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Rachel Responds

Eating healthy difficult in during college, though necessary for salubrious lifestyle

February 17, 2012

Baffled at the Buffet asks: “How is it possible to lose weight and stay in shape while living in the dorms on campus?

When I lived in the dorms my freshman and sophomore year, I gained a lot of weight just because I was surrounded by junk food and ate at a buffet every day. I also felt like while living in the dorms, I didn’t have enough time or room to get a good workout in. It wasn’t until I moved out of the dorm and stopped eating at the University Center every day that I was able to finally lose weight and start working out. How can students that live in the dorms and eat in the cafeteria every day maintain their body image?”

Up at the crack of dawn and asleep at the crack of dawn, this is the life of the typical college student. Dedicating time to classes, studying, organizations, part-time jobs and extracurricular activities is enough to consume anyone’s day. With little time left over for personal use, it’s no wonder students find it difficult finding time to work out and eat healthy.

Unfortunately, becoming an upperclassman is not the cure for the freshman 15. Meeting weight-loss goals requires diet and exercise. If you haven’t seen the Garfield comic strip you may have heard the joke that says, “diet is just die with a ‘t.’” However, changing your eating patterns doesn’t have to end life as you know it.

Most of us know that sugar is bad and vegetables are good, but eating a salad does not counteract the seven cookies you ate at lunch. Most of us know that we’re supposed to eat around 2,000 calories a day but not all of us know what kind of calories they should be. So how do you ensure you are eating healthy?

Eating healthy is to fill your meals with mostly essentials and limit your treats. Everyone should divide their plate in fours and include protein, vegetables, fruit and grains along with some dairy at every meal, according to chosemyplate.gov. Plant foods, lean proteins and low portion sizes are the key.

The trouble with buffets, like the commons on campus, is that our eyes are bigger than our stomachs and we like to eat large portions. So it’s best to consult the menu and nutritional information before you’ve even entered the UC. Even though there are nutritional facts available next to food choices in the commons, it’s still better to look online beforehand. If you know that the mayo will cost you a 100 calories when the mustard will hardly cost you any or that the French fries will cost you 600 when the carrot sticks are negligible before you get there, you will be less likely to choose those options. If you walk in knowing exactly what you want to eat, you may be less apt to hem and haw over your options and falter to temptations or impatience.

Meals are important but snacks are important, too. Keep sliced apples, baby carrots, celery, string cheese, or pistachios in your backpack. When you start to feel hungry munch on something good for you. This will make you less likely to feel like you’re “starving” and over-indulge during meals. Finding time to hang out with friends is difficult and so is finding time to work out. Sometimes you might contemplate going to Mariachi Loco with friends over going to the gym alone and choose el taco. However, eating a 2,000 calorie Mexican plate might not do your jeans any favors. To keep the deep fried from hitting your thighs find ways to incorporate friend-time into work out-time. Having a fitness partner will help keep you both on your goals.

If you don’t have a gym membership, you can still get creative. Take a walk, even if it’s just around your dorm. It will keep you active, help you clear your mind and you might meet a few new people. Make sure to hit all the staircases during your walk to up the cardio intensity. Students can get free use of the track and cardio room during certain hours of the day. Check the UWRF website for more information and squeeze in an extra sweat session. Open skate is also a fun friend activity that can be done from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Sundays, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays and from 9:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Tuesdays at Hunt Arena. Get some hot cocoa and get skating.

Or if you’re looking for outdoor adventure, such as roller blading, camping, hiking, golfing or rock climbing you can rent supplies from the Kinni Outdoor Adventure Rental Center at Knowles. Rentals are free to students.

And if intramurals interest you, then take part in some. Fall intramurals include: flag football, soccer, broomball, sand volleyball, volleyball and dodgeball. Spring intramurals include: softball, basketball and ultimate frisbee. Time flies when you’re having fun, and so do those Frisbees.

With a calendar full of activities already, it might seem a daunting task to add more to your already overflowing list. Yet, it’s adding activity to your calendar that will ensure that you get the time to do it in. If you know that 3 p.m. on Tuesdays is your day to run the track, then you’ll plan to look over those notecards a little later in the day. Making time for you is just as important as making time for your other obligations. Getting in just a little cardio will improve your mood, confidence and energy. Running, dancing, skating, stair-walking, broomballing and whatever else you can come up with will be one of the best decisions you make for your mind and body.

Thanks for the question, Baffled at the Buffet. Anyone may submit questions, concerns or quandaries to questionsforrachel@live.com. Please send them right away if you’d like to see them in the next issue of the Student Voice. Don’t forget to like “Rachel Responds” on Facebook and follow “RachelResponds” on Twitter.

Rachel Woodman is a senior majoring in marketing communications and minoring in journalism. She loves to work hard, play hard, and use clichés! Look for her Facebook page “Rachel Responds” and email her your questions or topic ideas to QuestionsForRachel@live.com.

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