Edit desk: Not just a “health kick”


Holly Santero

Have you ever realized “work hard, play hard” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?

Think about it.

As a Lehigh student, health and wellness are the last things I worry about with my long list of priorities. Getting a good night’s sleep, eating three meals a day and exercising on a regular basis have not been on this list.

During my first semester, I was just like every other Lehigh student.

When exams weren’t in session, my social life took the upper hand. I stayed out late, woke up early, napped between classes and barely made time for meals.

I may have been physically present in class but my mind and body were not. My head was stuck in a clouded, sleep-deprived daze and my stomach was empty, begging me to fill it with nutrients.

My lifestyle was unhealthy, and I was forgetting what it felt like to be myself.

Running, finding new music, Facetiming my friends and parents, scribbling in a journal and even just watching TV — all of these things took a back seat at school. 

So, for my New Years resolution, I thought of going on a “health kick.” 

I decided against it. I was going to do more.

I’m not a fan of the term “health kick” because it assumes I’ll spend a couple of weeks finally taking care of my body, but after some time, I will fall back into the same debilitating habits.

Not this time. 

Looking back on my first semester, I fell into a foggy time warp of constant exhaustion and a lack of nutrients. This led to five full weeks of illness. Not only did I have fevers creeping up to 104 degrees, but I was unable to sleep, exercise, eat or focus in any of my classes.

I was losing myself to an unhealthy lifestyle, which is why I made a vow to make a change. 

Since the start of this semester, I have been treating my mind and body the way it deserves to be treated — with care.

Instead of a short-lived “health kick,” I am dedicating myself to permanent lifestyle changes.

Every morning, my roommate and I get up, make sure to get breakfast, attend our classes, hit the library and finally drag ourselves to the gym.

The gym might be intimidating at first, but I’ve started enjoying it more by bringing a buddy along with me and coordinating our workouts.

Sweating — no matter how gross — feels amazing.

With this new lifestyle, I have observed that I have regained my once absent muscles. I can now climb the hill with ease. 

I’ve also become extremely conscious of germs. I wash my hands every time I leave class, refuse to touch doorknobs or handles and religiously apply Purell to my hands and phone screen. Disclaimer — this is definitely neurotic, but the point is to just be mindful of what germs you’re picking up.

I have introduced healthier eating into my routine. For at least two meals a day, I always have some kind of protein and vegetable. It may be hard to will yourself into putting that funky-looking dining hall carrot in your mouth, but it’s worth the vitamins and nutrients that bagels, pizza and pasta lack. 

On top of eating more nutritious meals, I have finally replaced the water bottle I lost at the beginning of the year and constantly fill it up. Water prevents the dehydration headaches I used to get, improves my skin, boosts my metabolism and has helped to flush out my body when I’m feeling a cold coming on. 

As for sinful sugary drinks, my roommate and I have compromised our Diet Coke addiction by allowing ourselves two sodas per week. It’s not great, but we’re only human.

There are so many people who live healthy lifestyles, but as a college student, I have found that being aware of how I treat my body is making a difference in my lifestyle change. I’m not a health guru, but I can assure you these minor changes have made all the difference.

By being well-rested and well-fed, I’m engaged in class and finally have time to get back to the hobbies I left behind. I can enjoy my social life without a cough, low-grade fever and stuffed-up nose.

I’m not simply on a “health kick.” I’m making permanent changes for the sake of my health and sanity.

During my first few months at Lehigh, the work hard, play hard lifestyle zombified me but by making small and manageable improvements to my daily routine, I’ve finally started to feel like the best version of myself again. 

Holly Santero, ’21, is an assistant news editor for The Brown and White. She can be reached at [email protected].

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