I was fit my whole life, but my fitness journey didn’t really start until I went to college. After high school, I couldn’t imagine not being active. Growing up, my parents had always signed me and my brother up for various classes for tennis, soccer, and swimming. Some days I would dread these activities and ask why I couldn’t eat like a normal child (read: have Lucky Charms for breakfast or soda with dinner). Little did I know that the healthy lifestyle my parents enforced would become my choice – and my passion.
Fast forward to my high school years, when I left home to attend a private Christian boarding academy in Colorado. There, I played volleyball, soccer, and basketball. You may be thinking that I must have been some crazy amazing athlete. Wrong! I had to work harder than the rest of the other girls to be any good.
I’d get frustrated at myself because I wanted to be a naturally gifted athlete. However, I later realized that I really wanted to play because it was my passion. I did not like to think that all that mattered were wins and losses. Sure competition was great, but enjoying the work was more important to me. Playing sports was my biggest stress reliever and no matter what happened at my games and practices, I still had fun.
When my high school years came to a close, I didn’t want to leave my life of having sports practice every day. I had no idea what I should do to stay active.
Freshman year of college happened and I had a firm belief that I would not gain the dreaded freshman 15. My metabolism back in high school had been fast. I could eat a bowl of spice noodles, Oreos, and Hot Cheetos in one sitting after practice and be hungry an hour later.
When I mention this part, people immediately tell me that I’m so lucky, but I hated being skinny. Gaining just one pound was such a struggle in itself. I wanted to be normal. My first year of college was pretty awesome, but my eating habits took their toll.
For me, almost every lunch consisted of two huge plates of food along with either cake or cookies and ice cream. My parents kindly suggested that I should eat healthier, but I mostly ignored them. I “tried” to eat healthy, but having a buffet with so many options and a dessert section made it hard. I mean who can resist getting a cookie or two and maybe pizza while walking through the cafeteria?
I figured that I still had my high school metabolism. I was wrong, and I gained weight.
My eating habits weren’t the only things that changed during my college years. I also started struggling with fitness and self-love. I found myself being a cardio bunny and spending a few hours a day in the gym trying to lose the unhealthy weight I gained. I let the number on the scale determine how I saw myself.
My second year of college was tough. It wasn’t just challenging academically, but I was battling with myself. I had created a hole where I constantly kept digging deeper and deeper. I hated myself because I had set such high expectations for myself both academically and physically. My struggles were masked with a smile on my face, stress eating, and exerting all my energy at the gym. It wasn’t till the summer before my junior year that I realized I needed to change my mindset and create a healthy balance between nourishing my body and fitness.
I have been working on creating healthy relationships with food and fitness that I can carry into the future, but I am a work in progress. On days when I’m feeling down, I try to remember my journey and why I started it, and that keeps me motivated. In addition, I like to mix up my workouts, doing everything from BBG to weight lifting to cardio to yoga, in order to keep me feeling healthy and motivated. Remember, healthy looks different on everybody, and you don’t have to do the same workouts as others.
And you know those dining hall desserts? It’s okay to have that cake or cookie every once in awhile, because life is supposed to bring us happiness. I still enjoy my desserts, but I limit myself to Saturday’s as my day. When I know my diet is 70-80% clean eating, I don’t feel guilty about having something sweet here and there.
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