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On anoplexia

Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01


With the holiday season upon us, every aspect of the campus is undergoing a drastic change—including the place we all know and “love,” the Plex. Instead of the regular, semi-repulsive crowded room, it has become a sardine-packed sweatbox. “Feeding time,” normally between the hours of 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., has now been stretched and pulled to the point that the feeling of finding a free elliptical at any time is similar to finding a free table in Hillside at noon. The reason behind this madness is clear—Boston College girls are attempting to burn off an extra pound or two so they can eat more than lettuce in front of their family at Thanksgiving, and BC bros are pumping extra iron so they can impress that girl at home they text strategically two weeks before a vacation. It’s gotten so bad that all the fans do is blow our own breath around the room, and once in a while, if we are really lucky, the garage-like doors are opened to allow oxygen to circulate in. Honestly, the place is gross.
But we go anyway. We roll up our yoga mats and head into the musky room ready to work our arms or get a good cardio session in. Exercise is good for us­­—it keeps us fit and healthy, both mentally and physically. If we know the benefits, why is exercise such a hot topic around campus? Clearly, we are doing enough of it!
Well, we all know the answer. The Plex culture isn’t necessarily as healthy as we like to trick ourselves into thinking. While we try to believe it’s good for the body and mind, we often abuse and misuse exercise. As one of the most attractive schools in the nation, BC students feel the need to constantly live up to that standard. We look around and feel the need to outdo one another. For a campus that has a healthy competitive atmosphere, when it comes to working out, we suddenly become vicious. The community we have built adds pressure where there is already expectation. Really, how much can one person take? The weight on our shoulders (pun intended) has been integrated into our everyday lives. I mean, think about it, how many times a day do you hear a version of, “Oh my gosh, I can’t eat (insert something other than a vegetable here), I haven’t Plexed in two days!”
It takes just weeks for freshmen to become wrapped up in the need to look as built their OL, and thus they begin to hit the Plex. It is so easy to fall into that downward spiral. It starts off with Plexing once a day (healthy), then watching what you eat (still healthy), then Plexing twice a day (sketchy), then making sure you are only eating what you are sure you can burn in that afternoon’s planned Plex outing (uh oh …), and then eating only lettuce and carrots (Red Alert!). Of course, that is an over exaggeration for many, but, to some degree, this is the pattern we seem to follow starting about a week after Convocation. We go from freshmen eating our own fro-yos to seniors having to split the small cup three ways, because we want to treat ourselves, but we wouldn’t dare consume all those calories.
Now, the Plex culture, and the many problems that surround it, is something that BC doesn’t shy away from talking about. Recently, HerCampus put out an extremely interesting article about the love affair between BC drinking and Plexing habits, examining our tendency to binge drink, and then binge exercise. Furthermore, there are countless opportunities to meet with peers, a nutrition professional, or a counselor, all of whom have posters plastered on every surface tape can be stuck to. But how many of us take these opportunities? How many of us think we are just fine doing things as we please? Furthermore, if we are all willing to talk about it, why are there no changes? We talk, but we don’t fix!
As always, I am about to challenge the community. In the light of Love Your Body Week, I ask that we really consider what this culture has done to our community and why we can’t seem to escape it, no matter how fast we run. Let’s really think about our personal eating and exercising habits. Are they healthy, or are we just telling ourselves they are? For example—boys, if you can’t pick it up and put it down without making crashing sounds that scare the people on the treadmill above you, then you probably shouldn’t have picked it up in the first place. Are we working out for our pleasure, or are we working out because the person down the hall does it three times a day? That’s not even counting the three-mile run they did around the Res. Are you hurting yourself in the process of trying to help yourself? I ask that you really think about how you work out, and maybe even try a new body-friendly motto for the week. Mine? I am SO glad you asked! Instead of worrying about the calories of my Apple Harvest salad or sacrificing watching Parks and Rec for a quick Plex fix, this week I pledge to simply say, “screw it,” and have a muffin.

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