Health & Lifestyles EditorPhoto By: Irene WangEntering into any new atmosphere facilitates a rapid loss of habits, even those that we’ve spent years perfecting. It’s even easier to misplace our firm, positive perspectives on essential basic values regarding taking care of our bodies. Although the infamous “Freshman 15” has been exposed as fiction, many students still remain in the dark about the looming effects their unhealthy habits may have on their lives.
Aside from the obvious weight gain students may experience as a consequences of not eating well or staying fit, there are many other hidden costs that can take their toll.
“I think more it can decrease your ability to study, and if you’re not exercising that means your physical fitness goes back—all of those just contribute to not feeling well,” said Carrie L. Flack, a nutrition specialist at University of California Santa Barbara.
To counteract this, individuals should maintain a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle, which has benefits such as aiding total mental awareness and supplying energy.
“I’ve managed to stay fit by looking at my overall lifestyle in the sense that I’ve equated being successful in my academic, social, and personal life with being healthy. This means that in order for me to do well in all these arenas of my life, I know that I need be healthy physically and mentally first,” said Johanna Savany, a second-year biopsychology major. “I go to the gym five times a week and I make sure to eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies. I try very hard to stray away from eating out in efforts to really control what is in my food and to save money.”
Numerous students struggle to motivate themselves to enter a gym, while others find it nearly impossible to squeeze it into their already hectic schedules. The advantages of working out, however, go beyond the changes to one’s physique. Exercising creates a chance for students to simply feel great about themselves as a result of the release of endorphins, a neurotransmitter that is released when people get excited or are in love.
“Trying to go to the gym at least a few times a week can really make all the difference. Once you make it a habit, it will become easier. Working out at the gym is one of the best parts of my day,” said Annie Phung, a second-year communication major.
For Savany, the best motivation tool is having a workout buddy.
“My roommate was my workout buddy for my first year and it was the best thing that could have happened. I would suggest to find someone with the same goals, is at a comparable fitness level, and someone who shares a similar schedule. Finding a workout buddy helps keep you motivated and well, plain and simple; it makes it much more fun,” said Savany.
Regardless of one’s time spent exercising (or lack thereof), binge eating is a prominent issue among college students that can corrupt any progress made at the gym. When snacks are only an arm’s length away and the dining commons offer a chance to eat excessively, the allure of eating more can be overwhelming.
According to Flack, binge eating can also be a reaction to stress and anxiety. However, such a habit is easier to avoid with the new installation of Net Nutrition kiosks in the dining commons, where students can easily track how many calories they consume during a single meal. The calorie-tracking function is also available online. In the end, though, staying healthy physically and mentally seems to be a matter of balance and compromise.
“The most important thing for incoming freshmen is trying to learn balance, because that’s the hardest thing when you have a lot of new things coming at you,” Flack said. “As far as nutrition goes, I’d try to eat a balanced meal and eat at a more regular basis. Making sure that you’re having fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein at every meal is very important, even though it’s very basic.”