A common side-effect of moving out of home and going to college is the change in lifestyle. You’re probably partying plenty, eating less nutritional food due to budget, knowledge and time constraints, and the demands of your courses leave little time for exercise. Naturally, this can result in the inevitable weight gain and a general feeling of sluggishness.
Trust us, it’s completely normal. But it doesn’t have to stay that way.
If you want to change the status quo and get back into shape and pick up healthy habits, we’re here to offer a few simple tips to stay fit and healthy when you get to college.
Incorporating these into your life, even if you only take one of these points to heart, is sure to make a monumental difference to your physical agility, mental wellbeing, and self-esteem.
1. Wake Up Early
We all know the famous saying “the early bird catches the worm.” While many late sleepers resent this motto, it’s truly valuable. When you start your days early, you’ll notice that you suddenly have an abundance of time at your disposal.
Rushing to get to class after oversleeping means you’re likely to start your day on the back foot. From here on out, you are playing catch-up, and you are more inclined to avoid exercising or cooking a healthy meal.
Waking up early allows you to prepare a healthy breakfast and possibly do some yoga or go for a run. Starting your morning in this wholesome and productive manner can inspire you to maintain this momentum through the course of the day.
2. Drink Plenty of Water
Hydration is the primary facilitator of most healthy bodily mechanisms. Keep a water bottle close by when on campus to sip on throughout the day. This allows you to more accurately monitor your water intake and stay on track.
Many students could benefit from increased fluid consumption, as mild dehydration can adversely impact mood and cognitive function. Get in the habit of drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
3. Establish a Routine
Figuring out a routine and then sticking to it encourages the maintenance of your health-oriented endeavors. Your college schedule is likely jam-packed. When you’re trying to maintain a thriving social life and pass your courses, it can be difficult to find the time for exercise, meal-prep and other self-care activities.
Write down a weekly roster to highlight the moments when you can quickly go for a run or a quick swim at the local pool.
4. Join Sport Societies
College societies, specifically sports-oriented societies, are an excellent opportunity to combine exercise with socializing.
As you establish connections with other members, you’ll become more motivated to attend regularly. You can also join the local CrossFit Box and work out with other students who are enthusiastic about staying fit.
5. Make Fitness Friends
This is somewhat related to the previous point about joining societies or the local Box. If your friendship circle is enthusiastic about exercising, you are more likely to be too. There’s a lot more motivation and you’ll build strong friendships at the same time.
You should never underestimate the influence that your peers have over your interests, lifestyle, and general attitude.
When you surround yourself with individuals that invest in their physical and mental wellbeing, you’re more likely to adopt a similar approach.
6. Utilize Campus Facilities
If your campus has a running track, swimming pool, tennis courts, or a gym, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t make full use of these facilities. If you live on campus, they are usually within walking distance, and you can even turn getting there into a jog or run.
You can schedule time in the pool or on the track as a “class” so it becomes an official part of your schedule. Or you can find a fitness program online that requires completing a certain number of exercises and reps over several days. This ensures you don’t bunk off or have an excuse for not having time.
7. Rest When Necessary
There will be days when you simply don’t want to exercise. Remember that this is okay. Your body as well as your mind absolutely needs a rest every once in a while. Just don’t make it a habit that you convince yourself that you always need rest rather than exercise. There’s a difference between resting and being lazy.
8. Be in Tune with Your Needs
You might wake up one morning and crave a gentle stretching yoga session rather than a set of sprints up the nearby hill. You should honor this.
Similarly, if you notice a recurring craving for a particular food, then you should consider whether you have some sort of nutritional deficiency. Unless, of course, that food is chocolate or fries, then moderation is recommended.
9. Walk and Cycle
As much as possible, cycle or run to and from campus. Even if it’s not particularly far, these moments of daily exercise make a significant difference in the long run. It’s also a brilliant motivator for waking up earlier in the mornings.
Don’t forget to pack a change of clothes if the walk or cycle demands intense exertion. Being an excessively sweaty student is not a title that anybody would like to claim.
10. Meal Prep
Meal preparation is one of the most effective methods of maintaining a healthy diet. As you have planned ahead of time, you’re less likely to snack on jam and toast when you’re suddenly hungry and without inspiration.
Eating your pre-prepped meal will become the path of least resistance – make decisions easy for yourself.
Cooking new and healthy foods is also an exciting way of exploring different cuisines.
11. Invest in Healthy Food
We have immense empathy for the fact that, as a student, you’re likely on a tight budget. However, healthy food is not something that you should skimp on. What you eat directly and significantly impacts on your quality of life in a number of ways.
Adequate nutrition supports concentration, prevents anxiety, and allows you to feel generally energized.
12. Be Patient
Your journey towards health and fitness might be a slow process. Not everyone progresses in a noticeable manner at the same speed. Remember that true holistic health shouldn’t entail rushing into a routine of obsessive exercise or intense dietary restrictions. This is neither healthy nor sustainable.
It might take some time to figure out what works for you. And perhaps your journey is a bit back and forth with all the social and academic pressures of college. This is not unusual. As long as you keep making an effort, you’ll stay healthier and fitter than if you don’t.