Yesterday I was thinking about how far I’ve come in my wellness journey. I realized how much it has changed over the last three years since I first decided to seriously commit to bettering my health. Over the years, I have found an overwhelming amount of information that contradicts itself. At the end of the day, you have to do what works best for you. Even though every wellness journey is different, I wanted to share with you some things I wish I knew before starting my wellness journey in college.
What I Wish I Knew Before Starting My Wellness Journey in College
I have compiled a list of things that I wish someone would have told me when I was first starting my wellness journey. These tips have been learned through a lot of trial and error on my part. Growth isn’t always easy (it’s usually not at all), but I hope I can save you at least half of the time and energy I spent self-sabotaging and backtracking. So, behold my top tips for starting your wellness journey: the things that I wish I knew when I started.
1. You do not need to change your body to feel beautiful or confident
This has been a recent lesson for me to learn. However, it might arguably be one of the most important. I hate that so much of the fitness/health industry preys on our insecurities and convinces us that we need to lose weight or change “problem areas” to fit a societal mold to be beautiful. I have been working on abandoning this mentality. There is nothing that you need to change about yourself. In fact, you should learn to love your body RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE!!! It’ll serve you so much more to appreciate where you are currently at and be thankful for everything your body has gone through and continues to do for you.
Don’t fall victim to quick fixes or headlines that claim they can help you lose x amount of weight in x amount of days. These marketing tactics are what is wrong with the fitness industry and do not contribute to your overall wellness journey. Which leads me to my next point.
2. Be selfish with the follow button
Social media can either be a source of community and positivity or it can be dark and negative. When I started this journey, I immediately turned to Instagram to follow “fitspo” accounts. However, inspiration was the furthest thing I got. Instead, I found myself stuck in the comparison game and falling victim to quick fixes so many accounts were offering.
So now, I can tell you to be selfish with who you follow on social media on your wellness journey. Any time you see someone being negative or you get negative feelings about something someone is posting (like comparison): hit the unfollow button!! It doesn’t make you petty or rude. And if that is your fear, be more selfish with who you follow in the first place.
3. Motivation will not always be there
I wish someone would have told me that motivation is fleeting. You cannot rely heavily on motivation to do the things that you KNOW are best for you. Getting your fitness in, eating healthy, gratitude: these are all habits that you develop. This happens by having the discipline to continuously show up for yourself until it is second nature. It takes time, but you will end up letting yourself down much less than if you rely on motivation to get you where you want to be.
4. Journaling will be your BFF
I have always loved writing (hello blog lol) but I was never consistent with writing about how I was feeling. Journaling has been a huge help on my wellness journey. It has allowed me to get all the messy thoughts and tough things out on paper. Wellness is more than just eating healthy and working out. Are you taking care of your mental health? I could write a whole post on how I journal but to get you started here is what my routine looks like:
-list a few things you are grateful for
-affirm things you want to believe about yourself/that you know to be true
-spill allllllll the things floating around in your head or visualize your future
Doing this DAILY has helped me so much. I don’t feel like my day has started without journaling. PLUS you get to look back at everything you’ve been through and see how far you have come. Which might just be the best indicator of how far you have come on your wellness journey. I wish someone had told me this before starting my wellness journey in college.
5. The gym isn’t the only option for fitness
While following the previously mentioned fitspo accounts on Instagram, I started to feel like the only option for moving my body was by going to the gym. This hindered my progress for a few reasons. 1) I had extreme anxiety walking in to the gym and 2) I get easily bored with weight lifting (once I got over my fear of the gym). This left me inconsistent and feeling defeated when I dreaded going to the gym.
I wish someone told me that there are other options when starting my fitness journey. You have to find what works best for you and what makes you feel your best. Now I love to change things up. One day I might go to the gym and lift heavy and the next go for a long hike with Benji. Some other options might be dancing, playing your favorite sport, or some at home HIIT. The possibilities are ENDLESS!!
6. Progress over perfection
As a perfectionist, this has been one of the hardest lessons to grasp. My perfectionism coupled with my “all or nothing” mindset made this lesson a difficult one to understand. If you mess up, it does not mean you have to start completely over. If you have a donut after you told yourself you were giving up sugar, forgive yourself and have your next meal/snack put you back on track. If you missed a workout, jump back in the next day. Don’t beat yourself up for not being perfect.
This is called a journey because you are constantly learning and growing. Sometimes we learn best from our failures. Just make sure you are failing forward. If you set a goal for yourself and missed it, I encourage you to sit down and evaluate your progress. Highlight the things you’ve done well so far and set a new goal.
7. Not everyone will be on the same page as you
I wish someone told me when I was starting my wellness journey in college that not everyone would agree with or support my decision to make my health a priority. In fact, it was the complete opposite. While I did have people that supported my decision, I had a TON of people mock my decision and judge me for turning down plans to go out because I knew I hadn’t developed the discipline to stick to my goals just yet. That is not to say you can’t go enjoy dinner or a few drinks with friends. But I would say it definitely depends on what your goals are and how disciplined you are with them.
Keep in mind that taking your health seriously in college is not the norm. People don’t know until they know. Before I started prioritizing my health, I was someone who mocked anything health related. Now I know how important it is to me and sympathize with anyone that is where I once was. Stay the course, there are people out there willing to support you (hey, I’m right here!)
8. Enjoy the process
This is called a journey for a reason. You aren’t sprinting to an endpoint. And that is something I wish someone told me when I was starting my wellness journey in college. If you don’t learn to love the process, both the ups and the downs, you will find limited progress and probably end up miserable. It is exciting that you are learning more about what makes you feel your best. You are learning about yourself and what makes you operate at an optimal level, ENJOY that!!
It takes courage to put yourself first. I am so proud of you for making it this far. Whether you have been on a wellness journey for a while and haven’t seen progress or you are just starting out, you should be proud. This is an amazing opportunity to get to know yourself better. I hope that these tips help you avoid mistakes that I have made so far. Let me know if there is anything else you wish you knew before starting your wellness journey in college.