The benefits of prioritizing health and fitness
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Student Life

Prioritizing My Health And Fitness Has Changed Everything

Diet. Exercise. A positive mindset. These three simple ideas can revolutionize your lifestyle, too.

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Prioritizing My Health And Fitness Has Changed Everything
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Pizza rolls, fast food, bagels, soft drinks and extra large, sugary coffee drinks...all while watching Netflix for hours on end. Sounds heavenly, right?

Heavenly? Maybe. Healthy? Definitely not.

After coming home for the summer from my freshman year at Michigan State, I realized very quickly that my steady diet of fast food, pizza rolls, and other sinful creations had not exactly been entirely good for me, nor had the inactivity of nightly Netflix binge sessions. I had gained quite a bit of weight for someone my size, and not only was I always run down, I was not confident in myself anymore. My clothes did not fit right, my skin was rebelling and I was constantly catching every virus I came in contact with.

Then, on top of all of this, my body was weak. I had lost the overall strength and fitness that I once had as a dancer. Who would believe that I was a competitive dancer for over 10 years and suddenly I could not climb a flight of stairs without being winded!

It was then that I realized it was time to change my lifestyle.

First and foremost, overtime, I have learned that the foods I put into my body and my fitness regimen play a big role in what my future looks like due to past injuries and a hereditary condition. For better or worse, they are here to stay, so staying strong and healthy is the best way for me to ensure a future without limits. But, I am here to tell you that the benefits of changing your lifestyle are not limited to just me. Prioritizing health and fitness can benefit everyone, whether a former athlete, a bookworm or someone in between.

The benefit to all areas of my life has truly been incredible. From more stamina, to a more positive attitude, to regaining my confidence, this new lifestyle has changed my world; maybe it could change yours, too.

I can hear the naysayers now. Yes, some people can eat whatever they want and never move a muscle. They appear thin and fit and their unhealthy lifestyle changes absolutely nothing about their appearance. But are they really healthy? When will it all catch up with them? I too thought I could live that way, but, I found out it was not working for me. I may have been able to maintain the facade for a while, but this summer I realized my bad habits had all caught up with me. My dad, who is a health and fitness nut, has harped on me for years to change my habits, but it took me until this point in my life to realize what he was saying had merit. Now, health and fitness have taken over my life and I am pretty sure it is what I talk about 50 percent of the time now.

My first step was to become more active. It sounds so simple, but I had a couple missteps at first. I went to the gym once and quickly remembered that going to a place with a bunch of sweaty boys attempting to lift twice as much weight as they realistically can was not for me. So, I decided to try out a free week of spin classes for new riders at Cyclebar. The music, the choreographed routine, and the atmosphere was appealing to me as a former dancer. With the first class, I fell in love. I went every day I could during that trial week. At the end of the week, I took my dad with me to a class. He needed a little convincing that this was not just some trendy, blow-off workout class. And let me tell you, after one ride, he was convinced. This was a real workout! I now have a summer membership and go at least four times a week. My scores and rankings increase weekly and if that is not motivating, then I don't know what is. Moral of the story when it comes to being more active, find something that makes you want to get up and exercise. There are plenty of options for everyone, including boxing, barre classes, gym memberships, yoga, and spin. The opportunities are endless.

My second and maybe hardest step was to cut out junk food and fast food. Honestly, at first, I craved it all the time. The thought of not being able to eat those gloriously salty and greasy fries from McDonald's was killing me. However, after a short period of struggling (and introducing myself to healthier options), miraculously I did not even want that kind of food anymore. I hate to say it, but your fitness journey truly starts when you decide to change your eating habits. I promise you though, if you do, your results will show. I am not suggesting that you go on some strict diet, but I do suggest trading in the processed foods for something more natural. Another tip that will help is to read the nutrition labels! You might be surprised to see what is actually in that package of Oreos you just downed in an afternoon. Remember: just because something appears healthy does not mean it is healthy. For example, most granola bars and protein bars are really not the best for you, but there are healthy options. Do your research, do not pick products blindly and read, read, read those labels! You can even look up fun recipes to make at home on social media apps such as Instagram or Pinterest!

Third, I took my quest for healthier more natural food options a little farther in order to see my results faster. I was introduced to a Three Day Challenge at a local smoothie and juice bar. I already loved their nutritious protein shakes and the challenge was offered at a low price. I did my research and figured, why not? My meal plan during the challenge included drinking two protein shakes and then having two high protein snacks and a high protein dinner. The meal plan is personalized to meet everyone's individual goals. This plan is used in conjunction with daily exercise, so it is not a quick fix. It is a true lifestyle change. When I received my results after the three days, I was left speechless. My measurements and muscle mass had changed drastically in an incredibly positive way. I am now combining my workout routine with their 30-day challenge and I cannot wait to see my results in a month.

In the end, health and fitness are up to YOU. Only you and no one else. Do not let the challenges and obstacles scare you away from what you potentially could be. I have waited way too long to embark on this journey and let me tell you, I was out of shape. But now, I can proudly say that I can finally climb the stairs without almost hyperventilating and falling over (okay, maybe a little over-dramatic, but you get my point!) I am stronger, healthier and more confident than I have ever been. And for these reasons, I will continue this lifestyle as I begin my next year at Michigan State.

I encourage you to also find the health and fitness lifestyle that inspires and motivates you to be your best self.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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