7 Small Changes to Jumpstart Your Healthy Lifestyle

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Going away to college will be the best four years of our lives, or so we’ve been told. But did anyone ever tell you that you’d be so exhausted from schoolwork you’d forget your last proper meal, or that you would be 10 pounds heavier than you were in high school? Whether you’re a daily jogger  or someone who barely leaves the couch, there are always new ways you can improve your health in college.

1. Find a workout partner

It’s never easy to find the motivation to work out, especially if you are doing it alone. Whether it is your best friend or someone you met at the gym, having someone by your side will not only get you moving they’ll act as your second conscience, ensuring you don’t skip out on your workout.

2.Make better choices when eating on or off campus

Student at any level of cooking can find simple recipes from websites like Pinterest and CollegeRecipes.com or the app MyPlate. They also show you how to meal prep the night before, so when you are crammed for time you’re not reaching for that donut or quick McDonald’s sandwich. That being said, eating healthy does not mean spending a ton of money. Giant Food Stores and even Wegmens have great deals every week on vegetables and healthy proteins that don’t break the bank.  The resources are there, so it’s really all up to you to make good choices. Most colleges also have nutritionists who are more than happy to help with healthy eating.

3. Start with a walk

Most people think getting in shape means joining a gym and paying a ton of money for a membership you’ll probably never use. All it starts is with a walk: 20 or 30 minutes a day walking around campus or your apartment complex is all it takes. According to Health.com, if you wake up early in the morning and walk on an empty stomach, not only will you burn more calories, you’ll also raise your metabolism.

4.Leave motivational notes lying around your apartment

Losing weight or staying healthy is like studying for a test. It’s hard and tedious and sometimes you don’t feel like you’re making any progress at all. It’s tough to find motivation, but it can be as easy as writing post-it notes and sticking them in the places you mostly spend your time — your bathroom mirror, your car window, or maybe on every page of your bio notebook. Those small reminders will help keep your mind on track.

5. Sleep more

Pulling all-nighters seems like a rite of passage when it comes to school, and often there is no escaping it. Cramming before big tests, finalizing papers on the day they’re due — sometimes college piles up on you and sleep becomes a nonexistent thing. Sleeping is key when trying to stay healthy and avoiding weight gain. When you get 7 to 8 hours of rest you’re less likely to turn to large sugary lattes and breakfast pastries for energy, skipping exercise because you’re too tired, or getting takeout because you’re too lazy to cook anything.

6. Lay off the booze and drink more water

We all drink — but if college kids knew just how many calories they’re taking in at the bars most would think twice before shotgunning half a dozen beers. Take a simple 1.5oz shot of any liquor: vodka, rum, tequila or gin, for example. If you were to take 5 shots in one night alone you’d be consuming 500 calories worth of alcohol, which doesn’t include the one beer or other mixed drinks you may consume. That’s not to say you can’t drink and not have a good time. Just keep in mind that that a keg stand is fun for a night but will hug your waist forever.

7. Find Activities you Really Enjoy

All in all working out is supposed to be fun, so get out there and find new trails to hike or even kayak along the river. You can make your workout into a competition with your workout buddy, which would push you even further beyond your limits. Tag team in a swimming race, or see who can get the most pushups in a minute. It is completely up to you — but whatever you decide, make sure it’s an activity you will actually enjoy and will help you accomplish your goals. Happy exercise!

Wanting to change the world with my words, senior, journalism, Penn State University

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