By Athena Skapinakis
The dreaded Freshman 15 may be just a legend, according to a 2006 study published in the journal Obesity, but that’s no reason to avoid living a healthy and fit lifestyle during your college years. Because face it, we’re all bound to pack on some weight eventually. Why not develop good habits now? As a Fitness Nutrition Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, I can provide some helpful tips.
Food Selection at School Can be tricky. California State University, Bakersfield is home to many things (like jaded students who pay too much in tuition and textbooks, hectic class schedules and swampy marshes to fight your way through just to barely make on time to class), but an awesome food selection isn’t one of them. The Runner Café isn’t what I’d call a haven for clean eating, but you can find some healthy options such as: yogurt, cottage cheese and peaches, salads, fruit, hard-boiled eggs and pita sandwiches. Togo’s, near the science buildings, can offer some healthy choices as well. I advise packing your own lunch, though, that way you can measure out your portions beforehand and can also avoid succumbing to cravings as you pass by the salad bar and beeline for that bomb-smelling pepperoni pizza.
Your Diet should be balanced and proportioned efficiently. If you get in your veggies, fruits, whole grains and lean protein meats (skinless grilled chicken, lean cut steak and fish), and drink lots of water, you’ll be in great health. Avoid sugary beverages like sodas and energy drinks. Even fruit juices made from pure concentrate (sugar) can be detrimental. Don’t forget your milk either. It contains key nutrients like calcium, vitamin D and potassium. Your body requires a certain amount of vitamins and nutrients in order to perform proficiently. If you need a better, more in depth guide on how to maintain a balanced diet, check out http://www.choosemyplate.gov/.
The website offers daily food plans, eating healthy on a budget, healthy recipes and tracking your food intake. Snazzy, right?
You Can’t Stop, You Won’t Stop
Drinking. I mean, you’re in college and you want to party, party, party! I can’t blame you. It’s okay — if you’re of legal age — to have one drink (women) to two drinks (men) a day. However, just because you evaded drinking Monday through Friday and plan to make up for it Saturday doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Binge drinking can seriously screw you over. Your body’s natural response to alcohol is to immediately get rid of it. Other important functions being to cease and slow down (such as calorie burning). All the alcohol is accumulating as fat in your liver while you’re seeing enough blurred lines to turn Robin Thicke green with envy. Also, drinking tends to make you want to eat, and drunk-food options usually end up being the unhealthiest choices like taco bell or other fast food chains.
Be Your Own Gym Class Hero
By putting that cookie down and getting yourself to the Student Recreation Center. Your tuition pays for a free, very clean and fantastic gym. The Rec Center is seriously one of the nicest gyms I’ve been to out of what Bakersfield has to offer. The staff is super friendly, helpful and more than happy to assist you in getting on the right track for leading a fit lifestyle.
Because, let’s be real, you need to exercise if you expect to keep weight off. What’s wonderful about the Rec is that you can sign up for a personal trainer or attend fitness classes, which range from cardio and aerobics to yoga, core workouts and weight training. Did I mention it’s FREE?
Just by walking 30 minutes to an hour every day, you’ll avoid gaining weight and maintaining health. Don’t be afraid to lift weights either. If you’re unsure about how to exercise, ask a staff member. There’s nothing quite like the rewarding feeling of being sore after an intense workout.
There’s a Silver Lining
To all of this madness, I promise. Okay, I know I was mean and told you to put the cookie down. Forgive me. You don’t have to give up every single food you love and crave for the rest of your life.
It’s okay to indulge from time to time. The same way just one workout won’t make you a bodybuilding pro, one bad meal isn’t going to make your stomach expand like a big balloon. It takes time to pack on weight as it does to lose it.
I’d have to say that I’ve fared pretty well in terms of leading a fit and healthy lifestyle while in my college years. I’ve been skinny, I’ve been average, I’ve been chunky and now I’m experiencing being fit because I’ve made some wonderful lifestyle changes. It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely worth it. And as the saying goes, nothing feels as good as fit and healthy does.