The Freshman Fifteen: College Health That Works For You
When I started my first year of college, I was in the best shape of my life. I was already at a healthy weight before I began walking to class and participating in daily yoga sessions. By the end of my first college, I had lost 15 lbs. and my health was fantastic. But sophomore year came and I had less financial support, less time for myself, and a worse state of mind. I slowly gained weight to the point where I was 60 lbs heavier by the end of my junior year. It wasn’t until a trip to England when I joined a walking class every morning that I finally returned to a healthier lifestyle (while enjoying the beauty of the English countryside, of course). From that point on, I slowly lost weight all over again. But I could only do that because of one thing: I began to love my body. At 175 lbs, I loved my body more than I ever had before. After England, I was 160 lbs. Then the Christmas before graduation, I got to 150 lbs. Slowly, but surely, I began living life a healthier lifestyle. I wasn’t losing weight fast—I was cultivating the strong regime of self-love. If you’re looking for ways to start your new year off healthy and happy, here are some great tips to stay on track without driving yourself crazy.
Freshman year, I was pescatarian, meaning that I only ate fish and avoided other kinds of meat. My pescatarian experience drove home how important veggies are to my diet, because with such a limited meats selection, filling my meals with vegetables was key. Eating only seafood helped me go to about 115 lbs that first semester, and I’ve recently returned to that healthy pescatarian diet—with the exception of the Peruvian cuisine I love so much (never be afraid to treat yourself once in a while!). Food makes a huge difference in healthy living. It’s harder in the U.S. with all the junk food so prevalent in American life, but by including fruits, veggies, and other healthy and delicious foods in your diet, your body will be cleaned and detoxified.
Yoga is the perfect workout for my personality. I can still sweat, but without the stress of weights or running out of breath. However, the cool thing about getting in shape is that there are so many different kinds of workouts to choose from based on your personality. After all, working out should be you time. No matter your preference, though, make sure to work in cardio and stretching at least three times a week. That way your body isn’t too tight, but also is toned and built to live life to the fullest and feel your best.
Always remember that mental health is just as important as physical health. During my senior year I regularly attended mental health counselor sessions, and talked to a person who cared and listened, which was healthier for me than I ever imagined. Through therapy, I began to listen to myself, and was able to process both the good and bad parts of my life, and the world around me, rather than just letting it swim around in my head. There’s a bad stigma around therapy. You feel like something must be wrong with you. But going to a counselor is a lot like doing the extra credit. The person who usually does it, doesn’t necessarily need it, but earns a lot from doing it. Going to a therapist isn’t necessary, though, as long as you’re able to express your emotions and give yourself a mental check every now and again. Here are some exercises I’ve learned that you can do on your own to relieve some of your stress, and improve your mental state.
- Coloring sheets
- Making a routine to follow as a comfortable “structure”
- Talking out your worries with someone you trust
- Drawing out a brainstorm for some solutions to your concerns
- Guided meditation
- Writing or journaling
Working out, eating right, and taking time for you will all you to lead to a healthier mindset. The goal is to find what works best for you that makes your mind and body balanced. I love my hips, thighs, hair, and eyes. I love my nose, and I love my pose. Eating right, exercising, and paying attention to my state of mind are the three main ways that helped me stay healthy. I hope my story encourages you to rethink ways to keep yourself happy and healthy. Always practice self-love first. Remember, health isn’t just about how you look, or how what the scale says—it’s about you feeling great about you.