I'm not a diet or fitness expert, but I have been a 20 year old full time college student with a 20+ pound gain. What I might suggest is to schedule your workout time, however you keep track of your life, computer/palm/day runner/iphone/etc, write it down so it's "golden" and "may-not-be-disturbed" time for working out every day (or nearly every day). Personally I shoot for 2500-3500 calories of exercise burn every week, which means I need 30-60 minutes every day. Go through the calculator here to determine what your restriction is and then base your workout time on that.
By the way an elliptical is a great calorie burner, at your weight and depending on your energy level, you're probably burning 7-12 calories/minute. If your goal is to have great legs I would suggest that you mix up the workout by adjusting the angle of the elliptical, the lower the angle the higher the group of muscles that get worked on. The lowest angle works your buns, the highest works the calves, and so on. You might also mix it up with weight lifting or swats and lunges like the other suggested. One thing I like to do is check out workout videos from the library and try a new one every week or so.
Now on to nutrition. The average run of the mill TV dinner is bad news, in fact so bad it's killing you. Seriously. If you don't believe me, just read the ingredients and the nutritional panel on the box, or watch Jamie Oliver. You might want to look over some of the "diet" versions to see if there is a better option, but I can't offer any insight on that as we don't eat them at our house. Now being a college student you probably don't have much time for cooking or shopping, but there are lots of things you can grab that are healthy, nutritionally beneficial, easy and affordable. Tuna - can or pouch, yogurt - especially low-fat Greek, low-fat cottage cheese, fresh fruit - keep it out where you can see it, low fat whole grain bread, fresh and fresh frozen veggies and eggs. You might also try cooking once a week and living off that for a few days. Chili is pretty easy and when made with ground turkey it's very low fat and very filling, chicken stew is another good one as are hard boiled eggs.
Pizza averages 300 calories/slice and 19 grams of fat, for a slice of a 12" pizza and exponentially more than that for larger diameters. It's much too easy to sit down for pizza and eat an entire day's worth of calories and a week's worth of fat. When pizza is the option, fill up on a salad or piece of fruit first, then try and limit yourself to just one or two pieces. Better yet, when pizza is the dinner option, go for a run.
I too am a pop addict. Did you know that diet soda can actually cause you to feel hungry? It's true. The artificial sweeteners can make your body crave sugar. While I've been dieting I've switched my morning beverage to coffee with skim milk, that way I get my caffeine boost plus a dash of vitamin D and calcium. Okay coffee is maybe not the healthiest drink in the world, but nutritionally it's a step up from diet soda and has helped wean me off Diet Coke. I still let myself have the occasional diet soda, but only as a reward after I've managed to drink my water. I try and throw down at least 64 ounces of water/day, this keeps me off the diet Coke and also helps the weight loss. If you aren't into water, try making green tea, it's a boost to the metabolism and it counts as water. It's also much cheaper than soda.
Last edited by almeeker; 04-05-2010 at 12:56 PM.