Staying Healthy (on the Cheap!)

College is a wonderful time, but for many, it can definitely be an unhealthy time. Classes and assignments can feel like a full-time job, most of us work a part time job, and try to balance a social life on top of it all! But avoiding the ‘Freshman 15’ (or Sophomore, Junior, or Senior!) isn’t impossible—it just takes some planning and hard work. I’ll admit I’m certainly not the healthiest—I frequent Chick Fil A and don’t get quite enough exercise—but I thought I’d lend a hand and share some of what I do in my attempt to stay healthy as a broke college student.

Staying healthy when you're on a college student budget!

1. Workout DVDs
I purchased my first workout DVD (Jillian Michaels’ Yoga Meltdown) freshman year and loved it! I think Jillian is wonderful and have actually purchased several more of her DVDs, including the 30 Day Shred, Shred It with Weights, and my newest purchase, Kickbox Fastfix. Jillian’s tough talking keeps me motivated while her quick, but difficult, routines help burn a lot of calories in 20-30 minutes! I also enjoy yoga DVDs on days when a tough Jillian workout just isn’t going to happen. If you’re interested in yoga, try Rodney Yee. He’s a great instructor who walks you through each pose and explains the benefits of each.

2. Get Outside or Join a Local Gym
Anderson’s campus is roughly one square mile, making it very easy to go outside, walk or jog a lap or two, and get a good cardio workout! Exercising outside is one of the best things you can do for your body and mood! The best part—it’s free! However, if you aren’t one for the outdoors (we all have those days) get creative! I joined the local Rec Center this semester for just $40! Check your local gyms and athletic clubs for student specials and discounts.

3. Be Mindful of What You Eat
A healthy diet is just as, if not more, important than exercise. If you live on campus, take advantage of your meal plan! I know, I know, cafeteria food stinks! But you’ve got to use what you’ve got! If your dining hall has a salad bar, pile a plate high with spinach, pour some healthy toppings on, and add a splash of vinegar as dressing for a salad that will keep you full all day (or until fourth meal!) and will provide lots of nutrients. If that’s not your taste, try building a custom sandwich and camouflage your veggies with meat, cheese, and some condiments. Eating healthy can be difficult, but it is so important to looking and feeling your best! But remember—don’t deprive yourself! Indulge when you need to and be mindful of how your body feels.

4. Use Technology to Your Advantage
There are lots of apps and accessories that can help keep you on track. My personal favorite is My Fitness Pal, which lets you log meals and exercise from a huge database. You can use it on your computer or smartphone and you can set and work toward your goals, whether calories burned, pounds lost, or whatever you want to accomplish. You can interact with and encourage your friends in the app, making it fun and a little competitive! Now, I’m going to veer from the ‘cheap’ for a minute, because I just have to rave about my favorite new gadget! I purchased the FitBit Force last week and this thing is wonderful! I sync mine with My Fitness Pal and my computer. Using the new watch-like display, you can track your progress throughout the day and FitBit provides a ‘dashboard’ that visually displays your daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly progress on your computer or smartphone. You can even track your sleeping habits and calories consumed and burned. If you’re serious about taking control of your health, I’d definitely recommend it!

how to stay healthy when you're on a tight budget!

And that’s how I (attempt to) stay healthy on a budget. What are some of your tips and tricks? Comment and let me know!