Health and Wellness for College Women – Striking the Perfect Balance

I had been staring at the Sour Patch Kids in my dorm room for almost a half an hour. The bright packaging shone through the clear plastic drawer, taunting me, as if to say, “You want us? Come and get us!”

Dejectedly, I stood up from my desk, marching towards the candy that was calling my name. After eating a few too many, sour powder dusted on my fingers, I began to wonder why I felt this way. Why did I feel so ashamed of myself for indulging in a bit of candy?

As women, we’ve been conditioned by the media and societal expectations to believe that we are only beautiful if we fit a certain mold. This has been a prevalent cause of body image issues throughout my life and the lives of my friends. Body image has proven to be an ongoing struggle, fraught with setbacks and low points.

I grew up in the competitive dance world, which is filled with endless comparisons. Not only do you compare your talent to other dancers, but your physical appearance as well. I’m under five feet tall, I’m pale as a ghost, I wear glasses, and I’m not the skinniest girl to ever live. Those things made me look in the mirror with disgust and shame.

To combat this negative self-image, I decided to start working out and eating healthier.

My goal was not necessarily to lose weight but to feel more comfortable in my own skin. Although I started on my journey recently, I’ve already noticed some important insights.

Through the tangled emotions I felt when grabbing some Sour Patch Kids, I came to understand a key piece of advice: let yourself live. I truly can’t stress this enough. Don’t beat yourself up! Health and fitness is only effective without restriction and without negative effects on your mental health.

If you find yourself craving sugar, eat that cookie at the dining hall. If your friends are headed out to dinner, feel free to join them. If you have an important essay to work on, you can skip the gym. Compromising our mental health and general happiness through restriction and criticism of ourselves only brings us further away from our goal of achieving a positive self-image and mindset.

Since coming to that realization, I find myself becoming more motivated to work out and better myself, both physically and mentally. I am no longer sluggishly moving through the day, feeling deprived and weak. My mindset regarding health has dramatically improved and I feel more capable of achieving my goals than ever before.

But most importantly, you can bet that I’ll feel a lot better about my next Sour Patch Kids craving.

 

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