Letter from the editor: Generation health

I am not a healthy person.

I don’t eat fruits and vegetables (sorry, Mom) and I can’t remember the last time I exercised (sorry, Dad), unless you count my increased heart rate after climbing the stairs in Argyros Forum. Except, let’s be real, I usually take the elevator. My step count on my iPhone is laughably nonexistent, and I live off macaroni and cheese and burgers. I’ve even written a column for The Panther about my love for In-N-Out.

Now that I’ve officially destroyed my credibility, I’ll begin my letter from the editor for our special issue on health and wellness. I thought for a long time about how I was going to write this letter. Who am I to talk about why health is important? What sort of insight could I possibly give on living a healthy lifestyle?

But I am exactly the problem. I am a walking example of “I’m too wrapped up in my busy life to care about my health.” People like me are why this health special issue is important, and why, as a staff, we decided to devote almost half of our newspaper to the topic of health this week.

As college students, health can sometimes take the back burner. We have classes, assignments, activities, jobs, friends, romantic relationships, Greek life, bills and other responsibilities, and it may not be a priority to go to the dentist or get a check-up. It’s easier to drive to In-N-Out than cook a balanced meal at home, and it can be way more enticing to lie in bed watching Netflix than drive to the gym and sweat for an hour.

But health is multifaceted, and especially with our generation, it’s become so much more than just healthy eating and working out. People go on juice cleanses, they ride stationary bikes in classes, they’re obsessed with avocado toast, they cut out animal products, they take kickboxing classes, they do hot yoga, and more. My Facebook feed is littered with ads that promote weight loss: “The only way to lose weight!” “Finally, the diet that works for everyone!”

But there’s no “right” way to be healthy (although there definitely is a wrong way, just look at my life). Health isn’t black and white, and it’s the gray areas that have really expanded in our generation. It takes shape in people’s lives in different ways, and that’s important to talk about with any person on the “healthy spectrum” – whether you eat vegetables or popcorn for dinner.

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