We all struggle with living a healthy life once we get to university. During the day we fill our days with schoolwork and socialising, which leaves little time to hit the gym. Plus as fun as it is to go out at nights, your sleep and health can suffer. To avoid the weight piling on, I’ve compiled a list of ten little ways to be healthier in college. While these tips alone will not turn you into a glowing fitness guru, they can keep you feeling good and stop the weight from piling on. Little by little, a little becomes a lot. So try and incorporate these things into your life and you’ll be feeling healthier and happier!
1: Give Yourself Time in the Mornings
As much as we might want to set our alarm clocks as late as possible to give ourselves maximum sleep time, all that stress in the morning is not good for us! Sit down and plan out exactly how long you need to get ready in the morning, and then add an extra ten minutes to that.
While it might be tempting to immediately switch to a 5am start, if you are unused to this, then you will be left feeling sluggish and tired. Not a great way to begin a healthy habit. Instead, try and push back the time you wake up by fifteen minutes each day till you reach your prime wake time.
2: Get out of bed
It might be tempting to lie in bed for ages, repeatedly snoozing your alarm clock, but this does not make getting out of bed any better. Instead try and get up the moment your alarm goes off. Some people find leaving their phone on the other side of the room to help this, however I have got used to getting up at my first alarm so I do not need this, but by all means, go ahead if it works for you.
Try using an alarm clock which monitors your sleep cycle to wake you up at your best point. I use the Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock App by Northcube AB which I have really been enjoying. They also have a sleep analysis function so you can see how well you slept. (By the way I have not been sponsored to write about this app or anything, it is genuinely an app I have been using for several months and really like.)
3: Start the day with water
Since we are not drinking water during the night, we wake up dehydrated, which is not a great start to the day. Try to fix this by leaving a large glass of water or a drink bottle beside your bed. That way, you can start hydrating once you get moving. I found this difficult to start off with, cause I generally did not like drinking water in the mornings. However I just kept at it, and now I crave water when I wake up in the mornings.
You don’t have to try and drink a lot of water right away. In fact this can actually be bad for you if you immediately try and drink a tonne of water. Instead try and continually sip water throughout the morning,
4: Eat A Good Breakfast
This one I have really struggled with since coming to university because of the choices available. At home I used to set aside time to make porridge with chia seeds and almonds, which I would then add almond milk, frozen raspberries and Greek yogurt to. It was delicious! Here, I have instead gone for the muesli option, which I add trim milk and canned apricots to. Scout out the options and choose one which is low in sugar, high in protein and leaves you feeling full. Coffee by itself does not count!
An average breakfast is better than no breakfast. If your college only offers toast, choose a grainy bread and use a low sugar spread. While peanut butter can be good for this, I personally am not a fan so I generally use vegemite instead. Stay away from the Nutella!
5: Incorporate easy exercise
Try and find ways to get a little extra exercise into your day without going crazy. Take the long way to class. Do calf raises while you are standing (I often do this when I am brushing my teeth.) Maybe make it a rule that before you leave for class each morning you do 100 star jumps. I am even a massive fan of fidgeting, because it is such an easy way to add movement to your day. Finding little ways to add exercise to your day can really make a difference, especially on days where you have a hectic schedule.
The step counting app on my phone is a great motivator for me. Check on it regularly to see if you have cracked the recommended 10,000 steps a day, and if not, try and go for a short walk around the block, or even just march on the spot in your dorm room.
6: Have Snacks Available
This is one I am terrible at. I never feel like going to the grocery store and spending money I don’t have on food, nor can I be bothered taking fruit from the dining hall at mealtimes. Then I get hungry between meals which can lead to overeating and then feeling terrible after. Don’t do this! Grain crackers, fruit, nuts, plain popcorn,
I have a notorious sweet tooth. While I do not recommend stocking up on hundreds of chocolate bars to gorge yourself on, I am an advocate for having dark chocolate in my dorm room. Not only does this allow me to satisfy my sweet cravings without ingesting a lot of sugar, it also means that I don’t go for heavy desserts or junk food options when they are available because I know I have chocolate back in my dorm.
7: Plan to workout
You schedule your college classes. So why not schedule in a workout. Sit down the night before and look at what times you are able to workout. I understand this involves a bit of planning, but it is the key to successfully fitting in a great workout. This can involve a bit of work on your part, either by going in the morning or rearranging the times you usually study, but it is totally possible. Try and encourage your friends to attend fun group exercise classes, or to workout with you. Not only does this way combine exercise and socialising but it holds you accountable for the times you’d much rather stay in your room watching Netflix.
Aim for at least some exercise every day. It doesn’t have to be a two hour long bike ride, sometimes you can only fit in a short session and that’s totally okay! HIIT training is great for this because you only have to exercise for a small amount of time, but you go hard during that time. Using a skipping rope is another fantastic option for when you don’t have much time. For a person my weight, I only need to skip for 12 minutes a day to burn 100 calories!
8: Always have vegetables on your plate
I always make sure to have veggies on my plate at lunch and dinner. Sometimes there are already vegetables in the main option the dining hall is serving, but regardless I like to add salad to my plate. Not only does it help you get that recommended serving of vegetables in each day, but it also makes your plate look better.
Try and load your plate up with vegetables before you add anything else. Vegetables are better for you and contain less calories than the other options, so try and fill half your plate with veggies. When having salad, go for the cucumber and tomato slices over the iceberg lettuce which has no nutritional value.
9: Leave the dessert options as a treat
I know how tempting it can be to just go for that slice of chocolate cake. Everyone else is eating it. Some people even take a second helping. It is okay to indulge occasionally, but this should not be a regular thing. Leave it as a treat. For me, I allow myself to have a treat in the dining hall three times a week. This is probably still more than I should be doing, however if I have had a few really good days where I have done a good amount of exercise, ate healthy, drunk heaps of water and got in my recommended hours of sleep then its totally okay to indulge in the dessert….just don’t go crazy!
Go for the healthier option. Choose desserts that have an element of heath to them such as fruit or dairy based desserts over heavy carb options. Apple crumble, fruit tarts or vanilla ice cream are much better option than chocolate cake or brownie. If you really must indulge in something unhealthy, go for a smaller portion and eat slowly to savour it!
10: Go to bed at a reasonable hour
It happens to all of us. We begin messaging friends, or on YouTube or finishing that assignment last minute and next thing you know, its 2am and you have to be up again at 7am. Try to get the recommended 6-8hrs of sleep each night, and make sure you know what time you need to be asleep by to ensure this. Keep an eye on the time, or even set a timer so you know when you need to start getting ready for bed.
I know that I need more sleep than most people, so I aim to be in bed by midnight each night, which gives me a full eight hours. Listen to your body! If you are feeling especially tired that night, make sure to get to bed a bit earlier. Your body will thank you in the morning.
So there we have it! Ten little ways by which to make you feel happier and healthier each day. Let me know in the comments if there are any other small things that you do each day to keep healthy.