By Rachel Barron
With spring break right around the corner, the Eppley Recreation Center and Ritchie Coliseum have been packed with students trying to get back into shape for bathing suit season. But all this hard work can be quickly ruined by the spring break lifestyle.
If you are vacationing to a tropical destination for spring break, it will probably be difficult to exercise regularly and eat healthily. The resort might not have a gym or access to some kind of fitness facility, which makes finding the motivation to get outside to exercise difficult.
“I’m going to Florida, but I want to spend as much time getting a tan as possible, so exercising won’t take top priority,” junior management and marketing major Jenny Snowden said.
Somehow, you should try to find the motivation within you to go for a run along the beach. That is the first step in preventing weight gain. But the second step is eating well after your workout, which is easier said than done.
“The purpose of eating after intense exercise is to help your muscles recover and replenish glycogen stores,” said Caroline Rocourt, teaching assistant for Elements of Nutrition, or NFSC100, at this university.
Healthier foods like pita bread with hummus, low-fat cheese, fruit, and lean deli meat serve to restore the body with energy after exercising. However, these types of foods are not always readily available on vacation.
Often, vacationers are left at the mercy of resort food and room service. The likelihood that a resort will offer a wide variety of fresh fruits and lean deli meats is slim. Usually options will include hamburgers, fried foods, heavy pastas and sugary foods.
Another weight gain trap for students on spring break is alcohol. It can be easy to forget all the calories alcohol adds to a diet because it is not solid food. However, it remains a threat to that spring break beach body.
“Drinking is so dangerous because of all the calories from the alcohol, chasers and the drunk eating of junk food that is usually inevitable,” Snowden said.
The key to battling weight gain while on vacation for spring break is portion control. Sophomore studio art major Brooke Goren said she has become really good with portion control and not overeating.
“I also have a younger brother who eats a lot, so when I get to the table after him there’s not that much food left anyways,” she said.
Goren added that Passover falling around the same time as spring break helps her maintain her weight and live a healthy lifestyle. Since Passover prevents her from eating foods with yeast, this forces her to make healthier choices in general.
“It’s beneficial if you don’t eat things with yeast because you’re eating a lot of fruits and vegetables instead,” Goren said.
However, one problem with abstaining from all foods that contain yeast for the duration of Passover is what happens when Passover ends. At that time, temptation has all but taken over, and the desire for pasta or bread becomes overwhelming.
This temptation may cause people to overeat and overindulge in unhealthy, starchy foods, like macaroni and cheese. Goren said macaroni and cheese is the first food she eats once Passover is over. As long as she does not eat an obscene amount of pasta, Goren will be safe from gaining weight. Again, it boils down to portion control.
“If I don’t let myself have any unhealthy foods, I’ll end up eating way too much of them. So I just let myself have a little treat here and there to keep me satisfied,” sophomore elementary education major Elizabeth Haaser said.
Staying at home for spring break is a great way to avoid excess weight gain. Some students said they find themselves exercising more when they are at home versus when they are at school. Students have more time to exercise at home when they do not have to juggle classes, homework and extracurricular activities.
“At home, the gym is a very social thing. When I’m at home, the gym is an opportunity to see my friends from high school,” Goren said.
No matter what your plans include for spring break—whether spending time at home or relaxing on the beach in a tropical destination – it is possible to keep yourself from gaining weight. All it takes is a little bit of exercise, some portion control, and self-control with indulgences and temptations.