The secret of a good life is a healthy one. True, it might be a little daunting trying to live a healthy lifestyle fresh out college, where the dining hall taught you that greasy food was good and the class schedule prevented more gym time than you would’ve liked. Add to that the stress of finally being on your own, repaying your student loans, and trying to find a job, and staying in shape might sound too expensive or otherwise impractical. But here are some tips on how to do it for less:
- Bring a lunchbox to work. It might be all too tempting to order food out, or to live on pizza and subs, but please, for your body’s sake, resist the thought. Instead, grab something health-conscious from the market—say, a can of tuna—and whip it up. You could also try a salad. Options like that are delicious, easy to carry to work, and friendly on your wallet.
- Go outside. Sometimes the answer to all your problems is sitting there right in front of your nose. For instance, if you’re stressing about affording a gym membership, then skip the gym and go outside. All you need to jog, mind you, is a pair of shoes and a sidewalk.
- Use your calendar. Just like you might have used an agenda to keep your assignments on track during your college career, keep a calendar of what lunch you’ll bring to work and when you’ll exercise. Writing it down ahead of time will make it easier to commit to actually doing it.
- Get a hobby. Being healthy is as much about the mind as it is the body. In order to make your life more than just a job (or finding one), then pick up a new hobby to keep your brain in shape. You could try to read a new book every week, you could learn a new craft, or even take cooking lessons. The point is to live a fun lifestyle, not a stressful one.
- Socialize. If you want to stay healthy, then keep in touch with friends so that they can do what they’re best at: keeping you in check. Think free and active. Go on walks, bike rides, hikes, or play frisbee in a park. All those things are fun, won’t cost you a time, and will keep you in shape.
The big day is just around the corner, so celebrate the best dad ever in a style he deserves with these gift ideas:
- Anything that involves the grill. Not to be stereotypical, but come on: just picture the look on dad’s face when you give him a new set of tools for the barbeque. Plus, it’s a double-purpose gift, as he can put the new grill attire to use while making a delicious Father’s Day dinner for you. That way, everyone wins: your dad gets something he loves and your family gets a perfect burger.
- A new bike. Now that good-weather season is well underway, why not take advantage of all summer has to offer? That means enjoying the scenery while also getting outside, and there’s just no better way to combine those two activities than a good old bike ride. Bikes can be expensive, but if you team up with your other family members, it’s more affordable.
- A gift certificate to his favorite restaurant or bar. Okay, this is the second item on the list that has to do with food, but come on: everyone loves a little grub. With that in mind, appeal to your dad’s taste buds by sending him to his favorite place—your treat.
- Sew up a tie. Want to show dad your creative side? Sew him up a tie yourself and show him what you’re made of, or, what his tie is made of. Again, it’s a stereotypical gift, but definitely personalized if you pull off this actually-not-too-complicated sew job. For step-by-step directions, see here.
- A pair of 3-D glasses. If your dad is like most people, then he appreciates a fine film, or at least a trashy, action-picked blockbuster. With that in mind, then he’ll at least get a kick out of this silver-screened themed gift.
- A new set of headphones. Your dad might very well be slipping further and further into that age where he would like nothing more than to relive his glory days. If that’s the case, then there’s likely a chance he’s digging out his old records, playing the music a little louder than necessary at inopportune times. A nice new pair of headphones won’t give him the rude hint to turn down the volume as much as it will provide a conduit for supreme listening, right?
- A camera. Ya know, to capture the memories.
Now that you’ve received all of your acceptance letters, you might be freaking out. After all, deciding which college to attend is a big deal, as it’s a four-year investment that leads you down a particular road in life. So while a college degree is a college degree no matter which way you slice it, every campus is a different experience. Here’s some advice to help you choose:
- Read, read, and read some more. Instead of making your decision on your own, stand on the shoulders of others (meaning: alumni or current students) and take in all the advice you can. Search the Internet and read a few blogs about peoples’ experiences at each school, look at important statistics such as retention rates, and read up on the location of your school, too.
- Talk. Take advantage of the resources around you. For example, your high school guidance counselor would be happy to help you if you’re stuck in a rut about what choice to make. Chances are your counselor will know a lot about each school, having watched other students attend them.
- Check your pockets. Like I said, college is a four-year investment—literally. College is an expensive decision, and if you go too far into debt then you’ll regret the decision no matter what. In short: be realistic. If you don’t think you can afford a particular college, then you most likely can’t; don’t delude yourself into thinking you can, and attend the school that’s within financial reach.
- Make a list. Instead of trying to keep track of everything in your head, make a concrete list of the pros and cons of each school. Make it a long list, and take everything you can think of into consideration. Then, it’s simple: the school with the most pros is your best bet.
- Take a close look at the curriculum. While it might be hard to map out your entire academic career, try reflecting on what you might like to do when you leave school. Then, once you have an idea of what you want to do, you can choose a college based on exactly what it has to offer—as some schools are well-known only for certain fields of study.
College may be some of the best years of your life, so try to savor every moment. Even the ones you’re stuck in the library—hey, at least it’s better than being stuck in an office. To help make sure college is a positive experience (instead of the alternative), here are a few hints on things you may want to avoid:
- Don’t stay awake too late, too often. If you want to savor your college life, then you have to be awake for it. Admittedly, it’s easy to fall into the trap of putting off homework and paper writing until the last second. (“Last second” always end up meaning “late at night.”) That has the unintended, or at least unforeseen, consequence of leaving you wrecked and zombie-like the next day. In other words, with all those college distractions around you, it’s easy to procrastinate. True, there’s something to be said for living in the moment, but there’s also something to be said for making sure you’re actually awake during the day. Instead of pulling all-nighters right before an assignment’s due, try getting more done ahead of time.
- Don’t wake up the dorm. If you don’t want everyone in your dorm to give you the stink eye, then don’t do what one of your peers inevitably will: set off the fire alarm. If you’re using the oven—whether it’s in a common area kitchen or in your apartment—make sure you shut it off when you’re done. Especially if it’s 3 in the morning. Also keep your music, video games, and television on low volume.
- Don’t settle. You’re in college to be nothing less than a student—the best student you can be—so don’t settle for grades you’re not truly happy with. If you think you can do better than you’re doing, then make the effort to, well, do better. Ask your professor for help in office hours, ask peers for insight, do whatever you can to make sure your report card is exactly the one you want—this is especially true when you remember how much you’re paying to be there.
- Don’t forget those around you. College is awesome, but you’re not living in a bubble, so don’t act like you are. Remember that your college is in a community full of working people, other students, families, young kids, et cetera. Behave like it and don’t do anything you’d regret, especially for those of you living off campus.
- Don’t go it alone. College is a place to discover your interests, so get as involved as possible. That means: don’t hole up in your room, or the library, or your department’s main office. Studying is important, but so are social activities, clubs, sports, and everything else your campus has to offer. Take advantage of it! Meet people! They may end up being your lifelong friends.
Attention post-grads: welcome to the real world! I hope you’re enjoying your post-college life, and I’m sure you are. Take a deep breath and realize that you’ve walked a long road and that there’s still a long one ahead of you. So, to make sure you stay on the path leading to success, here are some helpful hints:
- Dot your i’s and cross your t’s. Leaving college means leaving behind your career- planning center, and even if you never visited them while you had the chance, you might wish you had. Don’t cry over spilled milk, though. Instead, take a close look at important things like your resume and cover letter, and edit them as if you were working on a term paper. After all, if you want potential employers to take you seriously then you have to take yourself seriously. Put the effort into what matters.
- Find new mentors. In college you likely succeeded thanks to a handful of amazing professors and supporting faculty, but just because you’re moving on doesn’t mean you have to leave that kind of support system behind. Find new mentors in the workplace or even in your own group of friends to help you problem solve and to make important decisions. In the end, standing on the shoulders of others is how you grow.
- Send some thank you notes. A little reflection never hurt anyone, which is why it might be a good idea to take a step back and appreciate how far you’ve come. No doubt, you needed a lot of help along the way, so let the people who gave you a helping hand know you’re grateful. Send a thank you note, or a thankful email, or even make a quick phone call, which will no doubt go a long way.
- Embrace the possibilities. You’ve learned a lot in college, but there’s still a lot more to wrap your head around, and it will be that way for the rest of your life. With that in mind, make peace with the idea that some things might be uncomfortable, like, say, your first real apartment, or your first utility bill, or all your student loan payments. But remember: take life one day at a time, and that every barrier is actually a doorway in disguise.
- Be forever young. Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you can’t stay young at heart. Stay adventurous, stay passionate, and keep that youthful energy close to the chest.