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During college there’s one thing more precious than the rest: time.
The clock is always ticking. Tick-tock: that paper’s due. Tick-tock: happy hour. Tick-tock: finals are coming. Tick-tock: graduate and get a real life.
The thought of exercise and cooking can cause major meltdowns. Unless you have fantastic self-discipline, making healthier choices can be challenging. The key to succeeding is giving yourself the time and pushing yourself. The only way to accomplish your goals is to plan ahead.
Mapping out your week visually in either a planner or an online calendar will help you organize your time. Small breaks in between classes are perfect times to go work out. If you have an hour before a student group meeting, then spend it cooking dinner and not watching TV. Once you put weight loss into your schedule, you’re more likely to follow through.
Sure, you’ll have to make sacrifices. Maybe you won’t get 10 hours of sleep a night, or maybe you’ll have to pass up happy hour with friends. But if you’re not willing to change your lifestyle, your body will never change. Look at your time table and see where you can make changes.
If writing it in your planner won’t be enough, follow some advice from Lisa Delaney, author of Secrets of a Former Fat Girl. Delaney suggests repeating one mantra: “It’s not an option.” Once you eliminate questioning whether a healthy option is a choice, these choices will slowly become a habit.
Hitting the Barbells
Conquering the gym is all about pushing yourself. Try to focus on the benefits: endorphins, stress relief, and a hot bod. Don’t dwell on the negatives: aches, sores and sweat. And remember, the time you spend debating whether to workout would be better spent doing cardio. Just tell yourself, “It’s not an option to skip the gym.”
Plus, that hour of exercise can open up time to listen to that new album you just bought or that new playlist you just made. You can also grab a workout machine with a television on it and keep up with those fascinating Kardashians or know who was eliminated on the X Factor.
If a massive amount of homework is your excuse, then try bringing it to the gym. Do your readings on a stationary bike or your flash cards on an elliptical. The more you make exercise convenient for you, the more you’ll do it.
Dusting off the Cookbooks
When thinking about food, a meal plan is going to be your best friend. You’ll be able to make a shopping list, and it always answers the question of what to make for dinner. If you know what you’re eating that night, you won’t stand in front of the fridge looking mindlessly at your food before deciding to hit McDonalds.
If you’re too busy to cook a meal every night, give up a couple hours at the start of the week and make a huge meal that will last. Fill a pot with pasta and every veggie you love, and you’ll have a meal you can enjoy all week, made in one day. And if you’re already in the kitchen, you can cook multiple meals at once. Camp-out on the stove and make some cous cous or rice. Chop a salad or make sandwiches while your pasta cooks.
To make it more fun, invite your roommates or significant other in on the action. Instead of going out to eat, run to the grocery store, and cook a meal that will be just as delicious as a restaurant but much more healthy.
And if you find yourself in the parking lot of Wendy’s, breathe, and remember, “Fast food is not an option.” Go home, and eat some fruit.
The only way to lose weight is to develop that inner voice. Be your biggest cheerleader and your own intimidating drill sergeant. With every doughnut you put down or every squat you do, you’ll be one step closer to your goal.
In future columns, I will talk to health professionals, discuss my struggles, and try to answer the question of “What is beauty?” Stay tuned for advice for living a healthy life, and to know you’re not the only person struggling with weight issues.
Contact CU Independent Managing Editor Amanda Moutinho at Amanda.firstname.lastname@example.org.