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BULNES: Search for balance in health, wellness

 – Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez

With graduation quickly approaching, I have been preparing my last words for Rutgers University students, faculty and staff about my views on health and wellness. Throughout my time at Rutgers, I hunted endlessly for a peaceful balance in my health — a task hundreds of students are facing every day. Over the years, I have altered my diet and exercise habits to achieve three different goals: losing weight, gaining weight and gaining muscle. Contrary to popular belief, all three goals are equally exhausting, mentally trying and require pure dedication. My advice to anyone interested in falling in love with living a healthy lifestyle every day is to find your own personal balance, do your research and aim for overall wellness. 

Finding your own diet and exercise routine that makes you personally happy is the only way to succeed. If you hate waking up early to go to the gym, go at night. If you hate running, jump rope instead. If you love cookies, find a healthier yet equally delicious substitute. Experiment until you find alternatives you love just as much as the activities and foods you already enjoy. Acknowledge that your taste preferences take a certain shape and you cannot squeeze them into a keyhole. What works for someone else will not always work for you, and that is the main reason why so many inspirational starts in health come to an abrupt end within a matter of days. People get so hung up on following set rules in fitness and health that they fail to see the bigger picture: feed your body and move it in such a way that you feel it saying "thank you." 

Doing your research is important, because there are so many different techniques, opinions and resources out there. Even if the first or 10th thing you try does not make you fall in love with your health journey, maybe the 11th will. You could hear a term like "high-intensity interval training" a million times before someone explains it in a way that excites you and makes you see how you could incorporate that into your lifestyle. Expose yourself to all different routines in order to find the one that will resonate with you. Personally, it took me three years to understand the concept of intuitive eating and how that could play an active role in my life. My breakthrough came from a book by Melissa Wells called "The Goddess Revolution." Since this book appeals to a more feminine audience, "Bigger Leaner Stronger" by Michael Matthews delivers information about maximizing the male body. With Instagram playing such a large role in modern food and exercise trends, people tend to forget about books, articles and fitness journals. But, these resources can provide some of the most accurate and beneficial information available to the public. 

The concept of intuitive eating and regular gym training has been my secret to success throughout my Rutgers career. But, it is important to be aware that what works now may not be the best method in the future. As our lives begin to change and we take on full-time jobs, get married, have children and age, our priorities will change. It is imperative that we continue to keep our wellness at the top of our priority list, because poor health will negatively reverberate into the lives of those we love. In the same way that we wish to preserve the health of our parents, future spouses and children, we should be doing what is essential to preserving our own health to benefit them. 

It is important to remember, if nothing else, that well-being refers to your mind, body and soul. Sometimes the only exercise you get for the day is stretching your mind across pages of books and piles of flashcards. Maybe the hardest you flexed your abs this week was when laughing with old friends or fist pumping at Scarlet Pub, and that is okay. Understand when you need a break, what helps you relieve stress and what stimulates and motivates you. If your body feels great but your mind and soul do not, redistribute your balance — your metaphorical scales are tipping. May you find ways to keep your scales balanced every day and may weeks of success in your health become months and turn into years. 

For any questions or advice on health and wellness, or to share your health journey with me, follow and send messages to my Instagram @monicagbulnes. I would love to hear from you!

Monica Bulnes is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in economics and minoring in business administration. Her column, "Mind Body Scarlet," runs on alternate Thursdays.

*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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