We’re coming to the end of the university year and you might have noticed you’re not as healthy as you used to be. Mum’s cooking has been swapped out for takeaways. Trips to the gym have been replaced by trips to the pub. Pretty much every opportunity for exercise was being used for revision.
But don’t worry, you’re not the only one. When I first came to university I was a little over 10 stone. By the end of my second year I was pushing 13 stone and my fitness levels were non-existent. I knew something had to give and set out to get healthy over the summer. By the time I’d returned in September, I was back to my old self, and it’s not as hard as it might sound.
As tasty as KFC is, it’s incredibly bad for you (even the gravy!) In fact, all takeaway food is. Similarly, the convenience of the microwave meal comes at the price of a healthy lifestyle. At this point, I can already hear you saying that Pot Noodles and McDonald’s is all you can afford. But healthy, home-cooked meals don’t have to be expensive. Buy your meat and veg from the local market – I shop for all my meat at Crawshaw’s butchers on Cornhill. This butcher does a deal where you can get 3 packets of meat for £6. There’s a huge selection including sausages, burgers and marinated chicken legs. 3 packets of chicken legs, each containing 8 legs, can easily last you a week, if not more.
This can be made even cheaper if you plan your meals in advance. Decide what you want and what days you’ll want it. This means you can buy fruit and veg with the knowledge none of it will go rotten. Planning meals this way also means you are less likely to snack – you can’t eat food which you haven’t bought.
While exercise is often the first thing students neglect while at university – university is the perfect place for it. There are over 50 different sports societies here at the University of Lincoln and most of them offer different sessions for different levels of fitness and competitiveness. You can view the full range of activities here (https://www.lincolnsu.com/activities/sports), and for a small fee you can be getting fit while making new friends.
Societies aren’t the only places you can go to get fit, you can also use one of Lincoln’s many gyms. If you live near the university, there’s the Sports centre Gym right on Campus, Pure Gym on St Marks or Better Gym near Morrisons. Each of these offer special perks and discounts for students and when you go home for the summer you can freeze your membership or move it to a franchise closer to you. While Better Gym closes at 10pm, Pure Gym is open 24 hours which means that no matter your schedule you can always find time for a workout.
When we think about staying fit and healthy, diet and exercise seem like obvious changes to make. However, do not underestimate how important sleep is to a healthy lifestyle. Not only will you feel refreshed, but you’ll look much healthier too. As students, we can often find ourselves falling into an irregular sleeping pattern. Nights out and an inconsistent routine means that some nights I might have 6 hours sleep while others I lie in until past 12.
For some people, adjusting their sleep schedule is not as easy as simply going to bed early. If you have trouble sleeping, make sure that you turn off your electronics at least 30 minutes before you plan to go to sleep. If you live with noisy flatmates a pair of earphones or ear plugs might not go amiss either.
Or, if you want to monitor your sleep and break into a regular sleeping pattern there are several apps on both Android and iPhone that can help you. IOS now comes with the feature built-in under your clock app. You can tell the iPhone how much sleep you’d like and when you’d like to get up and it will send you reminders when it’s time to go to bed.
These changes are a little daunting at first, we all like staying up late, eating McDonald’s and avoiding the gym. However, if I can do it so can you. You don’t have to change everything at once, or go all out with it. Just one of these changes can make a world of difference to your health and even small changes such as getting an extra hour of sleep each day is a step in the right direction.
If you’re struggling to go it alone, why not recruit a friend to make healthier decisions with you. You’re less likely to cheat if your friend is in the same boat. And if you do cheat, it’s not the end of the world. You can always pick up where you left off tomorrow.