Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Daily Grind

By Blake Eaton

Freshman Fifteen.

It's a phrase I heard a million times before arriving at UTD. "Watch out for the Freshman Fifteen." "Make sure you eat right, or you'll get the Freshman Fifteen."

In case you were wondering: No, I did not get the Freshman Fifteen. I gained some weight--around 5 lbs--but that added weight came intentionally, and it came mostly as muscle.

If anything, it was easier to keep weight off during the school year. It sounds counterintuitive, but it's true. 
Here's why:

First, UT Dallas has a pretty great gym. There are machines that can exercise almost any part of your body, and you can always find something open for use. During the busiest parts of the day, your first choice may be taken, but something is usually better than nothing when it comes to exercise.

Second, and more importantly, my busy schedule at UT Dallas
forced me to structure my week around a series of routines. I went to class at a certain time every day. I found a regular time to eat in between those classes. And every morning, before I started any of that, I rolled out of bed, laced up my running shoes, and jogged over to the gym.

A lot of my friends could hardly believe how early I got up to exercise. (I think some still don't.) For me, though, hopping onto an exercise bike or treadmill is just part of my day. It's a habit, and just as bad habits are the hardest to break, good habits are the easiest to keep.

I’m pretty sure that’s why teachers always insisted that we students take notes and the like in high school, but even if you went to college without those skills, there’s no time like the present to pivot toward a more healthy routine. All it takes is a loud alarm clock and a solid amount of determination. I won’t lie. Those first weeks are the hardest, and it’s easy to weasel out of a work out. "I have too much homework." "I'm so tired now. I just don’t want to overexert." Those excuses will weigh heavily in the beginning, but they fade away. After a while, exercise is just something you do. I know that’s how it worked for me.

In fact, I started writing this at 9 AM, right after a half-hour workout. It's not as easy when I can choose to sleep in till noon every day, but the habits I developed at UT Dallas are staying with me even through the summer.

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