Going to college means making a lot of decisions for yourself, including how you treat your body. Getting so much freedom at once can be pretty exhilarating, but it can also lead you to throw out all responsibilities and forget about things like eating healthy and exercising. There’s a reason everyone knows about the Freshman 15! Here are some tips for staying healthy throughout the semester.
1. Stock up your room with healthy foods
Surrounding yourself with healthy snack and meal options will make it so much easier to choose them over the fast food restaurant down the street. If you have an apartment or dorm with a kitchen, stock up on foods that can be made into multiple meals like beans, rice, frozen fish/meats, frozen veggies, or pasta. You can even make large portions at the beginning of the week to eat later on! If you’re like me and have extremely limited space for food (a microfridge and a few shelves), you’ll have to be a bit more creative. Try buying your favorite fruits and veggies, then chop them up and place them in baggies so they fit in the fridge better. As for dry foods, nuts are always a great snack to go for! I’m sort of a chip lover though, so to satisfy that craving, I keep a bag of kettle cooked chips in my room made with only potatoes and oil. Basically, just avoid bringing processed snacks and unhealthy frozen meals into your room, because by 2am you will have a hard time looking past them.
2. Check out your campus cafeterias
Cafeterias can be very different from campus to campus, so I definitely can’t speak for all of them, but taking a look around and seeing what yours offers can make it easier to choose the healthiest options available. Some days offer healthier options than others, so be prepared to get creative with your meals. For breakfast, I usually get eggs and a bowl of oatmeal topped with whatever fruit is offered. At lunch and dinner, I try to stock up on vegetables for sides and search around for the healthiest main dish they’re offering. If nothing looks good, my cafeteria always had a baked/sweet potato available, so I’d just get that!
3. Go on a tour of your campus gym
Most colleges provide students with free access to the campus gym, so take advantage of it! If offered, take an actual tour. You’ll learn a lot more about what’s available, what classes are offered, and what events are going on. It’ll also make you feel less nervous the first time you head there on your own, because you’ll actually know where you’re going!
4. Take advantage of free class offers
At the beginning of the semester, my campus offers a week of free classes for students to come in and figure out which ones they’d be interested in. I tried out a few and ended up doing a barre class last semester, and I loved it! They also offered yoga, pilates, boxing, strength training, and tons of other options for every fitness goal you might have. If your campus does this, try out a few, even ones you’re hesitant about. After that free period, you’ll have to start paying of course, but my campus had a deal for the semester that was insanely cheaper than any class price you’d find off campus. See if your campus has something similar!
5. Start a routine early on
Once classes start, it’ll be hard to focus on when exercise classes are or when you’re going to cook your meals. Use the first week or so to get a routine going that works around your class schedule, and stick to it! That 7:30am yoga class might not sound too appealing at 7am, but if it’s the only time you can attend and it makes you feel good and healthy later on, it’ll be worth the time. If the mornings aren’t for you, most gyms stay open pretty late, so a midnight run may be a better option! Just do your best to make time for your body, and look at exercise as a break from school and your time to let go for a while.
If going to the gym or classes is too out of your way, try coming up with some at-home workouts! I’ve made a habit of stretching daily with these stretch guides from Elle Fit Active. It feels so good to get a stretch session in after a long day of studying, and you can do it in your dorm room or apartment! I have the Get Bendy and Get Split guides, which when you buy the combo pack (about $23 after it’s converted to USD), they basically cost the same as two yoga classes, but you only have to buy them once!
Bonus: You can use the discount code JESSICA10 for 10% off all of the stretching guides and bundles!
6. If your budget allows, buy a fitness tracker
I got a Fitbit Flex my first year of college, and pretty soon after I was hooked on competing with friends to see who took the most steps. After a while I got tired of its limitations (the Flex only tracks sleep and steps), so I recently bought an Apple Watch knowing it could track my treadmill jogs. It also tracks how often I’m standing vs. sitting and just moving around in general, so I’m motivated to do more than just sit around all day and then workout for half an hour!
Fitness trackers aren’t the cheapest thing, but if you have some extra money and like the idea of tracking all your exercise, I definitely recommend investing in one.
Need some fitness inspiration?
These are some of my favorite workout clothes and gym necessities!