I’m on a bus on my way up to Cambridge, Massachusetts for my 5th year college reunion. So what better time than now to bore you with reflections on my past five years and with my answer to the age-old question: "If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?"
If I could change one thing about my college experience, I would have been healthier. Number one. Better food, less drinking, more sleep, more sun, more exercise. Did I mention less drinking?
I’m sure my four years were a lot like others’ when it came to food. French fries, pizza, and Dr. Pepper were the foundation of my food pyramid. The cafeteria did have a few healthy options, and I would often make a little side salad. But most people have this wierd notion that eating healthy is additive – that if you add a few healthy items to your meal, like vegetables, you’re eating healthy. For most of us though, the first step to eating healthy is subtractive – avoiding a lot of the worst foods out there. And four years of all-you-can-eat is a bit more conducive to the additive approach to nutrition than the subtractive one.
I drank a lot too. I mean, not particularly more than any other extroverted guys at school (okay, maybe a little more), and Harvard isn’t exactly known for prowess in drinking (though saying that might be a calculated decision to get you to underestimate us in a drinking competition, a dangerous mistake). But I remember losing ENTIRE DAYS to hangovers. Big night out, to bed in the wee hours, and not being able to crawl out of bed (except to the bathroom) until dinner the next day. And this was normal.
For me, being healthier wouldn’t have been about weight. I didn’t gain much weight, if any, during college. First and foremost, it would have been about mood and outlook. My mood and energy was up and down, up and down. My senior year, one of my good friends once called me "The happiest sad guy he knew." What the hell type of commentary is that? My mental state has improved to where I have difficulty remembering the types of negative thoughts that can enter a college student’s head. More on that later.
The second area would have been complexion — my complexion is drastically improved and I rarely, if ever, get pimples or zits anymore. This is a big deal.
And third, I would have been able to get more done. See: "Hangovers, 12-hour".
Anyhow, it will be interesting to see how people turned out. There’s always a few that put on 25 pounds and look like they’re 40 years old. Who are the unlucky ones?
(Also, something to look forward to — I’m dropping by Dan Lieberman’s lab, where they’ve done all the cool work on barefoot running. The bad news is that they’re busy doing experiments and so can’t do any gait analysis. The good news is that they’re running experiments on RAW MEAT!)