Time to put health first

College kids are always on the move, juggling school, work and many commitments. This can have a significant effect  on the way that we take care of ourselves. 

All of us have also heard of the “Freshman 15” but according to the USA Today in a study conducted at Tufts University, average college men gain five and a half pounds their freshman year, and average college women gain four and a half pounds. Sonoma State students get to experience “The Caf” their freshman year and I know from my own experience that I quickly got tired of the options they offered there. My roommates and I would continually eat cheeseburgers and french fries for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I am surprised that I did not gain any weight my freshman year. 

Many students also turn to eating out as an alternative. Freshman year I took many trips to McDonald’s and 7-11.

“Most of them are going to leave college on a certain pathway and stay there for a while,” said Christina Economos, the lead researcher on the study conducted at Tufts University. “We need to send people into adulthood living a healthy lifestyle.” 

According to the study, 59 percent of college students know their diet has gone downhill since they went to college. Coming from this, I am aware that many people are unaware of how to live a healthy life efficiently. Also it does not help that our country has one of the highest obesity rates in the world. The summer before my sophomore year, I decided to commit myself to living a healthy lifestyle. As a result, I was able to lose 40 pounds in three months.

Committing to living a healthy lifestyle is 99 percent mental. All it takes is will and perseverance to make a change. Once you make that commitment you can make significant changes to your life, and feel healthier physically and mentally. Running is a great way to burn fat, but it only does so much. If you want to get toned, weight lifting is what you want to do. 

Dedicate at least four days a week to lifting, each day focusing on separate parts of the body. For example I work out my arms on Monday, legs on Tuesday, chest and back on Wednesday, and shoulders on Thursday. Abdominal workouts are done every other day, followed by a full body circuit workout on Saturday. 

Lifting helps to burn fat as well as put on lean muscle mass. Running workouts that are short but high intensity, such as sprints, are a great way to maintain muscle mass as well as burn fat. As for meals, I look to eat about five to six meals each day. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because not only does it give you energy, but it kick-starts your metabolism which helps to burn calories. Oatmeal, eggs, turkey sausage, and bananas are great examples of foods for breakfast. 

Fruits, veggies and nuts such as almonds and cashews are great for snacks, along with greek yogurt. For lunch and dinner, it is great to have some kind of lean meat such as chicken, salmon or tilapia as your main course. For the sides, it is great to have a cup of vegetables such as broccoli, green beans or spinach, and also carbohydrates such as brown rice, a baked potato or yams. 

At this time in our lives we need to be creating healthy habits to follow us into adulthood. Getting the right amount of sleep each night can have a huge effect on your grades. You need sleep in order to retain the information you studied the night before. It is also necessary for recovery time when you workout. 

You need to eat right, sleep enough, and keep yourself hydrated in order to make your workout count. Otherwise you will be sluggish and have no energy, which will have a negative effect on everything else in your life. 

So eat well, keep yourself rested and hydrated, and you will not only see the positive impacts on your body, but your mind as well. 

The new Student Center looks promising as it offers a variety of healthy options to eat. But also learn to cook your own meals, and if you feel like you don’t have time throughout the week to cook, pick one day of the weekend to cook all of your food. Then you can save it in Tupperware and have precooked meals that you can take on the go.

So get out there and start to make a difference in your life, I promise you will feel better both physically and mentally.