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On Staying Physically Fit

Getting to the gym can be a strenuous task.  Just thinking about being winded and our bodies aching afterward can turn a lot of us off. In this post I intend to explain some ways that may get rid of that haunting feeling whenever someone says the word “gym.” There are tons of benefits to staying in shape: you don’t have to do it alone, there are easy ways to stay motivated, and you don’t have to be there for five hours at a time. Stay on task and you will be in and out faster than you can say Oxford English Dictionary!

Part of the college experience is seeing what life is like without anyone reminding you or telling you to do anything. We don’t have to get up and exercise, but there are plenty of reasons to get up and go. Working out is a great stress reliever. In college, we deal with constant due dates, annoying room mates, evil teachers and a million other things that stress us out. Holding on to the built up stress from all these things is unhealthy. Getting in a good workout can help release some of that anxiety. Working out will also help focus your mind on the designated tasks at hand. Which will help eliminate things like wandering unproductive thoughts and sleep reading. Sleep reading is when you are reading something, but you are thinking about something else therefore you are not retaining the information. That is the worst way to study. Go to the gym and come home with your energy focused on what’s important. Stay with your workout, you’ll start to look better and feel better about yourself.

Good friends can make you feel better in almost any situation, so why not go the the gym with them? Going to the gym with a friend gives you a good sense of urgency. Nobody wants to disappoint a good friend. You will make sure you’re at the gym, ready to workout and you may push yourself a little harder just because you know your friend is watching. Now, this doesn’t have to be a competition, but having a friend or a gym buddy is good motivation to stick with your regiment.

Staying motivated is a common issue especially when your workload begins to pile up. Your work is the most important thing, that’s why you’re in school, so it’s easy to skip workouts when a semester begins to pick up momentum. That’s not a problem, the problem comes when you are using your workload as an excuse. You don’t have to be in the gym for hours at a time. You can get in a great workout within 30-45 minutes. There are plenty of regiments online to use and I’m sure if you ask someone at your school gym they can recommend something for you to do.

Lastly, go to the gym with the betterment of your health in mind. Don’t get discouraged by other people! That means don’t worry about the behemoth that can curl the service desk, don’t worry about the slender goddess that has been running on the treadmill at top speed for an hour and a half, and don’t worry about the guy walking around with a shirt that exposes his nipples just because he can. You can’t let things like this bother you because that is who these people are. Get in, do your workout and get out. Just like you don’t want anyone to judge you, don’t judge anybody else. Tolerance is a two-way street and it is only fair if there are no exceptions to the rules. College is not the easiest time to stay in shape, but there is no excuse for not trying to stay in shape at the very least. Put aside time to go to the gym and you will love yourself at the end of the semester.

On Dining Halls and the Freshman Fifteen

One of the most obvious problems facing incoming freshmen who are planning on living on campus is the struggle of nutrition and of learning to control their own eating habits. Most schools attempt to thwart this conundrum by offering various meal plans that allow students to purchase meals at the various dining halls located on campus.

As time has progressed, most student bodies on campuses across the country have led initiatives to force their schools to offer healthy options for students. The problem is that along with the promising nutrients of all the healthy options, students seem to have little to no control over their own consumption.
Healthy Options at the University of California, Irvine Dining Hall

From my own experiences in the dining hall, I would often see students bypass the leaner options and head straight towards the pizza and burger station. My freshman peers would walk to their tables with multiple plates of food, washing their greasy meals down with endless cups of the various sodas that flowed freely. Even if they were full halfway through the meal, they would most often continue eating the food they had gotten in an effort to not waste anything. After months of doing this they easily put on quite a few extra pounds.

So, what is the easiest way to fix this? I need to preface this by saying that I am in no way a dietitian or nutritionist, but simply a student who successfully made it through the first years of college in a relatively healthy state. The main way to combat this overconsumption is to simply only grab a single plate of food at a time. This forces you to have to continually choose whether or not you want to eat more, rather than simply having all of the food in front of you. Most dining halls that I have visited are wholly fine with students going back and forth between tables and the food areas, so no additional charges are levied. Getting into the habit of forcing yourself to a single plate can easily help keep off the excess weight.

Students who live on campus are offered meal plans of various sizes, and most of my fellow students made the expensive mistake of purchasing the largest meal plan. It is easy to have the mindset of “Of course I’ll need to be able to eat at the dining hall three times a day!” More often than not, you’ll skip a meal each day because of classes, outings, or just pure apathy. Unless you are absolutely certain that you’ll need to eat in the dining hall for all three meals each day, go for a smaller and ultimately cheaper plan. Almost everyone I knew at the end of each school quarter had extra meal points remaining, which was a complete waste of money.

Living away from home for the first time can be an amazing experience, but it is easy to ruin your body and time by eating terribly in the campus dining halls. Avoid the pitfalls of overpaying and always remember to stick to a single plate.