Via Formspring: Hi! I am 18 years old and I have been struggling with my weight from a young age. I finally decided that I wanted to make a change in my life. I am about to start college and I was wondering if you had some tips for me.

Transitioning from high school to college can be a difficult experience. The freedom that comes from being able to make your own decisions may lead you down a path that ultimately ends up self-destructive despite your best intentions. Being able to eat whenever you want, whatever you want, can have a negative impact on your waistline, self-esteem, and energy level needed to get you through the school days.

Depending on where you go to school and if you commute, you may be faced with decisions…partying, eating out, fast food, sleeping in, skipping class. It’s best to go in with an open mind but set a few ground rules for yourself before you get to college so that you stay true to yourself.

If you’ve been struggling with your weight as a child, now is a great time to approach this experience as a time for metamorphosis. Use this time as a chance to become the person you’ve always wanted to be. Always wanted to be more outgoing? Wanted to join a club? Looked to join a sport? Now’s the time you can reinvent yourself. Most schools have a rec center. Sign up for a membership and take advantage of it. My school (CSUSB) opened up their new rec center right after I graduated but I hear that it’s a fantastic facility with a rock climbing wall, planned outdoor adventures, and great equipment. You can also consider joining an intramural team (meaning that you don’t really compete).

If you prefer to hang out on your own (like me) you can take up a more solitary activity that doesn’t require you to play nicely with others. However, joining a team will allow you to meet other like minded people and will help round out your college experience. You can try running or swimming — most colleges have a class you can take or a club sport you can join.

It’s great that you’ve decided that you wanted to make a change in your life. List them out on paper and make a plan on how you’ll achieve it. Just like getting into college, it’ll take some hard work and determination, but you can do it! College in of itself is a great experience and you’ll learn a lot…even if it doesn’t necessarily feel that way from the get go. Just keep going with the flow and become the person you’re looking to be.

So, in conclusion:

1. Give yourself some ground rules BEFORE you start school. For example, “I will join a sports team by the end of the semester,” “I will try to prepare one meal a day instead of eating out all three meals,” or “I will carry water with me to all of my classes so I don’t buy soda or snacks on my way there.”

2. Be open to new experiences. Change is scary but if you’ve always wanted to join a team or club, now’s the time to do it!

3. Reinvent yourself.

4. Write down your goals.

5. Make a plan of how to get there. You can check out my other entries on how to make it happen.

Good luck!

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