By Christina Lanier
I used to think I was too busy to work out. I always told myself that 18 hours (read: more work than hours in the day) of coursework, an internship, and countless extracurriculars was excuse enough not to care about my health. I told myself that being vegan and eating right was enough. I told myself that walking my very fit dog ample times each day was enough. For some people, any of those excuses may be valid. But for me, I came to realize that they weren’t.
On Memorial Day, my boyfriend (an equally unfit UT Dallas alum), registered at a gym in the Dallas area. Our expectations were low- we weren’t going to break any records with our inconsequential dead lifts or treadmill mile times. Lucky for us, we’re not professional athletes; rather, both of us are much closer to the title of professional students. The important thing was that we were motivating each other to be better versions of ourselves. Each night after a long day of internships, we’d hop back in the car and drive to the gym. Alongside all of our sweaty gym friends, we would run, lift, and huff and puff until we were satisfied that we had accomplished something. Sometimes we’d compensate by gorging on our favorite Thai place (which was not so coincidentally down the street).
The summer came and went. As expected, there was no earth shattering before and after photo shoot; no weight loss testimonials about our non-existent dieting plan or exercise regimen with DVD Set X, Y, or Z. In fact, I felt like I had not pushed myself enough.
After Kyle went back to school in Boston for the year, I started doing a little more working out here and there. I went to exercise classes at my company (also featuring equally unfit coworkers with equally busy lives), I jogged around campus in the evenings and weekends. When school started, I forked over the fee for group exercise classes.
The semester starts anew with expectations set low once again. I promised myself that the money for these exercise classes would not go to waste; maybe I would go to a few classes a month, I told myself. I’ve since revised that promise- now I need to go at least three times a week unless my schedule is imploding with events and meetings. In hindsight, fee was much more like a down payment on my long term health.
I’ll save you the trouble of hearing my stories of sweaty lunch time attempts as squats, dances, and kickboxing and cut right to the chase. Fast forward several months later and I have changed. While I may not be able to run ultra marathons (or even marathons, let’s be real) or set records with my measly dumbbell lifts, I still feel different. I’m healthier, lighter, and more committed to becoming the best version of myself that I can possibly be.
So why should you care? Because I’m trying to prove a point here. Life is hard for all of us; we’re all struggling to stay afloat in the sea of term papers, midterms, and study groups. Even so, you can find the time to exercise. Don’t set your expectations ridiculously high- you know your strengths and weaknesses. Check out the Group X schedule from the Rec Center, visit the on-campus gym (they have very accommodating hours, I promise), or just start walking after classes to clear your mind. Maybe get a fitness tracker or schedule in appointments on your calendar.
Whatever you do, hold yourself accountable; become the best version of yourself. Start small and work your way up to the healthiest, smartest student you can be. I promise, you have it in you.