The beginning of the new school year should come with an entirely revamped set of expectations. No, I’m not talking about mundane academic topics or crushing parental pressure. I’m referring to the standards you (should) set for yourself with each passing year. Did you happen to get a little out of shape this past exam period? This tends to happen, to some degree, to everyone when their diet is reduced to copious amounts of coffee, overpriced scones, and the vending machine’s baffling selection of candy bars. Feeling completely sapped of energy after your daily exertions in the classroom or “don’t have time” for the gym? When stress enters the equation, all else is left behind. The positives become easy to overlook and dwelling on failure is intuitive. Don’t fall into the trap! Recognize the signs and click into a healthy routine that will do wonders for your confidence.

From a male perspective, particularly in college, being in good physical shape becomes really important. Why, you ask? Didn’t we leave the superficiality safely stowed away in a high school locker? The answer is – sort of.  We certainly left behind the immature wisecracks based on people’s appearance, but I don’t believe we have completely left behind the judgment. You’ve heard the saying – “First impressions are hard to erase.” Appearance is an inevitable part of every first impression. You may be an extraordinarily accomplished person, but give off an antipathetic vibe. Paying due attention to your looks has benefits that go beyond the superficial. The science behind the claim is common knowledge. Exercising on a regular basis not only optimizes physical attractiveness but also literally “clears your mind.” Increased blood flow throughout the body livens you up and clears up any signs of the foggy malaise that usually has you stapled to the couch.

More often than not, getting into a regular exercise routine has nothing to do with capability. Even the busiest individual has thirty minutes to an hour of free time to devote to miscellaneous activities each and every day. The biggest issue for most is motivation. Admittedly, the thought of adding another “duty” to your schedule is taxing. This is precisely the negative mindset you must try to avoid. Working out shouldn’t be thought of as a difficult and annoying responsibility. If you’re a beginner, hitting the gym will seem challenging initially. Escaping your lazy streak will seem like a nightmare. You sit there and think about it – the muscle soreness, breathlessness, and intimidating sight of those who got the memo a little ahead of time. This is one of the only times I will advise you to stop thinking. Contemplating these sorts of things only delays progress. Dive right in and get a taste of what regular exercise is actually like. Your program will become more and more structured as your enthusiasm increases.

The college environment encourages self-improvement. We are told that these are the years in which we are “shaped.” Take this both figuratively and literally. With intellectual growth must come social awareness and that requires greater effort. When you’re satisfied with one aspect of your being, begin molding the next. Always strive to be well rounded and you will gain respect.