In college, it can be hard to keep up your healthy habits, it’s why the “Freshmen Fifteen” is so infamous. You go from having healthy meals at home, and parents to look out for you, to fending for yourself and eating in the dining hall, which always has tempting foods like soft serve and french fries. For many, myself included, it also means you stop playing sports consistently, and have to find new ways to get yourself active.
During midterms and finals weeks, healthy eating goes out the door when you’re in a rush and need food fast. Very few students will sacrifice an extra hour of studying or sleeping to go running or hit up the gym. Yet, working out and eating healthy keeps you more productive and actually gives you more energy to get things done.
Whether you are a recent grad adjusting to the long work week, or a college student trying to balance your schedule, healthy habits can be hard. Here are five tricks to help you build long-term healthy habits that you will stick to.
Set a monthly goal for yourself.
Having a set goal helps keep you motivated. Writing down what you want to accomplishment gives you something to look back on to remind you on those days you don’t feel like doing it. Sharing them with friends, family and social media to keep you accountable.
Start with little steps, don’t over-do it at once.
Doing one little thing each day makes any change seem less overwhelming. Start with choosing a healthy snack, or walking to class instead of taking the bus. Over time these will become good habits! My dad always says it starts with a first step, even if it’s waking up ten minutes early to use the stairs instead of the elevator, or putting on those running shoes for a walk around the block. Try to do something active every day.
Grab a buddy.
When you have a gym buddy or make a goal with a friend, then someone else is counting on you. It gives you camaraderie on hard days, makes anything more enjoyable and you will keep each other accountable.
Come up with a mantra.
I recently read Way of the Seal, and Mark Devine emphasizes the importance of a mantra in keeping yourself going and staying positive. It reminded me of a mantra my coach gave us after a hard workout: “You’re not tired, you’re tough. Just keep moving.” Sometimes you just need to tell yourself you can do it. What we feel about ourselves and what we think we are capable of stems directly from our mindset. Come up with a mantra that works for you.
Say no to the “I’m tired” culture.
As college students and recent grads, we feel as though we must be busy and productive at all times. People even compare how busy and exhausted they are as if it is a competition. When you ask a college student how they’re doing, they’ll usually answer, “I’m tired” or “I am so busy.” To be fair we typically are, but this has become what we talk about and what our lives revolve around. It’s usually the first thing out of our mouths when talking about how our week or day has been. Instead of saying you’re tired or busy when asked how you’re doing, bring up something positive from that week or that day.
Make our own schedule and make time for what you deem important. Telling yourself that you feel better when you eat healthily and workout and don’t make excuses is the first step towards having time to take care of yourself. Shifting your mindset is the first big step.