We are poor but happy college students.
Sometimes we struggle with balancing our school work, children, social life, and healthy lifestyles.
What can we do to make this work?
To mold our lives together into perfect working factions?
Although it is tough, we make it work through hard work, dedication, and a constant reminder of happiness! For most of us, college is a time when we finally start our lives as independently as possible. Some of us start later in life but achieve a sense of independence we never knew we were capable of. College is the time when you are finally on your own. You learn to make your own decisions and rules. You guide your life to the destination you desire- even if it is unknown. Living a healthy lifestyle in college does not have to be hard though and it definitely does not require hours of prep and preplanning! The key is to stay organized. Get into the habit of making certain meals on a certain night of the week, going grocery shopping, etc. Start a notebook like mine (see my DIY : Notebook) It’s realistic, small and easy to shove in your purse or backpack.
Eating healthy while at college:
Keep a handful of items ready to go. I usually make a big batch of chicken on Sundays to eat throughout the week. I buy frozen bags of veggies that are microwavable, I have apple fries & peanut butter, which is easy for sharing with a roommate, child or hubby. Find foods that are easy for you and don’t require a lot of preparation!
Pack little jars, bags or containers of hunger killers the night before. So when you are running late to class the next morning you can grab one and go!
Keep a budget. Since most of us do not have a ton of extra money, limit yourself each week. I have a set grocery list and it is typically $30 per week in food just for me. My children & husband are extra. I choose more whole foods in my diet… Like fresh fruit and veggies, peanut butter, whole wheat pastas, and some snacks.
Limit eating out to only a few times a week. SAVE MONEY!! Don’t go out too often, it is cheaper and healthier to cook for yourself! When you eat out, box half of your meal up and save the other half for the next day. Stretch your dollar!
Replace 1 meal a day with Shakeology. I like mine at lunch. It’ll be your healthiest meal of the day and at $4 a serving, it beats any fast food meal or latte you can buy! Plus it has the nutritional value of eating 5 large salads in one meal! It will increase your energy, decrease cravings, help you lose weight and give you the nutrition you need in one glass. It’s portable, convenient and absolutely tastes amazing!
We have a restaurant called the Pasta Factory. They serve a Bow Tie Chicken Caesar Salad served with a Bread Twist that is to-die-for. I order the full, dressing on the side, no croutons, and add half spinach instead of just romaine… You’ll come to find out I always make my salad bigger by adding more lettuce; what can I say – I’m an herbivore! I, like sooo many people here, can hardly resist a Steak Salad from Cafe Rio. BUT I order no tortilla chips, no rice, extra pico and choose either guacamole or the dressing. Sometimes it’s hard to leave things out, but honestly if you’re only eating half your “restaurant size” meal at a time it’s okay to include all your favorites. Remember proportion sizes!
If you can hold the beast back, invite your friends or family to come over and cook a healthy dinner! That is always fun.
Find healthy options for when you do go out. I’ll post a page on that soon. Most restaurants have side salads, steamed veggies, and whole wheat options. Restaurants over-portion their plates by double if not more! When I eat out with my husband, we get an appetizer and one meal, then split it! If I am with my friends or family and want to take left-overs home for the next day, I order two small appetizers, or one appetizer and a side salad. Even if you just switch the fries for veggies and keep your normal meal the same that is still a healthier option!
Choose water. Wherever you go, order a water, or water with lemon. Skip the soda or whatever else. Tea is okay, but remember caffeine is a stimulant and too much will dehydrate you and also pull calcium out of your bones. Water is the best option there is! I always have at least one of my water bottles with me. Train yourself into making a habit of taking water with you!
A simple way to get in your daily exercise is to walk! Walk around campus between classes and walk to your class. Park far away from your class building to encourage you to walk. Get your blood pumping. Ride your bike to class! Try enrolling in gym class. Most colleges have a gym, some are free with your tuition. Take advantage of this and GO!!! There is always something for everyone!
Fit it into your schedule. If you are a morning person or you don’t have classes until the afternoon then go before class! Try BeachBody’s at home DVD programs! T25 is only 25 min long, and their Hip Hop Abs & Turbo Jam spice things up without having to go to the gym. If you prefer your workouts between or after classes then try to make it a habit. Take advantage of your college’s gym. Take a weight training class for credit! Even if you are going to do some yoga and stretch out. Remind yourself how good you feel when you are active.
Find a study buddy. Everyone knows that when you study with someone you retain more info, learn things you missed and actually recall the info for the exam. You can study together and even work on homework. You’re less likely to miss deadlines with a study buddy there to help remind you. Sometimes it can be distracting but most of the time it is motivating. Figure out what kind of learner you are do you need to talk it out? Record lectures? Draw pictures & diagrams? Walk around and fiddle? Do what works regardless of what others think.
GO to class and do your homework.
Find a tutor or talk to your professor if you need help! The more you talk to them, the more get they know you, and the more they can help you! Plus, they are willing to write letters of recommendation for future applications or interviews.
How to maintain a social life:
Get involved, put yourself out there. You’ll meet so many people who will help you determine who you are and where you stand. Figure out which clubs you want to join and join them. Don’t think, just do. But keep your numbers low – it is much better to be highly involved in a few groups rather than not as involved in many groups. Stay close to the members and communicate with them. Organizations are a great way to meet people with similar interests as you.
Find your group of friends. Choose who you want to be like and love them for all their differences. You are who your friends are, so choose wisely. Be the friend you wish you had. You may not get a chance be close with your roommates if they don’t try too… but, honestly, it’s not your problem as long as they pay rent.
If you aren’t into partying it’s okay! You don’t have to party for a good time. Do the things you enjoy. Hiking, biking, art festivals, movies, shopping, reading a book on your bed (join the book club!)
College is stressful. If you are struggling I urge you to seek help! Many colleges offer free counseling if you need to talk to someone! If you are struggling talk to a counselor, a friend, or anyone you trust.
Get involved because being involved helps your mind stay active. Workout! Jump around! Dance! The endorphins will keep depression at bay.
It is hard being away from everything you miss. Remember that everyone is going through the same feelings and looking for friends as well! Find them and bond. If college is stressful or the workload is too much then consider taking fewer classes. It is better for you to feel organized and understand what you are learning, rather than lolly gagging your way through college for grades. The knowledge you gain will be very important in your career.
Get a notebook and organize your weeks. Help yourself figure out what you need to do for not just you, but for those around you. That way, when your deadlines arrive you aren’t overwhelmed when there is so much to do.
Set time aside everyday for you!
The days before college you were just a kid, now that you’re in college you are grown up playing kid. Make the best of it.
Be safe, and even more importantly, be smart!
Think happy, healthy thoughts!