By Samantha Byrd
As college students, our daily lives took a dramatic turn during spring break last semester. The Coronavirus pandemic shocked the world and impacted people’s lifestyles in many ways, but the greatest impact on my life was a little thing I like to call “pandemic pounds.”
When I came to college three years ago, I was a freshly retired cheerleader and dancer and I felt very lost not having those physically intense activities in my life anymore. So, I decided to try out the Sun Devil Fitness Complex and fell in love with weightlifting. I felt like I found my purpose again.
Pre-Coronavirus, I was weightlifting at least five days a week, as well as taking a few yoga classes here and there to stretch and repair my muscles as well as relax my mind. I finally had a workout routine I loved and looked forward to doing. It also helped relieve stress from school.
So as you can imagine, when the pandemic hit, my world was turned upside down. The gyms closed, I had to move back to my hometown, and I was still in school, all online. Trying to do home workouts was VERY difficult for me, as I had always relied on the gym for motivation. I definitely fell into a rut. I gained weight and was really down about my body and being stuck inside my house.
Eventually, after many months I found a routine that worked for me and I started to shed my pandemic pounds one day at a time. I know it will be a long process to get my body back to the way it was, but I have a few tips and tricks I would love to share with anyone who wants to join me on my new fitness journey.
1. Plan Your Day
Before I go to bed every night, I write in my planner and schedule my daily routine down to the hour.
This helps me make sure I carve out enough time for everything I need to accomplish. It also helps me not make excuses. For example, I can’t say “I forgot to go to the gym” or “I forgot to eat breakfast.”
2.Think about how and what you are eating
The most important thing I think about when it comes to food is “food is fuel”. A few years ago I was obsessed with counting calories and I became afraid of eating. Since then, I have done a lot of research and learned what works for me and my body.
Everybody is different but right now I am focusing on eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean meats and cutting out as much fast food and processed food as possible. Of course I am not perfect, so if my friends bake cookies, I won’t refuse, I will just eat one. It is important to remember that moderation is key and no one is perfect when it comes to eating healthy.
I also started intermittent fasting, which means I only eat from 12 p.m.-8 p.m. and the rest of the time I only drink water. Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. It doesn’t specify which foods you should eat but rather when you should eat them. In this respect, it’s not a diet, it is an eating pattern. This helps me not eat that midnight snack.
I also got into meal prepping this semester. As a college student, it can be helpful to cook a week’s worth of meals, or at least the protein parts of the meals, in one session. Not only does it save time, but it also saves money. My roommate and I grocery shop once a week and it typically costs us $20 each for a full week of meals. Our typical meal prep includes a protein source and choice of vegetable.
3. Schedule Regular Exercise
Whether it be taking a brisk outdoor walk on a nice fall day or it be a heavy weightlifting session, any type of movement counts as exercise. If social distancing keeps you from your usual gym session or exercise classes, try other forms of activity, such as hiking or yoga or an online workout class.
Exercise is not the main factor for weight loss, but it plays a role in keeping weight off once you lose it. Incorporating one form of exercise into your daily routine can make a world of a difference.
4. Get enough sleep
Personally, I have never been one to struggle getting sleep. I absolutely love sleeping and can’t function the next day if I don’t. However, I have many friends in college who barely get a lick of sleep. If you want to lose weight, sleep is a key factor. This means seven or more hours a night, depending on what your body requires. There is lots of evidence that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be overweight. I feel the best when I sleep 8-10 hours a night.
I hope these tips and tricks can help you feel good about yourself and your body. Times are strange right now, but one thing that can be normal is self love and self care. I learned to love my body at its lowest point and it’s making my fitness journey effortless.
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