Back to School- Staying healthy


lizdunnBy Guest Blogger Liz Dunn
Liz has a C6 level injury (Injured in 2010)

For me, the beginning of September means saying goodbye to summer vacation and hello again to college classes. Being a nutrition and dietetics major, I’m very focused on a healthy active lifestyle. That doesn’t mean I flow right into a new routine when the semester starts. Even I fall into traps when things don’t go quite as planned. For example, a mistake at our apartment complex resulted in our power being turned off for nearly an entire day which ruined our plans for a homemade dinner.

Surprises aside, what I have found works best for me is learning to plan ahead. Whether it’s preparing meals ahead of time, signing up to try something new or even just planning to meet with friends; having a plan helps me stick to my goals (for the most part!). Being involved in the community can make a huge difference as well. Making connections has helped me in ways I couldn’t previously have imagined. By participating in the local spinal cord injury support group, I have met many new friends and learned about several new opportunities, especially when it comes to adaptive sports.

Not all communities have adaptive sports programs, but if there are any in your area I highly recommend getting involved. It doesn’t even have to be a huge commitment. For example, I signed up to attend at hand cycling clinic in a few weeks that takes place for just a few hours on a weekend morning. Simply trying to fit in something new here and there can make a big difference; it may even result in something more. Taking classes can be very demanding and can keep you from making a big commitment, but adding exercise or activities here and there can be very rewarding.

When it comes to healthy eating, I work with my boyfriend to plan ahead snacks and meals when possible. Since my lack of dexterity keeps me from doing some meal prep myself, I plan ahead and make sure the things I need are within reach. This makes it easier for me to enjoy the foods I love and not require the help of someone else. Some of my favorite snacks are Greek yogurt with berries, fresh veggies with hummus and mixed nuts. Another thing I love doing is trying new foods, especially fruits and vegetables. This allows for more variety within your diet and can keep things from being too bland.

However, no matter how much planning you do, life tries to take control at the last minute and steer you away from your plan. Sometimes you have to go with it and other times you can stay in control. I like to set small goals that allow me to reach them bit by bit rather than reaching for something that can be very difficult, ultimately dragging me down. School can be overwhelming at times, which is why I aim for small changes when it comes to exercise and healthy eating.

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