Eat Smart · Feel Great · Student Life

8 Small Ways to Make Your Health a Priority

As finals get closer week by week, our mental and physical health increasingly becomes less of a priority. We get lazy about going to the gym, order Insomnia Cookies far too often, and overall feel a loss in control over of bodies. When you just don’t have time to get in your daily workout, making small lifestyle changes can help you feel more on track and in control. Consider these tips when you make your choices throughout your day.

  1. Wake up 10 minutes before you are supposed to. Even though this is a struggle for us night owls, having even this little bit of extra time in the morning is great because it gives you some wiggle room to catch the news, brew a cup of coffee, or even arrive to class a tad early. If you’re feeling really ambitious, doing a quick stretch or ab workout is another awesome way to wake your body up. From personal experience, I can say that I have been able to pay much more attention in my 8am classes when I get up at least an hour before and have a solid breakfast. Also, hydrating first thing in the morning with a glass of iced water can help decrease the look of puffiness in your face and replenishes your body from its deep slumber. No more snoozed alarms for the perpetually late.
  1. Cut the sugar from your coffee. Yes, the combination of coffee and sugar wakes us up, but I promise you there is a healthier way to get your coffee fix! Ordering that caramel swirl latte at Dunkin’ in the morning may taste great but it is also full of calories. Even worse, the amount of sugar is bound to cause you to crash in the middle of your boring art history lecture. Try using natural agave syrup instead. If you happen to be on Marshall, Strong Hearts Café serves wonderful coffee for just $1 and you can ask for agave and almond milk to add the sweetness you crave.
  1. Take the stairs. Taking the stairs seems to be the obvious choice for a mini, middle-of-the-day calf workout, but it is something we often overlook. The elevator is conveniently located in the lobby of most buildings, which is an incredibly tempting choice. But just think, if you burn 5-10 calories walking up to your fifth floor dorm every time you go home, you could easily burn an extra 50 calories per day!
  1. Go vegetarian or vegan at least once a week. Get rid of those processed meats! Try replacing the meat in your diet with proteins such as tofu, seitan, black beans, and quinoa. These healthy alternatives will still keep you full and satisfied without all of the fats.
  1. Exercise before you eat. After a large, filling meal, exercising is difficult because we may cramp up or feel too full to complete a long cardio session. If you exercise before your meal, you are more likely to eat healthily because of the progress you completed during your workout. In addition to this, being at the gym and away from your fridge will guarantee that you won’t fill up on a bunch of snacks while bored at home.
  1. Get Distracted. Another way to be successful at the gym, especially during cardio, is to multi-task. If you have a tablet or are using a machine where you can control a TV, flip to one of your favorite shows and watch with subtitles. At the same time, listen to some of your favorite music. Between reading the subtitles and listening to some sick beats, cardio is bound to fly by before you know it.
  1. Shut off your phone an hour before bed whenever possible. Not only can this help you sleep better, but getting away from the social media we encounter daily can really impact your life positively. We rely on our phones more than we would like to admit, and going without this technological umbilical cord is freeing, really. If this is too drastic, try to make a point to put your phone on airplane mode every once and a while for shorter periods of time.
  1. Do everything you can to conquer night eating. For many, staying up in the late hours of the night also means getting the late night munchies. Focus on keeping healthy snack options easily accessible, so that you won’t be tempted to just order a pizza out of convenience. Try apples and peanut butter, or hummus and pretzels. These snacks are satisfying enough to get you through those all-nighters without killing your day’s calorie count.

Most importantly… Do everything you possibly can to make you happy, because that’s the ultimate goal, isn’t it? Bring positivity and happiness into your life and into the lives of the people you love. Whenever you feel stressed, ask yourself why. Is it worth all the stress? How is that stress detracting from your life and what can you do to improve it?

By Sarah Kinzler