Wednesday, February 18, 2015

How to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle in College

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I've always been an athlete, which meant I thought that I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. When college rolled around, I spent my freshman year drinking a lot, having sweet tea every day in the dining hall, and frequenting the dreaded dessert bar after meals with the swim team. A few months later, none of my clothes fit. Does this sound familiar to any of you?

The summer after freshman year, I cleaned up my diet and kind of worked out. I was on the swim team again sophomore year, and after the season was over I started lifting weights and doing T25 video workouts a few times a week. I wasn't super committed, but I was able to keep the majority of the weight off. The summer after sophomore year, I was lifting in the gym 4-6 times a week and eating only whole foods. This year, I've been in the gym anywhere between 3-6 days a week and eating pretty well - but every week I feel like I learn something new about my diet and find a fun new workout to add to what I already do. So this is a work in progress - but I'm feeling better now than I have since I began college.

Here are my tips to improve your lifestyle, one day at a time.

  1. If you have to unwrap your snack, it probably isn't made with whole, nutritious ingredients. I guarantee that you will end up with more energy and honestly probably less digestive issues (sorry) if you're eating stuff that's made with whole ingredients. You also will find yourself eating less packaged crap like 100-calorie chip bags and sugary granola bars. Prepare real meals and snacks ahead of time and you'll find more money in your wallet and less chick-fil-a receipts in your car before you know it ;)

  2. Figure out what kind of exercise makes you EXCITED to work out. I like to lift weights, and I genuinely think it's changed my body in a good way and challenged me in a way that other types of exercise hasn't. If you love yoga, running, zumba... that's awesome. Try stuff until you find an activity that can become a treat instead of punishment. You won't work out unless you like it. Trust me.

  3. Don't reward yourself with bad food or booze. Starting to clean up your nutrition needs to become an entire lifestyle and outlook - taking the stairs won't burn a million calories, but the fact that you had the choice and consciously chose the active route is something that will begin to influence every other decision that crosses your path. We're all entitled to have fun, but make sure that your "cheat" meals and drinks aren't a reward for hitting the gym earlier.

  4. Calorie counting is a thing, and you do have to reduce your caloric intake in order to lose weight. Calories are made up of protein, fat, and carbs - so what you have to do to stay healthy while losing weight is figure out a good balance of those three things. I usually just look for food with as much protein as possible because of my activity level - then for carbs I opt for whole grains.

  5. Keep a food journal for a few days. Write down what you eat, how much, and when. You may see a pattern in your snacking habits, which could then help you put a finger on when and why you tend to eat bad food. I've been using MyFitnessPal to get a general idea of what I'm putting in my body, and it's really helped me kick some bad habits - nothing feels as bad as putting a meal in MyFitnessPal and seeing your daily calories absolutely skyrocket through their suggested limit. I'll admit that I don't always stay on top of it on days I know that I'll drink or go out, but awareness is always a good thing.

PS: If you have ever read my past blog posts on Sorority Stylista, some of these tips may sound a bit recycled. Sorry - but they work!

All of this said, it is NOT healthy to become obsessive with your workouts or food intake. I am not a personal trainer or a dietician, just a college girl who gains weight easily and has finally figured out how to balance fun and health.

1 comment:

  1. such an awesome article! i'm a college student as well, and this totally makes so much sense! love it, and love your blog! i'm a fitness blogger too! following you! x

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