Like many students, I tend to forgo all my eating rules when it’s time for finals. I’m in pure survival mode, and that means making unhealthy choices like eating candy and binge eating even healthy food. I’ve always coped with stress using food, and it’s one of the things that I’d like to work most on. It’s easy to live healthfully when you’ve got time and energy, but what about when you’re tired, stressed, or upset?
Today, I binge ate several times and ended up feeling sluggish, painfully full, and a little guilt-ridden. I used food as reward and punishment. But at one point in the day, I decided to feed my stress with exercise rather than food. I went for a leisurely jog on campus, and ended up feeling way better than if I had eaten more chocolate.
Which got me thinking: how can I substitute exercise for the times I want to binge eat? I am lucky in that I love to work out, unlike a lot of people. How can I capitalize on this and use exercise as a healthy break? Can I use exercise to achieve what I use snack breaks for: a mental break from studying?
A time-management technique I’ve been experimenting with is the “pomodoro method.” You study 25 min on, 5 min off, for 4 blocks before taking a longer break. It forces you to break your work into chunks, and it keeps my ADD-riddled brain from being bored (25 min is the upper limit on how long I can spend on 1 concept). The idea is that you are most productive in short bursts and need to re-energize so often rather than working for hours on end with no breaks.
Tabata training works on a similar principle: you perform 8 cycles of work, in which you do 20 sec on, 10 sec rest. Because you are going as hard as you can, you are exhausted by the end of the 4 minutes. What if, instead of reaching for a snack, I did a Tabata in between each pomodoro block? And at the end of the block, I went for a 15-min jog? I would get the endorphins I love and the mental break I crave.
Also, instead of mindlessly eating, I’m going to try preparing all my food in the morning and portioning it out. This simple step could save me a ton of calories as well as time.