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12 College Women Get Real About Being Healthy in College

In college, it can be hard to make time to exercise. When the choice is between Netflix and chill or jump on the elliptical, well, you can imagine which often wins. It’s an even harder choice to avoid the pizza and ice cream in the dining hall and head straight for the salad bar. Not only are these choices hard, but also maintaining a healthy lifestyle can often get down right expensive.

How much of a priority is a healthy lifestyle for college women? And more importantly, is it possible to truly maintain a healthy lifestyle between the partying, late night eating and all-nighters that are so prevalent in college? We asked 12 college women to weigh in.

“While I am a full-time college student, I am also a nationally qualified NPC Bikini Bodybuilding competitor. I live on campus, have a meal plan and am forced to use the less-than-stellar campus gym six days a week and still manage to place in my competitions. However, it’s not the enigmatic dining hall meat or the ceaseless amount of reading that I have to do for class that prevent me having an optimally fit college experience. It’s compromising my leg day gains with thirsty Thursday dollar beers. It’s the struggle of staying focused while my peers are telling me I’m not getting the ‘full college experience’ by opting to stay sober some weekend nights. I love competing and fitness so making the best out of the dining hall and the on campus gym isn’t impossible. The real struggle is Thursday night through Sunday morning.”

Angela, Siena College Class of 2017

“In high school I played many sports, mainly volleyball and soccer. I never really had to go out of my way to exercise on my own or pay a lot of attention to what I was eating especially since my mom was fairly health conscious with our food. However, I struggle to be healthy and fit in college. I have little time to join a sports club and dragging myself to the gym is just so unappealing that I rarely go. Healthy food is more expensive and it is difficult to eat healthy as the food prep often takes longer. I do not eat healthy very often and I do not exercise regularly. I think the craziness of college gets in the way and having a low budget does not help. But I think it can be done. I have been trying to be more conscious, especially in the food department. Hopefully I will be able to get back on track with eating balanced meals and light exercise so I can live a fuller, healthier life.”

-Katie, Virgina Commonwealth University Class of 2018

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“I think it is extremely hard to live a healthy lifestyle in college, especially if you are on the meal plan. Most of the meals are prepared in the kitchen, so it is hard to keep track of calorie intake and micro-nutrition when you are eating from the school cafeteria. While most people would argue that well you can eat off the salad bar, that gets boring after a while. Since I personally am not a fan of salads, I don’t eat healthy. I’m constantly on the go and sometimes it’s just easier to grab a plate of fries and call it a day. I do have time in my schedule to exercise, I just choose to nap instead of going to the gym. As mentioned before I am constantly on the go an anytime I have free time I like to spend it in bed Netflix-ing.”

-Tamiracle, University of Florida Saint Petersburg Class of 2017

“Maintaining a healthy lifestyle in college definitely requires discipline and dedication, but I think that once you realize how beneficial it is to you mentally, physically and emotionally, it becomes a much less daunting task. […] For at least five days of the week, I eat clean and try to do as many fruits and vegetables as possible. Steel cut oats or protein pancakes with fruit for breakfast, only whole grains, no meat and minimal dairy. I’ll treat myself, but I make sure to supplement that with a ton of water, seltzer, and a decent amount of sleep in between 18 credits and my internship. Yes, there are days when I can’t do it all, but I feel so much better because of the way I eat and I’d advise anybody to do it who is looking to look and feel better. Positive changes start with you! You always have a choice when it comes to taking charge of your lifestyle and your body. Try swapping out one unhealthy thing in your diet every few weeks and watch the subtle changes take place in your body and appearance.”

-Emily, Rutgers University Class of 2017

“I think it’s easy to live a somewhat healthy lifestyle in college if you make it a priority. However, if your school has a dining hall and meal plan system, things are significantly harder. Schools make larger batches of unhealthy food choices because it’s cheaper and faster, which is unfair to the students. My school in particular cooks almost everything in oil and that makes it very hard to be a healthy individual.”

-Hannah, Kenyon College Class of 2018

“It’s not that difficult to live a healthy lifestyle in college. Yes, you will experience times when all you want to do is ‘pig out’ on junk food, but that is completely fine. We all have time to exercise, but it takes the mentality and motivation to go and workout. A healthy lifestyle is a lifestyle that is balanced. You have to listen to your body; when it’s tired, don’t push yourself, when it’s hungry, eat something that will nourish your body, when you want sweets, eat sweets (there’s no law saying you can’t). It truly is about listing to your body.”

-Tessa, Winthrop University Class of 2019

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“I think I eat pretty healthy, especially for a college student. However, the lifestyle of a student can make it difficult to stick to a good routine. I exercise five mornings a week, and I go to the gym around 7:30 am so that I have time for everything else in my day. However, late at night it can be harder to make healthy choices.”

-Malia, Christopher Newport University Class of 2017

“I think it’s definitely harder to live a healthier lifestyle in college because of the unlimited meal plan and the general idea that most affordable food is often unhealthy on a college student’s budget. I tend to eat on the healthier side, in my opinion, because I like knowing what I’m putting in my body and I’ve always been like that. Sure, it’s sometimes tough to balance in grocery shopping time and other time-consuming activities associated with being healthy but I love running and it’s my de-stressing mechanism from college. Diet is 75% and exercise is 25% so as long as you’re eating well, there’s a good chance you’re still staying healthy. A healthy lifestyle to me is working out 3-4 times a week and eating healthy everyday. I make sure I walk everywhere so that I’m getting in that extra kick even on my off-days.”

-Trina, Southern Methodist University Class of 2019

“I definitely think a healthy lifestyle is possible in college. The dining halls offer so many options and there are always opportunities to choose the healthier alternative. Now that I live off campus I think that I eat much healthier because I am in charge of the food I buy and what is available to me. I definitely don’t work out as much as I should but I try to take advantage of the different workout classes my school offers as well as our unlimited access to the gym. I think students have a conception that you can’t be healthy in college because of things like the freshman 15 or the sophomore slump but if you put in a little more effort you can definitely live a healthy lifestyle if you want to.”

Katie, SUNY Oneonta Class of 2017

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“I think it is extremely difficult to lead a completely healthy lifestyle in college, especially in Manhattan. Getting healthy food is expensive and it takes lots of time to actually find the places that sell it for a reasonable price. Plus if you are taking 18 credits, have a job, and extracurriculars, it’s hard to find time to exercise. To me, a healthy lifestyle is eating well and exercising every other day. And it’s hard to do all of that unless you really commit.”

-Isabel, NYU Class of 2018

“I think that it is possible to lead a healthy lifestyle in college, it just takes a little bit of effort and planning. At the start of the week, I plan out what times each day I will be able to exercise and plan out my workouts ahead of time in my planner to ensure that I do them each day. I also pay attention to what I eat and make sure to eat balanced and healthy meals and try not to snack too often. I believe that a healthy lifestyle is composed of healthy eating, exercise and respecting your body.”

-Abby, University of Florida Class of 2019

“I do think that it is harder to live a healthy lifestyle in college, especially if you weren’t in the habit before coming to college. I know for myself that I find it hard to make time in my busy schedule to go to the gym here on campus. I do try to eat as healthy as I can, although I do let myself cheat on some days. But trying to add a workout at the gym has been the hardest for me, because I am either in class or trying to get a handle on my homework or wanting to hang out with friends and a lot of times the gym falls to the wayside. Being fit and healthy in college is obtainable. You just have to make the conscious decision to prioritize that into your week and actually take a break from studying or whatever you would normally be doing to go. It’s hard to get the gym in there, but I always leave feeling so much better about myself after a workout. Now, I need to go and try to actually fit it into my schedule for this week! It’s been awhile.”

-Leah, Clemson University Class of 2018

Cara Sprunk has been the Managing Editor of Her Campus since fall 2009. She is a 2010 graduate of Cornell University where she majored in American Studies with a concentration in cultural studies. At Cornell Cara served as the Assistant Editor of Red Letter Daze, the weekend supplement to the Cornell Daily Sun where she also wrote for the news and arts section and blogged about pop culture. In her free time Cara enjoys reading, shopping, going to the movies, exploring and writing.  
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