For James Thomas, a fat sandwich from the grease trucks just doesn’t cut it. Through proper diet and exercise, the sophomore and exercise science major has transcended above the dietary habits of an ordinary college student. After a positive response from photo postings of his meals online, Thomas created a Facebook page, in high hopes of sharing the value of nutrition with other University students.
I AM RU: What spurred your interest in fitness/nutrition?
THOMAS: I first became interested in fitness when I took my first group fitness class when I was fourteen. The powerful energy of the instructors, the other participants, and the feel of community really drew me in initially, and my interest has and still is continuing to grow for the field.
I AM RU: Talk about your food postings on Facebook. What are the responses you have been getting from others about them?
THOMAS: I never expected to gain such a high positive response from my food postings. I was taking pictures on my phone of what I was eating, because I sort of impressed myself putting the meal together, and it was flooded with likes and questions on how other students can eat similarly. This soon enough turned into an album of meals on my personal Facebook page which continued to draw a crowd. The Facebook page provides students with more than just healthy food postings, but also tips on how to foster a healthy lifestyle, and connect with others who share similar interest goals.
I AM RU: Being that the dining hall offers a buffet-style mode of dining, what do you advise students to do?
THOMAS: Check everything out. See what your options are for that day and move from there. I find myself circling the dining hall two, even three times before I start putting anything on my plate, so that I can see what all the options are. That way I can get some inspiration and ideas as to what I can put together in building a healthy meal.
I AM RU: What is your rule of thumb when it comes to meals? What do you keep in mind when preparing a meal?
THOMAS: Never skip out on protein. This is what your plate should mostly consist of, especially if you are training hard at the gym. Protein fuels your body all through your training which will promote muscle recovery and growth. This leads to making yourself fitter, stronger, and faster. Even if you are not training that hard, protein is still loaded with essential amino acids, that are necessary for your body to consume.
I AM RU: Are there any resources that students on campus can seek to improve their dietary and exercise habits?
THOMAS: I try to make every meal posted as easy as possible, and I provide with each post, nutrition and fitness tips as additional resources. That way, any goals you have set can be that much easier to achieve. Also, students should check out Rutgers Recreation and the fitness programs that they offer. I love the flex pass option, because with that you get unlimited classes of all types, offered all throughout the day on each campus.
I AM RU: Time seems to be an issue for many college students. What are some meal/snack options for students on the run?
THOMAS: Without a doubt, time is a challenge for college students, even for me. Skipping a meal is one of the worst things to do to yourself. Your body needs a certain amount of calories each day to function. When you do not provide your body with them, you slow your metabolic rate, as your body drifts into starvation mode. In order to keep the energy levels up and continue with your progress, you need to feed your body. To challenge this issue, I will never leave a dining hall without a piece or two of fresh fruit. Also, I take a plastic bag or container and make trail mix out of the granola, seeds, and dried fruits that are always provided. If you are really crunched for time, check out take-out, where they offer fresh salads with or without grilled chicken. I will even stock up on these salads and keep one or two in my dorm fridge, for days when I know I will need the salad, but do not have the time to stop and swipe for it.
I AM RU: How has diet and exercise changed your lifestyle?
THOMAS: Diet and exercise have given me an entirely new lifestyle because it is a lifestyle in itself. It is not something that can be turned on and off when you go to the gym, or else you will not be fully successful with it. Once you tell yourself you want to improve your fitness level or eating habits, these changes carry out into your everyday life, resulting in a new you.
I AM RU: What is your daily diet/exercise regimen?
THOMAS: I always try to eat healthy and do my best to eat every two to three hours. Never allow your body to fall into that “starvation mode”. Your results, or even to maintain what you have accomplished, will always come down to your diet. It does not matter how hard you train, if your diet is off, you might not see any results at all. I am a fitness instructor for Rutgers Recreation. For my exercise regimen, I will go through my class routines by myself, but push myself to my maximum. When I teach a fitness class, that is not my workout. I am there for the participants of the class, and all my focus is placed onto them achieving the best workout they can and deserve. Along with that I will train muscular endurance and strength with free weights.
I AM RU: For students who have never exercised and want to start to, how do you advise they go about this?
THOMAS: Get a buddy to go to the gym with you. That is a great way to get even more motivation, as you will both push each other to always go. There is even a little competitive edge with this, as to who can lift more, do more reps, run longer etc. If that is not an option, Rutgers Recreation offers personal training sessions for full-time students for only $10. That is an awesome way to be introduced into the gym, because you will be one-on-one with a trainer, who can show you many different exercises directed towards achieving the goals you have in mind for yourself.
I AM RU: What do your typical meals consist of?
THOMAS: For breakfast I usually eat a combination of egg whites, fruit, non-fat greek yogurt, and black coffee. For lunch or dinner I put together a wrap of chicken and veggies or a salad with the same ingredients. Finally, if I get hungry in between meals, I’ll have some fruit or trail mix as a snack.