Hello School Year!

30 08 2011

Jessica Peacock

Well, it’s that time of year again – school is back in session! The start of the academic year affects many of you in the Weight Management Program; some of you work in the school system, while others have children who will now be getting back into their school routine and extracurricular activities. While many people rejoiced at the start of the summer, thinking the added free time would make focusing on healthy eating and exercise easier, a lot of participants found that without the structure and routine that the school day provides it was actually much harder to stay on track and lose weight.

But just because the structure of the school year is back doesn’t mean it will be a breeze to adjust to a new routine – it’s important to take some time to think about potential challenges that will come along with it. Think back to this time last year; what do you remember being difficult about staying on track? How did you manage these barriers? What can you learn from last year to help you prepare for the school year this time around?

The best thing any of us can do to stay on track is PREPARE ahead of time as much as possible. This means identifying challenges and creating a plan to overcome them, as well as having a back-up plan for any unforeseen barriers. To help get you started, here are a few considerations that other participants have identified as possible school-year concerns:

Lack of time: Your schedule might change significantly from summer to fall, and with after-school activities and meetings, when will you fit in the time to get to the gym? Try penciling your workouts into a weekly calendar or planner to help hold you accountable, and treat them as though they were medical appointments – making time for exercise and your health is just as important as a doctor visit!

Lack of motivation: After a long day, the last thing many people want to do is head to the gym; but odds are if you go home first you will not head back out! Plan to go directly from work or school, and pack your gym bag the night before with everything you need (including a good afternoon snack to fuel your workout!). Remind yourself that exercise will give your mood and energy levels a boost, so that when you get home for the evening you can feel even better while spending time with family, getting chores done, or just relaxing.

Healthy Lunches: School lunch may not always provide the healthiest options; therefore, many participants choose to pack their own lunch to take with them. Create a routine for yourself where you prepare and pack lunch the night before, and consider taking a week’s worth of small/easy snack options with you to keep at school. This way you always have a healthy option available.

Busy Dinners: With after-school activities, it can be hard to fit in time to plan and cook a nutritious meal each night. However, fast-food is a quick and easy way to consume a lot more calories than your body needs and limit weight loss! Set aside time at the start of each week to plan the week’s meals, and consider cooking or preparing several larger meals on the weekends to allow for leftovers or a quick option that can be heated and eaten on the go.

The school year can help you stay on track and build a weekly routine that includes exercise and good nutrition. But remember, it might take some time and flexibility to get used to the new routine and the added stress and hectic-ness of the new academic year. Take some time to plan for your healthy lifestyle, and you can plan to have a successful school year!

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