Whether you're fresh into college or fresh out of college, the "Freshman Fifteen" is a real thing. However, it isn't the end of the world. To get back in shape and love your body again (or just rediscover a healthy balance), here are ten realistic tips for college students looking to get back on track!
1. Drink half a glass of water every hour.
I know from experience it is quite difficult to drink eight glasses of water a day (especially when you don't drink eight glasses of anything in a day), but if you cut the water consumption into intervals, it makes it much easier to get through. Even if you're only awake for twelve hours, that's still six glasses of water, and I'm sure that's more than what you usually drink, anyway.
(Also, always order water when you go out to eat. It will save you calories and money!)
2. Swap chips for popcorn.
My whole world changed when I discovered Angie's BOOMCHICKAPOP. Not only are her Sea Salt Popcorn and Lightly Sweet Popcorn healthier alternatives for fried potato chips and other sweets at 35 calories per cup, but when you need a fix, she also offers eleven additional flavors guaranteed to blow your mind and your taste buds.
(You can find BOOMCHICKAPOP small bags at Walmart and Target, sometimes on sale at Crest, or you can order bigger bags via Amazon.)
3. Wear fun socks when you work out.
I'm a former college athlete, and one of my favorite parts of game day was wearing my fun socks under my pants. We also had crazy sock contests at morning workouts to lighten the mood. Socks are cheap, and they become a motivator to go to the gym, so you can show them off. (You could even have a weekly contest with your workout partner to see who buys lunch!)
4. Have a vegetable with every meal at lunch and dinner.
As much as I wish otherwise, french fries aren't a vegetable. However, that doesn't mean you should eat a burger or chicken nuggets by themselves. Buy some frozen veggies, keep them in the freezer, and then make a batch for the week to go with your meals. You could also buy some fresh and dip them in hummus or light ranch as a snack.
5. Invest in a baby crockpot.
A one and a half to two-quart crockpot costs around $20, and it makes just the perfect amount of food for you (with leftovers) or you plus one. A crockpot is ideal for college students on the go because you throw the ingredients in, turn the dial, and you don't have to do anything else until it's time to eat!
6. Work out when and how it is convenient for you.
I use workouts in the morning as a way to wake up, and I like to get them out of the way first thing. However, if you dread when your alarm goes off, don't workout in the morning. When you're up at midnight binge watching Netflix, you could use that time to hit the gym instead.
As well, don't feel like you need to be at the gym for hours on end (unless that's what you enjoy). You can get just as much done in a concentrated 30-45 minutes as you can stretching out your workouts.
7. Swap out regular pasta and bread for whole grain.
Bread and pasta aren't great for you anyway, but whole grain is definitely better for you than white. It's less processed, and it provides more nutrients than regular bread/pasta. Throw in a can of tuna, and you have a quick, easy, and tasty pasta salad with good carbs, protein, and fats (or you can add a boiled egg and some light mayo to the tuna for the same effect on a sandwich!).
8. Get your sleep.
I know this is easier said than done, but I also know you can find ways to get more sleep. Whether it's a fifteen-minute nap in between classes or going to bed an hour earlier, sleep is essential for your physical and mental health and productivity.
9. Have two cheat days.
To be completely honest, it just isn't realistic for me to go six days straight with no mishaps (and I know I'm not alone!). Contrary to popular belief, it is okay to have two days a week to treat yourself. It's so much easier to go two or three days with a break, and this personally helped me stay consistent instead of having a cravings meltdown on healthy day four or five.
10. Moderate your alcohol intake.
I won't even lie to you... I love wine. However, I can't drink a bottle by myself every night and expect nothing to happen. You can go out with your friends on the weekends, or have a drink at home after a rough day of class, but be mindful of how much you put in your body. You can overdrink your calories just as much as you can overeat them.
So college friends, take care of yourselves. Find your balance and get back on track to a healthier you. You can do it!