A New Semester, A New Me

Diet and Exercise.

Until recently, the mere mention of both words sent me running (okay, walking) to the fridge to grab an ice cream bar in protest.

You see, I've never been an athletically-gifted individual. Sure, I had to run around the playground, do jumping jacks and play dodge ball during P.E. in elementary. But as soon as I got home, I plopped down in front of the TV with my favorite junk food, and pretty much counterbalanced everything I'd done earlier.

Fast forward to my high school years. I was still enjoying all my favorite foods and avoiding physical activity as much as possible. I would choose any elective I could to get out of taking P.E., even if it bored me to tears. In my world, being happy and healthy meant doing what felt right to me. And what felt right was not exercising, dieting and taking care of myself.

Last year, I was looking for a college to attend that was not only known for its exemplary academic standards, but also had great food. I chose HFCC and, needless to say, after finding out that the campus not only had the Skylight Café but the Fifty-One O One Restaurant as well, I was sold! I could just envision stopping by in between my classes to sample all the culinary delights both had to offer.

When the semester started, I stuck to my word. I walked from one of my classes to the Skylight Café, which was halfway across campus. By the time I got there, I was completely out of breath and felt sick. Then it dawned on me.

I was out of shape.

It wasn't just the realization that I was overweight. For a good portion of my life, I was always carrying around a few extra pounds. I could walk up stairs just fine in the past without getting winded or stopping to catch my breath. But when I felt like I was going to collapse on the floor just from walking five minutes across campus, I knew it was time to make a change.

Before I continue, let me explain the motivation behind my new outlook on dieting, exercising and taking care of myself.

It was not the social stigma of being heavy that gave me a change of heart. I learned long ago that I would only have one life and one opportunity to make the most of it, so my appearance never mattered to me on that note. I have best friends; I have a significant other who, upon telling him of my decision, has been nothing but supportive; I have a loving family that is rooting for me, and even acquaintances that have expressed interest in joining me.

The inspiration to get in shape is the same inspiration I had for being happy, no matter what dress size I wore: I only have one life. I'd like to live as long as I can to enjoy it.

While eating right and working out still doesn't sound like a walk in the park, it has also lost the spine tingling negative reaction it would once elicit from me. I plan to utilize HFCC's Fitness Center, and visit the Skylight Café and Fifty-One O One Restaurant as well, this time for healthier, diet-friendly options.

I'd love to hear from others who are embarking on a similar journey to change their lifestyle and eating habits, or even those who have been at it for a while and have valuable advice to share. Feel free to send me an e-mail at rlwoods1@hfcc.edu.

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