Sunday, April 27, 2008

Finally Getting Healthy...

According to the Centers for Disease Control, almost two of every three American adults are overweight. This number has grown from about one in two about twenty years ago and continues to increase. It is obvious that the American lifestyle has become more sedentary and the rates of diabetes and heart disease have increased proportionally. Our generation needs to be the ones to change this trend or we may become the first generation to have a lower life-expectancy than the one before it.

If you watch television, you are bombarded by ads for weight-loss programs and diet drugs that promise drastic weight loss in a short amount of time. While these programs do work for some people, most people will not achieve the results promised in advertisements. The reason for this is that people expect to be able to lose weight only working out for twenty minutes three times a week. We want to lose weight and become healthy while putting forth the least amount of effort possible.

This entire idea contradicts itself; maintaining a healthy lifestyle requires a lot of effort. It’s easy to be unhealthy in our society. Unhealthy food is often cheaper and better tasting than healthier alternatives. Exercise is neglected by most people as we look for more ways to be lazy.

The root of this entire problem is that getting healthy is almost entirely self-responsibility. The effort has to come from within; no one can control what you eat or exercise for you. A lot of people believe that they are so out of shape that there is no way they will ever get back to where they should be. However, the truth is that anyone who is willing to work at it can lose weight. The first step is usually the most difficult. You will find that once you get into a routine, you will stick to it and you will actually enjoy being able to get out and exercise.

When it comes to eating right, moderation is the key. It is near impossible to eat healthy all the time because temptation is everywhere. Therefore, self-control when eating is crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Just taking smaller portions will go a long way.

At this point, some people may be wondering who I am to say that all of this will work. This is me when I was in eighth grade.

I was five feet, two inches and weighed 160 pounds. I was nearly clinically obese. Now I am five feet, eleven inches and weigh 160 pounds which is right where I should be.

I won’t say that getting healthy was easy. It took years and a good deal of effort on my part to get healthy. But it’s not impossible. The benefits go beyond reducing health risks. I feel better about myself and I love being able to get up and exercise.

Getting healthy is possible for everyone. And once you get yourself in shape, you’ll wonder how you lived being unhealthy.

500 words exactly.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

"Well I made a difference to that one."

My ideal job is to be an engineer in the alternative energy industry attempting to find a renewable energy source that can be produced cleanly and efficiently for our entire nation. It is becoming increasingly clear that fossil fuels cannot be relied on to fulfill our nation’s energy needs much longer. Eventually fossil fuels will run out and we’ll need a new source of reliable energy. The field that intrigues me is geothermal energy, which is collecting heat from the earth and making it useful.

The stereotypical “American Dream” is to make money in order to raise a family and live comfortably. Being middle class with 2.3 kids and a dog is what many people see as the American Dream. While I certainly would like to accomplish that, and being an engineer will likely do that, there is more to my American Dream than living in the suburbs and raising a family.

My American Dream is to use my skills in order to help as many people as much as I can. I believe that any work that I do in alternative energy would be tremendously beneficial to our nation and also the entire world. I have always liked serving my community and finding a new source of energy would be a great way for me to do that. I could join the military to serve, but I feel like I have the skills to help the nation in a completely different way. If I can help engineer a better way to provide energy, I will have done more good than I ever could’ve done serving in the military.

To me, the American Dream is accomplishing the most good possible with the abilities I have, and prosperity is just icing on the cake.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

"Colin?!?! He's the Holy Grail of Lab Partners!"

The experiences that we have in school can have a tremendous impact on the rest of our lives. The worst classroom experience I’ve ever had was Algebra II with Ms. Barnes as a sophomore at Century High. She was a new teacher straight out of college and did not know how to teach math or control the classroom. None of the students were focused, and her solution was to bring in a bucket of toys (‘distracters’) that we were given to play with when we got bored in class. I have no idea what she was thinking giving 15 year-olds toys in class.

Ms. Barnes had no enthusiasm or passion for algebra, but even worse was how she assessed us on the material. We took tests in groups, with no measures to be sure that everyone participated. Some tests were open note and open book, which doesn’t test your knowledge on anything. I found myself dreading math, a subject I had loved for years.

On the contrary, the best educational experience I have ever had was Chemistry II with Mr. Ferrin that same semester. I despised my first chemistry class in high school and Ferrin’s Chem II class had a reputation of being the hardest class at Century. Ferrin assigned tons of homework every night and expected your best work on every assignment, which lead to the reputation. However, he was enthusiastic and knowledgeable about chemistry. I found myself enjoying my homework and even smiling during quizzes (causing the quote in the title). Ferrin earned the respect of every student and controlled the classroom. Mr. Ferrin’s passion for chemistry is the reason I am majoring in Chemical Engineering.

Looking back on that semester, I am amazed that one man and his class completely changed the direction of my academic life.