“Looking good is secondary. Having a healthy relationship with your body should be your priority.”
Trying to maintain a “healthy lifestyle” has been something that I have struggled with my whole life. Believe it or not, for about 4 years, the three phrases above became the sole identity of who I was. I identified myself in these categories to such an extreme that it became an issue. I took each phrase to the next level. Instead of self-love, I needed society-acceptance. Instead of body positive, I needed to be restricting or splurging. Instead of being self-assured, I was only confident if I was 100 lbs or less. As you can see, it became a major issue. And it was not healthy, physically or mentally.
When I was in high school, I found my identity in being as “small” and “skinny” as possible. I was always active, who wouldn’t be after doing gymnastics for 10 years. I had to be in shape and healthy in order to succeed, which is so good! But around my senior year I took it to an extreme. Instagram started blowing up with “fitness icons”, my boyfriend and I of years broke up, and I had just quit gymnastics in order to be a “normal” teen. Safe to say, I was a mess. And I thought the only way that people would like me is if I was like these “fitness icons” so many girls my age looked up to. I began counting my calories, and working out nonstop. I ate about 800 calories a day, 900 if it was a heavy cardio day, and I ran for about 1 hour minimum each day. I even was caught leaving school early some days by my mom so I could come home and do some cardio because people were getting worried about how obsessed I was with it. Well, long story short, at the end of my senior year I became aware that it was not a healthy way to live and I couldn’t restrict myself. Restricting is not “loving yourself” and restricting also isn’t “being body positive” because your body actually starts to shut down.
Then came college… and oh boy did I mess up that first year and half. I won’t get into to many details but let’s just say I gained MORE than the “Freshman 15”, drank almost every single day, and ate Taco Bell on the regular. I completely threw all my work down the drain that I had at one time been so proud of. Instead of being 100 lbs and very, very scrawny, I became identified in the exact opposite. And it is all because of one reason: I thought I was “loving myself” in both stages. When the truth is, I was the exact opposite in “both stages.”
Now that you know exactly why I am writing this, I am going to give you a few of the best things I have learned along the way. Because, let’s face it, no one wants to gain the “Freshman 15”, but no one wants to restrict themselves for having the occasional piece of pizza either. We are human. We are going to want to look and feel good, which is not wrong! But, we should also be enjoying who we are, and who we are surrounded by. And being stuck at either extreme makes enjoying life very difficult. Something I think we should all begin to embrace, and attack full heartedly, is self-love, body positivity, and self-assurance, but with a balance. Overtime, I have come to call this a “balanced-healthy.” I believe we shouldn’t solely let our identities be trapped in these “social expectations” and I do not think we should let others influence how we perceive ourselves. Rather, I think that we should solely try to focus on these three key phrases with harmony and proportion.
“Fall in love with taking care of yourself.”
Here are my 9 tips to help you feel good, look good, & stay a “balanced healthy” while in college:
Focus On Eating Small Amounts Throughout The Day
Eating small increments, periodically throughout the day will not only boost your metabolism, but help you to not over-indulge. Sometimes, we try not to eat too much, but then we cannot take it anymore, and we resort to bingeing, or eating just once a day (guilty as charged). But not only will this leave you feeling WAY too full, it stops your metabolism, which makes it so your food cannot process as well, and you aren’t burning as many calories. Try eating 5-6 times throughout the day, having each meal be a little smaller than you normally would eat with a few random snacks thrown in there!
Do NOT Count Your Calories, Just Focus on Portions
Counting your calories is not only mentally unhealthy, but it is all time-consuming. Do not get me wrong, I definitely think we should pay attention to what we are eating, but we should focus more on portion control. Try not to get so caught up in calories that you completely restrict yourself, because that is so unhealthy. Rather, just be aware, and try to “eye” everything. Your body will tell you when enough is enough.
Try Something COMPLETELY New In The Gym
Okay, as many of you know, I found my new love of boxing. And honestly, that has been the game changer. It has pushed me to workout more, eat better, and honestly, just be happier. Because I enjoy it! So, I challenge you to try something new. Trying something out of your comfort zone. If you bike, trying swimming. If you lift, try doing a body-weight circuit sometime. Even if it is a small change such as changing from the elliptical to the treadmill, challenge yourself to do something different, so you can look at the gym as a “getaway” not another place of work.
Switch It Up, A Lot, All The Time, Non-stop!
The main reason I have began to LOVE working out, and have shifted towards working out 6, 7, sometimes even 8 times a week comes down to one word: switch. I am constantly switching what muscles I am working, how I am working out, and even where I am working out. Granted, I have my go-to of boxing at TITLE but I like to go to the gym and do sprints, or circuits, or lift. Switching it up will cause you to want to keep pushing even more, and not get sick of the gym or the same routine.
Don’t Stick To The Same Cardio, You’ll Hate Yourself
It sucks because cardio is so important. I hate it. I am sure you hate it. Not many people can actually say they find joy ALL OF THE TIME in cardio. But I can tell you one thing, changing what type of cardio you do will not make you hate yourself as much for doing it. I like to do interval training, because for me, I cannot just “run two miles” or “bike 10 miles” because I get bored. I hate being at the same, constant pace. I like to do interval training where I will sprint for 2 minutes, and then walk for 1, and the sprint for 30 seconds super fast, and then walk for 3. I try to change it. On some days, I bike. Other days, I just box. Many days, I work on my agility and box jumps. It really just depends. But, it keeps me doing cardio, and it keeps me coming back to it.
Eat Clean When You’re Alone, So You Don’t Have To Say “No”
I had a coach tell me this a long time ago, and applying this to my lifestyle has been nothing short of rewarding. She said to me to try to eat clean while you are alone so when “a friend asks you to go out you won’t feel bad saying yes”. Which is SO true. Why eat a whole pizza to yourself and then go out with your friends for half-off apps the next day. Sure, you will still say yes, but you will subconsciously feel guilty. So try eating clean when you are alone. That way when a friend does want you to go have a drink or get pizza you will a) not feel guilty and b) it won’t affect your progress as much. The last thing you want to do is restrict yourself from fun times out with your friends, but you also do not want to lose your progress.
If You Drink, Be Conscious of “How Much” or “What”
I have recently completely cut out drinking from my lifestyle, just because I no longer see the fun in it. But, when I was still drinking and working out, I really paid attention to “what” and “how much” Nothing you drink is necessarily “good for you” but, try to focus on not drinking craft beers, or regular soda, or margaritas, because those are PACKED with carbs and calories. Also, try to focus on not drinking every weekend. It is said that it takes your body 2 weeks to recover and get back to its normal metabolism after drinking. So try to only drink for certain occasions or once in a while, because although it is not GREAT for you, it won’t kill your process, but rather just “halt” it a tiny bit.
Make Working Out Part Of Your “Homework”
You know how you always set aside time for homework, or reading? Try doing that for your workouts as well. You are more likely to go to the gym if you have a set time that you are going to do it that day. We have all said to ourselves “oh, I will just go later” or “I am just going to go after this”, and then we don’t even end up going. Make yourself go at a certain time and you are more likely to actually follow through.
Be Proud Of Where You Are At!
We all have to start somewhere, and none of us are not going to have the same results, so be proud of where you are at. We cannot possibly all function the same because our bodies simply to do not answer the same to every food, workout, or lifestyle we try to embrace. The first step to actually starting a “balanced healthy” lifestyle is to just be proud of yourself. If you are not proud, you are not going to push yourself to change. And you already are amazing. So except where you are at, know that you are amazing, and attack your goals.
Now, obviously, this is going to be different for EVERYONE, and do not think I am trying to act like just another one of those “fitness accounts” on Instagram. Because I am not, and I am far, far from that. But rather, I am just simply trying to share with you what I have learned over these past 4 years of fluctuating weights, emotions, and health. I was at one point less than 100 lbs, and then at another point I was a weight I am not even ready to admit yet. But finally, after loving myself, implementing these easy changes, and enjoying life, I am healthy, happy, and full of radiance! And you can be too! You are beautiful, and you are so worth it! So embrace this life you were given, and attack it wholeheartedly, in hopes of a more balanced and happy “you”.
With all that I am,