Coming to college and not having a three-plus hour obligation to go to the gym every day can make it a struggle to stay active. Here are a few things that I’ve learned in college to combat just being an “ex-high school athlete”.
1. Realize you’re going to get old and your metabolism will slow down.
It’s part of life. Accept the fact that your body will forever be changing now and it won’t bother you as much later down the road.
2. Go to the alumni games.
Will you make a complete fool of yourself? Yes. Will you have an awesome time doing it? Yes. Will you injure yourself? Eh…possibly (see point #1 for getting old).
3. Don’t expect your body to be able to do what it used to.
If all you’ve been doing for the past semester is sitting on your butt binging on Domino’s pizza and Netflix, then it’s definitely not realistic to go out and put in the same workout you did when you were mid-season of senior year. So if you’re planning to work out, set realistic expectations for yourself.
4. Give yourself something to train for.
In high school, you trained to get to the top, whatever that top may have been. Personally, it’s a lot harder for me to work out if I don’t have an end goal in mind like I always used to. Give yourself something to train for by signing up for 5k’s, mud runs, or marathons! Get your girlfriends to join in too and make it a friendly competition. Not a fan of obstacle courses or running? No worries. Set small goals you hope to achieve with your fitness each month and work towards those instead.
5. Don’t compare yourself to college athletes – or anyone else for that matter.
I work in the athletic department at my university, so I see people walking past all day every day with bangin’ bods. It’s hard to not to sometimes sit there and play the comparison game. But instead, I choose to focus on the things I love about my body. Everyone is made uniquely and wonderfully, athlete or non-athlete, your body is rockin’ just the way it is. Also, remember you have something now that lots of athletes don’t. #boobs
6. Know that carbo-loading will have a much different effect on you now.
I’m an ex-swimmer. I once put away 3 plates of pasta and 15 pieces of garlic bread at a feed. If I did that now, I’d be puking for days. Eating like you did while you were training three plus hours a day will have a much different effect on you when you’re not training. Yes a late-night pizza gorge is totally acceptable (and necessary) every now and then but probably not a smart idea for every day of the week.
7. Find a form of exercise you actually enjoy doing.
I used to dread practices, and because of that, I now resent going to the gym. Finding a form of exercise that I actually liked made it not seem like such a chore anymore. Think of it as an opportunity to try something new! Who knows, maybe the Bikram Yoga or Zumba class you’ve been eyeing are just what you need to get back into the swing of things again.
8. Ignore scales and size changes.
Like I said before, your body is constantly changing over time. Don’t focus on the number on the scale or on the label of your jeans, but rather how your body feels and what it can do. Your body can do amazing things like run miles and miles, swim for hours straight or do a backbend without hurting yourself. Now that’s awesome.
9. Focus on making healthy lifelong habits, not getting your body back.
In the long run, the schedule of a high school athlete just isn’t plausible to maintain, and neither is the body. You shouldn’t be aspiring to look like a 16-year-old when you’re 20. Shift the focus to making good health habits instead of getting your body back. The former will do you more good in the long run instead of ending in disappointment like the latter.
10. Be realistic.
Set up a workout schedule that you can actually maintain later in life. One hour every other day? Totally doable. Three hours straight, seven days a week? Ain’t nobody got time for dat!
Image via Meredith Kress