Be healthy, be inspired

Illustration by Kevin Chinn

It’s spring and because of the warmer weather, you have just been invited to a pool party. However, when it’s time to reveal your swimsuit body, you may be a bit disappointed if throughout the fall and winter, exercise and a healthy diet weren’t your top priorities.

Even if you’re a calorie-burning machine, you can’t burn away chronic diseases. Approximately seven out of ten American deaths are from chronic diseases, which may include heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke and arthritis. These life-threatening illnesses can be prevented with a healthier lifestyle and should also help motivate you to live healthier.

First, evaluate your level of exercise and if you lack the time to work out, think about discrete ways to work out. Take the stairs instead of the escalators and walk instead of drive to the grocery store. A common excuse used for little to no exercise is a lack of access to workout equipment. Do jumping jacks, crunches, push-ups, squats, weight lifting, stair stepping, or even go out dancing. These can be done at home without a machine and without paying membership fees.

Another part of being healthy is being active. CNN reported that sitting for hours could shave years off life. One of the steps in the right direction of practicing a healthier lifestyle is to not sit for long periods of time. After two hours, get up, stretch and walk around. While it may seem silly, purchase a large bouncy ball in lieu of a chair because it will force your body to use muscles to stabilize yourself.

If you enjoy companionship or being competitive, work on being healthy with a friend. Go swimming together and see who can swim the most laps or can tread water the longest, share diet plans and also monitor achievements made by each other. Having a friend work towards similar goals will encourage you to inspire others and to work hard.

College students don’t always have unlimited funds to purchase local or organic foods, but they can afford to make better decisions. A limited budget does not necessarily limit choices, as there will always be healthier options, such as choosing fresh fruit over french fries as a side dish. Choose foods filled with fiber and protein to fill you up quicker and build muscle, such as apples and nuts.

The other tip regarding a healthier diet is to eat smaller meals more frequently. Snack five times a day on satisfying snacks. Also refrain from eating two hours before bedtime. And while early classes may want you to sleep in as much as possible, designate a time to have breakfast. Skipping meals is not healthy.

Every time you want to eat food, reconsider your goal of becoming healthy and then ensure your food meets those standards. To remind yourself, handwrite your goals, and place it somewhere you will see everyday. For example, write “I want to lose X pounds by Y” and hang it on your bathroom mirror.

Being healthy can make you feel better about yourself and increase your confidence around others. And if appearance isn’t a motivator, think about all of the diseases you could have based on poor diet and minimal exercise. Becoming healthy will make life more enjoyable and give you a more optimistic viewpoint in life.