Advice from my Eighteen Year-Old Self

I’m a pretty nostalgic person for being only 20 years old. For most of my life I’ve kept a journal, and I love to look back on things I’ve written from the past. The other day I came across a journal entry I wrote from my Freshman year of college, and in that post I wrote a piece of advice to myself: “Stay optimistic and flexible”. It was fitting for many reasons, one of them being that the meal prep I promised myself I would do last week (and wrote about in a previous post) went out the window completely. In fact, I didn’t even prep one meal in advance the entire week. 

So how did I make it work? Instead of throwing my hands in the air and giving up, I made do with what I had. That included lots of frozen veggies heated on the skillet, one-minute rice and quinoa from the back of my pantry, and sneaking leftovers from my café class I take every day. Was it the most delicious and exciting week of eating? Not in the slightest. But it worked in the moment, because I stayed flexible. 

I’ve never been good at finding my “chill”, and that’s something I’m well aware I need to work on. I tend to be pretty high strung, and my history with eating is a perfect example of this. One thing I’ve learned as I actually started studying nutrition, is that having a flexible attitude surrounding food and nutrition is so important, because we can’t control life. I couldn’t control the fact that things came up that prevented me from doing the perfect meal prep I imagined. But, I was still able to meet my goals and eat healthy meals for the week because I stayed flexible and made do with the situation I was in. 

No matter what your health and fitness goals are, the most practical way to meet them is to roll with the punches. Maybe your friend texts you last minute and asks to get dinner and drinks when you planned on having a healthy dinner at home. One way you could make this situation work? Skip the appetizer when you’re out to eat, or ask for a box with your meal and put half of it in the box as soon as it comes. This makes you less likely to mindlessly polish off the whole entrée, and saves you from being super stuffed after. Making the situation work as best as you can is your most realistic approach to meeting your goals without compromising your ability to experience life. 

Freshman-year Mackenzie didn’t have it all together, but she did have one thing right. Stay optimistic and flexible with no matter what life throws at you, and you will reach your goals. No matter what they are. 

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