Mindset, Routine, and Motivation
College provides students freedom unlike any other time in their life. With boundless opportunities, events, and overall excitement going on, maintaining a good lifestyle gets drowned out. So, they need to maintain holistic health by time.
Making friends, keeping up in classwork, and learning to live independently all require significant investments of time and energy, leaving little room for balanced life. Health, however, is not just about restrictive eating to lose weight. Taking a holistic approach through small, yet sustainable changes will yield the best long-term results.
Developing healthy habits can only be done by shifting mindset. Willpower only works to an extent, as it is an exhaustible resource that takes time to replenish. However, by changing the attitude of apathy and difficulty to one excited and motivated by challenge, the rest of the pieces fall into place. A healthy lifestyle requires a solid foundation of beliefs and consistent habits of actuating those beliefs. When the idea of “living healthy” involves constant cravings for junk food, feeling chained to grueling exercise routines, and weighs as a burden or chore on the mind, it cannot be sustained.
I find that reminding yourself of the consequences unhealthy living brings acts as the catalyst necessary to begin a healthy lifestyle. Diets high in saturated fats will clog arteries, leading to heart disease. Excessive sugar damages the pancreas, affecting insulin regulation, leading to diabetes. Lack of exercise causes visceral and subcutaneous fat to build up, the former around internal organs, and the latter underneath the skin. Visceral fat endangers health to a greater extent than subcutaneous as it directly affects organs vital to normal bodily function. It can only be burned through exercise and proper diet. Connecting the dots between the cause and the effect mentally reinstate the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle. Understanding the details of scientific processes that lead to disease equip and motive me to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Not just incorporating, but prioritizing exercise creates a healthy routine. Exercising will give you more energy, as your body becomes trained to properly use energy rather than store it as fat. It will help you think clearly, and boost productivity, along with self-confidence. The mental and physical benefits of exercise are clear- we all understand them, but they’re difficult to maintain. Finding an exercise that is fun for you is key. Whether it be joining a sports team, swimming or running on your own time, or using online videos to do home-workouts, exercise should be fun. Making exercise something to look forward to, and treating it like an investment in self care, establishes a sustainable mindset.
Creating a set time for exercise, and establishing a routine, makes it easy to maintain. Planning your schedule ahead eliminates room for excuses (such as “I don’t have time”). Exercising in the morning is a great way to energize yourself for the day, while completing it early. This way, it’s not weighing on you all day, and you can’t push it off. Reducing the amount of decisions you need to make is key in sticking to exercise routines. It’s easy for the brain to become overwhelmed with all the decisions of the day, so help your brain out by preparing your workout clothes, bag, water, snacks, shoes, and whatever else you need, in advance. This way, you can cruise on autopilot and clear your mind.
Curating a playlist, or selecting albums is essential in an enjoyable workout. With new music more accessible than ever, along with sports headphones, incorporating music into a workout is simple. Pick songs with a strong beat, that energize you. Research shoes that humans can last much longer in workouts, and feel less pain before and after, when listening to enjoyable music.
Change the underlying reasons for exercise from ‘being thin’ to ‘being healthy’. This shifts your direction from fear and societal pressure, to motivation to be better. It’s helped me achieve consistency, motivation, and happiness around exercising. You can choose the best elliptical 2018 from our well designed list to workout at home.
Some other tips include exercising with friends, if possible. They’ll provide support and encouragement. Follow an online course, instructor, or video series. For example, the YouTube channel “Blogilates” provides consistent, innovative, yet feasible workouts along with the earnest encouragement of a true friend. Here is one Pillow Workout For Lazy Days….
Switching up your workout keeps it interesting. Rewarding yourself with things other than food (activities, hobbies, entertainment, etc.) takes the push and pull pressure off of food.
It’s easy to see a bag of chips, with it’s persuasive marketing that capitalizes on human craving instinct, and ignore the consequences of eating it. When the chips look so good on the package, and are within reach, the heart disease that accompanies them seems distant. The same goes for other unhealthy foods high in sugar, fat, or empty calories. However, by remembering their negative effects, and shifting your mindset to prioritize long term needs over present wants, you can ignore the temptation.
Routine, habit, and discipline create and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Once implemented into a mindset, it becomes much easier to follow. Creating a schedule for yourself reduces the need to agonize over each meal, whether to be healthy or to not. In my life I have found that healthy “dieting” never works. In fact, calorie restrictive diets damage the metabolism, meaning it then processes foods less efficiently, leading to more weight gain and other health consequences.
Thinking of health as ‘all or nothing’ creates pressure and expectations that cannot be maintained. Instead focusing on integrating small, yet steady habits into your lifestyle results in the most effective, positive change. Not overwhelming your mind and body with sudden, intense diets and exercises, but rather slowly easing them into your existing routine, creates long-term health.
Counter-intuitively, calorie-counting actually causes more harm than good. Focusing on a specific number rather than listening to your body reduces the impact of the effort. Studies show that 2,000 calories a day is not universally applicable. It varies per person, per day, depending on exercise levels, body type, metabolism speed, and many other factors. In fact, many foods that lists their calorie amounts are incorrect, as there is no true way to measure this unit of energy and how each body will utilize it. Instead, calorie-counting just adds stress to the mind. There are also more factors to consider when choosing foods, such as nutritional content. Five hundred calories of fruits provides more benefits than five hundred calories of bread. Fruits and vegetables contain fiber, water, and nutrients, whereas bread contains empty calories, meaning not all calories are equal.
Self-compassion is another key in creating a healthy lifestyle. Forgiving yourself for making mistakes, and resolving to do better rather than berating yourself progresses you towards the goal. Mental well-being is just as important as physical. Ensuring you get enough rest, not obsessing over calorie-counting, and fulfilling emotional needs through friends and family, results in a well-balanced lifestyle. Exercise and diet are only part of a healthy life. Holistic Health, Health is holistic, and must be considered from all angles.
The only consistency in life is change. From my own experience, I have learned already that situation, experience, habits, personality, friends, and even family change. It was easy for me to stay active as a kid, competing in the soccer and swim teams, as well as playing outside with friends in spare time. As school demanded more time, I had to sacrifice being as active to maintain straight A’s.
However, I researched other ways to stay active. I walked home from school, did exercises at home, and took the stairs whenever possible. With the mounting pressures of high school and beyond, I became increasingly aware of mental health’s importance. Developing and retaining friendships is crucial for mental health as well. Balancing schoolwork, extracurricular activities, time with friends, and time for resting proved a seemingly impossible task. However, learning to create time for these things and plan efficiently has helped me move towards a healthier lifestyle. I created study groups with friends, allowing us to socialize while being productive.
Learning to cook for myself afforded me direct control over my diet; eating healthier became routine and sustainable. I have learned that the best way to maintain a healthy lifestyle during college years and beyond is through being adaptable. Learning to adapt with change, be flexible yet structured, and forgiving yourself for making mistakes all contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
Once you adjust your mindset on how you view health to something that is feasible, exciting, and rewarding, you can take concrete steps to create a healthy lifestyle. It is a lifetime endeavor, requiring patience, persistence, and forgiveness. Health should not be viewed as an impossible chore, only for those who maintain a perfect diet and exercise routine. Rather, health is individual.
Creating a sustainable routine that fits within your existing schedule is key. Small habits, like meal prepping, playing music, and incorporating and prioritizing exercise all add up. Acknowledging that health is a fluctuating journey rather an on/off switch of healthy or not allows anyone to begin or continue a truly healthy lifestyle.
Student of Biomedical Engineering
University of California, Berkeley.