“New school year new me!”
Every year, some variation of this tweet pops up on my feed as school starts again. Everyone has their brand new school supplies, eating habits, outfits, etc. that they got over the summer, and now they’re ready to make this the best school year of their lives. But we all know how long this facade lasts. After that first paper is assigned and everyone realizes how much they really miss summer, all those goals go flying out the window. Even important ones, like going to the fitness center every other day or eating a salad three times a week, are long forgotten once homework starts piling up.
Amid homework, extracurriculars, and a social life, health tends to be thrown under the bus. It’s not that IMSA students don’t care enough; we all come into the new school year with one health-related goal or another. Often, we just feel like we don’t have time, and we also seem to forget that neglecting our health makes doing other activities harder. To help you start off this school year right, I have compiled a list five simple diet and exercise tips that anyone can use.
1. Keep a water bottle on you, always.
This may seem obvious to some, but many students go throughout the entire day only drinking during meals. This can lead to dehydration, which induces a lack of concentration during class. You’re also at risk of becoming overheated when it’s warmer outside. A good rule of thumb is to fill your water bottle up twice before lunch and twice afterwards; after school, drink another one or two. This all depends on the size of your water bottle, but filling it up every two to three mods is a good way to make sure you are drinking enough water.
2. Don’t skip meals.
Again, this may seem like an obvious one, but when faced with studying an extra 20 minutes for the fifth mod exam or eating during midday, many people will choose to skip lunch. Usually, skipping any meal will have more negative impacts than you think. Without food, your body becomes tired, and it’s much harder to concentrate. Always eat something – a quick dash into Sodexo for toast with jelly is still better than completely skipping the meal.
3. Figure out the eating schedule that works for you.
Some people can’t eat a lot all at once, which means that eating three times a day isn’t enough. Others could go up for thirds and fourths each meal because they’re always hungry. Everyone is different, and it’s important to find a schedule that works best for your eating habits. Although Sodexo’s open times might not sync with your free mods, keeping snacks in your backpack is a good way to make sure you can eat when your body needs it. And make sure those snacks are healthy – it’s a lot harder to say no when you’re hungry after skipping lunch, versus when shopping at Woodman’s.
4. Work out at least four times a week
Joining a sport is a fun way to get in your 60 minutes a day! It’s great for you both physically and socially, but it’s a big commitment and it is not for everyone. Luckily, the Fitness Center is open most days after school and on the weekends. Even if you only have time for a 30 minute run on the treadmill, that’s okay. Exercising at least four times a week will have a positive impact on your physical and mental health, but also leaves a couple of free days where you don’t have to feel bad about going straight back to your room after school to start homework (or nap, no one’s judging).
5. Hold yourself accountable.
Many people start off the year going to the fitness center every day, but then stop going once homework starts rolling in. To make sure this doesn’t happen, hold yourself accountable for your workout schedule. Did you say you were going to work out Monday, Wednesday. Saturday, and Sunday? Then you should be in the fitness center or on the track, getting your exercise in. Even ab and arm workouts in your room count, especially when half the machines in the Fitness Center seem to be broken. Find a buddy to work out with you so that both of you can push each other – whatever you need to do to stay on task and achieve those goals.
Remember: if what you’re doing isn’t working, try something new. Not all eating habits work at IMSA, and the workout schedule that helps your friend may not be the one that works for you. Don’t be afraid to try new things! IMSA isn’t only a learning experience in terms of school; it’s also a way for you to learn about yourself, including what lifestyle works and doesn’t. Stay happy and stay healthy in the ways which work best for you.