Meet the Experts
Janele Bayless, LPC, LDN
Wellness Coordinator, Dietitian – Ohio State UniversityJanele holds Masters degrees in Wellness Management, Dietetics, and Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and a Bachelors degree in Exercise Science. She provides nutrition coaching for OSU college students, is a member of the Eating Disorder Treatment Team and Body Image and Health Task Force, supervises dietetic interns and grad students, advises student organizations’ Body Sense and Project HEAL, and provides a variety of presentations on nutrition, weight management, meal planning, grocery shopping, fitness, body image and eating disorders. Janele also provides nutrition coaching to the Columbus community through private practice and writes a blog.
Dr. Andrea Haney
Owner – Nutrition Made EZDr. Haney currently owns and operates a health and fitness facility, and three locations in which she helps individuals improve the quality of their food choices to reduce health inequalities. Her Bachelor’s Degree is in Nutrition Science, her Master’s Degree is in Health Education, and her PhD. is in Public Health with an emphasis on community health. She always has had an interest in health and fitness, and has been a competitive runner, cyclist, and competitive bodybuilder. Her Master’s thesis was a study in obesity recidivism in the female nursing population. She also has studied obesity-related type 2 diabetes in the Appalachia region. She is currently working on her dissertation which focuses on intention of behavior change; and millennials use of wearable fitness technology.
Maghan Lunsford, MS, CFL1
Fitness Center Coordinator – WellWorks, Ohio UniversityMaghan attended undergraduate and graduate school at Ohio University. She was a physical education major and earned a Master’s Degree in Recreation and Sport Science. Her first job was in strength and conditioning where she programmed and implemented training for student-athletes at Cornell University. She became interested in strength, conditioning and fitness while she was playing sports through high school and college. After working with athletes for several years she decided to reach a broader realm of individuals through fitness. In 2009, she was hired at WellWorks, Ohio University’s employee wellness program, as the Fitness Center Coordinator. She has loved working with a wide variety of people during her time personal training and leading group exercise classes at WellWorks.
Dr. Robin Yeager
Director of the Falcon Center and Student Activities – Fairmont State University/Pierpont Community and Technical College (FSU/PCTC)Dr. Yeager has worked many jobs in various fields and in the fitness/wellness/recreation field for almost 30 years including WVU and now Fairmont State University. Dr. Yeager has a B.S degree in Parks and Recreation from the University of Northern Colorado, a M.S in Exercise Physiology from the University of North Texas and a PhD in Forest Resource Science, Recreation, Parks and Tourism from West Virginia University. She has certifications in Spinning, Pilates, and is a registered Yoga Teacher. She has worked at WVU Recreation Center, Pathways to Wellness, General Manager of Maumee, OH Soccer Center, Four Seasons Resort in Dallas, TX, Hospital Wellness Director in Arlington, TX and various other positions.
Attending nursing school will bring about a lot of changes in a person’s life. For most students, it is an exciting time filled with new opportunities and experiences, but with this excitement can also come a feeling of being overwhelmed. Time management, prioritization, and planning are crucial since you will often have to make difficult decisions on how to spend your time. Rushing from classes to labs to clinical practicums, a nursing student can easily let their well-being slip to the bottom of the priority list. It is important that you don’t let this happen.
Making your overall health and wellness a top priority is one of the most important things you can do for yourself at any point in your life. Nursing school is no exception. You have entered a profession that is focused on taking care of others, but remember this line from our friends in the airline industry: “Before you assist others, you need to put on your oxygen mask first.”
This guide will walk you through ways that will enable you to make caring for yourself a high priority in nursing school. It will help you make choices to ensure that you are fueling your body with the right nutrients, staying fit, and keeping up-to-date on wellness areas.
Nutrition During Nursing School
Whether you are going to nursing school full-time or taking part time classes, it is likely that you have access to an array of foods 24/7. From fast food to dining hall buffets, to ramen noodles, the most nutritious choices aren’t always at your fingertips. But that doesn’t mean that these options aren’t available. In fact, there are more options now than ever before; which can be a part of the problem.
An overwhelming number of choices for meals, including fast food options, can make it difficult to choose the healthiest fuel for your body.
Focusing on the basics of nutrition can help you select the best choices. Remember, it is okay to indulge on something that isn’t incredibly nutritious, but if you stick to these guidelines, it can ensure that most days you are choosing foods that give your body the fuel it needs to succeed.
You may have seen an initiative on your campus called MyPlate. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has revised the “food pyramid” that we all know so well. They are working with colleges around the country to provide resources to students so that they can adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
During nursing school it is important to fill your body with food that is going to fuel your studies and activities. A good rule of thumb is to start with what your body needs on your plate. After you have finished that, if you are still hungry, evaluate what other foods might be a good choice. Keep in mind that adults ages 19 – 30 should plan half of their plate filled with fruits and vegetables!
Being aware of what the challenges are is half the battle. Here are 7 techniques you can employ to avoid those unhealthy choices.
- Look at the menu before going to the dining hall. Often the menus are posted and if you have time to look over all of the options before going, you can choose wisely. Many colleges have nutritional information posted next to the menu items or a symbol to indicate what is a healthy choice.
- Try to avoid late night snacking. Andrea Haney, PhD. offers this suggestion, “Eat plenty throughout the day, and if you feel stressed when late night studying is essential, plan, and keep healthy food choices in your study environment.”
- Follow MyPlate.gov advice and fill half of your plate at each meal with fruits and vegetables
- Look into stocking a few healthy on-the-go options in your dorm room or your backpack. When you are forced with making a last minute decision, it is easy to make poor choices. Be prepared because there will definitely be times you are running to class or an early morning clinical on the hospital floor!
- Stay hydrated! Make sure you carry around a reusable water bottle and refill it throughout the day. Aim for 64 oz. of water a day.
- Need vs. Want – Ask yourself the question, “Am I really hungry, or am I bored?” This is an important concept for students to learn. You will find that you turn to junk food and unhealthy food when you are bored, as opposed to when you are hungry.
- Eat in. If you have access to a mini kitchen or just basic equipment, you can make a few quick meals right from your room. Try these recipes that use a minimal amount of equipment!
- Cheese and nuts
- Apples and peanut butter
- Protein bars
- Hard boiled egg
- Low-fat Yogurt
- Hummus and pretzels
- Carrots and ranch dressing
Good nutrition goes hand in hand with exercise. Finding time to exercise during nursing school can be challenging. It can feel like there are not enough hours in the day to fit in a workout and many times exercise falls to the bottom of the priority list when in reality it should be near the top.
Exercise can increase alertness, increase endorphins, as well as boost your immune system; adding to overall wellness, which are all important during nursing school.
Whether you squeeze in 10-minute workouts a few times throughout the day, or one larger exercise session, it can make a huge difference in the way that you feel overall, and increase your productivity. You may find that the best way to study for a test or complete a large assignment is to workout just before you start your schoolwork.
Some people like to workout in the morning to get their day started. Others choose a midday workout
Before entering nursing school, it is likely that you were active in some way. Whether it was an organized sports team, high school sports, or physical education class, there was a schedule for you to get some exercise. That framework might not exist anymore and it might make it challenging to figure out how to make it work. There are tons of options for working out on a college campus, you just need to do a little research.
Fitness Center –If you are attending nursing school at a college or university, most have a fitness center where there is an exercise room that contains cardio machines such as treadmills, elliptical machines, weights, and some have a track or pool. As a student, you can usually join for a small fee. This will allow you access to all of these features. You might even meet some other people in your nursing program with similar schedules. Sometimes it is easier to exercise with a buddy because you can hold each other accountable!
Intramural or Pick-Up Sports –If your nursing school has a fitness center, inquire about intramural sports. Soccer, basketball, flag football, and even floor hockey are popular examples. If you are more of a team sport player, this could be the perfect option. Added bonus: you will meet new friends.
Fitness Classes –Group classes such as Zumba, Hip Hop and Tabata activities are often available at college fitness centers or local gyms. These can be fun to attend because they frequently change up your workout routine. In addition, having a time that you are committed to someone to meet holds you accountable, so you are more likely to follow through. If your nursing school doesn’t have a fitness center, check local gyms, often times they will offer a student discount.
Walking/Running –The cheapest activity is to simply walk or run. If your nursing school is situated on a campus, this should be easy. Make sure to find a well-lit area with sidewalks and then lace up your sneakers and get going! It is always a good idea to pair up, so try to find someone that has a similar interest.
Overall Wellness During Nursing School
Your overall wellness during nursing school can play a huge role in the success that you see in your classes and clinicals. If you aren’t functioning at your best, your nursing curriculum will seem that much more difficult. Eating right and keeping physically fit need to be priorities as they are large parts of being healthy. But there are other things to keep in mind as well. Getting enough sleep, making sure that you have all of your immunizations, and keeping your stress in check will also play a part in your overall wellness.
Fatigue is one of the most challenging things for students to overcome. Whether you are in the habit of staying up all night studying for exams or you just have too much on your mind, it is easy to lose sleep and hard to catch up. Everyone needs a different amount of sleep. Generally speaking, 7-9 hours a night does the trick, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Though the amount of sleep each person may need varies, one thing that can be agreed upon is getting enough sleep can be associated with better academic performance.
- Keep a consistent bedtime routine
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine before bedtime
- Keep paper near your bedside to write down things that are on your mind
- Ensure your room is dark and quiet
- Unplug! Don’t bring your devices to bed. Give yourself a break.
The stress level of nursing students has been found to be higher than students in other programs. Nursing students tend to experience the most stress related to interpersonal relationships along with performance demands. Rigorous academic coursework and an overwhelming schedule increase the burden. Take some “me time” each day to center yourself and prioritize the day’s activities – exercise can be a great stress reliever!
Chances are that you were immunized as a child and have kept all of your boosters up to date. In fact, it was probably a requirement of the school of nursing that you are attending. But vaccinations such as the flu shot need to be received annually. Yearly physical exams are a great time to make sure that these immunizations are current and to ensure that you are well. Touch base with your student health center if you are in need of a physical exam or if you fall ill.
The wellness center at your nursing school can be a wonderful resource, offering education to help you make good choices. Make sure you are familiar with the wellness center at your school. Many schools offer programs through the wellness center that are open to all students, such as financial coaching, wellness coaching, mindfulness programs, and alcohol/drug prevention services.
Always keep in mind that you can’t care for others unless you are healthy. Nursing school is the beginning of a journey filled with caring for others, so if you decide that you are not going to be healthy, then do it for all of your future patients. They will depend on you to be your best.
with Janele Bayless,LPC, LDN – Wellness Coordinator
What is the most common issue you see regarding wellness on a college campus?
College students have a lot on their plates. They have extremely difficult classes and are incredibly involved in many activities. It is tough to balance life without good nutrition, health and getting enough sleep. Tiredness and stress are the two most challenging things to overcome.
What advice would you give a busy college student?
Choose wisely – there are only 24 hours in a day. Students need to prioritize really well and not get overwhelmed. They need to set up a plan for success. Doing a few things really well is better than doing many things below average.
Why is it so challenging to eat right in school?
I have seen the college meal plans change drastically over the last 10 years. There are so many different choices to choose from. There are vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, and allergy-free options. Cafeterias offer healthy options. It all comes down to making the right choices. There will always be unhealthy temptations to see and smell in the cafeteria. The challenge is to balance and make the right choices. Everything should be done in moderation. You can have small treats here and there – you don’t have to deprive yourself.
Tips for avoiding the freshman 15
There have been studies and it is more like 3-5 pounds. Most students have trouble understanding the “need or want” aspect of eating. Food provides energy. Eat every 3-4 hours and don’t over eat. Give the body the energy it needs but don’t overdo it. There are hunger cues – be prepared for them. Don’t eat because you are bored – do alternative activities instead. Drink water instead of having a snack. Go for a walk. Take a shower. Take your mind off the food. Portion control is also very challenging. Don’t eat more then you need and skip the second helping. Eat slowly and allow the brain to realize you are already full.
Why is it important to make eating healthy a priority?
College students need to survive the semester and in order to do that it is imperative to prioritize their health. Sleep is important so that they feel better during the day. Nutrition helps the students stay healthy – meaning they have more stamina, are more productive and have less stress. Lots of time students turn to caffeine and that is not the best option. It only provides a short burst of energy that will lead to a crash and leave the student feeling poorly.
with Maghan Lunsford,MS, CFL1 – Fitness Center Coordinator
I find working out boring – what are some suggestions to make it fun?
Workout with a buddy, make a playlist of your favorite music, buy super cute workout clothes, check out a fitness enthusiast’s social media page, mix up what you consider working out (try Zumba, HIIT, Spinning, TRX, obstacle course racing, boxing)
What food do you eat before a workout? After?
That really depends on what I’m doing. If it’s just general training I usually only eat a banana before my morning workout. If I’m competing it’s probably a banana and oatmeal with protein powder or a banana with eggs. After workouts I usually have a protein shake. I should mention that I prefer real foods over supplements. If I have time to make myself something with whole foods, that is always my number one choice. Nutrition is a very personal thing. We’re all different. I encourage people to play around with different styles of eating to find what works best for them.
Time is very limited – what do you recommend for someone who has limited time to work out?
It doesn’t take a huge amount of time each day to get stronger and fitter. Try a Tabata workout (20 seconds of work then 10 seconds of rest repeated for 8 rounds). You can tabata anything – sprints, push ups, sit ups, squats, wall sits. None of those things require anything but your body and a timer. Find stairs where you work and walk up and down them for 5 minutes each time you take a restroom break. Do 30 push ups before bed each night. Youtube has plenty of 10 minute yoga, strength, Zumba, etc. free workouts. Everyone overcomplicates exercise. Be like Nike and just do it.
What should at college student do to maintain a healthy lifestyle?
Sleep and stress management are the first things that come to mind for all people. If someone is skipping sleep to come workout, I don’t like that. Sleep is when our bodies are recovering. When we skimp on sleep we put our bodies into a state of distress. The next thing in line is nutrition, and then exercise.
with Dr. Robin Yeager,Fitness Director
What is the best time to work out?
I believe that you need to find the best time that fits ones schedule and desire. I choose to work out early in the morning as it helps me to start my day and it truly is the only time I can be consistent and find time to exercise. Others like mid-day if they are not morning people and many choose to exercise after work. The importance is to find time and make it part of your routine schedule.
What is your biggest challenge to stay healthy and in shape?
Since I grew up in a competitive sport, I find I am challenged to stay in shape if I have a goal, for example training for a long bike ride or occasionally a competitive event. I also feel in my position, it is important to be a good role model of health to my co-workers and also my family although this isn’t what truly drives me. It is an integral part of my life and I don’t feel good unless I am consistently exercising; my husband and I plan vacations around outdoor, fitness activities.
What do you see college students doing wrong when working out? How can they do it better?
They lift weights and do not add cardio workouts or visa versa. They don’t maintain their routines and tend to work out only for weight loss. After losing weight, they don’t stick with exercise. They mostly don’t think about their eating habits and I have seen many students gain weight when they no longer belong to group sports and healthy eating at home. Colleges offer intramurals, club sports, beautiful fitness facilities yet still a small percentage of students utilize these opportunities
Find an exercise routine you enjoy, friends who are also into exercise and good health to keep you motivated. Being healthy has to be what is important to the person, don’t wait until you have diabetes, heart disease or other health issues. Avoid the weight gain and other issues that come with being sedentary. It is a lifestyle choice, one that will keep you young and happy.
with Dr. Andrea Haney,Owner – Nutrition Made EZ
How can students eat healthy on a college meal plan?
Specific characteristics for college students (Millennials) are skills with digital technology, quick assimilation to information, functional networking ability, and graphic preference over text. This advantage allows college students to look at the food plans, as I am sure they are online, and decide on when and what they can eat. Decisions for food plans may differ amongst college students, as this culturally diverse group would have different food preference.
How can students eat healthy on a budget?
If they are on a specified meal plan, they would need to choose the healthier options. If they are on a budget for food, choosing frozen vegetables and fruits, will extend the life of food that sometimes goes to waste, and can offer a variety unavailable in certain areas that only have a summer agri-producing season. Making a menu and shopping list would also eliminate buying unnecessary food. Making a separate account just for food, especially if you have roommates, creates a cohort for sharing both cost, and sharing.
Are there certain foods that you would consider “power foods” for college students? Ones to make sure they include in their diets?
Fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, low-fat dairies, and good sources of unsaturated fat. Nutrient-dense fibrous carbohydrates (apples, grapes, broccoli, salads), and whole grains both digest slowly and create a homeostasis of energy and endurance. Lean proteins generate lean tissue for stability of hair, skin, nails, bones, etc. Good sources of fat (nuts, seeds, avocados) give the body energy. Protein shakes and protein bars that have a balance of all three macronutrients are quick and easy for this population. Eating on a time schedule is important, as this increases blood glucose stability, causing less sugar cravings, and more satiety.
What are your favorite “on-the-go” recommendations? Foods that students should always keep in their backpacks or dorm rooms?
Some prepackaged foods now have a variety of proteins, such as cheese and nuts, or apples and peanut butter. These snacks are healthy and withstand a day in a backpack. Fruit is always a good choice, along with protein bars. Most prepackaged food is not nutritious (pop tarts, snack cakes, etc.). If they have a fridge in their dorm room, it is advantageous to clean and cut up fruits and veggies when they purchase them to save time and waste. Hard boiled eggs, low-fat cheese sticks, low-fat yogurts, hummus and pretzels, carrots and ranch dressing, or snacks with a protein and carbohydrate are the most balanced.
Resources for Nutrition, Fitness and Overall Wellness During Nursing School
- Student Wellness Resources– Ohio State University
- Healthy Nurse Resources – American Nursing Association
- Boost Your School Performance by Taking Care of You – Mental Health America
- Nutrition in College: Answers from the Experts – Huffington Post