Dear Hayley,

I just saw a photo of myself and realized that I need to lose 30lbs. It was a rude awakening. Since turning 30 a few years ago, the extra weight has crept on so slowly that I haven't even really noticed. My schedule is really busy (working, in the midst of a PhD, lots of volunteer commitments, healthy social life, etc.) and to be honest I feel tired and lazy in my down time (Netflix will be the death of me!). I love to cook healthy meals, but my portions are likely too large and I do have a weakness for cheese and wine. I have a pretty flexible schedule during the day and free access to a gym - thanks to being a permanent student - and we also have a treadmill at home. Short of 30 minute jogs 2-3 times per week, I have no clue what to do next. How should I be eating and exercising to get fit and healthy and knock off that extra weight?!?!

Thanks for the kick in the pants!


It’s called creeping weight gain – when we wake up and all of a sudden our clothes, which we have already had to up in size, are too tight and we are 15 or 30 pounds heavier than we would like to be.  How does this happen? As we move further away from our adolescent years our lives start to become more sedentary. Not by choice, but because of all of the new responsibilities we are faced with. Long work hours and/or families start to take over the time we used to spend on ourselves and because of our lack of time, we spend less of it moving. We need to get to places quickly, so we forgo walking, and when the day is finally done we are either too exhausted to move or have too many items on our to-do list at home which means exercising and eating healthy gets pushed to tomorrow. And don’t forget how good it feels after a long day to stuff ourselves full of our favorite comfort foods!

The good news is this can be stopped, but the bad news is it isn’t going to be easy. You need to start making some serious sacrifices, one of them being turning off Netflix. Your workouts are not going to happen unless you make them happen so here are a few tips on how to get yourself moving after a long day.

Tip number 1 is simply put on your workout gear. That’s it. Just put it on. If you do this you are much more likely to get in a workout.

Step number 2 is tell yourself that you are only going to exercise for 20 minutes. 20 minutes of exercise is easy to fit into a busy day and it is easy to motivate yourself to do it. This is my absolute favorite trick on the days where I feel too tired to move. 9 times out of 10 my workouts go longer and they are usually the ones I work the hardest in and feel the most accomplished after.

Step number 3 is remind yourself of how much better you are going to feel after a workout than after an hour of Netflix. And the bonus is that all of the endorphins that you release from exercise will replace the endorphins that you are seeking from over-eating (even over-eating healthy food is not ok). Think about this – you will be burning calories, you will be consuming less calories and you will feel great from endorphins. It’s a win, win, win!

It sounds pretty obvious that you know what you need to do, but you just need someone to tell you to do it! So go do it! Set some goals daily, weekly and monthly and then reach them. Figure out what you are willing to sacrifice to make time to move, which I am thinking is either going to be sleep or Netflix, and then make a schedule, track your exercise time and record your food intake as this is going to hold you accountable. MyFitnessPal is one of my favorite apps to track your food intake and I love the Fitbit.  I have seen so many people lose weight and see their fitness improve just by hitting their target of 10,000 steps a day. Add to those 10,000 steps 3 to 4 weekly strength training workouts, ranging from 15-45 minutes. Download the Nike Training Club onto your phone, which is in my opinion the best workout app you can get. It’s like having a personal trainer in your pocket.

Last piece of advice is until you start to see some weight come off stay away from the cheese and the wine. If you know they are your weaknesses then steer clear, as well as anything else that you may succumb to in a moment of weakness. 

Take it day by day and don’t expect to see changes overnight, but if you don’t get ahold of this now you could see another 15 pounds creep on by the time you are 40 and then it’ll be even harder.