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Brooklyn McNeil: The Health & Kombucha Queen

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UGA chapter.

Brooklyn McNeil is a freshman at the University of Georgia from Alamo, California. Not only is she involved on campus with her sorority and consumed with classes for her double-major, but she also dedicates a portion of her life to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. She has even completed a half marathon and Spartan races! With working out and eating foods that are good for you, she inspires and motivates others to get in shape and be healthy. Her advice and experiences are super helpful, and by the end of this article, you will feel motivated to get fit!

What is your major, and why did you choose it?

My major is Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; I am also on the premed track. I decided that it was the right choice for me when I saw the impact that I could make on other peoples’ lives after I gave blood in my junior year of high school. I had always liked science and math in school, and now I see how I can use them to make a difference in many peoples’ lives.

Being from California, what made you decide to go to the University of Georgia?

I left California mainly because I wanted something new. I was fully aware that I lived in a very nice area, in the most populated and expensive states in the country. For some reason, I needed to leave to see that I was definitely living a dream. When I came to visit multiple schools on the East Coast, UGA stood out to me because the SEC sports scene and the dawg nation were things I wanted to experience. Most importantly, Athens had the music scene that I craved in a place that I would call my home.

How do you keep a healthy diet on a meal plan and in the dorm? Is cooking an option for you?

I came into this school super excited about the meal plan because of the plethora of options. However, I have found it hard to find many options that are both gluten- and dairy-free because I have intolerances to both of those. I find myself eating a lot of the same things, consisting of brown rice, edamame, bananas, peanut butter, and chicken. I do love the breakfasts though! The omelet stations are the hidden gems of the dining halls. Getting a spinach, mushroom, and egg omelet is a great choice! In the dorms, I have made a lot of granola using our floor’s oven. I normally have rice cakes with peanut butter and jelly in my room, too. Also, I bought an air popper for popcorn so that I can put coconut oil on it instead of butter and put whatever topping I want on it. I highly recommend the air popper! Also, if you are a hippie like me, you might invest in a giant jar to make kombucha! 

What is your favorite workout?

I love Spartan Races! These are obstacle courses that I train for by doing 30 minutes of cardio a day (elliptical, running, biking, or swimming) and do weights after for 45 minutes. I really like interval training as well and have recently started going to a hot yoga studio which I am very excited to further my practice in.

What is your favorite hiking spot?

At home, I live very close to Mount Diablo and there is a great place called Fish Ranch. It is a great place to go before the sunset because you can see all of San Francisco from a huge hill. Another great place to go called Macedo Ranch, and there are always lots of cows on the trail that are fun to see!

You’ve been involved in various races and physical challenges throughout the years. What has been your favorite experience or memory?

My favorite memory was finishing the Beast Spartan Race that was more than 15 miles. When I finished, I started crying because everything hurt, but also because it was such a huge accomplishment. I had been preparing and training for it for over a year, and I had finally reached the most ambitious goal I had ever set for myself. At that moment I realized that the years I spent worrying about how I looked and how big thighs were, they were all worth nothing because I was involved in something so much more powerful and meaningful.

What is your favorite class you have taken at Ramsey during “free week”?

My favorite class was one of the boxing classes. It was a lot better of a workout than I was expecting, and it made me feel like a total badass. I have also been a fan of yoga for a long time. I suggest doing it at least once a week just for the stress-relief benefits of it.

What is your most helpful advice for someone who wants to start getting healthy or is just starting their health journey in college?

The first thing is to just go! Get to the gym. Getting to the gym is the hardest part of being fit. It takes time, and you have to wear different clothes. Actually, whenever I am feeling unmotivated I will buy a new, cute workout top or a pair of leggings. The next thing is to find something that you like. Try everything if you have to! For me, I really like to work out with weights or do plyometric interval training. For some people, running is great because they can clear their mind, but for me, running just makes me bored. For some reason, I love pushing myself to the limit and doing an exercise until I can’t physically do it anymore. Honestly though, try everything until you find something that you love or else you will dread going and will eventually stop. Go as much as you can, especially at the beginning. It takes 21 days to form a new habit so push through those first few weeks, and it will get so much better. Also, when you work out you will want to eat healthier, so your cravings for healthy food will follow. One more final thing: Once you start to see results and differences within your body and the way you feel, it becomes addictive! I remember the first time I was able to move up my weight for an exercise; I was so impressed with myself and I wanted to go more often so I could get even better.