What An Opportunity

Three subtle ways to fight the beginning-of-the-semester health battle

In Life on October 18, 2012 at 2:52 pm

I worked hard to make this progress this summer, but with the fall comes fall semester, and that poses a whole new challenge.

The beginning of a new semester is the devil for college students in the eternal battle to live a healthy lifestyle. It’s easy to gain 10 or 15 pounds and lose the six-pack you worked for all summer. I’ve been there, and I was on my way again in September until I caught myself.

You’re busy getting back into the swing of things – teachers are already assigning ridiculous amounts of homework, you may have a new, stressful job, and your friends want to go out and drink almost every night of the week. Just one week off – one week of ‘I can skip this workout and order a pizza because I have a Spanish test, NBD’ – could lead to a semester of apathy. When you look in the mirror in December, you might be disgusted by how you got so out of shape so quickly. Picture the rolls! If that doesn’t get you motivated, nothing will.

I’m a realist; I know your workouts and eating habits during the semester will probably never be as strong as they are over the summer, when you have a lot more free time. Everyone knows the two pillars (diet and exercise) of staying in shape, but here are some less noticeable ways you can keep your body looking sharp:

1. Pack a lunch – It might look lame to brown bag it, but your eating habits are going to suffer if you’re heading off to class or work for the day and you don’t plan ahead. Trust me: You’ll look lamer if you come home from Christmas break looking like a blimp. Try packing a bunch of fruit (plums and peaches are great this time of year, and bananas and clementines are awesome year-round), a water bottle and a couple sandwiches (my go-to lately has been almond butter and sliced banana on wheat bread).

2. Walk for 10 minutes after your workout – Of course this one is contingent on you actually exercising beforehand, but if you find time for a workout, be sure to walk around your block (or on the treadmill) afterward. You can burn 33 percent more calories during a workout if you walk (or ride a bike, just do light cardio) immediately after you finish the exercise regimen, according to 6weeksixpack.com.

I don’t recommend doing more than 10-15 minutes because then it starts to feel like a second workout. I think dreading one workout a day is enough.

3. Sleep! – College students are known to have crazy sleeping habits, but getting eight hours a night is essential if you want to stay in shape. According to health.com: “Researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat – 56 percent of their weight loss – than those who were sleep deprived, who lost more muscle mass.”

Sleep can make you a better athlete, too. According to the same website: “A Stanford University study found that college football players who tried to sleep at least 10 hours a night for seven to eight weeks improved their average sprint time and had less daytime fatigue and more stamina.” If you’re tired every day, you’re not going to have motivation to work out. It’s as simple as that.

Don’t be apathetic this fall! You’ll regret it in the summer.

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