You will gain the Fresher’s 15,” I promise was one of the more reassuring things one of my house mates said to me during my very first day at York. More than half a term down, converted gym bunny and keen consumer of all things vegetable, I am proving him wrong. But the road to Freshers health isn’t always easy.
University is a bizarre bubble – inside you will observe a walking encyclopaedia of every drunken triumph and disaster known to man and money-strapped friends will frequently beg you to split the cash for a midnight Dominoes. Outside of it is a whole different story. With body image media bombardment promoting increasingly slim and muscular ideas for females and males respectively, more of us than ever are in pursuit of health, fitness, and let’s face it, hotness.
There couldn’t be more of a clash between the stereotypical university-culture diet and wider-world expectations others are putting upon us with regards to what we should and shouldn’t be doing with our bodies. For most of us, having that ‘perfect’ physique whilst frequently feasting on takeaways and tequila is about as likely as Miley Cyrus receiving an invitation to the Queen’s next tea party. The aforementioned diet and being fit and healthy aren’t the best of friends either. Realistically most of us will have to pick a side of the coin. (Sore) heads or tails. The booze or the body.
Thus we can enter into a constant tug-of-war cycle, during the day running ourselves senseless on the treadmill to reach idealistic standards, whilst at night the “university lifestyle” pressure is immense – according to some, all events should be chased down with a river of liquor. Fatty foods are cheap (and tasty, I admit) so it’s understandable that the poor student would fall prey to their appeal.
What is less understandable is expecting others to follow your choice. I am well acquainted with looks ranging from mild confusion to full-scale horror when I announce the dreaded words “I’m not drinking tonight”, which I have excused on the grounds of medical issues, nearing assignments and lack of money before deciding to simply be honest: alcohol is my frenemy and she’s toxic so I’m limiting the time we spend together. She doesn’t make me happy, but a strong, fit body – that does, and at the risk of sounding corny you have to do what makes you happy. Attempting to force Jäger down my neck so you can see what drunken Bobby-Jo is like: not cool. (Wait for her to appear by herself, like a surprise gift!)
Why should we ever have to choose between social acceptance and a healthy body anyway? If you were to touch me without consent that’s assault, so (providing I don’t have a legitimate eating disorder) why do you have any right to dictate my diet? Students may have a whole host of reasons not to partake in this aspect of university lifestyle: religious, medical, moral, health, cultural or otherwise, and as a diverse community we should embrace those with different lifestyles to our own.
Equally, I’m not here to stand and tell you to become that crazy house-mate munching your way through bags of lettuce at four in the morning (not me, ahem…) whilst everyone else continues to work their way through the umpteenth bottle of the night. Feel free to down as many shots and devour as many Efes deliveries as your heart desires – your body, your choice! I promise I won’t judge (even if those shots were purchased from Willow).
And for those of you who are fortunate enough to have the metabolism of Usain Bolt combined with a stomach of steel, I applaud you. For the sake of the rest of us mere mortals though, give us a break.