I saw it sitting there. The smooth texture, the wholesome goodness, and the little container of cream cheese sitting next to it made it impossible to ignore. I already had three of these tasty snacks to go along with my entree, soda, and dessert, but now was not the time for thinking about the past. Now was the time to devour! And there was no way I was going to let this bagel escape my grasp! Thus, I calmly walked up to the bakery area yet again, snatched the bagel up, and returned to my table to enjoy its caloric wonderfulness!
Throughout high school and during the beginning of college, I think it was fairly obvious I was a mindless food-devouring machine! I ate fast-food on a regular basis and rarely quit a meal before finishing off at least three servings of whatever was being served! I remember in high school, there was a Wendy’s fast-food restaurant right off campus. I’d probably stop by there at least three times a week to enjoy 15 chick nuggets and a couple of junior cheeseburgers! Thankfully, due to my involvement on the basketball team and in weight training class, I was able to stay active enough to stay in pretty decent shape (not in great shape mind you), but the writing was on the wall that by the time I got to college, I was going to start gaining weight if nothing changed!
When I first got to college, I heard about the infamous “Freshman Fifteen” (15 lbs of weight gained) that many first-year college students experienced when they get to college, but I was undeterred by this threat. I’d always been skinny growing up and didn’t think it was possible for me to gain any serious weight until I was like 30. Much to my chagrin, I was wrong.
Despite not being student-athletes anymore, my roommate Alex and I were still fairly active. We routinely went to the rec-center and participated in all sorts of different intramural activities. In addition to being active, Alex and I would often devour tons of food through the “all you can eat” on-campus cafeteria we ate at. We’d devour countless waffles in the morning, finish off numerous patty melts in the afternoon, and devour anything we could get our hands on that night!
Thankfully, due to our active lifestyle we were able to fend off added poundage, until one day, it happened. Alex and I were engaged in an intense volleyball match. The team we were playing was very competitive and weren’t going down without a fight. One of their best players just went up and put down a monstrous spike over our team. Amazingly, one of our teammates was able to dig the spike out and hit it up in the air where I could reach it. I then set the ball to Alex who went up and spike a vicious slam down on the other side securing our victory!
After he landed, however, I could see he was experiencing some severe discomfort in his right shoulder. After further investigation at the ER, we found out that he tore his labrum and would have to be in a shoulder harness for the next month or so. It was during this time period, Alex and I became a little less active and began to see the “Freshman Fifteen” begin to revere its ugly head as we refused to change our eating habits and continued to devour everything in sight!
After a couple of weeks, I happened to be scrolling through some recent pictures of us that were posted on Facebook. It was then I noticed how “big” we were starting to look and realized I was not immune to weight gain! Growing up, I always assumed I’d always be in athletic shape and knew I’d continue to play sports until I was well in to my sixties–no matter what I ate! After looking at my pictures on Facebook, it became clear I’d need to work (in the gym and in the kitchen) if I was going to make that dream a reality.
In response, I started subscribing to Men’s Health magazine, which showed me all types of different ideas and philosophies on working out and dieting. After putting some of these ideas into practice, Alex and I began seeing tremendous results in regards to our health and physique. I lost 10 lbs (from 190 to 180), and Alex lost 35 POUNDS (from 205 to 170). These results were not a result of some magic formula, but of a commitment to being more healthy through exercise and diet. I know lots of people nowadays who are in a similar boat that we were and are searching for ways to get in better shape. So I’ve decided to share some of what I’ve learned through my victory over the “Freshman Fifteen”–not to brag about how “healthy” I am, but to hopefully help anyone who needs some tips on how to be healthier and have a higher quality of life! It’s not hard and not complicated!
–Get Started! (What you do matters far less than that you do SOMETHING! The hardest part is to make yourself do it. Once you get started, it gets easier as you go along)
–Quality > Quantity (spending 45 minutes of quality exercise time is far more productive than spending 2 hours at a time doing a bunch of random stuff)
–Make it easier on yourself (don’t spend every waking hour exercising. Spend quality time doing meaningful exercise is much more rewarding and easier to do than spending tons of your week exercising)
–Have Fun! (stay active by doing things you love or find certain activities you love and do those! Exercising should be a fun experience–not a dreadful nightmare!)
–Get started! (like with exercise, getting started on changing your eating habits is the first major step in taking control of your health. Once you’ve started, you’ll be more likely to keep with it than if you keep putting it off every chance you get)
–Make it a lifestyle change, not a “diet” (one thing about “diets” is they eventually end and you go back to what you were doing before! Find a diet that you can consistently keep with throughout your life if you’re going to live a healthy life!)
–Make it reasonable, not impossible (don’t find a diet that’s impossible to stick with and makes you miserable. Find one that includes foods you enjoy but our healthy also, that way you’ll be more likely to make it a lifestyle change as opposed to horrid task to accomplish)
–Reward yourself (don’t totally banish your favorite foods from your mouth! If you enjoy cake, have a slice every now and then. If you enjoy your “weakness” foods every now and then, you’ll be far more likely to stick with your diet than if impossibly try to avoid them at all costs–resulting in an inevitable caloric binge at some point!)
I by no means am an expert. Being a PE teacher and coach, however, I’ve been able to see the amazing benefits that come with being in shape and living healthy. Not only will your medical issues decrease, but your overall quality of life will increase! If you’re wondering what diet I’ve adopted, I base what I eat off a diet that was suggested in Men’s Health. This diet gives you a variety of foods you can base your diet off of while still allowing some wiggle room for some sweet treats every now and then. I’ve posted the link below! I hope this post is helpful to those of you who are looking to live more healthy. Good luck!