First Semester Reflections.

First, I want to thank everyone for sticking with me and the blog as I transitioned through my first semester of college. I wasn’t really able to blog recipes or much of anything, but I still enjoyed writing every post I was able to. Thank YOU for hanging around. 🙂

College was great. My first semester was awesome. My anxiety was much less than it ever was in high school. I socialized more than I ever have. I didn’t dread Mondays because it meant another week of classes with my friends. Friday nights almost always consisted of movie night with whoever could come. Some of my funnest memories involve eating in the cafeteria with a table full of people and laughter. Walking to class on such a beautiful campus was never dreaded. Watching Say Yes to the Dress and eating dove dark chocolate with friends cures any bad day. Christmas time had never been so special; spent with friends I’ve grown to love in just a short few months. Choir introduced me to forty other girls who encouraged me every practice. Chi Omega Pi gave me 120 new “sisters.”

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College did have some struggles, like any new transition has. Roommates didn’t quite turn out like expected. Finding time to exercise was quite difficult. Cleaning the bathroom just plain stinks (thank you mom for cleaning my bathroom for 18 years). Cafeteria food gets really old. Late night snacking is inevitable. Going to bed before midnight is a miracle. “Refreshments” at a meeting/party means junk food, not fresh food like fruits or vegetables that you are craving. Announcements at 2:00 AM that pumpkins are not allowed in dorm are just annoying. Never schedule an 8:00 AM class again.

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The main struggle I dealt with was food. Not surprising coming from a past of disordered eating; however, I managed to remember all I learned and tried to not let it take complete control again. I started out the semester ready to conquer the cafeteria, and for a few weeks, I did well. I tried to eat three balanced meals, two-ish snacks and make sure I was fueling my body correctly. And then, late night studying and snacking happened. And Friday movie night turned into “bring all your candy and junk food to eat” night. And the daily cake in the cafeteria kept sneaking on my plate. And exercise didn’t happen.

And yes, I realize it’s college- four years of fun, so if I gain a little weight, it’s not permanent so it’s not worth obsessing over because college is a once in lifetime experience. But that doesn’t mean I plan on throwing all my nutrition knowledge and healthy habits out the window. It’s still four years of your life and you only have one body.

So, I decided to start counting calories. I downloaded the myfitnesspal app and started tracking my food and exercise intake. I didn’t plan on counting calories for long but I wanted to get my eating back to normal and also make sure I was getting the right amount of carbs, protein, fat, and potassium…etc. So, for about two months, I diligently tracked my eating habits. I don’t regret counting calories or feel like I got too obsessive. I pretty much learned what I already knew. Some days, I would eat more than my calorie intake and other days, I ate less. Hence, it’s all about balance, on the outside AND inside. It all goes back to the fact that your body balances everything out in a couple of days. Eat too many cookies one night? Don’t fret because your body works it all out for you. That is how God designed us. Your metabolism is quite effective. (A dozen cookies every night may not be the best idea though.)

Another way I knew my body balances it out is that some days, I didn’t eat my required amount. Which is one reason I didn’t like counting because when I saw “the number” of calories I still had left, it immediately triggered me to want to eat something, even when I knew I was perfectly full. On the other hand, some days I reached my limit and was still hungry. But you know what? Most of the time I still ate something because food=fuel and apparently my body needed some extra energy that day.

I will admit that at times I got a bit obsessive and, looking at how many calories I went over immediately made me hate on myself. That’s when I knew it was time to stop counting and move on from this little experiment. Overall, I was getting the nutrients I needed. I usually always ate more fat than needed each day  (which is ironic) but, it was most likely from all the nuts, nut butters, and cheese I eat. However, my protein and carb intake was usually right on target.

So what did I do when I stopped counting calories? I started simply shaping each meal according to the food pyramid, not by numbers. I also started drinking a glass of milk with lunch and dinner to help get some extra protein to stay full and get my daily intake of calcium. I have been trying to eat larger meals (Protein, Starch, Veggie, Fruit, and Dairy) and do less snacking which I have noticed to be effective in helping me stay full and less focused on food throughout the day. I will still enjoy dessert, just not every single night. This is the plan I hope to continue through next semester as it is going to be much more busy than this past semester and I will need a sturdy plan.

As for exercise, I am going to try for three workouts a week. And, I am counting walks as workouts. I know exercise is important, but right now, I don’t think I will obsess over it or make it a major priority. I find eating healthy affects me and my attitude way more than exercise. I like exercise, but I don’t love it. I still plan to be active, but I don’t plan on having a strict regimen. You know what they say, “Abs are made in the kitchen” 😉 I just have to remind myself that just because you aren’t exercising, it doesn’t mean you are going to gain weight. It really doesn’t. You just have to tell yourself that and move on. Some days I will spend the whole day battling with myself about needing to exercise when I don’t want to, and I’m not doing that anymore. If I have extra time one day, sure I will workout, but I’m not going to plan my life around it. I’m going to enjoy life.

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Wow. If you made it through this post, you deserve a cookie. (So maybe go make some and send me one?)

Thank you for listening to my long speech that could be even longer, but I will spare you.

Here’s to good food, active days, and enjoying this very short life. 

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