COVID-19 has surely made its mark on the world.
As this virus infects the United States, it’s taking a major toll on the everyday lives of its citizens – employees being furloughed or laid off, the cancellation of all major sporting events, and, for me, a college senior at Cornell University getting ready to graduate, my world being totally flipped upside down.
Senior Spring, Interrupted
As you can imagine, senior spring is one of the most exciting times in a college student’s career. The spring brings our last days in classes, our last Slope Day, Senior Week with events like wine tours and a river float, graduation, and just embracing our last days of having no responsibilities before being plunged into the real world. All of this, and more, has been taken away in the blink of an eye.
Our education has now turned into “virtual-learning” and all students have been asked to move back home, even those of us who have leases in Collegetown. At first, no one really knew what to do. My friends and I decided we would stay in Ithaca, continue to see each other, and wait for this to die down – not fully understanding the severity of this all when it began. We couldn’t imagine moving back home after living on our own. However, things didn’t look like they were getting better. In fact, it looked quite the opposite. So, against all of our wishes, we packed our bags, called our parents, and braced ourselves for what was before us.
A New Normal
Moving home has been an adjustment, to say the least. I live in a small town in Upstate New York with my mom, dad, and 18-year-old brother. There’s already not many things to do in the area, so being stuck in the house wasn’t a complete loss. Besides my family living in a two-bedroom townhouse (my parents thought they were going to be empty nesters), and having to share a room with my brother, the biggest obstacle I have had to overcome was food.
My friends and I are all very healthy eaters. It was my friends who really turned me onto healthy eating.
Before college, I kind of just ate whatever I wanted because that’s what I’d grown up with. I had always had a fast metabolism and been pretty active, so I never saw it as much of a problem.
My mom’s parents came over from Italy, so between my mom and grandma, I’ve grown up with the best Italian food one could eat. But, as good as this food is, it’s not exactly the healthiest cuisine. My family members are also firm believers of “everything in moderation,” and, while I am, too, I include fruits and vegetables in that rotation.
I knew I was in trouble when I first walked into my kitchen and saw three boxes of donuts and six bags of chips…all of my brother’s favorites. There was no fruit, except two bananas that were looking a little brown, and no vegetables, except the ones in cans my dad planned on using for shepherd’s pie that night. I thought that maybe I could last a few days without going to the store, but that passed once I learned we were having buffalo chicken eggrolls for lunch. Now this is not to say that I don’t love my parents’ cooking because I absolutely do. I have just trained myself at school to eat good foods in the right portions with fruits and vegetables every day, and now that I was not in charge of many of my meals at home, this became somewhat stressful for me.
However, I did what I could do and went to the grocery store to stock up on fruits, vegetables, healthy snacks, and anything else I include in my usual diet at school. At first, my family laughed at me, saying that I thought I was better because I preferred to snack on apples instead of potato chips. But, regardless of their jokes, I began to get back in my daily routine of eggs, peanut butter toast, or granola for breakfast, a salad or wrap with carrots and hummus for lunch, and whatever snacks I felt I needed throughout the day, whether it be an apple, banana, or yogurt with almond butter. I still eat the same dinner as the rest of my family and compensate food groups throughout the day that might be missing.
Preparing a Routine
I thought about the rest of my routine at school, which includes at least an hour of exercise every day, a variation of cardio and strength training. I knew this was a necessity to not only keep me in shape and help my immune system, but also to keep my sanity. This became a little more difficult with the closure of gyms and Upstate New York’s unpredictable weather conditions. So I keep my body on its toes by streaming workout videos and rotating between cardio kickboxing, barre, and HIIT videos, daily yoga, and running outside when I can.
I have been very interested in health and nutrition for at least two years now. I love learning about nutritious food and diet myths, and I love fueling my body with things that make me feel good. Since I’ve been home, I’ve tried to disseminate this information to my family, explaining to them that now more than ever we need to eat right and exercise every day to boost our immune systems and increase our lung capacity in case we get the virus. They have listened to some parts; my dad is working out every day and we take family walks at night. However, the healthy eating still needs some fine-tuning. I am hoping that, by the end of quarantine, we will all be better about reaching our daily produce servings!
My fave avocado toast recipe: multigrain bread with lemon juice, sea salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. I add an egg when I want protein.
This is my goal for this quarantine: while there are so many things about the state of the world right now that I cannot control, what I can control is what I put in my body, and how I treat it. So I will set my sights on bettering myself and my family, and letting go of the things that I can’t change. It would be quite a silver lining to come out of this thing physically and mentally healthier than ever!
A Healthy Home
While much of this COVID-19 situation is not ideal, there are a lot of positives, the number one being I get to spend time with my family before I find a job and move away. I never thought I’d get time like this with them again after beginning college, and I am truly thankful for it.
And, even though I won’t have that graduation every college student imagines, or that spring semester that I’ve dreamed of for so long, I know this time with my family is a whole other kind of special and memorable occasion, and for that I am so grateful.
This circumstance has also taught me some incredibly important things, one being to not wait and keep saying you’ll do something, and just do it. There were so many times I found myself saying this year that, “I’ll wait to do that in the spring,” or, “I’ll wait to do that toward the end of the semester,” and now I won’t get any of that time back. It’s taught me to spend time with the friends you love, and to cherish every memory made with them because things can change in an instant. Lastly, it’s taught me that you won’t remember the exam you almost failed or the paper you aced, but you will remember the people who make our experiences so special.
So I will focus on my loved ones, and my health and well-being. After all, change only makes us stronger.