Three important lifestyle commitments that help you avoid getting sick are rest, eating well, and exercise.
Rest. Don't skimp on rest! Try to get about eight or nine hours of sleep a night. Too little sleep can cause some serious problems, like:
- You may be more likely to catch colds and other minor illnesses.
- You are more likely to feel stressed or become depressed.
- You may have a hard time staying awake in class.
- You may have trouble concentrating on papers and tests.
Eat well. Vending machine food or fast food may be quick and easy, but eating well is important:
- Eat fruits and vegetables every day; your goal should be five servings a day.
- Eat lean meats, fish, and poultry.
- Eat foods high in calcium, like low-fat dairy products.
- Limit junk food and foods with a lot of fat, sugar, and salt.
- Avoid sugary drinks such as soda, juice, sweetened tea or coffee.
- Avoid alcohol—remember it is against the law to drink under twenty-one.
- It is possible to eat a healthy vegetarian diet at college. However, this may require some additional planning to make sure you get all the nutrients you need.
Exercise. There are three basic types of exercise; ideally everyone should do all three:
- Aerobic exercise strengthens the heart and lungs. Examples are: biking, running, fast walking, swimming, active dancing, and rowing.
- Strengthening exercise tones and builds muscles and bone mass. Sit-ups, push-ups, leg lifts, working out with weights or resistance bands.
- Stretching exercises like yoga improve flexibility or range of motion.
Teenagers and young adults can get a number of vaccine-preventable diseases, including hepatitis B, measles, German measles, and chickenpox, as well as infectious illnesses.
Guidelines for specific vaccines for teenagers as established by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other medical organizations:
- Hepatitis B. Most people with a hepatitis B infection got the virus as teenagers or young adults. Young adults who have not been previously immunized with the three-dose hepatitis B vaccine should get this vaccination. Teenagers older than 18 years who have an increased risk for hepatitis B infection—perhaps because they are sexually active, live in the same household as a person infected with hepatitis B, or were exposed on the job—are candidates for hepatitis B immunization.
- Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR). Check your immunization records to be sure you received two doses of the MMR vaccine. If not, get the second dose of this combination vaccine.
- Tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis (Tdap) or tetanus-diphtheria (Td) booster. The Tdap vaccine was licensed for use in 2005. The Td booster is used in children who should not get pertussis vaccine. Booster doses of Td are recommended every 10 years for adults.
- Chickenpox. This vaccine should be given to teens that have never had chickenpox and have never received this immunization. If a teenager is 13 years or older, two doses given a month apart will be needed.
- Influenza. The influenza vaccine is recommended each year for young adults who have a medical condition that places them at higher risk of problems if they get the flu. It is also recommended if they have close contact with anyone, like a younger sibling, who is at high risk for complications of the flu. Finally, it is recommended for anyone who wants to lower risk for the flu.
- Meningococcal. The new conjugate meningococcal vaccine is recommended for children aged 11 to 12 years, those entering high school, and students entering college, especially those who will be living in dormitories.
- Pneumococcal. This vaccine should be given to teenagers who have a condition that makes them more likely to get pneumococcal disease and the problems associated with it.
- Hepatitis A. The vaccine against hepatitis A infections is appropriate for teenagers who fall into risk groups including those who live in a community with a high rate of hepatitis A infections or are planning to travel to or attend school in a place with a high rate of hepatitis A infections.
- Gardasil: This protects against the Human Papilloma Virus that potentially causes cervix cancer in women and genital warts in males. It is currently a recommendation.
High achievers vs. perfectionists.
High achievers get genuine pleasure from putting every effort into producing the finest quality product—an effective business plan, a work of art, or a well-designed computer program.
Healthy high achievers
- Enjoy the process and excitement of working their hardest.
- React to deadlines by generating just enough anxiety to stay energized.
- See mistakes as opportunities for learning and growth and do better the next time.
- Appreciate constructive criticism because it informs them about how to improve.
- Are resilient when they fall short of perfection.
Unlike resilient healthy high achievers, perfectionists reject anything less than a flawless performance. Though what they produce may be of the highest quality, they do not experience the satisfaction of a job well done.
- Don’t enjoy the process of creating because they worry endlessly about not performing as well as they should.
- Fear of failure is greater than the joy they experience with success.
- When they do well, they may not notice because they are too worried about the mistakes they might have made or how they could have done better.
- See every mistake as evidence that they are unworthy or not good enough.
- When others praise their successes, they see themselves as imposters whose faults are waiting to be discovered.
- When directly criticized, they become defensive, embarrassed, or ashamed; even constructive criticism is reinforcement of their ineptitude.
- Perfectionists fear adversity. They don’t rebound from difficulty because challenges paralyze them.
- Fear of not doing well prevents them from taking the chances that successful people need to take to reach their greatest potential.
Perfectionists may be graced with creativity, but are hesitant to tap into it for fear that doing something outside of the box will disappoint others. Healthy high achievers are driven by the joy of doing, but perfectionists become paralyzed if what they are doing would disappoint the harshest of critics (who are usually themselves).
Know the nutrients that make up a healthy diet to establish your own balanced meals and food preferences.
Proteins, carbohydrates and fats in food serve as the body’s energy sources. Each gram of protein and carbohydrate supplies four Calories, or units of energy, whereas fat contributes more than twice as much: nine Calories per gram.
- About half of our body weight is made up of protein, but most young people in the United States consume twice as much protein as they need.
- Dense sources of protein include beef, chicken, turkey, pork, fish, eggs and cheese.
Carbohydrates, found in starches and sugars, are digested into the body’s main fuel, the simple sugar glucose.
Not all carbs are created equal, however. In planning meals, choose complex-carbohydrate foods and avoid simple carbohydrates.
- Complex carbs provide sustained energy.
- Many starches deliver fiber and assorted nutrients as well.
- They are truly foods of substance: filling yet low in fat.
- Most nutritionists recommend that complex carbohydrates make up 50 to 60 percent of a teenager’s caloric intake.
- Simple carbs, on the other hand, seduce us with their sweet taste and a brief burst of energy, but have little else to offer and should be minimized in the diet.
Nutrition experts recommend that fat make up no more than 30% of the diet. While Americans have trimmed their fat consumption in recent years, as a nation we’re still about four percent above the suggested level.
Let’s give dietary fat its due. Fat supplies energy and carries fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. But these benefits must be weighed against to its many adverse effects on health. A teenager who indulges in a fat-heavy diet is going to put on weight, even if he’s active. It would take a workout befitting an Olympic athlete to burn off excess fat calories day after day.
Fatty foods contain cholesterol, a waxy substance that can clog arteries and eventually cause them to harden.
The danger of atherosclerosis is that the blockage will affect one of the blood vessels leading to the heart or the brain, causing a heart attack or a stroke. Although these life-threatening events usually don’t strike until later in adult life, the time to start practicing prevention is now, by reducing the amount of fat in your diet.
Three Types Of Fat
Make a habit of reading the “nutrition facts”
food labels of processed foods. You may be surprised to see how much fat, not to mention sugar and salt (sodium), is in the foods you eat every day. And almost all packaged goods that contain fat are likely to have partially hydrogenated fat, because it has a longer shelf life.
Dietary fat contains varying proportions of fats, including:
- Monounsaturated fat—the most healthy fat, an unsaturated fat from plant oil:
- olives and olive oil
- peanuts, peanut oil and peanut butter
- walnuts and walnut oils
- canola oil
- Polyunsaturated fat—another unsaturated fat from plant oil:
- corn oil
- safflower oil
- sunflower oil
- soybean oil
- cottonseed oil and sesame-seed oil
- the oils in fish and almonds
- Saturated fat—the least healthy of the three, found in meat and dairy products:
- egg yolks
- coconut oil and palm oil
- Avoid the partially hydrogenated oils in most margarines and vegetable shortenings.