Students Exercise Healthy Routines, Diets


Photo by Matthew Liu

Senior Ines Donfack started practicing better health habits over the summer to reach personal goals she set for herself, she said.

Matthew Liu, Opinion Managing Editor

High school students have many concerns and among them is staying healthy while getting through school, yet there is a group of RHS students who are extremely health-minded,  going out of their way to live healthy lives by dedicating themselves to perfecting their nutrition and fitness routines.

Seniors Ines Donfack, Christian Melgar and Kristina Barnes are among RHS’ self-described “health nuts,” who make extra efforts each and every day to live healthier lives through their unique health and fitness habits. Donfack runs a health-oriented Instagram page where she posts about her fitness routine and nutrition tips while Melgar and Barnes each have individual rigorous exercise routines that encourage a healthy lifestyle.

“I started to become a health nut gradually over the summer because I wanted to improve my physique and look better,” Donfack said. “I actually started to enjoy eating healthy foods and working out, so that’s where my passion came from, which eventually led to me creating a health-oriented Instagram page where I post about what I eat and how I work out.”

Donfack hits the gym six times a week, varying between vigorous upper and lower-body exercises, building her endurance and strength levels in the process.

“I focus mostly on building muscle and gaining strength, so I practice calisthenics, which is bodyweight training, and other muscle-building exercises like squats, push-ups and wall-sits,” Donfack said.

Melgar also has an intense exercise routine, sticking to his dedication and passion for exercise to get him through his routine.

“I wake up at 4 a.m. every day and attend Bootcamp classes at Soldierfit gym in Rockville before school,” Melgar said. “I joined Soldierfit in June 2018. Since then, I have lost 50 pounds. I remember when I used to wake up and not want to go to school because I was too tired and too exhausted. And I knew something had to change.”

In addition to his weekday classes, Melgar also attends back-to-back Soldierfit classes on the weekends. As of late, Melgar’s commitment to Soldierfit, among other activities, has earned him local recognition, as he was recently featured in a February issue of Bethesda Magazine in the “Top Teens” section.

Like Melgar, Barnes is another health nut who takes workout classes at a fitness studio. Barnes takes Pure Barre classes, ballet-inspired group fitness classes that focus on completely fatiguing certain muscle groups, then stretching them to create a long, lean look.

“I do Pure Barre classes anywhere from three to six times a week, varying between a regular and a cardio-based class to get the best variety in my workout routine and the best results,” Barnes said. “I really enjoy the way I feel, both during and after Pure Barre classes. It is a very empowering and supportive atmosphere, which is why I have been doing them regularly since August.”

In addition to their workout routines, these students spoke about the importance of their diets. A healthy eating plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products, includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts, is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars and stays within one’s daily calorie needs, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 published by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP).

“As far as nutrition goes, I make sure my meals have a balanced combination of carbs, fruits and veggies, fats and vegetables and I never eat processed foods,” Donfack said. “I’m not vegan, or ‘anti-meat,’ but I keep my meals whole and unprocessed, and everything is always all-natural.”

Both Melgar and Barnes take the time to plan their meals out ahead of time. On Sundays, Melgar plans out his meals for the upcoming week, focusing on protein and vegetable-heavy meals and cutting back on carbohydrates. Nutrition, Melgar says, is more important than exercise.

Barnes also prepares her meals ahead of time, concentrating her meals around protein, vegetables, fruit and some carbohydrates in the form of grains.

Melgar has advice for those who are struggling but want to live healthier lives.

“You have to ask yourself, ‘How bad do you want it? Yes, you will fail, but in order to see success, you must go through failures,” Melgar said.