The Battle to Stay Fit

By: Jacob Bell

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College is stressful, often to the detriment of student health. For every glass of water, there is a caffeine-packed cup of whatever can keep even the sleepiest studier lively; for every salad at the diner, there’s a slice of oreo pie seductively perched on a pastry shelf; and for every test completed, it often seems like there’s three more coming up next week.

For junior bioengineering major Justin Wisor, the fight to stay healthy has been a part of his life since long before his time as a Terp. It wasn’t until seventh grade, however, with the help of one of his teachers, that Wisor lost 40 lbs. in four months and kicked off a passion for healthy living.

“Health is more than food, it’s a lifestyle,” Wisor said.

Wisor, who also founded the student health organization PrimalTerps, achieves a healthy lifestyle using the seven tenants his club stands by: Eat, Move, Smile, Sun, Sleep, Stress, and Enjoy.

“The biggest thing I want people to get out of the club is that health is their responsibility,” Wisor said.

Wisor manages his health by regimenting exercise routines, mental workouts, and, most notably his diet.

Wisor subscribes to a semi-Paleo diet, meaning he eliminates grains, industrial oils, and refined sugars from his food intake. He also spends time outside to improve his vitamin D levels and overall mood, and has used P90X and yoga as ways to stay in shape, despite his sparing use of exercise.

“I write a very different prescription than most,” Wisor admits. “I barely exercise at all. I should do more, I know, but … if my brain is fried from class, I’m not going to hit the gym and burn my muscles out.” Wisor added although over-exercising can negatively affect student health, he stands by physical activity as a necessary ingredient for living healthy.

“One cannot out-diet [exercise]. You have to move. Use it or lose it,” Wisor said.

This personalized balance of dieting and exercise is strongly advised among nutritionists, according to Campus Dietitian Jane Jakubczak.

“I’ve worked with many, many athletes who thing they can eat whatever they want,” Jakubczak said. “This is so wrong. Nutrition is important.”

Living by the “use it or lose it” mentality, Wisor also utilizes resources like Lumosity to keep his brain sharp.

Though Wisor has a wide range of knowledge and experience with living healthy, that’s not to say balancing fitness and a college schedule comes without challenges.

“Obstacles are the biggest part of healthy living,” Wisor said. Health deterrents Wisor and typical college students face include alcohol, caffeine, eating out, and the social pressures to indulge in less healthy options.

The University of Maryland offers several ways to combat these obstacles, including, exercise programs through Campus Recreational Services and free nutritional analysis at the University Health Center.

The dining hall also offers healthy options. As part of dining services’ tips on eating healthy, Student Nutritionist Lisa Kaufman advises salads and vegetables as good meal alternatives.

“Instead of having a side of fries or chips, have a small salad or bowl of vegetable soup. Go to Cluckers and choose side dishes like carrots, spinach, corn, or broccoli,” Kaufman said.

For Wisor, the results of eating well and staying active are worth overcoming these obstacles. The fitness he gains and the recognition he receives from peers who want his health tips fuel his drive to live better.

“Knowing they reached out to me gives me a huge boost in confidence and makes me realize that everyone has struggles on the inside. I just got lucky and was able to fight mine. I’d say I’m winning the battle so far.”

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