After living off Ramen noodles and iced coffee for two long semesters, summer vacation is now only weeks away.
Whether you are looking to get in better shape or just be healthy this summer, Dixie State University faculty had some tips for students.
Eat better, not less
Diets often seem like the easiest way to lose weight, but they aren’t always healthy.
“Most of the time, fad diets promote extreme eating patterns, rapid weight loss and expensive foods,” said Lorin Lillywhite, DSU health science adjunct and nutrition professor. “Eating in extreme ways makes people more likely to develop eating disorders or to binge eat afterward. Rapid weight loss makes a person more likely to regain the weight once the diet has ended.”
Lillywhite also said these expensive diets are not only bad for students’ health, but they’re bad for their wallets as well. He said the road to getting healthy starts with a better diet.
“Start with your diet, and track everything you eat and drink for three days,” Lillywhite said. “[Ask yourself] What junk food could you cut out? How could you increase your whole grain consumption? Plan out your meals for the week and consider doing some basic meal preparation.”
He also said caffeine can be beneficial if used sparingly. He said a downside is that it is usually found in sugary drinks, but it can increase fat burning and reduce fatigue.
According to choosemyplate.gov, meal preparation is vital to eating better on a budget. Multimedia Editor Taylor Lewis also wrote an article on her tips for college students last week entitled “Eat smart, not out.”
However, Lillywhite said learning to eat healthier isn’t something that happens overnight.
“Take it one step at a time,” Lillywhite said. “Don’t look for a quick fix; they do not exist. If you find something that promises a quick fix, you can bet it will cause more harm than good.”
Protect yourself, inside and out
Changing eating habits is one way to make your insides healthy, but without proper protection to your body, your health cannot be stellar.
Lillywhite said meeting with knowledgeable professors for advice and help can be beneficial to students and help them get healthier. Jill Bryan, college of education adjunct, said being healthy inside and out starts with making changes that can last a lifetime.
“If you are short on time, try high intensity interval training workouts [to start being healthy],” Bryan said. “[These] workouts can be a great option for staying in shape when time is an issue, as you can get an amazing workout in 20 minutes or less.”
Along with exercising, taking care of your body in other ways is also important.
“The best way to have a healthy summer is to make sure to wear sunscreen,” said registered nurse Callie Peacock from DSU’s Health & Counseling Center.
According to skincancer.org, people who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 75 percent. If you are traveling somewhere tropical, or even staying here in sunny St. George, apply sunscreen that’s at least SPF 30 or higher and reapply often. Peacock said this is the best way to protect yourself.
At a time when summer flings are in season, Peacock said you need protection and practice safe sex to be healthy. She said the Health & Counseling Center has free condoms available, and it also offers STI testing and treatment options.
Another thing to keep in mind is how much water you drink, Peacock said. She said alcoholic drinks contain empty calories and are not hydrating, so make sure to drink water when you can feel yourself sweating.
Believe in your body
Maybe your body isn’t exactly how you wanted it to be this summer, but if you are confident in yourself, your mental health can be in tip-top shape.
Refinery29 recently released a body confidence infographic that shares some tips on how to boost self-esteem. Its main tips are:
1 – Develop positive self-talk. Some examples are “I have strong legs,” or “my body is healthy.” These phrases counter negativity in your mind.
2 – Avoid people who make negative remarks about your body.
3 – Avoid meals with people who are constantly on diets.
4 – Limit media that glamorizes extremely thin women, or take these images with a grain of salt.