One Step at a Time: True health

Fitness columnist Abbie Wenthe on fitness for life

At the beginning of 2012, I was a bitter ex-swimmer who needed a new outlook on fitness and living a healthy life. All the working out and eating healthy were somewhat of a struggle with living in a residence hall. The constant call for pizza, wings or cookies made making any type of progress impossible. My classes were hard and required copious amounts of effort and work, leaving hardly any time for a decent workout. Most of the time, I settled for a couple miles around the track at the rec late at night, messing with my sleep schedule as well. Needless to say, summer was a much-welcomed break and return to normalcy.

Over the summer, I was a lifeguard, so I was outside swimming more and working out most days. It was a return to my normal summer routines. Luckily when I moved back to Columbia at the end of the summer, I had a roommate waiting to jump into a healthy eating and workout routine with me. Throughout this fall I have learned that having a workout buddy is one of the best things; whenever I have no desire to work out, she pushes me to get off the couch, and I do the same for her. Our first endeavor of the semester was the Insanity program, something we had both wanted to try.

We gathered a bunch of girls in our sorority and worked diligently at the program, but we soon dreaded the evenings when it was time to face Shaun T and his workouts. We didn’t make it through the entire 60-day program, and even now the mere thought of Insanity makes me want to cry, throw up and run away all at the same time. Out of this situation, I learned that extreme programs are not always the way to go and do not fit everyone’s lifestyle. Instead of diving right into an extreme cardio program that promises results, it worked best for me to take advice from my nutrition and fitness classes and incorporate both weight training and cardio into a fitness program.

Around the time I was figuring all this out, one of my roommates came back from a trip home armed with two Jillian Michaels DVDs, one weight training and one cardio. I literally jumped for joy and started the workouts with my workout buddies, feeling the pain and soreness of weight training the next day. However, I welcomed this pain because it reminded me of swimming and the constant soreness in my arms and shoulders after a hard practice or day in the weight room.

I’m sure most of us had those sports that our entire high school being revolved around and are now lost without that in college. Working out and eating healthy has come as a shock after all those sports practices, but I have found that being fit is possible without these sports. The hardest part for me is not being in “swim shape, ” but I can be in shape even if it isn’t for swimming. By making a conscious effort to workout consistently and incorporate strength and cardio to my routines, I am feeling better and more confident in my appearance. And instead of stressing out over calories and not eating anything “unhealthy,” I treat my sweet tooth once a week instead of completely limiting myself.

Living a healthy life is not easy, especially in college, but the benefits greatly outweigh the extra work it demands. After this semester, I have become happier, healthier and have been able to manage my stress and classwork much better than last year. My dream is to be the good influence on the people around me and encourage people to choose water over pop or an apple instead of chips. By developing these habits now, we won’t have such a struggle with weight or health issues as we age. It is much easier to take advantage of living to the fullest when your body is in peak condition, so let’s try to keep it that way.

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