Exercise time can be made

Finding time to work out in college is hard but possible.

Photo courtesy of “Get Balanced” blog. 

Full disclosure: I am fat.

I don’t say this to be self-deprecating, nor do I say this to fish for compliments. It is a fact, and it is relevant to what I’m writing about today.

Believe it or not, in spite of my stature, I really like to work out. Back in the day, I was happiest after a team practice that left me so sore I couldn’t move. I like to sweat. I like to use my body. Heck, I even like taking fitness classes.

The reason I’m mentioning my body type is fairly simple: My body does not dictate what I do and do not like. However, my workout habits do dictate what I look like to an extent. That’s why I’m so frustrated. I don’t lack the motivation or the ability to work out; I lack the time.

As a college student who has two jobs and is involved in many extracurriculars, finding free time is tough. Finding time to work out ends up being even harder. There isn’t just the time spent in the gym, there’s the commute to and from, the time spent changing clothes, the shower after and more. A 30-minute workout can take an hour and a half out of a day.

Until recently, I was fairly fit. I’ve never been a size zero, but I was healthy. When my time got sapped — as college often does for students — I had to make sacrifices. It started with less time with friends, less with my books and eventually turned into no time for the gym. For a while, nothing really changed. I got a bit pudgier, but nothing drastic. Due to some bad luck — and bad genetics — I had some health trouble that caused me to gain weight fairly quickly. Before college, I would have just hit the elliptical harder, but, now, I don’t have the time.

I’m working on changing this, though. At first, I thought it’d be just as simple as parking farther away and picking salad — yuck — instead of a sandwich, but those changes didn’t elicit the changes I wanted to see in myself. The pounds went down, but the muscle didn’t come back, and the fat didn’t go away. I’ve had to get creative and had to choose to be less busy in order to try to get back to my healthier me.

Now that a play I was in, “Dog Sees God,” has closed, I have the time to hit a few spin classes in the evenings if I don’t do any other shows this semester. It stinks in a way, because I am sacrificing something I love to do in order to work out. However, the same went for doing extracurriculars instead of hitting the gym. I like the gym too; letting go of it was a sacrifice.

College students, especially the ones I know, do try to make good decisions. I don’t know anyone who parks close to their destinations because they dislike the extra physical exertion; they park close because it saves time.

The same goes for the gym.

Do you go for a walk with friends, or do you go sweat for an hour? These decisions aren’t always easy, and both options are valid. They’re even both healthy for you in different ways. But, because we’re limited by the constraints of time, sometimes we have to make sacrifices that show on the outside more than others would. It’s not always about putting down the doughnut. Sometimes, it really is outside influences that keep some of us out of shape.

Here’s what I propose: I am going to start making time for the gym. I will go once a week at least. I will schedule it in, and I will make it a priority. I ask you to join me in spirit. This isn’t about weight. This isn’t about physical appearance — though it certainly started that way that for me — nor is it about inches. This is about us being happy with our bodies. I challenge you to do this with me, with your own goals. If you’re joining me in spirit, I encourage you to tell me about what you decide to do, how it goes and the ups and downs.

I may — with your permission, of course — want to give you a shout-out in my blogs. This is not an easy undertaking, which is why I want to be there for you as well. I know first hand how hard this can be, which is why I propose we do it together. We will be each other’s support system.

See you at the gym!

Kjerstine Trooien is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at kjerstine.trooien@my.und.edu.