Nov 14, 2011
In the summer months leading up to my return to Athens, I found myself making all the wrong choices when it came to eating healthy and staying active.
Those three short months were filled with backyard barbecues, dinner dates, ice cream cones, movie theater popcorn, and frozen coffee drinks. Not to mention that I spent just about every afternoon lounging by the pool as opposed to walking up Jeff Hill three times a day and running laps around the track at Ping.
As I unpacked the car and began setting up my room in the residence hall, the delicious food venues of Court Street were the first thought to flash through my mind. I was craving a sandwich from Bagel Street Deli, a slice of pepperoni pizza from Goodfellas, a gyro from Souvlaki's and a Big Mama's burrito—all at once.
With all of the tantalizing temptations that the Athens' eateries have to offer, I have found it difficult to stick to a healthy eating routine. However, after indulging all summer, I knew that it was time to get myself back on track.
Eating healthy and staying active may seem difficult, given all of the obstacles standing in the way, but doing so is much easier than it seems.
The dining halls may initially appear to be loaded with pizza and crispy French fries, but there are plenty healthy eats behind that deep-fried front.
The salad bars are equipped with more than 40 items, including locally grown vegetables. Fresh fruit and low-fat yogurt with granola are two of my favorite snacks that the dining halls have to offer. Made-to-order sandwich and wrap stations are another way for students to control what ingredients go into their meal.
“Food should be colorful,” says Deborah Murray, assistant professor of nutrition/applied nutrition. “If you should try to get as much color on your plate as possible it immediately moves you away from a fast food regimen because fast food is brown.”
The addition of fruits and vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, strawberries and pineapple (all of which can be found in the dining halls) is the best way to do so.
There are a few tips to keep in mind when eating at the dining halls. Most importantly, do not let your eyes exceed your stomach. It can be easy to add too much food to your tray, and while you are sitting down eating it can be very difficult to stop.
To avoid this, skip the tray and grab only one plateful of food. You eliminate the opportunity to load multiple plates of food on your tray.
While preparing your plate, Murray stressed that half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables, with the other half being grains and proteins. Avoid refined grains by choosing whole-wheat pasta and breads.
Another important aspect to being healthy is to stay active. I played sports in high school, but once I didn't have a coach instructing me to run line sprints and do wall sits I lost all motivation to work out. My first year, it took me months to actually motivate myself to go work out at Ping.
I started running because frankly I didn’t really know what else to do. I was never one to have daily workout routines, and aside from the volleyball court, the gym was a pretty foreign place to me. Over time, I increased the distance that I was running and built up enough stamina to run three miles.
When the temperatures began to rise, I decided to take my runs outside to explore campus. After experimenting with multiple routes, I found two paths that I really enjoyed.
The Ridges, as eerie as it may seem at night, is not scary during the day. The hills are steep and create a diverse and strenuous path to follow.
The bike path that runs along the bank of the Hocking River is another route that I often frequent. The path, which spans a 19 miles, is flat, allowing for a longer, easier run.
When it comes to staying fit and active, a college campus tends to throw many obstacles your way. With uptown eateries open into the wee hours, and dining halls that offer numerous tempting treats, eating healthy is not always the easiest thing to do.
By making a few smarter eating choices and finding a workout routine that works for you, living a healthy lifestyle does not have to be a challenge. Find friends who also enjoy running, swimming, basketball or whatever other activities you like, and staying active will feel like less of a chore.