Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Healthy Habits to Adopt Before You Go To College (Or Once You're Already There)

Whether they're good or bad for us, we all have habits that we've built into our routine and are unwilling or unmotivated to break.  After some research, I've compiled a list below of habits that could help improve your health, your athletic and/or academic performance, and your quality of life.  These are habits that you can greatly benefit from in your college years, but also long after.

  1. Learn to Love Vegetables:  My dad has recently been on this health kick where over half of his diet is coming from produce, and less than 30% is animal products (meat/egg/dairy).  I was kind of upset/in withdrawal the first week (though I do not consider myself a huge meat eater), but now, seven weeks later, I've been sticking with it, and my mind is clearer and I have more energy and stamina throughout my day.  Veggies are chock full of essential vitamins and minerals, and you can get most of your daily values if you eat a variety, especially from different color groups.  Also, if you are opposed to the taste of any particular vegetable, you can actually change your palette after 21 days of introducing new foods (i.e. you can learn to love brussel sprouts, hard to believe, I know).
  2.  Make sure you layer on the SPF.  I know there is a temptation to tan, but there are ways to get color without exposing yourself to cancer.  Plus, skin looses elastin when exposed to the UV rays.  Getting a spray tan now is much easier than having plastic surgery later.
  3. Kick the soda habit.  I know, I know, you need the caffeine.  Me too, but consider switching to coffee or tea, which are much easier on your system because the caffeine is not chemically engineered.  Your body turns the excess sugar in soda into stored fat, and when the sugar is gone from your bloodstream, you crash, which is why you always need just a little bit more.  Kick it now, you will feel better always. 
  4.  Get serious about your sleep schedule.  I know I keep talking about this one, but it's important.  Your body is built to run on its own clock, but it can't do that if you are always changing up your routine.  Pick a bedtime and stick to it.  Also, wake up at the same time every day.  Make up for lost sleep with short naps, and keep in mind that a one hour nap is worth 2-3 hours of REM sleep at night, and don't over do it.  I know this seems impossible to do in college, and once in a while, it probably will be, but it is worth trying to do.  You will feel and look better if you're getting regular sleep.
  5. Eat breakfast.  For some reason, this appears to be difficult one for many, but a good breakfast (with fruit and grains) kick starts your metabolism and gives you energy to start your day.
  6.  Snack throughout the day.  I don't mean grab that can of pringles, I mean when you leave to start your day, set out prepared to keep your energy up.  If I know I'm not going to be able to get back home during my day, I like to take whole grain granola, baby carrot or grapes, or some kind nuts (walnuts, almonds, etc.)with me to keep my stomach from growling audibly in class and my mind on the subject being taught and not on my hunger.  Small meals several (5-6) times a day are better than trying to eat three big meals; its easier on your stomach, better for your metabolism, and the best way to ensure that you can focus on your work and not your next meal.

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