Go to the Rec

You are now in college. You have a much more sedentary life than you once had. You have better access to food. More than likely, you are not choosing the healthiest food available. Ramen, Chef Boyardee and unlimited soft-serve ice cream are not part of the healthy food pyramid. Any high school sports you played are long gone. You likely spend more time studying than normal. Also, a toned stomach with a few six-packs added will quickly equal a keg.

I have watched many friends slowly grow thicker the longer college has gone on. Do not let this happen to you! It is much easier to put on weight than it is to get rid of it. There is a very nice recreational center you’ve already paid for a short walk away. It is not that hard to start a regiment and improve your health. If you cannot fit in a few hours a week for some exercise, then you cannot manage your time well (or, you are a med student). Even with classes, homework and organizations, you can take a few hours away from the couch and go have fun.

Research has shown moderate exercise is just as effective in relieving major depression as standard antidepressant drugs. People don’t need Prozac, they need 30 minutes on the treadmill. In our fast-food, press-a-button world, there doesn’t seem to be any encouragement to get off your lazy rear. Television is filled with advertisements that offer the quick weight loss solution. No change in diet needed, no sacrifices, no exercise. Just lose body fat now! People waste their money on these get-skinny schemes.

Exercise is 100 percent proven to be effective. If you exercise, you will burn calories. If you burn more calories than you take in, your body will start going to its fat stores to fuel itself. In some complex chain reaction of chemical events only med students understand, you will lose weight. Your heart will strengthen and you will have more energy. Endorphins will flood your system. Endorphins are good. You will feel better.

Exercise is easier said than done. Starting is the biggest hurdle to overcome. But if you pace yourself, it can be made much easier. Start slowly with exercises and durations you can handle, move up slowly and you will be amazed by what you can accomplish. Becoming healthy is not a quick endeavor. It takes a long, dedicated track in order to see results.
The best thing to do is to invite a friend. Someone to hold you accountable for that jog or swim or squat thrust. When I first started college, my friend and I continued our high school soccer workout throughout the first semester. When I didn’t want to go, he made sure I did. Now, life has gotten the better of us. We got busy. We made up excuses. I tried to go by myself, but I quickly lost motivation. I took a few semesters off from the student recreation center. I am finally returning. I started swimming this fall. I started small, and every week, I try to add two laps to my total. I swim three times a week. The girls of the swim team would laugh at my endeavors, but I am not trying out for the swim team. I am exercising for myself.

I am promoting a healthy lifestyle. I am not promoting narcissism. You do not need a ripped body. You do not need to remove every ounce of fat on your body. A certain percentage of body fat is required to be healthy. You don’t need to starve yourself. This is an extreme. A balanced, good diet with moderate exercise will keep you healthy and sharp through your entire college career. It will even help you shed those extra calories of beer and sugary drinks. I suggest you use the student recreation center so when you graduate, you are the same size as when you entered. Perhaps you are even more toned and in shape when you leave. Because there is nothing more sad than a beer-bellied 30 year old reminiscing about their high school athletic days.

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