I just started college and after having experienced the fastest weight gain in my life due to the discontinuation of high school sports, lack of home cooked meals, drinking, drunchies, dining halls, and just plain laziness, I had to figure out how to get my life back on track. The problem, I realized, is that I was fighting my laziness. In high school, I was just as lazy, but sports forced me to work out anyways. I needed something like that back in my life. The trick was to embrace my laziness (aka work out and eat healthy without realizing).
1. Make it more work to NOT go to the gym.
Put your gym clothes in your school bag so that when you walk past the gym after classes, you’re already ready to go. Plus, you’ve been carrying around an extra outfit and shoes all day, so you don’t wanna waste all that effort, am I right?
2. Don’t Deprive Yourself.
If you want a slice of pizza, or your dining hall has the best burgers ever, then have one. You’re really craving apple pie? Go for it. You’re in college, this isn’t the place to start a vegan or clean foods diet. The key here is to eat what you want. If you think about how you feel and whether you actually want it, 9 times out of 10, you’ll change your mind. The trick in dining halls is to eat it because you want it, not just because it’s there. I’m looking at you soft serve ice cream machine!
3. On that note, count your calories.
Download the Myfitnesspal app (it’s free!) and start logging your calories. Most dining halls post the nutrition info somewhere online, but if not, just search in the app for the food and most likely they’ll have something similar. If you stay within your calorie goal, you’ll lose weight no matter what you eat. If you really wanted that massive brunch with your friends, that’s fine, just eat less later. Any overages should be subtracted from the next day. If you want to go out drinking on Thursday, that’s fine. Plan how many calories you want to allot for drinks and eat accordingly the rest of the day (if you eat while you’re blacked out.. just remember – calories don’t count if you don’t remember consuming them).
4. Make one change at a time.
For me, this meant the first two weeks of school were devoted solely to going to the gym and working out. I ate whatever I wanted and frequently logged 2x over my calorie goal, but I got in the habit of working out (plus I wasn’t so much as increasing my calories as not decreasing them, which is fine for the beginning). The next week I devoted to sticking to my calorie goal. I started it fairly high and each week since have decreased it by a small amount – maybe 50 calories per week. Don’t go below 1200 though! It’s just a good way to adjust from eating 2500 calories a day to eating 1500. You’ll hardly even notice tbh and you’ll find yourself eating more nutritious foods to stay full.
5. Don’t keep binge food in your dorm.
I cannot stress this one enough. If you have a full bag of doritos in your dorm and you just got back from a killer midterm, you WIILL eat them all, I promise. Don’t let this be a possibility. Take fruit from dining halls or keep carrots or celery or something you won’t want to binge eat, but will give you a snack fix (if you binge on carrots, see a therapist or something).
6. Make working out a treat.
At my college, we have a Chipotle about a half mile from the dorms. So, some days, my roommate and I will take the long way around campus and run there. This forces us into a 3 mile run, and we have Chipotle as a reward. It can be whatever place you want, but I recommend a place you don’t eat at too often, isn’t a place that is terrible for you, and isn’t such a hike to get back from that coming back seems like so much work you don’t go there at all.
7. Lastly, don’t think about it.
My biggest problem was psyching myself out by creating these grand plans I would never follow. By telling myself, “well, today I feel like working out, if I didn’t I wouldn’t go” it’s a low pressure environment where I go to the gym, but don’t feel daunted by the fact that I might have to go every day for the rest of my life. This is how I got through the first two weeks of working out – I just “felt like it.” If you don’t want to go to the gym, just tell yourself you’ll do the elliptical for 15 minutes and leave. Chances are, you’ll stay, but if you really don’t want to after that, then go ahead and leave, it wasn’t your day anyways. Maybe these other tips don’t sound super ‘lazy,’ but by treating working out and eating healthy as a day-by-day basis, it doesn’t feel impossibly daunting and exhausting.
Maybe these steps don’t sound lazy, but if you can find a way to integrate fitness into your life effectively, it will feel lazy. By doing this, working out feels like a natural part of my life, I don’t feel bloated and unhappy with my body, plus I’ve lost 5 pounds in 5 weeks and going strong. Get out there and do you!