[guest post] three tips to help college students stay healthy
Hi, Back to Her Roots readers! I’m Miranda and I blog over at Biting Life. My motto is: “Enjoy food, fitness, and life in the moment.”
I’m so excited to be doing this guest post for Back to Her Roots! Honestly, I started giggling like a schoolgirl when I read Cassie’s email asking me to write something up for her while she’s on vacation. “Me?! But… your blog is awesome… and I love you. You know who I am?” I was a little bit star-struck!
I’ve been dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle ever since I started my blog back in September 2010. And I’ve never felt better. I was able to lose 30 pounds – and I’m on my way to losing even more! For me, the toughest part about being healthy is having to go to college at the same time. There are so many obstacles and temptations facing college students that get in the way of being healthy. Since I’ll be graduating next semester, I’ve had a lot of experience learning how to not pack on the pounds while on a budget and going to school at the same time. But I’m going to warn you… it’s hard!
Here are some tips I swear by (this post is geared towards college students, but these tips will work for anybody):
Make eating healthy a priority, but don’t overspend.
I go to the University of Rhode Island and live off-campus. For me, living off-campus is the easiest way to stay healthy because I can completely avoid the dining halls. Since making the switch to healthy living, I’ve learned to cook all my own meals – which I absolutely love. I make sure to limit my grocery spending to $50 per week, in lieu of buying a meal plan – but I know that not everybody has that option.
Lots of universities offer several different types of meal plans. If you live on campus, my advice would be to choose the cheapest food plan option and supplement that as much as possible with food from the grocery store (if you don’t have a car, most campuses have bus systems that go to local stores – or get a friend to take you!). It’s actually healthier and less expensive to buy and prepare your own food rather than eat from the dining hall.
To keep my grocery costs lows, I take a look at my local Stop&Shop’s flyer online before I go to the store. I base almost all of what I buy for meals and snacks off of what is on sale each week. I’m a stickler when it comes to my list, which helps keep me from buying impulse items.
There are plenty of blogs out there (like this one and this one) that offer awesome advice for healthy eating in your dorm. If you can’t avoid shelling out the cash for a full meal plan, my advice is to make sure to frequent the salad bar, as well as limiting soda and juice as much as possible.
Make a commitment to fitness.
This is a hard one for me. It took me a really long time (like 19 years) to cultivate an active lifestyle. Now that I’ve learned to love working out, it’s easy for me to keep up with my goal of exercising four times a week. Even though I suffer from a disability called Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome, I still manage to find plenty of fun ways to work out that fit with my body. If I can do it, you can too!
Almost all colleges have a free gym, so get out there and be active! Some colleges even offer free fitness classes. The goal is to find something fun that you love to do (like Zumba or Hot Yoga) and go as much as possible. You could even work out in your dorm room! Visit my Workouts Page to find some of my favorite workouts that can be done with limited or no equipment.
I like to make a plan to exercise a specific number of times per week to hold myself accountable. Schedule workouts around your classes, during a time you know you won’t be too swamped with studying (or too tired!) to fit it in. I know it’s hard to do, but I find that my body reacts the best to working out early in the morning. If you make time to exercise before your classes, you won’t have to think about it for the rest of the day! One problem is that college students tend to have awkward schedules. If you can’t go in the morning, consider going to the gym at night during one of your favorite television shows. Almost all gyms have televisions above the treadmills, bikes, and ellipticals. Any workout will go by fast while you’re watching Grey’s Anatomy!
Don’t forget about sleeping!
Not getting enough sleep is a really common problem among college students. And it’s probably the most important thing, too! I can attest to the fact that clocking in 9 hours every night (studies show that high school and college students actually work best with nine hours, not eight) doesn’t always happen.
This might be a little bit taboo, but my honest advice would be to learn how to nap. Napping has saved my life. Some days it feels really nice to lie down and reset my brain for a little bit. One of my most cherished investments is my eye mask. For about $4 at Walmart, it can feel like nighttime any time I want. But don’t nap for too long! At least for me, napping for more than two hours makes me cranky and feel like I have jetlag – not good!
There are lots of things that you can do to work on making your life healthier. I’ve found that if I concentrate on doing these three things really well, the rest will fall into place.