A well-fueled machine
A fourth-year trustee advises students to maintain their physical well-being
In the United States, stop lights transition from red to green. In Germany, traffic lights are red and yellow simultaneously, just before turning green. From high school to college, we experience a similar start, one with a forewarning.
You are in the cockpit entering the first curve of college, which is often the first leg of independence for “racers.” Naturally, we are “lead-footed,” taking blind hairpins of rigorous courses and leadership opportunities. Pursuing an undergraduate degree at the University rivals racing in a Formula One Championship. My best prescription in taking, not just reaching, your next series of checkered flags, is to take care of yourself.
Exercise. These are your time trials. Make physical activity a routine weekly component. Do not let the slump of inactivity overcome you. Quick alternatives include walking or riding your bicycle to the Corner as opposed to driving to find the last Corner spot. Play pick- up basketball or drop in on a Zumba class. Run through the Engineering Way straightaway, climb up Mount McCormick, breeze through the Lawn Portico, circle the Rotunda, and cruise back down McCormick. I just discovered this fulfilling route this year. Find what works for you. Make sure not to miss joining an intramural squad to build the commitment. Motivate yourself with friends and music. My favorite quick pick activity is to shoot free throws late at night at the AFC. Regardless, stay fit; it is proven to help you think and feel better.
Eat and drink well: refuel. Your diet is critical to sustaining you in hours of lecture. Put down the cheeseburger and fries and step away from the dining hall pizza. Trust me; it will be there tomorrow and every day until graduation. Don’t be afraid to become acquainted with the salad bar. Try new entrées. Most importantly, read the nutrient facts. Eat regularly at consistent times to curb a healthy appetite. Pack a snack (or two) to help supplement between meals. Finally, what I struggle with most: drink water. Water cleanses, fills and processes the non-pyramid food garbage we intake.
Clean up: scrub, rinse and repeat. Reflect what you represent and desire to accomplish. This one is kind of a given, but friends, some of you “podium position-ers” still amaze me. Keep it fresh and crisp. Don’t dress up what needs a good old fashioned wash up. Your body will thank you for the 15 minute shower and so will your entourage, your pedestrian peloton. Washing, and inextricably linked grooming, are both necessities.
In U.S. Army lingo, these last two tips are “key and essential.” They parallel checking your rearview mirror and rallying the pit crew along each circuit. I advise you to do so often. Make time for yourself. Famous cosmetic company, L’oréal, captures it best: “Because you’re worth it.” You’re not anti-social; you’re worth it.
I never realized until my third-year how indispensable my quiet time was. You need it daily. For five minutes, stop what you are doing and take a break. Think. Pray. Read. Be Grateful. Reflect. Take rest. On that note, I take deserved, uninterrupted “holy naps” on Sunday. You were not created equal to the Energizer Bunny. Take a mental time-out.
Finally, find community. Community stabilizes your cornering in the difficult Nürburgrings, accelerates you through the AVUS straightaways, and anchors you in all courses. You do not have to conform to the drafting syndrome, hanging out with only those that physically race around you near dorms or in class. I challenge you to get involved. Reach out to new people. Find people with whom you share interests. Forge a commitment. Make friends; love them and invest in them. I strongly urge you to hang tight with your crew when the pressure builds, when you hydroplane off track and overcorrect with a mistake.
As an extension of that, learn from upperclassmen, professors and other wise counsel. Be mindful of who rotates in your co-pilot seats. Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge and experience that synergistically “revs” the University every day.
As Jerry Seinfeld would agree, “the wheels are in motion.” You can take your next checkered flag with confidence. Stay the course, gripping the steering wheel tight. Ready! Set! Go!
_Michael R. Boone is a fourth-year trustee. _