The Clean Eating Teen Discusses “Back to School”

First of all, I just want to give a HUGE thank you to Kathryn for giving me this wonderful opportunity to write for her blog. You rock!!

My name is Natalie Wester! I am a high school student from Texas, and run a health blog, Clean Eating Teen.

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Everyone who knows me, knows I am a HUGE health and fitness nut. I am known around family, friends, and school as the “hippie” chick. And they’re right! I have BIG plans to obtain a certification in holistic nutrition, as well as to become a certified yoga teacher and personal trainer. I’m so passionate about this field, that I’m usually seen carrying nutrition books around school campus.

I help my family and peers in any way I can, trying to help people obtain a healthy and active lifestyle. I make meal plans (with any donations I earn going towards yoga teaching tuition) and workout with those interested, and love to share anything I know about health and nutrition to those wanting to learn more.

It get’s chaotic sometimes, managing school work with a healthy diet and fitness regimen. But I don’t let my busy schedule become an excuse to neglect my body. That (along with grades, no doubt) is one thing I will NEVER let myself slack up on.

Before I started taking care of myself and nourishing myself properly, I was sluggish. I was not in shape, I did not eat well, and overall my performance was no where near as it is today. Don’t get me wrong, I always did my best and never fell behind… but since converting into a healthier, “clean diet” form of living, boy… are the differences HUGE! I feel better, have more energy… not to mention my skin cleared up, eyes whitened, and hair got shinier. I even lost some (healthy) weight!

Sometimes it gets difficult, but with proper preparation, it is more than possible to stay on track after it is time for the lazy summer time days to go away! This post is about how I keep up with my lifestyle during the school year… and how you, weather you are still in school or working, can too!

Exercise:   

 

My high school starts at 7:30 AM. I used to do my workouts after school, and that worked for a while. But eventually, I piled on after school activities, and before I knew it, I was lacking energy to work out after I got home from a long day.

My solution? Workout before school.

I am not saying that people can’t exercise towards the end of the day… actually, many prefer this! However, I have always been an early bird, and this was really the only time I found I had enough energy to get my body up and moving! Plus, it energizes me for the rest of my day.

I like having a pattern that I can rely on everyday, and I know for sure that my mornings will go un-interrupted for a workout. I could never say that about after school, because I never know when I need to stay for a project, tutorials, or another after school event.

            During school months, I wake up at 5AM. I workout for about an hour, until 6AM. Then I eat breakfast and am dressed and ready to leave by 7AM. I do this every day.

            In order to ensure efficiency, I prepare things the day before so I don’t have to waste time in the morning! I lay out my workout clothes. If I know I am doing yoga, I get my mat ready. If I am doing strength training or a DVD, I get out the equipment and have the DVD in the player. These simple tricks shave off precious minutes that you can use getting work done!

            This also includes knowing what you will be doing, routine wise, the day before. Are you going to be going on a run? Is it leg day, arm day? What DVD or routine are you doing? By knowing this, you take the guessing out of things and can mentally get yourself ready to tackle your workout.

            It is definitely a challenge to start this, but if you are passionate about staying active, you will make the adjustments needed. It only takes a few weeks before the habit sets in, trust me!

            Of course, because I wake so early, I usually go to bed by 9ish. I never have been able to stay up past 10PM easily anyway, so this wasn’t hard for me, especially after a LONG day of school, theatre, homework, ext…

            Now, I know that not everyone can get to bed this early. People have meetings, children, a spouse and family to tend to. I am just telling what works easiest for me, as an example to help you set your own goals with something of a path to fallow! J

           

            Here is a round up of tips for this category:

-Workout in the morning, or whenever time is easiest and most likely to be available and not interrupted.

 

-Go to bed earlier, regardless of when you workout, to ensure you have enough energy the next day.

 

-Lay out workout clothes and get needed workout equipment ready the night before.

 

-Have in mind what routine or workout you will be doing the day before you do it.

 

-Stick to your routine. Try to work out the same time each day to form habit, and stay committed! It get’s easier the more you do it. J

 

 

Food:

Everyone knows that school cafeteria food is… well, not food. It is actually a joke between my friends and I that everything the cafeteria serves is actually different shapes of ground horse hooves…

            Unless you are blessed to attend one of the few schools in the nation (or otherwise) which serves organic, homemade lunches… I HIGHLY recommend you make and bring your own. Actually, I don’t recommend it… I require it. I can’t tell you how many times my friends (who don’t even strive for a healthy diet to begin with) complain about the school’s slimy pizza or mock fish sticks.  If THEY have a hard time consuming it, I really don’t think it is wise for a health conscious student to put it anywhere near their lips!

            I also am astounded by how many people either A) Go without eating lunch (and not for monetary reasons) or B) Buy five cookies and a chocolate milk and call it a meal. This is also a big no no, and is another reason why bringing your own lunch is such a good idea. When you prepare your own food, you not only know what is in it, but you are guaranteed a meal that you like and that is nourishing. 

            This also goes for breakfast… some people do eat theirs at school, but most catch a bite to eat at the house before jumping on the bus or driving. Breakfast might even be trickier than lunch, because it is all too easy to forget about it until you pop out of bed late, and only remember it by the sound of your stomach growling while you frantically brush your teeth! Plus, most conventional breakfast items are no more than empty calorie sugar bombs: donuts, waffles, pop tarts and most cereals will not energize you for the long day ahead!

 

            I understand that making your own lunch may be time consuming, but this is where weekly food preparation comes in handy. If you don’t want to be making your lunch each night before, prepare a few containers of a basic, non spoiling lunch on a Sunday evening.

            Try making large batches of staples-it is a good idea to grill/bake/pan sear some ground turkey, chicken breast, pork chops, ext so that you can also have that on hand.

            I know many people, and many bloggers who post weekly about how they and their readers “food prep” for the week. A preparation can be as easy or as complicated as you would like. Heck, even if you just chop up some vegetables to have at hand for the week… that is better than nothing! Here are two examples of what you could do on a free weeknight to get ready for the rest of the week:

Ex 1. Say you are having grilled chicken for dinner, with a side of steamed broccoli. Instead of one chicken breast, go ahead and grill as many as you can… 6 or 7. While you are chopping the broccoli to steam, chop extra to toss into a salad for one of your lunches. Portion everything in separate containers, and then toss your broccoli with some greens and a chicken breast for a salad lunch. Easy peasy!

Ex 2. You are having breakfast on Sunday morning, hard boiled eggs with homemade (healthy-grain-free) pancakes. Boil as many eggs as you can (a whole dozen would be nice, for lunches and breakfasts!), as well as double, or triple your pancake batter. Peel all the eggs, and store them properly for easy morning protein, or chop them up in a lunch salad later. Use all the pancake mix, and (just like you would buy at the store), put them in portioned baggies and freeze them. You can heat them up in the toaster in the mornings easy enough, and if you are running out the door, eat them sandwich style with some almond butter between!

            Of course, these are just examples in which you make some extra of the food you already were preparing. You can also just make your week food separately! Don’t limit yourself to basic things either, even though they ARE easiest. Try making protein bars, meat patties, soups, stews, chiles… anything you can think of and have the availability to do!

            While prepping food is a great idea, it is also handy to buy a few items that don’t require much hassle to simple throw in a brown bag. I find that many companies carry “to-go” sizes of their products… I have also seen small individual bags of baby carrots, and of course pre-chopped fruit cups.

            Some ideas of ready-made, healthy choices would be:

-Unsweetened fruit cups

-Unsweetened apple sauce

-Pre sliced vegetables or fresh fruit

-Sliced, high quality deli meat or cheese (not pre packaged, sliced right in front of you by the butcher!)

-Organic cheese sticks or rounds

-No sugar added dry fruit

-Fresh fruit with a natural “to-go” method, like apples, bananas, and oranges

-Healthy chips (baked chips, sweet potato chips, kale chips)

 

Here is a quick round up for this category:

 

-Do NOT fall victim to the school cafeteria food line! Your taste buds AND your body deserve better than whatever they are serving. The extra time you put into making your breakfasts or lunches is well worth it.

 

-Prepare your food before hand! Be simple and simply chop vegetables up or make extra of staples you already need, or make actual things (protein bars, meat patties, soups) for future meals.

 

-Pick up some to-go sized items of your favorite healthy products,  as well as other things you do not have to prepare before hand and can just throw into your lunch bag.

 

Just for reference, here are a few ideas for meals at breakfast and lunch.

Breakfast:

         Pre made hard boiled eggs with an apple and nut butter

         Pre made grain free pancakes or waffles with nut butter or honey and fresh fruit

 EASY, Paleo, Sugar Free Gluten Free and Flourless pancakes (two main ingredients… a banana and two eggs! Recipe is on my blog)

         Banana with nut butter or sunbutter

One of my lunches since starting school this year! Lettuce wraps with leftover turkey meat, and some baby carrots with homemade hummus!

Lunches:

-Salad with pre-chopped veggies, balsamic vinegar and pre grilled chicken breast or hard boiled egg

-Lettuce wraps with large romaine leafs, left over meat, or veggies 

-Pre made soups or chile

-Half an avocado with a can of tuna or salmon and fresh tomato and cilantro on top

-Left-overs from last night’s dinner… the best! 😉

I KNOW it is easy to make excuses when school and work gets tough. Who has the time-or the energy, for that matter- to eat right and work out?

            The answer is simple… if you REALLY want something, you will do anything to make sure it happens. So in other words… do you want a wholesome, fit and active life? If your answer is yes… then you DO have the time!

How do you stay healthy during school?

What are some of your favorite go-to workouts or meals?

Natalie

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Comments

  1. Thank you for the share Kathryn! 🙂

  2. Glad you have these good habits early. It took me a while to develop mine!

  3. Hi Natalie, I just stumbled upon your blog and I was wondering if you could help me. I want to eat healthy I’m just not sure how to start. I am 13 and my parents don’t have money to let me take a home packed lunch to school. I eat a healthy lunch and 70% of the time my dinner is healthy. I am a very healthy weight, I would just like to start eating clean, get fit and get flat abs. Can you give me any advice? (Also, my parents have a rule. Even when they make an unhealthy dinner, you have to eat it because they only want to make one meal, which means I can’t even make my own. And I am a vegetarian too.)

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