Healthy habits relieve anxiety for busy students

Columnist Cary Carr finds healthy lifestyle choices for students. A full course-load, a part-time job, an internship and a social life, can get in the way of working out and eating right.  It is possible

Columnist Cary Carr finds healthy lifestyle choices for students.

A full course-load, a part-time job, an internship and a social life, can get in the way of working out and eating right.  It is possible to obtain, however, and having a healthy lifestyle can make college stress much easier.

Exercising and keeping my diet in check helped many aspects of my life.

After struggling with an eating disorder in high school, I realized being healthy and happy was not about being thin or fitting into a double zero; it definitely wasn’t about calorie-counting or exercising into exhaustion. It was about treating my body with the respect it deserved.Cary Carr a healthy balance

I had that attitude as a freshman and promised to make time for the gym no matter what was going on. But now as a sophomore, I manage to find a variety of outlets for exercise, as well as healthy alternatives to late-night pizza and the ever-so-temping Insomnia Cookies.

I usually visit the IBC Student Recreation Center to workout. I try using group fitness programs as often as possible because there are a variety of classes that combine both cardio and weight training. The instructors make exercising less boring by constantly switching up the routines.

On days when I can’t fit in a class, I head over to the Temple University Fitness Center because it is significantly less crowded than the IBC. There, I combine cardio, weight-training and abdominal exercises in intervals.

But like most people, I get sick of the gym and the same old routine, so I use other outlets. I love to dance – ballet, jazz, modern or hip-hop – so I found my No. 1 go-to for classes: the Koresh School of Dance, located near Rittenhouse Square.

It requires some extra time and money to get to Koresh, but it’s worth it. Dancing allows me to do what I love while still working up a sweat.

I am also a member of the Angels Dance Team for the Philadelphia Wings Lacrosse Team. We practice twice a week, which includes choreography for our performances at the Wells Fargo Center but also boot-camp style workouts to keep us in shape for games and performances.

While I work out six times per week on average, eating a balanced diet is essential, but is difficult to get on a college campus.

My freshman year, I usually visited the food court in the Howard Gittis Student Center to utilize my meal plan. It is full of savory, yet greasy, options such as Burger King and Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, but there are healthier choices. I tended to go for the salad bar where I combined broccoli, nuts, cheese and tofu or chicken to make a filling lunch.  I also enjoyed sushi – especially the California roll with brown rice.

Now I buy my own groceries at the Fresh Grocer, which has a ton of options. I buy Lean Cuisines in bulk because they offer so many varieties, ranging from chicken and rice to pizza dishes.

Instead of cutting out treats completely, I try to find alternatives such as low-fat and low-sugar ice cream, whole-wheat pizza and pasta and dark-chocolate.

Although I try not to obsessively count calories, I keep a ballpark estimate of how much I’m consuming on a daily basis. Sometimes food may appear healthy, but some nutrition labels show otherwise.

It can be a challenge to keep up with a healthy diet and workout plan.  Once you get started, classes will seem less stressful and that daunting workload will get done easier with the added energy you gain.

Cary Carr can be reached at


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