The thought of going back to college this year filled me with anxiety. Why? The fear of gaining weight. I was afraid that all my hard work over the summer would be undone, and I’d go back to being miserable about my body. College this time last year consisted of endless takeaways, drinking the cheapest and most fattening form of alcohol out there (€4 Aldi wine, would not recommend) and general laziness. But this year I was determined not to fall back into old habits, and I didn’t. I’ve even managed to lose 4lbs this year, bringing my total weight loss to 2 stone. You can see my before and after pictures below, if you dare, you’ve been warned.
One of the main things that’s helped keep my weight down since getting back to college is exercising. Gym membership is the best thing I could have spent my money on, and I actually go this year. I aim to go to the gym three times a week, but sometimes I could go twice and other times I could go four times – depending on my enthusiasm and workload. Treadmill, rowing machine, leg press and ab workouts are all things I try to incorporate into my hour in the gym. My excuse last year was that I never had time for the gym, but you can always find some if you look hard enough.
The amount of takeaways I eat has decreased a huge amount this year, and the “group meal” scheme in our house has contributed to that. Me and my housemates take it on turns to make each other dinner, which is usually something healthy. It works out a lot cheaper and means you only end up cooking once a week, so if you and your housemates eat similar types of food I’d definitely recommend it.
I stopped drinking/going out last semester, and it’s something I really regret. It made me a bit of a recluse if I’m honest and it only meant that I had more money to spend on takeaways. I thought it was improving my mental health, but it probably made it worse. Anyways, I don’t do that anymore. I go out twice a week, which is fairly standard for a lot of students in Limerick. Now when I go out, I stick to vodka and a diet mixer. It’s all about being smart about what you drink. I won’t lie, after a few too many I’ll end up buying garlic chips after the nightclub, but sure what harm when you’re up at 9am the next day for the gym?
There are also little changes I’ve made that have improved my diet slightly more. If my housemates are getting pasta carbonara or pizza from the heavenly Italian place beside our house, I’ll buy a panini instead. I eat dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. I drink unsweetened almond milk or soya milk instead of cow’s milk. I use cinnamon on my porridge instead of sugar. It’s all about making little changes that will lead to a big change in your weight and how you see yourself.
So as you can see, I haven’t made any drastic or horrible changes in my life. I still go out and drink, but I balance it with going to the gym. I still get takeaways, just not as often and I go for a healthier option. You don’t have to completely cut yourself off from the norms of college life, you just have to learn to find a balance.