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

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.

One hour workout plan for the busy student

Sometimes when you’re busy, you don’t have time to get creative and figure out what kinds of exercises to do throughout your workout. You just need to get it done because you have other things to do. So I’m going to give you a workout plan that you can do outdoors or in the gym, depending on your mood. The plan will be for someone who is in moderately good shape. The most important thing to remember when doing your workout is to listen to your body. Feeling a burn in your muscles is good; if you feel sharp pain it’s not. You have to slowly build your endurance and muscle strength. With that in mind, carry on…

Workout Plan (about 1 hour duration)

  • 1 mile run: this can be outside or on a treadmill. If you use a treadmill, try it on an incline. It is a good workout not only for your quads and calves but for the muscles in your rear end! (about 10 minutes)
  • Stretch: it’s important to maintain some flexibility, even if you aren’t a prima ballerina. Stretch your quads, groin muscles, calves, arms, hamstrings and any other part of your body that you feel is tight or sore. (about 10 minutes)
  • 25 crunches
  • 25 squats
  • 25 Russian twists: if you want to make it more difficult, hold a weight in your hands (2 twists = 1 rep)
  • 50 lunges (25 on each leg): to increase the intensity of the workout, lunge on an incline. When you step forward, step up on a stair, a half stability ball or the curb of a street or sidewalk. These can be done with a jump in between each lunge (without incline) to intensify the cardio aspect of the workout.
  • 25 reverse crunches
  • 25 squat jumps
  • 25 plank-pike-twists (2 hip touches = 1 rep)
  • 25 burpees (with push ups)
  • 25 V-sits
  • One minute plank

The workout above involves cardio, but it is mostly muscular conditioning. If you want to increase the cardiovascular aspect of the workout, complete the exercises quickly with little to no breaks. And always have a water bottle close by. You need to stay hydrated to finish your workout.

Take your workout to the streets (or the dorm)

Although going to the gym is a great idea and beneficial to your health, we have to face the facts: we don’t always have the time or energy to dedicate to a trip. Sometimes, we want to just enjoy the outdoors or change up our routine. And that is perfectly fine. But instead of making excuses as to why you can’t work out because you can’t make it to the gym, I’m going to give you some great ideas for working out in other places of your choosing.

Outdoors

You can do almost anything outside, but I’ll just give you the most common workouts as well as the ones I enjoy the most. The first one most people think of is running. Running is a great outdoor workout and a fun way to explore. There are many apps available for you to measure the distance as you run or you can time yourself. Whatever the case may be, in order to improve, you must continue to intensify the workout in some way. Otherwise you will plateau.If you have an open stadium like the University of Florida does, you can run stadiums, which will give different muscles in your legs a workout because of the incline.

DSC05899

Another great outdoor workout (especially because you have a lot more space) is jump roping. Jump ropes are cheap and easy to use and as well as a great cardio workout. Of course, there are many outdoor sports you can play, such as volleyball, tennis and basketball. Many of them are connected with gyms so if you have the extra time, you can double your workout. A final outdoor workout that exercises both your muscles and heart is swimming. Swimming is an intense workout that will burn calories as well as work out most of the muscles in your body. It is not to be underestimated.

Indoors

Maybe you just want to workout in your room or at your friend’s house before a sleepover or a party. Or maybe it’s too late at night to leave your place. In any case, you can still get that hour of exercise in. The key is to find an exercise that doesn’t take up a lot of space. My best indoor workouts are usually not my idea. I get a lot of ideas from Pinterest. In the health and fitness section, you can find workouts ranging from beginner to advanced, as well as workouts targeting certain areas of the body. If you don’t have the time to search, or you prefer someone telling you what to do each day to maximize results, you can check out Blogilates. If you input your email you will receive a calendar each month with a list of YouTube videos for each day, and it’s all free. These workouts can be done at the gym or in your room, making them versatile and therefore much easier to stick to.

I hope you see that it’s not necessary to attend a gym or even go outside to work out all the time. Don’t make the excuses and you will get results. All it takes is dedication and the will to change.

The quintessential gym rat

One of the great things about being a college student, especially at the University of Florida, is the fact that you have free access to the gym. Once you graduate, you have to pay for a gym membership and then each special ‘class’ you want to take incurs another fee. So while you’re here, it’s best to take advantage.

IMG_6446

Many people don’t like going to the gym, either because it’s far away, they feel intimidated or maybe they just don’t like being indoors to exercise. But there are many reasons why the gym is a great tool to use on your way to having that beautiful body. The different machines give you a chance to work out different muscles that are much harder to exercise without the proper equipment. Most gyms have a weight room so you don’t have to buy a set of weights. They also offer classes taught by fitness instructors in several specific areas, like yoga, pilates or spinning. It is also nice to feel a sense of camaraderie. All the other people in the room are there for different reasons, but you all have the same goal in mind: to get in shape.

When you go the gym, it’s best to take advantage of the materials there that you cannot easily acquire outside. The elliptical, stair climber and rowing machine are great examples of this. Unless you want to run up and down the stairs in your dorm or apartment or join a rowing team, you are not going to work out those muscles as often as you should. Using the weights available to you is also a great idea. Almost any exercise can be taken to the next level by adding five pound weights in each hand.  You can also use an exercise ball for abdominal workouts.

Between the two gyms at UF, there are indoor basketball courts, tennis courts, volleyball courts, and a track. If you want to work on cardio and are not really interested in running or using the machines, you can always start a pick-up game. There are a lot of people around to entice, and it is a great way to make friends. Chances are you will play for longer if you’re not in 90-degree heat (like Gainesville).

Last but certainly not least are the clubs and classes available to those who have access to the gym. You can sign up online for free to take a number of classes like zumba, yoga and spinning. This is a great option if you like having an instructor tell you exactly what to do and how to do it or if you like working in small groups of about 20 people. Joining a club is similar except that they usually meet regularly. There are many options, including tae kwon do, fencing and kickboxing. If you wanted to attend these classes outside the gym, it would cost you.

In the end, it’s up to you to make the decision where you want to work out. Be it in the gym, outside or in your own home, it’s important that you continue to exercise. But I do suggest that you try the gym before you turn it down. Otherwise, you’ll never know. Of course, there’s no time like the present!