The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

How to fulfill your fitness resolutions this year

W&L’s Fitness Center is the perfect place to practice new personal fitness goals and sustainable habit
Lizzy Nguyen
W&L’s Fitness Center offers machines that target different muscle groups.

I’m Lizzy Nguyen, ’25, and you can also often find me at Washington and Lee’s Fitness Center picking up heavy circles for fun.

I started my fitness journey in high school as a way to improve not only my physical and mental health but also my relationship with myself.

When everything shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, I found myself with more time left to my own devices and I took advantage of that to take charge of my life again.

How did I start out?

At the very beginning, my approach reflected my approach to anything new: learning almost anything I could.

I read extensively about topics like diet, nutrition, sleep, and exercise like I was studying for another class, and I kicked off my journey with little improvements to my diet and YouTube videos on my bedroom floor.

As my confidence grew, I started going to a local gym to incorporate machines and dumbbells into my workouts. When I arrived at W&L, I faced a lot of self-consciousness that prevented me from hitting the gym.

But with the encouragement of people like Coach Bobby Jones, I overcame it and started my weight lifting journey from the ground up at W&L’s Fitness Center at the end of fall term freshman year.

Since then, I’ve achieved goals beyond high-school-me’s wildest dreams but also learned to develop a realistic, healthy approach to fitness that I carry with me today as I explore new and interesting avenues.

The importance of regular fitness

Fitness genuinely changed my life for the better. Past its consistent role as a form of self-care, it’s also an outlet for my love of learning and growth.

The great thing about progressive overload (increasing difficulty or intensity over time) is that there’s always a new goal to strive for.

Big goals like benching a plate for reps or getting my first pull up were legendary to me, but the little things like showing up to do something even on days where I feel unmotivated or somewhat overwhelmed matter equally as much.

This brings me to a couple important lessons my fitness journey has taught me.

First, I deserve to love myself as I am while also recognizing my potential to reach higher.

Second, I deserve to take up space despite the lessons women (especially Asian women) are taught from day one.

And third, at the end of the day, my top priority is to be happy and healthy.

I want that for as many people as possible, which is why I’m passionate about sharing the knowledge I’ve spent a long time collecting as well as supporting people on their own journeys.

Getting started (and keeping it up)

Make small changes: This goes for any long-term goal that takes ongoing maintenance, but the key is to make small, sustainable changes.

People get into fitness looking for a magic bullet that gets results quick and easy, but the secret is consistency.

Consistency is the product of motivation and discipline – small changes in line with what you already enjoy can either increase motivation or make discipline more feasible. In the long-term, sticking to a plan in the right direction is what really leads to results as opposed to the tiny details.

Eat well: Your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) is the number of calories you burn per day from “keeping the lights on” plus activities like exercise.

Calculate your own TDEE online, then adjust your diet to reflect your goals whether that’s a calorie deficit, surplus, or maintenance value. As for what, without getting too far into the tiny details, think about the overall composition of your diet.

To make things easier and more enjoyable, focus on adding more protein and fiber to your diet especially in the form of fresh vegetables.

Get good sleep: I get it, we’re college students and there’s always something to do, but sleep affects your entire quality of life from your mood to your metabolism and productivity.

Do what it takes to secure enough good-quality sleep. That could be avoiding caffeine past noon, creating an effective sleep routine or improving your work efficiency and time management (which can also make more time for exercise!).

Exercise regularly: Effective exercise boils down to finding something that you enjoy enough to do consistently (bonus points if you can make it more difficult over time) and pushing yourself without hurting yourself.

The Fitness Center is a great place to work out, but W&L’s campus offers many other spaces, including the 24/7 Third Year Fitness Center,  the wood’s creek walking trail, or even floor space in your own bedroom.

Find community: Working out is more fun with an accountability partner or gym buddy, but there’s also lots of great opportunities on campus to get active with a group and make friends!

GroupEx classes are free and taught by amazing people, the Outing Club offers a wide variety of super fun activities including their rock climbing walls up in the OC barn, and make sure to check Campus Rec for opportunities to join intramural or club sports.

W&L has almost everything from archery to softball and volleyball (all run by some of my favorite people on campus), and if your favorite sport doesn’t exist here already, you’re more than welcome to get some friends and start it yourself!

Commit to the bit: As a big planner, I value taking the time to create an effective strategy.

While this has certainly benefited me in many ways, I have a habit of spending more time than I should thinking before committing to a course of action and doing.

If I could go back in time, I’d tell my past self that 1) she’s worth it and 2) it doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to be. Of all the experiences I’ve had with fitness, my only regret is not starting sooner.

As part of my passion for promoting healthy lifestyles for busy schedules, I created a W&L Fitness Center Guide featuring what W&L’s facilities have to offer, sample routines ranging from machine workouts to mobility, and more specific recommendations for beginner- and busy schedule-friendly fitness.

It’s designed especially for people who are looking to start their own journeys, but it can benefit people at every experience level.

I hope this information helps anybody on their own journey towards becoming more happy and healthy. You got this, I believe in you!

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