College culinary challenges

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, is a Certified Health Coach and a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center.

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach

Time flies, as they say, and never has that been more apparent in our household than in the past few weeks. Six days after our older daughter’s wedding, we drove with our younger daughter to North Carolina, helping to set up her first apartment, as she prepares to embark upon her junior year in college.

Being typical Jewish parents, we fully realize that no visit to a college campus would be complete without stocking our daughter’s fridge, freezer and pantry. While she experimented a bit with cooking over the summer, having finally — at age 20 — discovered omelets (while she was in Africa of all places), Jillian is by no means an adventurous young lady when it comes to branching out in the food world.  

Our trip to the high-end fancy grocery store in this tiny North Carolina town yielded some unexpected purchases, much to my surprise. Lowfat yogurt smoothies, whole-wheat pita bread, hummus, carrots and cucumbers went into our cart, along with a low-sugar cereal box and some low-fat string cheese. While I was duly impressed with her choices, the one thing which surprised me the most was Jillian’s sudden willingness to try instant oatmeal, a quick on-the-go breakfast for those students who have been blessed with 8 a.m. classes. 

As it turns out, reluctant and picky eaters at home become much more open to new experiences if they are surrounded by support of their choosing; in Jillian’s case, this came in the form of her roommate Jen.  Upon returning from the grocery, she proudly announced to Jen, “Look! I’m going to try oatmeal! I always try my new foods with you!”  

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My first thought was, “Really? So where was Jen all your life, especially when I was trying to introduce broccoli and salmon into your mundane meal repertoire?” Well, no matter…when the time is right, and the support is present, new things can take on a much more positive spin. While I have yet to hear whether the oatmeal was a winner, I am now convinced that our Little Lady will actually progress through life with an open mind, as long as she gets to choose the suitable surroundings which she feels will shore up her confidence.

The same dogma can hold true for branching out into new avenues of fitness. While trying an Extreme Boot Camp class may seem like a terrifying undertaking on days you are at the gym by yourself, the class may not seem quite as daunting if you bring a friend along who has taken — and survived — the class a few times. It is perfectly fine to stand in the back of the room, too; you need not place yourself in the front row in order to enjoy and benefit from the workout.  Be sure to find ways to return the favor, perhaps by offering to spot your friend as she attempts a personal-best bench press. 

The key for Jillian, and for other reluctant “foodies” and exercisers, is to find the atmosphere that will work best for you, as we are all individuals and unique in our preferences. Just as our taste buds evolve and mature over time, so do our workout choices and our comfort levels in the gym. Be kind and patient with yourself as new things present themselves, and find a trusted friend who is going to be excited right along with you as you expand your outlook.  

I have a feeling this is going to be a year of growth and discovery, for both Jillian and Jen.