Don’t Get Overwhelmed

Wow, long time no talk you guys… well, at least for me (Alison).

There is a lot I need to fill everyone in on.

I never realized how little I cared about my health during my first year of college.  Physically, emotionally, and mentally, I did a terrible job of keeping everything healthy in my life.  The good news is that my second year of college is the complete opposite of that! That bad news, I’M SO OVERWHELMED. I did it, I admitted that I am so extremely overwhelmed.  The huge jump from the way I was freshman year to now is so completely different in that I don’t think I knew what exactly I was doing.  At the start this year (sophomore), I joined way too many clubs, studied for my classes way too often, worked out on way too many days of the week, socialized with people living in my apartment on way too many occasions (I’m not talking about parties though), etc. I was given this idea when I was moving out and to a new college that I seriously needed to get involved with everything and put myself out there.  All of that crap left me feeling like this when it came to test time…

So after using this week to take a break (of course after finishing my tests), I’m here to inform you that it’s okay to not be insanely busy!  I’ve always said that school comes first. You’re paying money to come to college so you should focus on your studies. Extra curricular activities can be awesome, but it is so easy to get overwhelmed.  If you’re extremely tired from studying then take the night off from working out or hanging with friends. It’s okay to take those breaks!

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Eating for Nutrition

I don’t know about you guys, but I have a terrible habit of justifying eating crappy foods by referring to them as “comfort food” – this notion of junky food being  capable of making my bad day better is really toxic in my mind. Some days I have no self control! Just last night I found myself lying in bed with a terrible stomachache, and it wasn’t until the next morning that I realized it was because I ate so much junk yesterday.

So how the heck am I supposed to break the habit of eating such bad food? It all tastes so good

…and that’s where I stop myself. When I’m walking through my dorm’s dining area, I can smell all of the fried and fatty foods – from chicken strips to mashed potatoes with gravy to mac and cheese to french fries – and it can seem so easy to just walk up and order a meal like that. But I told myself this morning that, after how terrible I felt last night, I needed to eat something nutritive. So I did! My lunch was a salad with lots of lettuce, cucumbers, and carrots, topped with shredded cheese, tuna, and a little ranch dressing; on the side I had an orange. So yummy!

When you are eating, you are performing a function necessary for life. You consume food for the purpose of providing energy for your organs to continue working properly – so when you put good stuff in there, your organs will thank you! However, if you’re eating strictly to appease your nose or your tongue, you’re missing out on a whole mess of awesomeness, and instead are generally left feeling dissatisfied. So before I fix my meal, I try and think – how does each thing I’m putting on my plate benefit my body?

It’s good to have protein, and nutrients from dairy can be helpful. But ultimately, the colorful should outweigh everything else in your diet! If your plate looks like a rainbow (that does NOT include skittles), chances are you’re in for a well-balanced meal. Meat should be a small portion, with some sort of carb(s) for energy and lots of fruits/veggies. The reason I consider my salad healthy was because my lettuce, cucumbers, and carrots were in larger quantity than my tuna, cheese, and dressing; I had a fruit on the side as well, which not only packed vitamin C, but also helped me stay full! One thing I’m bad about when I’m eating a salad as a meal is not eating enough – so I’m left hungry for a snack later on. As long as your meal is quality, eating a full portion size is important. (If you’re eating pizza rolls, however…maybe not so much!) Simply changing the way you look at your food can make a huge difference in your diet.

De-Stressing with the Gym

So yesterday started off on a not-so-great foot; woke up on the wrong side of the bed, I suppose. I was able to make the day significantly better from the get-go, however, by throwing on my workout clothes and heading across the street to my school’s main gym!

I procrastinated a lot before actually leaving, but I realized what I was doing and forced myself out. In the end, even though my workout was not long, I ended up feeling great for going – and my legs were super sore after! All I did was push myself on an incline for 30 minutes (~2.5 miles) on the elliptical but it was all I really needed to get back in the swing of exercising. (I’m a firm believer in not over-doing it. If I had pushed myself to go an hour, or at a higher intensity, I would have been exhausted and discouraged from going again the next day.)

Aaaand my face gets incredibly red when I exercise. This can sometimes make me really self-conscious, but I always feel so much better when I ignore what’s bringing me down and work out anyway. I might not be the fittest person ever, but I’m never going to be where I want to if I don’t ever try. Everyone else is at the gym for the same reason, so don’t think that they’re all judging you. You have to start somewhere.

The other great thing about exercise – besides the health benefits – is that it releases awesome endorphins which essentially thank your body for moving itself! If you work out regularly then you get to feel those endorphins all the time.

Another important point I found in something Ashley (over at Coffee Cake and Cardio) posted a couple days ago that highlighted holding back on snacking until post-exercise. And honestly, it’s so effective! After my work out, on the way back up to my dorm room, I stopped by the cafeteria and grabbed an apple. Not fries, not chips, but fruit! That’s an accomplishment for a carb-lover like me. And the rest of the day I could not justify eating crappy foods because I knew they would just put all of the calories that I burned right back where they started.

Bottom line? Working out made me feel great and it triggered smart choices for the rest of the day. Even though I had to, in some respects, drag myself out, I was so grateful for doing so because it made me very proud of myself.

Apartment Eating – Week One

Two ET bagel thins with two eggs, sriracha sauce, and one sliced peach.

Slice strawberries and blueberries with 1/2 cup of vanilla chobani yogurt. Cheesy rice = 1/2 cup of brown rice and 1/2 cup of broccoli cheese soup

Leftover garlic couscous with tuna, corn, pepper, and garlic powder.

Whole wheat pasta and grilled chicken with italian seasoning.

A salad with cucumbers, cheese, banana peppers, blueberries, and poppyseed dressing (not shown).

I love cooking in my apartment.  Last night I made couscous for dinner and I had so much leftover!! I didn’t want to eat the same thing for lunch so I changed it up by adding corn and tuna.

Eating healthy can be incredibly easy if you just put the time and effort in 🙂

Healthy eating equals healthy skin?

“Hey Alison! We are here to make you feel self conscious about yourself and to make your face look completely uneven!!!”

I feel like that is exactly what my acne would say if it could talk.  I know I’m not the only college student who still somewhat struggles with blemishes.  I’ve never had extreme acne problems but I sure have had those days where I felt like my entire face was covered in bumps.  Well you guys, I have some not so secret things to tell you about how to make your skin look and  feel healthy.

1. Eat Healthy!

This shouldn’t be that big of a shocker to anyone reading this.  Eating healthy will significantly reduce blemishes on your face.  When you eat chips, ramen (so much sodium you fools), hot pockets, etc, those foods will have a huge effect on your skin. During my move-in process I did not eat healthy at all! I was traveling and had yet to grocery shop so all I did was eat out.  My skin suffered immensely from the food I was eating but a week after getting my diet back to a healthy point, my skin was looking so good.

2. Drink Water!

I cannot say this enough… put that soda down and drink some water!  Soda is made so that one sip won’t be enough for your taste buds so you can’t stop drinking it, but it does nothing for your skin.  Drinking water periodically during the day will hydrate your skin and keep those pesky pimples from showing up.

Hint : If you don’t enjoy water, try adding lemon, cucumber, or even one of those crystal lite packets.

3. KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF OF YOUR FACE!

The oil on your hands is so bad for your skin, so stop touching your face, resting your head on your hand… just don’t touch your face.

p.s. if you think about the amount of oil on your hair, imagine how much of that is on your pillow and then transfers to your face. Wash your pillowcases regularly!

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It’s also important to remember to take any and all makeup off, to wash your face every night, and to avoid stress (which, come on, is probably impossible in college). I’ve always struggled with my acne and it wasn’t until I really started implementing my diet that it got better.  Don’t let eating out affect your face or your confidence.

Or just smear your food on your face

 

[Kelsey’s Optional Point: Eat Vegan!

Just kidding. Making a major diet change is a huge step, and just because you have an acne issue does not necessarily warrant you cut out any and all animal products from your daily eating routine! However, what I’ve found by following a few health/beauty blogs is that many people are saying that dairy can mess with your hormones and subsequently produce more acne (or something along those lines, I’m not a physician). I personally battle rosacea, and my vegan diet kept my face clearer than I’ve ever seen it in my life – and those few pimples that I do occasionally get were nowhere to be found. So going vegan simply to clear your face was really just a joke, but maybe reducing dairy is something to try out if you’re at your wits end as to why your acne is so bad. (Oh, and P.S., my brother gave up milk for two weeks and his acne began to clear up significantly as well!)]

Vegan Eating

I can’t believe classes start tomorrow! With all the brewing anxiety, I know it’s important for me to start this semester off on the right foot – and that means with a happy mind and body. So yesterday (Mon. 8/27) I decided to see if I could eat a whole day vegan while sticking on campus, as vegan-eating tends to be gentler on my stomach and give me more natural energy.

My mother is someone who recently began a vegan diet, and has maintained such for about 7 months now! But, just as I mentioned, she as well does it for the health benefits and not necessarily as an animal rights activist. So, for a month this summer, I tried it myself! It was strange at first, and it was my first ever “diet”, but I stuck to it for a full 30 days and was proud of myself for that. However, a couple of factors made it difficult to maintain: A) I live in a very commercial suburb, with lots of not-so-vegan restaurant chains, and B) I worked at one of those very restaurants! Even though there were slightly healthier options, either I had to purchase those (not included in an employee meal), or it was just too busy to get something like a salad. Therefore, after the month was up and I returned to eating animal products, I decided to take what I had learned and apply it here in school!

One of the biggest things that I learned about eating vegan was that just because something does not contain animal products, does not mean that it is healthy. I ended up eating a lot of potato chips and french fries and way fewer fruits and veggies than I should have! Another important fact to remember is that as long as you pile on those greens, your concern for how much protein you are intaking is lessened significantly. Green foods are GREAT for you, and building meals around having a colorful plate is an awesome jumping point!

I’ll give an example of a very non-vegan and unhealthy meal I got on Sunday.

No good! While a meal at McDonald’s might be technically “worse”, that’s still not the right track for my eating given that I have a tendency to get this plate often here at school. Rather than playing the “well I could be eating THIS” game, I would prefer strictly being proud of what I’m putting in my body! So thus, I changed my habits for Monday.

Breakfast: cereal w/ almond milk and black coffee

Lots of sugar, but filled me up ’till lunch and helped curb any cravings for sweets for quite a while.

Lunch: wheat wrap w/ hummus, lettuce, tomatoes, spinach, and green peppers – small side of balsamic vinaigrette and a golden apple

Sodium content in the wrap and the hummus is apparently high (according to my school’s online nutrition calculator) but I know the veggies were really good to have and this filled me up nicely. (Plus, green pepper – YUM.)

Snack: pretzels and hummus

This is the same hummus  that my school uses for the wraps. I bought a container from the market downstairs and ate it with the pretzels I already had in here. It was so perfect as a midday treat!

Dinner: Veggie “beef” taquitos with black beans, rice, and a side of salsa

The salsa was necessary to add flavor, but other than that I was excited to see that there were vegan faux-meat options in the cafeteria! My friend even tried the taquito and agreed that it tasted just like real beef.

And…not pictured…okay, I had a few pieces of chocolate for dessert. I couldn’t resist! So my day was not 100% vegan, but what I view personally as the “important” things (no meat, cheese, few products containing milk/eggs) were covered. And even if the nutrition calculator is telling me there is an exorbitant amount of sodium in the vegetables I ate, I don’t care – they are veggies! I feel so good about the choices I made (even with a treat for dessert) and I am excited to continue them into the year. By avoiding overly-processed foods, I made myself feel better, and that means a better sleeping schedule and more energy for studying or exercising.

Something I may try to maintain is a 5-days-a-week vegan diet: Monday thru Friday vegan, and Saturday and Sunday I am allowed to have meat/dairy if I want it! As a money-conscious college student (who am I kidding, who isn’t?) I already limit myself to one non-campus dine-out a week (not including groceries). This could fit in nicely to my fitness plan!

I’m still trying to figure everything out, but it’s days like these that help me realize that I have the willpower to push myself in the right direction, health-wise, and so does anyone else.

The Stresses of Moving

Hey everyone! I originally started this post out with “I packed, I moved, and I died”.  Honestly, that is exactly what happened to me. EXACTLY.

These past few weeks have been nothing short of insane.  A week ago I decided to lease at a new apartment and the process of moving in has been crazy.  I moved all of my kitchen tools/appliances last weekend and this weekend I moved the rest of my things.  I had so much more to unload this time.

When my dad saw how packed the car was he said, “You aren’t going to need half of what you are bringing.”  I wondered if I did have way too much but after unpacking everything last night I realized how I needed it all.

I think you really just have to go through what you use on a daily basis and bring it with you.  Just go with your gut feeling and also bring what you think will aid in your healthy lifestyle in college!  I knew that bringing a juicer would help me to get more fruits/veggies worked into my diet.

Even though moving in can be stressful, I feel that you should just stay positive and try not to let everything that is going on (moving in, meeting roommates, saying goodbye to family) overwhelm you.  Move everything in and then go out and explore the area! Go for a jog outside, find your classes, meet 5 new people, etc.  Your new dorm/apartment will be your home for the next 7-8 months so enjoy it!