The girls at Saint Ursula Academy prepare to leave for spring break. With break, comes preparation for some students; girls may want to work for a “bikini-ready body”. Whether you are going somewhere tropical and warm, traveling somewhere cold over break, or staying in town, staying healthy and fit is always a good goal to work toward. Some girls at SUA participate in dieting, juice cleanses, and fasting. Are those healthy choices?
For the girls who are looking for a less intense way to become more fit, “Forget about crash diets and killing yourself with exercise,” Jessica Smith, journalist for Today, says. Instead of making big dietary and fitness changes, Smith educates her readers on little things that give big results. “Sometimes you eat in front of the TV or computer. But do you know how much it affects your waistline? Studies show that we eat around 40% more when watching TV.” Simply turn off electronics when eating in order to be aware of how much you are actually taking in.
In addition to the distraction of the TV, eating in different places around your house or at restaurants can lead to weight gain as well. “Sitting down at the table to eat means you are more likely to focus only on eating and to pay more attention to the visual cues that help us decide when we are full.” According to Smith’s research, sitting at a designated dining area could help you eat up to 27% less. Eating more slowly at restaurants while on vacation will help you identify when your body is actually full.
Although many girls participate in dieting, fasting, and juice cleanses, “Weight loss doesn’t always mean cutting down on things. In fact, adding in more fruits and vegetable helps you stay fuller, longer, with less calories and more nutrition,” Smith explains.
Mary L. Gavin, MD, journalist for Teens Health, mentions that “everyone needs enough calories to keep their bodies running well. Any diet on which you don’t eat enough calories and important nutrients can be harmful” -- carb diets, for example. Dieting can also lead to eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia, which are commonly seen in teenage girls. 2.7% of teens ages 13 to 18 struggle with an eating disorder, according to Eating Disorder Hope. Gavin says that eating healthy full meals and snacks will help you lose weight while still supporting normal growth.
Are juice cleanses healthy? There are many potential benefits to solely consuming juices from vegetables and fruits in an attempt to detoxify the body, but there are risks. Rachel Nall, (RN, MSN) from Medical News Today, describes the cleanses as “restrictive in terms of food groups and calories.” A juice cleanse usually takes place over a certain period of time, typically from 3-10 days. Benefits of a cleanse include boosts to overall health due to vitamins and improvement in digestion by introducing healthy enzymes. Also, the juices are rich in anti-inflammatory compounds and this boosts a person’s immune system and makes them feel more energetic. Nall reminds her readers that there is no scientific proof to support these pros, though.
Doctors have identified several risks in juice cleanses. “Drinking large quantities of juice may be harmful to those with kidney disorders” and this could lead to kidney stones and other kidney problems. Side effects also include dehydration, nausea, headaches, and hunger, all of which are scientifically proven. Because this sort of diet is low in calories, “reduced calorie intake may result in temporary weight loss, but this change is rarely long lasting.” Nall continues: “There is more evidence to suggest that a juice cleanse can have negative impacts.”
At SUA, Mrs. Johnson, the school nurse, agrees with Nall. “Personally, I do not think juice cleanses or dieting are healthy. They may result in temporary weight loss but this change is rarely long lasting. They do not offer long term solutions for weight loss or wellness.” She reminds girls that dieting can leave you weak and can provide problems for your metabolism.
Finally, what should girls do when it comes to working out in order to maintain a fit body? Cardio or weight lifting? Mrs. Johnson says, “The ideal workout program includes a mix of cardio and strength training, and you should exercise 30-60 minutes, five days a week.”
Grant Tinsley, PhD, journalist for HealthLine, says “you’ll burn more calories per session of cardio than weight training for about the same amount of effort.” One misconception is that building muscle is key to increasing metabolism. Tinsley found that “weight training and building a little bit of muscle won’t make your metabolism skyrocket, but it may increase it by a small amount.” Tinsley mentions that high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which involves short bursts of exercise alternated with low intensity recovery periods, burns more calories. “You can use HIIT with a variety of different exercises, including sprinting, biking, jumping rope, and other body-weight exercises. The researchers found that HIIT burned 25-30% more calories than other forms of exercise.” Mrs. Johnson strongly advocates HIIT at SUA.
It is important to consider a few things when choosing how you want to get in shape for break. “One in every 2 teenage girls and 1 in every 4 teenage boys have tried dieting to change the shape of their bodies. More than 1 in 3 girls are at a healthy weight, and still try to diet,” according to Caring For Kids. Teens who diet are likely to “weigh more by the time they are young adults, tend to ‘feel fat’, have lower self-esteem, feel cold and dizzy, are more unhappy with themselves, and are more likely to engage in unhealthy weight-loss behaviors.” Along with the simple tips and workout strategy, Caring for Kids gives many more tips for healthy eating: “eat a wide variety of foods, eat every meal, eat when you are hungry [and] stop when full, choose water over soft drinks, choose foods that are high in fiber, and it’s ok to have ‘junk food’ sometimes.” Mrs. Johnson adds “Do not deprive yourself and do not over exercise. Listen to your body and drink lots of water! Your skin will glow. It is also important to get 8-9 hours of sleep.”
All human beings are beautiful no matter their body type A “bikini body” does not have a concrete definition. It really is just a confident body.
Whatever option you choose on your journey to being more fit and healthy, make sure you are still getting daily nutrients and vitamins and not cutting out substances that you need. It is a good idea to talk to your doctor as well about juice cleanses or other dieting methods.