By Claire Hansen
Blog Content Contributor
With so many different health products being shoved in our faces these days, it can be easy to over-complicate healthy living. A side effect that often follows those products is ending up spending way more money than you need to– possibly on things that may not even be helping you. A couple of years ago, a massive cardboard box full of Nutrisystem meals showed up in my living room, as an attempt by one of my old roommates to start living a healthier lifestyle. Nothing against Nutrisystem, but it made me sad to think that some people are so misled that they spend all this money and packaging to have over-processed foods sent to their house instead of just grabbing a few apples on their next H-E-B trip. The truth is, you don’t need to follow some strict, expensive plan to reach your goal of a healthy life, whatever that term may mean to you. Sure, programs like that may take a little bit of the thinking out of it, but do any of those things provide more benefits to you and your body than a good ol’ apple would? Absolutely not.
Of course, it’s unrealistic to expect ourselves to never stray from the healthy eating or exercising regimen, so, in my own experience, I have found that taking what I call “baby steps” and slowly implementing little changes into your daily life, can help you tremendously in leading you to the healthiness you’re striving for, without you even knowing it. Here are a few of the small decisions I make every day that keep me ready for action, instead of slugging around.
- If you can, take the stairs. As exhausting as it can be sometimes, we should feel lucky to have a campus with so many stairs. Take advantage of it! Treat every flight like a new challenge. And don’t skip steps; you burn more calories by taking them one at a time. Most often, it’s nearly inevitable not to encounter them on campus, so try doing it everywhere you go instead of opting for the elevator like usual. Once the habit is formed, it becomes an effortless way of adding a few extra spurts of cardio to your day. If the Amish can do it, so can you.
- Stock up on easy, nutrient-dense snacks. Replace potato chips with something fresh and crisp like veggies and hummus. Not only are they delicious and refreshing, but will most likely be cheaper than what you’re buying already anyway, for the amount that you get. If veggies and hummus aren’t your thing, try other simple snacks like trail mix (the kind without chocolate), and bananas or apples with peanut butter. The best part about all of these is the minimal amount of preparation they require
- Take those healthy snacks with you. Always packing little bits of fuel with you everywhere you go will help keep you alert throughout the day, while also saving you money and calories. It stops you from giving into those temptations of the unhealthy options that surround you at a convenience store or vending machine, and also probably saves you about ten dollars a week on processed foods.
- Stop and stretch. As silly as it sounds, taking a moment to pay attention to how your body feels and to stretch those certain muscles that have been working tirelessly all day to keep you going can do you a whole lot of good, and give you exactly what you need to power through the rest of the day. Your body is a machine and, like all machines, it needs to be reset every so often to keep functioning at its best.
Most importantly, drink water. I know you hear this everywhere you go, but it truly cannot be stressed enough. Find a good quality, sturdy water bottle or tumbler, always keep it filled with water and water only, and bring it everywhere with you. After making a habit of it, it becomes something you feel you can’t live without, and it’s no doubt that everyone’s body could use some extra hydrating throughout the day. If the taste (or lack thereof) of water doesn’t really enthuse you, try incorporating different fruit / herb combinations to add some flavor. Some of my favorites are watermelon and mint, as well as strawberry and lemon. You’ll also absorb some of the nutrients found in fruit and herbs when you add them to your water! Double bonus!
Simple, easy switches like these will leave you feeling a little bit more on-top each day. A lot of people don’t realize how much these small changes could do for you, and think being “healthy” is just a black and white lifestyle where you either live it, or you don’t. I completely understand how life is always getting in the way and can make it difficult, if not impossible, to stay on a strict eating and exercise pattern that goes even a week without being interrupted. That is where small efforts like this come into play; they retain you at a better base level of healthiness, so that when things don’t go as planned and you end up at Whataburger at two in the morning, or encounter a free snacks on the quad, you don’t need to beat yourself up so hard over indulging in those moments. You’ve already covered your bases. Finally, the reason I stress this so hard is because no one, no matter how healthy they are or strive to be, should ever have to pass up free pizza.
Featured Image by Claire Hansen.