It’s easier to be motivated to stay fit when the sun is up, your bikini is in use, and you have more time to devote to working out. But as much as you hope to keep your healthy habits and fitness routines in place during the school year, let’s face it: classes and homework take up time, parties serve too much temptation and the stress can make you throw all your hard work out the window. Still, it’s not impossible to stay on track! We talked to collegiettes to see how they maintain their motivation throughout the school year.
One of the best ways to keepmotivated is to expose yourself to inspiration that encourages you to live healthy year-round.
“Throughout freshman year, I struggled to remain motivated with maintaining my healthy diet—late-night snacking and tasting desserts at school were huge temptations that all my workouts couldn't cancel out,” says Kaitlin McCabe, a student at Hamilton College.
Kaitlin started to follow what are called “Fitblrs” on Tumblr: Tumblr pages with photos, quotes, and articles that are intended to motivate you to keep your fitness on track. “Every morning and whenever I felt weakness coming on, I would check out all the fitspo [fitspiration], from healthy recipes to workout tips to motivational images,” she says. “It was a great way to remind me of my fitness and nutritional goals. I now have my own Fitblr to help others with their health journeys.”
Another way to get fitspiration all year long is to subscribe to a monthly fitness magazine or visit their website for articles on workout and meal ideas. You can even make a collage out of images that will motivate you and put it in your agenda or on your wall. Look at fitspiration boards on Pinterest, or make your own.
CAUTION: Fitspiration is NOT thinspiration! The focus should be on health and fitness, not thinness. It can get easy to get carried away, and you may come across some sites that promote unhealthy and unrealistic expectations, which can turn dangerous quickly. Stick to sites and blogs that focus on nutrition, exercise and health as opposed to diets and being skinny. Inspirational quotes, recipes, and workouts make for good fitspo, whereas pictures of models and unrealistic bodies do not.
Make Exercise a Priority
When classes get busy and the stress of college life gets overwhelming, it’s easy to push exercise routines down on your list of priorities. But just like brushing your teeth is essential to your health, so is exercise.
Hillary Coombs, a senior at Bryant University, makes a point to fit workouts into her schedule. “Every Tuesday and Thursday at 7 a.m., I go to yoga,” she says. “I have literally built it into my schedule as a necessity.”
Sign up for fun group exercises classes at your school’s gym that are more likely to get you excited about working up a sweat. Another way to keep yourself motivated to stay fit is to sign up for arace, like Hillary does regularly. “I sign up for 5Ks (and a half marathon this year) throughout the year to keep me training,” she says. Knowing that you’re working toward a big event is a great motivator to keep fit.
Track Your Food and Exercise
An easy way to stay motivated to eat healthy is to keep track of the food you’re eating. This will not only allow you to see how much and what you’re eating, but it will also keep you accountable. An app that Kaitlin uses to track her nutrition is MyFitnessPal. The app lets you track your nutrition as well as your exercise.
“[It] definitely keeps me from cheating throughout the day — by logging what I eat and how much I exercise, I stay honest to myself,” says Kaitlin. “It's also great because it tells me the proper serving size for each food I consume, and I can track my progress!”
Mary Reischmann, a collegiette from Washington University in St. Louis, uses the USDA SuperTrack app, which works in a similar way. “It’s not super glam, but it’s really easy to use and it compliments you whenever you get closer to your goal weight,” she says. “Definitely worth checking out!”
There are many more apps out there that serve the same purpose. Check out our list offitness and health apps!
Get a Fitness Buddy
It’s hard to keep up motivation on your own, so call a friend who shares your desire to stay fit throughout the year. When you have a partner in crime, you can encourage each other and hold each other accountable.
“My housemates and I all dive in together in the beginning of the year,” Hillary says. “We plop a scale in the bathroom, leave notes for each other on mirrors and take turns cooking healthy meals together.”
Encouragement is great, but a little healthy competition can be a good motivator, too! Patricia Loo, a recent grad of the University of Western Ontario, made a bet with her friend to get a six-pack by the end of the year. “The bet was that if I did win, then he would buy me a nice dinner, but if I failed then I owed him a nice dinner,” she says. “I didn't end up winning the bet in the end, but it did motivate me to go to the gym more often.”
Even if you don’t win the competition, you still get the benefits of having stuck to a healthy plan! Just make sure not to let your competitive side take it too far. At the end of the day, everyone’s body is different, so you may get different results than your friends when doing a competition like Patricia’s. Keep the competition positive by encouraging your competitor, no matter what the results are. You don’t want the competition to lead you to do anything that jeopardizes your health or sanity.
Write Down the Benefits of Being Healthy
We know there are many benefits to eating right and exercising. But when you’re contemplating stress eating or are tempted to skip your workout in favor of a nap, those benefits are probably the last thing on your mind. So, it’s important to remind yourself of what you’ll gain from making healthy choices.
“If you make a list of all the great things staying healthy does for you, like your mental health, it makes [a healthier lifestyle] a lot easier to stick with it,” says Hillary. “For me, it helps me relieve stress, so it is kind of a must for me.”
You know how you don’t feel like going to the gym, but once you finish your workout you feel amazing? Try to record that feeling on paper or as a note in your phone so you can remember what it’s like. Whenever you feel you’re lacking motivation, remind yourself of how your post-workout endorphins made you feel. Use those fitblrs and Pinterest boards to remind yourself as well.
Having these benefits written in front of you will help remind you why you don’t want to throw away all the hard work you put into maintaining a healthy lifestyle during the summer. Some of the benefits you can write are how it helps reduce stress, makes you feel more confident and gives you more energy.
It can be hard to adjust from being a super-motivated collegiette in the summer to dealing with the stresses of school and maintaining a healthy lifestyle in the fall. But with these tips, it will be a little easier! Even if you end up slipping up every now and then, don’t beat yourself up about it — it’s not the end of the world!
What are ways that you keep yourself motivated throughout the year? Let us know in the comments.