Upon thinking about this post and sitting down to write it, I found myself at a loss for words. I tried so hard to come up with a witty intro, an entertaining hook, or literally anything to start this with, but…nothing. So, I’ll just jump right in.
Exercising. Ugh. I’ve had quite the relationship with exercising, even as an extremely young girl. Some of my earliest memories include breaking a sweat to Jane Fonda’s workout VHS videos in my mom’s bedroom alongside her. Oh boy, let’s not forget the ThighMaster that I used to play with while watching The Nanny before Kindergarten. It’s not necessarily that I grew up with a negative body image, I just always wanted to be exactly like my mom. With that came a childhood of trying out countless “As Seen on TV” exercise contraptions because, well, my mom is the “As Seen on TV Queen”. Not at all complaining though, at least I always know what to get her as a gift!
Skipping ahead to my adolescent years, I had a little bit of a different take on fitness. Middle School is an awkward time for anyone, and my experience wasn’t any less than that. I was surrounded by incredibly skinny girls and began to feel the pressure to fit into a cookie cutter mold. I had yet to realize at that time that my body would never look like that: I was never going to have a thigh-gap, I was never going to not have a big chest, I was never going to not be curvy. Without this realization, though, I developed increasingly unhealthy habits. I would limit myself to one meal of substance each day, while only eating fruit the rest of the time. I remember obsessively checking nutrition labels to ensure that nothing I ate exceeded 4 grams of fat. I would talk on the phone with friends every night while doing hundreds of sit-ups in my bedroom. I began to unhealthily lose weight, but my actions slipped below the radar — I would eat my meal of substance with my parents, I would do my obsessive sit-ups in secret, I did just enough to remain healthy in the eyes of others. As one could imagine, as soon as I started eating and behaving more like a healthy individual, I gained back all of the weight I lost and more.
Skipping ahead a few more years comes the adventure that is high school. High school was an interesting time period for me regarding my health and body image. I never really considered myself overweight, but looking back, I am able to clearly recognize the large amount of weight I’ve lost since then. I was always one of those girls stuck in the middle — I always complained and wished I was more fit, but I wasn’t exactly unfit enough to be empowered to do anything about it. Honestly, my most clear memory of high school has to be returning home from school, eating mass amounts of snacks, and then continuing to nap for, on average, 3-4 hours. So, unhealthy would probably sum it up.
Even though this perpetually unhealthy cycle of snacking, napping, waking up groggy, being unmotivated all day, then resorting back to snacking made me feel less than empowered to perform my best every day, my view of health was too incredibly narrow-minded for me to find a solution. To me, I wasn’t overweight enough to make goals to become healthier, and I was too blind to realize the vast other health benefits a healthy lifestyle causes. It wasn’t until arriving at college that I had an epiphany.
I’m a firm believer that there’s two types of people at college: the “freshman fifteen”-ers, and the “freshman-lose-fifteen”-ers. Thankfully, I was the latter. Between attending school on such an incredibly large campus, my close proximity to the gym, my despising of dining hall food, and my inspiring friends, I didn’t find it hard to stay healthy, and even become healthier, in college. Instead of basking in the endless junk food that freedom brings like many of my peers, I came to college well aware of the consequences of my unhealthy actions and made a vow to make little changes to become healthier while here.
I don’t know who’s more to thank for this, my strong guilty conscience or my lovely friends. I don’t know how I got so lucky to find such great friends that share the same values and goals as me, but I’m sure thankful I did. Lots of gym visits would not have happened without them! As for my guilty conscience — boy does it make me feel guilty! There’s been countless times that I’ve been so tempted to take the bus up .2 miles of Fee Ln instead of walk, and then my conscience chimes in reminding me that I am fully capable of using my own two legs. Same goes for food — do you know how hard it is to walk by salt & vinegar chips every day and not stop to get some? Spoiler alert: it’s HARD! Thanks to my conscience, though, I’ve only caved once. Something I’ve come to terms with is that I don’t believe in crash diets, I believe in lifestyle changes. If you tell me I can’t eat ice cream for the next three weeks, guess what I’m gonna do on day 22? Eat ice cream for every meal. I know that, personally, if I deprive myself of something, I will be the hangriest person on planet earth and end up doing everything I can (probably stuffing myself with other unhealthy food) to try to cure that craving. Instead, I listen to my body and what it is craving and I find that that keeps me on track way more than deprivation would.
It would be a straight up LIE to say that I’m this newly changed health guru since arriving at IU. There’s a good chance I’m the furthest thing from it. I eat WAY too many sweets, I eat WAY too little wholesome foods (despite my best efforts), and I’m still WAY too lazy most of the time. I think my main issue is I get unmotivated extremely quickly. I’ll get in these moods where exercising and health are my life & soul and I’ll work out every day and feel like I’m on top of the world, and then I skip a single day and all my progress goes down the drain.
What has helped this year is recognizing that a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to go hand-in-hand with weight loss. Personally, I don’t want to lose any more weight. I’ve realized how much more energetic, happy, and alive leading a healthy lifestyle makes me feel and that’s why I do it. Okay, maybe I also want a poppin’ booty and a toned tummy but that’s besides the point!
Since I’ve been experiencing a wave of a lack of motivation lately, I’ve decided to challenge myself to thirty days of healthiness. I decided to share my story, and my challenge, with each of you because hopefully I can inspire some of you to join this journey with me towards a healthier life — also, I need someone to hold me accountable for this when all I want to do is veg out in bed with ice cream instead of working my butt off at the gym. So, without further ado, I present to you my challenge to myself until April 30!
thirty day challenge
1) Exercise at least four (4) times a week — NO excuses!
Okay, so I may or may not have the easiest class schedule in the world this semester and there is absolutely no reason I can’t make it to the gym at least four days a week. My plan is to go Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, but I will substitute days in cases of emergency. No more being pathetic and making excuses for me!
2) Try to eat at least one wholesome meal a day.
By wholesome, I mean including some sort of protein and vegetable. I do not trust dining hall meat with an ounce of my soul, and I’m a firm believer that the lettuce we’re provided for salads has been disposed of and pre-packaged — but, none-the-less, I am going to make an effort to find unique and innovative ways to eat food with more substance than my usual Tomato Basil Bisque and grapes.
3) Drink more water each day. (Hopefully at least two water bottles!)
This is where my true pathetic-ness shines loud and proud. I’m literally the worst water drinker you’ll ever meet. Some days, I’ll make myself a tea in the morning then accidentally forget to drink anything for the remaining 16 hours I’m awake. That is, until I wake up frantically in the middle of the night searching for any consumable liquid, because it’s as if my saliva has been replaced with dust because I’m so parched. So, for me, two water bottles is an impressive feat!
and that’s all there is to it.
I’m a firm believer that little changes are successful because they are achievable. These changes may seem minuscule to some, but I am incredibly excited to evaluate how I feel after these thirty days are over. If anything, hopefully I’m more hydrated!
I hope I’ve inspired you to identify a little change you would like to enact within your life over these next thirty days. We can be in it together!
And with that — here’s to a healthy, exciting, empowered thirty days!