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Health comes first


With the responsibility of being a full-time student, having a job and other responsibilities at home, there is little to no time to take a break and go to the gym.


During my first two years in college, I had plenty of time to go to the gym every day, go swimming and meal prep at home.

Now my routine has changed a lot. I only visit the gym twice a week, I get home so tired that I don’t meal prep as much as I used to and I don’t visit the pool anymore. However, as a person who is used to staying active, I had to find a way to try to stay in shape while taking care of everything else.

In the past, I joined boxing and kickboxing classes, but this semester I joined a ballet class. I’ve always been a huge fan of ballet and I know this art form offers a full cardio workout, along with body endurance. Barre work and center work are great, especially if you want to build strength in your core, legs and upper body.

Fitting a ballet class as part of my schedule not only helps me to put my mind somewhere else from the rest of my activities, but it’s a way for me to stay active every day without the necessity of leaving campus.

When it comes to meal prepping, it is true that it takes some time to prepare everything for a week and right now I don’t really have the time for that.

Meal prepping services most restaurants offer are great, but it can also be a little expensive.  Back in the day, I used to prepare my meals on Sunday night for the rest of my week. It was a simple chicken, rice and veggies recipe. Every week I changed the source of protein, carbs and greens to have a different menu.

I noticed there was a point where I simply stopped going to the gym and cared less about what I ate, and after a couple of weeks I felt the difference. My energy didn’t last as long as it used to, I felt tired all the time and this started to affect me because I had so much stuff to do and no energy to keep me going.

I grew up in a house where healthy eating and physical activity are part of the daily routine.  Growing up, I used to do gymnastics, swimming and track, and I always kept up with the pace by trying new sports or activities to stay active.

Nowadays I try to meal prep at least for two days. On Mondays I have to stay in school all day, so my mom has been kind enough to drive all the way to campus to bring me lunch, and for the rest of the week, I try to pack some fruit or a salad to keep everything balanced.

And if I eat out, most of the times I order food from places I know serve healthy food. One of the cheap options out there for me is Pei Wei. Most new places like Pokeworks are great because of the products and portions they offer, but I am not a huge fan of seafood, so Thai food works best for me.

Finding time to work out and eat healthy is not about torturing yourself with hardcore fitness routines or diets. Staying in shape is about feeling good about yourself and taking care of your body and health.

According to Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans released by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, an adult between 18 and 64 years of age needs an average of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week for substantial health benefits.

That means that only two hours and 30 minutes a week are needed to stay in shape. If you don’t like going to the gym or doing sports, a park or even your block is a great start. Walking for two hours sounds like a lot, but if you walk 30 minutes every day, you’ll be completing your workout by the end of the week without feeling extremely exhausted.

Also, if you don’t like meal prepping, simply change your diet.

This doesn’t mean you have to stop eating french fries for the rest of your life. This means that you can start adding more greens to your diet. Salmon and chicken are great sources of protein if you don’t like red meat, and if you’re vegan or vegetarian, you can replace the meat with some Portobelo mushrooms and some quinoa as the source of protein.   

Cut sugars, such as soft drinks, and instead drink water or unsweetened beverages. It sounds like a huge sacrifice, but within a couple of weeks your body will thank you and you’ll start feeling the changes too.

Regardless of how busy our lives are our health comes first. I might not have all the free time I used to, but with a ballet class, two days at the gym and some healthy eating, I find myself feeling good with enough energy to keep my day going.

Claudia Flores may be reached at [email protected].

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Claudia Flores, Editor-in-chief
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Health comes first