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about a year ago

5 Ways to Help Your Resolutions Survive in Happy Valley

Students wait in line to use the fitness center at the White Building Monday evening.  Students have waited upwards of an hour at times. (Photo by: Michael Misciagno)

Every January it’s the same thing: the new year rolls around, and you, like many others before you, find yourself making a laundry list of resolutions to accomplish throughout the year. Make better use of your gym membership, skip fewer classes, drink less — we’ve all been there. More often than not, we find ourselves returning to old habits, leaving these resolutions to die hard and fast.

Although it can be difficult, staying healthy during your time in Happy Valley isn’t impossible.

1. Be Smart in the Dining Halls

Since the closure of Simmons Dining Hall back in May 2011 (RIP), campus has been lacking a dining hall devoid of the typical, indulgent options. Renovations in Pollock expanded healthy options, but let’s be honest, it can be hard to ignore the cakes and crepes on your walk to your table.

Eating healthy in the dining halls is all about coming in with a plan. Menus for each dining commons are available online or through Food Services’ iOS application, Dining@PSU. If you know you’re going to be visiting the commons for a meal, take a look at what they’re serving ahead of time and plan around it. Also, if the “all-you-care-to-eat” premise is too tempting, ask for a take-out box and only fill it with what you need.

In addition to this, don’t just limit yourself to the commons. Fresh Express in East, The Mix in Pollock, and In a Pickle down in Redifer make deli sandwiches a la carte, giving you a bit more control over what goes into your food. Fresh Express’s Asian Grille and Redifer’s Hot Steel and Noodles allow you to pick and choose vegetables and meat or shrimp for stir fry, which can be a lighter option if you’re craving Chinese. Just go light on the sauce or skip it all together and opt to add your own soy sauce.

2. Use Your Gyms

Yes, I know they can get a bit crowded at times. I’ve had my workout buzz killed waiting in line for cardio machines plenty of times, but this is easily avoidable. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the ebbs and flows of gym capacity — it’s typically most crowded between 4 and 8 p.m.

Instead of going then and having to fight for territory on the mats to do abs, find a time in your schedule that the gym is usually empty, like in the morning before classes or at night before the facilities close. If you want to gauge the crowds before you go, the Recreational Strength & Fitness Website displays how many patrons are currently checked into a facility at any time, as well as the hours for each gym and this semester’s Fitness Class schedule.

3. Explore Campus

If you’re stuck in the same gym rut, try changing up your exercise routine and running outside. Campus and the areas surrounding are so vast, it’s possible to explore a different route each time you go running, which surely helps cancel out naysayers who write running off as boring. On top of this, hills like those of Shortlidge Road and Burrowes Street add a slight challenge and make your run around campus a bit more dynamic, should you choose to take that route.

Running on campus also allows you to set your own pace without having to worry about too many others around you. Also, other outdoor runners are usually friendly and give a nice bit of encouragement when you pass.

4. Take Advantage of Technology

There are a plethora of applications available for both iPhones and Droids to help you stay on track and motivated throughout the year. Personally, I’m a big fan of Nike+ Running, which maps my runs and gives audio cues at certain distances. For more useful apps, check out the 7 Best Apps for Setting Goals and Keeping Resolutions and The 63 Best Health & Fitness Apps. 

If you prefer to work out at home as opposed to the gym, you don’t have to shell out money on workout DVDs that may just sit and collect dust. Instead, turn to YouTube for plenty of free videos from trainers. You’ll save money and be able to explore a wider array of fitness approaches.

5. Drink Responsibly

Maintaining a healthy diet is crucial to an overall healthy lifestyle, and what you drink is just as important as what you eat. On average, a shot of vodka weighs in at about 100 calories. Those shots add up fast over a weekend night, and that’s not including any chasers, mixers, or beers that may be added into the mix. Instead of heavy, sugary juices, opt for lighter options such as Crystal Light mixes.

Before heading out to bars and parties, look over this guide by Her Campus, which names a few drinks that will go easy on your calorie counter and won’t leave you feeling extra bloated in the morning. On the topic of bloating, just stay away from drunk food. I know there’s nothing more appealing at 2 a.m. than a Grillers Grilled Cheese or a slice of Canyon covered in ranch. Solution? Don’t stop there. Problem solved.

College doesn’t have to be a place where healthy lifestyles come to die. Just stay cognizant of what you’re doing, the decisions you’re making, and use the resources around you. You bought that gym membership for a reason, now don’t let Mom and Dad’s your money go to waste, and if things begin to get boring, change it up. Variety is the spice of life, and that definitely applies to being healthy. You can’t always limit yourself to a strict diet and fitness regimen. If you crack and find yourself ditching the White Building to go suck down a Creamery milkshake, don’t beat yourself up for it. Ultimately, always be willing to try new things and branch out.

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