Five shots in and two McChicken’s later, nothing may seem like it REALLY matters, and if this is only a monthly or even biweekly occurrence, maybe it doesn’t matter. But in such a transformative time in our lives, where we are constantly absorbing information and deciding the outcome that WE want for our lives, our mental, emotional and physical health should not be left behind.

Yes, we are going to have weeks where we do not get enough sleep, or run through McDonald's because we just do not have anything left to give physically or mentally, but in all reality – this is the time to start listening to our bodies.

I myself have had quite the health journey throughout college, and although not everyone’s needs to be as intense as mine has been, I’ve had the opportunity to learn a massive amount about how our bodies truly function, and what they need to do so.

In addition, I’ve been lucky to have amazing support from mentors, and the use of an awesome nutritional system. As a result, I’d like to share five main reasons why this is a time to learn healthy habits.

1. Your gut health directly affects your mental health

That’s right – anxiety, depression, that foggy feeling, and even not remembering anything you just read can all be caused by overproductions of bacteria and yeast in your stomach, or even constantly consuming foods your body does not process well.

Many people have grown up constantly eating sugar and processed foods and may even be on the verge of diabetes, yet so often people are quick to jump to medication to control their mood (myself included in the past), before ruling out diet and their overall health. In a time in our lives when we barely have time to adequately rest and eat, we do not have time to deal with something that could be fixed by changing the way we look at food and getting our body moving.

2. Confidence is key

This isn’t to say that you need to look like “everyone else,” or even close to the women on Instagram who dedicate their whole lives to transforming their bodies (although I do find them to be bad *ss), but I can speak from experience that when you find what works for your body, when you give it the nutrients it is begging for and cut out (most of) the processed crap, you gain a lightness, a confidence and an energy you didn’t have before. This creates a drive to do better in all areas of your life.

3. You’re truly not supposed to be constantly exhausted

I was someone who once had to nap at least once a day. I now rarely nap, and if I do it’s on a day where I truly did not get enough sleep the night before. Extra weight, food that your body doesn’t process well, and just almost never actually consuming most of the vitamins and minerals our bodies need results in depleting energy and our body’s ability to fight off sickness, bacteria in our gut etc.

4. Many people have begun to develop intolerances – and it is not surprising

In a culture of overconsumption and instant gratification, we really should not be surprised that our bodies are beginning to say “enough!”. Most adults become intolerant to dairy in some form, and cutting it out of one’s diet often results in clearer skin, diminished headaches and migraine issues, fixed digestion issues etc.

In addition, many people have cut out gluten resulting in proof that their body had not responded to it well. There are many positive effects to this, such as clearing up of psoriasis, less headaches and again, stomach issues. The sooner we listen to our bodies, the easier it can be to heal. Sure, some foods have been consumed for hundreds of years – but we are constantly changing and overproducing things to meet demand, and overeating has become the norm.

5. We’re currently setting the tone for our professional and post-student lives

We’re living in a way right now that we never will again. Most of us, even if we are supporting ourselves through school, are living on some loans, or at least working in a profession that we plan to RUN out of as soon as we graduate and can “move up." This means sure, sometimes we can make the decision to spend the last of our cash on shots without much repercussion, but soon enough reality will slap us in the face, and habits do not change easily.

If we don’t find healthy habits now, health issues can rise quickly, and as educated people, we should also value the only body we will ever have. Take advantage of your free university gym, even if it’s to walk the track or take a yoga class. And, even if it’s a bag of frozen green beans, get some real damn nutrients in.