Letters to Freshmen: Healthy=Happy
Nora Studholme is a sophomore at Claremont McKenna College. She is also the resident health guru at the Forum. For more health tips check out her article on protecting your skin and tips for eating right when the budget is tight. She really knows her stuff!
Hello to all you wonderful new people on campus! If you couldn’t tell by now, you’ve landed yourselves in a pretty fabulous place: the sunshine, the pool, the friendly people… it doesn’t get any better than this! But even at the happiest place on earth, you have to take care of yourself. Learning how to take initiative for your own well-being (Mom’s not here to tell you to eat your veggies anymore) is one of the most important skills you’ll learn in college. Unfortunately, there is no “Stay Healthy 101” course to help you along the way, so the learning is by trial and error. Here are a few thoughts just to help minimize the “error” part of that equation.
What you put in your body matters.
The biggest change for most of us when transitioning to college is learning to eat at the dining halls. When I was growing up, we would have a home-cooked meal every night, and I knew that if Mom put it in front of me, it would be balanced and healthy. When I got to school, I had to figure out my own kind of balance. Fortunately, we have the amazing luxury of six dining halls at our disposal, all of which have healthy and (in my opinion) delicious food. (Sometimes I actually miss the dining halls when I go home for breaks.) With all this great food, though, it can be hard to learn what and how much to eat. A few general rules of thumb to avoiding a tummy ache (and the Freshman Fifteen):
-don’t eat pizza, French fries and pasta at every meal, even though it’s tempting
-aim for something rich in protein (eggs, meat, cheese) at every meal
-eat something fresh at every meal (veggies, fruits)
-when choosing between fried and grilled, go for the grilled
-eat until you’re ¾ full, not until you need to be rolled out of the dining hall (I’m still working on learning that one)
That being said, you’re in college. You’re young, your body is still forgiving. This is the only time in your life (except for the lucky few) where you’ll be able to get away with eating a whole tub of ice cream without any long-lasting effects. So go ahead and order that late-night Domino’s every once in a while… yes, and the cheesy bread too. Splurge only occasionally, but when you do, enjoy it!
It’s also important to make sure to take initiative for your own fitness as well. If you’re on a sports team, that’s a great outside motivator, but for those of us who aren’t it’s important to find something that promotes your fitness and that you enjoy doing. If you don’t enjoy it, you wont do it. It’s that simple. You may notice yourself getting in shape just walking to your classes (unless they are all right next to each other in Keck), but make sure you find another form of activity to get yourself moving. The good news is that the opportunities are endless: take a PE class, join a club, start a club. Try things out. Play! Everyone likes to do something and in this kind of community you can be almost assured of finding some friends who want to play the same sport or do the same workout as you.
Dream Big (or at least for a long time)
There is truth behind all of the myths you hear about the importance of getting enough sleep. Yes, it does help you perform better in school. Yes, it does help reduce stress and increase metabolism and the immune system. Yes, it IS more important than studying for one more hour for that Micro midterm. With all the exciting, stressful, and busy new aspects of your life it can be easy to let sleep take a back seat to other things. But in reality, you wont be able to do any of your fun new activities if you don’t get enough zz’s. The right amount of sleep varies from person to person, but usually it’s between 7 and 10 hours a night. If you can’t get it all in one go, try taking naps in the middle of the day to help get the rest you need. It’s worth it, I promise.
Especially after partying. You may have gotten away with getting hammered and staying up until 4 the night before a 6am practice once (or maybe even twice or three times now) but that doesn’t mean the damage wasn’t done or that you’ll be able to make this your lifestyle. Same goes for heavy drinking in general: even if you get plenty of sleep after you drink, it will still wear you down. Designate every other day as an “off” day (if you haven’t noticed, not much happens here on Friday nights… it’s the normal “off” day CMCers take so they can rage extra hard on Thursdays and Saturdays). Sometimes there are those weeks where there’s just too many fun things to do not to go out every night, but at least try to drink more lightly on your “off” days. Drinking heavily every night will burn you out. Fast. And who wants to be burned out when there is so much fun to be had?
In the end, it’s up to you. I can give you all the advice in the world on paper, but maybe you’re more of an experiential learner. Just be sure you listen to yourself and treat your body with the respect it deserves: healthy bodies= happy people. You are now part of the elite group that can claim to be one of the happiest in the country, and I, for one, am so happy to have you here! Get ready for the best year of your life!
Nora Studholme, ’14