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The Dreaded First Year 15

I’m proud to admit that I have lost my First Year 15. Much of the hearsay about college has made it seem almost inevitable that parents will foot the bill, but also by the student in the form of baggy eyes and a little extra “chub” around the edges. In my first year of college, I gained over 30 pounds. In my second year of college, I made it a goal to get back the “pep in my step” so I can continue to compete at the varsity level. Now as a junior, I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been in my life. In college, having a healthy lifestyle can be tough because living alone is a first for many undergrads. Balancing a healthy lifestyle and enjoying your newfound independence can be a struggle for any new college student!

Just as Uncle Ben from Spiderman (any fans out there?) said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” The dining hall is no exception. Eating cafeteria food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner puts an overwhelming amount of responsibility on the student. There are tons of different options that you can choose from and it can get overwhelming.

At Juniata, it’s possible to eat healthy if you take the time to discover food that works for you, while keeping in mind Harvard University’s Healthy Eating Plate in mind.They recommend half of your plate be fruit or vegetables, which is an easy option in Juniata’s Baker Dining Hall. Last year, I fell in love with stir fried veggies at the vegan food space. Those folks over at Harvard also recommend having whole grains on your plate. So, this year I started mixing my stir fry with quinoa and couscous, both of which are now offered at the salad bar. Talk about two birds with one stone, right? Keeping a commitment to eating healthy 24/7 isn’t easy, and I’d be surprised to find a Juniatian who hasn’t been tempted by the array of deserts staring back at them by the entrance to the dining hall. Despite the one or two ensuing “cheat” days, it’s possible (and fun!) to eat healthy at Juniata’s dining hall.

We all know that part of being healthy is that exercise is essential. I get lots of exercise as a member of the men’s volleyball team, but anyone, even a non-athletic person, can find easy and fun ways to stay active on campus. Whether you like to hike, or prefer to spend time playing intramural sports like volleyball or basketball with friends, there will always be ways for you to be active here!

One very popular way to get some fun exercise during the week is by participating in club sports. A few club goldmines which stand out to me include Ultimate Frisbee, yoga, or my personal favorite, breakdancing. But there’s so many more options out there for students! Exercising with friends is time well spent, and I promise you that you’ll make some new ones at the same time.

The key to staying healthy while balancing classes, exercise, and sleep is developing a routine that works for you. It’ll take time, but mapping out homework each week, while also committing to attending to something fun and active, will leave you the whole weekend to just hangout and relax. As class ramps up Juniata, continuing to make healthy decisions is an invaluable decision. Striking a balance between enjoying your college independence with a happy and healthy lifestyle isn’t easy, but the resources available at Juniata help make it so much easier than it would be if you were going at it solo! Eating right, exercising with friends, and of course getting enough rest at night will help make that First Year 15 a thing of the past.

-Theo Weinberger ’21, Communication POE, California Skater Dude