Staying healthy is more than a number on the scale

The Daily Illini File Photo

By Andrea Flores, Longform editor

In about a month, thousands of University freshmen will leave behind their comfort zones. Your friends are going to different schools all across the nation, you might be living with a complete stranger and you’ll be in giant lecture halls for the first time.

And, for maybe the first time, you’re completely in charge of taking care of yourself.

It’s up to you to decide if you’re going to wake up early for breakfast, pick up a brownie or apple on the way out from the dining hall or order a pizza again with your friends for the third night in a row.

Don’t get me wrong, one of the best parts of college is the freedom to decide to indulge on snacks from Penn Station and 57 North with your friends during late nights studying. Many students are guilty of stopping by Papa D’s for some chicken tenders on Saturday nights.

But, just as everything else in college, this freedom comes with responsibility.

The myth of the “Freshman 15” isn’t what I’m talking about. The matter of gaining, or losing, a couple of pounds your freshman year isn’t the end of the world. It happens to almost everyone.

Jacob Singleton

What matters most your freshman year is staying healthy. That’s not as hard as you may think.

Once the craziness of the first few weeks of the semester dies down, you’ll fall into a pattern. Your classes, extracurriculars and eating schedule line up and you follow a routine. The dining hall menus also follow a routine, so you often know what to expect on a Tuesday afternoon at the IKE or Thursday night at PAR.

Looking back to two years ago, I remember my routine like it was yesterday. I remember when I ate burgers, pizza and pasta almost on a cycle. I also remember not eating much else.

I wish I had more variety in my diet, so that is my biggest advice to you. Every so often, check out the sections of the dining hall you walk straight past. Make a sandwich with a side salad, have some soup and crackers or try the special of the day.

Luckily, our University’s dorm food is actually pretty good so take advantage of all the options. That thin crust three-cheese pizza will still be there tomorrow.

I’m sure you’ll wander out to Green Street fairly early on into the semester to get a break from dorm food. My advice there remains the same; step outside your comfort zone and look into more places than just McDonald’s and Noodles and Company. There are so many other cultures and options to experience.

Lastly, don’t forget to check out more that our school has to offer, like the ARC and CRCE, the two gyms on campus. Whether you like running, lifting, team sports or yoga, you will find something for you. Without gym class every day like in high school, it’s easy to forget to stay active in college.

I know after a stressful day of exams and papers, both the ARC and CRCE are great places to de-stress and get your mind off of school and everything else.

College is a place of many firsts, but the first thing on your mind should always be your health. So, after late night at PAR, who wants to go on a run?  

Andrea is a junior in Media.
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