See Ya Never, Freshman 15

Being a university student is tough! You’re hopped up on coffee, taking an overload of credits, making deadlines every other day, completing long assignments weekly, and attending classes and lectures all day. If you’re a college student and listening to this, I got your back. Listen on for some beneficial ideas you can use to make these 4 years the best of your life, both mentally and physically.  

A NEVER ENDING CYCLE

When your day is finally over, you’re hardly planning on racing home to make it to the gym before it closes, nor are you defrosting a meal that you prepped last week… unless you are, in which case: what’s your secret, super student? Please share your motivation tricks with me! 

Truth is, when we get home after a long day at school the majority of us are only thinking about binge eating chocolates, chips, and whatever saucy meal we can get our hands on. It may sound amazing at the time, but it certainly doesn’t leave you feeling good. 

Here are some of the things that could happen during this unhealthy cycle: You’ll start to see yourself gaining weight after weeks of binging. When that happens, you think it’s best to deprive yourself of all the food you like, you’ll skip meals, ignore those cravings, etc. This behaviour would last 2 weeks maximum, then the whole binge-eating episodes on all the things you were depriving yourself of will start, and this would make you gain weight faster than usual. 

TAKING CONTROL

  1. Set your goals 
    a. It can be too difficult to think about it for the year, so break your goals down per semester. What do you want to achieve during the fall semester? Go to the gym 3 times per week? Do some meal prep? Start small and by spring, you won’t recognise yourself from all that progress. 

  2. Choose what you will do in relation to exercise
    a. Will you use an online workout program or app? I asked a friend of mine that’s currently a college student what she thought about my online workout program, and she said: “Going to the gym always leaves me feeling so full of energy, better than any nap or cup of coffee would. And honestly, having someone help you and push you to go and workout, like knowing that you can see my progress and my completed workouts via the app and always tell me how well I’m doing, is extremely motivating for me personally.”

    b. Pick a team sport! Check if your university has a basketball, tennis, or soccer team that you can join. Disclose if you’re a beginner and you’ll be welcomed in with open arms. Bonus: You get to make some new friends if you’re looking! 

                                        

    via GIPHY

    c. Think to yourself: Will I invest in a personal trainer or speak to the trainer at the campus gym to suggest some moves? Personal training can be pricey, but so can gym memberships. Don’t blow your allowance on a membership you won’t utilise. Invest in a trainer and learn the basics of working out so you’ll be able to keep it up long term!

    d. Find an accountability buddy like a trainer through an app or a reliable friend, don’t choose someone that will push you away from your goals. Your friend might have the best intentions, but if he/she is suggesting nights out on the town instead of working out, you might want to sit them down and let them know you’re taking your health seriously. You’ll still party with them! But on designated days and times.

    e. Find some YouTube videos to complete in your room. Whether it’s dancing, yoga, or strength training, just move every day (even for 30 minutes) and your body will thank you. 

             

    via GIPHY

    f. How many days per week and what time during the day will you be working out? How long will your sessions be? If you wish to make a social plan after the gym, take into consideration getting into and out of the gym clothes as well.

    g. You can either push yourself to head straight to the gym after classes or go home and relax for an hour before heading to the gym. The benefits with pushing yourself is you’ll leave with enough endorphins to last you all night, whether you’re studying or partying. Regardless of what you decide, you’re bound to feel fabulous afterwards. 



    h. What happens if you skip a whole week of working out? Just get back to it as soon as you can, no need to overthink the whole process. 

  3. What will your food intake be like?

    a. You need to plan your meals ahead of time so you don’t leave decision making to when you’re hungry and not in a healthy state of mind.



    b. Will you be having breakfast in the morning? I recommend that you do because it can help you stay focused and not think about food during classes. So, what’s it going to be? I find preparing my meals (and my clothes) the night before to be such a lifesaver in the morning when I can’t be bothered to make decisions. I like to prepare my overnight oats in batches of 3 and they’re ready to go! I just add some blueberries on top when I wake up. You can boil eggs for the week or make some chia pudding, these are all easy and quick ideas. I have a recipe book that can help you with ideas as well. 

    c. What will you have for lunch? Think about it the night or even the week before. Will you be making your own lunch? Can you go back home or to your dorm room to eat? That’s usually a better choice than eating at restaurants. Because let’s face it, store-bought salads are not appealing or filling, so every time you eat it, it’s going to leave you feeling so unsatisfied. If you’re living alone, meal prep can REALLY save you in these situations. Batch cook your quinoa, rice, or sweet potato for the week. Batch cook your protein for 3 days and make sure to season it and add some veggies (I have a whole podcast and blog post on this that I will link in the show notes). Most important is to be prepared and know what you will choose.



    d. Same thing applies for dinner: Break down your meal into carbs, protein, veggies, and healthy fats. So many people on Instagram have been sharing their meals with me that consist of the core food groups. It makes cooking so much easier! All you need is a good spice and a mix of your favorite ingredients. My go to ingredients are sweet potato for my carb, chicken and meat for my protein, olive oil as my healthy fat, and chopped veggies that all go in the pan to make a nice stir fry.

    e. I know what you’re thinking, how does she think I have the time to cook? But I PROMISE, cooking in batches saves you SO MUCH TIME. It’s 30 minutes on the weekend to prepare your carb for the week and 30 minutes tops to prepare your protein along with veggies and you’re set. As for breakfast, a dish can take a good 3 minutes total. The bottom line is you have to make the time, it’s there just try to make the best of it! This kind of lifestyle will make you feel so much better and allow you to stay focused on your studies, grades, and college-life without being so concerned with your food choices. 


             

    via GIPHY



  4. What will you do if you get hungry between meals?

    a. A friend of mine mentioned that she has been preparing her air-popped popcorn at home and seasoning it with garlic powder and chili powder to make it more appealing  (She doesn’t even miss butter! Her words, not mine.) Try keeping a bag of baby carrots, apples, blueberries, or any fruit throughout the day. This will keep you energised, avoid the hunger pangs, and helps the digestive system. Your drinks matter here too; if you’re a daily coffee drinker, skip the creamer, high sugar coffee drinks, and syrups and instead opt for skimmed or low fat milk. Energy drinks and juices are quite high on sugar too, making you pile on the kilos.
     

Tala, the friend I mentioned earlier, was struggling with weight gain during the first 2 years of college because of her eating habits. She told me:

“The most important change I made this time around was the fact that I’m now listening to my body and its cravings. I do not deprive myself of anything. If my friends want to go out for burgers, I go and have a burger. If I’m craving pizza, I’ll have pizza. The key is that I’m not eating burgers every day, and when I have pizza, I’m not eating all 12 slices in one go. These were things that I didn’t have the self-control to do before.”

Instagram questions: 

I love getting your Instagram questions and comments, here are some that I want to share with you:

    1. Salwa asked about: stress eating. Thanks for your question, Salwa. Rest assured, stress eating can happen to many of us, especially in today’s fast paced world. It’s important to keep your food in check, not to leave yourself to the last minute to make food choices, and to ask yourself why you’re eating what you’re eating. If the answer is stress, it means that you should put away the books for a while and go out for a walk or see a friend. 

    2. Mira and a few others said that they struggle because they are starving all day and binge eating when they come home. Mira and her friends, you can do this! All you have to do is set aside one hour on the weekend where you can all batch cook together and you’re set for the week. Make a fun day out of it, assign each friend a food group, and see who can get the most creative! 


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