How to Prioritize Fitness In Life After Graduation
As someone currently going through a major transition, I know that establishing routines can be difficult. In many ways, it feels that there are not enough hours in the day to make friends, find rest, and exercise. And o yeah, don’t forget eating or sleeping!
Navigating the transition from college to adult life is a process, and prioritizing your health requires flexibility, patience, and intentionality about how you are spending your time. No matter what stage you are at, investing in your fitness can help you feel grounded during a time of instability. Here are the practices that helped me stay in shape after graduation.
Treat exercise as a scheduled event
Google calendar has been essential to my productivity in my new stage of life. The color coordination to separate work, social life, and other aspects of each day has helped me stay organized and not forget the things I have to do. This may be incredibly nerdy for some, but it’s how I fit things in — even time to rest.
Once I gave exercise its own category on my Google calendar, it went from a desire to a plan. Having something scheduled into my day, and giving myself ample time to do it, helps me reach my goals. I usually start my week by scheduling times to work out — I’ll fit it into my morning or when I have high levels of energy throughout the day.
Google calendar does allow for flexibility. If an impromptu social event occurs, a friend wants to grab coffee, or if I am too exhausted to even think about exercising, it’s easy to remove it. If I ever need to change around my schedule, I can simply drag the “appointment” time to another slot. It allows me to change things up at a moment’s notice while making sure it’s still on the to-do’s for the day.
Zoom friends from college
One of the hardest parts about transition to life after college is the fracturing of your social circle into different cities. I try to dedicate a part of my week to chatting with friends who live farther away from me, but it can be hard when things start filling up in your calendar.
Recently, I decided to kill two birds with one stone. Almost every Thursday after work, I’ve been doing FaceTime workouts with a friend from my graduate school placement (shoutout to Emma!). Each week, we alternate who prepares the workout and then spend the time talking about what’s been going on in our lives. I learned how to fit social time with exercise — yes, it’s possible to talk while doing burpees!
On the days I don’t feel like working out, I know I don’t want to disappoint Emma, so I show up. And I’ve never regretted sharing that time and working out together. Not only do we get to exercise, but we also get precious time each week to stay connected to each other. Having a friend to figure out the balance of being in our 20s has been very important to me, and helps me recognize I am not alone.
Pay for a studio
Accountability is key to your fitness journey, and cultivating habits can be an anchor during a time of transition. Once I graduated college and got a “grown up” job, I had a little more wiggle room in my budget to explore new avenues for health. If you thrive on being in a fitness-centered environment while you exercise, I encourage you to find accountability by signing up at a studio or gym.
If you are moving to a new city, it may be fun to discover a new studio or fitness group that you haven’t heard of before. Many people say that they are much more willing to exercise if they spend money on a membership somewhere — put some skin in the game and create some stakes for your goals.
Give yourself time
I have to confess: I am very hard on myself when it comes to finding balance. I get unnerved when I don’t exercise a specific amount of days in a week, or when I have to cut a run short to be on time for work. It can feel frustrating to not have a rhythm perfected yet, especially when it feels like you should have it all together. The worst thing to do in these situations is to become flustered enough to quit trying.
Change is hard. Transition is challenging for everyone — it’s normal to struggle as you settle in. We don’t say it enough, but the need to be gentle with ourselves, especially when navigating new stages, is incredibly important. If you don’t fit everything in, start fresh. Each day is an opportunity to start growing into the person you want to be.
For the first few months of my new move, I sat in resignation that I was focusing too much on X or spending too much time doing Y. It took a day of personal reflection to realize that what I needed most was to give myself time and space — not pressure. While we shouldn’t throw fitness out the window, sometimes going on a walk during your lunch break is enough for the day. Keep at it and over time you’ll realize that you are making it work.