Thursday, May 23Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Running out of the junk food rut

“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t” – Elle Woods, Legally Blonde.

Whilst I’m not contemplating shooting anyone anytime soon, not the least my non-existent husband, this Elle Woods life lesson is something which got me thinking a few months ago. Since beginning university life in September, I, like many others, ate too much, drank too much, and did very little else during fresher’s week. However, whilst other people headed to the gym in the second week of term I slowly crept into the habit of comfort eating and snacking, rather than making use of my kitchen (yes, some of us in Wedderburn can cook, and not all of us try to burn it down). Rapidly, without even really realising, I had got myself into the habit of choosing a packet of biscuits over an actual meal! It was only when I went home for reading week and was provided with a proper, home-cooked meal that I realised how awful my eating habits had become and not to mention how terrible I felt as a result.

I was tired all of the time, had very little motivation and began to feel very unwell. This, along with my increase in weight, is what made me realise that something had to change. However, unlike being at home where I could rely on my family to stock the fridge with healthy food, this time, it was all on me. As my first step, I decided to walk to Tesco, rather than do an online delivery – if I had to carry it back, I’d buy less, and therefore not buy junk food, right? Wrong. Ben and Jerry’s was half price that week, and various other treats were also on offer. I returned to Wedderburn with aching arms and a strong feeling of disappointment. It was then whilst delving into Cookie dough and the classic ‘Legally Blonde’ that Elle Woods gave me an idea. Albeit, possibly one of the stupidest, worst thought out ideas I’ve ever had, but if she could make Harvard Law then I could do this.

I signed up for a half marathon.

To put this in perspective, I don’t run. At all! Ever! And as for my fitness, I get out of breath going up the stairs. But I had to do something, and the idea of changing my lifestyle simply wasn’t enough. I needed a goal, something to actually force me to change the way I was living, and this was it. I’ve wanted to take part in the Great North Run for years, and I took this as my opportunity to do so. When I told my family and friends what I’d done, they laughed, then silenced when the look on my face told them I wasn’t joking. Quite frankly, I don’t think a lot of them believe I’ll do it, but proving them wrong is just another part of my goal.

Since signing up and receiving a confirmed place in the 13.1 mile event, I’ve started eating proper food regularly, and I’ve switched the half price Ben and Jerrys for even cheaper pineapple when I’m getting a sweet craving. Yes, of course I treat myself occasionally, who doesn’t? But going overboard isn’t something that I do anymore – it just doesn’t appeal to me. I’ve started going to the gym, and I run/walk/try not to die three times a week. Already, I’ve noticed an improvement in my general fitness, and I no longer feel lethargic, and this is what keeps me going. Yes, there are days when it’s cold, or it’s raining, or I simply can’t be bothered to lace up my trainers…and then I remember that I want to complete this run and raise money to support the Air Ambulance service, not need their support half way round.

Whilst I acknowledge signing up for a half marathon may not be everybody’s idea of fun, or a way to motivate you to achieve your goals, I’d definitely encourage you to find something to help you get out of the same snacking, junk food rut that I was in, and I promise you’ll feel 100% better for it!