Exercising on vacation

Thanksgiving is coming up, and a couple weeks after that, winter break starts. Holidays are usually a glorious time of music, laughter, friends, family, relaxation and delicious food. But when all the glitter fades and it’s time to go back to school, you might have a harder time buttoning your pants.

Luckily, this is an easy scenario to avoid. All you have to do is dedicate a little time to working out. If you’re going home or to visit a relative, this should be slightly easier. You know your surroundings and the options you have while you’re there. Is there a local gym you can frequent? Or do you prefer running through your neighborhood? If you live in the South or there is an indoor pool close by, you can try swimming. This is a good opportunity to change up your routine and try something new. Getting your family or friends involved will give you more motivation and it can be a great bonding experience. Those who sweat together, stay together.

Cory Jones, a 21-year-old chemical engineering major at the University of Florida, says he works out more when he’s home. “Winter break is when I finally have time,” Jones said. And since college students usually don’t have much time at home, he hangs out with his friends and exercises at the same time. “We play games like pick-up frisbee, and a lot of them do tae kwon do with me too.” Exercise doesn’t always have to mean solitary gym time.

If you plan on going on a trip, things become a little trickier. After all, you’re in an unfamiliar place. In this case, I suggest working out with a buddy. It can be more fun, but it’s also safer for the both of you to stick together. If you’re staying in a hotel with a gym, take advantage. Head there as soon as you wake up or right before bed and just spend 30-45 minutes on the treadmill or the elliptical.

If there isn’t a gym in your hotel or you’re not staying in a hotel, a run can be a great way to experience the local life. Again, stay with a buddy, but take a short jog around the area where you’re staying and take in your surroundings. It’s much nicer than rushing past everything in a car because you’re in a hurry to get somewhere. If you’re staying by the beach and it’s not too cold, you can run on the sand or go swimming.

Exercising on vacation doesn’t have to be a chore. Make it an experience to share with the people around you and enjoy yourself. You don’t have to work out every single day at a certain time for exactly one hour–the idea is to maintain the hard work that you put in throughout the semester. So the next time you start packing your bags to leave school behind for a little while, throw in your favorite exercise clothes so they’re there when you need them!


Getting back on the fitness track

Sometimes it’s hard to believe there are enough hours in a day to get all your assignments done, not to mention sneaking in your favorite shows. A lot of times it’s easy to make the excuse that we just don’t have the time to spare to make it to the gym. With finals coming up, this excuse becomes even more tempting. As college students we’re tired and worn out by the end of the semester. But when it you find yourself making this excuse more than one or two times a week consistently, then maybe you just aren’t trying. 

The trick to getting back on track is to find the motivation that you had when you started. Or maybe you need better motivation. Either way, it’s a chance to take a minute and re-evaluate your goals. Why do you want to workout? Is it to lose weight? Is it to be in good shape? Do you want to be able to run a marathon? Whatever the case may be, find something to strive for. Karessa White, a 24-year-old audiology graduate student at the University of Florida, started working out again during her sophomore year of college. “I couldn’t fit my clothes and I felt bad all the time so I knew that I had to change something.” She has also learned to work with her schedule instead of just giving up. “I have the most energy in the morning but lately I’ve been going to bed later so it’s more difficult to get up early to exercise,” White said.

Other students have different motivations. Andres Leiva, a 19-year-old journalism major at UF, says he forces himself to make time to exercise. “I love my body, and I think a big part of that is treating it with respect, which means making sure that it’s working right and that I’m constantly improving it’s performance,” Leiva said. You only have one body, and it’s important that you take care of it.

According to an article by the Harvard School of Public Health, healthy adults should get “a minimum of 2-1/2 hours per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or a minimum of 1-1/4 hours per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or a combination of the two.” Two and a half hours a week means a half an hour of exercise a day for five of the seven days in a week at the most. That leaves plenty of time for your history paper, the Miami Heat game, and an episode of How I Met Your Mother. 

Ultimately, the question becomes “how badly do you want this?” Are you willing to work hard? Find what motivated you in the beginning and channel it. Once you push yourself and get into a routine, it will get easier. The hard part is getting back on the horse after getting thrown off.

Satisfy your cravings the healthy way

You are sitting on the couch watching Regina George eat fattening granola bars for the thousandth time (you can never watch Mean Girls too many times) when suddenly, the craving for your favorite snack strikes. Whether it’s potato chips, an ice cream sundae, or McDonald’s French fries, you have got it bad. And the worst part? The cravings usually are not even in the realm of foods you should be eating. So what do you do? Sit and suffer? Wrong! Here is a list of some popular cravings and the healthy way to alleviate them.


Chips are a classic, and an easy fall back when you crave something salty. The problem is, they are fried and tend to have artificial flavors. When you are at the grocery store, try to find chips that are baked and that are low in fat AND sodium. People tend to look at calories, but the truth is that high amounts of sodium can also be dangerous. For people that are not picky, pretzels can be a slightly healthier alternative to chips.

French fries

Nothing quite compares to biting into a soft, salty potato that has been deep fried in oil. While I will not deny that the taste is good, the effects are not worth it, especially if you crave them often. The healthier alternative is much easier than people think. If you cut up a potato into long thin slices, leave them in water for a few minutes, put them on a baking tray and pour some vegetable oil and garlic salt, then stick them in the oven, you will have a much healthier and equally tasty plate of fries on your lap ready for snacking.

Ice cream

This is my personal favorite. If I could eat ice cream everyday and never gain an ounce, I would. Unfortunately this is not the case. Most ice cream has artificial flavors and milk from cows that have been given extra hormones (yuck). Luckily, there are alternatives. The easiest way is simply to check the labels and make sure that these are absent from the ice cream. However it is still more fattening than some other options. Frozen yogurt, the latest craze, has become popular with good reason. It is much better for you than ice cream and tastes just as delicious. Home-made ice cream is the best option, and there are all kinds of recipes for your favorite flavors.

In the end, it is important to remember that while these are the healthy options for your cravings, you still should not over-indulge. It is not a free pass to eat as much as you want. But cutting out the foods that we love from our diets makes eating depressing, and it never should be. Food should be enjoyable. So instead of telling our bodies that they must suffer in silence we can give them a good-tasting but better snack that fills us. All these options and more are available if you just look for them.