From January through June of 2016, I will be participating in my second co-op at one of the best rehabilitation hospitals in the country. For those of you that do not go to Northeastern, a “co-op” is an internship that allows you to work in a field of your interest for six months to gain invaluable knowledge and real career experience.

Since it is one of the best rehabilitation hospitals, this facility is also one of the busiest. In a nutshell, my job is to help any therapist with whatever they need, whenever they need it. There isn’t much time allotted for me to doddle around or to sit and grab a snack or a sip of coffee. If you know me, then you know that I like my snacks and coffee, so this will be a challenge for sure!

I’m positive that many of you all also have time-consuming responsibilities coming up this semester, like I do—whether it is an internship, a job, or a packed class schedule. I’ve thought of a few ways to stay on track health-wise during a busy bout, and I’m going to try to stick to as many as I can! Hopefully, I’ll save my gut and a few dollars, as well.

1. Meal prep. Yes, this sounds cliché…but yes, it also works! I’ll admit, I used to roll my eyes at the thought of cooking all my weekly meals on Sunday afternoon and pre-packing them. Fortunately, I got over myself and have been using this technique this past semester. It really helps! It saves me from only grabbing a banana on my way out the door if I am late. Some of my favorite make-ahead meals include: oatmeal (with toppings added the morning of), chicken (baked, poached, grilled, whatever I’m feeling), sweet potatoes (which can be microwaved if short on time), and some vegetables (spices are your best friend). Salads can be made a few days ahead, too!

 

A photo posted by Jess Orpen (@jlorpen) on

2. Decrease your caffeine consumption. Call me crazy, but abolishing the dependence on coffee to wake you up and get you through the day is a great feeling. Finals definitely ruined any progress I made with this last semester, but it’s something I’d like to work up to again. I already drink plenty of water, so the extra diuretic effects of coffee are not exactly favorable when I’m running around trying to get things done!
 
busy semester

3. Pocket snacks. This is one you’ll have to be careful with. I’ll be wearing scrubs every day, so all the pockets are perfect hiding places for a quick and healthy snack. At the same time, I’ll have to be mindful of what I’m coming into contact with so I don’t ingest anything…icky. So again, be wary with this tip!

4. Track your macros. A lot of people are not into this way of eating, and that is okay. Rather than strictly counting the macronutrients you are eating, think of this approach as making sure each meal is nutrient-dense so you’re not hungry 30 minutes later. For example, if you’re hungry, snacking on an apple is perfectly healthy. However, you might find yourself wanting to snack again within the next two hours. Consider pairing it with some source of protein or fat (peanut butter, anyone?) to help you feel more full.

 

A photo posted by Jess Orpen (@jlorpen) on

5. Enjoy yourself! Above all else, be grateful for your opportunity to work or volunteer where you do! If you have a day when all else fails, then go get that juicy burger in the cafeteria you’ve been eyeing for a month. Go out with co-workers for a meal or drinks once in a while. Making connections and friends during your experience is just as important as eating right!

Good luck with your endeavors this semester, and Happy New Year! I hope you all started 2016 off with a (healthy) bang! 🙂 

About The Author

Jess is a fourth year student at Northeastern University. She studies physical therapy, and how the human body and all of its little pieces move together has always fascinated her. After a wakeup call during her freshman year of college, Jess has been working hard to fuel her body with the nutrients and activity it needs. When she isn’t studying, she can be found in the gym (especially on leg day!) or in the pantry looking for a (sometimes) healthy snack!

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