By Diana Chen, Opinions Staff Writer
Athletes, whether they are athletes of the mind (e.g. Scholastic Bowlers) or body (e.g. members of track), train hard to compete at every level. Athletes must also maintain a healthy lifestyle to keep their body working at their very best. At IMSA, we are athletes in our own right, training for the next 3 years to become the top performers of the world, the leaders of our generation. However, unlike most other athletes, we are not always given the resources we need to perform at our best, maintain our lifestyle. Yes, we are given a few resources such as the fitness center that are available, but many students can hardly find the time every day to utilize them. Today, as America begins to face the real dangers of the obesity epidemic head on, we can only wonder if this magnificent facility we reside in today only encourages these unhealthy ways of living.
We all know that creating an environment for pure learning and hard work, like IMSA’s, is much more time-consuming than at an average public high school. IMSA students realize this coming into the program, but most students neglect to consider the activities and necessities whose time such rigorous academic programs tend to take away from. It is not uncommon to find students slugging around zombie-like, trudging around day-to-day on only 4 to 5 hours of sleep, even though research has shown teenagers may need upwards of nine hours each night. Without the proper amount of time set aside to sleep, students hardly can be expected to have the time to exercise every day.
My wingmates and I, for instance, can always relate to how little exercise we receive compared to how much we had hoped for earlier in the year. We’d all seen the shiny machines and were sure the fitness center would certainly whip us into shape until the next summer. As the year progressed, however, we saw the naivety behind these goals as the virtual impossibility of regularly working out became clear. Since physical fitness is not a very high priority for many IMSA students, with and without a wellness class for that semester, some of us can go days without proper exercise. An athlete has to train year-round; the training must touch nearly every part of his or her lifestyle to ensure peak performance. As IMSA students, shouldn’t our lifestyles fit the same requirements, so that we can be our best?
Every race car driver acknowledges that if he expects a high performance car, he needs to fuel it with the highest quality fuel if he wants it to run at its maximum capabilities. Similarly, although all of us do attend IMSA, and a great majority of us are much more mature than many other students, we still have our ramen/popcorn/pizza/chip-consuming tendencies. We all know we don’t stockpile our junk food just to leave them sitting there. Here, we are not required to go to every meal every day; we can simply stay in our rooms and gorge on the unhealthy food that awaits there. We make excuses to ourselves, saying we need time to do more work, or we’re simply too lazy to walk to Sodexo. Without eating properly balanced meals, however, very few students get the vitamins and other nutrients needed to function at the top of their game, yet are expected to be working from as early as 7:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. or even later.
We need to know we are in good hands to be set up for a good, healthy life ahead of us. We shouldn’t have to choose between being healthy and maintaining our academic achievement in our classes. Our health should be a priority, not a difficult choice. So to the IMSA community, I ask only this: without our health, without our youth, without our full human capabilities, how can we possibly be expected to “advance the human condition”?