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Rebecca Paul

Counting Macros: Should You Take a Break?

IIFYM: If It Fits Your Mouth…?

If you’re not familiar with the term “counting macros,” it’s where you count the macronutrients you eat every day. You can use an online calculator to determine how many grams of protein, carbohydrates, and fats you should consume, and then, you count the macronutrients in each meal you have, either by hand, or by using an app (I use myfitnesspal). 

Before entering college, I counted my macros consistently for almost two years. I am a person who likes structure and doesn’t mind dealing with numbers, so I never saw it as an annoyance. 

I didn’t have a problem doing this in high school because I had structured eating times, and I always brought food from home. I just pre-weighed everything and I was good to go. At the time, this method served its purpose. No problems whatsoever. 

When I got to college, I had a much harder time doing this. I go to a city school, and a lot of social outings revolve around food. Sure, you can estimate calories here and there, but I prefer exact measurements, and I hated feeling stressed about going out with my friends just because I didn’t have the nutrition information.

The stress of being a full time student, having a job, running a student organization, and trying to keep up with friends started to wear on me as well. The last thing I feel like doing at the end of the day is coming home and having to cook/weigh my food. Can’t I just order Postmates? 

I said goodbye to my Martha Stewart food scale that I used for the longest time during my sophomore year of college and decided to stop counting macros.

At first, I kept telling myself I should still be able to count my macros. I would ask myself all of these questions: Why did I decide to take a break? Am I just being lazy? If I were truly dedicated, wouldn’t I just bring my meal prep tupperware when I go out with friends?

Those are all questions that I struggled with. But since entering college, I know that I have grown to choose my mental health and well being over physical appearance. If the current situation of counting macros in college is bringing me stress instead of enjoyment, then why am I doing it? 

Fit University has taught me that fitness is about overall wellbeing, not just about physique goals.

Since taking a break, my strength in the gym has actually improved. I eat out with my friends without feeling stressed. I am by no means saying that counting macros is a bad method, but for me, college is not the time and place I feel comfortable weighing my food. 

Taking a break from counting macros in college will provide you with a much needed mental break. You can enjoy going out to eat without worrying, or you can grab something from the dining hall without weighing it in public (yes, I have done this).  But most of all, during a time that’s busy and sometimes stressful, you will have one less thing to worry about. 

I am trying to live that balanced lifestyle that Fit University has taught me all about. It’s okay to take a break. If you don’t enjoy something, it’s most likely not going to be sustainable. Will I eventually get back to counting macros? The answer is: yes. Some of my goals will be better reached using that method. But for now, I want to enjoy staying fit in college, and that will mean something different for everyone.

Check out these articles, too: 

HIIT VS Steady State: What You Need To Know

college students boston marathon

Exercise releases endorphins, and endorphins make you happy…

While excessive amounts of cardio might leave you feeling drained and overworked, a certain amount of cardiovascular exercise can greatly improve your overall fitness and performance, and is great for your heart.  Sometimes it is difficult to find motivation to hit the track or hop on a spin bike, so here are two different types of cardio you can try to keep things interesting and help you reach your goals.

What are the different types of cardio?

Two popular cardio training methods are High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), and Steady State Cardio. When doing HIIT, you alternate between intervals of intense exercise and short recovery periods, whereas, with Steady State Cardio, you remain at the same, steady speed throughout the entire workout. 

What type of cardio should I be doing?

Both HIIT and Steady State Cardio are beneficial to your health, however, one specific cardio form may be more beneficial towards reaching your goals.  Here’s why:

HIIT burns more calories because although you are exerting yourself for a shorter period of time, you are going all out for that single interval. For ten to thirty seconds, you run, cycle, or row faster than you thought you could, followed by a one to two-minute recovery period. Ultimately, you can really increase power and speed with consistent effort since you’re really pushing yourself during those working times.

Steady State Cardio, on the other hand, does not burn calories as quickly, however, it does help with building up endurance. Over a period of time, a challenging 30 minute run could turn into a breezy 45 minute jog.

In short, if you’re looking to burn calories and fat more efficiently, HIIT cardio may be the better option. If you’re looking to build up your endurance, choosing Steady State Cardio may be in your best interest.

Whichever you choose, both of these activities will help improve your overall health and fitness, and keep your heart happy. Most importantly, exercise releases endorphins and will leave you craving that post-workout high time and time again. This endorphin inspired confidence boost will help you feel good about yourself, and will help you see the strength and power your body is capable of.

Check out these articles too: 

This Phone Case Will Improve Your Workout

Behold, a phone case that basically makes the gains for you.

Ok, maybe not exactly. But, the Selfie-Z Magnetic Smart Phone Case has shown up all over social media and people everywhere are transforming the way they approach lifting, learning new techniques, and bettering their form. This case has strategically placed magnets on the back so you can just stick it a machine, press record, and lift. Even though it might seem like an unnecessary purchase, it will help your workout immensely. Here’s why: 

 

A video posted by Selfie-Z™ (@selfie_z) on

Check Your Form 

Stick your phone to any piece of gym equipment using the magnets on the back, record your workout and boom, it’s like the paparazzi is just ready to watch you slay your lift. This will help you check your form when you do not have anyone around to check it for you, and it is certainly easier than balancing your phone on top of a foam roller or blender bottle. Seriously, this is a huge help. 

Use the Timer

If you’re doing a HIIT or Tabata workout, just pull up the timer on your phone and get to work. Instead of having to constantly check the clock and waste time, which, in turn, slows your heart rate, you will have your phone right in front of you. And, while you’re casually dying and gasping for air, you’ll be able to watch the seconds pass by until you are finally done with your jumping lunges. #winning 

Take Better Gym Selfies 

Let’s just be honest – whether we admit it or not, we all love to take a good gym selfie. Even if it’s not for social media, it’s nice to have photos to see how far you’ve come. This phone case makes taking the perfect selfie super easy, and best of all, there won’t be any more awkward angles. 

While a bit on the pricier side ($39.99), this phone case has the power to transform your workouts. Try it out for yourself — test your limits, track your progress, and take selfies while you’re at it, but also don’t forget to have fun while staying fit! 

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These Black Bean Cookies WILL Surprise You!

These chocolate fudge cookies have a secret ingredient: black beans! I know, it sounds gross. Try this recipe to change your mind. 

Time: 5 minutes of prep, 20-25 minutes in the oven 

When to eat it: ANY TIME is a great time for some chocolate cookies 

Perks: High in protein, especially for a cookie

Makes: 12 cookies 

Sh*t you need: 

1 15.5 oz. can of black beans 
1 tbsp canola oil 
1/2 an egg 
2 T of peanut butter 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
1/4 cup chocolate almond milk
1/2 cup coconut sugar 
1/4 cup cocoa powder 
1 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp salt 
Dark chocolate chips 

The Recipe: 

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Put all of the ingredients into a food processor in the order listed. 

3. Process until smooth (2-3 minutes.) 

4. Using a spoon, scoop the dough out onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. 

5. Top each cookie with a sprinkle of the chopped dark chocolate.

6. Bake the cookies for 20-25 minutes. 

7. Cool completely and eat your cookies!

Adapted from oatmealwithafork.com

Check out these recipes too: 

8 Hanukkah Gifts You Need to Give (or Get) This Year

8 days of Hanukkah means 8 presents!

Here are some gift ideas that fitness lovers need to have. Or you can just give these presents to yourself, too. A “To Me From Me” is always a good gift to get.

1. This trendy Swell water bottle

2. A foam roller 

3. Graze snack box subscription 

4. Or make your own healthy snack gift basket/box using the person’s favorite snacks … Trail mix anyone?

Buy These 8 Hanukkah Gifts5. Yoga mat (with matching holder and headband if you’re really reaching for the stars here) 

Buy These 8 Hanukkah Gifts6. A pack of workout/yoga classes or personal training sessions you and your friend can take together 

7. This happy journal (who doesn’t need one of these?) 

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-11-04-11-am

8. A gym bag filled with a lock, towel, and, of course, a shaker bottle! 

Have a happy Hanukkah! 

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Do This Outdoor HIIT Workout Anywhere

No time for the gym? Here’s a quick outdoor HIIT workout to get your heart rate up. Bonus points if it’s a sunny day (gotta get that vitamin D.) 

Time: 20 minutes (or complete twice for 40 minutes) 

Type of Workout: HIIT

Sh*t You Need: Park bench

Intensity: High

Body Target: Full body

Perks: Fresh air 

The Workout: 

Complete 4 rounds of the following circuit. Perform each exercise for 45 seconds and then rest 15 seconds. Continue immediately to the next exercise until you complete all 5.

-Box jumps
-Push ups 
-Plyo step ups 
-Split squats 
-Mountain climbers

Notes

  • Bring a friend for some extra motivation. 🙂
  • Modify the rest times for easier or more difficult options. 
  • Look to the video above for demonstrations if needed.

Check out these workouts too: 

4 Simple Tips to Stop Anxiety in its Tracks

As a college girl who struggles with anxiety on an almost daily basis, I genuinely understand how difficult it is living with anxiety. Those anxious thoughts can come with a lot of unwanted exhaustion and frustration.

Most everyone will experience anxiety at some point—some more than others. But no matter how often or severe your experience with anxiety, having a few tricks in mind for how to handle it can make the experience a lot more manageable. Although many college students struggle with anxiety, there are certainly ways to cope with it. Keep reading to find out how you can take control of your anxiety in a healthy way (and stop feeling like SpongeBob without water)… 

1. Get moving.

First and foremost, go exercise. It’s scientifically proven: that post-workout endorphin high is hard to beat.

Exercise doesn’t have to be working out in a gym—it can be any medium of exercise that feels good, or that you enjoy.

I know, it’s not easy when you’re anxious, and it’s probably not your first instinct when you start to feel some anxiety. But even when it’s difficult, just go work out. Or even just go for a bike ride around the city, or take a walk with some friends! Assess how you feel before and after exercising. There have been so many times where I think the world is coming to an end, but then I go to the gym and suddenly I am fine again.

2. Take a second to just breathe.

Another method for managing anxiety is meditation. There are plenty of apps that you can download (personally, I like Headspace but there are so many more to choose from) that will help guide your meditation. Over time, this simple ritual can help reduce anxiety.

Sure, meditation might not work for everyone, but it’s definitely worth a try. Just setting aside some time to think and connect with yourself can be comforting—knowing that you do have a moment set aside to relax when life gets stressful.

3. Reach out.

Although college can be an anxiety-provoking time, the upside of living in a dorm is that you will always have friends nearby. Whenever you feel anxious, it can help to talk it out with a friend. When I feel anxious, I often come up with worries and obsess over them to the point where I can barely think straight anymore; but talking it out with a friend helps me realize that I am actually ok. Sometimes all you need is another person’s voice to put your anxiety into perspective for you.

4. Take a step back.

Jumping off of that last point, anxiety is all about perspective. Your worries might seem huge, or might seem like nothing at all when placed side by side with your actual situation. Anxiety can blow each little worry out of proportion, but it’s so hard to see that in the moment. When you experience anxiety (again, I know it’s not easy) try to take a step back and look at your big picture situation. You might even realize that you actually have nothing to worry about at all.

If you learn anything from my article, I want it to be this: DON’T LET ANXIETY STOP YOU FROM LIVING LIFE. There are ways to manage that anxiety so that it doesn’t completely take over! I used to turn down every one of life’s opportunities because I let my anxiety get in the way. Even if you are scared, do things outside of your comfort zone. It will help you grow. Don’t live a life filled with fear; just go out and do what you set your mind to. The worst thing that can happen is that you fail, and even that isn’t so bad. Just remember – #fitufam is always there for you too. 🙂

Check out these articles too: 

3 Steps to Staying Fit This Summer

summer fitness

Some people love having a strict workout schedule year-round. However, there are a ton of people who would prefer not to stick to such an unrelenting exercise regimen, especially during the summer.

After all, during the summertime you’re out of your normal routine. You want to enjoy your vacation to the fullest. Maybe you just plain old hate the heat. Even though staying on track might seem difficult, staying fit during summertime really is not as painful as it sounds – I promise.

Here are some ideas to help you stay fit this summer:

1) Find a workout that you enjoy.

You don’t have to go spend an hour at the same gym, doing the same thing every day to stay fit. There are plenty of fun summer fitness activities: beach volleyball, swimming, and biking outdoors are just a few of them. Doing workouts that are fun and new will help you stay fit without even thinking about it.

2) Find a workout buddy.

Having a friend to workout with will help keep you focused. If you don’t feel like exercising, you’ll still go anyways because you already made plans with someone who’s counting on you to do so. Don’t be that person that cancels last-minute. Working out with a friend will also help you stay motivated during the workout itself. Not only because someone else is watching and suffering pushing through it with you, but also because working out with a partner opens up a whole new realm of fun exercise possibilities! Try this fun outdoor partner workout, or maybe this one too.

Even better, your friends will be happy about it, because you’ll be motivating them as well! It’s a win-win situation.

3) Don’t be afraid to enjoy yourself.

Fitness does not mean never going out to eat or taking a vacation. Sometimes, the best way to stay motivated is to take a small break.

The summer should include relaxation, and you should be resting your body every once in awhile anyhow. After taking a week or two off from working out and/or eating a certain diet, you will feel refreshed, motivated, and ready to start again.

Last but not least, don’t forget that fitness is not all or nothing. You can most definitely stay fit and have fun over the summer.

Check out these articles too:

6 Tips to Making the Weight Room Less Scary

If you’re a female entering the weight room for the first time, I know all about the intimidation that comes along with stepping into a male-dominated space. It’s hard not to feel intimidated when you’re a newbie and you’re alone. Before I go any further, let me make one thing clear. Ladies, you will not get bulky from lifting weights. I repeat, you will not get bulky from lifting weights.

When you’re first learning how to lift weights, the movements already feel awkward. Feeling like everyone is staring at you just makes it harder to focus on the workout. With that said, here are some tips I use as a college girl who lifts:

  1. Go into the gym with a plan.

Write out your workout before you head to the gym. You can pick a few exercises and look them up beforehand (I like to use bodybuilding.com if I am unsure about an exercise), making sure you know how to execute each movement. When you get to the gym, you will complete your plan instead of aimlessly staring at the equipment.

You can also use one of our workouts, which you can find here

  1. Create a playlist.

Make sure that you have songs to help you focus and tune out your surroundings. Your workout will be much better if you do not care about what’s going on in the weight room. Instead of worrying about looking awkward or others staring at you, you can just concentrate on the music and on the workout itself.

  1. Realize that what others think of you does not impact you in any way.

If you feel like fifty pairs of eyes are on you, realize that this is downright false. Even if someone were to look at you and think something negative, it does not impact you in any way. What others think of you does not matter or affect what you’re doing. I know it’s easier said than done, but trust me. Everyone is at the gym for the purpose of becoming fitter and stronger, not to make judgments about others.

  1. Start out small

If you’re first learning how to lift, completing a long and complicated workout might seem unmanageable. Stick to several exercises per muscle group until you’ve mastered them, and then move on. It’s better to be an expert in a few exercises rather than doing ten exercises without proper form.

  1. Use your resources.

There are plenty of resources out there to help you learn new workouts. Anything from YouTube channels (Nikki Blackketter, Sandra Perez, Chris Jones, Brian Turner, and many others) to the tutorials on bodybuilding.com have plenty of information to keep you updated. Even better, read the articles on Fit U’s website! 🙂 

  1. Stay positive and know that building muscle takes time.

Stay realistic and know that results will not come in one week. Building muscle is a slow but rewarding process. As the months go by you will notice your strength go up and your body composition change. Let’s be real: nothing is more rewarding than seeing those GAINZZ you have worked so hard for!

How Getting A Personal Trainer Changed My Life

Sure, now I’m a Fit University ambassador, but here’s something you haven’t heard about me: I have not always loved working out.

In middle school, I remember seeing fitness models and other unrealistic body images in the media and wishing I could change my own. I didn’t know much about exercise or nutrition, but I would run on the treadmill for what seemed like forever, hoping for some results.

Throughout middle school and my first two years of high school, I never really felt any motivation to stay fit. I always thought I would need to do hours of boring cardio and eat next to nothing to change my body. With that mindset, fitness obviously didn’t sound fun or appealing.

I was never overweight, but I didn’t have the healthiest body. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and the only reason I would exercise was to burn off what I ate. I had a ton of anxiety, too, and I could never manage it properly. I felt depressed often, and I felt like my life had no purpose or meaning.

Toward the end of my junior year of high school, I got asked to the prom. Because of this, I thought it would be a good idea to try and get in shape (this might sound horribly superficial, but remember I was a teenage girl at the time!).

I knew I didn’t want to endlessly run on the treadmill, HIIT workoutso I asked my parents to hire me a personal trainer. 
Fortunately, they said yes.

I have not looked back since.

I look at the chance I had to work with a trainer as one of the greatest opportunities I’ve ever received.

Twice a week, I would see my new personal trainer. He taught me a ton about lifting weights with proper form. I fell in love with it, and I still love to lift weights to this day.

Around this time, through my own research, I learned about using counting macros as a technique to reach your fitness goals. Within a few short months, using what I had learned, I saw the changes in my body that I was looking for. Now a couple of years have gone by, and I still could not be happier.myth or fact fitness edition
I definitely consider meeting my trainer as the turning point in my fitness journey. Without him, I would have never found the passion that I have now for fitness. The best part is that I don’t look to fitness to change my physical appearance anymore. Working out and tracking meals has become something I love because it makes me feel healthy, happy, and confident. It even helps me manage my anxiety and depression, to the point where I don’t ever feel that horrible feeling, that my life has no meaning, like I used to.

My biggest and most important goal as a Fit U ambassador is to pass on what my trainer gave to me by helping others to find a love for fitness, too, in their own way. I am a firm believer that anyone can get fit if they find food and workouts that they enjoy. I hope that I can help others as much as my trainer has helped me. I cannot wait to share my love for fitness through the amazing community that is Fit U!