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With graduation quickly approaching, I have been preparing my last words for Rutgers University students, faculty and staff about my views on health and wellness. Throughout my time at Rutgers, I hunted endlessly for a peaceful balance in my health — a task hundreds of students are facing every day. Over the years, I have altered my diet and exercise habits to achieve three different goals: losing weight, gaining weight and gaining muscle. Contrary to popular belief, all three goals are equally exhausting, mentally trying and require pure dedication. My advice to anyone interested in falling in love with living a healthy lifestyle every day is to find your own personal balance, do your research and aim for overall wellness.
The advanced nature of American healthcare garners a good deal of attention from political and economic disciplines regarding the system and its evolution over time. We place importance on being able to cure and treat illnesses in order to preserve our extended life expectancy. In 2016, the United States alone spent an astounding $3.3 trillion on health care. But, as remarkable as this all may sound, it simply reveals that America is in the business of “sick care” rather than being in the business of “health care.” As a society, we are better equipped to treat a disease that has already developed rather than preventing it altogether — and that needs to change. This does not necessarily need to be done through political or economic means just yet, because a substantial impact could be made simply by educating Americans on the causes behind numerous manmade diseases that could be cured through changes in lifestyle, diet and exercise habits and making information readily available on how to implement those changes.
Within our society, like many others, food is tied to our emotional experiences. Certain dishes remind us of our childhood, other foods are known as “comfort foods” and holidays or events would be nothing without the meals that go with them. For as long as we can remember, we have associated emotions with what we eat. Our experiences with food start off as fond memories and happy moments. That Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream you had when you were young in Disney World and summer nights with s’mores let you associate sweet treats with being carefree and happy. Finishing off your plate as a child meant satisfying your parents and being rewarded with extra play time. But, these little memories become bad habits as we age and can lead to difficulties with proper eating.
Just when I thought America could not stray any further from the true importance of health, Weight Watchers announces that they will be offering free memberships to kids ages 13 to 17 for summer 2018. From the perspective of a future marketer, I understand the importance of brand loyalty and why building it is imperative to the success of a product or service. I acknowledge that identifying a clear target market and sending them a direct message ensures alignment with advertising efforts and overall company mission. But, I am also aware that companies who reap benefits from the perversion of America’s youth fail to understand that before business tactics, there were morals.
Humans gain mental strength in the same way that they gain muscle strength — by consistently lifting what deliberately weighs them down. This is, of course, easier to do with physical weights since anybody can go to the gym and find dumbbells lined up in a row waiting to be lifted. Mental strength, on the other hand, can be obtained by understanding what mentally weighs you down, restricts you, limits you and choosing to lift those metaphorical dumbbells every single day.
We do not give our bodies enough credit for everything they do on a daily basis. Without this vessel, we would not be able to accomplish the goals we put our minds to. Our bodies are constantly at work — even while we sleep — to ensure that all natural systems are functioning properly. Therefore, when our bodies demand rest, the least we could do is listen and oblige, but many people push past their point of exhaustion. It seems like the main reason for driving the body to its maximum capacity is because being tired is a trend that has become part of the American culture. Without knowing it, we idolize those who push themselves past their limits often — it is why you have bragging rights if you only got 2 hours of sleep last night or if this is your third cup of coffee today. We should really be admiring those who can perform at their full power on a daily basis, because their body is healthy and allows them to function with ease.
As we begin the Spring 2018 semester with our New Year’s resolutions in tow, our goals and desires will be challenged due to our increasingly busy schedules. Those who have decided to improve their health might start to feel like they no longer have time to exercise or cook healthier meals. In reality, there is time for whatever you want to make time for. Lack of time is no excuse for anything you actually want or need in your life.
The meaning of the word “diet” has been destroyed by its continuous misuse in American society. People think diets are supposed to restrict certain foods, even temporarily, in order to train the mind to resist natural food cravings. Instead, this defines what “dieting” is: an inherently ineffective method because it forces people to associate negative feelings to changes in eating. Realistically, the word “diet” should have a positive connotation — it should define a pattern of healthy selections made intentionally over the lifetime of an individual with the intent to benefit the daily functions of the body.
The media has misrepresented male and female bodies for decades, and this trend has continued with the emergence of the digital age. Nowadays, we have access to unrealistic body images through social media on a 24-hour basis. Platforms such as Instagram misrepresent sustainable fitness and body goals through the profiles of fitness models, bloggers and body builders.
It is easy to sign up for a gym membership, it is easy to eat clean for a day and it is easy to say you are going to start working out. Commitment and forming new behaviors are the hard part — but that is what will bring results and satisfaction. As humans, it seems like it is in our nature to want visual proof of our efforts. We work out once and check the mirror for new muscle. We eat a healthy meal and wonder if we are thin yet. Many people want to live healthy lifestyles, but there is one characteristic that sets those people apart from those who actually do: consistency. In order to improve your health, you need to create healthy habits and practice them consistently if you expect change.
As a college student, you begin to learn that your overall appearance speaks volumes about who you are. This is why you wear professional attire for interviews and spend extra time getting ready when going out with friends. But some students fail to realize that your appearance is equally important when sitting in lectures and attending office hours. How you dress and groom yourself on a daily basis is a representation of your ambition and work ethic to those around you, your professors and most importantly, yourself.
When people think of dietary restrictions, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets are the first to come to mind. But only 35 percent of the global population can digest lactose without difficulty, which shows the importance of observing how our own bodies react to dairy consumption. Whether you are lactose intolerant or do not have a dairy allergy at all, avoiding milk and cheese can be beneficial to your overall health.
Something tragic happened last semester: Au Bon Pain closed its doors. It was the most convenient place to grab a cup of coffee before catching the LX — not to mention it was the home of the egg white, cheddar and avocado sandwich that was a go-to healthy breakfast for many. Thankfully, as we all returned to campus for the beginning of the Fall 2017 semester, we saw Panera Bread occupying the vacant spot that once was Au Bon Pain. Students are ecstatic — Panera is a great place for healthy snacks and meals when you feel too guilty after eating Wendy’s two days in a row. But many students fail to realize that unhealthy options are still plentiful at Panera and eating healthy requires smart choices.
Spring is coming ladies, and it's time to enjoy the warm weather. No matter where you go this spring break, make sure your makeup can beat the heat with these four makeup bag essentials.