BACK TO SCHOOL: 2019 EDITIONThe new semester is almost here, and to help you get back into the school spirit we've put together a guide that's designed to help you make it to midterms and beyond healthy, happy, and ready to squash your finals. Welcome to the Inaugural FitTrack Back to School Health & Wellness Guide.
School might be stressful, and you might be tempted to sacrifice some aspects of your health to deal with the added pressure of research papers, presentations, and exams. In this guide, we're going to cover some of the very basics of living a successful collegiate life, along with some fundamental tips to keep your body and your mind in tip-top shape. Follow along and you'll be leaping into next summer before you know it.
THE BASICSSuccessfully navigating the first semester back requires some fundamental skills you'll want to get nailed down. Self-care is paramount, so make sure you make time for hobbies and extracurriculars that keep you fulfilled outside of classes. Finding a co-ed intramural sports league is a great way to make sure you get some (healthy) form of play in when you aren't studying, and it's a great way to meet new people, which is an important part of your school experience. We recommend finding a sport you haven't tried yet. Getting outside of your comfort zone is one of the greatest ways to unlock personal growth and development, and you'll get a nice sense of accomplishment after you master a new skill!
You'll want to make sure that your extracurriculars don't detract from your studies, though. So invest in a planner that you love and use it to schedule practice and play around your school duties.
SET GOALSSchool's about developing the skills you'll need to succeed in the field that you're passionate about, so you'll want to set goals to make sure you're tracking your progress. This helps you measure the results of your efforts and ensure that you're on track to be where you want to be. We always advocate for the SMART method of goal-setting. Write these criteria out for your goals and keep them in a place where you can reference them often.
S: Your goals should be specific. So instead of saying you want to do better than you did last year, write down a specific number that you want to improve your GPA by. Or if your goal is to lose weight, write down a specific amount of weight that you want to lose. You can reference the "Standard Weight" metric in your FitTrack Pro report to begin setting goals.
M: Making sure your goals are measurable is just as important as making sure they're specific. That's why you'll want to make sure that the goals you set are ones you can track closely as you work towards them. Your FitTrack Pro report will help you track specific health metrics and keep you accountable, and your midterm grades will help you make sure you're on track to reaching your academic goals. But what about other goals, like happiness? Try practicing mindfulness and keeping a journal of your moods on a daily and weekly basis so that you can measure your emotional state.
A: If your goals are unattainable, you'll be set up to fail from the outset. That's why you need to make sure the goals you set are achievable and realistic. Be reasonable with the timelines you set for yourself. For example, losing the extra 10lbs you picked up over the summer might be reasonable by midterms, but hitting that 4.0 GPA might be more realistically attainable by the end of next semester. Be kind to yourself.
R: Your goals need to be relevant, otherwise why bother working towards them? You might be able to impress your friends by becoming a Fortnite champion contender by winter break, but is that relevant to your life goals? Maybe if you want to be a professional gamer, but for the rest of us, setting goals that will have an important impact on our futures are going to be WAY more relevant. Focus on grades and building a healthy body and mind that will serve you well for many years.
T: Remember how we said your goals should be attainable? They should also be time-bound. If you don't set a reasonable deadline on when you want to achieve your goals, what will motivate you to work towards them? Make sure you have healthy deadlines to achieve your goals. PRO TIP: Be mindful of your syllabus, and schedule your health deadlines around your academic deadlines in a way that you don't find overwhelming.
NOW HIT THE GYM
Almost every campus has a gym or student recreation center. It's there for a reason. It's your friend. Get to know it, and visit it frequently. A reasonable goal to set here might be to become active enough that you can finally activate Athlete Mode on your FitTrack (best for users who exercise 3-5 times a week). If you're not quite there yet, start at once a week or once every three days so that you can ease into an exercise routine without injury.
An easy way to make sure you're exercising regularly? Build a training routine that's directly related to the intramural sport you've decided to pick up this semester. A quick search on Google should provide you with a wealth of exercises that are sport-specific and designed to make you a better athlete on whatever field you've chosen for yourself. Keep a close eye on your FitTrack Pro report to make sure your efforts in the gym are translating into the results you want. You'll see your body composition start to change in your reports before you see results in the mirror, so use them to keep yourself motivated week after week.
AND EXERCISE YOUR MIND
True, your mind is probably going to feel like it's getting lots of exercises as you attend lecture after lecture, but there are other ways to strengthen your mind so that you can get through the semester without compromising your happiness or mental health. School stress can be overwhelming at times, but these tactics will serve you well:
Meditate. Yep. it's 2019 and mindfulness is all the rage for a good reason. Meditation has been linked to significant decreases in stress and anxiety and can have tremendous benefits on your mental health. There are a number of apps available to help you get started, along with tons of guided meditation videos on YouTube you can follow.
Go for a walk. Getting outside, especially as fall starts to settle in and the leaves change, is great for your mental health. We've already discussed how connected with nature can improve your well-being, so be sure to find some trails near campus that you can explore with some friends or on your own.
Lean on your friends. You're all in this experience together, and research shows that humans react better to stressors when in the presence of friends and family. So cultivate a support network and be sure to reach out to them regularly. Your parents will probably appreciate the phonecall, anyway.
Student Counselling is there for a reason. There's no shame in going to talk to someone whose job it is to help people just like you who are struggling. Take advantage of the resources your school provides!
AND WATCH YOURSELF GROW
Your professors meet with you to discuss your progress in class. You get midterms, and finals to gauge how well you've done over the semester. Don't forget to treat your body the same way. Use your FitTrack Pro reports to get a baseline for your overall health at the beginning of the semester, and monitor them regularly to make sure you're progressing in the ways you want to progress. But don't forget to use the historical data that FitTrack stores to take a look back at where you were so that you can see how far you've come!
If you don't have a FitTrack yet, it isn't too late to pick one up before the school year begins. Place your order today and establish your baseline in time for the new semester!