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Maintaining a Positive Relationship With Working Out & Eating Healthy

Let’s be real: as a girl in college, there’s so much pressure put on our bodies to stay thin. We’re warned about the freshman fifteen, told to be more active than daily walks to class and shamed for eating poorly. All of this is pushed on us in the name of ‘health.’ But what does having a healthy body look and feel like? Many of us find ourselves looking to social media accounts for guidance and realizing that our lifestyle doesn’t fit with fitness accounts and their rules.

Flatlay of food on green background
Photo by Vitalii Pavlyshynets from Unsplash

Eating ‘cleanly’ has become very popular recently as an ideal. It can be something positive if you are learning to identify what types of ingredients make your body feel its best. But this vague concept may also be harmful. This idea of putting pure foods into your body can very easily morph into a more restrictive (and typically expensive) lifestyle. 

Phone with social media apps on screen
Photo by dole777 from Unsplash

There are so many accounts that I’ve seen on instagram which link a workout or meal plan for over $50. These plans are usually not constructed by a registered dietician or nutritionist, but rather models who may be struggling with their looks just as much as you are. It’s dangerous to subject yourself to this type of strict regime. Oftentimes, these plans require intense daily workouts and a limited calorie intake which is deprived of carbs and fats. It’s not sustainable for active college girls, let alone adding in workouts.


Original Illustration Designed in Canva for Her Campus Media

Keeping a positive relationship with exercising and food is very difficult, but not impossible. For most of us, the key is to be nicer to our bodies. Maybe you skipped a day at the gym or weren’t able to go as hard as you had wanted. That’s okay! The most important way that I have learned to keep myself motivated to eat better and be active is by framing it as rewarding my body. Working out is not a punishment, it’s a way for me to relieve stress and take a break from the rest of my day. Eating ‘healthy’ isn’t so I can restrict my caloric intake, instead, I’m fueling my body so that I can have a productive day!

Self love is a difficult concept to grasp as well as execute. Listening to your body and focusing on what it needs, not what others think it requires, is key. Accepting your body the way that it is will lead you towards not only mental health, but physical too.

Meet Rachel! She is a senior at UW-Madison majoring in Conservation Biology and Environmental Studies. Her hobbies include watching true crime documentaries, playing soccer, and cooking. The things that make her the happiest are: fresh flowers, bread, and iced coffee.
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