Being Healthy in College: How to Commit to Being Fit
A college girl’s guide to beating the freshman 15
By Molly Tavoletti, Ohio State
Between two jobs, an internship, a full academic schedule, student organizations, and a social life, I am asked regularly the same questions:
How do you find time to workout?
How do you have time to be healthy?
And each time I am asked, my answer is always the same:
Being healthy is not something I “find time” to do. It has become as much a part of my day as brushing my teeth, a habit that is an essential part of my daily routine. Being healthy is a lifestyle.
An affair with health is not a one-night-stand or a fad-diet fling. It is a full-blown, long term relationship, complete with all the ups, downs, and baggage such a commitment entails. And as with any serious relationship, you will only get as much out of it as you put in, but if you fully commit to your health, the innumerable positive results outweigh every difficulty you’ll overcome.
College students unfortunately infamously hold the reputation of being unhealthy. Dining halls, binge drinking, and the freshman 15 are held over us like a sentence to inevitable poor health. But I’m here to tell you that NOW is the time to break those standards and start healthy habits to last a lifetime.
But how? Well, Today I’m going to share my favorite tips, tricks, and motivations for starting and maintaining a long term commitment with health.
Whenever you are just beginning down a healthy path, the first step is usually the most difficult one to take. A sure fire way to motivate yourself, though, is to constantly set goals for yourself. These goals should be as specific as possible, mentioning what, when and how you want to accomplish them. They should also ambitious, but reasonably attainable. For example:
This semester I will get at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week.
By Christmas, I will be able to do three pull ups.
This semester I will cook healthy dinners at least four times a week.
This month I will dedicate myself to incorporating lifting into my workouts 3 times a week.
A great way to commit to these goals, as silly as it may sound, is by writing them down and sharing them with others. Sometimes a goal does not seem real to us until the moment it is in ink or spoken out loud. In writing them down, you make a written commitment with yourself, and by sharing them, you create accountability.
Constantly creating new ambitions for yourself is a key factor in goal setting. If you’re always working towards something new, you’ll be less likely to get bored and quit. Eventually the means by which you accomplish your goals become habits, and those habits help you form a permanent healthy lifestyle.
Schedule your workouts and wear your workout outfit to class.
How many times this semester have you woken up with the intention of hitting the gym, but later made an excuse and opted for watching tv instead? For many of us, making excuses becomes our greatest roadblock, but if you plan ahead well you will be less likely to do so.
Written accountability is a surprisingly powerful technique to ensure you do not back out of a workout. In your planner, pencil in your workouts like you would an important meeting or event. This not only keeps you organized, but also forces you to make a written commitment thats more difficult to break.
Motivate yourself even more by investing in some athletic clothing that is easy to throw on, but still are still cute. No girl hates an excuse to shop–so go out and get some new shorts, tanks, jackets or shoes and you will instantly feel more motivated to hit the gym and put them to use!
So maybe you are still thinking you are too busy to regularly workout, and although I am not going to encourage it, it is still possible to be healthy without the gym.
According to recent studies, being healthy is 20% working out and 80% what you eat.
Let that sink in a moment.
How many of you have you said to yourself, “Oh, I worked out today. I can go through the drive-thru and have a giant ice cream sundae”? Probably a lot of us.
Well the reality is that your body would benefit more if you skipped the workout, but made a healthy meal instead. But in college sometimes learning how to make those healthy meals proves difficult, so here are some times for optimizing your nutrition!
When you’re living in the dorms on a meal plan:
Just because dining halls are infamous for producing unhealthy foods, does not mean you have to forgo any hope of being healthy while on a meal plan. Not to mention, I’m not talking about just eating salad for every meal. Contemporary college dining halls offer a variety of healthy AND delicious options:
Avoid anything deep fried. Most dining halls will have grilled or baked chicken as a healthier option
Load your plate with fruit and veggies
Avoid refined grains–for breakfast go for whole wheat toast or oatmeal
When you’re a student on the go, packing healthy snacks a MUST. Whole foods like apples, bananas, raw veggies, and nuts are great because they’re easy to pack and will keep you full until your next meal.
If you have an apartment, cook meals for yourself instead of eating out.
A time-saver I love is meal prepping. Every Sunday night I plan my meals for the week: chopping veggies, portioning meat and being sure all my food groups are represented in every meal I am planning. Prepping will not only keep you organized but it will make you excited to go home and cook that healthy dinner–after studying for all those midterms, you deserve it!
Plan a cheat meal once a week.
Depriving your body of something you love for too long is never good. So once a week, plan a splurge night. Order pizza, have a bowl of ice cream or eat out at your favorite restaurant. My inner Italian has dictated that my splurge meal is usually a form of pasta with a huge glass of wine in front of a Netflix marathon.
You’ve worked hard all week, so treating yourself is more than okay!
The most important thing to remember when you’re beginning down a healthier path is that the change will be gradual and it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
Everyone has her own personal motivation for being healthy.
Recognize yours and listen to it.
I stay active and feed my body well not to improve how my body looks, but rather, how my body FEELS. I don’t wanna skinny legs gained through starvation. I want strong legs that will carry me miles.
Remember that being healthy isn’t about a number on a scale or a size on a pair of jeans, it’s about treating the one and only body you have like the precious commodity it is.