When I came to university in September 2014 I was your typical junk food, pizza loving party girl. My greatest achievement was going out 9 nights in a row over fresher’s week. In my first semester I fully embraced the student life, I drank too much and too often, splurging my overdraft on Jaeger bombs, pitchers and club entry fees. It’s fair to say that most days I dragged myself to my lectures with a killer headache and severely dehydrated.

However these days you’re more likely to find me in the sports park than in Rubix, I swapped my double vodka red bulls for protein shakes, and Mr Kebab for MyProtein. For most students being healthy seems like an impossible feat so I’m here to guide you with some tips and tricks from a lazy girl who’s been there and done all of the work for you.

Cooking

In first year I discovered cooking wasn’t exactly my natural talent, not only did I hate washing up, but I managed to slice the tip of my finger off, which resulted in a traumatic trip to A&E when I finally did try. Since then as a second year with a tiny kitchen, 4 housemates and a hectic schedule I’ve mastered the art of lazy girl nutrition. Here are a few tips and tricks I could not do without:

  • Oats; for 75p a kilo of Tesco’s own brand these have been my staple breakfast and snack since day one, either heated up with some soy or almond milk with a drizzle of honey, peanut butter and sultanas or cold with a scoop of protein powder and a sliced up banana, oats are the slow releasing carbohydrate that will keep you fuller for longer.
  • Handling a part time job or a hefty library schedule means it’s tempting to eat unhealthy fast food and cheap snacks when you’re out and about, instead of paying £3 for a healthy looking salad or sandwich from the Surrey Shop. My tip for on the go meals is simply to buy some Tupperware (Poundland is great for it), look up some healthy on-the-go recipes (my go to is chicken, rice and spinach but then again there are a lot more exciting options out there for the foodie student). Make a big batch of it in one go, and here are your on-the-go meals for the week, it might seem like a huge effort at the start but once you get into it your overdraft will definitely thank you!
  • Lastly for the serial snacker, a few healthy go-to ideas include popcorn (yes, it’s actually really good for you), quinoa crisps (better than the potato kind) and either Nakd or Trek bars for those with a sweet tooth.

Working out

As a self-proclaimed gym addict I go out of my way to fit the gym into my schedule 5-6 times a week. However I understand that heavy workloads, societies and part time jobs mean it’s not possible for everyone. For the student trying to get fit I would ultimately recommend trying to hit the gym for an hour about 3-4 times a week. This might seem like a lot at first- but putting it into perspective this is only 3-4 hours out of 168 in the week!

So now you’re in the gym? What do you do? Whether you’re a girl or a guy, venturing into this wilderness of fitchicks and dench guys who seem to know exactly what they’re doing can be quite intimidating. At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that everyone had to start somewhere, most of us aren’t genetically gifted with sculpted arms or cheese-grater abs, every single person in the gym was a newbie at some point with a different goal to achieve. My advice is either make a plan before you go in (as a serial weightlifter I’d recommend either bodybuilding.com or SimplyShredded) or simply just ask for help, we’re really not that scary and most of the time, more than happy to share knowledge about our passion with you.
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Going out

Even though I personally would much rather curl up watching Netflix and go to bed at a reasonable time, than trek to Rubix to listen to DJ Leroy spinning some tunes, I still enjoy an occasional good night out. We all know that alcohol has calories and lots of them, which add up; a Jaeger bomb has 158, 220 in your beloved VK, and a can of beer clocks up to 154. If you like cocktails (as I do) check out this info graphic outlining the nutrition for each one of them: http://dailyburn.com/life/health/alcohol-calories-infographic/

My go to beverage for pre-drinks is vodka and sugar free squash. It might sound boring and unconventional, but as well as being low-calorie, it keeps you hydrated hence (hopefully) lessening the hangover the next day! Additionally bear in mind that the darker the drink the worse the hangover, and mixing never ends well (take it from experience)!

Another tip is that even though being a student means that a bottle of Tesco’s own brand appeals to you for tenner; buying slightly better quality alcohol (i.e. Absolute Vodka) will cause your hangover to be less severe.

Getting fit and healthy at uni was the best thing I ever did, and it definitely is possible to balance staying healthy on the cheap, while keeping up with your studies AND having a social life all at the same time!

 Text by Maïté Owens