Column: Surviving the college lifestyle

Now that the semester has officially begun, your body is back to being tortured and tormented on a daily basis from having to deal with an academic schedule. If you find yourself running to classes, waking up too late to eat breakfast and staying up nights, consider yourself among the lucky Missouri scholars who are forced to take care of their bodies due to the strenuous schedule they strive to maintain. Learning to live a healthy lifestyle in college is among the necessary skills every student should know, and obtaining these skills early in the semester will help you find a system that works with both you and your schedule.

Prior to entering the university, some students weren't faced with the burden of deciding what to eat or when to exercise. They left these decisions up to the adults or coaches in their lives. If you were among this select group, it is time to take the duties of diet and exercise upon yourself. Whether your goal is to lose weight, maintain your current weight or gain more muscle, Mizzou has all the tools you need to achieve success.

But, it is still up to you to establish a routine or method that works. I do this by evaluating my class schedule and extracurricular activities at the beginning of each semester before establishing my exercise and eating plans. This allows you to connect your mind with your body and decide which days you have time to exercise or eat at certain places -- and which days you do not. I caution you not to be alarmed when it becomes clear you might not have room in your schedule every day for a strenuous workout or a trip to Plaza 900’s never-ending salad bar. I have these days in my own schedule and overcome them by working harder other days of the week.

Another step in establishing a healthy lifestyle at Mizzou is to decide when and how you will fit in your body’s exercise needs. For some, “mall walking” to class is enough of an exercise, but for those of us who have the metabolism of a 60-year-old, additional exercise is often required. Although it might seem impossible, fitting extra exercise into a busy, 15-credit class schedule can be done in numerous ways.

Additionally, another method I use to ensure I use my time efficiently is to plan my exercise time between different classes. This allows your brain to make a smooth transition from classes by retaining the one subject during the exercise and then moving onto another topic after the workout is complete. Although this system has worked for me, it is paramount that you find a schedule you can enjoy and adhere to for the rest of the semester.

For those who need some structure in their workouts, obtaining a Tiger X season pass from the Student Recreation Complex could be a good idea. Although these classes can often be ridiculously overcrowded, they do provide the security of knowing a set time of day you will exercise. This will relieve stress from having to decide when to exercise while also providing a routine. I have also found that having a set schedule of committed Tiger X classes forces one to skip fewer workouts than simply deciding on a random time to go to the gym. But if sweating it up in a class full of smelly students doesn't sound appealing to you, Stankowski Field can also provide a sufficient form of exercise.

After working out, another major challenge college students must conquer is deciding what and when to eat. Everywhere you look at Mizzou are delicious foods to satisfy your hunger. With Dobbs Pavilion, Plaza 900, Mark Twain Market and the new student center, Mizzou students are rarely left hungry.

But when provided with all these options, it's common to overeat. I've walked into Plaza thinking I wasn't hungry to later find myself indulging in a meal close to 700 calories. If you do not establish an eating schedule early in the semester, it is possible you'll find yourself consuming more than your needed amount of calories. To avoid this dining hall trap, obtain a Campus Dining Services weekly meal schedule and use it to plan which days you will eat at the dining halls. Using this schedule to also plan what you will eat keeps your mind focused and helps avoid impulsive overeating upon entering the establishment.

An additional rule I follow at the dining halls is to only allow myself to eat one entrée. Because there are often numerous dishes to choose from, I see many students who decide to try more than one dish. This can lead to eating both a hamburger and a fettuccine meal during one sitting. If you were at home, it is highly unlikely you would take the time to prepare both of these dishes for one meal. Thinking of the dining halls as you would your own kitchen prevents you from eating everything in sight simply because it's there.

Using these tips to master your diet and exercise plan early in the semester can aid you in resisting the urge to order pizza nightly and go back to bed after every class. As the semester continues, it will become harder to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Get your routines set early so that when finals week arrives, diet and exercise will seem second nature -- contrary to organic chemistry.

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