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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

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    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 January 21, 2020

              The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

              The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

              Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

              your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

                Why You Need a Vision

                Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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                How to Create Your Life Vision

                Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

                What Do You Want?

                The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

                It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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                Some tips to guide you:

                • Remember to ask why you want certain things
                • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
                • Give yourself permission to dream.
                • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
                • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

                Some questions to start your exploration:

                • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
                • What would you like to have more of in your life?
                • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
                • What are your secret passions and dreams?
                • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
                • What do you want your relationships to be like?
                • What qualities would you like to develop?
                • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
                • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
                • What would you most like to accomplish?
                • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

                It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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                What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

                Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

                A few prompts to get you started:

                • What will you have accomplished already?
                • How will you feel about yourself?
                • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
                • What does your ideal day look like?
                • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
                • What would you be doing?
                • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
                • How are you dressed?
                • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
                • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
                • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

                It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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                Plan Backwards

                It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

                • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
                • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
                • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
                • What important actions would you have had to take?
                • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
                • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
                • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
                • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
                • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

                Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

                It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

                Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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