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Lose the Freshman 15: Healthy Self Happy Self

What’s up collegiettes!  Congrats on finishing your second full week of Lose the Freshman 15 with SELF Magazine and HerCampus.com!  I am proud to report that I have lost 2 lbs this week, which brings my total weight loss to 5 lbs.  Over the course of the past two weeks, I have noticed there are some amazing immeasurable benefits to weight loss as well.

Even though I am not even half way towards accomplishing my goal, I can definitely see the significant impact healthy choices have on my mental health.  I always feel like I am in a better mood after being active.  Of course there are scientific explanations for this phenomenon.  Here are two of them:

  1. Physical activity causes the brain to release endorphins, which are responsible for the body’s sense of well-being and levels of contentment.
  2. Exercise also decreases the body’s levels of cortisol, which is a hormone that is released as a result of frustration and anxieties. 

I feel that there is also non-scientific reasoning behind this correlation between exercise and happiness.  Being active is an excellent way to escape the stresses and drama of being a college student.  Working out allows me to de-stress and disconnect from the world, which can be very much needed during these years.  Instead of turning to comfort food such as brownies or ice cream, I have learned to turn to exercise– great way to relax and burn calories at the same time (perfect combo)!  One of my favorite forms of activity is going for a long run, which is relaxing yet invigorating at the same time (ever experience a runner’s high?).  With some upbeat tunes, I am ready to go!

Another mental health benefit to exercise that I love is that it facilitates social interaction with others.  Playing on a sports team is a great way to meet people who have a similar interest as you!  Same with PE classes!  Even if you are not into team sports or athletics, training with a friend is another social outlet and a way to keep you motivated.  Instead of going to grab fro-yo, why not go for a walk or to the gym?

With the Spring weather right around the corner, getting outside definitely can increase the emotional benefits of exercise as well.  There are so many wonderful outdoor activities from hiking to biking that expose you to the natural beauty and landscapes.  This type of exercise is called green exercise, and it is known to be very calming and beneficial for your psychological health.  Exercising outdoors not only stimulates your senses, but it also ensures that you are not cooped up inside watching TV!  Since sunshine and Vitamin D are proven to increase your body’s levels of serotonin, which is the neurotrasmitter responsible for controlling your mood, getting just 15 minutes of sunlight can make you feel better.  Plus you may get a nice tan!

I am definitely excited to be losing weight, and I think the mental benefits that come along with it might be even more valuable!  However, don’t forget that exercise is only half the battle.  Eating right is just as important.  Make sure you follow the SELF Drop 10 diet to help you stay on track!

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Nicole

Nicole Yang is an Editorial Intern at Her Campus.  Before joining the team at HC, she previously was the Managing Editor of her college's weekly newspaper, The Amherst Student.  While at Amherst College, Nicole was also a tour guide and a member of the women's varsity squash team.  Her professional experience includes working as a Communications Intern for Comcast and Monster, and her work has been published by Fast Company, Fortune, and The Sports Quotient.  Follow her on Twitter.
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