While most students were getting a head start on that freshman fifteen, I spent my summer trying to achieve the almost unachievable.
This is no easy task, as many RU-Newark residents know, healthy living isn’t exactly synonymous with the college lifestyle. Student life is full of stress, sitting on you butt trying to beat the latest 70-hour game and eating Funions as a meal. Funions are not a meal they are a cry for help.
I was no different; I was actually the pudgy poster child of the sedimentary lifestyle that plagues most college students.
As I reached the twilight of my undergraduate career something dawned on me, I didn’t gain the freshman 15, for me it was more like the freshman 130. I was a cheese doddle away from washing myself with a rag on a stick. Something needed to be done -something drastic, but something inexpensive.
If my pockets were as fat as I was, I would have no problem; unfortunately, I was the broke college student trying to get by on a minimum wage job. My empty bank account was not all I had in common with the average college student.
“College students aren’t thinking of being healthy,” says Dr. Sandra Samuels, MD, Medical Director of the Rutgers Newark Health Center, ” and that’s the problem.”
According to a 2007 study at the university of New Hampshire out of 800 students at least one-third were overweight or obese, 8 percent of men had metabolic syndrome, 60 percent of men had high blood pressure, and more than two-thirds of women were not meeting their nutritional needs for iron or calcium.
Not only are we as college students under the mental stress of achievement we are putting our bodies through abuse without much of a second thought. Did you ever go more than six hours without eating? Do you ever plan your meals ahead of time? Are you mindful of your daily caloric intake? Yeah. I wasn’t either.
I needed to take the first step into making a lifestyle change. I went to the doctor an extremely important step. I visited the Health Clinic on campus , which is free for full time students. Together with the staff of the health center I was able to form a realistic goal and battle plan. My goal , drop 50 pounds by Sept. 1.
The Health center is a wealth of free info on nutrition as well as active living. It is even possible to see a nutritionist outside of the clinic for free; such visits are included in our student insurance.
“There should be more options” lamented Samuels, “There should be beautiful food that should be appetizing for students that way they have a clear choice away from hot dogs and hamburgers everyday.”
According to Dr. Dawn Graff-Haight’s Eating Well with No Time and Money which is distributed by ETR Associates, the most important thing you can do is have a plan. This tackles the 3 most common weight gaining and pocket shrinking habits- Skipping meals, depending on fast food and impulse food shopping.
Here in lies a critical step, planning and organization. This honestly was never my strong point, and the same goes for many students that are new to time management skills.
Dr. Samuels gave me a sample food diary page; in it I recorded everything I ate. I would use one of the numerous free online calorie counters to get a ballpark figure of my caloric intake. The food diary cut my days into breakfast, snack 1, lunch snack 2 and dinner.