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There are a lot of pressures in college, but pressure to workout shouldn’t be one of them. When guilt comes into play, your likelihood of sustaining until you reach your goal diminishes.  This can lead to unhealthy self-esteem and increased irritability, not to mention a host of physical concerns. Instead, choose to make your fitness lifestyle a positive, stress-free zone with some quick perception fixes…

If you work out to be skinny…then change that habit now. Skinny isn’t always better, and focusing on a number (weight or dress size) or on a comparison of yourself to your best friend can potentially lead to dangerous behavior, like exercise bulimia. Rather than torture yourself with an idealized skinny image, remember that you’re a woman; your love interests covet your curves and tenderness. Focus instead on feeling more comfortable in your clothes, more capable of carrying the groceries to your apartment, and having more stamina during relations with your boyfriend. You’ll feel better about your weight once you stop being unnecessarily bothered by it.

If you work out because you’re angry…then you’re not alone. Physical release is a great way to rid yourself of the anxiety and tension that comes with anger. The key to working out in times of stress is to make sure that you are consciously focusing on solutions to the given problem at hand. If you find that lifting weights or running on the treadmill works wonders for your mood in the moment, but doesn’t offer long-term solutions, then this is directed at you. Running away from your problems simply doesn’t work. Running toward solutions, on the other hand, does.

If you work out to eat more junk…don’t mistake a whir on the elliptical for a total physical health immunity necklace, a la old-school Survivor. While working out is beneficial to your health in a multitude of ways, it doesn’t excuse regular half-pound burger and fry runs or nightly high-cal cocktails in droves. We’re all human, and occasional indulgences are perfectly fine. Keep in mind, of course, that it takes a whole lot of jogging to work off that burger. Exercising only to work off food will discourage self-motivated workouts in the future and encourage uncalled-for guilt for each delicious bite.

The reasons for getting into shape and challenging your body can either make or break your mental and physical health. Positive thinking in every gym-laden situation will help guide you to a more fulfilled fitness future.

 

 

George Mason Contributor (GMU)

George Mason University '50

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