Sometimes it is great to be an adult, but life does have it’s mental challenges.
It’s hard to have a conversation about heading off to university or college without talking about the “Freshman 15.” Even if it is just a passing comment from your parents, that pops up somewhere between “we’re so proud of you”, and “don’t do anything stupid” being warned about “getting fat” is inevitable.
And the Freshman 15 is about getting fat; 15 lbs of non-muscular weight gain within the first year (typically 8 months) of study.
Many outsiders will attribute this phenomenon to a student’s unpreparedness “for life.” Not knowing how to work anything other than a microwave. Or just “general irresponsibility,”not wanting to know how to work anything other than a microwave. And for some of us, it’s both. All of a sudden, we are let loose into a world where fewer rules exist, and there’s no one to watch, reminding us to “behave.” How could we not resist the urge to take advantage?
My friends and roommates (or was it me?) could often be heard yelling “It is so fun to be an adult,” as they dug into a carton of ice cream at 2am, after a night at the campus pub. And there is no denying the truth: it IS fun to be an adult.
The freshman 15 starts with student diet…
But as insiders, we know the truth. The exercise in dietary freedom is short lived as we quickly realize, Mom was right (again…). Kraft dinner, beer, Lucky Charms, and the occasional piece of fruit (swiped from the English professor’s lounge no doubt, more as a joke than a healthy eating choice) is just not sustainable. And quite frankly, we are happy that it isn’t.
Thus, we try to adjust, and make the responsible choices, yet we still struggle to stay physically healthy as a student. Then suddenly it dawns on us: The student lifestyle is not conducive to a healthy body.
The postsecondary paradigm revolves around one golden rule: STUDY.
… is encouraged by the student lifestyle
Education is about developing our minds, learning to think independently, exercising our critical thinking skills, learning new facts and theories, and getting good grades. It is, “Don’t forget to study” or “How did you do on that exam worth 60% of your mark?” It is not, “Don’t forget to keep your muscle mass intact” or “How did you do on that new drop-set regime you just started?”
The fact of the matter is, we don’t pay thousands of dollars to attend recreation centres or gyms, which would actually prepare us with a healthy body to carry forward into a life of successful aging. We pay thousands of dollars to learn the information we need in order to acquire a “good job” upon graduation, and then to become a contributing member of society. But how can we contribute for long if our bodies aren’t up for the challenge?
And life is, indeed, a physical challenge.
With our narrow but dedicated focus on intellectual development, we tend to ignore the idea of preparing and training for the physical challenges of the future. Instead, we attend our classes for 40 hours a week, and we sit. We meet in a common area, and we sit while we participate in study group. We go to the library, and we sit while we research. We go back to our residence, and we sit while we write our papers and finish our assignments. Every so often, we get to the cafeteria (where the pickings for healthy options are usually slim), and we sit while we eat and chat about how we don’t have any time for “fun.” And when we do have time for fun (because there is always time for fun, it just makes us feel important when we seem intensely busy), we will go to the movies, and sit. Or we go to our friends place, and sit while we chat or play Xbox. Or we head to the bar or the pub, and although we may dance to the song that makes us scream “I LOVE THIS SONG” we still sit as we consume our drinks, which pack more calories than we ever imagine.
… and ends when we choose to end it
Is it really a surprise that with all this sitting our bodies begin to deteriorate? Is it a coincidence that students are often plagued with back and neck pain, sore muscles and joints, or general physical fatigue?
And finally, when the fun is over, and we head back home, we crawl into our beds. And we prepare for another day of mind over matter.
That is, until we understand: Our matter matters too.