Spring into action

Valerie Herz

Now that winter is behind you, are you ready to shed the heavy cover of warm clothes and feel the sun on your skin? Or are you worried about the extra pounds you were hiding under that wool sweater?

If so, here’s help. The best way to boost energy, maintain weight and feel great this spring season, isn’t by loading up on the Red Bull or iced lattes from Holy Grounds. It’s much simpler, and the results last far more than a few hours.

“The biggest difficulty for college students is to stick to a plan,” said Dr. Marcia Costello, a registered dietitian and Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing for the University. “Your goal should be to move away from the concept of dieting, which is short term, and in the long run could result in weight gain. Eating should be a pleasurable and health promoting experience. Americans need to move from thinking about food in terms of calories and fat grams and consider fresh healthy food to be nourishment for the body.”

According to the National Dairy Council, achieving a healthy lifestyle is about three major things: limiting your caloric intake, making smart food choices and exercise. Following a healthy lifestyle in general can improve your overall well being, help you manage your weight and do wonderful things for your skin and hair.

A healthy caloric intake is the first thing that students should work towards in order to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Above all, avoid loading up on empty calories that have no nutritional value. Make what you eat and drink count.

“Students need to be aware of the high caloric content of alcoholic beverages,” said Costello. “It can significantly increase your daily, total caloric intake.” Most students tend to skip breakfast in the mornings before classes–a big mistake. Eating a breakfast that includes lean protein can boost your energy throughout the day.

“Breakfast gives students the ability to focus, with the result of better grades,” Costello says. If you’re pressed for time, just grab something to go, like an apple or banana with an energy bar will work. Something is always better than nothing.

Increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains is the key to healthy eating, simply because these things are packed with nutrients, according to Costello. Try buying frozen vegetables from the supermarket, eating lean proteins like chicken and fish and indulge without over-indulging by eating frozen yogurt or a smoothie from South Campus.

“One of the biggest myths on Villanova’s campus is the fear that if you eat at night you will gain weight,” Costello said. “The truth is, you burn more calories at night than you think. If you are eating dinner at 6, there is no reason why a snack like popcorn, frozen yogurt, or fruit later in the evening isn’t okay. Sometimes, eating healthy all the time is too restrictive, just the opposite of healthy. Varying foods and meeting your energy needs, rather than thinking about the scale, is the best way to achieve any goal.”

The final piece of the healthy springtime puzzle is to exercise. The gym is a great way to stay fit, but if you are not a fan of the gym atmosphere, try other physical activities on campus that can provide health benefits as well. Join an intramural team, play Frisbee or take long walks when it’s nice out. Not only will you have energy to burn, but your metabolism will also increase.

Remember, balance is the key. Stick to a healthy diet of foods that are delicious and healthy. Be sure to include, at the very least, the minimums recommended by the Food Guide Pyramid.

Springtime is the best time of the year here at Villanova. What better way to enjoy the spring than to enjoy yourself and feel great?