As I start to plan for Dressember, maintain a busy class/club/work schedule, and continue to figure out my new health goals, I want to share what has gotten me thus far in my journey. All of the above may seem like a lot to handle, and at times it sure feels like it is, but I consistently find little tips and tricks to help me along the way. 5 of those tricks are what I’m going to share with you today! Just to start out, I’m in no way certified as a personal trainer or life coach, this is just what I have found works for me.
1. Make your workout schedule and stick to it!
Figure out what type of exercise you enjoy (yoga, lifting, running, boxing, etc) and plan times and workouts for the week on Sundays. I find that if I have a plan before I go to bed on Sunday, I don’t have to then worry about when and what workouts I do the rest of the week, after all my homework is being assigned and I spend hours doing homework. I also find that if I write my workouts into my planner, I’m more likely to do my workouts because I know I have the time. My tired self then can’t say, “Oh, well, you don’t have the time today” when, clearly, I have plenty of time according to my planner. Also, don’t be afraid to mix up your workouts a little bit! I combine weight lifting with cardio and yoga. That way my body gets worked in a few different ways, and I get the most benefit from my workouts. Remember, that even if you have an injury or restriction, there’s always a type of exercise for you. I have laterally tracking kneecaps (slightly to super painful when running and jumping) so I can’t do a ton of impact exercises. I have found weight lifting to benefit my knees, and for the days my knees hurt too bad to lift, I resort to yoga to stretch out the muscles and bring some peace to the joint. So there’s something out there for everyone, you just have to find it.
2. Find the time of day when you’re most motivated.
I’m an early bird. I’m usually asleep by 10:30pm at the absolute latest during the week, so I like to get up early to do my workouts. I try to get to my gym as soon as it opens in the morning because that’s when I’m most awake and ready to work. I find myself more energized the rest of the day when I workout in the morning. Also, I don’t often have club meetings, homework, or have to be at work that early in the morning, so that’s when I can make time to get to the gym. I also do yoga workouts in my apartment on my non-lifting days and those I tend to do right before bed so I sleep better at night. However, I know that not everyone is an early bird like myself, so if evening/night exercise is your thing, go for it! Just remember, you HAVE to MAKE time. You can’t just wing it with your workouts, or you may not always get the most benefit. This is your health, and making the time to workout is SO important.
3. Figure out how to eat healthy, while not depriving yourself all the time.
Food is something that is different to almost every person. That’s why there are so many different ways to eat out there, because everyone has different tastes and tolerances for certain foods. I have spent quite a bit of my college experience trying to figure out what I can and can’t eat. In my two years in college, I have developed a gluten intolerance, and lettuce allergy, and an avocado allergy. I also find that the more carbs I have, the more tired I am and the worse my stomach feels. So I have adopted a lower-carb diet with lots of fruits, veggies, and meat. However, I still allow myself to eat the things I want, within reason. I still eat gluten free mac n cheese and gluten free pizza, I just try to limit them. I go through phases where I just eat all the things I want to, and after a few days I feel like crap and go back to following my diet. All in all, you just have to find what works best for you and stick with it. They say health is 70% diet and 20% exercise, and abs are made in the kitchen, AND in the gym. So find what works for you, and follow it!
4. Know when you need a day off.
Rest days sound like something you’d use an excuse to not do a workout, but rest days are SO important. Especially with such a busy schedule like a college student. Rest days allow your mind and body to rest, recharge, and reset. Sometimes life just gets too hard, or too busy, and you need those rest days to maintain your sanity. So plan during the week to take a few hours everyday, or maybe even just one day to have some “me” time after classes and/or work. Your body will thank you for it every time.
5. Be constantly setting smaller goals, and reaching them.
A little cliche for a picture, but the message is important. When setting goals in life, it’s important to make them something you can reach. You don’t want to set a super small goal and after you reach it, that’s it. You want to set a goal that is possible, but difficult. You want to grow on your way to that goal, but you want to be able to get there and then set a new one. This supports constant growth in your life in general, and especially in your health. For example, making it to the gym 3x a week, or not having ice cream everyday (if that’s your thing). You’ll be more motivated and inspired if you’re reaching goals every few weeks/months than if you set year-long goals and don’t reach them by the end of the year. It’s easier to think short term and see long term results than to think long term and see short term results.
Health and fitness while being a working college student is something that I’m still trying to figure out myself, but I’m enjoying every step of the way. I’m a month into classes and I’m finally getting into the swing of my new class, homework, work, and workout schedule. Food has always been a battle for me as well, but I’m finally finding my footing there as well. The goal is always some sort of improvement, and baby steps are perfectly acceptable.
I hope you enjoy and find some use from my 5 tricks to a healthy student life, and I’ll see you next week!