** As written on Her Campus UNT **
If you were to look up the top 10 most common resolutions, I can guarantee that losing weight and getting healthy are somewhere on that list, along with other lifestyle changes. While wanting to shed a few pounds and eating more salad is all good and dandy, it is not easy – but, you already knew that. What you might not realize is that being healthy is more of a mental challenge than a physical one.
Here are five things to think about while managing your healthy new year’s resolutions:
1) Temporary vs. Permanent: The mind is a sensitive device. Even the smallest thought, conscious or not, can haunt you forever. However, your perception is key. You cannot consider your healthy resolutions as temporary, because then you will make your good habits temporary. Being healthy is a lifestyle change. You must think beyond numbers, sizes, societal standards, and start looking at the bigger picture: you only have one body, and you must take care of it to enjoy life at its fullest. Therefore, you shouldn’t limit your new year’s resolution to only 2019, but you should try to extend your new-found determination for the rest of your life.
2) Everything Isn’t What It Seems: Society has really failed us when it comes to our definition of health and wellness, especially on social media. Sadly, it puts a psychological toll on everyone, and makes us feel pressured to look a certain way. However, everything is not what it seems. Of course, you are aware of Photoshop, and other photo editing software, but there is more to that than meets the eye.
Believe it or not, but your body needs cholesterol to properly function. There are two types of cholesterol that doctors look at: LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein). The “bad” cholesterol that everyone refers to are the LDLs. This is another reason why you shouldn’t compare yourself to others. Not only is it demoralizing, but you’re only looking at them at surface level. The person you are comparing yourself to may appear healthy and fit, but their LDLs could be through the roof. This means that they’re only “healthy” from the outside, and not on the inside; however, your internal health is what will determine your quality of life.
3) Don’t DIEt – LIVE: If you’ve read any of my past articles, you already know how I feel about dieting. However, it doesn’t hurt to reiterate myself when it comes to this subject matter. A diet is a miserable, unpredictable, and temporary solution to lose the weight. When you diet, you are depriving yourself from foods you enjoy, as well as some of the most basic food groups. For example, a no carb diet is taking away a major source of daily energy. This type of diet may help you see results faster, but once you stop that diet, your body will drink up those carbohydrates you’ve been withdrawing. This means you will gain back the weight you tried so hard to lose, or even gain more. Instead of sacrificing the basic food groups, I highly encourage you to find a more permanent solution by changing your lifestyle habits. Introduce healthier alternatives into your daily life, but don’t withdraw yourself from the foods that you enjoy and make you happy. If you love pasta, then eat it! There are healthier options that are still tasty – you just have to explore. Being healthy doesn’t mean you should be miserable. Ultimately, you’re trying to be healthy to enjoy and extend your life. Furthermore, you cannot be healthy with only changing your eating habits, you must incorporate exercise. There is no way around it without risking your happiness and overall health.
4) Slow and Steady Wins the Race: Just like the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race. Since becoming healthy is a long-term lifestyle change, why rush it? As college students, our bodies still have some plasticity, which means that we still have wiggle room to adapt our habits. When it comes to your body, you don’t want to put it under any unnecessary stress. We are already stressed out from our day to day demands from school, work, family, etc., and we don’t need to be adding any more. Instead of trying to squeeze time for a leg day, and then an arm day, opt for more full body exercises. By doing so, you can be more flexible with your gym schedule. You don’t have to force yourself to be at the gym for long hours – any bit counts. Being at the gym for 30 minutes is just as valuable as being in there for three hours. Not to mention, your body can only do so much in one session.
Start off with some of the basic exercises: walking, jogging, running, stretches, crunches, push-ups, planks and more. Find a routine that works for you, and more importantly, one that you enjoy. Once you’ve catered your routine to what you want, stick to it for at least three weeks. Whether you go in once a week, three times a week, etc., do the same routine with little variation. You can explore new exercises and equipment, but try to stick to what you’ve planned. This is the only way to figure out if what you’re doing is working for you. After those three weeks, you can tweak your regimen by increasing weight or modifying your fundamentals to something more advanced. If you are increasing the intensity of your exercise, but compensating your form, then you must return to the basics. If not, you are putting your body at risk in the long run.
5) Celebrate the Small Things: Don’t be frustrated if you don’t see immediate results. Again, it is a lifestyle change that you hopefully will be maintaining for years to come. Your body takes time to adjust and adapt. Applaud yourself for the small things. For example, if you try to run a mile every time you go to the gym, that’s something to celebrate because cardio isn’t for everyone. If you enjoy running, and you’re able to reduce your mile by a minute or two, that’s a big accomplishment! This means that you’re building stamina and endurance. Just going to the gym when you really aren’t feeling it is an achievement. On the nutritional side of the spectrum, if you were wanting a snack, and chose the granola bar instead of the candy bar – then pat yourself on the back!
The hardest thing about changing your lifestyle habits is starting the change, as well as maintaining the change. Remember, your mind is a very delicate object. If you force it to do something it doesn’t like, like cut cold turkey, your good habits will only last you for as long as your mind can tolerate it. So, don’t sweat the small stuff, and celebrate the smallest efforts you put into improving your health and wellness.
By adjusting your mentality, you can change lifestyle habits without putting extra stress or expectations on yourself. This is your body – you get to control what you do, and how you do it. Don’t let things like social media or societal standards, get in your way. Remember, everything you see is just surface level, but the most important aspects of health come from the inside. Go at your own pace, there’s no reason to rush yourself into a healthy lifestyle. By taking your time, you can grow to truly enjoy going to the gym, or cooking homemade meals. This entire process shouldn’t feel like a chore, especially if your long-term goal is to improve your overall quality of life. Overall, becoming a healthier version of yourself is hard, but doable.
With Love, Joslyn
** Image by Milan Popovic