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WebMD's On the Street: A Stressed Student

Our experts advise a college swimmer on her schedule, her hair, and her skin.

By Andrea Gabrick

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

WebMD Magazine - Feature

Each issue, "On the Street" profiles a WebMD the Magazine reader and his or her personal health challenges. We then tap top medical and healthy lifestyle experts for answers and solutions. In the November/December 2012 issue, Noelle Anderson, a junior at University of Wisconsin, asks for help dealing with the wear and tear of keeping up with her college swim team practices, her studies, and her friends.

An Overflowing Schedule

Between classes and extracurricular activities, most college students find it hard to keep their heads above water. For Noelle Anderson, a 21-year-old junior majoring in broadcast and digital media, it's even more challenging to stay afloat. Anderson is on the university swim team, practices every day -- twice a day three times a week -- and travels regularly for meets.

"I love swimming, but it really takes a toll on my skin, hair, sleep, nutrition, and schedule," she says. "My hair is tortured daily by the chlorine in the pool, and though I try my best to condition, it isn't always easy!" The chlorine also wreaks havoc on her skin. "It gets even worse in the winter, and I always forget to moisturize after practice."

And the pool doesn't just stress out her skin and hair. "With swim practice, studying, and trying to have a social life, there are definitely times when I get especially stressed. I always have to make sure I am getting enough sleep and that I am on a set schedule." Anderson also strives to make sure she fuels her body properly. "I don't always have time to make something healthy. I often take the easy route and make spaghetti. I have really tried to stick to a meal plan with plenty of protein, but I'm having a hard time finding the right balance."

Protect Hair From Chlorine

"Excess chlorine can damage hair and also combine with the metal salts used to treat pool water that give tresses a green hue. I recommend a swimmers' shampoo like UltraSwim that contains a reducing agent (sodium thiosulfate) to remove chlorine more effectively than a general-use shampoo. Keep up the frequent conditioning -- apply conditioner and cover with a swim cap before jumping into the pool, and apply again after your post-swim shampoo."

Mort Westman, cosmetic chemist; president, Westman Associates Inc.

Find Quick Protein Sources

"Canned tuna is a go-to protein food for your pantry. Try a Mediterranean-inspired dish, like tuna with canned white beans on top of a big salad. Nuts, especially almonds, walnuts, and pecans, are tasty additions to salads and make good snacks -- and they contain heart-healthy fats along with protein. In your fridge, keep some boiled eggs (one of the best sources of protein) for an easy addition to salads or a quick egg salad sandwich. Milk, cheese, and yogurt -- especially Greek yogurt -- are good protein foods to have on hand, too."

Carolyn O'Neil, RD, co-author of The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous!

Brush Up on Beauty

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