Dining Guide: Five tips for staying healthy at Pitt

By Stephen Caruso / Columnist

Before you beat yourself up too much, remember that it make sense to gain weight in college.

It really just comes down to opportunity costs. As decision makers, we need to ration our time to what matters most. The average college student’s top priorities are probably going to be studying, socializing and maybe sleeping during whatever time is left over. To do something else, you will have to pay for it in time you could use to study or hang out with friends. 

That something else, in this case, is exercising.

Exercising is still important and has its benefits. They just are not readily seen. Before exercising, it is easier to imagine the pain of jogging or lifting rather than the high from the endorphins released afterward. Also, exercise takes a lot of time out of your day. It is not just the hour of exercise but the time getting ready, going to and from the gym and showering after. Let’s say that’s about an hour and half.

If you do not have this time in the middle of the day, you’ll need to go in the morning or at night. But who wants to get up at 8 a.m. to work out, besides those who are insane or, you know, morning people? So that just leaves the night. You can forget about a Friday or Saturday workout then, and, once winter hits, those cold Pittsburgh nights will be daunting for even the most fanatical gym rat.

Then there is the bad eating — so easy at college with the late nights students have to face. Also, healthy food tends to be more expensive, so we are drawn to McDonalds, Chipotle and Chinese food to fill our stomachs.

Nonetheless, I have a handful of tips for anyone who wants to try to stay healthy.

1. Walk everywhere. Never use the campus buses, even if you’re late — I know from living in Sutherland Hall last year that walking is equal in time to the 10A. You’ll find after the first month or so that Cardiac Hill turns your calves into rock-solid muscle.

2. Find a time that always works. Instead of deciding to always go to the gym four times a week and trying to cram the trip in whenever, pick out a time slot that consistently works instead — even if it is only twice a week. A routine for exercise is good, and some exercise is better than none at all.

3. Save your junk for the weekend. I’m not going to tell you to never get tasty food. Tasty food is tasty. Just save resorting to the worst offenders of your waistline for noon on Friday until noon on Sunday. This way, you can enjoy that recovery meal of Campus Deli after a wild Saturday night and stick to healthier options for the rest of the week.

4. Avoid snacking or late-night eating. Keep the amount of snack food in your dorm to a minimum and always try to avoid eating late. By not keeping Oreos and Cheez-Its in your room, you won’t need to worry about devouring them during last-minute cramming for a midterm. 

5. Be realistic. You won’t be able to adhere to these rules perfectly. We are all human. You might still grab a greasy burger on a Wednesday night or have a week with only one trip to the gym, but you can always bounce back the next week. 

If you stay mindful of what you eat and when you work out, then no one can fault you if you gain an extra pound or two.

Write to Stephen at [email protected]