Q&A: Tips to stay healthy in 2017

Sara Asberry, a registered dietitian at the Wellness Center, said students should be realistic when planning New Year’s resolutions. To help students stay on top of their goals, Asberry is helping launch Resolution Revolution, a community health program. Photo by Ankith Averineni | Mercury Staff.

Fifty-five percent of college-aged Americans made a New Year’s resolution for 2017. Of those, 35 percent made a resolution related to their health, according to the Marist Poll. A new program, Resolution Revolution, is starting Jan. 9 to help members of the UTD community keep their health-related goals with weekly events and free Group X classes. The Mercury sat down with registered dietitian Sara Asberry and asked her for advice about students maintaining their New Year’s resolutions.

What advice would you give students who have a resolution to be healthier this year?

I think that it’s important to look at something sustainable, and it’s much better in terms of your body’s perspective if we look at a long term sustainable change — lifestyle modification and not a temporary diet plan. I don’t want you to torture yourself either with unsustainable, unrealistic goals, unrealistic meal plans that aren’t individualized for you, but look to balance, moderate. How can you make lifestyle changes as opposed to following a very specific diet plan?

So instead of following diet plans, what do you recommend students do?

Instead of saying, “Well, I’m going to wake up and go to the gym seven days a week and follow this intense plan by some bodybuilding.com,” really talk about “is that reasonable, is that going to give you enough time to study and keep up with your student organizations, your on-campus jobs, you off-campus jobs, your family responsibilities?” Students should do something fun and also find a way to manage stress that way or “I’m going to maybe build in some accountability and go to a Group X class twice a week” and “I’m going to go on a walk with my roommate every Saturday morning” or “I’m going to take the dog to the park more on the weekends.” Make sure that you’re making it fun for you, as opposed to it feeling very ritualistic and rigid, because that is not sustainable and it is not checking any other boxes for us besides physical fitness.

Your program, Resolution Revolution, is starting Jan. 9. Could you tell us more about that?

One program that we’re starting on campus on the first day of classes is Resolution Revolution which is something I’ve been working on with the Activity Center and Recreational Sports. We are going to put out a calendar that goes six weeks of different weekly activities that students can engage in. We are going to give out some healthy breakfast items, have a presence at the farmers market and be giving away resistance bands. Recreational Sports will be featuring a free Group X class every week for students to go and try different classes and see if there is a way to get plugged into something fun that way.

Are there any resources that would be helpful for students to use?

I like fitnessblender.com, a website that has a lot of free workout videos and you can even say, “I have no equipment or I have a resistance band or a yoga mat” and they have anything that goes from a five-minute quick ab exercise to an hour high intensity interval training, so you can pick and choose based on your fitness level and how much time you have. In terms of diet they can definitely look at eatright.gov and look at meal plans you can customize through that website.

Is there anything students should watch out for that might get them off track?

If you choose a plan that is way too restrictive and is not sustainable, like when students come into my office and tell me that they have cut out food groups or that they are going to completely change how they normally eat or maybe how their family eats, that is unsustainable and also socially isolating. Make sure that you’re focused on progress, not perfection.

What additional advice can you share?

I just want to encourage students to think outside the box with New Year’s resolutions and not necessarily be so focused on diet, weight loss and exercise. There is so much more to being a person that can be important to focus on too. Especially looking at things like relationships, connections and stress management, like how much are you sleeping? Maybe even looking at how hydrated you are. Maybe start with drinking more water this new year and see what that is like.

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