Emerging from hiding out under blankets and watching Netflix during all hours of winter break, you may be wondering what actions that you can take to jump start back into incorporating fitness and living a healthy lifestyle into your daily schedule. There are a variety of ways that you can make fitness fun, follow these simple steps to get back in the swing of things!
While pressing the snooze button five times each morning can become a bad habit, sleep is an important factor in your personal health! Studies show that getting a good night’s sleep helps with heart health and managing weight. Also, making sure to get about eight hours of sleep a night can be a big mood booster! While this doesn’t guarantee a peppy disposition every morning when you wake up for classes, having a regular sleep schedule does help manage emotional regulation. Making sure to get enough sleep each night reduces the chance that you’ll be cranky later in the day when you’re running low on coffee and are headed to the fifth class of the day.
To manage your sleep schedule, it helps to set an alarm in the evening at a good time to go to bed! This makes a good reminder for when it’s time to wind down from doing homework, wash your face, put your pajamas on, and hit the hay. Otherwise, you make get caught up in the work that you’re doing and not be able to get to bed until the early hours of the AM! Set an alarm for the morning time, too, but don’t leave it as that annoying radar tone. Find a fun song that will wake you up and make you want to move in the morning!
You have a 9 AM class, three chapters to read for the class after that, and a paper due on Friday… and it’s already midnight, is this what stress feels like?! Stress can manifest itself in many ways; fatigue, muscle tension, and headaches are some common examples. If you find that you experience a high level of stress on a daily basis, it might be time to re-evaluate what you’re doing! It’s much more difficult to function at a high stress level on a daily basis, and it is super unnecessary. Assess the sources of stress in your life, and find ways to alleviate the burden that they are placing on you. If you find that you’re always in a rush to do homework at the end of the night, schedule time during the day and find a place on campus to study. If you’re packing a full schedule with back-to-back classes and meetings, invest in a planner to write out your daily schedule and make sure you to never miss an event again!
Reaching for the chips or cookies when you’re stressed may seem like a good idea, but stress-related weight gain is a real thing! Snacking when stressed can cause unnecessary weight gain, so try to curb the cravings and find a healthy habit instead! If you are having a hard day, channel that energy into exercising or getting some homework done and out of the way.
Consistent levels of high stress can also lead to depression and anxiety. If you find that along with fatigue, you’re having a hard time getting out of bed, motivating yourself, or even feeling sad, you may be depressed! Many people face seasonal depression, and it is totally normal. Know that you are not alone, that there are so many people in the world who love you and want to help you, and that there are resources that you can find to help manage this depression. Most schools have an on-site psychologist or psychiatrist, so if these feelings persist, try going to the office during walk-in hours, or make an appointment to talk with a counselor. Having someone to detox about your day with that isn’t your roommate, best friend, or mom is actually very beneficial in managing stress!
Now, I’m not saying that you need to be eating salad for every meal of the day, or substituting solid foods for protein shakes, but really watch what you eat! It’s easy to fall into the routine of eating what we have lying around the house, and if that means a bag of potato chips and a frozen pizza, then so be it. But, if you go grocery shopping weekly, what’s stopping you from picking up some spinach and strawberries rather than a box of microwave popcorn? If it’s up to you, choose healthy foods! Something that has helped me is following a nutrition guide that has a grocery list along with recipes and meal plans from The Strong Movement!
If you’re not looking to change up your diet a whole lot, focus more on the quantity of food that you’re consuming. Portion control can really make a difference within your body, if you’re only having two big meals each day, your body will have to keep that energy and protein stored to use longer, but if you’re consistently fueling your body through small snacks and protein-packed meals, you’ll feel a lot more energized throughout your day! Make sure to pack snacks for passing periods between classes, having some mixed nuts or granola bars stashed in your bag can help hold you over until you’re able to get a real meal in after class.
Drink lots and lots of water! Caffeine can leave you crashing an hour after you consume, but water will help keep you energized throughout the day. Drinking water will also help keep your muscles energized, and can help with skin clarity. Carry around a reusable water bottle to remind yourself to be drinking water consistently throughout the day! If you’re looking to spice it up, try adding some lemon juice or mint sprigs to flavor your water.
Whether it’s walking from class to class, doing morning meditation and yoga, or hitting up the weight racks at the gym, try to spend at least 60 minutes each day doing some type of physical exercise! As daunting as this sounds, it actually flies by a lot faster than you think. Rather than taking the tram around campus, walking to class adds up in exercise time! Instead of spending your hour break in bed watching Netflix, head to the gym and hop on the elliptical (where you can still fit in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, or whatever you’re binge watching on Netflix!)
Make sure to stretch it out before and after you work out to avoid unwanted muscle cramps. If you’re super stretchy already, look into taking a yoga class! Yoga has plenty of health benefits, and provides just as much of a work out as using machines at the gym.
Progress, Not Perfection
Remember, fitness is not a fad, and that living a healthy lifestyle overall will make drastic improvements to your quality of life! Your goal should not be perfection, but working towards a healthier body that can help you do all of the things that you love to do. Through building healthy habits and having a support system you can make fitness fun!
Bethany is the contributing editor for The Young Hopeful. She is currently a junior at the University of San Diego, and just returned from a semester abroad in Rome, Italy! She is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies with a double minor in Theology and Religious Studies as well as Leadership Studies. Bethany is a proud founding sister of the California Xi chapter of Pi Beta Phi at USD, and loves her Pi Phi sisters! She is involved in a variety of ministries on campus including University Ministry, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Her faith plays a huge role in her life, and she’s grateful to attend a Catholic university with such a loving and supportive community! In her spare time, she loves to go to farmer’s markets, spend time at the beach, and do ballet. You can always find her with a Diet Coke in hand, probably re-applying her favorite NARS lipstick. Follow Bethany onInstagram, Twitter & more @bethanymok!