Bonnie is a fitness blogger and final year student at the University of Glasgow. She runs an Instagram account where she posts daily about everything from how to get fit and healthy, to giving tips on how to balance student life with social events. Bonnie has just come back from Mallorca where she spent a semester abroad. Moreover, she had previously spent a year in Berlin as part of her degree. We managed to catch up with her between classes to chat about all things health, fitness, and university. So here are some Bonnie’s tips on how students can stay fit and healthy at the university .
So, Bonnie, do you have any tips for our readers who want to study abroad and keep healthy?
Doing study abroad can be a scary time because everything around you is foreign and new. One of the first things I did when I moved to both Mallorca and Berlin was to join a gym. This allowed me to get into a routine and made me feel more at home. It is because even though everything else around me had changed, I still knew how to use the gym equipment. It also helped me get involved with a group of like-minded people, now friends, and integrate myself into a new culture.
What is your daily routine like?
I like to start my day with a cup of coffee or green tea and take 20 to 30 minutes in the morning just to be quiet before starting the day. I use this time to read, do some yoga, or post on Instagram. After breakfast, I go to university where I spend all day either in class or in the library on campus. I treat university like a full-time job so I try to get all my work done before going home. By leaving my evenings free for going to the gym and social activities with friends, my day has a clear divide between work and play which I think is essential.
What if I can’t afford to go to the gym? Or if I don’t like the gym?
It’s is a very common but false assumption that you need to go to the gym, or love going to the gym in order to be fit and healthy. It’s really not the case at all. It all depends on what your goal is. If your goal is to build muscle, then you probably will need to join a gym to access the equipment, but if you just want to get healthy then there are so many other ways to do this. You could try swimming, running, going to fitness classes or yoga. When I started out getting fit, I didn’t go to a gym but instead exercised in my room at home. I watched Youtube videos on my laptop and used my language dictionaries as weights. You can 100% find something that you enjoy doing and is budget-friendly.
“I don’t have time to be healthy.” What would be your response to this?
The honest answer? You have time for whatever you see as a priority, so if you find that you don’t have time to be healthy: you need to sit down and be honest with yourself about whether you are actually making your health a priority.
I guarantee that you will be able to find 45 minutes to 1 hour a day to devote to your health. Think about why you don’t have time. Are you spending your evenings binge-watching TV shows or going out drinking 5 nights a week?
A lot of students can fall into the trap of partying too much. How do you maintain a healthy balance between work and play?
It all comes down to time management and moderation. I like to sit down on a Sunday evening and plan my week. I think the best approach is to organise your schedule around the fun activities you want to do. Plan your study around going out with friends on Friday night, or schedule in a mid-week cinema trip. Going out partying and staying up late 5 nights a week isn’t going to be good for your productivity or your health goals. However, going out once a week isn’t really going to set you back much.
What is your diet like as a student on a budget?
If a student is on a student budget it doesn’t meant that he/she has to eat unhealthy foods. Taking the time to find cheaper supermarkets to get nutritious ingredients is a great way to start. I also like to prepare my food so that I always have something to hand. This means that I know what I am eating and helps me stay on budget. It is because I am not buying expensive snacks or meals while I’m out at uni.
Do you have a go-to healthy meal?
I don’t really have a go-to healthy meal, so to say. Most of my meals are quite creative. However, I try to stick to the principles of balanced and nutritious meals. Food is like fuel, so whatever you put into your body is what you are going to get out. By feeding your body with the right nutrients, your study performance as well as your fitness performance will improve.
A balanced meal has carbs, protein and fat.
When preparing a meal, I think about three questions:
What are my carb choices: e.g. pasta, rice or potatoes.
What protein will I choose: e.g. meat, fish, beans.
Which healthy fats can I eat: e.g. avocado, olive oil or nuts.
The options are limitless!
The bulk of my meals is always vegetables, whether roasted, steamed or fried. I make sure to always have leafy greens like spinach and kale. I then choose any one of these combinations, depending on what I feel like eating. To get a better idea of the sort of combinations I make and the sort of food I eat, check out on my blog or on my Instagram.
What is the biggest mistake you see people make when trying to get healthy?
I actually wrote a blog article about this not too long ago. There is a very fine line between being dedicated to your health and fitness goals and being obsessed by them. Sometimes you have to take a step back and think about it.
Read the Bonnie’s article here.
If you could give only one piece of advice to students who want to start their journey on a healthy lifestyle, what would it be?
Just do it. You will never have as much time as you do at university. Use this time to learn how to look after yourself and make your healthy lifestyle a habit. You’ll thank yourself later in life.