Healthy College Girl’s Back-to-School Guide
My Packing for Dorm Life post has been, by far, my most popular on this blog. After four years, it still drives the most traffic to my site – 37% of you found Strong Like My Coffee by searching this topic or finding it’s link on Pinterest! After nearly half a million views, I quickly realized that my “Healthy College Girl” theme was resonating with a lot of my readers. Every single summer for the past four years, my blog’s page views sky rocket….the back-to-school preparation begins and my fellow healthy college girls seem to be researching healthy grocery guides, meal ideas, and tips for finding balance in college before heading off to school soon!
I did the same thing. Pinterest was just getting popular right before my freshman year at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. I looked up dorm decorating ideas, ways to increase storage in tiny living spaces, tips on living with a roommate for the first time, and study tips. But what really interested me were the posts on avoiding the notorious Freshman 15, ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle and a social life as a freshman, and advice on fitness and nutrition as a busy college student.
After a couple years as a student-athlete, a lot of what I learned was through trial and error and experience. I navigated my way through campus dining and the all-you-can-eat buffets. Sometimes I made my own healthy salad and other times I gave into Temptation Station…AKA the dessert cart, which was stocked up on every type of cookie, pastry, and donut along with a soft-serve ice cream bar.
Some of the most important points I learned about prioritizing health in college:
- Getting enough quality sleep affects your academic performance, your athletic performance, and the nutrition choices you make throughout the day. Oftentimes when we are tired, we crave instant sugary snacks to boost our energy. Quality sleep keeps your brain sharp, your muscles repaired, and your energy levels more stable.
- Lose the “get my money’s worth” mentality in the dining halls. Quality over quantity.
- Pre-plan your “treat” days. Completely restricting certain foods (like that ice cream bar) will most likely lead to a total binge when you’re having an off day. Planned indulgences will keep you from feeling deprived without totally going overboard.
- It’s not just about diet and exercise; reducing stress is a major component of a healthy lifestyle. There are many stressors in college – roommates, finals, frat boys – which can have an impact on our motivation to workout and the foods we crave. Every finals week, I craved allll the sushi, macaroni and cheese, and frozen yogurt. :) Finding healthy ways to cope with stress is one of the biggest pieces of advice I can offer – one that I am still working on myself, one year post-graduation!
- Alcohol and abs don’t mix. Not to sound like a buzz kill, but alcohol consumption has a drastic impact on our bodies. Beverages contain empty calories of carbs and sugars, but alcohol also has an inflammatory effect on the body. Moderation is key! I definitely enjoyed my 21st birthday and a few fun nights downtown, but I also happily volunteered to be designated driver and substituted fruity water. Balance!
I continued to post content relevant to this theme for the past four years. As I noticed my page views beginning to climb again last week, I thought I would put together a “Round Up” of my favorite Healthy College Girl themed posts in one spot. They are in order of my personal favorite! Each link will open in a new tab :)
- 6 Tips for Navigating Through Campus Dining (Guest blog post for Quest Nutrition)
- Healthy College Girl’s Travel Guide
- Observations from a College Campus Gym
- Healthy Study Snack List
- College Girl Grocery Guide – dorm edition
- College Girl Grocery Guide 2.0 – apartment edition
- College Girl Meal Plan
- List of De-stressors
- Sweet Tooth Cures
- By the Time You Turn 22…
Hopefully you found something helpful here! It’s been a year since I graduated. Now that I’m living 1,000 miles from “home” with a brand new marketing job and real life responsibilities, I feel like I have to “re-learn” my own healthy habits. Post-grad life is mostly just figuring it out through trial and error. Figuring out how to balance the normal adult chores and errands, work, enough sleep, healthy meals, workouts, play time, and whatever surprises come up. Having a supportive family with similar goals certainly helps. Surrounding yourself with positive people is probably one of the most important components of your health.
Let me know what other kinds of content you’d like to see, or any healthy tips of your own! Tomorrow marks my two-month anniversary of moving to Idaho and we have an epic day adventure planned. Full recap on Monday! :)
Girls Night In + Healthy Veggie Dinner
Almost a year ago to the day, I took one of the best vacations of my life so far (what I justified as a “graduation present” to myself). As a country-lovin’ girl with a fascination for small town charm, rural areas, east coast beaches and southern accents, I excitedly planned a roadtrip through North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. I still think about that trip at least once a week.
I’m bringing it up again because my mom and I finally started to save all of our pictures from the trip and put them into a scrapbook. We had started our day with a sprints/HIIT workout during sunrise, and after work I had a strength training/plyometrics workout with our trainer for Boise Elite Running. Suffice it to say, I earned my glass of Riesling, which I think heightened my sense of nostalgia over this trip. I may have ended the night by creating a new Pinterest board planning my next southern road-trip (now to decide: autumn or spring?!).
My mom and I planned a girls night to make dinner together, rent a redbox movie, and hang out together. The low-key girls night without workouts, errands, or social stuff was so refreshing since most nights here have been go-go-go. When the sun is out til 10pm, it’s hard to stay home. But then it makes the rare nights with movies and pajamas so much more appreciated! :)
We knew we wanted a healthy dinner so that we could splurge. The most difficult decision: wine or ice cream?!
One of my all-time favorite meals is roasted root vegetables, no matter what time of year. Chopping up the butternut squash is so time-consuming (and slightly dangerous for my fingers) but so worth it. The rest is just chopping up sweet potatoes, zucchini, carrots, onions, apples, brussels sprouts and whatever else you want to throw on the pan. We mix the veggies with a little bit of olive oil and some marjoram spice, garlic and pepper. Roasted at 425 degrees for 50-ish minutes and they come out so warm, caramelized and flavorful. My mouth is watering!
Have you seen Hello, My Name is Doris? We LOVE Sally Field, especially from the old show Brothers & Sisters. This wasn’t my favorite movie but it was still cute. Some parts were so awkward that it was painful to watch, where you just cringe for the main character. I’d give it a 6.5 out of 10 stars, so we had to add an episode of Friends before we went to bed to end the night on a funny note. :)
Nothing super special about our leisure girls night in but sometimes it’s just what you need. Especially when we’re balancing out such adventurous weekends…..cliff jumping and paddle-boarding are on the agenda for the upcoming weekends. We are living more in Idaho than we did in 20 years in California!
Tomorrow morning, I’ll be meeting a friend I made through the running club in a nearby town for a trail run before work. I love driving when it’s so quiet out and running through the sunrise. The first five minutes after the early alarm clock goes off are the worst but thankfully a pot of coffee is waiting for me. And the feeling after a good run through nature is indescribable; you just have to experience it for yourself.
Hope you have some fun plans this weekend & I’ll catch ya back here Monday!
Camelback Mountain + 8 Scottsdale restaurants in 24 hours
Tomorrow I have an exam at 8:00am, so naturally I am trying to relive my incredible weekend by sharing pictures with you rather than cram study. ;)
I celebrated my birthday from Thursday night clear through Monday morning and there isn’t any moment that sticks out as my favorite. Friends, family, food, drinks, sunshine, hiking, and good music = one blur of happiness.
Camelback Mountain is the highest point in Phoenix, and my parents and I love to hike! This was described as an intense climb, but only 1.2 miles to the top. We each only brought a small bottle of water, no snacks. Figured we’d be up and down in an hour.
The “intense climb” is no joke, literal climbing up and over large rocks. This is not a dirt trail. It’s a rock-covered obstacle course. Which was kind of a blast! We just should have come prepared with a backpack for more water and snacks.
As soon as we started, sirens came blaring in and a dozen firemen unloaded rescue gear. They started the hike with us, on a mission to assist an injured hiker. We watched as the hiker, who injured his ankle (hmmm that sounds familiar), was helicoptered from the mountain. According to one of the firemen, this is completely typical. An every weekend activity.
We had a clear view of Phoenix from the top, the grid of neighborhoods and downtown buildings. We were suprised by how crowded the mountain was the entire time, considering it was Valentine’s Day.
Time to jump into the pool again! We had clemetines, apple slices and yogurt to tide us over before another dinner and night downtown. I decided to hop on the treadmill for 4 miles and mini core workout too. Help offset all the splurges over our four days. Dinner was at the crazy-crowded and super loud (we take that as a good sign!) restaurant RNR. I ordered the Ahi Tuna tacos which came on jicama instead of a tortilla.
They were delicious…but tiny. Like a baby appetizer. Good thing we were heading to Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, next!
Country-themed bars are my favorite. The atmosphere and the crowds at these bars are typically more relaxed, less formal, plus the music is the best. And I’d rather two-step than bump-and-grind any day. ;)
Also, cocktails taste 67% better when served in a mason jar.
Scottsdale, Arizona is a part of Phoenix. Our hotel was just a block away from Old Town Scottsdale with dozens of restaurants and bars with outdoor seating and adorable decorations. So on Sunday (after another couple hours by the pool…. I told you I was craving the sun!), we decided to make an entire day and night out of walking through all of the shops, restaurants and bars.
We started at Sip, which is an ecclectic mix of coffee and beer.
I would love to say I loved this place. Anywhere with a unique menu or funky mix automatically has my attention. I thought the beer handles next to the espresso maker was hilarious. But I have to admit….I threw away my Americano after two sips. And if you know me, you know it has to be baaaaad to not finish a coffee drink. So our first stop = fail.
Right next door was Brathaus, infinitely better experience than at the previous bar. We got appetizers and enjoyed sitting outside. There was jumbo-sized jenga, cornhole, and other games. It was the type of outdoor area I would love to have as a backyard.
Before long we were walking along again, through the art distict and the jewelry district.
(I wanted to kiss the statue but I’m also afraid of germs.)
Next up – Italian Grotto. We sat outside here again because it was nearly sunset, that perfect golden lighting. This place had great music too and really cool sports memorabilia decorations.
The next bar was my FAVORITE from the weekend. Old Town Tavern. This bar was very small, but it had indoor, outdoor, and upstairs seating. We started at the outdoor bar, moved to the bar inside, then moved back outside to a table. There was a live band playing great covers and the bartender made fantastic cocktails. If I were a local, I’d be here all the time for the atmosphere! We spent the most amount of time here.
Even though my birthday was Thursday, I hadn’t gotten a birthday dessert yet. (Yes, there was banana pudding on Thursday. But I mean, that’s pudding…) I’m an ice cream girl! Sugar Bowl was a 50’s themed diner, decced out in pink. My kinda place! We sat up at the bar and I ordered a banana split with coffee and cookies n’ cream ice cream. This day had already been all about eating and drinking, and I’d spent a month eating healthfully in anticipation of birthday splurges. GO BIG OR GO HOME. (I went big.)
Our 7-hour food fest finally came to an end Sunday night. It was so abnormal for our usual healthy habits and routines, which made it all the more special to me! We were carefree for the weekend, ignoring calories and treadmillls for a few hours which were replaced by so much laughter and fun. Definitely not an every-weekend type of outting but definitely a well-earned treat. Although I’m sure my stomach and my skinny jeans are happy that the weekend is over and normal eating/exercise has returned.
Also I told myself that I would be done blogging and back to studying by 9pm, and it’s now 9:27. So I shall wrap this up.
P.S. This song came on at Whiskey Row, the first time I’ve ever heard of this singer. I like it!