Balancing the Books

Many of us were warned about gaining the formidable “freshman fifteen”—those added pounds packed on at the beginning of our college careers. But the remaining years that lie ahead can be just as daunting when it comes to keeping weight off and staying in shape. With midterms, countless social lures, and late-night junk food runs, it comes as no surprise that the college lifestyle does not always facilitate fitness. However, with a little self-examination, the right mindset, and a dash of discipline, staying fit during college is a test easily passed.

A Routine That Works

Many college students participated in varsity sports while in high school and relied on a coach every day to encourage them along the road of physical fitness. When accustomed to relying on this kind of motivation, it can be a difficult transition to a more self-reliant regimen. If you don’t consider self-discipline one of your strengths, then try your hand at intramural sports. A bit more dynamic and entertaining than a solo run or endless time on the elliptical, intramural sports provide a fun alternative. Most schools offer a wide variety of leagues, from beginning to competitive, so everyone can find their niche. Try your hand at something new, or rediscover a high school favorite. Your workout will feel more like play than punishment. And If intramurals aren’t for you, look to friends for motivation. Chances are, some of them are lacking that extra push as well and exercising together adds accountability.

Find a Balance
Don’t allow the consequences of your social excursions to become an excuse for ditching your following day’s workout, even if you don’t feel your best after a bender. Allowing this to become a regular reason to skip exercise can be a slippery slope.
“Even if I have a late night, I don’t use it as an excuse for not working out the next day,” says Maria Santos, a fourth-year student at UCSB. “Make a rule. If you can’t stick to a somewhat regular workout schedule, then cut back socially.”
It’s best to designate solid training times within your weekly schedule as the opportunities to skip a session become seldom.

Conscious Consumption
In a densely populated college community, it may appear that everyone is eating and drinking at all times. Watching seven roommates prepare dinner one-at-a-time throughout the evening for example, or their seemingly random and relentless snacking could foster the perception that feeding frenzies are perpetual. Furthermore, the food you see peers partaking in at the local hot spots is most likely not the healthiest… pizza, burritos, and cheesy subs. Remember, even friends of fast food get their greens from time to time. Take a moment before each meal and consider your options. Is it healthy or just handy? How will it make you feel a few hours down the road.
And for that stressful crunch during finals and midterms week, when you spend hours on library lockdown, be sure to munch on mindful alternatives to the vending machine. You’ll not only be spared from a sugar-induced headache and stomachache, but get the needed pep to power through.

There will naturally be dietary dalliances during your tenure, that’s part of the territory, but make these the exception. By creating a habit of healthy play and intelligent eating, you can relax in the knowledge that college will expand your horizons, just not your waistline.

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