of daily habits may have changed that could influence your metabolism or your eating habits. Sometimes accumulation of a lot of small changes can make a big difference. An average of 8 kilos gained in 10months is not a massive amount and it could have happened easily. I must note that your BMI (body mass index) is within normal range and you wouldn’t be considered overweight. I understand that it is important to feel comfortable in yourself; however, I would suggest that 5 to 8 kilos max weight loss should be enough and I would not suggest any more as you would be running the risk of becoming underweight.
Before you start any kind of diet I would suggest that you keep a diary of the food you eat for a couple of days. A week would be best as it can give you a fuller picture but I sense that you are eager to start losing weight as soon as you can. The diary will give a picture of what you eat, what time, how much etc. From that you can compare what you used to eat before you went to Spain and also find things which you may not realised were there. You can see my article Weight loss: An introduction to a healthier life style for more information about it.
In addition, you may want to make a note of when did you start to put on weight. Was it gradually through the 10 months, was it sudden, was it after a specific time, i.e. exams and so on. By finding the route it will help you to deal with the problem easier. For example things such as stress, feeling low, increasing alcohol intake, and starting oral contraception, not sleeping well can all affect weight gain. It could well be having too much fun with your friends and sleeping late or studying too much and being stressed that have increased your weight gain. Think of your everyday habits as well and what may be different now. Could it be that you used to walk 30min to school every day, or that you were more active and had higher energy expenditure? If you have any concerns at any point about putting on too much weight unexplained always consult a medical professional. You should also consult a medical professional if you have any medical conditions, before taking on any diet or exercise.
In terms of losing weight I can suggest the following tips:
1. Have a delayed protein breakfast. Carbohydrates can make you feel hungry and tend to lead to snacking in between meals or a large meal for lunch. See also some tips I have provided in What should I eat to get rid of love handles?
2. Lower your carbohydrate intake through the day. If you want to lose weight quite fast it may mean that you may be strict with your diet in some respects. You can still have balanced meals which contain all the nutrients and you don’t feel hungry. For example try to limit the sugar in coffees, and teas, avoid sugary drinks such as juices, milkshakes, coke etc. Have a large salad with chicken, fish, tuna (protein) and only one slice of bread. In general have loads of vegetables and salads with meats which are grilled instead of fried. Have some carbohydrates in the form of bread or potatoes but limit the amounts.
3. Avoid takeaways, fast food, fried foods, and rich sandwiches with sauces such as mayonnaise (avoid sandwiches all together if possible). Alcohol can also add to calories.
4. Exercise will increase energy expenditure (calorie burning in simple terms) so if you can take on some exercise or even just being more active such as walk instead of taking a bus, swim or cycle, whatever is best suited for you. Even just 30min a day can help in increasing weight loss. It is best to combine resistance with aerobic exercise (resistance –i.e. weights, aerobic – i.e. running). Also for aerobic exercise you will need to make sure that you are eating enough carbs which is the main fuel during aerobic exercise.
5. Keep well hydrated. At the beginning what is lost is mainly water so make sure you keep hydrated. Especially if the Spanish weather is hot.