College is one of the most exciting times in your life. It comes with freedom, opportunities to meet individuals with different backgrounds, late nights studying, working a low-paying job for some cash … wait, those last two aren’t that exciting. But the parties more than make up for it! With everything going on during your four, five – or six – years of college, it is easy for your fitness goals to take a back seat.
After 11+ years in college, I am here to tell you that you can reach your fitness goals going to school Here are my top 10 tips to help you reach your fitness goals while in college.
#1: Stock Up On Affordable Food
One thing nearly every college student has in common is that they are low on money. Therefore, stocking up on food that is both nutritious and affordable is key. When going to the store, look for nutrient-dense foods that are on sale and stock up on them if you are able. You may also want to look into coupons to help save some cash while still getting the food you need to reach your goals.
#2: Make Smart Choices In The Cafeteria
Many college students are on meal plans that gives them access to all-you-can-eat cafeterias. This could be a bad thing due to the large amount of high calorie foods (e.g. pizza, burgers, etc.) that can be eaten in large quantities. However, a school cafeteria can be a good thing because they generally have plenty of nutrient-dense options such as a salad bar, fresh fruit, lean meats, whole grains, low-fat dairy etc. My undergraduate university even had a stir fry and omelet bars in the cafeteria. The key is making smart choices in terms of food selection and portion size to make sure you meet your nutritional needs.
#3: Find Time To Work Out
College is a busy time. Between class, work, studying, hanging out with friends, and trying to find time to sleep, working out often gets pushed off to the side. However, it does not have to be this way. Planning ahead can go a long way to making sure you get your workouts in. Take a look at your schedule each week and block off some times to workout. Not only will this help you reach your fitness goals, but it may also help you reduce stress levels.
#4: Cook In Buik
The daily schedule of a college student can be fairly jam-packed, and the lack of time can often result in poor food choices. However, taking time to cook and prepare food in bulk on the weekend when you have time can give you options to eat quickly during the week – that way you won’t always have to turn to eating fast food in a time crunch. This approach may also help you save money because you won’t be spending as much money eating out.
#5: Find A Training Partner
College gives you the opportunities to meet and interact with a wide variety of individuals. There is a good chance some of those individuals have similar fitness goals to yours. Find a friend or group of friends to work out with, which can also help you to stay accountable towards your goals.
#6: Have Fun With Your Workouts
Many colleges provide a number of fun opportunities to get in some physical activity. Intramural leagues can be a great way to get in some cardio while doing something fun with friends such as playing basketball, racquetball, floor hockey, or a number of other sports. In addition, there are often clubs for things like hiking, rock climbing, bike riding, and other activities. These can be fun ways to ensure you are still getting in physical activity.
#7: Stick To The Basics With Supplements
Supplements can be expensive. Therefore, when money is low, make sure you are spending it on your bills and buying food prior to buying supplements. If you have money left over after paying your bills, stick to a few basic, effective supplements. This will help you to save money and give you the most bang for your buck.
#8: Get Adequate Sleep
Late-night study sessions and social events combined with early classes often result in inadequate sleep duration. However, this may impair your recovery from your workouts, reduce energy levels, lower testosterone levels, decrease your focus during classes, and potentially cause a number of other health problems down the road. Therefore, making an effort to get adequate sleep is key (6-8 hours a night for most). If you find yourself struggling to find the time to sleep enough at night, try to fit in a nap during the day to ensure you are getting enough sleep daily.
#9: Limit Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol is a large part of the college experience so we’re not here to tell you not to drink, but be aware that it can can severely derail your progress. A night of binge drinking can result in a large caloric intake and impair recovery from your workouts. If you are serious about your fitness goals, find a healthy balance of drinking and fitness. Binge drinking multiple times a week will not help you reach your goals.
#10: Be Flexible
Unexpected events come up all the time, not only in college but in everyday life. There were a number of times during college I walked into a class and was blindsided by an assignment that was going to take me a good amount of time to complete prior to the next class period. This may have altered my workout or sleep schedule. However, the key when things come up is to have flexibility and take it in stride. Instead of using an unexpected event as an excuse to completely blow off your fitness goals for an extended period of time, know that one day will not make or break you, and that if you are consistent most of the time you will reach your goals. So don’t let one or two days turn into one or two weeks away from the gym.