Back To School & Staying Healthy

It’s nearly that time of year again. You have notebooks, ring binders, pens, pencils- more stationary than you realistically need basically- all ready to go. But have you thought about how to stay healthy this school year? For me, New Year and September are always the times that feel as though you’re beginning over again, and so here I have some tips on how you can stay, or get, healthy if that’s your goal.
This is mainly for secondary/ high school age. If like me you’re headed to uni this autumn (where are you going by the way?), I will hopefully have a post for that ready once I gain some experience- and possibly recover from fresher’s flu.

  • Set aside time to exercise each day, a YouTube video that’s a few minutes long each morning combined with 10-20 minutes on an afternoon or evening will make you feel so much more energetic and keep your fitness levels up. We all know that exercise you choose to do is much more fun than the regimented P.E lessons- complete with sadistic teachers that make you play “team games” in the freezing cold because its “character building”. I’ll leave some suggestions for different workout videos at the bottom of this post for you to check out.
  • Walk to school and back! This really used to set me up for the day and clear my mind before I got to the classroom. It gets your blood pumping and gives you a lovely glow. If you’re worried about the state of your hair/makeup by the time you reach school then a) look for quick, messy, windy day hairstyles on YouTube or b) at least walk home. By the time you get in on an afternoon your hair and makeup usually don’t matter any more.
  • Get enough sleep; turn off all electrical devices at least 30 minutes before bed, in order to really wind down and get the best quality sleep you can. Listen to music, read a book or magazine, or write in a journal instead. Try to wake up at a regular time too; when I was in sixth form I would get up at 6:30am Mon-Fri, and then at around 8:00am Sat and Sun. I am an early bird though, if you can’t get up this early then at least choose a reasonable time and stick with it. This prevents your body clock getting messed up every Monday morning. Wake yourself up with music as well- I used to put headphones on while I got ready with some of my favourite songs of the moment, which often put me in an amazing mood!
  • Take packed lunches and snacks to school. Often, in my experience, school meals can be unbalanced and unappetising. No ideas? Why not check out some of the ideas on this blog, in my back to school lunches and snacks post: http://healthynothungry2.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/twenty-five-top-healthy-school-lunches.html
  • Get yourself decent packed lunch containers. I invested in a thermos flask, small snack tub, sandwich tub, and finally a salad pot with a dressing tub that screwed into the lid. You don’t have to spend a fortune on these; I found them in pound shops and supermarkets at very reasonable prices. In summer and September lunch boxes are usually on offer, due to it being picnic and back to school season, and come October time thermos flasks suddenly seem to breed like rabbits in supermarket isles.
  • Make a habit of following your lunches with a couple of pieces of fruit or some veg sticks, and have healthy snacks on hand. If you’re hungry when you get home have something to drink (preferably water; we usually mistake dehydration for hunger), and then if you’re still hungry make a healthy snack (peanut butter on rice cakes, or spread onto celery with sultanas, boiled egg, oatcakes and a cup of tea, cottage cheese or yoghurt mixed with fruit, a frozen banana or grapes…all are great options)
  • Drink loads of water! I had a 750ml water bottle that came everywhere with me. I used to refill and refrigerate it each night so that it was ready for school in the morning. My sixth form also had water coolers in the common room, so I regularly made use of that.
  • Pre-prep is vital! Make salads the night before, put your fruit and wrapped up oatcakes/crispbreads/bread/ricecakes into your bag then too (this doesn’t just apply to food, I would get my sixth form outfit ready each night so I could grab some more sleep each morning)
  • Avoid running to the sandwich/chip shop if you’re allowed out at lunch or break. Take lunch with you- it can be a lot healthier, it’s cheaper, and also has the benefit that you don’t have to queue for ages, just to receive a dodgy looking bacon butty. Similarly avoid the fizzy drinks, sweets, crisps and other quick energy fixes available either in school or at the shops; opt for water, infused waters, teas, nut butters, complex carbs, lean protein or fruits to boost your energy levels.
  • Eat breakfast every. single. morning. I swear by this one; your body hasn’t had anything to eat for around 8-10 hours, and whilst you sleep has been repairing itself and probably growing if you’re still in the lower years of school (unless you’re me; I don’t think I’ve grown up the way since I was about thirteen). Fair enough, you haven’t been running a marathon, but I wake up hungry every morning and as a result resembling a bear with a sore head. First things first: rehydrate. Drink a large glass of water while you prepare some food (this also boosts the metabolism). My favourite breakfast is porridge (there are plenty of recipes to choose from on this blog), but overnight oats, a fruit and yoghurt parfait with some oatcakes, or peanut butter, banana and cinnamon on wholemeal toast are all quick and healthy options.
  • Work with what you have, and try to get your family on board. Prove that you are committed to living and eating healthily, that it isn’t just some fad, and they’re likely to be more open to buying and trying new foods. Simple swaps are a great way to begin, e.g. ditch the white bread you use for packed lunches in favour of wholemeal, or even “best of both”.
  • Stay organised. I lived, and still do, by lists. Sounds strange, but barely a day goes by that I don’t get everything I needed to done, and have time at the end of the day to spend on myself and what I love. Staying organised avoids unnecessary stress, so prioritise and work through what you have to do methodically and calmly. In school I had a planner, to record and tick off any homework or exams, and around exam time made a revision timetable.
  • Finally, take a break! Take regular breaks from studying to do what you love to do; you need to be mentally well rested too in order to stay healthy. Have a pamper evening, watch a DVD or your favourite TV show, read, write, go out with a friend, go to the gym or on a walk, bake or cook- just wind down. Also, treat yourself. Love brownies? or pizza? Then eat them! Just be selective; save them for treats instead of a regular, every day part of your diet.

YouTube Workouts For You:
Look for the sort of exercise you like, or type of workout you need, and then try the video- alternatively challenge yourself to something new!

  1. Dance – Scola Dondo “The Azonto Workout”
  2. Pilates– Blogilates “Total Body Pilates Workout with Ana Caban & Blogilates”
  3. Yoga– YogaVidyaEnglish “Yoga for Complete Beginners”
  4. Weights– Blogilates “Applause Arms” “Glad You Came Calves”
  5. Cardio– Blogilates “Fat Burning Cardio Warm up” “Quiet Cardio”
  6. Total Body– Blogilates “POP pilates Pick me up Quickie Workout”
  7. Arms– Scola Dondo “My Top 5 Arm Exercises”, Blogilates “Want U Back Arms”, Tiffany Rothe “Sweet Sensations Seated Workout”, LivestrongWoman “Fine Toning Arm Routine- Tone It Up Tuesday”
  8. Abs– Scola Dondo “Morning Ab Workout”, Blogilates “50 Random Facts About Cassey (the workout)”
  9. Legs & Butt– Blogilates “Butt Lift and Slim Thighs” “Call Me Maybe Mighty Squat Challenge”, LivestrongWomen “Beautiful Booty Workout- Tone It Up Tuesday”
  10. Stretching– Fitness Blender “Kelli’s Quick Cool Down and Stretch”; Blogilates “Relax With Me Stretch Routine” “Feel Good Soul Stretches”

This isn’t an exhaustive list; do some exploring and find some fitness gurus on YouTube that you particularly like. I love these videos, which are great even if you’re a beginner, and that makes it so much easier to really enjoy the workout!

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