You’re not prepared for college.
You might think you are. Maybe you’ve already connected with your roommate over Instagram and pulled the trigger on some sweet twin-XL sheets to cover the rickety-ass mattress you’ll be sleeping on for the next year. Perhaps you’ve even ironed out your class schedule. Look at you, so organized! Don’t hate us . . . but, you’re still not ready.
We’re not talking about roommates, supplies, and logistics, my friend. We’re talking about pizza. All of the pizza.
And ice cream. And pancakes. Burgers, fries, burritos, noodles . . . almost any comfort food imaginable will be available, and often with unlimited access. Is this what heaven feels like? And that’s not where it stops. Want to guzzle down beers on a school night? Sweet, I bet someone on your floor will join. Want to completely remove exercise from your life? Go for it! No one is going to stop you. If playing video games until 4:00 a.m. is your thing, mom and dad are too far away to force you to get some sleep. Plus, you probably don’t have class until noon tomorrow anyway, so what does it matter? Hey, let’s skip that class and watch a movie instead! Really, it’s fine. Your professor isn’t going to follow-up.
You’ve been waiting a long time to make all of your own choices—to live life on your terms. The freedom to decide what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it is amazing, and we’re not here to stop you from pursuing your happiness. We’re just here to warn you about pizza . . . and all of the other shit that’s going to get in your way.
Every fall, two million young adults just like yourself crash into college fired up for the best four years of their lives, ready to take classes about things they’re interested in (or that their parents want them to be interested in) and meet people from all different places. It’s a really exciting time, and one that you’ve likely been looking forward to for at least a few years. The irony, though, is that you’re probably better prepared to pick your major or talk to strangers than you are to take care of yourself. This is the first time you’ve been fully responsible for your health, and the odds are pretty good that you’re going to fuck it all up. That’s okay. We did too.
Wait a second, who the hell are you guys, anyway?
We’re Jill and Dave Henry. We met while coaching sports at the same high school (imagine one of those “awkward teenager” rom-coms and then apply it to adults in PE clothes). Dave asked Jill out in front of her entire cross country team, which resulted in Jill receiving an hour of dating advice from 16-year-old girls. Since the beginning of our relationship, we’ve been teammates. For years we experimented with different ways of eating and training with the goal of becoming our fittest and happiest selves. We’ve learned a lot about how to take care of ourselves through trial and error, but never thought we’d do anything with our findings until the day one of Jill’s senior runners asked her a heartfelt question:
“Coach, how do I not get fat in college?”
She didn’t even know where she was going to school yet, but she was concerned and, frankly, for good reason. Search for college-related news in mid-August and you’ll most definitely be reminded that the Freshman 15 is a thing. Even though she could wrap her mind around living with a complete stranger and sleeping on a decade-old mattress, facing the temptation of an endless pizza and ice cream buffet every single day seemed impossible. Most students gain an average of ten pounds during college, but this book isn’t about lowering the number on your scale. You won’t find a special menu or specific workouts to help you cut three inches off your waistline. This is a comprehensive field-guide for how to take care of your body and mind once you’re on your own. When you live with your parents, it’s easy to eat the food that’s in your fridge or the meal that’s made for you. It’s easy turn down booze when you know you’ll get grounded if you’re caught. It’s easy to get enough sleep when there’s a knock on your door if the lights aren’t out by midnight. The truth is, the world you’ve been living in is nothing like the one you’re headed to, and that sudden change can really take its toll.
Gaining weight is just the tip of the iceberg; the entry point to a much larger, more important conversation. We’re going to walk you through food, booze, exercise, stress, and sleep—the important shit you need to have a handle on in order to be healthy and happy. Getting it right won’t just have an impact on the next four years, it’ll set you up to crush your adult life—which starts here and now, in college.
This book isn’t just our take on how to be healthy. We’ve compiled research from the National Institute of Health, the National College Health Assessment, the Harvard College Study, and scores of other badass resources. We’ve had professionals in each field weigh in with their thoughts. Additionally, we surveyed hundreds of undergrads from schools across the country with questions meticulously designed to elicit personal responses on a wide variety of topics. You’re going to read about everything from the mundanity of time management to the complex sensitivity of self-doubt, sexual assault, and depression. Sounds heavy! Don’t worry, this book will help you confront these, and other, issues head on before they become a problem.
You just have to want to take care of yourself. That’s it—the secret ingredient! Your “give a shit” meter determines your ability to make positive changes, so if your motivation fuel tank is filling up, this book will show you how to develop lasting habits that can change your life. Are you ready to learn how to avoid becoming pizza’s bitch? How to drink without turning into an idiot? How to keep your cool when assignments start to pile up? Alright then.
Let’s do this.