How to stay in shape in college

I am from Connecticut and started college at London College of Communication where I then transferred twice- first to Parsons the New School for Design, and then finally to Marymount Manhattan College where I will be graduating this May.
I am a graphic design major with a photo minor and love to work on packaging design and branding projects.
In my free time I listen to music and go to concerts, I also love to spend time outdoors, especially in the ocean.

Everyone has heard of it: the dreaded ‘freshmen fifteen.’ As much as people try to avoid it from happening, it inevitably does. There are so many changes going on in your life when you start college and some major ones are the way that you eat, exercise, and decide to spend your money. Up until college many people rely upon their parents, who do all the grocery shopping and cooking at home and therefore little to no care or consideration is put into how you eat, what you eat, or when you eat. Once you get to college all of a sudden you are forced to buy your own food, whether that be grocery shopping or choosing things from a cafeteria. While a slice of pizza and a soda may be the easiest, the quickest, and the cheapest in your eyes- this is how you pack on the pounds, and also loose money in the long run! Being a senior in college, I have come to realize a lot of things about healthy eating on a low budget. You must note that I attend a New York City based college without a campus and live off campus in an apartment. But, these tips still apply to any type of college student in any situation.
Decide if a meal plan is really the best option for you:
This depends on a lot of factors such as: Does your college require you to have a meal plan, what are the options for grocery stores around your campus, do you have a car, and more. If you are considering the meal plan you may want to think otherwise. A lot of school meal plans are just about as expensive as buying your own groceries and preparing meals, and if your school doesn’t have the best reputation for healthy food you may want to just ignore the meal plan. If your campus is in a ‘food desert’ you may be wondering how practical it is to get your own groceries, especially if you don’t have a mode of transportation. There are many food delivery services you can use that have really decent prices, PeaPod is a good one that operates all across the US, and there are other local services that are great too. Look into different options.
Healthy and organic doesn’t always mean more expensive:
When I used to get groceries I would buy about 50% produce and the rest would be cookies, chips, snack foods, and etc. I was gaining weight fast and it had to do with what I was buying: If I have cookies in my apartment, I am going to eat them. I was also spending a lot of money. One day while grocery shopping I decided to fill my cart up with almost 100% produce, I was on a major health kick. I got to the checkout and everything came out to about 1/3 of what I usually paid, but how? I had a lot more food and most of it was organic. Compare the prices: a huge bunch of kale that can produce about 3 salads costs about $1.99, whereas a box of Oreos in New York City can be as high as $6. Do the math. I then had a pivotal moment where I realized that not only was I starting to eat better and loose weight, but I was saving money.
Okay, I have all this produce, now what?
Plan ahead. If you are going to start buying your own food and making meals you have to make room for food prep in your day. Try to have things like bananas and apples on hand for snacks because they are grab and go items. The rest you can go about two ways: You can set aside your Sunday night or Monday morning to do food prep for the whole week. If you have lots of tupperware you can make meals and have them ready to go for breakfast, lunch, dinner. Make something in bulk, like quinoa (buying things in bulk can also be a good way to save money.) Then prepare sliced pineapple, oranges, carrots, celery, etc. You can also wake up about 20 minutes earlier than your normally would to make food for the day- trust me it’s not that bad! I leave plenty of time to make a healthy breakfast and while doing so I also prepare my meals and snacks so I don’t get caught at 4pm buying a chocolate bar from the vending machine. Also, for all you city students- you know how tempting the Chipotle around the corner is between classes.
Have fun with eating, embrace your weird habits, and convince your friends:
I put a lot of thought and time into what I am eating but I also have fun with it. Any of my friends would tell you that my snacks can range from extravagant to really odd, but they always inspire conversation! I have on many occasions been seen digging into a whole papaya or coconut as a snack. My favorite food is papaya and I used to be somewhat embarrassed to eat it in public because of its size and the amount of attention it would call to itself. But, it also gives me an opportunity to spread the word of healthy and fun eating. Don’t be afraid of what people will think, because while your feasting on a beautiful kale salad you made at home and sipping out of a fresh coconut that you just cracked open, you will have not only a sense of self accomplishment, but I can guarantee you will never gain the freshmen fifteen and your pockets will thank you in the long run!

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