Thursday, February 17, 2011

Making the grade: why college is ruining your bod

It's 2:30 am. You've got class at in seven hours and haven't managed to crank out those ten pages worth of film analysis that's due. In the past few hours, you've managed to watch four episodes of Jersey Shore, down a few Monsters, text every person in your phone you haven't heard from in months, and create quite the concoction of PB&J and Ramen...twice. Sound familiar? Yup, good ole college. He's our best friend and worst enemy. But what's the deal, anyway? Take a look at the top reasons why higher education is leading you to a higher number on the scale.

1. Five-star dining...aka student center food
Variety is the spice of life, and you won't find it here, unless you consider variety "fried and fried." The catch to campus dining is that the food is cheap and stuffs you up, but only in exchange for an atrocious amount of empty calories, carbs, and fat. Word on the street is that some of these frozen-and-fried delights are actually beefed up with a special ingredient to make you want to eat more. Um, ew.

2. All-nighters
Coffee, check. Case of Red Bull, check. Caffeine pills, double check. Face it - when it's crunch time, sleep's the first to go. Every college kid has done it and every college kid probably always will at some point in their career, but late-night cram sessions only leave you dragging in the AM and devoid of the energy you need to get through that final. Plus, avoiding your body's calls for sleep plays a nasty game with your natural circadian rhythm that regulates--you guessed it--tomorrow night's hunger pangs. And hey, no one likes extra baggage...especially when it's under your eyes!

3. Thirsty Thursday
$1 domestics and $4 shots may work wonders for your tiny bank account, but don't forget the havoc binge drinking wreaks on your system. Booze, especially beer and mixed cocktails, is loaded with carbs and sugar that does nothing for you. Take it easy on the PBR and you'll be thankful in the morning.

College is stressful! Between classes, jobs, internships, dating, networking, homework, and, oh yeah, that thing called "real life," it can be hard to find a comfortable balance between assignments and afterparties. Stress truly takes it's toll, however, through a little stress hormone called "cortisol" that helps to regulate metabolism, blood flow, and blood sugar. Keeping yourself in panic mode 24/7 causes a crazy release of this hormone, eventually leading to a rollercoaster ride of emotional eating, shifts in energy, and an overworked heart. The worst part about this ride? Instead of coming down from that high point to a smooth stop, your coaster car just crashes straight into the ground. Yipes!

So what can we do to keep control without going insane? A few things: Take a breather. Sleep. Try the salad bar. Watch the caffeine intake. Sip water in between drinks. Even more so, don't be afraid to take a personal day! Learn to manage your time so that your health isn't sacrificed for that diploma, but instead so you arrive to graduation day glowing and beautiful. Don't forget that it's your responsibility to keep yourself healthy and happy, and while it may be a bumpy road on the way to Big Kid-dom, there's definitely nothing stopping you from having the ride of your life.