Word on the street is that ‘strong is the new sexy,’ so hitting the gym regularly and keeping in check with your fitness goals is the new thing to do. However, being a full-time college student, we are forced to juggle classes, homework and for some of us, jobs, so exercising can be a hit or miss activity. Finding time to release stress and build muscle at the gym has always been important to me but I find myself falling in and out of ‘fitness kicks’ more often than I’d like to admit. From getting up before the sun to joining a gym right beside my apartment, I’ve tried it all and have finally composed a list of realistic motivations to stay on track with my fitness that I think could work for all college students looking to stay strong and healthy.

Set a Reasonable Goal

“You will never know your limits unless you push yourself to them”. It’s a well-known motivational saying that is designed to encourage fitness freaks to dream better, do better, be better, but not all of us are fitness freaks and can’t exactly relate to that quote of inspiration. Rather than aiming to push yourself to your limits, aim to expand your limits little by little. If you exert all your energy and give one, singular workout your absolute all, you can end up injured and exhausted, especially if you are somewhat out of shape or not used to much vigorous exercise. Each person has their own level of capabilities, strengths and weaknesses and a lot of that can be built upon if you strive to do your personal best during your workouts.

Feed off Your Fit Friend

We all have that one friend that is extremely strong, toned and quite confident about it. This friend spends 80% of their time at the gym, on the track or in a group exercise class and probably owns a tank top with Nike’s famous phrase ‘just do it’, on it. If you know someone like this, don’t envy them, gym with them! Friend fitness is so much more inviting than exercising alone and can be a great source of encouragement, inspiration and motivation. Work out with your fittest friend but DON’T compare yourself to them or you’ll actually find yourself less motivated to get in the gym than you were to begin with for fear of feeling inferior to them. Don’t make friend fitness a competition between you and your gym buddy. Instead, take advantage of your similar desires to stay fit by holding each other accountable and pushing each other to be the best version of yourselves.

Track Your Progress

Tracking progress can mean different things to different people. For me, it meant investing in an Apple watch and using the activity app to track my active calories burned, my exercise, my steps taken and more. Fitbits, Nike watches and even some Samsung watches can also track the same information as well. Oftentimes, watches that keep up with how many steps you’ve taken in a day notify you when you’ve reached your 10,000th step or encourage you to move around if they notice you’ve been stagnant. For others striving to lose weight or gain muscle in certain areas of the body, tracking progress could mean taking progressive photos of yourself periodically after weeks of working out and comparing your results.

Reward Yourself

The best thing about doing something productive like maintaining a regular workout schedule is the reward of bettering yourself that comes with all your blood, sweat and tears. Exercising can prove to be a reward in and of itself, however, it is okay to take it a step farther by rewarding yourself with something you enjoy, as well. Indulge in a sweet treat, have an easy day in the gym, or simply kick back and relax with your favorite show on Netflix. If that double chocolate chip muffin and white chocolate mocha from Starbucks is calling your name, go ahead! Besides, you’ll work it off in the gym later.

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