Writer’s block is killing me today, and a lot of the scholarship questions I have in the hopper here are either too personal to publish here on the blog or they’re questions I can’t answer because they’re way outside of my sphere of knowledge. I absolutely WILL post every weekday on this blog, though, so today I thought I’d toss out a non-standard entry about something that can improve your academic performance — exercise. The physical kind.
Students are known to pack on some extra weight when they hit college, right? Everyone knows about the storied “Freshman 15.” It’s pretty natural, I think. All of a sudden you’re out of the high school routine where you’re moving through structured activities every hour of the week, and you’ve found yourself with nowhere to be until 11 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, so why not lay on the couch, double up on the Captain Crunch and watch Young & The Restless? No one’s around to care. (Yes, that’s my story, and hey, don’t give me any crap about Y&R because it’s a GOOD SHOW. 🙂
That’s what I did when I was a freshman. Actually, I gained 50 — not 15 — pounds in the first six MONTHS of my freshman year. Yeah, that’s not a typo. My natural lust for food coupled with the pasta bar at Warren Towers at Boston University wreaked inches of devastation on my waistline.
Some people bounce back from that funk, and others sink into a sedentary lifestyle for the REST OF THEIR LIVES. Others realize the long-term difficulties associated with that and bounce back into exercising. Luckily, I did get wise and lose all that weight in the following six months. If you, however, are in the first camp of students who’s struggling with the extra weight and the lack of desire to exercise it off — well, let me just give you some encouragement to do so, and some reasoning.
Exercise makes everything easier. And I’m not just talking about buttoning your pants or having any luck with the opposite sex. Everyone knows about that part. But if you exercise, let’s say, in the morning, you concentrate better throughout the whole day, you have more energy, and you just feel better overall. If you have those terrible energy crashes around the mid-afternoon — morning exercise eliminates those (at least they did for me, back then and today).
I’m serious. I have a LOT of work to do every day for my ad agency and the sites that I write for, and for a long time, that provided me with a really good excuse to not exercise. I’d tell myself I was too busy, had too much to do.
Well, I’d also absolutely crash in the mid-afternoon. Not like, “I could really use a nap” tired. I’m talking about, smacking myself in the face while driving to not end up in a ditch, that kind of tired. Wake up drooling on the keyboard tired.
But when I finally got out of the rut and dragged myself to the gym every morning before work, it all went away. I work straight through all day long without crashes of any kind. And for you as a student, that’s what I’m trying to convey — if you want to be able to get more work done, or do better work, and you’re not exercising — do it, get out there and exercise for 30-45 minutes every morning. Doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as you get your heart rate up a little, which you can do with just about any exercise that you like.
And here’s a serious tip for you: If you’re a college student, do yourself a favor and take a lot of photos of yourself. Take some bathing-suit shots of yourself and stash them away, because if you’re like a lot of college students, you are currently in the best physical shape you’ll ever enjoy in your entire LIFE. And if you’re like me, you’re gonna need the motivation of how great you looked in college when you’re my age (36) to get back in shape, because, let me tell you, it gets HARD the older you get.
I was big into weight training when I was in college and was in very good shape. I kept those habits all through my 20s, but when I was 29, I tore my ACL in a D-league softball game, and it changed everything for me. I obviously could not work my lower body with weights, and that depressed me to the point that I didn’t go to the gym at all, and a lot of the muscle I’d built over the years just wasted away. I do still weight-train today, but after my ACL injury (which healed up nicely with surgery, by the way), I just never quite got the must-hit-the-gym fever back.
And when you hit your 30s (especially your “late” 30s, which I suppose I’ve now officially entered), your body doesn’t respond as quickly to exercise and good eating as it did in your 20’s. Unfortunately, it also responds MUCH more quickly to poor eating and sloth than it did back then.
So yeah, anyway, I wish I had some photos of me back in the old days to remind myself of what I COULD look like if I worked as hard in the gym as I used to. I doubt it’s really going to be an issue for most college students nowadays, since everyone takes 8,000 photos of themselves for Facebook, but I just thought I’d mention it.
Have a good weekend, everyone!