How to fit health into your tight schedule

Balance your meals

Most students probably worry about balance when it comes to time for study, work and play, but careful consideration is needed for that next visit to Market Square. Nutrition counselor Stephanie Dickerson said adding fruits and vegetables to the meals ordered in the Brown-Lupton University Union will give some diversity to your daily diet.

For Stacks Deli, Dickerson suggested lean meals like the turkey sandwich but warned against adding excessive condiments and cheese.

For Shuffles, she said that even salads can be unhealthy if there’s too much dressing and not enough color. The average serving size for dressing is 2 tablespoons.

At Il Trattoria, Dickerson said a serving of pizza is OK in moderation, but shouldn’t be an everyday habit.

“Even with the pizza, get vegetables or fruit,” Dickerson said. It’s all about balance.”

After all, your food pyramid shouldn’t resemble a big slice of the pie.

For a video on healthy eating at Market Square, check the video player on your right.

Take a bike or a hike

Mary Ellen Milam, associate director of campus recreation, suggested parking farther away from your class to walk more or not taking your car at all instead of looking for that coveted last parking spot. Riding a bicycle or putting on your walking shoes will benefit you and the environment in the process, Milam said. Fitting a visit to the University Recreation Center into your schedule for at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise (which Milam said would mean raising your heart rate to an “active zone”) a day three to five times a week will benefit your body in the long run, she added.

But Milam said you don’t have to always make it to the gym to stay active.

“They have found studies that show that if you do three 10-minute sessions you can get just as much of a benefit,” Milam said. “So if you are walking to and from class and you park as far away as you can and you do that aerobically in that sense, it’s a ten minute walk to your first class and you’re walking between your classes and you could walk home.”

Kinesiology assistant professor David Upton, who has professionally made fitness programs for clients ranging from average Joes to professional athletes, said these trips to class on the bike or by foot should be a supplement to exercise and not a replacement for exercise.

Get some sleep

Milam said lack of sleep can be a contributing factor to obesity. Also, the quality of food choices that students have when they are cramming for an exam at three in the morning aren’t exactly healthy.

“A healthy tip would be that you are getting enough sleep,” Milam said. “For some people that’s eight hours, for some people that’s six, but I don’t think anything less than six is a healthy choice.”

College dorm classics like ramen noodles (high in sodium) and Kraft Easy Mac (high in fat) can be replaced by low-sodium soups or, as Milam suggests, meals that have been cooked ahead of time for those late-night moments when you don’t have the motivation to break out the pots and pans.

“I know that a lot of students who live on campus especially don’t have a lot of storage when it comes to a freezer and things like that,” Milam said. “But Sunday afternoons for me are when I can prepare all of my lunches for the week and so I’ll make things, freeze them and I have them to bring with me instead so I won’t say, ‘Oh, I can just run to Jack In the Box or something like that.”

Stick with it

Milam is hesitant to use the word “diet” in terms of a program. By definition, when you go on a diet, you will eventually have to go off a diet. Milam said eating healthy and exercising should be considered a lifestyle that’s ongoing rather than a diet that begins and ends at some point.

Milam said she has seen students in the past who have been motivated to come to the Rec Center and have taken on more than they could handle, ending up burned-out after only a few weeks never to return to the gym.

“You have to start out slow especially if you haven’t been a part of an active lifestyle,” Milam said. “You have to understand that just like as a baby, you don’t start out running. When you start out, you learn to walk and then walk faster and then run. It’s the same thing with exercise principles.”

Upton said his best piece of advice would be to plan your workout just like you would classes and extracurricular activities.

“If time is a big consideration, then if you have times that are a little longer on a couple days, you can do weight training for 30 or 40 minutes and cardio for 20 minutes back to back so now you have an hour invested,” Upton said.

If you do that twice a week and just do cardiovascular exercises for 20-30 minues, it won’t be “Do that twice a week. Three other days you just go in and do cardio for 20 or 30 minutes so that it’s not big time game.”

Upton said that when it comes to weight training, your body needs 48 hours to recover from your last workout. Therefore your schedule should have you pumping iron Monday, Wednesday and Friday, leaving a day between each visit.

Safety first

One of the first things Milam said people will do when they decide they want to lose weight is cut down on calories, which is a mistake that could lead to health problems.

When it comes to number crunching, Milam said to keep the average daily amount of 2,000 calories and just replace the sources for them with healthy alternatives. Extreme diets like “crash diets” that deprive your body of calories to lose weight in a short amount of time will eventually pack the pounds back on when you stop, creating a “yo-yo” effect.

“People who go on really restricted ‘liquid diets’ or something like that, the body goes into starvation mode and that means it shuts down your metabolism,” Milam said. “It slows it down and it’s going to process much slower because it doesn’t know when it’s going to be fed again. What that does in slowing down your metabolism is when you start eating regularly again, it’s not processing as well as before.”

Milam said cutting down on calories should only come in to the weight equation if you are consuming 4,000 or more calories.

Another way to prevent a workout-related injury is to stay flexible with stretching exercises for 15 minutes a day. Whether it comes before your workout or while watching your favorite TV show at home, Upton suggests that staying flexible through simple stretching or yoga for at least five days a week will prevent an injury at your next trip to the gym.

“What happens with a lot of people who begin an exercise program is that they get started and because they have restrictions in certain areas they come up with an injury and their whole workout plan is scrapped,” Upton said.

Eat This, Not That

Using nutritional information from companies’ official Web sites to compare popular foods with healthier alternatives.


Eat This

Quaker cinnamon spice instant oatmeal

1 serving (1 packet)

170 Calories

20 Calories From fat

Total Fat 2g

Sodium 250 mg

Not That

brown sugar cinnamon pop tart

1 serving (one pastry)

210 Calories

70 Calories From Fat

Total Fat 8g

Sodium 190 mg


Eat This

Wolf Brand turkey chili (no beans)

170 Calories

25 Calories From Fat

Total Fat 2.5g

Sodium 1340 mg

Not That

Wolf Brand regular (no beans)

410 Calories

250 Calories From Fat

Sodium 1020 mg


Eat This

Campbells’ vegetable beef soup bowl

1 Serving (1 cup)

80 Calories

10 Calories From Fat

Total Fat 0.5g

Sodium 880 mg

Not That

Progresso vegetable and beef microwavable bowl

1 Serving (1 cup)

110 Calories

80 Calories from Fat

Total Fat 1.5g

Sodium 830 mg

Midnight Snack

Eat This

Baked Lays barbecue-flavored potato chips

1 Serving (1 oz.)

120 Calories

30 Calories From Fat

Total Fat 3g

Not That

Lays barbecue-flavored potato chips

1 Serving (1 oz.)

150 Calories

90 Calories From Fat

Total Fat 10g

Staff reporter Chilton Tippin contributed to this report.