By CampusDiscovery Did you know that September is National Self-Improvement Month? I thought January would have made more sense, but hey, who am I to argue? In all honesty, it really doesn’t matter what month is slated for self-improvement because you can start working on a better you any time you get the inspiration. That’s exactly what happened to me five months ago. I’m not sure if it was the muffin top creeping over my jeans, or the fact that I was out of breath from simply climbing a flight of steps. In any case, I decided I was too dang young to feel this old. So, I made a few simple changes to my lifestyle and now I’m 35 pounds lighter and I feel great! Best of all, I didn’t have to buy any expensive products or deny myself anything I wanted to eat. All it took was these 5 simple steps. 1. Eat BreakfastFor most of my life, I skipped breakfast. I’m not much of a morning person, so those few extra minutes I gained sleeping was worth it to me. However, I failed to realize that I was not fueling my body. This would explain why I always felt so sluggish during morning classes or at work. By simply adding a quick bowl of oatmeal and some fruit to my morning routine, I soon found it easier to concentrate and I was less likely to snack throughout the day.2. Add Exercise to Your RoutineI always had an excuse for why I couldn’t exercise: too busy, too expensive, or too tired. Then, Planet Fitness opened a gym less than two miles from my house. It’s only $10 a month and they are open 24 hours Monday through Thursday, which means I can go before or after work, or late in the evening. If I can’t get to the gym, I take a walk or ride my bike. Whenever I’m feeling rundown or sluggish, I find that an hour of exercise is a great way to recharge my batteries. It’s also a great way to clear your head when you have writer’s block or have been working on your laptop too long.3. Never Say ‘Diet’For me, a diet is a temporary change in your eating habits. It also means you deny yourself things you crave. This is not what I am doing. I have made a lifestyle change. I make better choices for my meals, adding more vegetables and salads, but I still enjoy a milkshake or piece of candy when I want one. After two months, I found that I no longer needed sweets as much as before and I now prefer a juicy peach over a piece of cake. Don’t sabotage yourself by using the word ‘diet.’ 4. Weigh Yourself Once a MonthWhen I tried to lose weight in the past, I would step on the scale every few days to see my results. Big Mistake! Depending upon the time of the month and what you may have eaten, your weight will fluctuate. So, if I didn’t lose any weight I felt like a failure. Now, I only step on a scale the first of every month. Try not to get hung up on the numbers. If your clothes are fitting better and you feel healthier, you’re heading in the right direction regardless of what the scale indicates. 5. Set a GoalWhen I first started exercising, everyone asked me about my goal weight. It may surprise you that I don’t have a specific pant size or weight that I plan to reach. Instead, I try to set small goals for myself, such as jogging around the block without stopping, riding my bike for 30 miles or staying on the elliptical machine for more than 30 minutes. As I reach each goal, I increase the time or miles to keep myself motivated. My ultimate goal is to be healthy and happy. You don’t need surgery and you don’t need to spend a ton of money to feel good about yourself. Making a few simple changes in your eating habits and lifestyle can lead to positive changes in both your physical and mental health. Try to surround yourself with positive people and don’t stress out if you slip every now and then. Celebrate the small victories and keep pushing forward. Before you know it, you’ll be looking and feeling great!