Law Students

Law Students

When the “Weight” is Over, it’s Time to Lose the "Wait"
By: Belashia Wallace

The decision to be physically healthy is rarely made sporadically. We often wait until the weight on the scale is over the last number that we saw. Then, we wait until New Year’s, a wedding, a reunion, or a beach vacation to set the date of when our diet will begin. I’ve been there. Since elementary school, I was told by my doctors that I was tipping the scales of obesity. I knew that the longer I waited until the next big event to momentarily change my eating habits, the closer I would get to becoming permanently unhealthy.

As law students, our health is key. It’s hard to stay healthy when we cannot find the time to cook or go to the gym, when healthy foods seem too costly, and when every fast food restaurant near our law school has a dollar menu. However, I am proof that it is possible.

Here are some cost-effective ways that I have been able to stay healthy, while also improving my studies.

1. I bring my work to my workouts. Workouts do not have to be spent listening to your favorite songs. They could also be a time for you to refresh your memory by listening to class lectures and audio books. For courses that are element based, try doing an audio recording of yourself on your phone by saying the definitions aloud. Then, set a goal to have a certain number of concepts memorized before the end of your workout. Play the audio back repeatedly during your workout, and you will likely be surprised by how much you can remember.

2. I take the path least traveled—literally. There seems to always be a line to get onto the elevator at my school, but the stairwells are never crowded. During my first year of law school, I was asked repeatedly how I found time to go to the gym. I recall even being asked if I was a personal trainer. The truth was that I had not yet mastered how to maximize my time by working out regularly, yet I had a flat stomach with toned arms and legs that said otherwise. I simply made small life changes that actually made a big difference. Along with wearing heels on most days (as I was accustomed to wearing prior to law school), I also chose the route of stairs over elevators. Multiple times throughout the day, I would take the two flights of stairs while carrying my rolling bag that was filled with more than 20 pounds of books. I would walk up the stairs by carrying my bag with my right hand; then, during my class breaks, I would walk down the stairs by carrying the same bag with my left hand.

3. I stopped dieting. The times when I was at my heaviest were when I dieted the most. I was depressed during my diets. I was even more depressed after my diets when I gained all of the weight back, plus more. Since no one invented the concoction to make me fall out of love with ice cream, I knew that I had to stop dieting altogether. Surprisingly, it became one of the best health decisions I ever made. Never had I been to the doctor with perfect ranges on all of my tests for my annual physicals. Rather than always depriving myself of foods that I loved, I learned to eat in moderation with portion control.

4. Portion control. This past Christmas, our family dinner included the following: turkey, ham, duck, ribs, dressing, greens, beans, green beans, dirty rice, macaroni and cheese, cornbread, dinner rolls, and crescent rolls ... to name a few. There were so many desserts that they had to be placed on their own table and stacked on top of each other by category. I ate everything. I ate every meat, every side, and every dessert. Here’s how. Have you ever thought about putting your dinner on a salad plate and your salad on your dinner plate? Probably not. While you may not have that option at a fancy dinner reception, you can make that concept a daily lifestyle change at home. The size of our weight gain usually starts with the size of our plates. At large potlucks, I like to think of my fruits and vegetables as my meal and everything else as mini samplers. At home, I usually eat a sizeable portion of salad prior to dinner, which leaves me less room for a hefty dinner or dessert. While I still eat ice cream regularly, I eat it out of a mini tea cup with a mini spoon. 

5. Pack a snack. In addition to books, my bag is usually stocked with a water bottle and snacks. In law school, it is easy to forget to eat and regrettably go overboard when we remember to eat. Thus, I have made it a habit to eat snacks around the times of certain classes, which puts my body on a schedule that speeds up my metabolism.

6. Weight check. I weigh myself every morning. I used to avoid the scale each time I knew that I ate too much the days prior, which was always a mistake. By the time I would muster up the willpower to step on the scale, the number was usually double the amount that I thought I gained. Watching my weight each day helps me to know exactly what foods my body does not take well to.

7. Look good, feel good. You do not have to wait until you get to your target weight to love the reflection looking back at you in the mirror. Beauty is molded by your own confidence. If you can balance the weight of law school, balancing your physical health should be as simple as your favorite sample slice of cake.

Belashia Wallace is the chair of the State Bar of Texas Law Student Division and serves as law student liaison of the Texas Young Lawyers Association.

Views and opinions expressed in eNews are those of their authors and not necessarily those of the Texas Young Lawyers Association or the State Bar of Texas.

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