If you follow me on Instagram, you can tell pretty quickly that I’m a foodie that loves to cook healthy. I’ve always had an active lifestyle, but making the connection between using my body and fueling my body didn’t come easy to me. It wasn’t until I sparked a love for cooking that I found a healthy balance between eating well and treating my body the best I can.
During my senior year of high school, I really started to understand that what I put into my body would make all the difference in my athletic performance. I played competitive club volleyball with the goal of being a recruited college athlete, and making a commitment to healthy eating was a big step forward in the recruiting process.
That year, I completed my first Whole30 and realized that a paleo diet made me feel amazing. I learned that I don’t do too well with gluten and dairy, and also that a lot of restaurants didn’t offer the best choices for my new healthy balance.
Rather than giving up, I became a master chef. Within the parameters of my college apartment, of course. I cooked my way through numerous books, and learned to love it. For the rest of the year, I was eating mostly paleo, and I felt great. I also lost around 10 pounds. I ended up getting recruited to play Division III volleyball, and couldn’t have been happier with the result.
Then, I was thrown into freshman year of college.
Playing a fall sport and being on a required dining hall meal plan meant that a paleo diet was nearly impossible to maintain. Since I couldn’t cook for myself or plan my own meals, it was almost as if I had started over. I no longer knew the best way to fuel my body with these unfamiliar options.
Coupled with the stress of school, I had gained the freshman 15 by December. I was no longer happy with how my body performed or felt. I knew something needed to change.
Finding a Healthy Balance
The summer after my freshman year, I did some work. I retaught my body how to understand food as fuel. I lifted 4 times a week and did cardio twice a week to keep up with out of season training. I started journaling my food choices, and went back to my paleo diet, with the occasional gluten free treat or grass fed cheese.
As a result, by the end of the summer I could feel my body embracing the healthy balance between foods I loved and foods that fueled me. Since then, I’ve lost most of the weight I gained my freshman year, and have taught my body and mind to have a better, balanced relationship with food.
Today, I stay active through my sport and lifting. I have my own kitchen on campus, which makes preparing for a healthy lifestyle that much easier. If I had to give one piece of advice to anyone wanting to stay healthy in college, whatever that means to them, it would be to plan ahead.“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Whether that’s planning time to meditate, work out, or take a nap, make sure to leave time for you.
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