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Meeting Student-Athletes' Nutritional Needs

Eating right while in college can be difficult. Junk food like pizza, burgers, and fried snacks are readily available on or near campus. Since cooking in dorms is generally prohibited, this leaves few healthy alternatives. The only vegetables in the vicinity may be found in the school’s cafeteria.

Failing to supply the body with the necessary nutrition can lead to all sorts of physical- and mental-health problems. Surviving on fast food may result in illness, fatigue, and other symptoms. College life is stressful enough without putting additional strain on the mind and body.

The situation can be worse for college athletes, who may be under even more pressure than other students. All that stress, along with the physical demands of sports, can be challenging. To stay healthy, and maximize their performance, student-athletes must be deliberate about nutrition.

Eat a Balanced Diet
You have heard it since you were a kid: “Eat your vegetables.” This is especially important for athletes. A variety of veggies, including the super-nutritious leafy ones, should be eaten every day. Fruits, whole grains, and protein are also essential. Avoid fried foods and white bread, and opt for fish instead of red meat a few times a week.

Sugar, salt, and saturated fats sap strength and energy. They also add body fat. These consequences are not only unhealthy; they can diminish an athlete’s performance on the field or court. A long-term effect of consuming large amounts of these substances may be increased vulnerability to illness and disease.

Don’t Forget Breakfast
Nutritionists emphasize the value of eating breakfast. They call it the most important meal of the day, because it replenishes the body after many hours of not eating. The hectic lives of college students require this fuel.

Breakfast is especially critical for those who play sports, as they often have morning practices or workouts. Such exertion on an empty stomach places a lot of strain on the body, which does not respond as well without food energy.

The key is to eat something in the morning, even if you oversleep and are in a hurry. At least grab a bagel and piece of fruit. Always having such ready-to-eat, nutritious items in your dorm room can save you from missing breakfast (or going to a fast-food restaurant). Ideally, the morning meal should include protein (from meat, eggs, and beans) and whole grains, as well as fruit.

Get Enough Protein
Many believe that physically active people should eat a lot of meat and other protein-rich foods. While protein is vital, overdoing it can be counterproductive. Too much protein may result in increased body fat, a loss of calcium, and dehydration. These conditions are particularly undesirable for athletes, who require toned muscles, strong bones, and well-hydrated systems.

The richest sources of protein are fish, beef, pork, and poultry. Dairy is another option. Eggs, as well as the whey protein in milk, are highly recommended. Other foods containing protein are beans, soy, quinoa, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. The best advice is to get protein from a variety of foods.

Consume Carbohydrates
Those seeking to shed pounds know they need to cut back on carbohydrates, which cause weight gain. However, avoiding carbs can be dangerous because they supply the body with the energy it needs to function properly. Athletes who neglect carbohydrates quickly become tired, and lose strength and endurance.

Carbohydrates are stored in the muscles, in the form of glycogen. The body converts glycogen into glucose (sugar), which boosts energy. Experts say that, for most people, the amount of glycogen the body can hold is enough for a 90-minute workout. Those who play sports, which usually last longer than that, are advised to load up on carbs for several days before the big game. This is really crucial for long-distance runners and bicyclists, swimmers, cross-country skiers, endurance athletes, and others whose activities are not only lengthy but also entail extreme physical exertion.

Candy, soda pop, and other sweets contain a lot of carbohydrates. However, they are considered “bad” carbs because they lack the vitamins and minerals found in “good” (complex) carbs. Whole-grain breads, cereals, and pastas (as well as vegetables, fruits, and brown rice) are examples of foods with good carbs.

Experts advise most people to ensure that carbohydrates make up a little more than half of their total food consumption. Athletes may want to increase the percentage somewhat, without getting too carried away. Diets consisting of 70 percent carbs are recommended for endurance athletes and others whose sports involve long, strenuous exercise.

Eat foods rich in carbohydrates before, during, and after intense physical activities. A small, high-carb meal an hour before a game or workout is advised. Pack a whole-grain muffin, sports bar, or fruit juice to refuel during a sports activity. Replenish the body afterword with a high-carb snack.

Drink Plenty of Water
Athletes must keep hydrated. They should drink water, sports drinks, or fruit juice before, during, and after exercising. Moisture lost via perspiration needs to be replaced, or the body will overheat and eventually break down.

Two cups of water before an activity, and at least one-half cup every 15-20 minutes while exercising, are recommended. Some authorities suggest starting with water, then switching to sports drinks because they contain electrolytes.
Keep drinking through a game or match, even when you don’t feel particularly thirsty. Keep an eye on your urine. If it is darker than normal, that could indicate dehydration. Fatigue, dizziness, and upset stomach are other possible signs that you need more water.

Supplement Your Diet
Student-athletes put so much stress on their bodies that they might find it difficult to get sufficient nutrition from food. Dietary supplements can help. Start with a multivitamin that contains not only Vitamins A through D, but also thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin. The body uses these substances to convert food into the energy that physically active people need. Look for a multivitamin that also features calcium, iron, and potassium. These nutrients are rapidly diminished while playing sports.

Many other kinds of supplements are also available. Omega-3 oils, found naturally in fish, help to regulate inflammation and blood-sugar levels. Athletes need to get enough magnesium, which strengthens muscles and regulates heart rhythm.

For student-athletes, there are multiple reasons to adopt healthy diets. Without the necessary nutrition, their ability to succeed in sports is hampered. More importantly, their overall health suffers. To maintain strength and energy, it is critical that physically active students take nutrition seriously.

All You Need to Know About The “Freshman 15” Syndrome

You might have heard of the “Freshman 15” syndrome. Most people are known to experience it during the first year of their college. Are you prepared for it?

What is the “Freshman 15” Syndrome?

Most people are observed to gain about fifteen pounds of weight during the first year of their college education owing to their eating habits. It may occur due to the sudden exposure to buffet-styled meals or the personal choice of trying out different junk and fattening cuisines. Nevertheless, the freshman 15 is one of the most dreaded aspects of getting into college.

Some people may experience an advanced version of “Freshman 15” – characterized by gaining more than fifteen pounds of weight. At this stage, the need to employ an effective remedy is highly stressed. On the other hand, those experiencing the lower side of this syndrome – gaining less than fifteen pounds of weight – are at a risk to progress to the advanced level unless an effective counter strategy is employed!

Why “Freshman 15”?

Different colleges have different meal options. Some may offer buffet-styled meals with multiple choices and virtually an endless reserve of food. This promotes binge eating on a frequent basis. You may overeat while making an attempt to try all delicacies – the combined effect of which is seen as fifteen pounds at the end of the year!

Another reason for this weight gain could be the nonexistence of a personal kitchen and/or caretaker. Since you cannot prepare your own food, you are left with no option but to depend on foods prepared by restaurants and/or other food outlets. The foods produced at such places are more often junk containing an alarmingly high amount of unnecessary fats and devoid of other important nutrients. Consequently, when you consume such foods, you tend to end up with fifteen additional pounds of weight you never volunteered for!

Battling the “Freshman 15” Syndrome!

There are a number of ways you can keep your diet under control and ensure you are getting the right foods in the right quantities. However, this usually requires you to make an additional effort. Unless you are willing to go out of your way in order to eat healthy, there is nothing in the world that can help you avoid the fifteen (or maybe twenty) pounds of additional weight!

Here are a few ideas to help you maintain your health while on campus.

  • Analyze your food options critically: You need to bring out the detective in you and analyze everything that you consume. Evaluate whether it is good for your health or not before putting it in your mouth. Only then will you be able to avoid unhealthy options.
  • Regularize your meal times: Make sure you consume a healthy breakfast before entering your classes. Also, keep a specific time for your lunch and dinner. This will help you in battling hunger and therefore bad food choices.
  • Research: Conduct your own research on what is good for your health and what is not. If there is something falling in the shady area between health and illness, login to your computer and search about its nutritional value. You can do so for all foods that you consume. You will automatically find out which foods you should avoid and which ones contribute towards your health!
  • Seek Help! Most colleges have nutrition centers and nutritional experts that can help you regulate your food intake. Do not hesitate to approach them if you find yourself indecisive about your food choices. With their effort and your own dedication, you will be able to get your life onto a nutritious track. So you can keep off the weight and enjoy a fulfilling tenure on campus!

7 Health Tips for College Students

Stress, a poor diet, and partying are common to many students’ lifestyles. However, they are not conducive to good health. College-bound students leaving home for the first time are faced with making their own decisions about many things that affect their well-being. Here are some health tips to consider.

1. Eat a Balanced Diet

It should come as no surprise that eating right is at the top of the list of healthy behaviors. The adage “you are what you eat” is true. Your physical and mental resiliency depend upon your body receiving adequate nutrition.

Consuming foods with large amounts of sugar, salt, and saturated fats can compromise your immune system and lead to illness. It also can sap the energy you need to meet all your responsibilities. Your body requires nourishment to deal with the stresses of college life. Eating poorly can lead to obesity, sickness, fatigue, anxiety, and other undesirable conditions.

Most colleges and universities do not allow students to cook food in the dorms. However, you can keep your room stocked with snacks like fruit and nuts. This might help curb the temptation to order pizza or get fast food when you feel hungry.

Make good choices in the school’s cafeteria or dining hall. You have heard it a million times: Eat a balanced diet. That includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and protein. Make sure you have something from each food group every day. Ideally, the volume of vegetables in your diet should exceed that of meat.

This does not mean you have to survive on tofu and leafy vegetables, though you might be surprised by what you can do with such ingredients. Inevitably, you will eat some pizza, burgers, and fried bar snacks. These foods are linked to opportunities to make friends and socialize, which are important elements of the college experience. Practice moderation when enjoying junk food.

Be creative and find ways to eat your favorite foods in more healthy ways. Order whole-wheat tortillas and pizza crusts when they are available. Include vegetables in your pizza ingredients. Ask for low-fat white, rather than yellow, cheese; and choose chicken instead of beef or pork. Opt for baked, rather than fried, food.

Breakfast is important. You need an energy boost after many hours of not giving your body any fuel. Eat a bowl of healthy cereal or granola, or at least grab some fruit (and perhaps a whole-grain bagel) on the way out the door.

Drink water frequently, even if you are not thirsty. You may find that you feel better and eat less. Take it easy on the caffeine. While a little of this stimulant can be beneficial, consuming too much is counterproductive and potentially dangerous. The same is true of sodas and other beverages containing large amounts of sugar.

Your body needs a variety of nutrients, so don’t eat exactly the same foods every day. If you are trying to lose weight, be mindful of portion sizes but eat plenty of veggies and get enough protein. Never go on a crash diet. The weight you lose will probably return soon, and in the meantime you will have compromised your health.

2. Exercise

There are some other ways to ward off illness, boost energy, and stay in shape. One of the best methods is getting some exercise every day. Walking from your room to classes is not enough. Take longer walks, jog, ride a bicycle, go to a gym, or play a sport.

Between studying and socializing, you may not think you have time to exercise. All it takes is about 20 minutes every day, which is not that hard to fit into your schedule.

3. Get Enough Sleep

Many people do not appreciate the importance of sleep. You need to get at least seven hours of sleep per day. If you don’t, it will be harder to stay alert and focus on your studies.

Sleep deprivation may cause fatigue, headaches, and depression. Your relationships, as well as your grades, could suffer. If you are not getting enough sleep at night, try to take an afternoon nap. Avoid caffeine and sugar for at least a few hours before going to bed.

4. Take Precautions

College classes are in session during the winter, when the most illnesses occur. As a student, you are in close contact with numerous people. It is crucial to protect yourself from viruses and other infectious diseases.

Wash your hands often, especially after touching door knobs and other objects with which many people come in contact. This will keep you from catching most contagions. Get a flu shot, or choose an herbal alternative, to keep yourself from catching a bug. Obtain appropriate vaccinations. Take Vitamin C and antioxidants.

5. Cope with Stress

College life is stressful. Living away from home, dealing with new people, is hard enough. Studying and taking tests create additional anxiety. The college life challenges your mental, as well as physical, health.

Diet, exercise, and sleep are critical to managing stress. Take breaks when you feel overwhelmed. Switch from studying to playing a game or watching a video. Gain some perspective and relax. Spend some time outdoors every day. Find balance by connecting with nature.

Compartmentalize the things that cause you stress. Figure out what you need to do, a step at a time. Set priorities and short-term, attainable goals. Try to transcend the anxiety and look at things logically. Remember that your fellow students are having the same problems. Share your feelings with them, as well as with other friends and family members. Try meditation, yoga, or a hobby. Do not hesitate to speak with a counselor.

6. Avoid Risky Behaviors

Many college-bound students are excited about their new experience for the wrong reasons. They may be looking forward to partying and having sex. They are at an age when experimentation is normal, but it is vital to know how to stay safe.

Parties featuring beer or liquor are common on, or near, most campuses. You are likely to find yourself at such a party. If you are of legal age and choose to drink, know your limit to ensure that you remain aware and in control. Have a designated driver.

Illegal drugs also may be available. The obvious advice is to refrain from taking them. If you do decide to experiment, understand the effects of the drugs and the risks involved. Remember that what you are doing is against the law, and may result in bad decisions and unwanted consequences.

Another part of the college experience is dating. Some students meet their life-long partners in school. It is easier to find people with common interests in college than it was in high school. Students who make the decision to have sex should use protection, get tested regularly for sexually transmitted diseases, and go to doctors for exams and vaccinations.

7. Other Tips

If you smoke tobacco, figure out a way to quit. Your performance in school, as well as your health, may benefit from doing so. Find healthy alternatives to nicotine to provide the stimulation you crave.

Support your feet by wearing good shoes rather than sandals. You are likely to be doing a lot of walking, going to classes and moving around campus. Do not let aching or injured feet slow you down.

Give your back a break by minimizing the weight of your backpack. You don’t have to carry all your books, all the time. Do some stretching before heading out on a long walk or beginning your daily exercise regimen.

Communicate your needs to roommates. Coordinate times for studying and sleeping. Maintaining good relations with your roomies also enhances your mental health.

Resist excessive tanning because of the risk of getting skin cancer. If you do lay out, use sunscreen. Daily applications of aloe vera or other moisturizer help prevent skin from burning or getting too dry.

These tips can help you maintain mental and physical health during your college years. By eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising, and managing stress, you get the most out of the experience. Your relationships and grades will benefit.

Studying Abroad? Be prepared for these 5 challenges

Excited about migrating to another country in order to pursue your dreams regarding your education? Change always feels good. However, the transitory period is never easy. So while you pack your bags and fascinate about how it would be like in that foreign college, make sure you prepare yourself for a period of utter bewilderment as you try to adapt to the new surroundings.

Here are a few common challenges faced by most students who go abroad in order to pursue their college education. It will be a good idea to keep these in mind and develop your defenses against these issues before catching that flight into the unknown world.

Cultural Disparities

Every country has its own culture. So if you are headed off to a foreign university, be prepared to experience a wholly different set of values, customs and traditions that might be in total contradiction with your own. It is better to research about the cultural principles at your destination beforehand. This does not only inform you about what to expect during your stay there, it will also prevent you from making embarrassing blunders due to lack of knowledge.

The Freshman 15

Do you love food or try to experiment with it? A foreign land is the perfect opportunity to take your taste buds on a roller coaster ride.

Most foreign colleges offer buffet meals within its premises. If you are not accustomed to such an organization, this may prove to be quite intimidating for you. However, it has been observed that most people – regardless of their origin – tend to gain about fifteen pounds of weight in their first year at a foreign college. Blame the food or the freedom; unless you are going to be careful from the first day, you are more likely to end up in the same category as others experiencing “the Freshman 15 syndrome”.

Socializing

Some people have good people skills, some do not. If you fall into the latter category, be prepared for the loneliest time of your life as you begin college!

In a country where you are already faced with numerous challenges while trying to adjust to the foreign climate, making new friends and socializing with others may contribute towards your problems – especially if you are an introvert. The best way to go about this problem is to practice talking to random people in your own country. This will make you a little less hesitant while interacting with people in a foreign land.

The Breathtaking Curricula

When you are done managing other factors, you are left with the core reason you are in a foreign college – academics. A foreign college automatically translates into a unique curriculum that you may never have imagined pursuing at any point in life.

New subjects, professors and projects multiply your stress by a considerable amount considering they all come in at the same time. There is no shortcut or an easy way out of this situation. You simply have to go with the flow and try to get the most out of it. This is where your mental preparation for pressure plays a role in delivering the desired results.

Depression/Homesickness

The first few days are always the trickiest. You may start to feel lonely, depressed, and homesick and a number of other emotions that emerge as a reflex to your stress. You may even question the sanity of your decision as you trudge along day and night in hope to find some support to get you through your gloomy days.
The best thing about it is it eventually does end. It may take a few days, weeks or months; but at some point you begin to feel at home. The only thing you can do is wait it out patiently and try to help yourself by making friends and socializing.
You will face problems only as long as you are in the learning phase. With time, it turns out to be better than expected!

Finding Health in a Fast Food World

Late night study sessions, hopping from class to class- none of these things are foreign to college students. Fast food often becomes a routine part of college life, but that doesn’t mean it has to be unhealthy. Below you’ll find a few ways to get the most nutrition out of your fast food meals.

Breakfast on the Run

Opt for a mix of protein, fat and carbohydrates to keep you full. Today, you can often find yogurt with nuts and berries. Oatmeal is another simple option that can be eaten while walking across campus. Coffee shops and restaurants often have an oatmeal option that you can top with fruit and nuts. Avoid those with added sugars. If you enjoy bagels, select a whole wheat option, which often provides more protein and fiber to keep you full. Add an egg for extra protein and nutrition.

Super Salads

Most fast food restaurants now have at least one salad option. Keep in mind that salad doesn’t always mean healthy. Avoid toppings like candied pecans or dried fruit, which are often full of added sugars and chemicals. Request dressings on the side if possible, and opt for something lighter like balsamic vinegar or a simple oil and vinegar. Choose salads full of a variety of vegetables. Fresh fruit like mandarin oranges or apple slices add a little bit of flavor and added nutrition as well.

Go Grilled

Many traditional burger and fries restaurants now offer a grilled chicken option. If you find yourself somewhere like Wendy’s or McDonald’s, opt for a grilled chicken sandwich over a fried chicken sandwich or hamburger.  If you opt for a salad that contains meat or fish, choose those that have been grilled, steamed or blackened. Avoid fried options, which are cooked in unhealthy oils and add more calories but less nutrition.

Simple Soups and Sandwiches

Many sandwich shops offer a simple vegetable soup. Grab a cup to go with half of a sandwich and you’ll have a filling and well-rounded meal. When selecting sandwiches, choose whole wheat bread and load the vegetables on. Choose mustard over mayonnaise. If it’s too hot for soup, most sandwich shops will also have a fruit or side salad you can opt for instead.

Ask for Options

If a meal comes with a fried side such as french fries or onion rings, ask if you have another option. You may be able to swap your side for something with more nutrition like fruit or a side salad. Sometimes there’s a small additional cost, but it’s worth it if you’re keeping your health in mind.

Skip the Soda

Drinking water will often save you money and unhealthy calories. Sodas, teas and juices can be full of added sugars and you may end up paying much more to add a drink to your meal. Instead, order a single item and carry a water bottle with you.

Don’t Deprive

If there’s a less healthy meal you enjoy, don’t leave it completely off limits. Instead, order it less and have a healthy choice more often. Alternatively, you can try to mix and match. For example, if you have a craving for a hamburger, order a hamburger but skip the fries or order a side salad instead. You could also consider ordering a kids meal to save both calories and money.

Stress Management Tips for College Students

College life can cause a lot of anxiety. Students are living away from home, perhaps for the first time, which entails new responsibilities and challenges. Personal relationships and studying for exams also cause stress.

Experiencing some anxiety in college is normal. After all, you are dealing with an entirely new environment. It is important to keep stress from mounting by practicing positive thinking and healthy habits. Here are seven stress-management tips for college students.

1. Monitor Yourself

Be alert to changes in how you feel and act, as they may indicate unhealthy stress levels. You may find yourself becoming excessively angry or irritated about relatively insignificant things.

Muscle tightness, headaches, and an upset stomach are possible signs of anxiety. Other indications include fatigue, and a sense of being bored all the time. If anxiety or panic attacks keep you up at night, you know you are stressed.

2. Think Positively

Perception is everything. How you process information determines how you feel. If you constantly tell yourself that you are going to fail, expect to fail. Relax, take deep breaths, and visualize positive outcomes. Focus on your strengths and abilities, rather than perceived shortcomings. Simplify problems by logically determining what you need to do, step by step.

You may want to take part in some sort of religious or spiritual practice. Perhaps you have religious beliefs that can provide support and guidance. Some students are helped by meditation or yoga. Find some way to achieve the proper frame of mind that will allow you to be confident and emotionally strong.

3. Eat Healthy Food

In college, your mother is not around to buy, cook, and serve nutritious meals. It is suddenly your responsibility to do the shopping and meal planning. To stay healthy emotionally, as well as physically, a balanced diet is crucial.

Make sure that, every day, you eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and protein. Try to consume more veggies than meat, choose baked rather than fried food, and opt for chicken instead of pork.

Control your consumption of sugar, salt, and saturated fats. Eating hamburgers, pizzas, and deep-fried snacks is to be expected in college. These foods are common in dorm rooms, at parties, and in bars. Just practice some restraint. Limit how much bad stuff you eat at a time, and don’t do it every day. Have at least one meal a day that contains the basic healthy food groups.

If you try to survive on food that does not provide the nutrition your body needs, it will catch up with you. Fatigue, muscle aches, a lack of energy, anxiety, depression, and illness may result.

Eating right in college can be a challenge because cooking in dorms is usually not allowed. Make sure you have healthy snacks, like nuts and fruit, in your room. When you go to the cafeteria, or eat out at a restaurant, order vegetables and whole grains along with the meat and cheese. Even pizzas can be fairly healthy, when they have whole-grain crusts and veggie toppings.

Do not neglect breakfast. Your body requires some fuel to start another busy day. You may feel that you don’t have time for a full, balanced meal in the morning. But it takes only a few minutes to eat a bowl of whole-grain cereal or granola, with fruit.

Drink water throughout the day, while limiting your intake of caffeine. Too much coffee or soda, and not enough water, can cause physical and emotional symptoms.

4. Get Some Exercise

If you are not accustomed to exercising, you might be surprised by how much better it makes a person feel. A brisk walk or jog, tennis match, bicycle ride, gym workout, or other physical activity is good for mind and body.

You will feel your energy, strength, and perhaps even confidence rise. Exercise maintains a healthy weight and tones muscles, while relieving stress and anxiety. It is one of the best things you can do to tune your body and clear your mind. All it takes is about 20 minutes a day. Include exercise as a part of your schedule.

5. Get Adequate Sleep

A lack of sleep, over time, leads to all sorts of problems. Anxiety can cause, or result from, insomnia. Most people require at least seven hours of sleep a night.

Sleep deprivation may result in fatigue, headaches, and depression. This makes it harder for college studies to study, perform well on tests, and foster relationships. If socializing or other activities prevent you from getting to bed early enough, schedule naps in the afternoons. Don’t consume caffeine or sugar before going to bed.

6. Take Breaks

The hectic pace of college life can leave you feeling anxious or stressed. Give yourself a break every day by finding a quiet place to be relaxed and alone. Go outside to appreciate nature and gain perspective on things that may be troubling you. Get away from academic pressures by socializing with friends and joining student clubs. Take part in sports and other recreational activities.

7. Reach Out to Others

You don’t have to face everything on your own. Other students are going through the same things you are, so share your feelings with your friends and roommates. You might be able to help one another find solutions, or at least have the satisfaction of knowing that you are not the only one experiencing difficulties.

Take advantage of other resources, like older students and your resident assistant. Have conversations with your parents and other adults whose advice you trust. Do not hesitate to visit with college counselors. That’s why they are there.

College is one of the most important times in your life. You have new experiences, make friends, learn new things, and grow into adulthood. All this can be a bit overwhelming, resulting in anxiety. You can control and manage the stress by following these tips.

Staying fit

Living on a student budget is no reason to forego your health and fitness level. Finding free fitness options can actually be a great way to create lifelong healthy habits, make new friends and relieve the regular stress associated with college life.

When beginning a new fitness routine, remember that you want something convenient and fun. If something isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to move on to the next option.

Hit the local library

Check your college library for books and DVDs with fitness routines; and if you can’t find any you like, head to a nearby community library where they’re likely to have a good selection. The best part about using the library is that you can regularly change up your routine. You can make copies of routines you find in books and create a binder, alternating routines every few weeks. With DVDs, you can select a new one every week.

Head for the pavement

Running outside will always be free. Get a group of friends together and consider starting a running group so everyone stays motivated. You can run through your campus or find a local trail. Keep things interesting by selecting a new path or location each week. If you live by hills or mountains, try challenging yourself with uphill runs to mix things up.

Find your faves on YouTube

100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every single minute! Using search terms like “dorm room workout” or “body weight exercises,” you’ll find some great routines that can be done in the comfort of your dorm room or outside. Subscribe to your favorite channels and keep your eyes peeled for fresh content. You could even consider making your own, which may increase your motivation and keep you excited about working out.

Find free workout websites

Similar to YouTube, there are now several fitness sites with videos that are completely free. The great thing about these is that you don’t have to sift through unrelated videos to get to what you want. If you enjoy yoga, try DoYogaWithMe.com. If you want to try out some new body weight exercise routines or interval training, try FitnessBlender.com. ToneItUp.com is geared towards women and provides new videos regularly as well.

There’s an app for that

The number of fitness apps grows every single day. If you have a smart phone, you can take advantage of free apps that provide interval timers, workouts, workout tracking and more. Checkout Workout Trainer, Nike Training Club and Daily Workouts Free to start. Or, just search keywords like “fitness,” “workout” and “exercise” to get started finding your own. Create a section on your phone just for these apps and try to rotate between them each time you exercise.

Start your own team or league

Many colleges have intramural sports teams but sometimes it costs to play. Start your own league or team with a group of friends. If you all work together, you can create flyers to hang on boards around campus, create a Facebook group, or even a free WordPress site to spread the word and keep track of interest.

Try it out

Many gyms and studios with fitness classes will let you come for one week free, or let you try one class for free. You may only get one week or one day, but depending on how many gyms and studios there are around you, it could take a while to use up all your freebies. This is also a great opportunity to figure out what you really like. Maybe a yoga class really appeals to you, or maybe you enjoy more dance or weight training. Once you figure out what kind of classes you like use that knowledge to find other free resources online or at the library as mentioned earlier.

If you have a little extra to spend

If you’re willing to spend a small amount of money, sign up with sites like GroupOn and Living Social which offer discounted passes to local studios. You can also purchase used fitness DVD’s online at Amazon and sell them back when you’re ready to try something new.  Last but not least, ask if your local rock climbing gym, yoga studio or golfing green offers student discounts.

There are plenty of opportunities for you to stay fit and have fun on a student budget. The most important thing is to do things you enjoy. Don’t be afraid to try new things until you find your niche.

Eating Healthy on a College Budget

Between your studies, work and social life, you have little time for illness as a college student. But, you also have a limited budget to work with. Below you’ll find tips to keep you full and fueled without breaking the bank.

Buy in bulk

You can often find dried fruits, nuts and grains in bulk at the grocery store. Stock up on nuts and dried fruit to have for snacks between classes and use grains such as oats, rice and buckwheat for breakfast or as sides to lunch and dinner meals. Some fresh fruits and vegetables are regularly sold in one pound bags. Apples, onions, carrots and potatoes add more flavor for less calories and less money.

Buy in season

When you’re purchasing produce, use an online resource such as eattheseasons.com to find out what’s in season near you. When items are in season, they are abundant, and this drives the price down. If you have a freezer, you can stock up on some of your favorite foods.

Use the freezer

You can store more than produce in the freezer. When you find meals you like, make more servings at once and freeze the extras. You can let them thaw out during the day and heat them up when you get home in the evening.

Drink more water

Juices and sodas are expensive and many of them are just sugar bombs. Drink more water and try flavoring it with fresh fruit like lemons and berries.

Pack in the protein

Protein can be more expensive than other items but it will often keep you fuller for longer. Eggs are an excellent source of protein and are more affordable than meat. Beans and dairy products like cheese and yogurt also provide protein at a lower cost.

Fill up on healthy fats

Did you know that healthy saturated fats actually benefit your brain? Foods like raw nuts, avocados, and coconut benefit your body by helping you absorb more nutrients and fueling your brain. They also help keep you full. Add them to meals or pack them as snacks.

Save with soup and stir fry

You can make a wide variety of soups and stir-frys without even following a recipe. All you need is broth, your favorite vegetables and some spices. Add beans, meats or quinoa to make it more filling and you have a simple and affordable meal. You can easily make several batches at once.

Make friends with grocery store employees

Speak with employees to learn when new shipments come in, when sales start and when items go on clearance. This is a great way to get meat for up to 50% off the original price. Many times, grocers will mark down meat on its freeze by date. You can go back to scoop it up that day and cook it that night or freeze for later.

Snacking between classes

If you are out on campus and only have vending machine options, look for roasted nuts, baked chips or crackers, instead of cookies and candy. A better option, however, is to plan ahead. If you have a meal plan, take an extra yogurt, a granola bar, or a piece of fruit before you leave for your first class. If you live off campus, pack snacks ahead of time. Trail mix, nuts, avocados, chopped veggies and fruits can all be eaten on the go.

Make it fun

Invite your friends over for a potluck rather than going out for dinner. Encourage each person to bring a homemade dish for everyone to share. Homemade doesn’t always mean healthy, but you’ll often find this to be a better and more affordable option than a big night out.

It’s easy to be tempted by late night cafes and cheap junk food, but a little extra work will go a long way in keeping you healthy. Be creative with your budget. Don’t be afraid to try new things and find the balance that works best for you.

7 Top challenges students face when studying abroad

Students enrolling in colleges overseas will find the experience frustrating, challenging but also exciting. When going to a country with a very different culture, students have to try to adjust to their surroundings. While the experience is definitely not easy, it can be a lot of fun. Knowing what to expect before travelling to another country is the best way to make things easier. Given below are a few challenges that students commonly face when they study abroad:

Fitting in

All students will initially feel like an outsider when they go to a new country. They find it difficult to understand the local norms and culture, the language and food. While most countries are quite welcoming, the experience can be trying as you try to come to grips with your new surroundings. However, this problem will eventually seem smaller as you adjust to the new environment and find the locals to be friendly and encouraging.

The culture

The culture in every country is different. In fact, the cultures within the same country tend to be quite different. For students, it is important to understand and accept this fact. From minor cultural differences like accepted dressing and communications to larger issues, students in a new country will take a little time to fully understand the extent of cultural differences. The best way to deal with this problem is to read a little about the culture of the country you will be visiting and talking to other international students about their experience.

The food

Every country has different food. The food items served in the college cafeteria in a new country might be very different from what international students are used to eating back home. Initially, there might be a few adjustments required and you may even face physical issues as your body tries to adjust to the new ingredients and taste. However, with time you may easily get used to the new cuisine. Students can also try to find ingredients from their country in specialty grocery stores and supermarkets and try to cook at home.

The language

Language is perhaps one of the most common challenges that all students studying abroad face. Learning a new language takes time but once you are well-immersed, the problem will go away very quickly. English is spoken in most countries today so it should not be too difficult for students to communicate with others. However, it is also important for students to persevere and try to learn the language normally spoken in the new country.

Social life

Studying abroad can be a very enjoyable experience. However, being away from friends and family can take its toll over time. The best way to deal with this problem is by building a new support network in your new environment. Make new friends, talk to your classmates, join clubs at the university and do everything you can to build meaningful relationships.

Learning Style

Students from Asian countries are usually accustomed to lecture based classes. Universities in western countries usually involve group discussions, seminar and interactive learning techniques that international students may not be very familiar or comfortable with. These students are usually more comfortable with passive learning and tend to take some time to adjust to self-directed, independent learning that is usually required in western classrooms.

Academic Expectations

Because of the many difficulties that students tend to face in a new learning environment, it is common to see their grades drop during the first year of university. Some students may have high academic expectations and may find their performance depressing and discouraging. It would be help if you start studying up on some of the more difficult courses in advance. Take fewer credits in the first semester to ensure you have a comfortable schedule and try to avoid going for the tough courses right in the first semester. Most important of all keep an open channel of communication with your instructors and professors.

While there are several challenges that you will normally face when studying abroad, the experience is very rewarding and enriching.

Get your best rest by establishing a routine

Although it may not seem like it, you are still growing in college. Your body is changing while you’re undergoing new stressors like being away from home, studying more and participating in campus activities. For both your health and your grades, it’s important to create an evening routine and a regular sleep schedule.

Follow a schedule

One of the best ways to insure you get enough quality sleep is to try and maintain the same sleep schedule. If you regularly wake at 8 am for classes on Monday, try to maintain that same waking time throughout the school week. On the weekends, do your best to stick to a similar schedule. If you spend a late night out with friends, do your best to get back on schedule the following day.

Work it out

Establishing an exercise schedule has also been shown to improve sleep.  You don’t need to be a die-hard athlete to reap the benefits either. Set aside 30 minutes to an hour most days of the week. You can walk, dance, do yoga or perform a mix of cardio and strength training. It is best to fit in exercise in the morning or afternoon, as evening workouts can actually disrupt sleep.

Make good choices at the table

Deep fried and heavy foods can be more difficult for some people to digest. Focus on incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet and avoid having a heavy dinner, as intense digestion can impair your ability to fall asleep. Sip on water throughout the day to remain hydrated.

Don’t be tempted to skip meals. When your schedule fills up, make sure you are still eating balanced meals consistently. Both overeating and undereating can lead to difficulty falling and staying asleep.

Let go of the electronics

Some studies indicate that the use of electronics before bed can cause sleep disorders. For this reason, it’s best to turn off all electronics at least one hour before bed. Replace this time with light reading, listening to calming music, enjoying a warm bath or meditating. Avoid loud noise and emotionally stimulating books or music. The idea is to begin to turn your brain off for the evening so it can prepare for sleep.

Create a sleep zone

It’s easy to eat, watch movies and surf the web in bed; but none of these habits will do anything to improve your sleep. Save your favorite activities for other areas of your living space and maintain that your bed is used only for sleep. This is a way of training your brain and body to associate your bed only with sleep.

Avoid caffeine

While it may be tempting to fill up on coffee and other caffeinated beverages to make it through a long day of classes, those same habits are likely creating a vicious cycle of poor sleep followed by tiring days. If you choose to include caffeine in your day, make it first thing in the morning so you’re more alert for classes. You’ll likely find that you have less trouble falling and staying asleep, and that you wake more refreshed.

Plan ahead

Don’t let deadlines wear you down and keep you up at night. The second you receive an assignment or notification about an upcoming exam, set time aside during the day or early evening to take care of business. If you give yourself plenty of time to prepare, you will decrease the number of late night study sessions and fall asleep with greater ease knowing that you’ve managed to take care of your work.

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