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! :)
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!
I finally broke up with my “Student-Athlete in love with health and fitness” tag line in the blog header above. About time, considering I only graduated….11 months ago. It took me a ridiculously long time to settle on “Post-Grad Life – Balancing Health & Happiness.” Finding a new direction takes time, y’all!
The timing of this is so appropriate and unplanned, since most of you are in college yourselves and graduation season is just around the corner!
Now that I’ve officially cut ties with my student-athlete title (no looking back now!), it’s time to fully embrace the unpredictability and freedom that come with that first year out of school. There are unlimited directions. You can eat gummy worms for breakfast. You can move to a new city. You’re probably going to want to update that resume.
Having goals for our career and lifestyle once we earn that degree is expected, but make sure you aren’t getting caught up in what everyone else is doing. Figuring out post-grad life isn’t a race or a competition; try to focus on working towards your own goals instead of comparing everyone else’s. Especially not what they’re showing on social media – you have no idea what else is going on behind the scenes of that strategically and perfectly curated post!
We see other people’s individual achievements and take them as a collective goal. What I mean by that is we see one friend with their dream job, someone else with the most gorgeously decorated loft apartment, another friend with a daily habit of $15 Whole Foods smoothies, a different someone with the most flawless make-up and hair, someone else in the most inspiring relationship and yet another who seems to spend everyday on a hammock at the beach sipping sangria (with a ridiculous bikini bod, to boot). And as a natural human instinct, we want all of these things too! We take these individual accomplishments and expect ourselves to achieve them all. But the reality is – no one has them ALL at the same time.
I think that social media, “reality” television, and our generation’s culture in general have provided a false sense of reality for a post-graduate. Of course there are the lucky select few who are the exception to this rule. In general, though, the vast majority of recent college graduates (or just those in their early 20’s) should expect to put a lot of time, energy and sacrifice into working towards the lifestyle that they admire. Dream jobs don’t land in your lap, and oftentimes they require a great deal of tedious or dirty work at first. Expensive habits like daily fancy coffees, superfood green juices and bottles of champagne can only happen if you pay your utilities, gas, phone bill, etc. first. (If you have to prioritize, hint: electricity > organic donuts.) And things don’t happen exactly as you picture them in your head. Exhibit A:
I’m just going to use my own personal experience because I know a lot of my friends relate and you might too. Right before graduation, I had the fantasy goal of moving across the country, renting my own apartment, decorating it like Lauren Conrad, throwing adorable and elaborate parties, working out on the beach, finding the dream marketing job for a non-profit company with co-workers who would all become my best friends, meeting a guy straight out of a Nicholas Sparks novel, running an uber-successful health and fitness blog and never feeling an ounce of stress.
There’s nothing wrong with GOALS and we should all have an idea of what lifestyle we want to create for ourselves! But expecting it all to happen the day after graduation was my downfall. I felt like having a gap between graduation day and this fantasy life meant I failed. I was disappointed that I’d have to move in with my parents until I worked everything out. My expectations were so far-fetched that I let myself feel disappointment and failure RATHER than feeling damn proud of graduating college, appreciative of my parents for all of their support, and excitement towards the possibilities of my post-grad life. No More! My parents have helped me become more realistic, and even though my personality type will always have pretty big goals and dreams for myself, I know that nothing is instant and that the time and work we put in will make it worth it. And taking a little time after graduation to figure it out is okay!
Now that I’m wrapping this up, I hope this doesn’t come across as “make your dreams smaller” or “don’t aim so high.” My original post-grad southern life on the beach is still my dream/goal/plan! I’m just saying expect to work for your goals, you have to earn that end result, and don’t set such strict deadlines. Don’t be so hard on yourself, or compare your journey to anyone else’s. It’s not a race.
And P.S. The majority of these types of posts are things that I know I need to remind MYSELF, so I’m not writing this as a mentor or a preacher – I’m right there with ya. :)
Thoughts? Post-grad experiences? What are YOUR goals?