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This summer, while giving myself a break from taking classes, I decided to reform my diet. I gave myself a very regular schedule. I stuck to specific eating habits that gave me energy (and didn’t leave me starving) and noticed an overall change in the way I felt.

I felt a change in my energy level, my relationship with food and even my body image. It’s so easy to fall into bad eating habits during stressful times, but once I found my groove with a diet that worked for me I kept up with it quite easily.

And then school started.

When I become frazzled, I try to remain poised on the outside and keep my anxieties deep within; but when it came to keeping up with my diet, I couldn’t pretend to have it together. While during the summer I was able to snack a little and make decent (not remarkable) choices, keeping up with a diet during school is an entirely different animal.

In case you’re wondering, I do abide to practically all of the college clichés; I’m not a breakfast person, I hate packing myself lunches and prefer to ascribe to a cupcake-based creed as often as possible. That being said, I do have a stronger sense of self-control than most four-year-olds. The demanding nature of school, however, makes it easy to falter with anything that doesn’t come naturally.

Though I am not a believer in depriving oneself of the wicked joys in life, I think once we become adults we learn to form our own healthy routines that shed the urge to give in to bad habits. Yet, attending a university with a rigorous curriculum can make self-discipline extremely difficult. When the better part of existence is self-disciplined, small joys can become much larger entities, even burdens, in our lives.

Five-minute lunches between classes or an almost-meal at 4 p.m. does not a healthy human make. Therefore, when we are given opportunities to treat ourselves, the possibility of going overboard is looming. When my day is over and I’ve settled down with some good television (depending how busy the night is), far be it from anyone to tell me a snack is out of the question. Yet when it becomes a habit and then the highlight of the day, it can become a problem.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed my energy level decreasing as I pushed my diet further back in my mind with each passing day and decided an overhaul was in order. Dieting is by no means a matter of depriving yourself of things you love, but regulating food to adhere to your life and tastes.

Forget all those commercials depicting women choosing a bowl of cereal over a cookie in a grocery store. Even if you’re not a “dessert person,” there is something you deserve to eat that various nutrition-based outlets try to tell you to avoid. My philosophy is not to reject these things completely but learn to love them casually and continue to love them completely and totally.

On that note, don’t let your relationship with food affect the way you see yourself. If you are anything like me — that might be a good mantra to keep in mind. When I noticed myself feeling sluggish I decided not to take the easy, more immediate route and beat myself up but calmly acknowledge that I needed a change.

I believe the key to personal change is to start from the top and first acknowledge your limitless self-worth. Once you have that on lockdown, everything else becomes secondary.

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