As some of us grow, our education and obligations run parallel to our physical and mental health. For 17 year-old me, weight issues and the haunting insecurities they brought along trailed me like a nagging shadow.
The few extracurricular activities I was involved in, and the college application processes were stressful and time consuming. They allowed me to indulge in unhealthy behaviors such as consuming concerning amounts of junk food, and living a sedentary lifestyle.
Playing soccer with my friends, hiking and kicking field goals with my dad all became a rarity. With time, they also became a hassle, as being out of shape and overweight did not allow me to enjoy them at the same level anymore.
But it wasn’t until my top college choice denied my admission and my first longtime relationship ended, that I decided it was time to take care of my own health.
The drive behind my change in dietary habits and will to exercise was simple; I was not at the place in my life where I wanted to be. However, the transition was quite the opposite.
Getting up early in the morning to cook, measuring food portions, following a diet with set times to snack and running increasingly longer trails were some of the most seemingly insurmountable obstacles I had ever faced.
Fortunately, after five months, the results left me satisfied. I had lost 40 pounds and was comfortable with running four miles five days out of the week. Mentally, I also gained confidence and a more positive attitude toward life.
When it came time to start college, I had no intentions of changing my routine.
Taking 15 credit hours every semester did not seem like much at a glance, but as it went on, the coursework started to accumulate and the readings for some classes consumed the majority of my time.
Often times I find myself having to decide between hours of sleep, or packing snacks and a decent lunch to make it through the day. My schedule also clashes with the times when I am supposed to snack or eat a big meal.
In turn, some days turn into one-meal days, when I eat a big meal and go straight to bed so I can do it all over again the next day.
Adding an on-campus job into the mix also makes for unhealthy food choices to become more appealing. Getting off a long shift and satisfying a craving just feels right sometimes, and there are more than a few fast food restaurants within walking distance from the university.
As for exercise, the indoor track at the rec center quickly replaced my usual running trails. But as time went on, I was only running sporadically or not at all because of my parking situation being extraneous to campus and a lack of time.
There is no denying the physical and mental toll college classes take on students. From a lack of time to have a nutritious meal, to a lack of energy to workout before or after class, some serious time management and planning skills are required to keep a healthy lifestyle in college.