College, however, presents a unique situation. The stereotype is that many people pick up unhealthy living and eating habits during the college years. From staying out late to drinking to eating junk food, there’s a reason why people fear the “freshman 15.”
But this doesn’t have to be the case; in fact, it can be the opposite. You can turn away from a reckless lifestyle and instead be like “that girl” in college by putting your health first.
Here are 10 tips on how to stay fit in college.
1. Walk, Walk, Walk
Walking is the No. 1 most sustainable way to stay in shape. Make walking your primary form of exercise, and aim to get roughly 10k steps a day. Walking is something you can do anytime, anywhere and has so many health benefits, both physically and mentally. I walk to and from class, in my free time for fun, and I go for an evening walk too to relax.
2. Healthy Eating Choices
Along with physical activity, healthy eating is the foundation of well-being. Choose your meals wisely. Even in the worst of cafeterias, you can usually put together three healthy meals that cover all the food groups. For example, try oatmeal with yogurt and berries for breakfast, a grain bowl or salad for lunch, and a turkey sandwich for dinner.
3. Supplement With Groceries
Campus food, however, is very often lacking. Despite the sunk cost of a meal plan, I make the choice to spend some of my own money on groceries every week because I know I won’t get enough to eat otherwise. This way, I can get the foods that I like and that I know are healthy instead of being dependent on campus food.
4. Take Advantage of the Gym
Free access to the gym is a great opportunity to stay in shape, so why not make use of it? Whether you go for walks on the treadmill, work out on the elliptical, or do some light weightlifting, don’t be afraid to frequent the campus gym.
5. Exercise As Self-Care
One thing I’ve found is that mindset is everything. Instead of thinking of exercise as something to get over with or check off your to-do list, think of it as an amazing opportunity to do something beneficial for yourself. Find ways to make it fun, like listening to an audiobook, playing your favorite music, or walking and chatting with friends. Soon, you’ll be looking forward to your workouts!
6. Prioritize Sleep
Getting enough sleep is important to your overall health and metabolism. Make sure you don’t stay out too late on the weekdays and wake up at a consistent time each morning.
7. Take the Stairs
I have a friend who lived on the seventh floor of a dorm building, and she took the stairs up and down every single time, even with groceries. That’s true dedication. Simply making the choice to take the stairs instead of the elevator is a great mindset that can translate to other aspects of your life. Simply putting in that much more effort for the greater good will always pay off.
8. Snack Well
We all need snacks to get us through a long day of studying and classes, so choose them wisely. Find a high-nutrition, high-protein snack that will give you sustainable energy. Almonds, dried fruit, kale chips, greek yogurt, and Perfect Bars are some of my favorite healthy snacks for college.
9. Find Creative Ways To Get Active
Make exercise fun! Fitness doesn’t only mean running or lifting weights. If those aren’t for you, find more dynamic ways to stay active, like playing an intramural sport or going for hikes. Or if you’re a “soft girl,” going on peaceful walks and doing a yoga routine in your dorm room are great options. My favorite is country line dancing!
10. Treat Yourself
My friends and I love going out to dinner, going to cafés, and getting ice cream together. Going out to dinner is also a no-fail date idea. Sample local restaurants from time to time, try new foods, eat desserts that you genuinely like, and have a good time. The lesson here is to let yourself enjoy life and indulge once in a while.
This is your sign to use your college years to become “that girl.” Instead of thinking of college as a time to go rogue, think of it as a time to figure out who you are, who you want to become, and, ultimately, how to take care of yourself and find balance in your life. Coming out of college as the best version of yourself, with an established healthy lifestyle, will 100% set you on a fast track toward success in the wider world.
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