Dear Domna: Love yourself by taking care of your body

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I believe that how you take care of your body is a demonstration of self-worth and self-respect. People come and go and circumstances change. At the end of the day, all you really have is yourself. Your body is what is with you from the moment you are put on this Earth until the day you die. It’s the only thing that is truly yours and something you can never detach yourself from. I like to think that your body is the shell to your soul, and mental health and physical health are absolutely correlated.

If you really love and respect yourself, you should love and respect what you’re ultimately living in. Eating healthy isn’t an aesthetic thing for the sole purpose of looking “hipster” and “artsy” on Instagram. Food is what fuels you, like gas in a car. Eating well eventually becomes a lifestyle, and coming from someone who once did not eat healthy, it really is an easy habit to become accustomed to. I don’t crave junk food at all anymore—it’s unappealing at this point of my life. What some people fail to realize is that taking care of your body needs to start when you are young. Arteries clog over time and then appear later in life through things like heart attacks. Diabetes is another problem that can show up later if you don’t take care of what you put in your body.

If you’re feeding your body junk with little to no nutritional value, you will feel more lethargic than someone who eats fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grain carbs. I don’t believe in counting calories; I think a better way to look at it would be “every calorie counts.” My own diet, which I like to call a lifestyle, has me eating however much I want whenever I want, as long as everything I consume has some kind of nutritional value. Obviously, there are days when I can’t resist fresh desserts my mom made but if you’re eating healthy most of the time it won’t matter! If you’re eating small meals throughout the day, your metabolism will quicken and any occasional “junk” you eat won’t stay in your body for long.

Personally, I go crazy if I don’t work out for more than three days in a row. Exercising gives me energy, supports my health, boosts levels of serotonin (the neurochemical that affects mood and fights depression) and makes me feel good about myself when I look in the mirror! The benefits are plentiful, and there’s a long list. As college students especially, people spend a lot of time sitting in classrooms and the library and then going home and watching Netflix. The gym isn’t for everyone, yet there are plenty of ways to exercise! Whether it be a run or bike ride outside, a hike, skiing, snowboarding, swimming, yoga, dance—the list goes on!

If you’ve ever heard of a “runners high,” it’s what describes the release of neurotransmitter chemicals during exercise, giving you that euphoric feeling when you work out. Doing it continually will help with your overall mental health in the long run. Exercising can also reduce stress and alleviate anxiety. It’ll only sacrifice an hour of your day. Replace an hour you spend watching TV or playing on your computer with an activity that will bring substance to your life and make your time valuable!

Taking care of your body is a practice that everyone should start as soon as possible. I really started taking care of my body toward the end of my senior year of high school, and I think by the time you start college you should have already begun exercising and eating healthy. Once you start young, you’ll have that stamina and motivation for a while. It can be tough at first but eventually working out doesn’t feel like a chore anymore. It’s something I look forward to, and something I do if I’m feeling really anxious or upset. It will effectively release any pent-up energy. It can be extremely beneficial and therapeutic in so many ways! If you don’t already take care of your body, start today! Take the challenge and be mindful of how you feel once you’ve really made the switch to a healthy lifestyle. I can guarantee your mood will improve, you’ll look more fit and have more energy. Love and respect yourself by taking care of your body!

Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Domna Dali at domna.dali@colorado.edu.

About Domna Dali

Domna Dali writes relatable, anecdotal advice under the column “Dear Domna.” She is studying journalism and digital media. Originally from the East Coast, she loves the mountains as much as she loves the ocean and New York City.

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