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How to Become a Healthier You

Elaine Standohar's picture
Healthy Food

Before college, I was the typical high school teenager. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. The term ''portion control'' had no place in my life. But I was 17, an active athlete, and had a metabolism capable of handling my careless eating habits. I ate this way because I suffered no consequences from it; my jean size remained unaffected by the entire half-gallon tub of ice cream I inhaled the night before.

Along Came College

College life is full of perks (freedom, alcohol, no chores), but it can also carry hidden pitfalls. I didn't participate in sports as a freshman, I took full advantage of the 24-hour buffet cafeteria, and I dedicated my weekends to nurturing my new-found relationship with beer. Suddenly the jeans that got me through all four years of high school wouldn't go past my thighs. The "freshman-fifteen" became my reality.

I struggled with my inflated figure for the entirety of my first semester. I made small changes here and there to my health habits - but to no avail. My high school jeans continued to collect dust in my closet. Then I reached my breaking point. I refused to let my high school weight be a forgotten number of the past. I made a list of the factors contributing to my size and what actions I could take to combat them. The factors were easily divided into two categories:

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1. Diet
2. Activity level

Improvements in these categories would result in a lighter Elaine. Bring it on.

Making the Change

First I got rid of all the current food items in my dorm. Everything in my refrigerator, freezer, and cupboard was highly processed, loaded with sodium and/or sugar, and had a longer life expectancy than me. Certainly these foods were not doing great things for my waist. I replaced them with more wholesome, fresher options. Nuts, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans all fit the bill.

Next I tackled my lethargy. My mornings were about to become a lot busier as I decided I would wake up an hour earlier each weekday to sweat it out at our campus rec center. I created a workout plan that included at least 30 minutes of cardio each day and full-body resistance training.

Making the change wasn't easy, and I definitely hit some bumps along the way. My new health goals consisted of me attempting to change a lifetime of bad habits. I focused on accomplishing one small goal at a time. This helped me feel like I was making progress while keeping me on track. After months of hard work, I made it to my former weight and back into my treasured jeans. I've continued the lifestyle I designed for my college-self years ago and if I decide to dress as a nerd for Halloween this year, I'll be wearing my outdated, out-of-style high school jeans with pride!