Tips For Staying Healthy in College

You guys. I feel so much closer to you all now. You love waffles as much as I do!!! <—click for a chance to win a free waffle maker ;)

I also have to thank everyone for the congratulatory comments about my becoming a certified personal trainer. I swear I woke up feeling different today! John asked if I’d be like Jillian (Michaels, for those of you who aren’t on a first-name basis with her like John and I). I joked back that I’m more of a Bob (Harper). But really, I can’t wait to be ME! Hopefully I can bring all my personal experiences, attributes and knowledge to the table and create a training experience that’s unique.

Heidi asked if I have any idea where I’d like to work. Answer: not a clue. Honestly, at this point, I will take whatever I can get in Toronto. Yes, there are more jobs there, but there’s also more competition. So far I’ve been applying to jobs in my various fields – writing, communications, barista, fitness. My dream job is of course to be the columnist that appears after Tosca (Reno) in Oxygen. But realistically, I think I really want to give this training thing a shot! Even just doing it on the side for some extra $$. Preferably at a chain where the clients are provided for me. At least until I get some more experience and confidence to try other things. So that’s where I’m at!


I am all over the fruity/salmon combo. Salmon lends itself well to sweet flavours to begin with, and this is becoming a favourite!


I microwaved the remnants of a bag of frozen berries with some maple syrup.


And put it on top of smoked salmon and english muffin. It was missing the usual laughing cow, but beyond that was stellar. If you’re a salmon fan I urge you to try it!

I spent the morning taking out the TWELVE bags of garbage to the curb, and loading up some of my car. Then it started to rain. Then I really wanted to go to the gym, I didn’t yesterday. So I said “screw it” to packing and cleaning and hit the iron. I think this is the first time I felt guilty for actually going to the gym! :P

It was a momentous gym visit too – my first one as a personal trainer. (I’ll stop this, eventually). Even more fun is that I ran into a girl I did my PT classes with and we squealed over passing. Good times :) Oh right! My workout!

Warm-up: 15 minutes on elliptical, increasing resistance

Superset x3
Lat pulldown (mid-back)
Barbell Sumo squat (quads, glutes)

Superset x3
Barbell bench press (pecs, front delts, triceps)
Barbell split squat (quads, glutes, adductors, soleus)

Superset x3
Arnold press (deltoids, traps, triceps)
Stiff leg deadlift (hamstrings, glutes, lower back)

Superset x3
Cable pushdown (triceps)
Cable bicep curl (biceps)

Superset x3
Cable horizontal woodchop (obliques)
Hanging leg raises (lower abs)

And then some stretching. Totally worth putting off packing for. I felt SO much better after. I just hope I’m not paying for it when I’m trying to move boxes tomorrow.

Came home and refuelled with some beer a smoothie.

The healthiest drink to be in a Molson draught glass I’m sure – soy milk, Vega smoothie infusion, a banana, ice, and 1/2 tsp each of guar and xanthan gum.

For my girl JB!! (soontobeJG) Even worse than posting a smoothie stache photo post workout, is going into the Bulk Barn a sweaty mess after in my workout leggings. Classy. This is what I’ve become in my unemployment.

The rest of the afternoon was spent tearing around town tying up loose ends before I blow this joint tomorrow. Stopped by the old office where they gave me a card that almost brought me to tears. My old officemate was my “victim” yesterday for my practical. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to share these past four months with!!

Anyways, I did eventually pull it together. Picked up my new antibiotics for my legs *unenthusiastic yayyyy*

I’m down to the very last pieces of fresh food in my fridge/freezer.

A turkey breast sliced up and coated in egg whites, panko bread crumbs, Kirkland no-salt seasoning.

And roasted sweet potato slices.

Aka cheetahs because they have spots! Check out the salt on those suckers too – love coarse sea salt :)

And while we’re talking about food – I added a recipe page for my Homemade Maple Cinnamon Oat Bran Protein Bars.


I’m eating one right now!

Tips for Staying Healthy in College

Now on to an e-mail that I just had to share.

I’m studying journalism at University and since beginning a little over eight months ago, have gained nearly five kilos!  I think you use pounds, so that is like i guess 12 pounds?  I know that you went through something similar when you started at College, and I was wondering if you had any tips or exercises that you found useful?  It is hard with the whole drinking, hamburger eating, nights out in the pub culture.
Thanks so much.


Now before I even delve into this, I feel like I should say, I’m no expert on staying healthy in college. I made a lot of mistakes and some bad choices, but in the end did find a few things that worked for ME.

1. Use the campus gym. Most universities have free gym access that hardly any students (besides those on teams) use. I did a lot of my weight lifting workouts during a 90 minute break between classes Mon-Wed-Fri. Remember, even going to the gym for 20 minutes is better than not going at all – it adds up!

2. Walk to class. I gained the bulk of my weight when I bought a car and stopped walking everywhere. If it’s less than 20 minutes away, walk there!

3. Join a sports team. If there’s one thing I would have changed about my university experience, I would have joined the cross country team. Joining a team isn’t just a great way to socialize and meet friends, but it’s also a great way to get exercise and stay active on top of school work.

4. Drink smart and drink slow. Don’t go to the pubs and guzzle back 6 beer on $2 draught night. Find a “light” drink that works for you. Mine is whisky and water. A single has 60-70 calories, and is strong enough that I can’t chug it back. Other great ones are vodka and club soda (NOT tonic, it’s sweetened!!), rum and diet coke, light beer. Or you can just order a diet pop and skip the booze altogether.

5. Find light options at all the late-night hangouts. When I first started losing weight, I googled the nutritional value of foods at many of the local eateries. I wrote down some lighter options for each one and kept it in my wallet. That way, if I ever found myself out with friends who had to eat at this one spot, I wasn’t thrown off guard and had an idea of what to order. If you know the 2am visit to the pizza joint is inevitable, find something on the menu other than a big slice that you can have without breaking the calorie bank.

6. Use working out as a method of procrastination. This worked fabulously for me ;) Going to the gym and sweating for an hour always sounded more appealing than reading about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for an hour.

7. Be honest. I experienced a lot of peer pressure in university, it just comes with the environment. You’d be surprised by how many people will stop bugging you when you tell them avoiding the freshman 15 is more important to you than spaghetti night at the cafeteria.

8. Don’t be too strict. University is meant to be enjoyed (well, in between all the stressful parts). Don’t ever, ever skip out on a social function because you’re scared of the food or drinking. I did this, and I regret it. I got smarter toward the end. I realized that being able to go out and have a beer with my friends was more important to me than being my dream size. I’ll take a few good belly laughs over a size 2 any day. Just like I never regret a workout, I never regret hanging out with my friends :)


Hopefully that helps Vanessa!


Question of the Day: Any tips you want to add to the list? As Holly would say, “sharing is caring!”

Posted on May 6, 2010, in Workouts and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. Yay congrats again on being a personal trainer!! I will I had these tips my freshman year of college (and sophomore year). My college didn’t have a great gym, so I had to pay to join another one! I def enjoyed myself those four years! :) Great tips

  2. What a great list! I am definitely not an expert at staying healthy in college but I definitely agree with all of your suggestions. Also I want to congratulate you on becoming a personal trainer!

  3. I’m so glad you added a recipe page, I need to start making my own bars!

  4. Thanks for adding the recipe page… makes it easier for me to organize. ‘cuz, you know, that’s why you did it. :p

    (Yes, I am kidding!)

    <3 <3

  5. I think you covered a good amount of it. I actually don’t go out and party anymore. As a senior, I’m kind of “over it.” My friends still get stupid drunk and I think it’s ridiculous. Walking to class is key! I dont know why anyone would take the bus when it takes just as long with all the stops it makes.

    Congrats on the being a personal trainer!

    Love love smoked salmon! I’ve never had it with fruit though, just savory with dill cream cheese or just on a cracker or something.

  6. I had the same sweet potatoes for dinner. Yum!

    That’s a good list. I think I did the opposite of everything on there in college….. Good thing that was 20 years ago!

  7. Madeline - Greens and Jeans

    Is it just me or do you look more “trainery” in that picture?

  8. That smoothie looks delish – love the glass! Great tips for college too. When I had to do a lot of walking on campus, I was able to keep my weight down. Once I moved closer to my classes, the numbers crept up.

  9. YEAH nice stache, susan! looking thick! i love the GUMS. they just make the shake, no? so i love your savory sweet eats.. need to hop on the salmon bandwagon soon. 12 bags? nice clean out job! i love coarse sea salt on my cheetahs too. the regular salt just doesnt cut it.the more i see your bars the faster i try to eat thru my stash!!!!!!

    HAPPY FRIDAY not that it means a lot to you these days, haha!

  10. Since I’m graduating in two weeks I should have a lot of college tips. I think you covered them all though! I’d hafta say one thing that worked for me was to drink plenty of water. When you’re not paying attention, its amazing how many extra/useless calories can be consumed by having soda with dinner or just drinking calories. I say you’re better off enjoying a meal with those cals lol =)

    Nicole G

  11. One tip is if you go with room and board you don’t have to eat everything the landlord puts in front of you. In my case she fed me like I was 2 people and soon I weighed that much!

  12. Just wanted to say I loved your good bad and funny on debs blog!

    Also your eats look wonderful! YUMMM!

  13. stay outta the cafeteria’s mega huge buffet lines..they scoop eggs and a side of bacon and toast on your breakfast plate that’s 1500 cals and that will set any one up for failiure. basically portion control and smart choices…PLANTS and VeggieSS!!!

  14. I wish I had seen this list before I headed off for college. it was those inactive years that started me on my road to obesity. And then it was 10 more years before I got my life back!

  15. YUM- I love the looks of that salmon/berry combo!!

    This is a GREAT list- I think everyone should read it before they head off to University!!


  16. peanutbutterfingers

    that smoothie looks really, really tasty! but then again every single food pic you posted does… ;)

    i really like your tips. i know for me it was all about portion control at all-you-can-eat meal plan locations!

  17. Great list! I think you covered all the bases! I totally agree that you should not skip out on socializing. Since I’ve had to go gluten free I find that it’s not all about the food. Sometimes on girl’s night they pick restaurants in which there is nothing gluten free I can eat so I just get a drink and talk. (Just so you don’t think my friends are cruel I don’t tell them I can’t eat anything beforehand, I want them to go where they like!)

  18. Woohoo!! I’m SO happy for you, girl. Can’t wait to keep reading about your experience with it. I knew you’d blow it out of the water.
    Great tips for staying healthy in college. I wish I would have used the free gym (albeit it was pretty pathetic) but it would have sufficed on the days where I didn’t want to drive to the gym I was paying for!
    Good luck with the move today, hun :)

  19. I love that you chose working out over packing. I know some people who think packing IS working out (thankfully I see the difference now!….happiness!).

    As a thankfully graduated person, I do want to add one to the list: keep stress down! If you’re like me, stress = eats. Usually bad eats. I always wanted french fries and Coca-Cola when I was having a bad day, and if the day was bad enough I would top it off with going to town on whatever I had in the house when I got home. I would say stress was the #1 cause of my weight gain in college (no exercise being #2, I had a pretty physical major and was always sore and tired….I bet exercise would have helped that situation….and the stress one now come to think of it!)

  20. At the cafeteria (jf that’s where you eat) make sensible choices. I used to always get the bread roll with butter and dessert because it was there and everyone else seemed to be! Noone needs bread, butter and dessert with every single meal!
    I think it’s easy to sort let things landslide once you get into bad habit at uni but once you become conscious of wanting to change, that is the first huge step.
    A good tip is to fore-go the late night burger joint and eat something when you get home. It doesn’t have to be carrot sticks, but it also doesn’t have to be half a pizza! You’ll save money as well as calories.

  21. If anyone could be the next Tosca Reno, it’s you! You’re just as personable and relatable as she is :)
    I would add finding a few dorm-mates or classmates that share your goals. Get chatting! Odds are, someone in class will want to join up for a gym session after class or lunch at a healthy restaurant. Having someone else around (that you see on a regular basis) will help hold you accountable.

  22. I got nothing. Oh…be like me and hate beer. Because cheap vodka mixed with Crystal Light is worlds better. Oh and don’t order the calzones at 3 AM after a night on the town. Because they are GROSS. Order chicken strips instead. And make sure you split your sleeping into 3 or 4 hours at night and a 2-3 hour nap every day. And make sure you go to the dining hall that has the good cookies. That was me in college and let me tell you, it worked great :-)

    That aside, trainer Susan, I know I’m dumb, but is that a full-body workout? Because I really like your training programs (but I’m not doing splits these days) and I want to steal as much as I can before you start charging for your services.

    • Haha – I was on that same sleep schedule!! And yes, I forgot to mention it in my excitement, but that is a full-body workout. Lately I’ve been doing supersets of upper-body and lower-body to keep my heart rate up. Also, I am tooootally feeling that workout in my glutes today ;)

  23. Your fruity salmon makes me want to branch out from my Moroccan salmon salad and try new things (FYI, dried apricots, morocan spices, salmon and bulger wheat = fabby combo)

    Also FYI, “FYI” seems to be my phrase of the day. Maybe I should see if it catches on as a trending topic? #FYI? Heh.

    Great tips you have there- not much to add since I didn’t go to college until I was an old fogie and living by myself, but I think that staying active and making sure there are always healthy snacks around to grab are key. And limit drinking :P

  24. I just finished my last piece of fresh fruit too! I need to restock! :)

    Great tips! I drank like a fish in college..but still hit the gym daily. It may have balanced out haha!

  25. Hmmmmmm smoked salmon and fruit?! It looks like a pretty plate of food but the thought scares me! x x

  26. i acutally LOST weight in college…if food temptation and portion cotrol isnt an issue, college is acutally an EASY place to stay super heatlhy with all of the free veggies and fruit and lean proteins and chices from the dining halls, the problem comes in where there is an overwhelming amount of food ALL THE TIME!!! love your tips for the college peeps though!!

    I am SO making those oat bars those are onefitfoodie approved :)


  27. I like your workout, suppersetting is the best way to build muscle and burn fat in half the time

  1. Pingback: Home and Homecooked!! | The Great Balancing Act

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