The Collegian
Saturday, July 04, 2020

If apples and beets were candy and treats, we'd be healthier

I know I can do it this time. I walk into D-hall, select a plate, place it on a tray and start heading for the broccoli. Okay, it's barely cooked. And I don't see any salt or butter. Whatever, it's probably better for me that way anyway. I scoop a few onto the plate. Next, grilled chicken. A little dry, but it shouldn't be too bad. I spear a piece. Now, some rice?

Oh, God. I blacked out. Where did all these fries come from? I'm already sprinting for the pizza. Sh*t, there's a piece in my mouth. Gone. Alright, alright. A few fries never hurt anyone. And I'm allowed to have a little Ranch with this chicken. I got broccoli, for god's sake. And I never drink soda -- I'm allowed to have some Diet Coke. Wait -- diet never tastes the same as regular. Might as well get regular. 'Kay.

But seriously, how does one consistently find the willpower to eat well and exercise? Especially in college? Most Richmond girls seem to pull it off effortlessly, ordering that Pier salad without a second thought (or a very well-concealed second thought) and finding the time to hit the gym no matter how packed their schedules are. I've even seen some people running outside in the scorching September heat or biting November cold -- by choice. Am I missing something?

I can go for a few weeks (days) trying to make "the healthy choice." If I really pay attention, I can eat a completely balanced diet and force myself to sneak in some exercise. But what happens in the middle of a dark, lonely night when someone orders Papa John's and offers me a piece or two? How can I possibly muster the discipline to say no? I know there's no harm in a piece of pizza once in a while; the problem is that I can't ever say no. Garlic sauce, Ranch dip, licking the grease off the box after everything is long gone? No problem.

And D-hall. Don't get me started on D-hall. Yeah, there's a pretty expansive salad bar and usually another veggie/meat option, but then I have to avert my eyes from the sizzling onion rings/French fries/pizza/pasta/Lucky Charms/Rice Krispies/M&M cookies. I have to keep reminding myself that no, I don't deserve a reward for choking down that spinach salad. The reward is being able to wear a belly shirt next Halloween. And that regulation feels Sisyphean.

And the gym. I will willingly admit that I feel significantly more refreshed and energetic after I go, but hiking over there from the apartments feels like a triathlon in itself. Things get a little better when I'm actually on the treadmill, but even then, if a good Law and Order or Celebrity Rehab episode isn't on one of the big TVs, those 30 minutes are going to pass like years.

Out of some desire to stay fit and still be standing when I'm 70, I'm never going to be able to live solely on chicken fingers. But that doesn't mean that those healthy choices aren't going to be an effort each time -- at least until boiled kale starts tasting like a bag of Taco Bell. With extra cheese on the chalupa.

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