Heading into freshman year of college, hopes are always high. We all look forward to the new place with new people and new opportunities. Getting hit with a new setting and way of life gets a person sidetracked faster than anything else, and personally, it was enough to significantly take away from my health.
I have noticeably struggled my entire life with living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a good self-image, and the constant distraction from it didn't help in the long run. By the end of first semester, I was made aware of how I had let myself get too comfortable in the unhealthy habits. I wasn't in a good spot with myself, but sometimes you have to get low in order to see the top.
Just to make it clear, I am in no way a professional, and I am in no way claiming that I really know what I'm talking about.
All I know is that I was able to dig myself out of a ditch. In writing this, I hope to help y'all avoid the ditch entirely, and enter freshman year, or any year, knowing what to expect of yourself. Maybe you're not trying to lose weight, you could just be trying to develop healthier habits. And maybe the changes I made to my lifestyle are ones you can learn from. These changes are exactly what I'm here to share with you.
SO, let's jump into it.
It's December. I am the heaviest and unhealthiest that I have been in my entire life. I was not in good physical or mental shape at this point, and I knew I needed change, I just didn't know where to start. I started to realize that my awful self-image came from comparing myself to others. I was always looking to impress other people because they always seemed to impress me. Almost a competition day to day. I was SO over it. Over the fake, edited, unhealthy nature of the culture. I started this journey by deleting my Instagram. Suddenly my time was my own. Not having a reason to check up on other people made it a lot easier to check up on myself instead. I was able to do so much more for myself because I truly stopped caring about how I appealed to other people.
To set everything straight, it is not selfish to make your life about you.
In fact, I highly encourage it. Maybe you don't have the kind of motivation or reason to go off-grid for a little while, and that's okay. But start paying attention to the attention you lend. There are so many things we are conditioned to care about that actively take away from the love we have for ourselves. Take note.
But now we have to think about the goal and the motivation. Personally, I knew that being in better physical shape would bring me to a good spot mentally. Not that it should, but being overweight had a toll on my socially. Without getting too personal, I felt limited by the way I looked. The feeling motivated me. I was motivated by the fact that I knew nobody expected it of me. Motivated by people that thought I couldn't do better. Mostly, I was motivated by the fact that I never thought I could get there. I did want to prove everyone wrong, but more than anything, I wanted to prove myself wrong.
It was set. As cliché as it may be, it truly was a New Year, New Me situation. Cold freaking turkey. 2018 was and still is about growing within myself. I started with going vegetarian. I don't believe in pushing any kind of 'diet' on anyone, because it truly is a lot more personal and should be more nutritionally customized for each individual. However, this was a great way to start. I learned so much about self-discipline and determination. Each day I could have given up, but I made the conscious decision to keep it going. And this is how all health-related goals seem to work. It's not always about being perfect, but it's about the choice. It's about the effort. Slipping up happens, but if you're reminding yourself of what the long-term goal is, you're going to make better decisions than you have in the past.
The small decisions matter too. So walk to class instead of taking the bus. Try the stairs instead of the elevator. Go crazy and take a walk instead of taking a nap. Exercise can easily be disguised, especially when you're just getting started. Don't feel pressured to immediately start going to the gym every day or force yourself to go on runs that you aren't mentally prepared for. Don't be scared to take it slow. I mean, hey, you have your entire life to get where it is you'd like to be. You'll know when you're ready to step things up.
The hardest part is convincing yourself it's easy. Because it is.
There's just one big hump to get over before it's second nature. Success lies in putting yourself through one shitty week. It will not be fun, and you'll be so tempted to give up the ENTIRE time, but this is all it takes to form a habit. You develop such a taste for natural foods over processed foods and you lose the cravings that used to defeat you. No more late night Dominos, but instead an early, balanced dinner. The best part is that with healthy eating comes a better metabolism, so if you do end up indulging, it's okay! Your body has an easier time getting rid of the not so good stuff because it's finally in good condition.
Keep this in mind through it all. It's not just about now. It's about the life ahead of you. Take care of your body for the long run, not just to lose weight or for any goal that is just for now. Your body is your home, and it will always be with you. The only way to stay happy in it is to take care of it. Give it what it needs. Listen to it. Don't be scared to sweat and sacrifice, because this is the only body that you will ever have.
But mostly, confidence.