Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chilly chow

More and more lately, I find myself standing in line at the -- gasp -- Student Center Grille, aka the only "cheap" food on campus. Today was one of those days. I'm waiting patiently to order my fabulous black bean veggie pita sans sauce and cheese when I overhear the orders in front of me. "Chicken strips, cheese sticks, and a Dr. Pepper." "Chicken strips and fries and a red Gatorade." One older woman ordered only a side of fries, then turned to her friend and said, "They don't have ice cream here, it's on the other side."
What!? No wonder college kids (and increasingly, staff) have become so lethargic. I know it's winter, but the Chicago chub is never fashionable, as warm as it may be. So what is it about winter and college that keeps us from living well, and how can we combat it?

First point -- it's cold outside! No one wants to go for a run or so much as walk to class in the Midwest mess, let alone abandon the blankey to head to the gym. I admit, I take Public Safety the four blocks from the train station back to my apartment to save me the walk in the cold. When we make this seemingly "little" sacrifices, however, we lose the few calorie-burning, health-churning events of the day that come absolutely free and without doing anything extra. Walking a few blocks makes up for some of that cookie you splurged on at work...and lets you have one next week, too!

Warm foods are comforting. There's a reason we have an affection for hot cocoa when it's snows; it warms you up from the inside out. So naturally, what happens when we walk into the Student Center or restaurant? We want something warm and snuggly. This makes the salad and fresh fruit look awfully unappealing, so instead, we go for french fries, a burger, or creamy soup. If you're looking for a hot way to get hot (ha), try some steamed vegetables or a plain baked potato instead of fries, green tea instead of a latte, and or a baked apple with cinnamon instead of an apple pie from McD's (and those babies are tempting -- two for a dollar and vegan?!). Not only will you feel yummy in the tummy, you'll feel fab even in that puffy marshmallow coat!

Believe it or not, the lack of sunshine in winter makes you sad. You may have heard of a Seasonal Affective Disorder, dubbed SAD for a reason. Sunshine is responsible for stimulating vitamin D production in our bodies which in turn creates a balance internally. This gives you energy and stimulation and helps your endorphin production! Conquer the winter blues by using a full-spectrum light bulb, a Sun Alarm, or visiting your tanning bed once a week. Up your leafy dark green intake and vitamin D-fortified orange juice to help your happy, too!

Indoor workouts are always a great option during winter, whether that means taking a class at your gym or renting a few workout videotapes from the library (excuse me...DVDs). Don't let your routine get dusty during colder months...keep in mind the rockin' bod you want to show off this summer and you'll stay motivated all the way until April showers bring May flowers!

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