Tuesday, July 28, 2015

My guide to staying healthy in college

This isn't just about forcing yourself to go to the gym when you would rather be napping. This is about mental health, and the way physical health influences it. College is stressful, especially the first year. It's easy to fall into a rut, where you miss home and you're nervous about your future, and easy to fall into an unhealthy routine. No one is there to tell you what to do. You can eat when you want, sleep when you want, and hang out with friends when you want.

It's easy to become lazy and eat junk food all the time. It's okay, this is college life. There is going to be beer, french fries, chocolate chip pancakes, etc. there for you when you're down- and go for it! But, in order to maintain a good mental state, where you feel good, motivated and awake, you need some healthy habits to balance out the bad habits that are college.

Here is my guide to staying healthy:

1. Eat breakfast in your dorm room on weekdays. 

Dining Halls are like the best place to exist on Saturday and Sunday mornings/afternoons. You can sleep in, go to breakfast/brunch in your pajamas, and get a wide variety of eggs/bacon/potatoes/pancakes etc... It's the perfect pairing to the perfect weekend.

Save the big breakfasts for the weekends, and eat healthy, protein filled breakfasts to get you through the week. Eating a healthy breakfast before class everyday helps you stay awake and powers you through out the day. Some of my favorite dorm room breakfasts include:

  • Siggi's yogurt with granola & frozen raspberries 

  •  Nature Valley's protein oatmeal 

  • Almond milk protein drinks 

  • Egg white frozen breakfast sandwiches 

2. Procrastinate by working out/ being active

Being active is a natural stress reliever. College is stressful. Therefore, being active allows you to procrastinate without feeling guilty. You'll go back to your studying with more energy than ever before.

When I have zero motivation to work, I like to go out for a jog on some of the running trails around my campus. I am not a runner in any sense, but I put in some headphones, play some loud music, and go for a walk/ jog. My favorite app for running is Runtastic:

3. Find a gym buddy/buddies to keep you motivated + sign up for gym classes! 

I am very, very bad at self-motivating. I would much rather stay in bed and watch Netflix. This is why I rely on my friends, and they rely on me, to get me out of bed. Whether you like the gym, or would rather do something outside, make plans with your friends to do something. For me, making plans make me feel like I need to follow through with them.

Yasi is always a good gym buddy! 

PLUS: Most colleges/ universities offer gym classes (such as yoga, pilates, spin, etc) for little or no extra cost. Take advantage of this!

4. Bring healthy snacks to eat between classes 

I always get hungry during class/ between classes. You either have the option to bring something or go into the school store to pick out a snack. The problem is, at least for me, when I'm really hungry I will undoubtedly go towards the chips and the chocolate in the store. This is why I pick out my snacks before hand and bring them with me. Some of my favorites are:

  • Lara Bars

  • Cliff Bars

  • Green Pea Puffs (From Trader Joe's) 

5. Get creative in the Dining Hall 

Dining Hall food is mostly, well, disgusting. It's hard to stay away from the fried foods because it is one of the better tasting options. I like to get creative to try to make my own better tasting foods.

 My favorite thing to make is Chicken Teriyaki. I go to the grill and get a piece of chicken. I get rice from the regular line, and then I put in some veggies/ teriyaki sauce (from the asian grill) and mix it in. It's hard to go wrong with grilled chicken, and even though the rice is usually dry, the chicken juice and teriyaki sauce helps make it better.

6. Give yourself a weekly/biweekly/monthly limited on fried foods/ junk food 

I live on a small campus. My two main food options are Chick-fil-A and Moe's. I mean, don't get me wrong, they're delicious, but I would probably die of a heart attack at age 40 if I ate there everyday. I limit myself to going once a week.

7. Wear a FitBit or use an app to track your steps. 

I'm slightly a perfectionist, so when I'm counting my steps and haven't reached 10,000, I really feel like I need to reach 10,000 by the end of the day. This is a great motivating tool. It makes me walk an extra loop around campus or run a little further. Any activity is better than none.  

8. Bring a yoga mat and an arm band to keep in your dorm room 

Dorm rooms are small, but you can still get some exercising done in your room. I like to bring a mat and an arm band that I tie around the end of my bed. I turn on my TV or some music and do some yoga and arm exercises to relax after a high stress day. My favorite yoga app is Yoga Studio:

Another app I love to use in my dorm room is 7 Minute Workout
Yasi created this collage of the perfect pantry items a while back to have in your dorm room. We tend to like the same things, and everything can be found at Target/ Whole Foods/ Trader Joe's/ Other Supermarket Chains.  

I hope this helps, 

XO, Lexi

~I am in no way a nutrition/ fitness expert or specialist. This is just what works for me, personally, while I'm in college. ~  

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