How to Look Fit for Break

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No one wants to go back for the holidays with the extra freshmen fifteen. While your mom might be too nice to say anything or your dad too oblivious to notice, you want to return from the break looking and feeling your best! On the other hand, it is the time to relax, not to suddenly pick up a fitness or diet regimen. It’s better to focus on that now, so by the time your family picks you up from the airport, you’re not hiding behind flowy shirts and heavy parkas.

Whether you’re worried about facing your family and friends or not, it’s never a bad idea to adopt some healthy habits. If you establish them beforehand, it’ll be easier to keep them during high-stress finals week and the temptation-filled holidays.

Look at the Dining Hall

Just because this is the stuff that the school is feeding you doesn’t mean that it’s the best for your health. The food that is served in the university dining hall probably covers a lot of ground — Asian, Tex-Mex, fast food, sub sandwiches, etc. Having such a wide range of options at your fingertips constantly can overwhelm even the strongest-willed person, especially if this is the first time you’ve ever been entirely in charge of your own diet.

Some university dining halls also have beverage machines. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional indulgence, but limitless soda is definitely bad for your health. Furthermore, just moderating your soda intake can help you lose weight. My dining hall even had a limitless milk dispenser, and even though milk is often touted as a nutrient-rich beverage, drinking more than a glass a day is concerning.

It can be tempting to just indulge in all the tasty food at the dining hall, but really examine every option before you eat it. The salad bar or sandwich station might seem like a healthy option until you see that all the dressings and meats are filled with fats and calories. This is where you can find some of your healthiest options, of course, but you need to be mindful of what ingredients you choose. Keep this in mind no matter what station you choose.

Prepare Ahead of Time

Okay, this is probably the most repeated advice ever, and also the least followed. Yes, we all know it’s easier if you plan out your meals ahead of time. Instead of scrounging for the cheapest meal in the dining hall, it’s better if you pack your own salad before leaving for class. But no college student has the time or the willpower for that, especially after a long night studying.

The trick is to prepare something that will last you a long time. That way, you only have to prep once and then you’ve got something to grab for the week. Things like breakfast pizza, a tray of lasagna, or any sort of pasta will keep in your fridge for a long time. Just watch your portions on these!

If you absolutely cannot bring yourself to prepare ahead of time, then there are on-the-go meals you can fall back on, but they’re not always the most satisfying. Don’t always rely on these, or you’ll end up in a food coma once you get back to your mom’s cooking.

Stay Active!

As the weather gets colder, you might be tempted to drive or take the bus to class, but it’s important to stay active. Walking or biking to class can help you offset the typical winter weight gain (which you WON’T have because you’re following these tips!). You’re also probably not moving around outside as much, so try to find some winter sports to participate in.

At the very least, hit your student rec center or local gym. Being active in the winter takes commitment; you can’t just wait around for the next ultimate frisbee tournament like at the beginning of the year. Plus, with more exam pressure, you’ll have to really want it to stick to your plan.

If you develop a consistent workout schedule now, it’ll be that much easier to stick to when you get home as well. Instead of wondering what happened to the fit high schooler they knew, your family will be impressed that you’re managing yourself so well! At that point, you can indulge a little bit in some festive foods, but don’t overdo it. You don’t want to go back to school looking different than when you left either!

Parent’s Corner: How to Prepare Yourself for Thanksgiving Break

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Have you been counting down the days until your college student comes home for break? You’re not alone! For many parents, Thanksgiving will be the first time you see your child since dropping them off on their first day. Thanksgiving is the best time to get some quality bonding in without having to worry about rushing back on Monday morning. However, Thanksgiving break may not be all that you imagine it will be, your child could be expecting you to treat them differently. Here we break down a few situations that might occur during their time at home:

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1.   Expect them to want space.

Don’t be surprised if your student isn’t as eager to celebrate being home as you are. Attempting to have it “just as before” may alienate them or make them feel like a child. Instead, give them some leeway. Negotiate curfew times and give them time to go visit with friends or to spend quiet time away from the family.

2.   Expect them to be afraid to talk.

Some parents are eager to hear what it is like living in the dorms or going to class in pajamas. However, other parents may make it clear that they do not approve of some college behaviors like staying out late at night or dating. Because of this, some students are hesitant to open up about their first semester in school. If you want to hear about their experiences, allow them to give it to you in doses. Ask more open-ended questions like, “Can you tell me about your favorite class?” or “I know you took that Art History class, did you like the professor?”

3.   Expect them to need relaxation.

Expect a lot of sleeping in! College can be stressful and tiring for even the most laid-back student. Taking a nap during the afternoon or wanting to head to bed at 9pm is the norm for returning students. Let them schedule their time home as needed, and give them options on participation. Low-stress is the best way to beat the vacation blues.

How Have an Enjoyable Break with Your Child

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Pamper Them (To an Extent)

Offer to do a load of laundry or to help them get to the airport. It’s the little comforts that make students excited to come back to see mom and dad.

Be Nostalgic

Your college student will likely still want to participate in cutting the turkey or watching your favorite holiday movie. Just because they moved out doesn’t mean you should stop with beloved traditions!

Keep it Low-Pressure

Putting too much emphasis on spending time together or making this holiday perfect may make your college student feel unwelcome. Plus, with finals around the corner and huge projects due, adding stress to their plate may make it worse for them.

Be Thankful for Their Achievements

Take a moment out of the busy holiday break to express your thankfulness for their hard work at school. Tell them how proud you are of their first semester back or that you look forward to seeing them in the next theater production. These little moments make the breaks memorable.

How To: Recharge Over Thanksgiving Break

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It’s almost that time of the year again: Thanksgiving Break! In one short week, it will be Turkey Day and perfectly acceptable to eat as much as you can possibly want. Thanksgiving is a valued time for college students before the craziness of final exams before heading home for Christmas! To take advantage of those five days of break, I have gathered my favorite tips for using them to their fullest!

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  • Sleep In – I know that during the last push before Christmas can include all-nighters and intense study sessions. Catch up on your beauty sleep now!
  • Re-Organize – Are your binders and bags overflowing with stuff? Your agenda hasn’t been tidy in weeks? Designate at least half a day to straighten everything out so you’re ready to take on exams!
  • Spend time with Family and Friends – Take time to spend your break with family and hang out with friends before the craziness of exams!
  • Eat (Obviously) – Thanksgiving is synonymous with food so enjoy!
  • Relax – Take time to do whatever makes you happy (baking, running, staying in PJ’s all day, watching all of Gossip Girl … again)!

How do you plan to make the most out of your break? Let me know in the comments!