If you’re headed to college for the first time, you may find yourself excited to tackle this newfound freedom head-on.
However, keep in mind, it’s easy to neglect your health in college, especially if it’s your first time on your own. Though it’s common to gain weight during the first year, implementing these good habits can help you avoid the infamous ‘freshman fifteen.’
But this doesn’t just apply to incoming students, so read on whether you’re a college freshman or senior. If you want to maintain your healthy lifestyle or transition to a healthier one, here are the top five tips for living healthier while you’re away at college.
#5 – Cook 90% Of Your Meals Each Week
If you’re unsure how, ask someone to teach you before you leave for school. Don’t just rely on eating out, ramen, and frozen pizzas. Walking to class and staying engaged during lecture all require lots of energy.
And you will feel drained if you’re not eating right.
Plan your meals out according to your schedule. If you know you won’t be back to your apartment or dorm until late into the evening, bring a lunch with you. Planning ahead will reduce your need to eat out at one of the fast-food restaurants on campus. You’ll save money too!
Depending on your living situation, cooking often may be more difficult for certain incoming students.
Dorm living has its challenges. One of them being your living space is limited and you have to make do with what you have.
You can easily plug some cooking tools into the wall and make a variety of meals if you want to cook your own food from the comfort of your dorm.
- A slow cooker
- A microwave
- A rice cooker
- A mini-fridge
If you’re just limited to eating at the dining hall, make sure to eat a serving of vegetables every meal, and healthy grains and carbs for breakfast for energy.
If you’re living in a new city, save that meal out at a restaurant on trying some of the local cuisines instead of the tired old fast food.
#4 – Take Advantage Of Free Counseling Services
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.
Finals week is a stressful time for everyone and it can take a toll on your emotional wellbeing. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and alone. Remember that counseling at most colleges is free to students, so take advantage of that if you need to talk to someone.
Also remember to make time for yourself, even if it’s a brief moment in between classes or spending a night in alone. Meditate, breathe, and reflect, and focus on something other than assignments, papers, and exams.
#3 – Limit Your Alcohol Intake To Every Other Weekend Or Less
College campuses are notoriously known for their easy access and availability to alcohol. It can be safe and fun if you’re of age and drinking around people you trust. However, heavy drinking can also be an unhealthy habit, so drink responsibly. Those sugary empty calories can and will stack up, leaving you with unfavorable results if you’re not too careful.
Alcohol contains seven calories per gram, and when you mix it with sugary soda and juice, your drink becomes even more harmful to your body.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to cut alcohol completely. Like eating out, there’s a perfect ratio that allows for fun with friends, while still keeping you healthy, fit, and energetic.
#2 – Exercise Regularly – And Not Just Cardio
Aside from walking to all of your classes, try to implement regular exercise into your fitness routine. Though cardio is necessary to stay fit, give weightlifting a try. Most schools have a free gym for their students, so try to squeeze in three sessions a week either in between classes or bright and early in the morning.
Weightlifting burns more calories since it keeps your metabolism going longer—even after you’ve left the gym. Weightlifting is also a great way to sculpt your body and build a desirable amount of muscle tone.
However, if cardio is still your preferred way of exercising, try shaking things up. Instead of running on the treadmill, ride your bike, take a boxing class or jog around the city. Anything that will get you off campus and exploring, but still get your heart pounding.
#1 – Find A Fitness/Gym Buddy
If you’re serious about staying in shape, find someone who will help keep you accountable. That first year away from home will be tough, and making new friends is never easy. But strike up a conversation with someone at the gym. Or approach someone during orientation if you’re a new student.
Having an interest, budding or pre-existent, in health and fitness can be the thing that keeps that bond between you and another person strong. After all, there are always new trails to hike and different healthy recipes to try together.