Staying healthy is often a challenge for everyone, but it is certainly even harder when you’re in stressful circumstances. PA school often robs you of two things… money and time, so I know what you’re thinking. Who has the time to go the gym and cook? Who can afford the pricey healthy food? The answer is YOU. Here are some tips to help you to stay healthy while you become a physician assistant.
1. Use a crockpot
Invest in a crockpot. It will become your best friend. Throw in meat, veggies and seasonings. Leave it alone and study your heart out until dinner time and boom- dinner is served. Magically, it always turns out good. This will save you time, effort and provide you with a good hot meal. I swear no one from Crockpot asked me to advertise for them.
2. Freeze meals
No one wants to eat the exact same meal 4 days in a row. Make large meals, separate them into Tupperwear containers and freeze them for later. This way, you’re getting a delicious, healthy meal with some variety every day. Your food won’t go bad and you won’t go hungry.
3. Pack your lunches
Sure the food at the school and hospital cafeteria tastes great, but it is not so great for you. Save yourself money and calories and pack your lunch. Some examples of easy/healthy things to pack are the frozen meals you’ve made, yogurt, granola bars, apples, oranges, overnight oats, hardboiled eggs, carrots, peppers, protein shakes, etc.
4. Buy cheap sources of produce
Produce not only goes bad quickly, but it can be expensive and you’re on a PA students salary. When trying to conquer prices, do a little research. Ask around and check out any farmer’s markets or an Aldi in your area. You may be able to find more affordable fruits and vegetables. The frozen vegetables in the freezer section of your grocery store have a comparable nutritional value to the fresh produce. The difference is these frozen vegetables last way longer.
5. Find substitutes
Before you make a meal consider possible substitutes for the unhealthy portions of your meal. For example, consider greek yogurt in place of sour cream or mayonnaise, ground turkey instead of ground beef and stevia instead of granulated sugar.
6. Portion control
One of the greatest barriers to a healthy lifestyle is portion control. You can eat the healthiest food in the world, but if you’re eating 5 times the recommended amount, you will store this as fat. The healthiest way to eat meals is to have multiple small meals throughout the day. Depending on your PA program and rotation schedule, this is not always possible, but you can control the quantity you consume at each meal.
7. Find a workout schedule that you can stick to
If you can find time to work out at the gym 5 days a week, that’s great, but it’s not for everyone. There are workouts online and workout apps that only take a few minutes of your time and you can do them in your house. Going on walks on your lunch breaks and between classes is a great way to get your blood circulating that doesn’t cut time out of your day. One important thing to keep in mind is exercise will decrease your stress levels and improve your cognitive function. Do not think of exercise as something you don’t have time for, find away to make time for it. It will help you succeed in PA school.
8. Don’t deprive yourself
If you don’t cut yourself slack, you won’t be able to keep it up. There is nothing wrong with the occasional cheese cake and lazy days. In fact, after all of your studying and hard work, you owe it to yourself.