One difficult aspect of adjusting to college is getting into a routine of regular exercise and maintaining a healthy diet. For me, it was especially difficult because I was used to nutritious, home-cooked food every night, and I used to play sports in high school. I had the structure of daily exercise at athletic practices, and all the food my family and I ate at home was fresh and organic for the most part. Coming to college, I had trouble integrating exercise into my daily routine, limiting the amount of food I ate at the dining hall and choosing to eat a balanced diet. My first semester, I was especially frazzled because of the unfamiliarity of everything, so I stress-ate, which was problematic for my health. I know that I am not the only one who goes through this trial, and there is nothing wrong with it. First semester of freshman year is a giant adjustment that no one prepares you for, and the last thing you are probably thinking about is working out and eating kale every day. I had bigger problems to overcome: homesickness, stressful classes and trying to make friends and join clubs.
When I came back to school for second semester, I was ready for a fresh start, and I quickly got into a routine of exercising at least three to four times a week and eating balanced and adequately portioned meals. Going to the gym is certainly not an easy thing when you are a busy college student, but if you hold yourself accountable to devoting one or two hours in a day to it, it is possible. It is great stress relief for your body and your mind, and my mental health has been so much better this semester because of it. In terms of eating better, luckily, we go to school in Southern California, so our dining halls have a plethora of healthy options to choose from. Generally speaking, I try to eat a lot of fibrous fruits and vegetables in my meals, some protein and some carbohydrates to balance everything out. I also try to limit myself to indulging in one dessert per day. Salads, stir fried vegetables, fresh cut fruit, fish, chicken, eggs, rice and quinoa are all good options to eat and are easily accessible options at our dining halls. I typically go to Café 84, which is known to have the healthiest food.
Now, I am definitely not saying that I can keep up with eating healthy and working out all the time, but it is definitely something that I am trying to sustain in my life. My advice to my fellow freshmen is not to put enormous amounts of pressure on yourselves to eat healthy and work out all the time but just to keep the idea in the back of your mind. Mental health and bodily health go hand-in-hand, and if we all make more of an effort to be kind to our bodies, the stress of freshman year could be more easily managed.
Vineet Chauhan is a freshman majoring in economics and English. His column, The Genuine Freshman, runs every week on Tuesday.