All I've ever known is sports. I'm pretty sure I kicked a soccer ball the day after I learned how to walk. I was the girl who tried almost every sport.
I did track, volleyball, basketball, swimming, tennis, snowboarding and soccer throughout my adolescence and onwards into middle school. These weren't just sports in school, either. I played competitively outside my school teams starting when I was little. I was used to working out because it was something that was always built into my schedule.
It honestly wasn't an option to not go to the weight room for volleyball or hit the treadmill to prepare for soccer season. I could eat whatever I wanted because I was constantly active and playing some sort of sport.
It's all I ever really knew until the day I graduated and left for college.
The summer before I started college I was still working out and keeping my body "in shape." Then college came and I lost a sense of grounding.
My built-in workout schedule wasn't there anymore, and I felt somewhat out of control. No one was forcing me to run sprints after school, and if I missed a workout I didn't have my coach telling me he noticed it in my game the next day. It was just me trying to find the motivation to do something that I never had to motivate myself to do.
Playing sports all my life meant that I had others motivating me—my parents, my coaches, and my teammates.
Starting college is hard enough because you learn what it's like to be on your own. You learn how to do a lot of things you're not used to doing... on your own. I learned this very quickly when I found myself having only ventured to my school's workout facility once in almost two months.
It wasn't easy. It wasn't easy to find the time. It wasn't easy to be motivated, but it was easy to eat unhealthily and spend my free time doing things other than staying active.
This took a toll on much more than just my body.
Yes, I put on some weight and lost some muscle, but more importantly, I felt bad about myself. Not as much for the way I looked, but for the way I felt.
I was so used to getting a good sweat in, and I honestly liked the feeling of being sore after a hard workout. Sports were also a relief for my mind. They were something I could channel my anger and anxiety into.
I noticed when I lost that relief my mind became filled with emotions that I wasn't sure how to control because I'd never really had to.
It took some self-realization and speaking with my parents to understand what I was lacking.
The motivation to slowly start going to the gym wasn't easy.
Nor was the motivation to trade in my cheap, quick processed meals for some healthier options. I had to tell myself that this wasn't just for my outward appearance, because it can be easy to get caught up in that, but that it was for my mind.
Once I started focusing on balancing out my time, it was easier for me to get myself to the gym.
If I planned out my days and my workload, then I suddenly saw myself having more time than I did when I was unorganized. Once I started going to the gym, it was more common sense to eat healthier at the dining halls.
This is NOT easy to do either. I don't say that as a discouraging comment because there is still definitely a way to be healthy there, but the temptation to have fries, pasta and hit the ice cream machine every day is real.
All in all, it's about finding what works for you.
College is an adjustment for everyone.
No one comes here knowing exactly what they're doing, and if they do then they're lying. Balance really is key, and listening to yourself is important. I can't say I make it to the gym every day or choose to cook a healthy meal over grabbing some McDonald's every time, but I do what I can the best that I can.
It feels good. My body is happier with me, and so am I. I challenge you to look at your life and see if you think something is missing.