College 101: Be Happy, Be Healthy
Long story short, I have learned a thing or two since my first official year in college (thank God I was home during that time...still am, though. It's cheaper). Along the way--on into recovery, even--there were several tips I learned to keep focused, fueled, healthy, energetic, and happy.
Tip #1: Eat
Okay, so--first thing I learned was that food is an essential part of your brain's ability to function. Who knew, right?! (That was a joke). In order to maintain a healthy, balanced brain & body function throughout your college career, you'll need to eat. Eating isn't the enemy here! In fact, your lack of attention to what you eat, and even the meals you're skipping have more of an effect on your weight and metabolism than you realize.
The advice here is that you don't skip a meal. By all means, eat the foods you like, but make sure they're nutrient dense and have plenty of fiber. For breakfast (always eat breakfast...the best way to start your day!), I tend to eat plain cheerios with milk and a banana. Sometimes, I even do peanut butter on toast or oatmeal if I am not crunched for time.
Tip #2: Drink Plenty of Water
Ditch the coffee. Sure, it'll keep you awake. But after a while it'll leave you feeling drained. Another thing I learned that I was doing wrong was that I wasn't drinking enough water. TOO MUCH COFFEE. Therefore, my energy was zapped, my focus was hazy, and my motivation practically zilch.
My rule of thumb (at least for what my body seems to want and be able to handle) is about a gallon of water per day. Seems like a LOT! It was for the first week. But after my system was flushed, that amount of water was something my body actually craved. Thus, as soon as I get up in the morning I fill my 32 oz. water bottle up with ice water (I do ice water because I prefer cold over lukewarm) and sip on it while getting myself ready and my things together for school. And then, after round one is done, I fill it up 2 more times during the day. And then some! You can get a 32 oz. water bottle at Walmart and Target.
Sometimes I get tired of just plain water. However, I refuse to use flavorings for my water that are not natural because of the chemicals and coloring. Doesn't scream healthy to me. To get around those flavorings, I have been trying different ways to naturally flavor my water. Something that will do dual purpose as a pick-me-up, help to detox, and refresh. My family and I have tried several recipes: Strawberry & Basil, Lemon & Mint, Orange & Clove, and Lemon & Lime. Now, of course, not all of these are going to be something you'll readily have on hand. That's why I always revert to my favorite: Lemon & Lime. The lemon and lime squeeze bottles in the produce section of the grocery store always have the juices in stock. Plus, they're small enough to be able to store them in your backpack or purse. I never leave home without them!
Tip #3: Move More
Until college, I was always on the move. I had Karate classes 5 times a week...and that was usually at night, after teaching 2-3 classes before hand. So, once I got into college, being constantly on the move was almost impossible because I felt that I had to always be studying. Not the case! If you're not moving, you're not learning! This is why I like taking a 30 minute study break--almost every day--to workout. I choose to do a mixture of low-impact cardio (because of ankle injuries) and lots of weights.
If you have access to a gym at school, take advantage of it! It's usually a small fee for the whole semester. My fee is $15 if I would choose to use the school gym. However, it you're like me--living at home--and prefer to workout alone where you can look horrifically sweaty, make loud grunting noises, and move in unnatural ways without people staring at you, go to the garage or your room. Hop on to YouTube and search for workout videos that are at least 30 minutes long. I like the low-impact HIIT workouts. As well as combining several of Denise Austen's 10-15 minute videos for a full-body boot camp. Some videos have weights as an option. You can always find routines that use body weight instead.
Don't forget to have at least a 1-day rest period. Sometimes I take a 2-to-3-day rest. But, it just depends on how stressful my week has been, what I have eaten, and how much I have to study before the following week begins.
Tip #4: Get Sleep
Don't put off getting sleep. You're textbooks and notes will be there tomorrow. But, just like eating, drinking water, and exercising, your body and brain will thank you for the beauty rest. Not only does it help your body to get the sleep it needs, your brain needs the sleep in order to repair itself. And if you're not sleeping because you need to study, how much are you actually learning if your brain is not being given the chance to repair and recharge?!
Tip #5: Revamp Your Snacking
I am one that has to always have a snack. And I am guilty, like most, of choosing the wrong thing to snack on. Sometimes it's because I am hungry, and sometimes it's because of my low blood-sugar. Because of this, I try to have a snack on hand at ALL times. However, I have had to revamp the way I snack. That's why I try and keep a zip lock sandwich baggie of healthy snack options in my backpack/purse. Usually simple ones, though; I like carrots, nuts, blueberries, grapes (any fruit, really), cheese sticks, and pretzels.