12 Weeks to Fitness: Good grades vs. good health

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Welcome to 12 Weeks of Fitness, a weekly blog series by Kris Mitchell, a sophomore at the University of St. Thomas and alumnus of ThreeSixty Journalism. Kris is involved in a 12-week program at St. Thomas to lose weight and improve his health. A team of videography students will document his progress for a class project. Check back weekly to read about Kris’s experience.
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I have three finals, a group presentation, two tests and a five-page paper due all in one week. I have to do well on all of them in order to get a decent grade. If I don’t do well, it may be my last days in St. Thomas because I could lose my scholarship. My days are occupied with trying to remember every little detail of all the material I learned in class. I’m staying focused, but I’m nervous and extremely stressed out.

Stress can be horrible. Whether it comes from the pressure to do well on a final exam or make the last free throw of the game, stress can drastically change the outcome and person. Here are some tips and insights about stress that I want to share with you.

Reduce stress by planning ahead of time
To help reduce my stress, I have been taking things step-by-step and getting ahead of deadlines. I turned my paper in early to get feedback on it. I made sure my group presentation was done early. And I’m re-reading the material before the tests and final exams. Overall, I’m feeling good about using this approach to reduce my nerve-racking stress.

Good vs. bad ways to release stress
People can release stress in various ways. Good ways can be reading, exercising, talking to a friend or even taking a walk. Bad ways can be over-eating, smoking, doing drugs, drinking alcohol and keeping things bottled inside. I dealt with stress by playing basketball when I wasn’t studying. It helps me keep my mind focused and stress-free.

Pros and cons of stress
Stress can create pain, cause weight gain or loss, mess up your sleep pattern or even make you more tired in general. A little stress is good though. It keeps you on your toes and sets you up to perform better. It’s how you choose to approach it that matters. In my case, stress helped drive me to perform better on my tests and exams.

Putting school over my health…for the moment
The way I’ve been dealing with stress hasn’t been the healthiest, but I have been able to maintain some of the healthy lifestyle choices I’ve learned and established over the past few weeks. I’ve given in to my pizza and wings cravings for speed and convenience reasons. However, I still have not tasted the nice, sweet, luring taste of caffeine. Because school is important to me and I am trying the best that I can to earn the best grade possible, I am putting school over my health at the moment. But I know that I can eat healthier after this time of stress passes. This is something that I can control and come back from.

- Kris Mitchell, University of St. Thomas sophomore and ThreeSixty Journalism alumnus

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