Fitness Blogger: New Year, Better Health!

We all know how health can take a backseat when our days are filled with studies and a social life.  Luckily, fitness blogger Alyssa Richard is here to help!  This month, she’s giving us helpful tips on how to make 2014 your year of fitness.

When you go to university, whether it’s your first year or not, you gain a lot of things like knowledge, experience and friends. One thing that a lot of us gain against our best wishes is weight. With cafeteria food, late night study breaks that usually involve lots of coffee and snacks, and the usual partying, it can be hard to control how your body reacts. Before coming to St. Thomas, I began thinking of ways to avoid the “Freshman 15” as I had already lost close to 30 pounds the previous year. What foods could I eat that wouldn’t make my pant size go up, and would I be able to hit the gym with my busy school schedule? Would it really be possible to avoid this weight gain that everyone spoke so much about?

I’m here to tell you that it is possible. In fact, I lost weight instead of gaining it during the first semester, and with this blog I hope to help you do the same, or just stay fit in general. Being healthy isn’t just about dieting. It isn’t just about going to the gym and working out either. You need a combination of both a healthy diet (which doesn’t always mean dieting) and a good amount of physical activity in your everyday life. If you don’t think you have the time to spend worrying about food or going to the gym, don’t worry. There are plenty of things you can make and do in your dorm room that have the same effects as hitting the gym every day and eating salads upon salads.

Now that we’re back from break, we’re not really as concerned about the weight gain from school as much as what we’ve gained over the holidays. How do you get back into the groove of things after having three weeks off? When I found myself in a slump and not really knowing what to do, I found some helpful tips online and in books that really helped me. First of all, whether you are new to a healthy lifestyle or not, sit down and write down your goals. I’ve always done a short-term goal, a long-term goal, and then a food related goal. For example, after Christmas, my short-term goal was to start going to the gym at least three times a week again. My long-term goal was to lose 10 more pounds by the end of the semester, and my food goal was to cut out pop and most juices from my diet and replace them with water. These goals make things final. If you write them down, you have a reminder. Make sure to keep these goals in front of you so that you can see what you want to do every day!

One very important thing when it comes to starting down this path isn’t just knowing where you want to be, but also knowing where you are now. Before you start, weigh yourself and take measurements around places such as your thighs, waist and bust area. After you do this, don’t weigh and measure yourself all the time. Paying too much attention to what you’ve lost isn’t good - you just want to focus on being healthier. I’ve been at 158 pounds for a few months, but I’m not giving up because I know that overall, I’m in better shape than I was when I first got to school. Two years ago, I would have never admitted to you all that that’s what I weigh, but being comfortable with who you are is an important first step in the process.

I hope you are all able to use this little information to start your healthy lifestyle! I’ll be back with some more detailed tips next month!