January 2020 has come to a close, and maybe you still have some unfulfilled fitness goals. Let’s not dwell too hard on these unattained fitness milestones.
These aspirations are admirable, but it often falls through the cracks for university students struggling to juggle their classes, social lives and jobs or other extracurricular activities. This is why it’s so important to build sustainable healthy habits that will withstand the twists and turns of everyday life.
So many people start working out for the wrong reasons. A “new year, new me” mentality won’t cut it because fitness goals should ultimately be centered around loving yourself. I’ve seen first-hand so many people who work out because they hate what they see when they look in the mirror. This only negatively impacts their mental health and self-esteem. But there is a better way!
People with this selfloathing mentality often resort to fad diets, quick fixes and an unfeasible workout plan. The average couch potato can’t go from doing nothing to working out six days a week. It’s just not realistic, nor is it healthy.
If you have done this yourself, then you’re honestly a machine. These changes cannot usually be accomplished in a single step. They require patience, motivation and consistency.
The same goes for a nutritional diet. A person seeking a healthier lifestyle needs to make changes in small increments in order to ensure that they are sustainable. For example, one might start working out three days a week and cutting out junk food. These small changes are effective and leave room to establish even healthier habits.
Healthy habits aren’t hard to start, but they are easy to quit. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? I would personally recommend trying to increase your intake of fruits, vegetables and protein. These foods are nutrient dense and keep you full for longer periods of time while providing your body with the nutrients it needs to function effectively.
The best part is that eating healthy doesn’t mean restricting yourself from enjoying the things that you love. Many fitness professionals follow the 80:20 rule where they consume healthy foods 80 per cent of the time and indulge for the remaining 20 per cent.
Contrary to popular belief, carbs are not your enemy. In fact, you need them to function properly. Think of it like this — all food is fuel, but a well-rounded nutritional diet is like premium gas. All forms of food will ultimately sustain you, but won’t necessarily be the best for your body
Similarly, exercising should not always feel like a punishment. Don’t get me wrong — at times it will absolutely feel like a self-inflicted form of torture. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to work out.
Yes, the gym is a great option, but it isn’t always the answer. Swimming, biking and every sport under the sun are also valuable forms of exercise. You need to find what works best for you. At the end of the day, any form of exercise will only serve to benefit you.
No matter what your workout goal is, keep in mind that fitness is a journey. At every point, it is important to remind yourself that you are doing this because you love yourself. There will be ups and downs, but consistency will be the key to your personal success.
People shouldn’t work out because they hate their bodies — they should exercise because they love them. Feed your body the nutrients it needs to fuel your day-today life. Exercise to escape from reality or to release stress-reducing endorphins in an otherwise jam-packed day.
Consistent exercise and nutritional eating will improve an individual’s mental health. So get that workout in when you can and eat in a way that honours your body. Do what works for you and makes you feel like it’s a “new year” and an even better you.
This op-ed was written by a University of Saskatchewan undergraduate student and reflects the views and opinions of the writer. If you would like to write a rebuttal, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Graphic: Shawna Langer/ Graphics Editor