We’ve all heard of the dreaded “Freshman 15,” right? And even though you’re always excited to come back next summer and see who’s been defeated by it’s menacing powers, you’re also just as afriad that, well… you might be one of them. Well you won’t be this year! Staying healthy in college is easier than it’s made out to be! All you need to do is follow these 12 simple steps…
1) Drink water – In between each drink at a party, 20 minutes before a meal, while sitting in lecture. Water can do wonders for your health and skin, so stay hydrated at all times! Drinking water in between each drink at a party (and before you go to bed) will help reduce those dreadful hangovers and keep you hydrated. Drinking water before eating will make you feel fuller! Hunger is also often mistaken for thirst, so when your stomach’s feeling empty, have a drink first instead.
2) Surround yourself with healthy snacks – Keeping potato chips and Oreo cookies within reach is no guarantee to a healthy lifestyle. When you head to the grocery store (or even the dining hall) make it a point to pick up some healthy snacks you actually like eating – sliced cucumbers, carrots and peppers, fruits, nuts – whatever it may be. And always tell yourself to go for those first before the sugary snacks!
3) Exercise when you can – From one side of my campus to the other is about a 25 minute walk. Take advantage of that! Use the stairs, do reps with your groceries, work your oblique muscles while standing in line… fidget, even! Also, consider keeping free weights in your dorm or apartment to use while you study or watch TV. Continuously moving will contribute to a healthy lifestyle, no matter how little.
4) Keep track – Try to track what you eat each day, how much walking or stair-taking you do and how far you run on the treadmill. Seeing everything visually will make habits and goals easier to follow and can better motivate you to stay on track. There’s tons of apps out there, like Fooducate for example, that can help keep you on the ball.
5) Vary your meals – It’s easy to head to your favorite choices with each meal at the dining hall, but try going for a little variety. Changing up your diet from day to day is crucial for good nutrition, so take advantage of all the options you have available to you.
6) Allow yourself to indulge, but only minimally – Make your own trail mix with just a handful of chocolate chips, have ice cream only on Tuesdays or Thursdays, Pizza only after you’ve eaten a serving of fruits and veggies. You don’t want to completely cut out all the things you love and having them occasionally will make them feel like more of a reward.
7) Before you reach for it, ask yourself – “Do I need this?” I have a major sweet tooth and I often seem to find myself unconsciously reaching for candy and heading to the soft serve ice cream machine. What I’ve found is helpful: asking myself, right as I’m about to make my dreams a reality, “Do I really need to eat this right now?” It’s helped me skip the sweet snacks all together and go for a healthier solution. Give it a try!
8) Make it a group effort – Staying healthy is much more difficult when you’re doing it alone, so make it a group effort! Cook healthy snacks with your roommates, coordinate times for the gym and fitness classes, or ask your friends to walk with you to class instead of take the bus. Staying healthy together challenges you to motivate yourself and your friends, too.
9) Avoid eating late at night – This is a tough one for even me to advise, but eating late at night can really make or break your healthy living plans. Avoid eating right before bed; after 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. if you can help it. If not, go for low calorie snacks like popcorn, multigrain pretzels, frozen blueberries and Greek yogurt.
10) Drink less – Another tip I find myself cringing to suggest, but a major part of healthy college lifestyles! If you begin to drink less throughout the school year, you will notice a significant difference in your health. It happened to me! You don’t need to drink to have a good time, believe it or not, so be the sober driver one Saturday or stick with water at the next Karaoke night.
11) Get enough sleep – Not getting enough sleep can lead to unhealthy (and late-night) eating habits, little exercise and motivation due to fatigue and an unhealthy metabolism. “If you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll have more of the hormone Grehlin, which tells you that you’re hungry, and less of the hormone Leptin, which tells you when you’re full, according to WebMD.” With a well-rested mind, you can complete schoolwork and healthy habits more wholeheartedly.
12) Stay active (and out of your dorm/apartment) – It’s easy to fall into the trap of “vegging out” once settled on your couch and not getting up… ever. Don’t fall into this trap! Pack your gym clothes and an energy bar when you’re heading to class. Stay on campus in between class breaks and hit the rec. center once your academic day is done. If you get into a pattern of always heading home, it’s less likely you’ll get yourself up and to the gym or even down the hall! Stay active and keep busy!
*This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.