By Emily Tual, Dietitian Ouachita Baptist University Intern
Finals were complete, residents had left, my room was packed, I was on my way home and I was ready. About two months ago I ended my sophomore year of college and was exhausted. I am a lover of schedules. I like to have things planned and organized so that my time can be spent well. The last few weeks of my schedule had been thrown off by random assignments, residents checking out at odd times, and studying for finals had given me little time to exercise and eat meals at normal hours. I consider myself a fairly healthy individual: I work out about five to six times a week and I love to get my fruits and veggies in. But if you had seen me then, you would not have believed me. I started to notice myself getting sluggish not only physically, but also in my studies, my attitude was not the greatest, and my body began to feel and look different (not a good different either haha). I could not believe how a few days not working out, and a few times of picking a less healthy food had begun to change my habits. If I did have time to run, I noticed my endurance level had decreased. When I went to the cafeteria, my cravings weren’t for good foods like they had been only a few weeks before. Moments like that made me realize how important keeping good habits is for all aspects of your health.
For me, this is a frustrating topic because I work so hard to form a habit and it will be something so simple like the end of a semester to throw me off. I’m sure those of you reading understand what I mean. It’s like losing weight: it may take you three months to lose ten pounds, but in two weeks you’ve somehow gained it all back. Have you been there?
This summer, getting in better shape and eating healthier may have been the least of some of your thoughts and definitely mine too! I may only be 20, but I’ve had a lot of time and struggles with forming good habits. I’ve tried the quick fixes -- the 3-day challenges, and others similar to that. What I have found to be the most beneficial and rewarding are what I like to call lifestyle habits. Making simple and realistic changes to my eating, adding a few minutes to a workout every week. For me, sweets are a weakness. Instead of completely cutting them out, I limit my intake of them. Rather than using creamy salad dressings, I use balsamic vinegar, or even a bit of salsa at times. It’s doing the little things that can add up to help us.
Life is never consistent. Things will be thrown in our way at the most inconvenient times. Something that I have learned is despite what routine I have accomplished, or new healthy food I have made myself like, the most important healthy habit is to do the best with whatever situation I am in. Whether you are slammed at work and cannot find or make the time to continue your exercise regimen you’ve been trying to do everyday, or your friends choose a restaurant that has fried at the beginning of every item, it’s okay! Do what you can to get some activity in for the days you have no time: take the stairs, take a five-minute break and take a walk around the office or do jumping jacks. For your meal, chose the healthiest option they have on their menu, pick water instead of soda or a sugary drink. If you have a positive outlook and don’t stress, the results will be much better.
As a Christian, I personally turn to the Bible for inspiration. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 is something that has allowed me to deal with curve balls in a more beneficial way. It says “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” When I’ve resorted to rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks for each situation that comes (no matter how untimely), my good habits seem to stick because I am more focused on what I can be made of it instead of the limitations I may have. Whatever your beliefs, positive thinking is key to a healthy lifestyle.
Write out your goals, be around people who will encourage you in those goals, and don’t get sidetracked when little bumps in the road occur. Use them to strengthen you and the habits you have made. Those bumps could end up being an exciting challenge to you and you may grow more than you ever thought!