Guys, being healthy in college is hard AF. It has been a long month, and as it comes to a close, I am honestly going to tell you that I am just slightly healthier than I was when I started. I can at least force down a salad, but I did eat coffee cake today and pasta has become my best friend. Those were definitely not on the meal plan.

When I started this journey, I had a strict diet and workout plan that I spent hours making...only for it to be broken the first day. Oops. I just couldn't resist those chicken fajitas. My plan chronicled what I was to eat every day, when I was supposed to eat, and estimated calorie calculations. I did leave room in my calorie intake for post-workout snacks and drinks from the coffee shop on campus, though.

Little did I realize that Valentine's Day was the week I started and in the journal I was keeping during the month, I wrote "I really f'd up guys I started on a horrible horrible week. I had a huge ass sundae with black raspberry chocolate chip, southern butter pecan, and fudge brownie gelato. Kill me but also yums."

tea, beer
Kathleen Dolan

A lot has happened. My bad planning is much to blame on why this became so difficult for me, because the Catholic period of Lent started right around when I started this plan, and every year I give up meat. I didn't realize how horribly difficult it is to find healthy food that isn’t grilled chicken on my campus. Besides straight up broccoli or rice, there’s not much variety, and on the weekends salad isn't available.

I ate a lot of hummus and Greek yogurt during the first couple of weeks to get that protein intake, but slowly increased the amount of tofu I was eating to replace that. Eventually, I turned to Spoon to get me through, using this bomb vegetarian chili recipe that's pictured below and tips from the article “5 Easy Ways To Get Nutrients as a Vegetarian.” My own chapter’s Photography Director, Jeweliana Molinas, also went veggiehead and suggested lots and lots of Muscle Milk. It worked for her, but I hate Muscle Milk, so I didn't do that.

jalapeno, salsa, pepper, chili, corn
Kathleen Dolan

Because of the whole giving up meat thing, I struggled to find healthy options that weren't salad, and I completely broke when it came to spring break. There are a lot of unhealthy vegetarian meals, guys. There's a restaurant in Austin called Chi'lantro, and they have the best tofu kimchi fries. My thought process justified it as I was worked 9-2 every day and thought I deserved that spicy, beautiful, deep-fried dish. I mean, just look at it: 

Kathleen Dolan

The Worst Part: Working Out

pasture, grass
Katherine Baker

The thing that went hand in hand with my eating healthy was working out, which SUCKS. God, running on the track or doing 100 crunches hurts and it makes me sad, but I did it anyway. I found myself attempting to justify eating unhealthy after a workout because I “deserved” it, which is definitely not how that works.

I'm not gonna lie to you guys, I definitely did not work out during spring break because I am straight up lazy and I also gave two tours of the university every day so my legs were getting a workout by default. Regardless, I would wake up with sore legs and feet, so it at least felt like I was sticking to the plan.

The Truth Behind Being Healthy

sweet, candy, apple
Kristine Mahan

So, as I'm sure you can tell, this month didn't go well. Being healthy in college is hard, which leads me to my main point: for someone like me, being on a meal plan and working out every day is just not realistic. It doesn't mean I'm not healthy, it just means that my health leads me in a different direction.

My diet was simplified during this experiment, which put me in touch with trying to live more minimalistically. I don't have abs, but I learned to appreciate the muscles I do have. I have found refuge with Blogilates on Youtube, and after that, I can really respect the people that stick to their strict routines. 

I think this month was a way for me to teach myself that there isn't just one way to be healthy. For the longest time, I really hated the way I looked because I didn't look like the girls in on Instagram or even the girls that walk around my campus, but I am healthy in my own way.

I take it slow, I eat wholesome foods when I can, and I acknowledge that for me, the Freshman 15 was inevitable. Being healthy in college is personal, and it will be different for everyone. It'll take work that even I am too lazy to put in sometimes, but it's possible if you try. Look at this picture of me being healthy! Outdoors!

Kathleen Dolan

I guess the main thing to take away from this experience is that your health takes time, and you need to make sure you're taking care of your mind and body. I mean, no journey is going to be seamless! Mine definitely isn't, but it doesn't mean I'll stop trying. My month won't end with this article, but hopefully, it'll continue for as long as it can. Be kind to yourselves.