Remember when there was time and motivation for exercise, and a fridge in your family home full of boring vegetables and healthy foods that now seem like a luxury?
Since the semester has begun, it has grown harder and harder to balance keeping up with my school work and keeping up with my health. Over the summer, when I had a job and no obligations outside of it, I could take weekly trips to the local food market and buy fresh fruits and vegetables. I even had the time to look up nutrient rich and carb-free recipes and use trial and error in making them. I also went for runs in the morning (sometimes) and lane swim in the evening.
I thought I could continue this cycle while in university- in fact, I very defiantly denied even the thought of the dreaded freshman fifteen (flashing lightning, spooky music). However, within the first two weeks, my morning runs petered out (if they were even that persistent to being with) and I found myself too lazy and determined to finish assignments to bother hauling my swim gear to one of the U of T gyms. I don’t have the time to prepare healthy meals, and store-bought ones have drained my bank account since the loss of steady income- making McDonald’s and food trucks seem more and more delicious.
I soon realized it was impossible to keep the same routine as I had before, but without even a minor attempt at taking care of myself, I felt terrible inside and out. I’ve decided small steps toward improving my condition, when I have a spare moment between classes and homework, is better than nothing at all.
Here are some ways-both significant and insignificant- I’ve been staying healthy with limited time:
- Multivitamins: Since avoiding greasy food is not achievable (it tastes so good!) I’ve been using these to boost my nutrient intake- you can find them at your local pharmacy or Nofrills, or order them online if there’s a specific brand you’re looking for.
- Green tea: has all kinds of benefits, including improving brain function, heightening metabolism, killing bacteria, and serving as an antioxidant!
- Drinking water: cutting out sugary drinks in favor of water has really improved my energy level- it’s even cleared my skin! Adding a lemon makes it taste better and is a good source of Vitamin C. Though I could never abandon my love for coffee, drinking water more often has me feeling less guilty about the caffeine and sugar.
- Daily steps: I may sound like someone’s yoga mom for saying this, but this is my personal favourite of all my tactics. I’m way too lazy to do actual workouts (and I’m in awe of people with the dedication to do them) but staying active is still important to me. A friend suggested I download an app that counts my steps. I set a goal (10,000) and go for about two 40-minute walks a day- which is easier than it seems, we take a lot more steps than you’d think. So far, I’ve been (mostly) reaching it every day. This has improved my quality of life quite a lot. Not only do I feel capable and energetic, I see a lot of my neighborhood and city- and I’m more willing to participate in activities and invite friends on outings since it means I’m likely to have fun reaching my goal that way.
Also remember that mental health is just as important as physical; try to get enough sleep and seek help if you need it.
Maybe after midterms I’ll have time to finally visit one of U of T’s pools!
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