College is a time when you gain some independence. You are now free to live your day-to-day life without checking in with Mom and Dad (although depending on your parents, they might not have been like that before …or they could be on the other end of the spectrum insisting on daily phone updates). No matter what your parental situation is, you definitely have more independence now than back in high school. Professors have a higher expectation of you in the classroom. You have more control over what your schedule is like. And what will you be doing with your free time? Working out excessively? Partying too much? Diving into mounds of ice cream, sugary cereal and macaroni and cheese? Hopefully, that last one isn’t all in the same mouthful. Anyway, a healthy lifestyle is all about balance. Any of the habits you will pick up in college, healthy or not, could follow you for the rest of your life, so let’s make sure you start your new college lifestyle on the right foot:
Overeating – People talk about the “freshman fifteen” for a reason, but I am here to tell you that a person can make it through while maintaining your current weight and even becoming healthier. For one, paying college tuition always comes with a gym membership (I have never heard of a college that does not have a gym for their students)! These gyms range from top of the line equipment to smaller gyms with just enough machines, free weights, and other things to stay in shape. To be fair, these gym amenities also come with dining halls; these are usually buffet style, which are full of greasy, fattening comfort foods. It is easy to indulge day after day on burgers, fries, and other treats. Try to first look up either online or at the front of the dining hall what is being served that day. If the healthiest options are things that you do not like, try to eat somewhere else on or off campus that day. Remember that maintaining your weight means eating and exercising the same as you did at home, and if you were not eating junk food much then, college should not be the place to start
Another way people overeat is through munching. To keep from munching constantly in your room, remove the temptation. Only keep healthy foods in your room. If you are into crunchy things, grab an apple or two on your way out of the dining hall to keep in your dorm for later or stock up at a local grocery store with cereal (one that isn’t so sugary), soup, granola bars, yogurt and other healthy snacks.
Sleeping Late – This is a major problem for a lot of college students. Whether you are up late socializing or studying, sleep deprivation is something not to be messed with. Dr. Max Hirshkowitz and Patricia B. Smith of Dummies.com warn that sleep deprivation may cause you to “age more rapidly; become more susceptible to colds, flu, and other infections; display an increased risk of accidents due to sleepiness and poor coordination; experiencing more emotional problems, including depression and anxiety; feel irritable and experience mood swings; forget important information; have reduced ability to deal with stress; increase your risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and death; and show poor judgment, poor concentration, and an inability to make decisions.” Learn more by reading the whole article here.
College is a time to start off fresh, to begin a healthy lifestyle. To do this, be sure to eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly but in no means excessively. Be sure to pick friends who are good influences on you, as you do not want to pick up other people’s bad habits.
When you enter college, you are going to meet all different people. You will have all new options, decisions, and choices before you. It may seem daunting, but it can be fun and simple if you just stay true to yourself and balance healthy choices with fun ones.
I’m reading America: A Narrative History