I have made a habit of exercising pretty regularly since I was around 13...mostly thanks to my mom who has always gone to the gym and set an amazing example for me as far as exercise goes. Now, I'm not saying I am a total gym rat or have a model body because I'm not and I don't...but I have learned a few things about establishing an exercise routine and sticking to it.
I know a lot of people struggle when coming up to college in finding time or motivation to exercise...but it's so important! Here are some benefits I've enjoyed from working out consistently since I've come to college:
-Higher self-confidence: I just feel better about myself every time I exercise and know that I did something good for my body that day. Plus, who doesn't like to start to see some muscle definition after working out consistently? I also take pride in being able to speed walk to class when I'm running late without being completely out of breath :)
-Keeps "Freshman 15" at bay: I wish I could say that exercising has prevented any weight gain this past year...but because of some poor eating choices (for example hitting up the vending machines in the dorms at 2 am for a 4th meal of Pop Tarts quite frequently...) my weight hasn't stayed exactly the same as it was at home. That being said, I know that exercise has helped me keep that to a minimum and once I'm out of the dorms and cooking my own food, my body should be back to normal in no time!
-Helps me focus: I love starting off my day with a workout, because I feel a lot more alert when I get to class than when I just drag myself out of bed, get ready real quick and get to class.
-Keeps me happy: Endorphines are real, guys! And although chocolate is an alternative source of those little guys, go for exercise instead. Exercise=great mood boost.
I could go on and on, but the point is: exercise is a good thing to make a priority when you're going to school (well in any stage of life really!) And I think most people realize this, but have a hard time making time for it. So I thought I'd share a few things that I have found help get me to the gym!
-Work out with a friend (or friends!): I do about 80% of my workouts with a buddy and it makes a huge difference! I never want to be the one to send the "Hey I'm going to sleep in...have a good workout!" text, so if I tell someone I will be there to work out with them, I will be! I'm also way more likely to work harder when I'm with someone else because they are there to distract me from the voice in my head telling me how tired I am. Last semester, I would meet with a few girls in the basement of our dorm and do Insanity a few times a week- it kept me accountable and motivated. I'm sure if you just ask around your hall/apartment you will find some other girls who are looking for a workout buddy too!
-Take a class. Last semester, I talked 3 of my girl friends into taking a "Dance Aerobics" class with me 2 mornings a week and it was a blast! It was also great because when you're taking a class for a grade, it's "forcing" you to work out. I'm taking a Weight Training class right now and it's so nice because it gets me to weight train at least twice a week and I've learned a lot of helpful techniques+routines that I didn't know before! Plus, there is something so motivating about working out in a group environment. Look into fitness classes offered at your university!
Me and my girls with our instructor on our last day of Dance Aerobics. We had so.much.fun. in this class! Oh and yes, this is black and white because it makes everyone look better, and when you've just finished working out, you need all the help you can get.
-Use your campus resources. Most schools offer access to a fitness center to all students. Take advantage of it! It may not be the nicest place in the world (mine is far from it), but its usually close and its FREE! Also take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy looking at the attractive men that go to your school while you work out ;) I also keep a set of dumbells and a yoga mat in my room so I can work out there if I don't have time to do anything else.
- Find something you love and don't be afraid to change up your routine! Exercise should be fun, not a chore. And while there may be that "perfect" balanced fitness program, if I don't like what I'm doing, it's not going to happen. I really don't enjoy biking, so I'm not going to incorporate that into my fitness routine. But I love HIIT and weight training, so I do lots of that! I'm also always trying new things. If I decide I don't like it, then I find something else!
-Set fitness goals. I am running my first half marathon at the end of April, and that has really motivated me to to run because I know if I don't, I will die before I get to the finish line (which wouldn't be good...) And another point: fitness goals are different than weight goals. Weight loss has a lot of contributing factors, and I don't want to get frustrated and stop exercising because I don't reach my weight goal. I like to set challenging, yet attainable, fitness goals that I will look forward to achieving.
-Don't use exercise as a punishment for eating badly. It is tempting to tell myself "Ugh, I have eaten so much tonight. I have to go to the gym tomorrow to burn this all off." But how fun does that sound? If I view exercise as a punishment, chances I won't make it to the gym and will just eat worse. I like to view exercise as a fun thing that I get to do to show my body that I care about it!
-Last but not least, don't beat yourself up. If my goal is to work out 5 times a week, and I only get one workout in? Oh well. There are some weeks where I am busy with school/social life/enjoying the college experience that I don't make it to the gym as much as I wanted. But I'm alright with it. College is meant to be enjoyed, and I don't want to spend my time stressing over a missed gym sesh so I just do the best I can and try to be better the next week.
Basically, I just love exercise and the benefits it brings to my life. Get out there and do something to show your body you love it today!
Have a great weekend!