Back in shape

Saying goodbye to the summer weight gain

For most college students, summer is a time of the year when they feel free to treat and indulge themselves and going back to school often signals it is time to go back to the gym.

For many students, heading back to school means reverting to their good habits. During the summer, students like to spend more time with friends, and they might take the occasion to take a rest from their scholarly lives and enjoy a break from student organizations, homework and workouts.

Once school begins, many decide to start their journey toward the misguided “Instagram model” ideal. Men or women —  it doesn’t matter — often chase this seemingly unachievable fitness goal that competes for time against a social life, school work and personal projects. Like  how every Monday is supposedly the day to finally start eating healthy, it’s also the day to get some exercise. We want to feel good and exercise, but staying home and skipping a workout for a self-indulgent treat is tempting and certainly easier to do.

For students in athletics, it is not only a question of conscience, but a question of performance and that can create a lot of pressure.

Zoe Conover, a member of the Winthrop women’s soccer team, has to maintain her fitness year-round for her team.

“Coming in prepared physically and mentally is extremely important. It is a lot of work, but it prevents soreness, injury and fatigue those first few weeks in August,” said Conover.

The question is how to find motivation and how to commit to workouts consistently professionally as well as an amateur.

First, the timing of workouts is crucial. Depending on the person, working out when busy can be too much, or it can be a perfect way to get some time off on the weekend. Ultimately, it is up to a person’s discretion. Creating and checking a schedule to identify the best times to get a workout in is a good way to start. Spoiler alert: sometimes those days are not a Monday, not the first of month and not on January 1.

It is important to remember that it is the body that’s working, and that it deserves consideration; even professionals need some time off.

“In the weeks leading up to August, I train hard five days a week and give myself the weekend off to recover,” said Conover.

In addition, getting a buddy to train with, even just for a few workouts is a major  motivation boost. Bonding over sweat will not only strengthen muscles, it will make the friendship even better. It brings support and increased creativity to the workouts (who likes doing circuits on their own anyway?), and some slight competition sometimes helps going that extra mile.

“Have a friend or group of teammates that will work out with you and hold you accountable,” said Conover. “Not only will they motivate you and challenge you to be better, but it will make working out much more fun!”

Most importantly, whatever the program or plan is, it has to be realistic. No one can go from doing nothing to going to the gym everyday —  having reasonable and achievable goals is key. As Oscar Wilde said, it is good to have dreams big enough to not lose sight of them when we pursue them, but for sport, setting unreasonable goals is just an exercise in self-deception.

Finally, motivation inevitably vanishes at times, and that is completely normal. Once again, we are human. Many exercises can be done at home or on-the-go when motivation is lacking or time is a constraint. Although some of these are not as intense as a normal trip to the gym, calories are still being burned and that’s another battle the couch is not winning. Those exercises can be cheap and can be practiced anywhere. For example, squats can be done while brushing teeth or watching a TV show. A walk at Winthrop Lake is still a good workout and who knows, maybe the motivation to run back will strike. Dancing in a room like someone possessed by the devil can easily burn a few calories. There are many other ideas that might be even better for some on the internet. Remember, the flawless “Instagram model” isn’t reality, and they are only prevalent because of the perfect mold society creates that is perpetuated by Photoshop.

Working out feels good and shouldn’t be a burden. It is a way to be in harmony with one’s self and it is different for every individual. If someone wants to workout once a week, it is just as important as those who want to workout five times a week or not at all. The most important thing is to feel good about it and yourself.

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