I never thought the freshman fifteen was real until my first semester freshman year, when it became an annoyingly harsh reality. College is a huge adjustment, and with new stressors and responsibilities it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself. Whether you’re a freshman or a senior, here are eight tips to help keep a healthy lifestyle, love your body, and feel amazing.
1. Drink lots of water
Water is essential to your health. Your body is constantly loosing water, and you need to replenish it to stay hydrated throughout the day. Water in the body functions to aid in digestion, absorption, circulation, nutrient transportation and body temperature maintenance. Dehydration can impair many aspects of brain function, including mood and concentration. Water also helps maximize physical performance by energizing muscles and prevents dry and wrinkled skin.
2. Don’t skip breakfast
It’s true – breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Studies show eating breakfast prevents you from overeating during the day, improves concentration and classroom performance and is associated with lower cholesterol levels. You’ll get the energy you need to start your day on the right foot.
3. Drink responsibly
If you decide to go out, drink responsibly. Alcohol has a lot of calories and carbs. Try to stick with clear hard liquor and avoid sugary mixers like soda. One serving of vodka contains only 97 calories and zero carbs. Beer is not the best choice, but if you decide to drink it, go with a light beer. Most importantly, make sure you stay hydrated, get plenty of water between drinks on your night out, and eat before you start.
4. Stock up on healthy snacks
It’s easy to fall victim to the vending machine, however having healthy and fresh snacks makes a huge difference in your energy and overall health. Fruits and veggies are tasty, easy to eat on-the-go and are a great source of vitamins and minerals, including potassium, fiber, vitamin C and folate. Opt for whole grains. They are high in fiber and helps lower your levels of C-reactive protein.
5. Keep a schedule
The more you do something, the sooner it becomes a habit. Decide when you’re going to hit the gym every week and stick to it. Keep a regular schedule with your meals, too. Eating meals at different times causes cortisol secretion, which can lead to spikes in insulin.
6. Find a gym buddy
Going to the gym with a friend and positive influence will help motivate you to help achieve your fitness goals, keep your form in check, give you some healthy competition and increase your commitment. Working out will be fun, and you’ll score a free therapy session while you’re at it.
7. Stop taking the bus
Now that it’s finally nice out, there is no excuse not to walk to class. Walking is extremely beneficial to your health. Low intensity cardio like walking helps to improve circulation, stop the loss of bone mass, strengthens muscles, leads to weight loss, improves sleep, supports your joints and puts you in a good mood. Even if you don’t have time to hit the gym, you’ll burn a lot of calories just by walking everyday on campus.
8. Have a cheat meal
Let’s be honest, I will never give up my late night pizza binges. Being healthy doesn’t mean you have to give up everything. Health experts agree that diets should follow the 90/10 rule, which means that 90% of your diet should be healthy and 10% should be devoted to cheat meals. Cheat meals provide a multitude of psychological and physiological advantages. They act as a reward and increase leptin levels. Leptin, a hormone secreted by fat cells, lets your body know to stop eating when it hits a certain threshold. Constant dieting leads to a decrease in leptin levels, which can result in overeating.