Woah, broad category eh?
But a highly, highly, HIGHLY demanded topic.
College is just friggin rough sometimes.
And then you’re expected to eat healthy and workout?
WOAH, hold the phone. You think there’s time for that?
Not to mention the mental, social, emotional health that needs some TLC too.
We’ll get there eventually sweets, but for now, let’s talk about eating right and fitting exercise into your college routine.
You ready? Okay, grab a pen and paper, and maybe a map of your college campus so we can get to planning.
Step 1: Set G O A L S
You will get literally nowhere with a blank slate. Just like you will get literally nowhere with an empty gas tank. You have to know where you want to be in order to start. You’ve got that pen and paper right in front of you right?
Thought so, now grab that pen and write down 3 specific goals right now:
- One pertaining to how many days and hours per week you want to exercise. Make it something realistic, something you can achieve week after week. 90 minutes in the gym 4-6 days a week is overzealous for a college student, for the majority (hey, maybe you’re not in that majority, but chances are if you aren’t, then you’ve already got your plan locked down and the discipline to go with it)
- A second one pertaining to the biggest 3 things you need to focus on in your nutrition to stay on track. Is it adequate water, less snacking, less binge drinking, more veggies, not skipping meals?
- A third one about how frequently you’re going to check in with yourself to stay on track. Are you going to sit down every Sunday and reflect on the previous week, maybe every other Sunday? Are you going to check in using a food tracking app? Are you going to rely on your FitBit to record your workouts, and have them in a place to look back on easily? Set a goal to check in yourself consistently.
Step 2: Know your college campus
For the most part, college campuses are set up to help you freaking THRIVE in being healthy. The hard part, is you’re busy. I know, I get it.
The first and easiest way your campus will help you stay healthy and active is the ability to walk places. Sure, some places are just too far, but don’t automatically hop in your car or on the bus if you don’t have to. A 10-minute walk is not too far, I encourage you to opt for that walk! Not only will you be moving your body after hours sitting in class, the fresh air will give you chance to take some purposeful deep breaths and clear your head.
Do you eat on campus?
If so, you might be vastly underutilizing potentially your greatest tool yet. Unless your campus cafe is the equivalent of prison food, then you likely have some good options! Hell, if you’re eating on campus, then that means you’re paying some pretty good money per semester to eat that food, so take. advantage. Chances are there’s a salad bar on campus, UTILIZE THAT! Elsewhere in the community, or the grocery store, salads can sometimes be the most costly thing, so get full bang for your buck while eating on campus! You don’t have to strictly eat salads at each meal but you can always, always, always opt for a side salad to go with your sandwich, or hell, even pizza of the day. Think about all of the added nutrients you will get by adding a side salad in to even one meal per day while eating on campus?
Bonus tip: if your campus cafe offers unique breakfast options, such as made-to-order omelet or sandwiches, throw veggies on that too! Don’t stick to the basics, switch it up! See how many different ways you can vary veggies into your meal. Don’t feel like a bother for asking to add peppers, mushrooms, lettuce, etc to any omelet, burger, sandwich, etc. If it’s an option, use it!
Not to mention, many campuses are now getting on board with the gluten free, dairy free, vegan, etc. trends. Not to say that everyone needs to opt for those options, but they are more readily available.
And if you live off of campus, I suggest buying a small meal package for days when you end up being on campus longer than expected. Hopping over to the dining hall for a meal will 9 times out of 10 leave you with better options than getting home later and crankier than expected and throwing a frozen pizza in the oven and ending up eating it all.
And how about the campus gym(s)?
Yes, I said gyms. Chances are, your main campus gym is not the only option. I know plenty of campuses that have ‘satellite’ gyms, you just might not know it yet! Look at that campus map, is there anything indicating that there might be a smaller, lesser used gym elsewhere on campus? Generally, these satellite gyms are in different parts of campus, and much smaller, but still fully equipped for the most part! These come in handy especially for those of you who’s classes are all generally on the opposite side of campus than the main gym. So look for the extra options!
Speaking of extra options….
Sometimes there are even clubs that host “workout events” in the middle of campus. Say, Zumba on the lawn, or a boot camp outside of the gym. I can guarantee something like that exists on your campus, you just have to look! Plus, what a neat way to meet more people!
Step 3: Schedule your workouts as another “can’t miss class” on your schedule
I get it, your schedule is packed. You have back to back classes, and you just can’t miss them. So why can you “skip the gym” so easily? Because it isn’t on your regular schedule, that’s why.
Look at your schedule, do you see a 30-60 minute gap in your day where you otherwise would scroll social media or stare aimlessly into an abyss of who knows what? Pencil in “go to the gym” during that time! Do it!
Okay, I know your next excuse, “my campus gym is not open during that time” Okay, fair. So instead, schedule in “lunch” or “work on homework” during that time, that way you have more time in the latter part of your day to pencil in “go to gym”.
Next excuse? it still doesn’t fit my schedule. Alright, well even though you are paying for your campus gym with your tuition, there are still other options. You can get a good workout in in your apartment, or even in your dorm! Yes, you can. There are common spaces within dorm buildings that you can use. Grab a buddy, find an online program or hell, turn to Pinterest (I’ve even got some handmade workouts pinned to my Pinterest Board here) , and use that common space like it’s your own apartment! I saw this happen on my college dorm and you know what happened? More and more people joined the workout party! Don’t feel weird for utilizing that common space to make yourself better, healthier, stronger, and happier. Feel proud! Show others that it is possible for them too!
Regardless of how to spin it, the workout needs to be on your schedule. 4-5 times a week, it needs to be on your schedule. And don’t forget a weekend day, that might be your best time to utilize all that your campus gym has to offer! Plus, sweat out the weekend booze you are inevitably going to drink.
Step 4: Understand that Knowledge is Power
If you’re new to your health and fitness journey, then you’re still learning. I encourage you to read articles weekly to help educate you on how to pick healthier options at your campus cafe. Or how to choose exercises that match your current skill level, and then beyond that, how to find exercise that you enjoy.
The most important knowledge will come from learning how to not fall prey to marketing ploys such as fat burning pills, extreme diets, or purchasing workouts or nutrition coaching from unqualified people.
To educate yourself I suggest you start with easy to read articles such as those on MyFitnessPal’s blog, or from Ace Resource Articles.
Step 5: Buddy Up!
Seriously, this makes a world of difference. Find a friend on campus who is committed to beginning, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Or, join an “athletic club” or something of the sort to find like-minded people. And when all else fails, find someone from afar- maybe a family member or friend who doesn’t go to your school, to hold you accountable via text, call, or email communication. This works because we are much more likely to hold ourselves accountable when we know others are watching. And we are even more likely to hold ourselves accountable to help others in their endeavors too.
Step 6: Recognize that your excuses are just that: bullshit excuses that will get you nowhere.
Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day.
But not everyone uses them equally or to their full potential.
If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse
Oh and don’t forget to drink your water friend 😉 Aim for .5-1 ounce of water per lb of bodyweight!
Give yourself 21 days to make your 3 goals set in step #1 a habit.
After all, many research studies have shown that it indeed takes 21 days to make something a habit. But news flash that doesn’t mean 21 half-ass days. Nor does it mean a 21 day period where you might have somewhat stuck to your goals for a good 15 days, but slipped up for 6. No, you need to give yourself TRUE AND COMMITTED 21 days to make it a habit. After that? Give yourself an additional 90 days to see how it affects YOU. If you set specific enough goals, and if you do things right, chances are that at the end of 90 days you not only will feel proud of yourself, but likely also more refreshed and energize, despite being bogged down by homework and a hectic schedule.
Nothing worth having comes easy. So give yourself time. At the end of 90 days, check in with those goals and tweak them as need be. Then give yourself another 90 day period to work at those refreshed goals. Another 90 days to continue working for yourself. Then repeat that cycle over and over and over again. These kind of goals that affect you and your life are not the kind of goals that have an end date. They are always evolving, just like you. These short-term goals turn into long-term success and long-term well being.
You’ve got this.
But only if you convince yourself that you do!
Need further help? Or someone to chat to? Reach out to me! Instagram: @lifeofcarlyb_ Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Subscribe to my EMAIL LIST HERE.