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How to Stay Healthy Juggling School and a Full-Time Job

How to Stay Healthy Juggling School and a Full-Time Job

Trying to balance work and school is difficult task by itself, and throwing in your New Year’s Resolution of getting fit makes it even more difficult. The thought of having all this on your plate is enough to make most people order a pizza, sit on the couch and drop their annual fitness goals around February, but I urge you not to believe the misconception that you can’t work full time, go to school, and stay healthy. I’ll show you exactly how I’ve been doing it for years!

Schedule

scheudle

    One of the reasons why a lot of people find it difficult to balance work, school, and a healthy lifestyle is because they don’t schedule anything and just try to “fit in” gym visits. When you have plenty of free time to work out at your leisure, you might be able to get away with this, but working 40+ hours a week and dedicating around 20 hours a week to school doesn’t give you much leeway in terms of working out and eating right. You need to develop a set schedule of when you’re going to go to the gym and when you’re going to eat meals.
    When you create your schedule, make sure that it’s reasonable and something you can stick with. If you know you can’t wake up at 5 Am to hit the gym (I’m not a morning person at all), schedule it for another time because you’ll end up throwing your entire schedule out of whack by making an inconvenient plan that you won’t be able to commit to.

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    Pack your lunch

    pack your lunch

      Nutrition was a huge issue for me when I first started trying to get healthy, and it’s something that I’m sure a lot of you struggle with as well. I learned the importance of making sure I packed my own food when I was working at night and going to school 4 days a week right after I finished work.
      When you’re constantly on the move, it’s very tempting to hit the closest fast food restaurant you can find and get something to eat ASAP because you’re usually going a long time in between meals—as soon as you get a little free time you want food immediately and will grab whatever is convenient (which isn’t healthy food 9 times out of 10). In order to fix this, start making your food and taking it with you. My go-to meal was chicken, rice, and mixed veggies that I made ahead of time, which could be stored easily in little plastic containers and taken to work. Some other good food choices are:

      • Smoothies
      • Sandwiches (use whole-grain bread)
      • Mixed fruits
      • Greek yogurt

      These were all things that I kept on hand because they can be consumed quickly, are good for you, and don’t require cooking! Start eating 6 small meals throughout the day to decrease cravings and to avoid starvation. If you need more help in the nutrition department, here are some helpful tricks for healthy eating.

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      Keep a gym bag in your car

      gym bag in car

        I once put off going to the gym after getting out of class because I didn’t want to go home, get my gym stuff and go back to the gym. This is when I realized that I needed to start carrying a gym bag in my car, packed with shorts, shoes, and a shirt. This way, I’d be ready to go to the gym at any time. You don’t want to give yourself any reason not to go to work out. If you took the first tip and penciled gym time into your schedule, you should already have your gear ready to go, but sometimes things come up and your schedule gets altered. Also, if you get out of class or work early one day, you can get in a workout before you go home!

        Join your school gym

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        college gym

          If you’re fortunate enough to have a gym on campus, take advantage of it. Today, it’s no longer just universities that have gyms for students: many community colleges also have gyms on campus that’s accessible to students. You just have to fill out some paperwork and present your school ID to get access. My school’s gym is completely free for all who attend it, so it saves time and money. I still have a gym membership elsewhere though because I like to have a gym close to my house— if you can afford it, it’s nice to have two options available like that.

          Start slowly

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            The entire idea of getting fit and improving your life is very fun and exciting, and because of this, it’s easy to just go all in right away and immediately want to hit the gym 5 days a week. Commitment is great, and necessary, but you want to try to pace yourself into it. If you start out by going to the gym 5 days a week on top of your hectic schedule, it’s easy to wear yourself out quickly. Getting fit is not a sprint, it’s a marathon, and pacing yourself will really benefit you in the long run.

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            You’re already dedicating over 60 hours of your week to work and school, so trying to stretch yourself to go to the gym another 10 hours a week is a lot. It’s certainly not impossible, but chances are your body isn’t accustomed to such a strenuous schedule. Just like your muscles, you have to gradually develop your schedule. Consider starting out by going to the gym 2 days a week, and after doing this consistently for a while, add on another day or two.

            Use Apps

            fitness apps

              I love fitness apps, and really grew to appreciate them while both at school and working full time. Because we’re always running around, it’s hard to track things like our workouts, calorie intake and even daily schedules. At the very least, you should have an app for tracking your diet/calories, but if you’d like to track your workouts, get an app for that too. There are many great fitness apps out there, and you can check some out here: The Top 10 iPhone Apps for Losing Weight and Getting in Shape

              Balancing work, school, and a healthy lifestyle is hard, but using these tips and tools helps me stay on top of it all. Don’t give up on that New Year’s Resolution just yet—let’s get fit!

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              Last Updated on February 21, 2019

              Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

              Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

              Your brain is the most intricate and powerful organ in your entire body. It’s essentially a super-computer with brain power like a Ferrari.

              If you have a Ferrari, would you put cheap gasoline in it? Of course not. You want to put in high-octane performance fuel to get the most out of your investment.

              When it comes to the brain, many people are looking for the top foods that will supercharge the brainpower to help focus better, think more clearly and have better brain health.

              In this article, we’ll look at the top 9 brain foods that will help create supercharge your brain with energy and health:

              1. Salmon

              Salmon has long been held as a healthy brain food, but what makes this fish so valuable for your brain health?

              It’s important to understand that your brain is primarily made up of fat. Roughly 60% of your brain is fat. One of the most important fats that the brain uses as a building block for healthy brain cells is omega-3’s.

              Omega-3’s are essential for building a healthy brain but one of the most important omega-3’s for your brain is DHA. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) forms nearly two-thirds of the omega-3’s found in your brain.[1]

              Omega-3’s and DHA in particular help form the protective coating around our neurons. The better quality this coating is, the more efficient and effective our brain cells can work, allowing our brain power to work at full capacity.

              Studies have shown that being deficient in DHA can affect normal brain development in children, which is why so many infant formulas and children’s supplements are beginning to include DHA.

              Being deficient in DHA as an adult can cause focus and attention problems, mood swings, irritability, fatigue and poor sleep.

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              2. Blueberries

              Blueberries top the list as one of the most beneficial fruits to maximize your brain health and performance.

              Blueberries have some of the highest content of antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, than any other fruit, which helps protect the brain from stress and promote healthy brain aging.

              Blueberries antioxidant content also help reduce inflammation, which allows the brain to maintain healthy energy levels.

              Blueberries have begun to receive attention for their connection to brain performance.[2] Studies have demonstrated that eating blueberries on a regular basis can not only improve brain health but also brain performance as well including working memory.[3]

              Blueberries not only taste great but are low in calories, high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese.

              3. Turmeric

              Turmeric is a very impressive spice that has well-researched and proven to have tremendous benefits for your brain. Turmeric’s main compound that benefits the brain is called curcumin, which is responsible for turmerics bright yellow appearance.

              Curcumin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-cancer properties.[4]

              Curcumin increases the production and availability of two important neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, two important neurotransmitters involved with happiness, motivation, pleasure, and reward.

              Curcumin has been well documented to have powerful anti-depressive effects. In one study, it was found to be as effective for depression as popular medications such as SSRI’s like Prozac.[5]

              Curcumin has also been shown to:

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              • Increase blood flow to the brain.[6]
              • Increase BDNF production, a powerful stimulator of neuroplasticity.[7]
              • Increase DHA availability and synthesis in the brain.[8]
              • Increase antioxidant levels in the brain to prevent brain aging and inflammation.[9]

              4. Coffee

              Coffee is the wonderful elixir of energy that many people cherish every single morning. The biggest reason people drink coffee is to get a dose of caffeine.

              Caffeine is a natural neurological stimulant that not only gives you energy but also prevents adenosine, a neurotransmitter involved with feeling tired, from binding in the brain.

              Many people are surprised to find that coffee actually contains a large quantity of antioxidants called polyphenols, which are important for reducing inflammation in the brain and keep your brain energized. The antioxidants in coffee also provide a neuroprotective effect, protecting the brain from stress and damage. [R]

              Coffee can also:

              • Improve alertness and concentration.[10]
              • Help with neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease.[11]
              • Reduce your risk of depression.[12]
              • Improve your memory.
              • Provide short-term boost in athletic performance.[13]

              5. Broccoli

              What was your least favorite food as a kid growing up?

              Most likely, broccoli was your answer.

              Broccoli may not have been your top choice, but it might be the top choice for your brain.

              Broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has been shown to promote the proliferation and survival of brain cells by reducing inflammation and boosting production of BDNF. It has also been shown to boost neurogenesis, the production of new brain cells.[14]

              Broccoli is also loaded with important nutrients Vitamin K and Folate. Vitamin K plays a vital role in protecting brain cells.[15] Folate plays a crucial role in detoxification and reducing inflammation in the brain.

              6. Bone broth

              Bone broth wasn’t just created to combine with soups, you can actually drink bone broth by itself.

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              Drinking bone broth has become one of the biggest trends in the health and wellness industry and for good reason. Bone broth isn’t actually a new thing. Bone broth has been used for centuries as a healing tonic to promote health and longevity.

              Much of the nutritional benefits and value of bone broth comes from its substantial vitamin and mineral content. Primarily calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.

              Your gut is called your second brain for a reason. Research continually shows that there is a direct and indirect connection between your gut and your brain. Your gut also houses and stores many important brain compounds involved with optimal brain performance. Therefore the health of your gut is vitally important for your brain health and performance.

              Bone broth has become a go-to tool for helping heal the gut and provide the gut with the vital nutrient and resources it needs to heal and perform optimally.

              With the vast amounts of nutrients that bone broth contains, it makes the list as a go-to food for your brain health.

              Look for high quality, organic bone broth for the best results.

              7. Walnuts

              Walnuts are one of the top choices of nuts for brain health. Walnuts also look similar to a brain.

              Amongst the wide variety of nuts available, walnuts contain the highest amounts of the important omega-3 DHA. DHA, as seen above, is a critical building block for a healthy brain.

              Walnuts also contain high amounts of antioxidants, folate, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, which help to lower inflammation.

              Melatonin in walnuts is an important nutrient for regulating your sleep. Having low amounts of melatonin can make it challenging to get good quality sleep and getting poor quality sleep can dramatically impair brain health and performance.

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              8. Eggs

              For years, eggs were put on the nutritional naughty list; but now, eggs are finally getting the credit they deserve. Eggs can provide a tremendous boost to your brain health and longevity.

              Eggs, particularly the yolks, contain a compound called choline. Choline is essential for building the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine plays an important role in mood, memory, and intelligence.

              Egg yolks contain some of the highest quantities of choline. This is very important because low levels of choline can lead to low levels of acetylcholine, which in turn can cause increased inflammation, brain fog, difficulty concentrating and fatigue.

              9. Dark chocolate

              You’re about to love chocolate even more because chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is great for your brain.

              Chocolate boosts levels of endorphins, your brains “feel good” chemicals. This is why you feel so good eating chocolate.[16]

              Chocolate also increases blood flow to the brain which can help improve memory, attention, focus, and reaction time.[17]

              Dark chocolate contains high levels of magnesium, which has been coined “natures valium” for its ability to calm and relax the brain.

              Lastly, dark chocolate has one of the highest antioxidant profiles out of any other food, including popular superfoods like acai berries, blueberries, or pomegranates.[18]

              Conclusion

              Your brain is a high performing organ and it uses quite a lot of energy, roughly 20% of the bodies energy demands.

              In order to maintain a healthy brain, you need the right fuel to ensure that your brain has all the nutrients it needs to perform as well as adapt to the stress of life.

              If you want to keep your brain performing well for a lifetime, then you want to make sure you are including as many of these brain health foods as possible.

              More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

              Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: DHA Effects in Brain Development and Function
              [2] Canadian Science Publishing: Enhanced task-related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation
              [3] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Cognitive effects following acute wild blueberry supplementation in 7- to 10-year-old children.
              [4] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin: the Indian solid gold.
              [5] Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.: Turmeric, the Golden Spice
              [6] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effect of combined treatment with curcumin and candesartan on ischemic brain damage in mice.
              [7] Science Direct: Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB
              [8] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin boosts DHA in the brain: Implications for the prevention of anxiety disorders.
              [9] PLOS: A Chemical Analog of Curcumin as an Improved Inhibitor of Amyloid Abeta Oligomerization
              [10] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of Caffeine on Cognitive Performance, Mood, and Alertness in Sleep-Deprived Humans
              [11] American Academy of Neurology: A Cup of Joe May Help Some Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
              [12] American Academy of Neurology: AAN 65th Annual Meeting Abstract
              [13] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of caffeine on the metabolic and catecholamine responses to exercise in 5 and 28 degrees C.
              [14] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Hyperammonemia induces glial activation, neuroinflammation and alters neurotransmitter receptors in hippocampus, impairing spatial learning: reversal by sulforaphane
              [15] Oxford Academic: Vitamin K and the Nervous System: An Overview of its Actions
              [16] Diana L. Walcutt, Ph.D: Chocolate and Mood Disorders
              [17] Health Magazine: Chocolate can do good things for your heart, skin and brain
              [18] Chemistry Central Journal: Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products

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