Avoiding weight gain is about more than food

By Jen Lassen

Assistant News Editor

“I want a brownie,” “Dang, that cookie looks good,” or the ever-popular “but I worked out today … I deserve it!” are popular phrases echoed in college cafeterias everywhere. These phrases are especially common on this campus, where first-years like me enjoy the luxury yet downfall of an unlimited meal plan. Even before college, my greatest fear above meeting new friends, living in a dorm, or handling the rigor of university-level courses was keeping off the infamous “freshman 15”. Even though I have been here for over three months, this fear still nags at each meal.

I am certainly taking care of myself here. I typically work out four days a week, go on occasional runs downtown, sleep a solid eight hours each night and eat the healthiest options I can. However, the temptations of decadent desserts in the Terrace Room, milkshakes at Seventh Street Cafe, and a cookie on the way out of Bostwick are often hard to resist.

I spend time with an amazing group of friends who are all very health-conscious. We help each other pick out meals at dinner, send group texts to one another to meet at the gym and give each other tips on what’s healthy and what’s actually worth the calories, and we still have our slip-ups. Sometimes, we’ll longingly walk past the dessert displays, nine times out of 10 giving in to the goo cake or caramel bar calling our names. Some of us have even gone as far as creating diet plans for one another. But this failed attempt just made everyone crazy, including those not on the plan, at the thought of restricting ourselves from indulging every now and then.

Since college began I’ve often put myself down for not working out hard enough, eating a slice of cake instead of a carrot stick, or eating too much when I wanted to eat less, but I have realized that all of this grief only results in more frustration than I’ve bargained for. Slowly, I’m realizing that the only way to be content with my health choices is to find a happy medium. Instead of putting myself down for having a cookie, I’ll enjoy eating it but will eat something healthier later in the day. Rather than making myself to go to the gym despite a ridiculously packed schedule, I’m starting to work out in smaller stints of time so I don’t overstress myself yet still benefit from the calorie burn. And instead of dieting, I’ll eat smaller portions of what I want and stay away from the foods that are obviously very unhealthy.

No one can be perfect in their eating or exercising habits, especially college students. If I had to guess, I would say that I share common thoughts with a majority of students on campus about being health-conscious 24/7. Even though I’m guilty of being slightly too obsessed with these thoughts, I have learned to compromise for being healthy yet very realistic about my approach to eating and exercising. This way, I don’t get my hopes up, yet I still challenge myself to be healthier every day. It’s once been said that no one can limit you but yourself. So if I say that I want a brownie, I’m eating it, no matter how many minutes I need to spend on the elliptical the next day.

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