The ULTIMATE guide to getting fit in college.

You guys, over the last few months I’ve seen a concerning trend with friends in real life and in the blogging world. It seems that everyone is on a diet but isn’t dieting ‘right.’ I understand that figuring out how to get fit in college is hard because you are stressed, you are busy, and ordering a pizza is so much easier that cooking. But make the commitment to yourself and to your health to not take shortcuts when it comes to getting fit!

A lot of people are sticking to the resolutions they made to get fit in the New Year which is awesome, but so many people are going about it all wrong in ways that aren’t healthy or sustainable. While I’m not a nutrition or fitness professional I have been an athlete my entire life and I know a thing or two about healthy living.

How not to get fit in college.

  • Calorie restriction – nothing infuriates me more than seeing magazines or other blogs advertising ‘low calorie meals’ or ‘how to eat less calories.’ Calories are not the problem when it comes to maintaining weight, it’s eating good calories and making sure to get your body moving to burn a few calories, too. (More on that later!)
    • Calorie deficiency is scary! We are talking hair loss, infertility, moodiness, insomnia, and other unideal symptoms. Even if starving yourself were the best answer to weight loss – it would hardly be worth it!
  • Fad diets – I probably don’t need to go far into this because by now most everyone knows the dangers of fad dieting. If you’re really focused on changing your health for the better and are hoping to see long term results, then you need to commit to a sustainable diet – not something that you have to suffer through every day.
  • Hiding from carbs – like calories, carbs take a lot of heat in the media and in magazines directed at women. Carbs don’t make you fat, they give you energy and make you happy!

With that said…

We can start talking about the things that you should do if you’re trying to get fit in college. I am going to go over diet, exercise, and healthy habits. This is going to be a long post, full of valuable information so make sure that you bookmark it and pin it for reference!

Eating a Healthy Diet in College.

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So you might know that I’m a vegetarian, but even if you’re not you can still apply these tips into your everyday life and just add meat and other animal products where you see fit!

  • Eat (a good!) breakfast. Don’t roll your eyes, I know everyone has heard this advice a thousand times but I’m here to tell you that not all breakfasts are created equally. You can grab a poptart on the way out the door and call it a day, but in that case you might be better off not having breakfast at all. A good breakfast will fill you up with good carbs to give you energy throughout the day! Here are some ideas:
    • Avocado Toast (with a twist!): Ok, so this brings my two favorite things, avocado and refried beans, together. Top it with so sriracha and I’d be in heaven!
    • Overnight Oats: Overnight oats are a great option for the girl on the go! They are so easy to throw together before bed and walk out the door with them in the morning! If you avoid dairy products you can always substitute milk with almond milk and yogurt with solid coconut milk! Delicious!
    • A fruit smoothie: Every morning I blend up a bunch of fruits and vegetables and water into delicious smoothie concoctions. Smoothies are great for your digestion (TMI?) and you’re starting your day with a healthy dose of fruit sugar. I prefer smoothies to juices because smoothies are fiber rich!
  • Eat carbs. There is a such thing as bad carbs, but that doesn’t make all carbs bad. Carbs are where you get your energy, they fill you up, and boost your mood. I fill up with mostly rice, beans, oats, and potatoes; all of which are good carbs and depending on how you cook them they will not cause you to gain weight! I have never been so lean since switching to a high carb diet!
  • Eat veggies. You wouldn’t believe how many of my friends just don’t eat vegetables. It blows my mind – I feel terrible without my daily dose of veggies, and I have a feeling that my friends just don’t realize how much better they could feel if they weren’t eating a healthy diet. If you aren’t eating veggies every day you are missing out!
  • Get your vitamins from your food – not a pill. I am a big opponent of multivitamins. If you’re eating well you just don’t need them! Of course if you’re deficient in something that’s another story, but there is no reason that you shouldn’t be able to get your daily dose of nutrients from your diet. Eat lots of colors and you’ll be golden!
  • Drink water. Another one that plenty of people have heard, but plenty of people ignore. I drink nearly two gallons of water a day if I work out, and a bit closer to a gallon and a half when I don’t. Water is going to keep things moving in your digestive system, fight bloat, and help your body know when it’s full so you don’t overeat.
  • Consider cutting down on meat and dairy. Ok, hear me out on this one – I used to be the biggest carnivore. A week without steak at my house was basically unheard of. But I started having trouble with symptoms of endometriosis and during my research I read eating less animal products would help alleviate my symptoms, so I cut back and my health improved in so many ways. My iron levels are the highest they’ve been, I sleep like a regular person again, and I have a ton of energy! Those changes convinced me to go full vegetarian and I haven’t looked back!
    • Even if you don’t want to be a vegetarian or vegan, Meatless Mondays are a great way to start shifting towards a healthier diet!
  • Watch your sugar. And I’m talking processed and refined sugar, mind you, fruit sugar is the bomb! You don’t realize how much sugar the average person eats. I did a challenge to eat only 10g or less added sugar each day and it was hard. I still aim to eat as little as possible (eating a lot of whole foods helps!) because no one really needs added sugar in their diets.

How to Get Fit in College: Fitness.

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You guys, I’m the weirdo who thinks that exercise is fun. Maybe I’m just channeling my inner Elle Woods (we’re both gemini vegetarians) but I totally ride on endorphins to get me through rough mornings.

But I do understand that there are a lot of people who hate exercising. But no worries, not all hope is lost. Here are a few tips that will help you get fit in college designed for those who can’t stand going to the gym:

  • Walk to class. Ok, depending on where you go to school this might not be an option, but if it is take full advantage! My apartment was about a ten minute walk from the quad and I loved using that time to put my earbuds in and start thinking about the day ahead. Walking is exercise, but it can be relaxing!
  • Sit on the floor. If you’re watching TV or just hanging around opt to sit on the floor instead of sprawling out on the couch. Sitting upright (with good decent posture!) engages your abs and helps burn more calories!
  • Stretch before bed. Ok, stretching isn’t going to give you six pack abs or buns of steel, but just a bit of extra motion in your day can improve cardio health and help you relax before bed.
  • Park further away. If you’re going shopping opt for one of the further parking spots and walk. Again, this isn’t a big commitment, it only adds a few extra minutes of motion into your day, but these little things can add up!
  • Wear ankle weights. Ok, I’m making fun of myself for you so you don’t even have to. I know this sounds ridiculous, but Chris got me ankle weights for Christmas and I’m kind of obsessed. Wearing them around the house doesn’t seem like much of a challenge, but I’m sore the next day so they must be doing something!

 

Those options seem to be a bit lacking to you? If you’re more serious about getting fit in college (but not quite ready to commit to working out in public then I’ve got some options for you, too!

  • Watch workout videos. This is my chosen method of working out. I usually opt for a blogilates video or ballet beautiful (when I really want to torture myself) and I’ve seen some great results! In just two or three videos I can guarantee that I’ll be sore the next morning!
  • Buy some weights. My brother got me a pair of five pound weights for my birthday and I use them all the time. I’ve really been working on strengthening my back and shoulders, and most of the workouts I find require weights!
  • Squat it out. A few months ago I was doing 50 squats and weighted wall sits before bed every night and I saw results fast. I quit that habit because I was getting a bit too bootylicious but I still do squats about once a week!

Ready to really commit to getting fit in college? These options require a bit more dedication, but you are going to see greater results and you’ll be stronger for it!

  • Pick up running. Whether you are doing sprints or long distance, running is a great way to slim down, tone up, and get fit in college. It’s great cardio and I think being a good runner is one of the most impressive physical feats.
  • Go to the gym. So many people get way intimidated by the gym – but no worries! The gym actually isn’t so bad, and if you don’t go at peak times there won’t even be a crowd! If you’re looking to get fit in college, chances are there is already a gym membership included in your tuition, so don’t let that go to waste!
  • Take a group fitness class. You guys, group fitness classes are so fun. Whether it’s zumba, or yoga, or belly dance, or anything in between you are sure to get a great workout. I recently went to my first hot yoga class, and it was amazing. Whereas all of the yoga classes I’d done before had been low intensity and relaxing hot yoga is a workout. I highly recommend!

Other healthy habits.

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Being fit and healthy goes much further than what you eat and how much you workout. I so wish that a healthy diet and 20 minutes of cardio was all it took for good health, but unfortunately that’s not the case.

There are so many healthy habits that can make a big difference in your life, adopting just a few can make you healthier!

  • Sleep. If you aren’t sleeping everything your body is supposed to do is going to be sluggish and inefficient. I hear so many of my peers in college bragging about how tired they are or how little sleep they got the night before – that’s a bad thing! Take care of your body by giving it the rest it needs.
  • Get organized. Being disorganized can lead to stress and stress is something that we want to stay away from. Whether you need an intense planner system or just a todo list in the morning, get your days in order to stay stress free!
  • Carry a water bottle. This is piggybacking off of my ‘stay hydrated’ tip. But the easiest way to guarantee that you’re going to keep hydrated is if you ensure that you have a water bottle on hand. My water bottle comes with me wherever I go – people notice when I don’t have it!
  • Wear sunscreen. I’ve lectured here before about sunscreen (it’s so important, folks!) so I won’t get on my high horse this time. But by simply wearing a moisturizer with SPF in it you’re saving yourself from early aging at the very least, but potentially from a nasty fight with skin cancer, too.

If you really want to get fit in college it’s important that you take time every day to do something for yourself whether that be cooking a nutritious meal or going on a walk. Eventually the steps that you’re taking to get fit in college are going to work themselves into your life and become second nature – so push along for now and you’ll see great results in the future!

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  • All great tips!! Being fit in college is SO hard but these are definitely the right steps. I think the hardest part for me is eating right. When there’s lots of unhealthy options and only a few healthy options, sometimes it gets tough to choose…

    Emma | Seeking the South

    • It really is hard! Finding time for yourself if near impossible, and then choosing to spend that time on getting fit? It’s a struggle!

  • This is such a great post. First of all because you call out all fad diets and calorie restricting. Secondly, all your tips are so practical and easy. Thanks Morgan!

    • Thank you so much, Megan! And yes the fad diets/starvation methods are scary! And it’s gotten to the point where nobody bats an eye over them!

      I’m glad you liked my post, thank you so much!

  • These are great tips! I am honestly the worst eater; I’m so picky, and the stuff I do like is practically all junk. The milkshakes sound great, though! This is going to be a huge help!

    • Eating right is so tricky! I eased myself into it with delicious treats like salsa and guacamole, and started working other veggies into my diet. I also LOVE smoothies! Lately I’ve been doing an apple, grape, ginger, orange, and spinach one that mostly just tastes like orange and ginger, but it’s super healthy!

      Tricky little things that taste like treats are the bomb! Have you heard of nicecream? It’s homemade banana ice cream and it’ll rock your world!

  • Megan Wood

    This is a great post that is full of practical tips for the busy college student 🙂 I just started going to the gym when I started school and it has been an amazing experience so far. And I totally agree with you that exercise can be fun; I was actually pretty surprised when I realized how great working out regularly can be. Now, if only I could start eating healthier breakfasts…

    • Thank you so much, Megan! I love going to the gym! The first few days it feels like a chore, but as soon as it’s part of my routine it’s something that I actually look forward to!

      • Megan Wood

        I know! The gym has become one of the highlights of my week 🙂

  • This post is gold, girl. I always have a bunch of extra room around the ankles when I wear boots – I wonder if I could cram a pair of ankle weights in there on the DL. What a great low-stress way of getting in a bit of a workout!

    • Thanks, girl! You’re gold!

      And totally! I can bring mine this weekend and you can take them for a spin! They are ridiculous and I love them!

  • Hi Morgan! Are you a hclf plant-based vegan sort of person? I’d love to hear your thoughts on diets like those and if you were ever planning on giving up dairy/eggs since you’re vegetarian. I know that a lot of times, diets can be so extreme that they’re to the point of unhealthy, so it’s definitely important to maintain a balance. Would love to hear what you have to say on that subject.

    • Hi Andrea!

      I love following HCLF vloggers for recipe inspo, but I do think that diet is a bit restrictive for my personal lifestyle. I love carbs, they make up most of my diet simply because they’re delicious! And with not eating meat or most dairy products I don’t eat a ton of fat, but I love things like avocados and cashews which do have a higher fat content than most people who eat HCLF will eat.

      Eventually I do think I will be full vegan but it’s not anything I’m rushing into. I don’t drink milk anymore (I’m obsessed with almond milk!) and I rarely use eggs in my cooking. Cheese was the hardest to give up but I’ve been slowly phasing it out and it’s getting easier. I I use it 3 or 4 times a month now!

      Gosh, I’m always so long winded, haha. But basically my diet is higher in carbs and lower in fat than the average person, but the ratio is not to the extreme of the ‘HCLF plant-based’ community. I don’t think I’ll ever be as intense as them (not that it’s a bad thing!) it’s just not for me.

      I completely agree with you on it being possible for people to take it to an unhealthy extreme, and while I haven’t struggled with food in the past I have a feeling if I tried to go full on HCLF Vegan I would begin to have problems just because how restrictive the diet is. I love rice and potatoes and beans, but I also don’t think I could give up my favorite fatty foods!

      • I definitely agree! I think veganism great think for so many reasons (animals, the planet, health, etc) so my rationale is that being vegan should just be another way to eat and feel good and not obsess over. Good fats like coconut, avocado etc are not only healthy but delicious and there’s no “right” way to do anything/different people have different ways that work for them and that is ok! 😀

        • Completely agree! Veganism is amazing (and researching it has opened my eyes to so many things!) but a lot of people do obsess over it and that can be dangerous! As long as you’re eating in a way that makes you feel good and makes you happy, you’re golden!

  • great post! it’s so funny, i was just reading another blog that was talking about “what is your opinion of calories and dieting”? i completely agree that calories are so inferior to the idea of maintaining a healthy body. my opinion is that people should forget about calories and just focus on eating real foods instead of processed ones. it’s really not that hard if you get into the habit of it! just make time for it.

    love the workout tips here, too! carrying a water bottle and wearing sunscreen are both a must!

    • I agree one hundred percent! If you are eating healthy foods and listening to your body, there is really no need to focus on calories!

      And thank you! (Amen to the sunscreen! I preach that all the time here, haha.)

  • I am in LOVE with this post! I started using Plant Nanny to track my water intake and I began doing squats on a daily basis and I already feel so much healthier! I’ve also been trying to get 7 hours of sleep each night, which has definitely made a difference. Love these tips!

    paige • eyeliner wings & pretty things

    • Plant Nanny is so fun! I love the cute little graphics! And I am so glad to hear that you are feeling healthier! It’s so amazing when you’re able to feel your body make positive changes!

  • Love this post!! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  • Loved this post. You always give the best advice, Morgan! I’m saving this one. 🙂

  • Great tips! While I’m no longer in college, I wish I had these while I was. 🙂

  • Katlyn

    These tips are great! I must say though, a calorie deficit IS necessary if you are trying to lose weight! You shouldn’t worry about it if you’re just trying to maintain body weight (like you said, just eat healthy food!), but in order to lose weight it’s definitely necessary to burn more calories than you consume. I think keeping workout stuff in your dorm is SUCH a good tip! I keep some dumbbells in my room for when I’m just not feeling motivated enough to make it all the way to the gym. These are other things I do to stay fit in college: http://www.collegiatecents.com/2016/12/23/4-ways-to-get-fit-in-college/

  • Carlee Hebert

    I absolutely love this post and funnily enough, I’m a vegetarian gemini too! It’s so important to stay healthy and fit in college. I recently wrote a post on staying motivated to workout that lines right up with your post! Thanks for these tips!! http://carleehebert.com/