Wellness Wednesdays: A balancing act of health | Opinion

Diana J. Smith

“Drink this everyday to lose 12 pounds …”

When people hear “fitness and nutrition,” their minds often jump to crazy diets and workouts. However, this is not the lens that we should use to view nutrition and fitness. We live in a society that constantly promotes the newest diet trends and juice cleanses. The societal ideal seems to be that food is “evil” and excessive exercise is a consequence for eating, when food is in fact needed for our bodies to function and carry out daily activities. Fitness and nutrition are important aspects of an individual’s overall health and well-being and they don’t need to include these crazy, far fetched treatments that are often portrayed across social media platforms. 

Personally, fitness and nutrition have always been important aspects of my life, considering I grew up playing sports. However, it was not until I was older that I understood their significance. When I started off my senior year of high school, I was training to build up my endurance and strength for my upcoming field hockey season. Unfortunately, when my field hockey season started in the fall, I began to have unbearable hip pain. 

At the beginning, I didn’t think much of this pain because I had dealt with hip pain my entire life, but this time it was different. I went to the chiropractor, took medicine — yet my pain only seemed to intensify. This eventually led to a visit with an orthopedic surgeon, which led to an MRI only to find I had a labral hip tear. This meant no more field hockey and a surgery with a six month recovery.

This was frustrating because I felt as if I was focusing on my health in regards to my fitness and yet I was being taken out of my senior year sport’s seasons. I went on to have surgery followed by physical therapy where I began building back up my strength in hopes of being fully cleared for the soccer season. Everything was going great until the week of soccer tryouts came and I was back on crutches unable to walk. 

This led to even more frustration because physical activity was a stress reliever in my life and I was being told yet again that I had to sit out. However, this time I was determined to fully recover and let my body heal. So, while I was recovering, I began doing even more research on how to implement fitness and nutrition into my daily life. 

Throughout this journey, I have learned fitness and nutrition affect one another directly either positively or negatively and encompass not only physical health, but also mental and emotional health. Eating well can allow an individual more energy to be able to complete daily physical activities or other mental/emotional activities such as school, work, errands, etc. 

According to studies done by the CDC, regular physical activity can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety and lead to improvements in an individual’s sleep and mental skills including their judgment, thinking and learning abilities. Studies have also paired this with nutrition, which has a direct correlation to an individual’s health, including a decreased risk of multiple health problems. 

Some helpful resources I have found include: nutrition.gov, which aids in teaching some basics of nutrition and MyPlate, which has a quiz that asks a variety of questions related to an individual’s eating habits to provide them with more information about nutrition. For more information on nutrition it is recommended to see a registered dietitian nutritionist, which NC State offers two free visits per academic year to its students. 

Some other resources provided by NC State include the Wellness and Recreation program and involvement with intramural and club sports. Specifically, the program offers fitness classes and Carmichael gym, which are great resources to implement fitness into an individual’s daily routine.

Fitness and nutrition are instrumental aspects of an individual’s well-being and should be treated as such. NC State offers a wide variety of resources to its students and faculty, which are beneficial to the overall health of the NC State community. The focus of fitness and nutrition should be to strengthen and fuel your body rather than depletion and malnourishment.

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