Students take on five-week healthy living challenge

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Green smoothies, daily grueling exercise and emphatic self-discipline are what I think of when the words “healthy living challenge” come to mind.

At first thought, taking on this challenge would be a drastic sacrifice for me. By the time five weeks finally comes to an end, it’ll be a relief to chow down on burgers and ice cream, whilst letting my muscles disintegrate on the sofa.

But in reality, probably like many college students, I eat what’s convenient and exercise when it’s enjoyable or social. I don’t think too hard about living healthily, and I certainly don’t calculate my diets or exercises to an extent that it would substantially improve my health.

Granted, I don’t smoke or drink, so I’ve never really thought of myself as leading an unhealthy life. But the fact that while writing this, I am being plagued by the insatiable temptation to snack on Swedish Fish and Pringles and to skip my workout for the day is proof enough that I have room to improve.   

So what does it actually mean to live a deliberately healthy lifestyle?

The benefits of a healthy lifestyle are clear: maintaining a healthy body weight, refining physical appearance, reducing stress and improving outlook on life.

As much as I hate it, living a healthy life requires discipline. For me during this challenge, I will be watching what I eat and cutting back on sugary, empty carbs and fatty foods. I’ll avoid fast food and microwave meals and make sure I’m getting five helpings of fruit and veggies throughout the day. I’ll work out at least four times a week for at least 30 minutes each time.

To help me get the ball rolling, I will be using Livestrong, a free online service that provides a calorie tracking system, nutrition hints and video workouts. I will be incorporating some of these workouts into my week.    

And lastly, I’ll be making sure I get seven hours of sleep each night to keep my mind and body sharp and alert. 

During this five-week period, I’ll be writing about the changes I notice in my own life due to deliberately living healthily and if it’s realistic for an average college student to live this way despite all the pressure we face.

My main goal in attempting this challenge is to lay the groundwork for healthy living habits now so I can have the most vibrant, active life possible. Exercising, eating right and sleeping are simple ways I can feel better about myself and improve my quality of life that I hope to carry with me forever.