Finding the balance between a happy and healthy lifestyle



Gillian Hixson

       I think it is fair to say that every college student is bombarded with advice and tips to staying healthy. You hear it from your mom when she calls you asking what you had for dinner and you say “nothing” and she proceeds to get mad and worry. You hear it from the Internet, from various social media platforms where your friends tag you in Tasty videos and you swear “we’ve got to make that.” You read about it in the countless resources existing here on campus, through the “Student Health 101” e-mails (which I seem to get twice a week to both my school and personal e-mail) and the labels in the dining halls.

       The advice we receive—wanted or not—can be summed up by a few simple phrases: Go to the gym. Eat balanced meals. Sleep. Don’t skip meals. Don’t drink too much caffeine. The advice spawns from good intentions, but too often falls on deaf ears.

       Insert me, a sophomore with an approaching deadline on this article about “tips and tricks for staying healthy,” and all I can think about is when was the last time I went to the gym (September? Last May?), and what I had for lunch (Pop Tarts). Who am I to give you advice? What empowers me to tell you tips and tricks when I myself don’t really follow the advice I am given?

       Healthy advice-givers fail to recognize that “staying healthy” must be defined with numbers (weight, caloric intake, stuff your doctor is concerned with) and with personal happiness. There is both an objective and subjective side to remaining healthy, and I would argue that the subjective side—namely, whether or not you personally feel healthy and happy—is slightly more important. 

       “Staying healthy” for you might be having late night only one night a week, or only having salad for lunch. Perhaps it is going to the gym every other day, getting your 10,000 steps in before bed or actually going to the class you signed up for at the fitness center. Perhaps it’s going to bed at a reasonable hour one day of the weekend so that you actually get the recommended amount of sleep. Maybe it’s making a point to get breakfast every day because usually you skip that meal. Whatever makes you feel healthy and happy should become your own, personally-tailored “tips and tricks to staying healthy” list. 

         I have made several short term health goals throughout my college experience that have come and eventually gone. I have told myself I can’t get a bagel for breakfast or chips at Café Nova unless I have gone to the gym the day before. I have promised myself to only have salad for lunch and to drink two full water bottles by the end of each day. My end goal almost never involves reaching a certain weight or limiting myself to certain number of calories, but rather to make decisions that will ultimately make me a happier version of myself. For some it is the opposite—their short-term goals have a larger goal of losing weight or going down in size. The point is, “staying healthy” is not a list of generalizations that you can assume everyone will be able to apply to their lives. 

       Forget about what other people tell you is healthy. Take a step back from those generalizations based on your age or height or current weight and think about what you want to accomplish to have a more healthy life.