My fitness journey has been, and honestly still is, a crazy rollercoaster ride. As an athlete in high school, going to the gym wasn’t a necessity.I was so active and my metabolism was much faster (oh, how I miss my teenage metabolism) that I didn’t have to worry about getting in extra exercise or eating right. I wasn’t by any means a stick, but I was fit.
During my first two years of undergrad, I somehow managed to avoid the “freshman 15”.I had minor weight fluctuations but I was relatively active, and tried to eat okay, so it was never really a big deal. Junior year, after turning 21, I started gaining weight. It’s common knowledge that alcohol doesn’t exactly shrink the waistline, but being newly 21, I didn’t care.I just wanted to have fun! But I got to a point where I wasn’t nearly as active as I had been and I certainly wasn’t eating in a way that positively influenced my health or my body image.
Spring semester of senior year, my friends and I planned a trip to Cancun for spring break. It was the perfect motivation to get back to the gym and start eating right. And those habits stuck with me well after the trip and throughout the summer after graduation. I was eating well, exercising, and felt amazing.
Fast forward to graduate school. For the first couple weeks, I was able to keep my health and wellness as a priority. However, as classes and research became more involved, my priorities changed. I began eating more junk and spending more time at my desk. My diet consisted of take out or mac-n-cheese, anything that was quick, easy, and tasty. The gym fell out of my daily rotation and I felt I had no time to be active. After a while, my body started showing these changes and I felt terrible. At the end of my first semester of graduate school, I decided I didn’t like who I was becoming and how it was making me feel. I never had any energy or motivation, I was depressed and struggling with anxiety. I was a mess and I needed cleaning up.
So I made the decision to start reincorporating healthy habits back into my life. When I went home for winter break, I worked with my mother on preparing healthy meals and being more active. I started going to the gym and hiking with friends. I just made changes that made me happy.
I’m now about a month into my second semester of graduate school and I’ve been able to stick with these habits. I’ve been working out consistently, eating (mostly) clean meals, and, most importantly, listening to what my body needs.
My main motivation is simple: I want to be the best version of myself that I can be. These new habits are not only helping me physically, but mentally as well. I eat what my body craves, and it’s craving real food. I workout not because it’s a chore, but because it makes me happy (yay endorphins!) and I want to. I am doing this for my overall wellness. I’m doing this for me.
So my challenge to you is quite simple: if you are dissatisfied with something in your life, take the steps to change it! It might not be easy. In fact, it’s probably incredibly difficult. But it’s the small steps that will lead you to where you want to be.