By: Aleigha DiDonato
Staff Writer and Reporter
It’s that time of year again. The leaves are changing, pumpkin flavoring has taken over, and the struggle to fit into your jeans becomes harder by the day.
We all know what it’s like to wake up on a rainy fall day and fight the urge to get out of bed. Even more difficult than that is saying no to the constant sweet treats being shoved in our faces every two seconds. We trade in our swimsuits for sweaters and hope for the best at the end of the season.
What if I told you it doesn’t have to be that way? Truth be told, it doesn’t. However, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a walk in the park to achieve what you want. If your goal is to maintain that summer body or continue to improve your condition, it’s going to take some work.
As college students, our stress level can oftentimes be through the roof. So the first thing I’m going to ask you to do will be simple. Take a mental health day for yourself. If you’re going to be fueling your body with healthy food, it’s time to start filling your mind with healthy thoughts. Kick back, relax, and do something you enjoy.
Now that we’re all happy people, it’s time to take some action. Hopefully you’ve all heard the phrase, “Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym,” at some point in your life. If not, I’m sorry to break the bad news to you, but it’s true. This means you don’t get to eat an entire box of cookies, followed by 100 crunches, and think it cancels out. I know, I’m sad too.
The point is, creating fulfilling meals throughout your day is going to be the key to your success. One strategy that works well for me is meal prepping. The goal is to have your meals already made, so that you don’t have to think about what you’re going to eat. This helps eliminate snacking, as well as settling for unhealthy alternatives that might be easier to access.
Having a nutrient dense diet will also help with the next topic of discussion, which happens to be my favorite part. Get involved in something that gets you moving. It doesn’t matter what level of fitness you’re at, this is important.
When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. This chemical is not only connected to your perception of pain, but it interacts with your brain, creating a positive feeling in your body. It’s literally your body’s way of saying thank you for taking care of me.
Make exercise something you enjoy. Senior, and fourth year basketball player for Penn State New Kensington, (PSNK) Jordan Williams states, “Basketball and other sports have always been a physical outlet for me to relieve any kind of stress. It always puts me in a good mood to be on the court.”
Not only that, but becoming involved in sports and other activities can help you in other aspects of your life. When asked if basketball helps Williams academically he stated, “Yes, you have to maintain at least a 2.0 to play, plus we meet as a team everyday for 2 hours to study.”
Creating goals for yourself is something that can be extremely rewarding for your fitness journey, and life in general. It can be something as simple as having dessert only twice a week, or going the extra mile on your run. Setting a standard for yourself will have you seeing results in no time.
Most importantly, you have to stick with it. This is why finding something you actually like is so important. If you didn’t already know, part of your tuition goes towards the gym provided on campus at PSNK. Or if you commute like I do and want a gym closer to home, most gyms like the one I go to offer student discounts.
If the gym isn’t for you, then put your interests elsewhere. Get involved in a sports program offered on campus. Williams will tell you, “it’s fun, I enjoy my teammates and it keeps me on top of my school.” Having a support group helps to keep you motivated when you “just don’t feel like it,” stated Williams. Which brings me to my final point. If you haven’t already come to this conclusion yet, have fun. Seriously! There are endless healthy recipes online that taste just as good as the ones that make you feel guilty three days after.
Get to experimenting, and have your family members asking you to bring the dessert to every occasion. Before you know it, like me, you’ll have your loved ones convinced to dress up like turkeys and run a 5K the day of Thanksgiving. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that eating healthy and being active can’t be fun.
The key to your success is directly connected to your willingness to try. If you’re interested, there will be a great healthy recipe to get you started following this article. Don’t wait until January 1st to decide it’s time to lose the weight and be happy. Start now.