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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Finding time for health boosts self confidence

Darien Bakas

Students work out in the Rec Center’s group fitness class “Body Pump” on March 2. Open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. in the summer time, the Rec Center offers a plethora of group fitness classes every day of the week.

Staying healthy and fit as a college student is difficult. Your studies, social life, and other commitments may push exercise and healthy eating a bit too far down your list of priorities. In fact, a major fear of incoming freshmen is gaining the infamous “freshman 15,” the number of pounds that many students supposedly put on during their first year of college. It doesn’t have to be that way, though.

Finding time in a busy schedule for going to the gym can be hard. There are alternatives, however. Many at-home workouts, for example, can be done in as little as 30 minutes and don’t require weights. Or, for an easy cardio workout, take a brisk walk around the UA campus and enjoy the beautiful on-campus arboretum.

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It’s easy to eat out every night at the Student Union, especially if you live in the dorms. Instead of spending money at Chick-Fil-A, spend your money at the grocery store. Use Google to find easy healthy recipes and choose ones that appeal to you —  but don’t choose a recipe just because it’s healthy. There are countless recipes that are both healthy and tasty, so make sure to find something you like. If you do find a recipe that you want to try but there are ingredients that you don’t like, try substituting them or removing them entirely. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring. Like a science experiment, it can be fun.

I never took leading a healthy lifestyle seriously, but recently I realized that I needed a change. I didn’t like the way my body looked and wanted to start eating healthy. I also decided to start going to the gym and creating fitness goals.

Since I was new to the gym, I used Google and YouTube to find different workouts. I learned about the different machines and their functions, and what machines and exercises I should use to tone muscles, build muscle mass, and increase endurance. For a goal, I decided on a realistic amount of weight to lose.

Since those first steps, I’ve experienced significant changes. I feel stronger and happier. And there have been other unexpected benefits, such increased confidence, and sociability — especially after attending my first Zumba class.

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I was shy and self-conscious when I began Zumba, but now I love to go and dance away my stress. The instructor makes everyone feel comfortable and motivates us to have fun while we sweat. Over time, she has even become a friend to me.

Remember that exercise is only part of the equation, though. In a Huffington Post article, Shawn Talbott, PhD, a nutritional biochemist and former director of the University of Utah Nutrition Clinic, said, “as a rule of thumb, weight loss is generally 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise.”

Talbott’s claim fits my experience. When I started going to the gym, I didn’t think I had to eat healthy, but a month went by and I only saw muscle gain. After talking with one of the trainers at the gym, I learned that eating healthy is just as important as working out. While I struggled with this in the beginning (and still do), I know that I have to continue to resist temptations in order to realize my fitness goals.

Being healthy and fit means being smart about choices, and smart choices require self-motivation and a determination to lead a healthy lifestyle. It’s not easy, but it can be done. Remember that going to the gym or cooking a healthy meal doesn’t have to be boring. Making exercising and eating healthy fun will help you to continue with your new lifestyle. Once you see the progress, you’ll feel excited — and you’ll only want to keep going.

Follow Aurora Begay on Twitter.

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