I am having major post-graduation blues.
Being that time of year, it has totally hit me that I am not going back to school. Wow. In school, I couldn’t wait to be out. Out of school, I want back in. Funny how that works?
I guess I’m growing up and that means no more Staples-school-supply-shopping (the best), color coordinating my schedule, late-night library sessions and billion page essays… for now at least. Who knows, I do love to learn.
Rather than wallow in my post-graduation sadness, I thought it might be helpful to share some tips and tricks for staying fit, eating well and having fun during those college years.
These are many things that I found helpful while I was in my last two years of college; when I started implementing a healthier lifestyle.
Make a game plan: It’s so important to stay organized in college: you get slammed with assignments, still want to go to frat parties and also want to exercise and eat healthy. I promise that you can do it all if you plan things out. I made a plan every week consisting of my workouts, my snacks/meals and my groceries in order to stay on track. [Here's a great printable planner] Of course sometimes I would stray from this plan (that’s okay!) but it was a great way to stay motivated.
Get your groceries: Whether you are living on or off campus groceries are a great idea. You can store plenty of pantry items in your dorm room like oats, nuts, dried fruit, seeds, canned beans, nut butters, dark chocolate, trail mix and granola. If you have a mini fridge, stock up on almond milk, yogurt, cheese and your favorite fresh fruits and veggies.
Sundays were my grocery day! I grabbed my pull cart (yup the one the Grandma’s use) and trekked to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods (when I was feeling particularly splurge-worthy).
Successfully conquer the dreaded dining hall buffets: Oh the dining hall. My demise in freshman and sophomore year. Pasta, pizza, bread, bagels, ice-cream machine, Lucky Charm’s, dessert… yeah not ideal. Until going to college, I never had any of these foods readily available to me so I went a littleeee overboard. I did not have a meal plan in my last two years (I was living off campus) but I did frequent the dining hall with my basketball team.
I could write an entire post on the dining hall but here are a few things:
- Veggie it up: Fill half of your plate with fresh vegetables. I’m sure you’ve heard this one before but it is seriously an awesome way to start your plate.
- Survey the scene: Most dining halls have many “stations” so check out what looks good. I usually liked the stir fry station but more often than not I would simply ask the different station people for single items to add to my plate: chicken or turkey slices, tofu, beans, tuna or egg.
- Get creative: The one advantage in having 3746736762375637 billion items of food is that there are so many different ways to eat them. I crushed chickpeas on whole wheat pita bread, topped it with hard boiled egg slices, cucumber, tomato, spinach and feta cheese crumbles. I also made my own chicken salads by using yogurt, celery, raisins and grapes. And a strange but good combo: cream cheese, orange marmalade, tuna on whole wheat pita bread.
- Is the brownie worth it? Yes there are a plethora of treats but do they really taste good? If they do, go for it you deserve it. If you can take a pass then opt for something else.
- Are you hungry for seconds? Buffets are tricky because there are so much food and you can keep getting more. You don’t need to “get your moneys worth” if you are satisfied after your first plate.
Be active and walk everywhere: It was not until I graduated that I realized how fortunate I was to have access to a fitness center and gym amenities. When I was not in basketball season, I tried to get to the gym 5-6 days a week for about an hour each day. Sometimes that wasn’t realistic so I walked… a lot! Walking to class is a great start. Try taking the stairs rather than the elevator; walk to the grocery store; walk to the party; just WALK.
Pack-a-snack: Or a whole day of meals! College schedules are certainly busy. While Dunkin Donuts and Burger King are convenient, they are not ideal for your waistline or wallet. Sometimes I was on campus from 7am until 10pm so I packed all my meals and snacks for the day. I packed nuts and dried fruit to snack on during class, single-serving yogurt containers, bananas, apples, baby carrots and lots of salads. Some energy bars are a good option too; just be cautious of the ingredients list and amount of sugar. Embrace tupperware… they will become your best friend.
Invest in an insulated lunch bag: Since you will be packing all this awesome food you want the cold to stay cold. I used [this one] and it kept things cold for a few hours.
Another cold tip! I covered chicken with frozen veggies… this kept the chicken cold and allowed the veggies to thaw by lunch.
Pick and choose your alcoholic fun: I used to drink everyyyy time I went out. That’s a lot of alcohol… sorry liver. But then I started to scale back. Some nights I wouldn’t drink at all, some nights I’d have one drink and some nights I’d let loose. Pick and choose what works for you.
Pick and choose your alcohol: On a related note, 8 beers is probably not ideal. Opt for clear hard alcohol or a glass of wine. High sugar drinks tend to result in brutal hangovers so try chasing with flavored water. Light beer is another option. I am a big fan of the Skinnygirl cocktail line.
Jello shots are my weakness… I made these for Halloween, with gummy bears inside!
Prepare healthy drunk snacks: If you’re like me, you get the drunk munchies. Mine are intense. When I knew I was going out, I prepared a good-for-me yet satisfying snack. It was ready for instant munching once I got home. Make sure your snack is satisfying to you! If you crave chocolate after a few shots then an apple certainly won’t cut it. Instead, pair a handful of chocolate chips with a few almonds. My go-to was banana and PB… with chocolate chips.
Don’t stress: You’re going to have an “off” day. Maybe you couldn’t get to the gym or you did have 8 beers or you were not okay with a banana and PB so had a half a pizza. Breathe. It’s okay. You are striving for balance, not perfection.
I hope this helps! Embrace your college years; it goes by much too quickly.
College friends: Do you find it challenging to maintain a healthy lifestyle while in college?
Post-college friends: What did you do in order to maintain a (mostly) healthy life in college?
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