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What is your best Stay Healthy/ Young/ Don't get Fat Grad/Student tip?


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So many people get fat and unhealthy in grad school.  Including me about a year ago. Then I joined the Biggest Loser... no, I didn't. That's  a lie. ;)   I did have to lose a bunch of weight, however, the natural way.  So for me, my top 3 stay healthy/young/don't get fat student tips: 

 

1) Yoga 

2) ZenPhones and ZenTones   ( These SAVED me and my GPA. Especially the ZenPhones which helped me tolerate horrible, loud roommates....)

 

3) Facebook --- ( For entertainment purposes, but not too much. This can be a thief of time!) 

 

4. Going gluten-free. ( I don't care what anyone says. I looked pregnant until I started cutting out gluten.)

 

Yours??? 

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1. I have a sweet tooth and binge on whatever is sweet in the house. So I've made a rule that I can have any treat I want, but I have to go to the store and get one single serving of it. One slice, on

just different opinions. I happen to side with those who think that obesity is a real problem, and ignorance is not bliss.

(I find it crazy that I got "minus one" for that!!  )

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Cooking in the crockpot at the low setting generally gets food cooked in about 6 hours, although I imagine cooking something big like a pot roast or whole chicken might take longer (but there's always the high setting). However, if you're only planning to cook veggie and seafood dishes, you won't have to worry about that. I haven't had any issues with the food staying in longer than 6 hours, either. In fact, my Thai chicken curry I made last week was quite delicious after cooking for 8 and a half hours. So you can definitely put food in at night and have it ready in the morning.

I know fancy crockpots exist with delay timers. In fact, my rice cooker can also act as a crockpot or steamer (and can cook rice and steam food at the same time) and it has a delay timer function. I highly recommend a rice cooker if you eat a lot of rice. Personally, I can't cook rice on the stove without watching it because it always boils over, so it's nice to be able to do something else while it cooks. I also think it comes out better, and it automatically switches to a keep warm setting when it's done. You can get rice cookers for under $15, but I spent extra to get one with a higher capacity (I like making fried rice with leftovers) and the extra functions like delay timer, steamer tray, white and brown buttons, etc.

I love loose leaf tea! I found some nice tea samplers on Amazon that are a bit cheaper than Teavana, but I agree that they make awesome tea. Wegmans used to have a nice little selection of loose tea, but I haven't shopped for tea there in a while.

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Basically, what shadowclaw said on the previous page.

 

Additional tips:

  • If you're looking for at-home workouts, many of which can be done with no equipment, check out fitnessblender.com. Kelli & Daniel have some great workouts, including things like High Intensity Interval Training, Kickboxing, Cardio, and much, much more. The videos are free and they've got advice on how to arrange them into a balanced weekly schedule.
  • I like to do a lot of my trashy TV watching while at the gym. So maybe I watch an episode of "Hell's Kitchen" while on the elliptical or rowing machine or while lifting weights (because really, you don't need to watch, you just need to listen).
  • I also use a bunch of apps where I can record my workouts because doing so makes me feel good. MyFitnessPal is a well-known option. I use FitNotes though, in part because you don't have to create an account and you can record both cardio and weights in one app. 
  • Cook at home whenever possible and bring your own lunch. I lived by my crockpot during the coursework phase of my PhD. I'd make a meal with 4-6 servings, eat one, then package up the rest to take for lunch each day.
  • Another quick lunch idea is pasta/bean salads. I used to cook whole wheat pasta in batches then, for each day, add some pasta, 1/2 cup of canned beans, and 1-1.5 cups of frozen vegetables to a container. I'd top it with fat-free Italian dressing (or another sauce depending on my mood), some pepper, and a dash of hot sauce. This was a quick lunch that also kept well even without a fridge because of the frozen veggies (and because I kept these vegan so there were fewer concerns about food spoilage).
  • Keep healthy snacks on hand! Granola bars are great but also keep fruit, nuts, and healthy crunchy items (rice cakes are a personal favorite) on hand for quick snacks. On the weekends, I'll roast a bunch of root vegetables and/or squash so that I can always just quickly heat half a roasted sweet potato or some other vegetable for a snack when I'm famished and might otherwise reach for junk food. Roasting something like a butternut squash or a sweet potato can also satisfy your sweet tooth.
  • I didn't do this in grad school but I do it now and love it. I'll make a quiche or frittata on Sunday and then eat a slice each morning for breakfast so that I don't have to think about a healthy breakfast. I tend to eat these with 1/3-1/2 cup of oatmeal (use the old-fashioned or steel cut oats, not the quick or instant kind) that I prepare myself. The result is a balanced breakfast in 3 minutes or less. Amazing and also totally kills excuses about not having enough time to eat in the morning.
  • Avoid the coffee shop! You'll be tempted to get a pastry or food item, a fancier coffee beverage (which can mean additional dairy, sugar, or whipped cream, all of which just ups the calorie count), or get refills, none of which are good for your health.
  • If you find yourself in need of a quick wake-me-up, try going for a walk to clear your mind or doing some yoga or other stretches at your desk.
  • Set an alarm/timer when working so that you have regular breaks and use those to move around some, whether it's walking, stretching, or some quick strength training. It's easy and tempting to just sit in your chair for hours on end but resist it if possible!
  • You could switch to a standing desk set-up, which will up your calorie burn slightly. You could also get a medicine ball chair, which will force you to have good posture while sitting. I have both now (didn't in grad school) and it's awesome. 
  • Find a workout that you like and stick to it. That was a martial art in grad school for me and it really helped. But, that could also be Zumba, CrossFit, TRX, yoga, or something else. If you like it, you'll get excited about going and doing it 3x or more a week, rather than dreading it.
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Great topic.

Recently, I got super-sedentary and put on some serious pounds.  Weight had never been an issue for me and I didn't realize I had gained (it wasn't noticeable b/c I'm tall and long-limbed).  So, when my go-to dress pants were suddenly too tight and I looked like a stuffed chicken in one of my favorite dresses, I went on mental tirades, like: What happened to my clothes?  I spent good money on them and now they don't fit right/keep their shape?  For shame!  Those stores aren't getting my money again.  Like, I won't/can't find new places to shop...

Surely, it was the store's fault.  It never occurred to me that I had gained 20 pounds in ~5 months!  Damn.  

No store is to blame for that.

1.  I hate exercising, so I started dancing (~ 5 songs a day).  I'd kick things off with Pharrell's Happy or some '90s music and go from there.  The exercise ball that had been collecting dust and losing air?  I started using it for about 5 minutes a day.  I also added a daily, 2 minute workout with my 5 lb., hand-held weights.

2.  Reduced carbs...serious portion control when it came to wheat.  I focused more on grass-fed beef, free-range poultry and organic/non-GMO veggies.  Seeds and fruit became my snacks.  No more Tates' Chocolate Chip Cookies! 

3.  I've always been big on walking.  So, I started working on my posture.  I make sure my neck/cervical spine and lower back are correctly aligned.  As a result, I get a better "workout" during my walks.  I feel it in my thighs/glutes.  And...I look elegant (like, other people notice/strangers comment).  Nothing's like having the proper gait.

During my couch (err, chair-at-my-desk) potato phase, I was gaining a pound a week.  Now, I'm losing 1.5 pounds a week!  Woo hoo!

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I definitely packed on like 35-40 pounds easy during my MA degree and now that I'm nearing the end, I'm thinking about how to get rid of it.

 

Things that I have found that help:

 

1) Planning my meals (3 meals and 2 snacks). At the end of the week, I plan what I'm going to make for the next week. Now, I don't always stick to it, but if I've been meaning to make salmon on one day and I make ground pork instead, then I just switch it up, but I try to stick to what I've planned for the week. It also makes groceries easy because I can avoid aisles at the grocery store that I don't need to visit because I'm not aimlessly wandering around! 

 

2) Use my "wasted" time productively. I've started using time that I would just stand around doing nothing (ie: while waiting for water to boil) to do squats or kettle bell exercises. I don't really have time to go to the gym as I work 35 hours a week on top of going to school full time, so I think that this is probably helping me to not get bigger, if nothing else.

 

3) Eliminating gluten. I've been on a low FODMAPS diet for about a year anyways and I agree that it does make a difference. 

 

4) Get at least eight hours of sleep. I can't function without eight hours anyways and now that I've made it a routine, my body tends to naturally wake me up at the right time instead of letting me sleep for 12 hours sometimes when I was kind of managing my schedule however I felt like it.

 

5) Lots of water. I use a food journal to track what I'm eating, so it makes it easy for me to track how much water I'm having. You're supposed to have about 2L of water per day, so I use 500ml Mason jars to make it easy for me to keep count of how much I'm having.

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1. Find some type of exercise you actually like to do, and carve out that time in your schedule. You DO have time for an hour of working out- that's an hour you would probably spend on GradCafe or other internet uselessness anyway.

 

2. I'm a HUGE fan of making food ahead of time and putting it in the freezer. I love my copy of Don't Panic- Dinner's in the Freezer ( http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Panic-Dinners-Freezer-Great-Tasting/dp/0800730550) The recipes come out good, it's cheaper than grabbing ready made stuff, and it doesn't put you in a position where you're hungry and trying to pick out food to eat- that's where I go from 'I want a salad' to 'BURGER ME'. 

 

3. Give yourself downtime. There is always more work to do, but give yourself some time off where you aren't going to worry about an assignment or a project. This is hard for me, but it helps keep some of that stress in perspective. School isn't everything, and you are more productive when you are well rested anyway.

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In my MS program we had a running joke that there's the freshman fifteen where you gain fifteen pounds in your freshman undergrad year followed by the freshman fifteen where you lose fifteen pounds in your grad program cause you're so dang busy you don't have time to eat. My lab is on the fifth floor and I'm constantly running up and down stairs for the autoclave, the TA location, classes, and booking it to other buildings to work in collaborators labs or to the med school for seminars. I swear there's never downtime.

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This is one of the best threads on GradCafe! 

Taking up a sport could be very good too. Racquet games are the best. You need just one other person to play with and you can lose weight very quickly. During my third year in college I lost 10 kg in 2 months just by playing tennis for an hour a day. 

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My tip is to find an activity that helps you maintain your health that you enjoy and stick to it. I weight train for strength & I genuinely enjoy lifting heavy (on the bench press, deadlift, and squat). This helps in that I don't have to say to myself "have to go to the gym to look good" but rather I say "I want to really hit this personal record on this lift today", and as a consequence it helps me look good/stay healthy. In terms of diet, I've always used discipline here to help me get along. 

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i just bought a fitbit and really enjoy it! it tracks sleep, steps, calories and some other fun things in its dashboard. its a little expensive but i think its worth it for someone who's tired of counting calories in/out and stuff

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I was one pound away from becoming overweight on the BMI scale when I joined the free site MyFitnessPal. Within two months I had lost 15 pounds and I can actually say it was easy! I still eat "junk" occasionally - if it fits in my calorie/macronutrient goals. I've become pretty crafty, fitting in ice cream when I have a spare 200 calories and not enough fat in my day, for example. The only problem is that I think some of that weight loss was muscle because I haven't been too great at keeping up with my workouts.

I definitely echo the posts about getting 8-9 hours of sleep. I love my sleep! Instead of staying up too late working, get some good sleep and pick it back up in the morning. The quality of your work will be better.

I don't drink coffee or alcohol but of course both would be fine in moderation. All I drink is water (lots of it) and the occasional tea.

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i just bought a fitbit and really enjoy it! it tracks sleep, steps, calories and some other fun things in its dashboard. its a little expensive but i think its worth it for someone who's tired of counting calories in/out and stuff

I agree with this wholeheartedly. I lost 49 lbs post baby to get back to my pre pregnancy weight, and worked out and ate healthy for a year. It wasn't until I got a Fitbit that I started actually losing weight--the calories burned on my runs according to my fitness pal were completely off. Once I had an accurate number from my own activity from Fitbit, the weight came off easily. I synced my fitness pal to my fitbit and logged my food in MFP. It really motivated me to go for an extra walk around the block to hit a goal number of steps each evening. I would park at the commuter lot even though at my school GTA's can park in faculty and walk the mile to campus and back instead of using the bus, rain or shine. I love my Fitbit.

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I have a polar heart rate monitor watch that I use to accurately track my calories when I work out. In undergrad I lost a lot of weight with My Fitness Pal- I've been trying to get back on the band wagon. Only issue I've been having is in undergrad I could go and get a fresh spinach salad whenever I wanted. Still learning how to cook and shop properly.

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Meal planning/meal prep.  Do it on Sundays. Make enough for a week.

 

If you're a coffee drinker, learn to like black coffee.  It's all the creams and sugar additives that will pack on extra pounds when your lifestyle becomes more stressed/sedentary in grad school.  Eliminate those calories wherever possible.

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i used to be a div1 athlete but kinda let myself go a little bit. the past month ive been hell bent on losing some pounds. i joined crossfit (which is actually very similar to my old practice regimen) and have been going 3-4 times a week. i love it. definitely see the crazy crossfitters in there which is intimidating haha. i just know that if i went to the gym myself i would slack off after running 15 minutes and call it a day! this really forces me to push myself and having the other crazy crossfitters is motivating, even if i can barely lift 1/3 of what they do. it's only an hour but its very rewarding and nice to follow a routine. 

 

i've also cut out 80% of my processed carb intake. i definitely think i was addicted to anything carbs. so instead of eating bread or cereal or chips (ugh my favorite things in the world) i try and eat as many veggies as I can and just cook healthier. even after a month of this shit i feel slimmer and less bloated from all of the processed foods ive been eating (but i treat myself every saturday to a donut heh). I'm already around 10 pounds down and i'm going to try and see how far i can take it. ive never felt this healthy in a long time! 

I've been following this website which has delicious recipes that are low carb and sort of paleo diet-y http://www.ibreatheimhungry.com/

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I make an effort to work out a few times a week -  whether it's going for a run, bike riding or hitting the gym. When I go to the gym, I attend the group classes and prefer kickboxing and zumba type workouts. When I run, it is generally short (less than 5K).

 

I am a fan of intense cardio style workouts. If I don't get a chance to work out after leaving lab, I just take the stairs up to the parking garage which is 6 flights up rather than take the elevator.

 

I noticed that when I go a few days without exercising at all, I start to feel crappy and tired and have less energy throughout the day. Most of the people in my lab don't work out and when they complain they are tired, have headaches, need more coffee etc.. I suggest brief exercise, even if it's for 10 minutes in the evening. 

 

In terms of food, I eat whatever I want. I am not a very picky eater. I am slender and have been the same weight since high school.

 

I'm itching to go for a jog or something now but it's snowing outside.. :huh:

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I never limit the amount I eat, but I do stick to minimally processed plant-based meals, and 95% of my meals are homemade so I know exactly what goes into them. My diet is based around whole grains, vegetables, and legumes; within that, there are endless variations if you have a pantry well-stocked with various staples and seasonings and learn to make some good sauces/dressings, etc. I don't buy much snack food; instead, I eat things like fruit, trail mix, or hummus with pita and veggies between meals. I never get bored or feel deprived because I get full on foods that are nutritious and hearty, and I've cooked for myself enough to know how to make things I like, without an undue investment of time. I also aim for making large enough batches that I have leftovers throughout the week, and proportion them out into meal-size containers so that it's easy to grab my day's lunch as I'm headed out the door, which means I'm less tempted to eat out (plus I save money that way). It requires a little extra forethought and an investment of time in experimenting to figure out what you like, but it's really a very simple method and works well for me. 

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1) I don't buy chips/dips unless for parties. 

2) Cook my own meals for the week. Have ALWAYS something in my bag/locker: banana, granola bars, etc.

3) I bought a Fitbit. It helped me be aware of how much I moved. For comps, not only I didn't gain weight, but I lost some. 

4) Do some sport. I started off playing field hockey with the school team. Then I moved on to the gym. Then I began playing more tennis. This year I took up golf. 

5) Surround yourself by people that are more or less on the same page as you or try to gain followers. My roommates and me became increasingly active as we saw each other do stuff. 

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I am starting grad school in the Fall and finding these tips very helpful!

In undergrad, I actually lost some weight that I had gained in my party-hardy Senior year of high school by following a vegan diet. For me it boiled down to eating less processed food, and cooking at home more often, a philosophy I still follow 5 years later, despite the fact that I have chosen to add meat back into my diet. I decided that a 100% vegan lifestyle was too extreme for me, at this point in time, and I was missing out on key nutrients. When I do eat meat, it is something lean like chicken, or a small portion like a few crumbled slices of bacon in an omelet.

Also, I try to stay active as much as possible since I find this leads to an overall increased sense of well-being (as lrlrlrlrlr mentioned, tired/over-caffeinated sedentary co workers). In undergrad I would utilize free street-parking and walk to class since I lived off campus, and I would try to squeeze in a workout between classes or class/work.

I graduated in Dec 2014, and it was not until the past 6 months or so that I really got back into working out. I've had a membership to a certain Judgement Free gym for much of my adult life, and would casually go here and there. However in the past half a year I started working with the personal trainer they have on staff, and I have gained a lot of strength and confidence. I used to run cross country in high school so I have decent endurance and lower body strength, but I have really seen a lot of improvement in my upper body strength and other weak areas. Since my job during Grad school at UM will be at their Fitness center, I hope to continue using the gym to keep my body and mind healthy.

So basically, my little life advice is:

1) Prepare meals at home as often as possible, eat before you go to class or pack breakfast/lunch. I also love my crockpot, so easy to use and hard to screw it up! Haha.

2) Walk rather than drive if possible. This helps with stress too. If I have a big project or exam coming up sometimes I just need to take a break and walk or bike around the neighborhood to clear my head. Yoga is nice for this too.

3) Find a sport or activity that you enjoy. Set goals and achieve them. For me, this was working out 3x/week with the trainer. We started with 30 minute sessions and now its 1 hour, 3x a week. Even though this is not an intense commitment, I have seen my strength improve drastically and am able to motivate myself to go work out even if I am not in the "mood"... once I get in the gym I know I am there to work and generally get a good session in anyway.

Well, hopefully I can stick to my own advice once classes begin! Only time will tell ;-)

Edited by allgeckos
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On 3/24/2015 at 3:05 PM, MidwesternAloha said:

Meal planning/meal prep.  Do it on Sundays. Make enough for a week.

 

If you're a coffee drinker, learn to like black coffee.  It's all the creams and sugar additives that will pack on extra pounds when your lifestyle becomes more stressed/sedentary in grad school.  Eliminate those calories wherever possible.

My roommate and I were making fun of meal prep the other day (to me it conjures images of roided up gym-bros and those gimmicky containers), but TBH it is a great idea. Just another good habit that I need to integrate into my life. When I started getting into strength training a few months ago I bought whey protein for post-workout, at first it was gross but then I realized I could disguise the flavor by adding it into fruit smoothies instead of just whey+milk. 

Coffee & I ... we have a love-hate relationship. I have gone through periods of abstinence from caffeine, and times when I drank it three times a day just to function. Currently I am finishing my last week at my two waitressing jobs, a mom and pop Italian place where I am the resident barista, making everyone iced espressos, and a corporate chain where I utilize Red Bull and Starbucks to survive my double shifts. Once school starts I am hoping to wean myself off it again, I find that caffeine interferes with my sleep, especially as I get older (I'm only 25 but I can no longer just doze off two hours after downing a latte like I used to).

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Not technically in grad school until the end of the month, but here are my tips!

1) Drink at least 1.5 liters of water a day.

2) EAT LOW-CARB.  Seriously.  It's the only thing that made me lose weight, but besides that, I feel so much better following this type of "diet."  I do indulge in carbs sometimes and while it's enjoyable in the moment, I now feel disgusting in the aftermath.  For meals, I try to make 1/2 of my plate vegetables, 1/4 of my plate meat, and 1/4 of my plate healthy carbs (quinoa, sweet potato, etc.).

3) Do at least some form of exercise.  I used to be a competitive dancer in high school but stopped exercising altogether in undergrad.  Now as I go into grad school I'm hoping to pick up yoga, which I know will help not only my physical wellbeing but my mental wellbeing!

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i think the most important 3 for a time stricken grad student are

1. recognizing good vs bad processed food. replace ice cream with milk or yogurt, pastry with oatmeals, orange flavored soda with real oranges. cheap sauges with ground meat or cut meat. there's a pattern here. do you see? the bad processed foods all have excess amount of salt and sugar, the two worst culprits in making america fat.

2. eat a lot of vegetables. they're lower in calories, so whatever food you're replacing with vegetables, you have to make up for it by eating more. i know a few vegans who have lost 30+ lbs by going vegan. this is accompanied by better mental clarity and healthier lifestyle in general (not just related to food). eat your greens, and other colors too.

3. exercise consistently, whether it's yoga, gym, crossfit, running stairs in your building, walking your dog, wrestling with bears, and stick to it. it doesn't have to be fancy. the key word is consistency. 

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I've had a restrictive eating disorder for the past few years and I think it's safe to say that I'm recovered. However, I also stopped exercising during recovery because I tore my LCL a while ago and overexercising was part of the disorder. Now I'm borderline underweight since I lost all my muscle and am just starting to get back into not sitting around all day. Here's what I'm doing to start!

  1. Do some basic calisthenics as soon as I wake up, then play Dance Central for 15-30 mins every morning. It's a great way to get myself out of bed and I don't even have to change or go outside, which are barriers that enable my laziness in bad weather. When I need to take a break from working at home, I go through one or two dance routines from performances I've done in the past. Even if I don't do them properly it gets me off my ass and moving.
  2. My city has a lot of nice running routes so I try to run at least once a week. Currently stuck at 2k, but I can see my endurance improving slowly. There's a hill right by my apartment so I can sprint home up it too. I don't have a car and the metro sucks so I walk nearly everywhere I need to go.
  3. I turn daily movements into exercises. Need to stand on my toes to reach something on top of the fridge? I do a few calf raises before getting the item down. I do all my vacuuming/laundry folding/ironing to music so I can turn those movements into intentional dance moves that exercise my core, (a la Hip Hop Abs lmao)
  4. Help people out whenever they're moving. I'm still sore from helping to lift furniture last week but I like it.

I've never had issues with eating too much junk food or anything and I haven't had soda in years. I let myself eat whatever tastes good but I never eat until I'm full. In addition, I buy a couple of different vegetables from the store every week so I HAVE to figure out what to cook with them before they go bad. Keeps my meals balanced! I eat meat once a week and when I do it is usually fried chicken, so that's like my junk treat of the week.

As for mental health, I make time to talk to someone not in grad school every day. Usually it's my parents or boyfriend on the phone, but it's helpful and prevents me from getting too anxious and perfectionistic about my work. I find it easy to make time for my hobbies because dancing is taken care of (see above), cooking helps me eat healthy, and reading fiction gives my mind a break from my work. I watch a couple of reality TV shows too and that's the perfect time to do relaxing things like face masks, painting my nails, and other beauty maintenance stuff.

 

 

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