OPINION: Healthy mindsets create healthy habits

Growing up, one of my favorite things to do the most was to play with my Barbie, Bratz and Monster High dolls. I loved how they looked when I did their hair and bought them new clothes. Little did I know, these dolls would open my eyes to an unhealthy lifestyle.

When I was younger, I was tall and lanky, and often compared to a doll. My friends and family always thought I would grow up to be a model. I loved my outward appearance, until I joined ballet.

While I was lanky, all of the other girls were skinnier than I was and I became self-conscious. On top of that, they were growing taller, but I had already stopped growing and was stuck at 5’3.

I developed an awful relationship with food that lasted throughout middle school and high school. I changed my diet often which caused me to gain weight my sophomore year. I was miserable and hated everything about myself. I became someone I didn’t recognize, someone I saw as just average. This all changed for me this past February.

I have always been active; however, my goal was to be toned. I was always trying to change my looks and was not grateful. I went to the gym daily; if I didn’t, I would skip meals because I viewed food as a reward, not a necessity. This mindset caused me to stay at the same weight because my body was in panic mode. It was storing all of the nutrients that my body needed to build muscle.

My mindset was not right and I began to notice. In February, I decided to change it and here’s how..

First, read self help books. In the 75 hard challenge, individuals are required to read 10 pages of any nonfiction book. While I am not participating in the challenge, I decided to try it out. I picked up “her true worth” by Brittany Maher and Cassandra Speer. In the book, the authors challenge their readers to become grateful of their surroundings. The book caused me to realize I can give myself some grace for skipping the gym.

Second, allow yourself to make mistakes. If I miss the gym, I will still incorporate healthy habits. I will eat healthy foods regularly because my body needs the fuel regardless of if I work out or not.

If you miss one day at the gym, just use it as a rest day. Rest days are just as important as going to the gym. Your body uses days off to repair and recover muscles in order to prevent injuries.

Third, journal. Whenever I am having a feeling of doubt or down in the dumps, I write it down. I keep my thoughts to myself instead of telling others.

Fourth, develop confidence. I did this by documenting my fitness journey. Once a month, I would take photos to see my progress. I became grateful for my progress.

A different way to develop confidence is to say three positive things a day. This creates positive psychology which increases mental well-being. The thoughts do not have to be about your appearance, but can be something that pops up when you take a step back to think about your day. They can be as little as I got to class on time, the barista in the RSC was nice or I did my homework.

When I did these things, my self-confidence boosted within months. It encouraged me to go to the gym, find time to prepare healthy food, do my homework and overall I was a happier person.

I developed this mindset at the age of 20, but it’s never too late to create healthy habits. Becoming physically fit is an important aspect to a healthy lifestyle, but it cannot be done without a healthy mindset. Remember, nobody is a perfect Barbie doll.