Balancing classes, homework, clubs and perhaps even a dose of social life is arguably one of the most difficult challenges for college students. So it’s no surprise that adding “maintaining a healthy lifestyle” to the teetering pile of commitments seems a little impossible.
Just ask Amy Coughlin, a sophomore elementary education major. When she arrived at Rider last fall, she didn’t think she would have a problem eating healthy.
“When I first got here, it wasn’t bad,” she said. “It was easy because there was lots of food to choose.”
Then, Coughlin and her friends discovered a downfall: the Bronc Diner.
“It went downhill from there,” she said.
But there’s hope for Coughlin and other students who fall prey to poor eating habits: The Dorm Room Diet, written by Princeton University senior Daphne Oz, the daughter of Oprah Winfrey’s health guru Dr. Mehmet Oz.
The Dorm Room Diet approaches college eating habits realistically, stressing that students should try and eat only when they’re hungry and to eat every two or three hours to keep their bodies going. On her Web site, Oz explains how she managed to lose 10 pounds in the first three months of her first year.
“By developing my own eating alternatives, I was able to navigate my freshman year in a healthy way,” Oz writes. “I learned what I could get away with and what I couldn’t.”
Another key to staying healthy is learning to pace yourself, according to Oz, who recognizes that most colleges don’t always provide the healthiest food choices on a daily basis.
“Everything is about balance and nothing is off limits,” Oz writes on her Web site. “If you overindulge today, eat healthfully tomorrow and the next day.”
Of course, eating right is only one side of the good health coin. Keeping active is just as important for college students who want to stay fit. And thanks to a new program implemented by the Student Recreation Center (SRC), staying fit can lead to a college student’s best friend: free stuff.
Beginning next week, the SRC will launch RU Fit, an eight-week exercise program that allows students to earn prizes for working out. According to Carolyn Hoelzle, administrative associate for recreational programs, physical activity of any kind earns points.
“It’s broken down into different types of exercises and each exercise is worth a different amount of points,” she said.
After two weeks, students who have earned 20 points win a prize pack and those who surpass 20 points also receive a bonus prize. Hoelzle hopes the extra bonus will encourage students to exercise beyond the minimum requirement.
“We want people to do more,” she said. “We’re hoping that incentive to get that extra prize will get them more active.”
Each participant receives a packet of information that, along with the point system, includes tips to eating healthy. According to Hoelzle, “the options are there” for students who want to eat healthy.
“Just because your parents aren’t cooking for you doesn’t mean you can’t find that at Daly’s or Cranberry’s,” she said.
Hoelzle agrees with Oz’s theory: eating right all boils down to moderation.
“You can eat pizza, just don’t eat it everyday,” Hoelzle said. “And if you do, you’re going to have to work out even harder.”
So far, about 90 students have signed up for RU Fit. Coughlin isn’t one of those 90 — not yet, anyway.