Staying Healthy in College

Many of you know that I've always struggled with fitting in the time to exercise and eat healthy for the majority of my life. It was actually being in College that helped me learn to love exercise and figure out how to eat better. I didn't discover my love for triathlon and running until later in life, but my main efforts at a healthy lifestyle started my freshman year at Springfield College, back in 2000. Which is fitting considering the SC philosophy is an even balance of spirit, mind, and body.

Recently, I was nominated for eCollegeFinder's Top Health and Fitness Blog Awards! I've graduated over 7 years ago, but now I'm busier than ever! Not only do I work full time as a Physical Therapist, I'm also going to school for a teaching certificate, and teaching a lab class this upcoming semester. I want to share with you what worked for me to get toward my healthy lifestyle while I was in college, and other things I've learned since then.

Top 10 Ways to Stay Healthy in College!
  1. Find like minded, healthy friends! Having a support system in a new place is crucial. I was lucky that my best friend I made that first week of Freshman Year (and kept the rest of my college years), wanted to get in shape too. We made a pact with each other to get to the gym, and eat healthy. We would plan gym dates, and make sure we chose healthy choices in the dining hall. Having someone cheer you on is crucial, especially when you may be far from home or old friends.
  2. Find the gym, and go!! Most campus' have killer gyms that are free for students and staff (I'm so excited to get my staff ID this year)! Take advantage of the membership, you'll have to pay once you leave college. Some schools even have classes or personal training for free or a small fee. Often the exercise physiology department needs experience, so volunteer to be their guinea pig!
  3. Make time for exercise. Look at your class schedule, your work schedule, your study schedule, or any other schedule you have. Then see where you can fit the gym in. Most days, I would wake up early and hit the gym, with just enough time to shower before getting to class. Maybe you like to work out in the afternoon, or you have a big break during the day. Find a time that works for you, and put it in your planner like an appointment you cannot miss. Even better? Make a date with a friend so you feel more obligated to get there, download a good movie to watch, or even get your studying done while you're there.
  4. Find the healthy options for eating. Make a few laps around the dining hall and see what the options are. See what the fresh options are. My college had a make your own salad bar, create your own stir-fry, make your own sandwich. When you can customize you win. Aim for lean meats, veggies, light sauces or dressings. If you can, get a dorm or apartment with a kitchen. If you can prepare your own food, you know what you're eating.
  5. Get enough sleep. Its easy in school to stay up too late partying, studying, or just hanging out. Lack of sleep will impact your concentration, and decrease your ability to make good choices to achieve that healthy lifestyle you want. Will that extra hour of cramming really make a difference on the test? Try not to procrastinate and study as you go to prevent the need for staying up late to get things done.
  6. Watch the alcohol intake. Booze can be the biggest downfall in college. Not only the calories in the drinks themselves, but often those partying nights turn into late night calls for pizza, breadsticks or other unhealthy snacks. Drink liquor mixed with seltzer, diet sodas or crystal light. Drink water in between. Avoid the Dominos.
  7. Join active clubs or sports. I was on the cheerleading squad my freshman year, where I met active like-minded people. Try out for a sport, play in a sport club, or join intramurals. It will keep you moving, and connect you with other health oriented people.
  8. Find support online. Social networking and blogging are things I didn't have in college, but I definitely use them now! Find bloggers and health websites you love to help keep you motivated, give you ideas, and spark enthusiasm for a healthy lifestyle. Even starting your own health and wellness blog can help you stay accountable.
  9. Try a road race or adventure race.  I didn't run in college, but maybe if one of my friends had suggested a fun event, i would have started earlier. Get a group together to do a local 5k or adventure race like the warrior dash. Sometimes you can save money by registering as a group. Make a facebook page, or spread the word around campus with some flyers. You may make some new friends, and you'll stay active while training and racing together.
  10. Make yourself a priority. Studying is important, it the reason you go to college, right? Of course, making time to expand your social circle is important too. Finding the time to exercise and take care of yourself can improve your stress levels, your concentration, and your overall demeanor. When you feel better about yourself, it shows in all areas of your life. Maybe you take an extra 5 minutes to make sure you get a healthy lunch and snack at the dining hall, maybe you read a textbook on the elliptical, or skip out on drinks with a friend.
I loved college.
I think with a little work on balancing your time, and finding a good support system, you can make healthy living a priority on any campus you may be on.

Good luck!

How do/did you stay healthy in College?

No comments: