All Posts By

Sarah Gaines

Grab 2 kettlebells for this quick and intense circuit

burn out your legs

You'll need:

2 kettlebells

The workout:

  1. Goblet Squat x 6-8 reps  
  2. Rows x 6-8 reps 
  3. Offset Lunge x 8-10 each side 
  4. Upside-Down Press x 6-8 each side
  5. Modified Get up x 8-10 each side 

Complete the circuit 3-5x and you’re done!

This workout was created by Andrew Storm, NSCA-CPT and SplitFit trainer.

SplitFit lets you pay only $20 for a personal training session by having you split the cost with friends (sometimes strangers, too). They consider themselves "the Uber of fitness." Download the app, see each trainer's availability and book a session right then and there.

Use code FITUFAM2 to get your first 2 sessions totally free. 😛

Download the app

Make This Two Minute Omelette Before Class

two minute omelette

You'll need:

  • A microwave
  • A mug 
  • Nonstick spray
  • 2-3 eggs
  • Chopped onions
  • Chopped peppers
  • Some spinach
  • Avocado

Pro tip #1: bring plastic bags or containers to the dining hall with you and take veggies from the salad bar 👌

Pro tip #2: replace eggs with 3/4 – 1 cup of egg whites for egg white omelette

The recipe:

  • Spray mug with non-stick spray
  • Crack eggs in mug + mix
  • Add in all veggies, salt + pepper
  • Microwave for 2-3 minutes, or until cooked through
  • Remove from microwave + top with avocado


Try This Quick Strength Circuit When You’re In Between Classes

strength circuit

You'll need:

1 kettlebell
pair of gliders
pair of dumbbells

The workout:

  1. Kettlebell Swing x10
  2. Dumbbell Push Press x10
  3. Bodysaw Plank x10 (don’t have gliders? use facecloths/towels under your feet on a smooth surface instead 👌
  4. Alternating Lateral Lunge x10/leg

Complete the circuit 2-3x and you’re done!

Beginners option: Complete 8 reps per exercise.
Advanced option: Complete up to 15 reps per exercise.


This workout was created by Kristina Sadlo, NSCA, CSCS Strength + Conditioning Specialist, and SplitFit trainer.

SplitFit lets you pay only $20 for a personal training session by having you split the cost with friends (sometimes strangers, too). They consider themselves "the Uber of fitness." Download the app, see each trainer's availability and book a session right then and there.

Use code FITUFAM to get your first 3 sessions for just $10 each. Personal training for $10? Can't really go wrong with that one 😛

Download the app

20 Minute Cardio Finisher

20 minute cardio finisher

Cardio Finisher

Complete the following circuit 4x, resting appx 1 minute between each circuit. Each circuit should be 4 minutes long!

  • 30 seconds step ups
  • 30 seconds jump squats
  • 30 seconds stair jumps
  • 30 seconds burpees
  • Repeat.

This is a great way to squeeze in a workout if you have a really busy day, or feel free to add in to the end of a weight training session for some added cardio.

Have you joined the #fitufam yet?

No equipment needed

Full body worked

Done in less than 20 minutes

Fill Out This Quick Survey + Win A Nike Backpack!

Hey #fitufam!

We need your help. Fill out the quick survey below and we’ll choose one person to win a Nike backpack that’s filled with a bunch of healthy snacks. It’ll take you less than 2 minutes 👌


powered by Typeform

We’re Hosting Our 3rd Annual Thanksgiving Fitness 5k, The Tough Turkey

tough turkey

Saturday November 18 | 11AM – 1PM | Nike Boston 

We’re back Boston! The Tough Turkey is a 5k fitness course for all levels of fitness. You’ll start and end your run at Nike Boston on Newbury St., stopping for different fitness challenges along the way.

When you cross the finish line back at Nike, you’ll take a picture in our Finisher’s Photo Booth, grab a few healthy snacks and have the opportunity to win a pair of Nike sneakers.

Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful and giveback so we’re asking you to bring one can of food in exchange for a raffle ticket. Want more chances to win? Bring more food 😉

Note: this event is open for all students and non-students alike! Grab your tickets below.

I Was On USA Today And People Called Me Fat

usa today fat sarah gaines

Yesterday I took over USA Today’s Facebook for a live workout.

Their page has 8.5 million likes. Yes, I said million.

As the current time stands (about a day after), there’s been 53k+ views, 1k+ likes, and 100+ comments. The majority of the comments are overwhelmingly positive, both from people I know who were tuning in to support and others I didn’t know at all. My favorite comment of them all:

Idk you Phyllis, but I love you.

But unfortunately, not everyone is as great as Phyllis.

Here’s what happened:

I was teaching the workout – having a blast as I do when I teach 😉 – and I’d walk past my phone to see friends and strangers alike commenting in. I saw lots of hearts, likes, smileys… all the good stuff. But, this was Facebook and Facebook is the internet, and the internet is a deep dark hole where people like to hid behind their screen and say hurtful things. I started to see some comments rolling in…

People are mean and rude, ignore them!
My daughter is awesome (love you dad❤️)

So I knew something was up. Tbh, I thought people were making sexualized comments at first which (sadly) would not have been shocking – but that’s an article for another day. Then I saw a comment that said “why is she fat?” and I was like “Ahhh really! We’re still on this?!”

For the record, here’s me:

I’m a bit thick, for sure. But fat? Really guys?

If this would have been a few years ago, these comments may have really affected me. But after years of struggling with body image and obsessive fitness behaviors, I have no qualms with my body whatsoever so I was fine with the comments, I was just more so disappointed that people still believe that fitness equals six pack abs.

Have people like Emily Crocker in your life

I’m writing this today for two purposes:

  1. To reiterate that society’s current view of fitness needs to shift
  2. To remind you what’s worth your energy

For those reading this who don’t know me – Hi, I’m Sarah! I’m an AFAA Certified Group Fitness Instructor and founder of the college fitness community Fit University (the site you’re currently on). I teach strength training classes, indoor cycling, and Kick It By Eliza all around Boston. My passion is showing others that fitness should and can be fun, attainable, and a natural part of everyday life. I’m on a mission to show others that fitness doesn’t look one way, despite what the media has us believing. I make an active effort to call out fads, marketing ploys, “get skinny quick” schemes, and do my best to share that fitness is so much more than what your body looks like.

Back in February 2016, I wrote an article titled “I run a health and fitness company, and I’m a fraud.” Synopsis: While I’d been preaching fitness looks different for all, I’d secretly been trying to get my body to look like what we think a fitness instructor’s body should look like. That article went somewhat mini-viral and resonated with a lot of people. You can read the full thing here.

In the past year and a half since I wrote that article, I think the fitness world has made great strides in promoting the message that what your body looks like is merely a fraction of determining your health, if that. I see it on Instagram, in the Fit University community, and within the people I surround myself with. But I guess that’s the problem, right? We tend to surround ourselves with people who share our same ideals and values. We tend to forget that there are people who…

A) haven’t even been exposed to the messages that make up our values, or
B) have been exposed, and completely disagree

I believe we should all make an active effort to surround ourselves with those people as that’s the only way that we’ll all continue to grow and evolve as humans.

Fast forward to yesterday during the Facebook Live and I was reminded that those people exist as I read through the comments post-workout. 

Here’s the thing – there are so many people in this world who are kind and supportive. Then there’s another group of people who are lonely, hurt, and insecure who have nothing better do to than sit on Facebook, watch a live workout (led by perhaps the most happy instructor they’ve ever seen in their life💁), and instead of getting up and doing the workout, just choose to sit there and comment rude and negative things. I don’t need to bore you with details but here’s some research into why people do that if you’re interested.


So what do you do?

You surround yourself with the former group of people – the kind and supportive ones – and you let all the negative stuff roll off your shoulders because it’s not worth your time, energy, or emotions. You remember that your body is yours to do with it what you want. If you find people making comments about your body, leave. If you find yourself making comments about other people’s bodies, figure out something else to do with your time. 

People will always have bad things to say. It’s up to you to know what’s worth your time and what’s not.


A huge thanks to USA  Today for having me on – check out the Facebook Live here for a quick 20 minute workout! Sign up for my email here.

Why We’re Hosting The First Ever College Fitness Festival

college fitness festival

The Back to School Blowout is BACK, and it’s better than ever.

What’s up #fitufam! Sarah here, your Chief Community Officer 👋  👋  👋

You may have seen a save the date floating around about and no, it’s not because I’m getting married 👰. It’s for Fit University’s 2nd annual Back to School Blowout, the first and only fitness festival just for college students.

Sign up for The Back to School Blowout here.

We created The Back to School Blowout to help college students in Boston and the greater New England area kick off the semester in a fun and healthy way. The goal was always to bring together students, brands and organizations to sweat their way through a full day of community building and getting to know the resources in the area. Last year we had over 200 students take over Copley Square and offered up a number of workouts for students to try. Despite a huge downpour, everyone stayed out and finished an intense bootcamp led by our ambassadors… in the pouring rain. 

This year, we wanted the Back to School Blowout to accomplish a few things:

  • Be prepared for weather: order as many Fit University branded umbrellas as possible. Just kidding – no umbrellas, this event is rain or shine ☔️☀️
  • Be as inclusive as possible: build an experience that will keep everyone involved throughout the entirety of the event, instead of just having a bunch of workouts back to back like we did last year
  • Represent Fit University as a brand: one that promotes complete fitness + overall wellbeing, not just working out

If I’m being honest, I wasn’t that excited when we started planning for this year. We had a few ideas about how to accomplish the above but nothing made me say YES! THIS IS IT! I felt like we were forcing it and overall, felt kind of meh about the whole event. But then, I started to have some ideas…and more ideas…and more ideas. And then I started reading about the rise of wellness festivals and so I thought…

Why not create a fitness festival exclusive to college students? 

I love the concept of fitness festivals – a full day (sometimes multiple days) of fitness, yoga, people to meet, things to learn etc etc. But while fitness festivals are fun and great and all, they’re geared towards a demographic older than college students. Plus, what college student can afford a fitness festival? There’s one happening the same day of the Blowout and tickets are over $150 😮😮. I can’t even afford that.

So we’re doing it. We’re creating a fitness festival for college students.

Keep scrolling!

back to school blowout

I started Fit University to help college students understand that it’s not that that hard to stay fit in college and more importantly, that fitness looks and feels differently for everyone. At Fit U, we’re helping students find the fun in fitness by creating sustainable habits to continue after graduation and surrounding themselves with the community to help them do that. That’s what this event is about.

For many, the Back to School Blowout will be an intro to Fit University and who we are as a community and organization. More importantly, this event may be an intro to the many ways students can fit fitness and wellbeing into their lives in a way that works for them. As my counter-part and head of operations, Nina, said it,

“Student lifestyles are different and it’s time we started building a health and fitness community that caters to them; that’s what Fit University is doing and that’s why I’m excited about this event and proud to be on the team behind that effort.”

One day, the Back to School Blowout will be popping up at multiple campuses across the nation: exposing students to the health + wellness resources offered on their individual campus while building a greater community of health + wellness on that campus. If students are introduced to the ways they can live healthy early on in their college career, they can then create those sustainable habits I talked about above; ultimately leading to a healthier life after college.

Alright alright, enough of that. Here’s what can you expect at the Blowout.

tl;dr: find the full event schedule here.

The event runs from 10AM to 2:30PM with a whole lot in between. Students will have the opportunity to try out multiple workouts: taking a spin class with Cyc Fitness (taught by me!), training like a pro (athlete, that is) with Xplosive Performance Academy, or getting to know their new city with a run around Boston. From there, we’ll move into a group yoga class in the beautiful Copley Square, which will then transition into one BIG. ASS. DANCE. PARTY. Seriously. It’s going to be huge. Expect to get down, get sweaty, and have a whole lot of fun. Don’t tell me you don’t dance – we’ll have Eliza Shirazi, my good friend and founder of Kick It By Eliza, helping you out along the way and showing you some moves. Plus, college dancers and musicians keeping everyone entertained and moving. Oh yes, you better believe it.

back to school blowout

By this point, we’ll have moved, grooved, flowed, and danced. We’ll all likely be hungry and ready to rest our legs. We’ll definitely be ready for a massage at the LUNA Recovery Zone. Don’t worry, both sweetgreen and Revere, a new plant-based nutrition company, will be on site making sure you’re refueled post-activity.

We’ll end the day with some workshops…putting the “University” in Fit University with a bit of inspiration and education. Start combatting semester stress early with Meditation 1o1, learn to fly with Acro Yoga, or figure out what it means to live healthy + happy with Startup Island, a program run by our friends that’s designed to connect entrepreneurial minded students and young professionals through shared travel experiences.

The Back to School Blowout is open and accessible to all college students. This is an event where all college students can come to feel welcome, happy, healthy and to leave feeling like they’ve got a new community that has their back (because we do!). I think Marisa, our Head of Business Development, said it best,

“I can’t think of a better way to welcome college students back to Boston than to kickstart their semester at the Back to School Blowout. At it’s core, Fit University has always strived to show students that living a healthy lifestyle in college does not need to be daunting, and we’ve built a community around showing them how easy and fun it can be. Fit University is changing the game in college fitness by making it a game everyone can play, and being a part of that is something really special.”

On behalf of the entire #fitufam, I invite you to come to see what we’re all about – the Back to School Blowout and Fit University as a whole. 

Yes, the event is technically for college students but hey, even I’m not in college anymore 😉. Molly, our newest addition to HQ agrees,

“The Back to School Blowout is the perfect way for like minded students as well as post graduates to meet and share their love of all things health and fitness.”

So stop by, sweat a little, smile a lot. I promise it’ll be a great day.

Stay fit,

Founder + Chief Community Officer

back to school blowout

I Ran My First Tough Mudder, Here’s What I Thought

tough mudder 5
DISCLAMER: this post is sponsored by Skedaddle. All opinions are my own.

The #fitufam is not new to obstacle racing.

Cam, an OG Fit University Ambassador from Northeastern, first introduced OCR to us back in June 2015 with a Tough Mudder.

tough mudder

I was supposed to go that Mudder but I unfortunately was out of town for it. Since then though, I’ve done a few Spartan Races and absolutely LOVE them. So when I got the opportunity to head to the Mt. Snow Tough Mudder a few weeks ago, I said yes immediately (without even considering that I’d barely  I hadn’t trained at all. Christina, AKA @foodietunes, AKA another OG Fit University Ambassador from BU, agreed to take the 10 mile trek with me.

Quick reminder that fitness is better with your #fitufam.

You may know Tough Mudder as the mud race with electric shocks and ice baths, but here’s the official description:

Tough Mudder is an endurance event series in which participants attempt 10–12 mile-long obstacle courses that tests mental as well as physical strength.

Anyway, the day rolled around and it was time to head to Vermont. We got picked up in Boston by Skedaddle, a social platform to book and organize bus trips. It’s actually really cool! You can start or join rides on (really nice) professionally driven vehicles to any destination through the app or website. So let’s say you and your friends wanted to take a weekend trip but nobody had a car, you could use Skedaddle to get there – and get there in style 🚘.

tough mudder 2

Side note: I ran the Spartan Beast in New Jersey about a year ago and drove home that night… it was one of the worst mistakes I ever made. After 15 miles of hiking, running and obstacles, driving 4 hours to get back to Boston was brutal – I had to pull off to the side of the road so I wouldn’t fall asleep at the wheel. So having Skedaddle to drive me to and from Tough Mudder  was 👌👌👌.

Like I said, though this was not my first OCR, it was my first Tough Mudder. Here are some of my main takeaways:

Community is key

Community is, IMO, one of the most important aspects of living and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. That’s why Fit University and our Ambassador Network exists! What I loved about Tough Mudder was the community aspect of it. Unlike other races I’ve run, a handful of Tough Mudder obstacles actually required you to work together with the people around you. It was a nice reminder that when you surround yourself with people who support you, you can get anything done.

Your mind is the strongest muscle in your body

Real talk, the first mile of the race was tough (ha!) for me…so much uphill hiking for my short little legs to handle. Christina and Ana kept looking back at me being like “yo, are you ok??” I knew that it was only beginning and I was going to need to unlock some mental strength to last all 10 miles. I focused on one foot in front of the next, paid attention to my breath, and reminded myself that a year ago, I did 15 miles of this hiking. I got this. 

tough mudder 3The body is an amazing thing

Despite my short leg struggles in mile 1, mile 7 came around and I had this realization of “Woah! Look at how much my body is doing right now?!” It was like I reached enlightenment. It was extremely cool to see that despite my lack of training, my body was handling it with such ease so deep into the race. I attribute this to the fact that fitness is a part of my everyday life, it truly is a lifestyle! Also, I’m a fitness instructor. So that probably helped 😜

Everybody has different strengths

While Ana and Christina cruised through the hiking and running portion of the race, the obstacles were my jam. I climbed up the walls and bars like a little monkey and felt like a boss. BECAUSE I AM ONE. Too much? I get excited easily. But seriously, I love seeing how different people thrive in different fitness situations. It’s a nice reminder that we all thrive in different settings and one form of strength is not better than the other

tough mudder 5

Fitness should be fun

I say this time and time again. The only way to find consistency in anything – not just fitness – is to make sure you’re enjoying it. I personally love obstacle course races and have a blast doing them, so I do them. Yes, they are challenging as hell. Yes, you cannot believe you’re only at mile 3 when you see the mile 3 marker. Yes, you’re not sure how you’re going to make it through. But you’re with your friends, and you’re making it through together, and at the end of the day, it’s a great day and you have sore legs to remember it the next. 

You may try an OCR and love it too! Or you might try it and hate it. But you’ll never know until you at least give it a shot. I encourage you to do it 🔥🔥🔥

Check out these articles too:

26.2 Reflections on 26.2 Miles
Students Share The Toughest Part About Training For The Boston Marathon
Bucket List (Fitness Edition): 10 Rad Places To Sweat It Out
Three Life Lessons I Learned From Running

Try This HIIT Workout When You Need A Study Break

Because you know you need one.

Whether it’s midterms, finals, or somewhere in between, there’s always some sort of studying to be done. And if it’s not studying, it’s writing a paper. And if it’s not writing a paper, it’s meeting up with your group to prepare for your presentation. Does it ever stop?!

All of these projects, papers, presentations, and exams can get stressful. Good news is, exercise is a great way to relieve stress and up your chances of doing well on your upcoming test.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take it to science…

A study conducted at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior at Radboud University in the Netherlands and the University of Edinburgh (*takes gulp of air*) looked at the connection between exercise and the brain.

Here’s what happened…        

72 adult men and women were given a 40 minute visual test. They were asked to remember the locations of different pictures on the screen. (Does this bring back memories of map quizzes from geography in high school?? No? Just me? K.)

Then, they watched a nature documentary. The study didn’t say which one so let’s pretend is was about baby pandas 

hiit workout

⅔ of the crew worked out after it was over, while the other ⅓ just chilled: half of the group that exercised did a 35 minute interval workout immediately after the documentary (more on interval workouts later), the other half did the same workout four hours after the doc.

Two days later, everyone came back to the lab and took the same test they did when they started. It’s like you having to come back and retake your calc exam. Could be a good thing, I guess….

Here’s what they found…

The group that worked out 4h post-doc did best on the test and displayed brain activity that reflected such. Though tbh, they’re still not exactly sure why that happened.

So what does all this mean for you?

It means you should do your studying, wait a few hours, then get in a short workout. And I know, it seems like when you’re studying there is absolutely no time for a workout. But I have a solution for you. It’s called “HIIT”. HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training is a great tool for improving your cardio as well as your muscular #gainz at the same time, and is the perfect workout for when you’re in a time crunch since it’s done quickly…but intensely. You can literally get it done in 20 minutes. Give this one a shot.

The workout (18 minutes 30 seconds):

Directions: Complete exercise 1 for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds. Complete exercise 1 for 30s, exercise 2 for 30s, rest for 30s. Complete exercise 1 for 30s, exercise 2 for 30s, exercise 3 for 30s…you get the idea.

  1. Alternating lunges
  2. Jump squats (modification: air squats)
  3. Reverse lunges
  4. Plank
  5. Push ups
  6. Burpees
  7. High knees

Stretch and hydrate after, then get back to [school] work. You may find you can focus a bit better now. Happy finals!

Check out these articles too:

Namastay in the library: how yoga helps me survive finals week
Why your workout is the best way to manage stress
How to finish the semester like a boss
Hop into spring with this 30 minute workout

Students Share The Toughest Part About Training for The Boston Marathon

hardest part about training for boston marathon

The Boston Marathon is six days away.

And everyday this week we’re getting to know 13 students who are running on Marathon Monday.

If you follow anyone who’s been training on Instagram, you’ll likely see their post-run meals, maybe a sappy post or two about pushing through a challenging run, and of course, the infamous snapshot of a watch with distance and timing displays.

But what people aren’t (often) talking about on social media are the tough days and the hardest part about training. Let’s talk about it! We asked, “what is the hardest part about training while in school?”

Balancing schoolwork + training 

You barely have time for all your schoolwork plus time for yourself  already. Now try add hours of training on top of that. “The hardest part was making time for training.

“Not only did I have to fit in my miles, but I added in lifting, cross training, and stretching and recovery sessions. I learned that getting up and getting my run in in the morning was the best way to fit in my miles without impacting school, work, volunteering and studying. That is until my long runs started getting longer. Not only did these take up time from homework, but I had to be better about balancing running and spending time with friends and other commitments. After throwing my training schedule off on a few occasions, I made a point to not stay out too late before a long run, or not go out at all. But I felt like I was missing out on some of stuff that I had looked forward to about senior year.” – Meghan Jastrzembski (Northeastern ’17)

Join us at the Marathon Monday Pre-Game!

Marathon Monday Header

Keeping disciplined

With different events and activities going on literally every single day, it’s easy to let training fall by the wayside, but those 26.2 miles aren’t going to run themselves.

“Especially as a senior, it’s tempting to write off marathon preparations to go out with friends instead. Marathon training requires both physical and mental dedication. You have to make time to put in the miles, to recover properly and to nourish your body. Training has truly required a lifestyle change for me and staying dedicated to that has been the most difficult.” – Madeline Perlewitz (Boston College ’17)

Staying home on Friday nights

Of the thirteen students we talked to, over half mentioned having to compromise their social lives in some way…particularly, having to go to bed early on Friday to wake up for early Saturday runs.

“The hardest part for me are the sacrifices that need to be made in other areas of my life in order to make the training runs successful. Luckily I have awesome friends that still love me even if I go to bed at 8pm on Friday nights and leave events early.” – Bailey Fritzinger (Northeastern ’18)

Raising money

Twelve out of the thirteen students we spoke to are raising money for a charity (no biggie that Erin Techinor from BU qualified to run). And while it’s amazing that all of these students are running for incredible causes, it is a lot of pressure to raise A LOT of money.

“The most daunting and difficult part of this training has actually been fundraising for my charity. It’s an added component that a lot of people face when running the Boston Marathon. The theme of this semester: forgot the research papers and philosophy reading, I have $5000 to raise by April 17th! #priorities” – Sarah Woods (Boston College ’17)

Want to cheer these students on on Marathon Monday? Join us at the CLIF Cheer Zone at Heartbreak Hill! And don’t forget to come pre-game with us too! We’ll be at the new Reebok Boston Showroom on Saturday for the Marathon Monday Pre-Game. Expect bagels, coffee, foam rollers, poster board making stations, and more.

CLIF Cheer Zone hosted by Fit University Eventbrite Header

Meet 13 Students Running The Boston Marathon

college students boston marathon

And you thought midterms were tough…

The Boston Marathon is officially one week away. From now until the big day, we’ll be sharing bits and pieces of what it’s like to not only train for one of the biggest athletic events in the world, but to keep your grades up while doing it. To start off, meet thirteen students running the Boston Marathon and the organizations they’re running for. And while you’re at it, make sure your grab your ticket for the CLIF Cheer Zone.

Jesse Carmen, Boston College ’18.

Getting her Masters at BC’s School of Social Work, Jesse is running for City Year Boston, an organization that works “to bridge the gap in high-poverty communities between the support the students in the communities actually need, and what their schools are designed to provide.”

Madeline Perlewitz, Boston College ’17.

A psychology major, Madeline is running for 261 Fearless, a group of over 100 female runners who are raising money to empower women globally through the non-profit founded by pioneer marathoner, Kathrine Switzer.

Sarah Woods, Boston College ’17.

A nursing major, Sarah’s running for the Newton-Wellesley Hospital Vernon Cancer Center, whose main mission is “to treat and care for our patients as we would a beloved family member.”

Olivia Polise, Boston College ’19.


Farthest long run before the Boston Marathon donee 💛💙

A post shared by Olivia Polise (@opolise316) on

A nursing student, Olivia is running on the Brigham and Women’s Stepping Strong Team, which will “benefit the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation. The mission of the center is to realize the full potential of interdisciplinary innovation, at BWH and beyond, to transform trauma research and care.”

Erin Tichenor, Boston University ’19.

A sociology major, Erin qualified to run the Boston Marathon. Casual.

Bailey Fritzinger, Northeastern University ’18.

A psychology major, Bailey is running for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, which “aims to raise $5 million in pursuit of the ultimate finish line: a world without cancer.”


CLIF Cheer Zone hosted by Fit University social media

Leah Burkholder, Northeastern University ’17. 

As a Boston native and student in the Speech-Language Pathology Graduate Program, Leah is running for the Boston Police Foundation. The BPF “provides private financial support for critically needed resources to the Boston Police Department, the oldest police department in the country.”

Meghan Jastrzembski, Northeastern University ’17.

A health science major, Meghan is running for Team buildOn. buildOn breaks the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations through service and education! Lexi, a student from Northeastern, ran for buildOn in last year’s Boston Marathon!

Michaella Niro, Northeastern University ’17.


Hello runs in the sun ☀️

A post shared by Michaella (@myleanbeanlife) on

A marketing major, Michaella is running for Team Brookline, a team that supports five local charities. More specifically, her team supports the Brookline Community Mental Health Center.

Samantha Poccia, Simmons College ’18.

A graduate student in the Nutrition program, Sam is running for Brigham Women’s Gillian Reny Foundation for Trauma Innovation…same organization as Olivia we mentioned up above!

Jian Xiong Lim, Tufts University ’17.

An economics major, Jian is running on the Tufts Marathon Team. for Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. The Tufts Marathon Team runs to “support nutrition, medical, and fitness programs at Tufts University, including research on childhood obesity at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.”

Michael Wang, Tufts University ’17.

A community health major, Michael is also running on the Tufts Marathon Team.

Paige Kracke, Tufts University ’17.

Another economics major, Paige is running alongside Jian and Michael on the Tufts Marathon Team.

Check back later this week for more on these incredible students and reserve your spot at the CLIF Cheer Zone so you can cheer them on on Marathon Monday! PS: Know a college student running the marathon that we missed? Let us know!

One College Student Gets Real About Her Fitness Journey

one college student gets real about her fitness journey

A fitness journey you might relate to.

Meet Izzy Shishko. She’s a Junior at Clark University in Worcester, MA and a Leadership Ambassador at our Fit University chapter there.

Last week in a 3-part series, Izzy shared one photo on her Instagram per day, opening up about a different part of her fitness journey in each of the posts. Izzy’s goal behind the posts? To share her story in an effort to help others that may have gone through (or are currently going through) a similar situation. 

Day 1: Childhood

Izzy gets real about the comparison game she played with other girls in elementary school. Anybody else relate? *Raises hand*

She talks about how even though she was an athlete and good at sports, she “still felt odd being a heavy girl good at something athletic.” Then, at 9 years old, the combination of her parents divorce and a diagnosis of hypothyroidism hit her hard, causing a weight gain of 20 pounds.


For the next three days, I’m going to post my story. This is kind of a personal post but I feel like it’s important to share who I am and why I have this Instagram to share my journey, so maybe more people can relate or understand what this lifestyle is about. It’s more about the physical side of who I am rather than my eating habits/lifestyle like usual. So stick around to read it and hopefully it will have a positive effect on at least one person 😊 🔹🔹🔹🔹🔹🔹🔹🔹🔹🔹 Part 1: I have always been a little heavier since I could remember, probably a lot having to do with genetics, my family is not stick thin. But I remember in about 4th grade, there was a point where I could feel that I was a pariah in terms of looks compared to the other kids. Now I’m all about not comparing myself to other people, but try preaching and instilling that thought process in a 4th grader who just wants to run around and play with the other kids without the risk of being teased (because kids are mean, also note to self: change how kids talk to each other). However, I have always played sports, about every sport you could imagine since like day 1 of my life. And I was good at them too. But I still felt odd being a heavy girl good at something athletic. Then, at the age of 9, my parents got divorced. Being that age, I was just old enough to understand what was happening but not understand why, and I took it incredibly hard. That same year, I got diagnosed with a chronic illness called hypothyroidism. Essentially this means that my thyroid underproduces the hormones that help my body metabolize and grow. This meant I could exercise all I wanted, eat well, but I couldn’t metabolize any of that and it would result in weight gain. So at the age of 9, I gained a little over 20 pounds that year. I tended to use this as an excuse as to why I kept gaining weight, and while some part of it is true, when I got on medication that regulated it, the excuse became invalid and it was just me that was causing my unhappiness… to be continued. P. S. I was around 15 in this photo. #fitbitchwithafitbit

A post shared by Izzy S (@quinoahandleit) on

Day 2: Middle + high school 

Ah the good ol’ days. Remember this time? As Izzy describes it, “the dreaded years that no one is really comfortable in their skin.” She opens up about being teased in middle school.

“People would call me fat, boys would rate me compared to my friends, they’d call me ugly, and one time was even compared to a picture of a pig on someone’s shirt. They said as they pointed to the pig: “Hey look, it’s Izzy!”

She gets real about the effect this had on her and how depression and anxiety entered her life.


This is part 2/3 in my insta series about myself/my life. If you want to catch up, go to my profile and check the post before 😊#fitbitchwithafitbit 🔹🔹🔹🔹🔹🔹🔹🔹🔹🔹 Part 2: Then came middle school and high school. The dreaded years that no one is really comfortable in their skin. I don’t really talk about it often but I was teased a lot. People would call me fat, boys would rate me compared to my friends, they’d call me ugly, and one time was even compared to a picture of a pig on someone’s shirt. They said as they pointed to the pig: “hey look, it’s izzy!” I wasn’t even around to hear this, my friends told me later. I don’t care who you are or how thick your skin is, these are not comments that are easy to hear on a regular basis, especially from people you thought were your peers. But the problem was, I let it takeover me. I would eat to excess, eating crap and large amounts of it. The first thing I would do everyday when I got home from school was eat. And then an hour or so later I’d have dinner. And then I’d eat more. I gained easily 60 more pounds throughout those years but my mental health took more of a toll. Depression and anxiety go hand in hand with your physical appearance. The way you feel about yourself determines your mental status. And when you get influence from outsiders, it’s even harder to believe in yourself… To Be Continued. P. S. This picture was taken within the last month or so and is pretty accurate as to how I look untouched/unfiltered/makeupless/not flexed

A post shared by Izzy S (@quinoahandleit) on

Day 3: College (AKA, now)

Izzy went to college, and dropped out after a week. But when she did, she started taking her physical and mental health seriously, going to a therapist (yes, a therapist!) and exercising regularly. And then, she drops this truth bomb.

“When I found my love for fitness, it changed my life. I found a way to exert my anxiety through something other than panic attacks, and I found a way to feel good about myself other than “being skinny”. All I’ve wanted in life is to be thin and then all my problems will go away. False. I will NEVER be “thin”. It’s not my body type. Physical appearance does not determine your worth and fix your problems. What I actually am? Strong. Sexy. Fit as fuck. Comfortable in my own skin. Has cellulite. Has stretch marks. Has a big butt, big hips and a thick build. But I can proudly say I’m in the best shape of my life (so far) and don’t need to be a size 2 to do that.”


This is the last part in my series about myself. If you enjoyed learnin about me and found it at all useful comment below, I love to hear what you guys have to say! #fitbitchwithafitbit 🔹🔹🔹🔹🔹🔹🔹🔹🔹🔹 Part 3: When college came around, I was not at my best. I started at a school right after high school, and within one week of attending, I had dropped out. I was lost, anxious, depressed. Idk what changed, maybe I was just ready or maybe I saw that time off as an opportunity for me, but I finally started to take myself seriously. I started working out regularly, taking care of myself, eating better, and when I started at a different school that winter, I already felt better about myself. (Please note I also did extensive therapy, and friggin loved it, and recommend always, but I know it’s not for everyone). BUT I didn’t start truly enjoying enjoying working out until I went full ham on it within the last two years. When I found my love for fitness, it changed my life. I found a way to exert my anxiety through something other than panic attacks, and I found a way to feel good about myself other than “being skinny”. All I’ve wanted in life is to be thin and then all my problems will go away. False. I will NEVER be “thin”. It’s not my body type. Physical appearance does not determine your worth and fix your problems. What I actually am? Strong. Sexy. Fit as fuck. Comfortable in my own skin. Has cellulite. Has stretch marks. Has a big butt, big hips and a thick build. But I can proudly say I’m in the best shape of my life (so far) and don’t need to be a size 2 to do that. Do I ever doubt myself and feel bad? Of course!!!!! I’m human. But I don’t let it phase me anymore, because life can’t possibly just be about how we look (shoutout to the media for that one) so I let it happen and then move on with my day and try to tell myself all the positive things I love. So for anyone out there trying to change yourself/your lifestyle, just know how possible it is. U can do anything you set your mind to and put in the hard work for. It will be tough and hella rewarding and people are here for you. I am here if you want to share P. S. Photo was a week ago, peep cellulite😜

A post shared by Izzy S (@quinoahandleit) on

Izzy, from all of us here at Fit University, we want to say thank you. Thank you for being vulnerable, thank you for sharing your story, and thank you for being part of the #fitufam. Stories like these and individuals like you are the reason society is starting to shift its perception of health and fitness. Fitness is not one look or one size, and we’re honored to have you as a Fit University ambassador spreading that message.

Give Izzy a follow at @quinoahandleit!

Check out these articles too:

I run a health & fitness company, and I’m a fraud
What an honest fitstagram looks like
There was a time when the healthy living community was bad for me
I’m not perfect, and I’m proud of that


7 Printable Punny Valentine’s Day Cards for Your Swolemate

punny valentine's day fitness cards

Happy Valentine’s Day #fitufam! Remember the days of giving out vday cards to all your classmates? Well, we’re bringing it back. We put together 7 punny Valentine’s Day cards for you to give your fit and healthy loved ones. Print one out and give it to them alongside one of these 8 healthy Valentine’s Day breakfasts then head to the gym for a Valentine’s Day partner workout

For the gym rat…

valentine's day fitness

valentine's day fitness 

valentine's day fitness

For the foodie…

valentine's day fitness

valentine's day fitness

valentine's day fitness

For the yogi… 

valentine's day fitness

Don’t have a printer to print? Just share this link 😉

Check out these articles too:

Don’t Miss This Year’s Tough Turkey, Sponsored by Reebok!

tough turkey

Who will be named the Tough Turkey?

Ok Boston, we’re coming back this year for our second annual Tough Turkey and of course, it’s just getting better and better.

You’ll start and end your run at the Reebok Showroom on Newbury St., stopping for different fitness challenges along the way brought to you by Kick It By Eliza, Xplosive Performance Academy – Massachusetts, Anagoesfit, Sam Poccia and Erin Bailey.

When you cross the finish line back at Reebok, you’ll take a picture in our Finisher’s Photo Booth, grab a few healthy snacks and have the opportunity to get 25% off anything in the store.

Think you have what it takes to be THE Tough Turkey of 2016? Our fastest male & female finishers will receive a Reebok gift card, Fit University shirt, a box of Quest bars, and bragging rights, of course.

Note: While Fit University events are geared towards college students, we welcome post-grads as well! You wont be the only non-student there 🙂 #fitualumni


Bib Pick-Up: Thursday & Friday

Pick-up your bib and pre-race goodie bag at the Reebok Showroom (135 Newbury St.) tomorrow & Friday from 3pm-5pm. You may pick up bibs for your friends only if they have completed this waiver first.

If you can’t make it to early bib pick-up, you can grab it on race day.

Start Time:

Doors will open at 10:30am if you need to pick up your bib day of. If you already have your bib, come to race for one of the following waves:

10:45 AM

11:00 AM

11:15 AM

11:30 AM

Think you have what it takes to be THE Tough Turkey of 2016?

The top male & female finisher will receive a Reebok gift card, Fit University shirt & box of Quest bars. If you’d like to compete for the title, you must race in the 10:45 wave, so arrive at 10:30!

Just racing for fun? Come through anytime between 10:30 and 11:15 to start in any of the waves.

Ready to sign up? Legggggo!

Proudly sponsored by:

tough turkey

What a Former Meathead-Gone-Vegan Actually Eats in a Day

vegan eats

A day in the life of an experimental vegan.

6 weeks ago, I became a vegan. DUN DUN DUN. 

Don’t worry meat-eaters, this isn’t a lifetime thing (I don’t think…). I’m just in the midst of a two-month long vegan experiment. And you know what? I’m actually loving my plant-based vegan lifestyle. Under the watch of Skylar Griggs, I’ve squashed all worries of not getting enough protein and am actually eating a ton of food, AND I’ve even lost weight (which was part of the plan btw, based off my test results from Inside Tracker and Cenegenics). 

So you’re probably wondering…what does a former meathead-gone-vegan eat on a daily basis? How on earth does this former meathead-gone-vegan get all the protein she needs? Which bar will this former meathead-gone-vegan turn to instead of her beloved Quest bars? The answer my friend, lies in my Instagram. 

I present to you, a day in the life of eating for a former meathead-gone-vegan.

6AM: Pre-workout

Generally 2 clementines, a banana or a piece of toast with some coconut oil based buttah. Sorry, these things are not Insta-worthy.

8-9AM: Post-workout

I try to get the highest amount of protein in this meal because #gains (I should say #gaines but I won’t, though I kind of just did.) At the start of The Vegan Experiment, I went to GNC and tried to find myself a good plant-based protein powder. My goal was to try to find something that was high in protein, low in carbs & fat but didn’t taste like grass. I settled on Sunwarrior, vanilla flavor. It has subtle tastes of grass. That’s what I used here in my post-workout smoothie bowl.

For the record, after a few weeks with Sunwarrior, I got myself a package of Vega Sport to see what all the fuss is about and lemme tell you, that shit is good. Turned my smoothie green which I wasn’t expecting (the power itself is white) but it’s delicious and has zero notes of grass.

On other occasions, when I don’t gone home after my workout, I make myself overnight proats or I’ll head to a coffee shop and first get myself some sort of iced soy latte (giving me quick sugar and some protein) and then I’ll follow it up with toast and avocado. If I don’t have toast & avocado in the morning, I’ll usually find a way to squeeze it in at some other meal of the day. The obsession is real.


I love me a good breakfast sammmich 🤗 #fituniversity

A photo posted by Sarah Gaines (@sarahjgaines) on

It’s safe to say breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, here are some other post-workout breakfasts I’ve enjoyed…


Simple veggie breakfast hash: tofu, broccoli, sweet potato. 😋 #fituniversity #theveganexperiment

A photo posted by Sarah Gaines (@sarahjgaines) on

11:15AM Pre-Cyc

I’m a Cycologist at Cyc Fitness Boston (come ride with me!) and usually teach the 12pm classes. So somewhere between 11-11:30, I grab myself another piece of fruit. Maybe a shot of espresso if I need some added energy.

2PM Post-Cyc

I need carbs and protein post Cyc…I’m usually hangry. This meal usually consists of some sort of grain (quinoa, brown rice or cous cous), some sort of bean (black or chick pea – is a chick pea a bean??), lots of greens, lots of veggies, and some sort of dressing (guac, hummus, or olive oil). Ginny, the 7YO I babysit always asks, “Why do you eat salad EVERY DAY?!” Because it’s delicious and damn good for me Ginny! That’s why.

And sometimes if I’m really hangry, I’ll get Chipotle.

If I’m not teaching that day, I have the same sort of lunch…just an hour or so earlier.

PS: Don’t go double beans at Chipotle. Learned that the hard way.

3/4PM Snack

I don’t stay full for very long. A few hours after I eat, I generally start to get hungry again so I have myself a little snack. I’ve become a huge sucker for D’s Naturals No Cow Bars. Consider them the vegan version of Quest Bars. They have essentially the same exact amount of protein and carbs (including fiber). Fat is even a little bit lower on the No Cow Bars. My favorite flavors are the Mint Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Crunch & Raspberry Truffle. No photo evidence for you but trust me on it.

7/8PM Dinner

One of my favorite dinner stapes is  the same ingredient you can find in this meal. It racks in 25g of protein per serving and tons of fiber along with it. I generally use it as my base and top with veggies, of course.

Other frequent dinners are generally similar to my lunches…salads, grains and veggies. 

Or sometimes I go for tapas instead 😉

It’s been surprisingly easy to go out to eat, most restaurants have at least one vegan option on the menu or a few that I can at least modify to fit my needs. Thank god sangria is vegan.


Stratie takes Barcelona. 🍷🍷🍷

A photo posted by Sarah Gaines (@sarahjgaines) on

9/10 PM: Dessert

Sometimes (most of the time) I get hungry one last time before bed so I have myself half a Complete Cookie and maaaaybe top it with some nut buttah.

Follow me on Instagram and Snapchat (@sarahjgaines) to see how the rest of #TheVeganExperiment pans out!

Check out these articles too:

What Happens When A Meathead Goes Vegan
Why I’m Going Plant Based
Follow My Whole 30 Journey
What You Need To Know About The New FDA Nutrition Labels

A Day in the Life of a College Student Who’s Obsessed With Fitness


There’s a difference between dedication and obsession.

When I was 8 years old, I wrote in my journal, “I’m going on a diet tomorrow. I really need to lose some weight.” What kind of diet I was planning to go on at 8 years old, I don’t know but from that point on, I struggled with my weight.

Throughout middle and high school I tried every diet out there…Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Special K Diet, etc etc. The summer going into my sophomore year of college, I started working with a personal trainer in the bodybuilding industry. I lost 30 something pounds. I finally had become the person I wanted to become – I finally had the body I wanted to have my whole life. 

obsessive eating

During the first few months of working with my coach, I slowly started to develop obsessive behaviors towards eating and exercise  I slowly started to develop behaviors and attitudes that were crucial in helping me reach my goals. And while I was getting the results I wanted, I didn’t see the subsequent effects these physical results were having on me mentally. 

I didn’t realize how obsessive I had become because to me, I was just dedicated to the plan. I was still my happy-go-lucky self, I just had the drive and willpower to get done what I needed to get done. It took almost a year for me to see and accept my obsessiveness and start to work myself out of it – and let me tell you, it was not an easy process. It took time, practice, some more time, and some more practice to get me to where I am today, living a moderate and balanced healthy lifestyle. 

Below is an account of an average day during my sophomore year (4 years ago), the peak of my obsessive fitness behaviors. It may read a bit dramatic but everything written is something that I once thought, felt, or experienced. To some, this may read as a day in the life of someone who’s just very dedicated to fitness. And that’s true. Dedication does come with a bit of obsession. But there’s a point in time when your obsession becomes greater than your dedication, and it’s at that point when you can get hurt. 

A day in the life of a college student who’s obsessed with fitness

7AM – Wake up, immediately bring hands to stomach to feel how flat it is. Do I have abs yet? 

7:05 Get out of bed, go stand in front of a mirror, lift up shirt. Do I have abs yet?

7:07 – Head to the scale, start to feel the tension rise in your chest. Step on the scale, hold your breathe, wait for the little magic numbers to appear below your feet. If the number’s higher than yesterday, your body floods with devastation. If the number’s lower than yesterday, endorphins rush through you.

7:10 on Saturday - Have your roommate take progress photos so you can send them to your coach. Do I have abs yet, coach?

7:30 – Grab your lunchbox filled with meals for the day (which you obviously meal prepped last night) and head out the door for gym session #1: cardio.

7:45 – 45 minutes of HIIT, because coach says that burns the most fat.

9AM – Meal 1: 5 egg whites, 1/3 cup oats and depending on the day, 1/2 a grapefruit. Enjoy with a cup of coffee and handful of supplements coach told you you need.

9:30 – First class of the day. Walk into class with your giant lunchbox, liter water bottle and gym bag. These items are just as essential as – if not more than – your backpack and textbooks. 

9:30 on Saturday - Begin checking email frantically to see if coach emailed you back yet.

12PM – Second class of the day, where you enjoy meal 2: 3 oz chicken, greens, 1 tbsp of olive oil. Start thinking about meal 3 immediately upon completion of meal 2.

2:30PM – Gym session #2: weights. Like any good workout plan, you know exactly what you’re working that day. Coach has you training legs Monday & Friday, back on Tuesdays, shoulders on Thursdays, chest/bi’s/tri’s on Saturday. Wednesday and Sunday are just for cardio. Take flexing picture in the locker room and post on Insta because you just crushed your workout and DAMN you look good.


Don’t underestimate the pigtails #fit #biceps #fitfluential #instagramfitness #gunshow #igfitness

A photo posted by Sarah Gaines (@sarahjgaines) on


3:30PM – Meal 3: BEST MEAL OF THE DAY! 3 oz chicken, 3 oz sweet potato, broccoli. The last bite is so sad. Start thinking about meal 4 immediately upon completion of meal 3.

But wait, what if it's a weekend or a school break and you're with your family and they want to go out to lunch at some place where you can't get plain chicken with veggies? Freak out immediately, get mad at your family and try to explain to them how important it is that you NEED to stick exactly to your meal plan. And worse... what if these lunch plans cut into your gym time? Why doesn't your family just understand you're trying to hit your goals???

4pm – Third class of the day. Pull out your laptop and start looking at menus for your cheat meal on Saturday night.

6pm – Go to the dining hall with friends. The dining hall’s no biggie…you can make meal 4 there no problem. Grab a piece of chicken – maybe a burger patty if you’re feeling risky-  from the grill and make yourself a big ol’ salad. (On the rare occasion that you decide to go for a slice of pizza instead of sticking to your plan like you should have, your entire day just went to shit and you might as well eat everything you can. 3 slices of pizza, ice cream, cookies…eat that dining hall clean. You’ll just start fresh again tomorrow.)

6pm on Saturday - Still haven't heard back from coach? Start texting him because you have no idea if your meal plan will change tomorrow and you need to know right now. If he doesn't get back to you by the morning, consider it an extra cheat day.

7pm – Chapter, rehearsal, or some other activity you have that night. Whenever snacks or sweets are offered to you, as they are when you have a bunch of college girls together, pass them onto the next person because it’s not a cheat night (unless of course, you just went ham in the dining hall. Then it’s OK to have the snack).

7pm on Saturday - This is it! The moment you've been looking forward to all week. All of your dedication becomes worth it when you get to have your cheat night. Your friends know this is your special night and are excited to see where you've decided to go out to eat. 

You start your night with a meal that you picked out earlier in the week. Naturally, you eat the entire meal because it's just SO good and you can't put your fork down even when you're stuffed. After dinner is of course, dessert. Sometimes even a full piece of Cheesecake Factory's red velvet cheesecake all to yourself. Saturday night is also the only night you go out, since you obviously can't drink on a regular night of the week. Not that you want to go out that much, but still. 

You make sure to eat whatever snacks are available at the party you're at. Sometimes that's 8 Reeses peanut butter cups. But that's ok, this is your cheat meal night!  Any and everything is fair game until you go to sleep. Even if it's 5am and you leave a friend's apartment just to go home and eat the cupcake you bought yourself special for this night. This is your cheat...enjoy it! You'll wake up tomorrow and start fresh all over again. You know that the scale will be 3 or 4 pounds higher than usual, but it'll be back to your regular weight by Monday.

Sometimes Most of the time, you eat so much that you have to force yourself to throw up. This was never the intention - you're not bulimic or anything - but you just feel so stuffed that you have to do it to make yourself better. You text your friend "it's not a cheat meal if I don't throw up right?!" 


ROLO YOLO cheat! #saturdaynightcheat #cookies #baking

A photo posted by Sarah Gaines (@sarahjgaines) on

9PM – Head home and enjoy meal 5: generally some sort of protein shake, protein ice cream if you’re feeling ballsy, or greek yogurt with peanut butter. Mmmm dessert time! 

9:30 – Start to get ready for the day ahead. Cook tomorrow’s breakfast, pack your lunchbox, finish up any homework, hang with your roommates, watch TV (preferably Diners, Drive In’s & Dives because the food looks so good).

10:30 – Get into bed, close your eyes and be proud of all that you accomplished today (unless you went rogue at the dhall). You are one step closer to your goal. You feel great. You are killing it. You put your hands to your stomach…do I have abs yet?

Fitness should add value to your life, not consume it. If you or someone you know struggles with obsessive behaviors towards fitness, know that there is help out there. The National Eating Disorders Association is a wonderful resource or feel free to reach out to me. 

Check out these articles too:

I Run A Health & Fitness Company, And I’m A Fraud
There Was A Time When The Fitness Community Was Bad For Me
A Day In The Life Eating Disorder Recovery in College
“What’s Your Weight Loss Secret?” Answered Honestly By Someone With An Eating Disorder

What Happens When A Meathead Goes Vegan


At first glance, you wouldn’t take me for a meathead. I’m 5ft, hair often in pigtail braids, and the majority of the time, you can find me either dancing, smiling, laughing or singing. 

What you think of when I say “meathead.”

 Actually me…



A video posted by Sarah Gaines (@sarahjgaines) on

But my small stature and fun times aside, I’m gonna put it out there and call myself a meathead. Here’s my justification:

  • I’m accustomed to 5-6 small meals a day, each consisting of lean protein
  • Egg whites, chicken, ground turkey & greek yogurt have been my go-to’s for years
  • I find great joy in picking things up and putting them down
  • There’s nothing I love more than a good flexing picture
  • My last names is GAINES – seriously. Check my bio at the bottom if you don’t believe me. 

So yes, I think it’s safe to say that I’m somewhat of a meathead. A meathead that’s about to go vegan.

I know. I know what you’re thinking…”What is she doing? How will she get enough protein? Vegans are crazy. This girl is crazy.” But hear me out.

For starters, I’m not doing this forever (at least I don’t think I am). I am adopting a vegan diet for a two-month long experiment. Veganism is such a heated topic: you’re either a vegan and want everyone in the world to be one too, or you think that vegans are a buncha crazy hippies. But putting all the generalizations aside, there is something to be said about a plant-based vegan diet.

The China Study, “The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition,” found a direct correlation between the growth of cancer cells and the consumption of animal-based milk products. Another massive study showed that red (and processed) meats are associated with significant increased risk of colorectal, colon and rectal cancers. Fabulous. On the contrary, meat contains certain amino acids – the building blocks of life! – that you simply can’t find in plant-based foods. Not to mention, meat provides all that good protein we need to build muscle. (In all fairness, I tried to find studies that said eating meat was good for you and I honestly couldn’t)

But the question remains…what do we do? Who can we trust?

The answer is simple: our blood.

Did that sound creepy? I apologize.

But it’s true! Who better can we trust than ourselves and our physical reactions? The incredible thing about our bodies is that every single one of us is different. Every single one of us will react differently to the same adjustment made to our lifestyle. In case you haven’t realized it by now, there is no “one-size-fits-all” way of eating or exercising that works for everyone. You have to experiment and figure it out for yourself. So that’s what I’m doing…. a two-month long experiment, adopting a plant-based vegan diet. That’s no animal by-products whatsoever: no fish, no meat, no dairy, no Quest bars *gasp*.

To conduct this experiment, I’ll be tracking my food intake, energy levels and mood on a daily basis. I’ll also be working with Inside Tracker, Cenegenics and Skylar Griggs to get serious about this experiment. 

Before I get into my results, a quick note about why I was really excited to do this experiment and document it on behalf of Fit University: As young people, we have the attention span of a gold fish. We take every statement we hear as truth and eat up what the media wants to be the next big trend (i.e. fad diets). Now, I know these are broad statements, but when was the last time you really dug into a claim made about the newest superfood or “7 minute workout that really works?” I was excited to do this experiment because I was excited to share the data I collected from it, and expose you all to that data. Real science is often not seen in health & fitness articles we skim through on a daily basis…until today. #sciencebitch

So without further ado, here we go. My body as a carnivore as of July 15, 2016…

Inside Tracker: Blood Don’t Lie

vegan experimentBefore starting this experiment, I asked a few people why I should or why I shouldn’t go vegan. The pro-vegans said I should do it because it will make me “healthier.” While the anti-vegans said I shouldn’t do it because I’ll miss out on certain macro & micronutrients that are so readily available in animal-based products. Steak was also a common answer – straight up, “Don’t go vegan because steak.” Fair.

So to really see just how healthy going vegan will make me, I turned to Inside Tracker. Inside Tracker lets you see “how healthy you are on the inside” by analyzing the level of minerals/vitamins/lipids, etc. in your blood and giving you nutritional, physical and supplemental recommendations to improve those levels. Here’s how it works:

  • Schedule a lab appointment to get your blood drawn (this is included in the price of the test).
  • A few days later, open your email with results and recommendations for improvement. Easy as [vegan] pie.

As a society, we’re so caught up on what fitness should look like on the outside, that we so rarely stop and think about what’s going on on the inside. Inside Tracker let’s you into that unknown layer and gives you scientifically backed info you need to improve it. 

While I won’t list every biomarker I had tested, here are a few that I think are most important to analyze in this experiment. At the end of the two months, I’ll get my blood work done again and see how things have changed. Let’s start with the bad stuff!

Glucose: Normal levels are 70-99mg/dL.

AKA sugar, AKA Carbs. Glucose is your body’s primary source of energy. Having high glucose puts you at risk for Diabetes, high blood pressure, weight gain and other fun things. Read more about glucose here. My glucose is in the normal range but as you’ll see from the graph below, is creeping up to borderline high.* Inside Tracker recommended I consider a vegetarian or vegan diet to lower my blood sugar. I think they know something…….

inside tracker

*You’ll see that I had my blood work done back in January and my glucose has increased since then. Too many acai bowls, Sarah!

HDL: Normal range is 40-50 mg/dL (men), 50-59 mg/dL (women).

HDL means high-density lipoproteins, if ya wanna get fancy. If not, “good cholesterol” will suffice. Inside Tracker says that HDL acts “as cholesterol scavengers, picking up excess cholesterol in your blood and taking it back to your liver where it’s broken down. If your levels of HDL are low, you may be at greater risk of poor heart health.” My HDL came in just a few points above low. But good news…if I lower my glucose, my HDL should increase. On the opposite side of the spectrum, both my LDL (“bad cholesterol”) total cholesterol were optimized. Sweet!

Triglycerides: Normal range is < 150 mg/dL. 

A complicated way to say fat cells. If you eat more than you burn, calories turn into triglycerides. Like HDL, high tri’s (not a medical term) are associated with high glucose. My level of triglycerides was high and one of Inside Trackers recommendations was to lose weight (omg how could they?!). This will connect with my findings from Cenegenics..but more on that later. 

Iron (Ferritin + Hemoglobin): Normal ferritin range is 24 – 336 ng/dL (men), 11 – 307 ng/dL (women). Normal hemoglobin range is 13.5 – 17.5 g/dL (men), 12.0 – 15.5 g/dL (women). 

A necessary mineral in our bodies that does all the things. My iron group showed optimized based off of my ferritin (protein that stores iron) and hemoglobin (iron-containing little guys that carry O2 from my lungs to my brain, muscles & digestive system). Optimal levels of iron improve strength, increase endurance, and enhance overall aerobic performance. As Skylar told me, this is an important mineral to keep track of during the next 2 months as vegans are at a greater risk of iron deficiency than meat eating peeps. Read why iron is so important here.

Calcium: Normal range is 8.5-10.2 mg/dL.

Keeps yo’ bones strong. My blood shows that my calcium levels are currently optimized – which is very interesting when you look at my bone density test done by Cenegenics. Stay tuned. But according to my blood, my calcium is good. Again, Skylar let me know that calcium is another mineral vegans need to be aware of since we tend to think of calcium coming from milk, yogurt & other dairy products. 

Vitamin D: Normal range is 20-50 ng/mL.

Think of Vitamin D as Calcium’s best friend. VD helps the body absorb calcium and therefore, keeps your bones healthy. My current VD levels are swell but I’ll need to be wary (and potentially take a supplement) since very few foods – especially vegan ones – contain VD.  

vegan experiment

My results
 Glucose: 89mg/dL
 HDL: 50mg/dL
 LDL: 67 mg/dL
 Triglycerides: 148mg/dL
 Ferritin: 63ng/mL
 Hemoglobin: 14g/dL
 Calcium: 9.9mg/dL
 Vitamin D: 42ng/dL

Cenegenics: Hello Sarah, Meet Your Body 

So now that I have a rundown of all things blood, I decided to take things a step further to see how this whole vegan thing would affect my body on a more physical level. Enter, Cenegenics. Cenegenics’ main goal is to help patients “get and stay healthy through a personalized program of nutrition, exercise, corrective hormone therapy, and nutritional supplementation.” Cenegenics provides a ton of tests, a few in which I was particularly interested in for this experiment.

It’s easy to think that we’re healthy or fit – or an the contrary, unhealthy and unfit – but Cenegenics takes the guessing games out by giving you real data on the spot.

RMR: Average is ~1350 for a woman my age & height.

Resting Energy Expenditure. In other words, how many calories you burn if you were to sit in bed and watch Netflix ALL day. Of all the tests with Cenegenics, I was most excited for this one. I’ve always attributed my difficulty losing weight to having “a slow metabolism.” When in reality, my metabolism is quite great for a woman my age… 17% better than the average, in fact! This is probably (definitely) due to the amount of muscle I’ve earned over the past few years. More muscle = stronger metabolism. What my RMR results made me realize was that my slow metabolism excuse can has got to go, and I just like to eat a lot – more than my body burns unfortunately. 

Body Fat: Normal range for the average person is 18 – 24% (men), 25 – 31% (women). 

The percentage of fat to muscle in your body. A certain amount of body fat is needed to for basic functions of living but too much fat can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, and more! While I fall in the “normal” class for BMI, Cenegenics does recommend women don’t go above 25% body fat. So yes, I have more body fat than I should – GASP. This goes back to the Triglyceride count with Inside Tracker…remember it was high? So yes, I said it. I’m overweight. Do you not trust me as a fitness professional anymore?

Cenegenic’s DEXA scan showed I hold the most fat in my upper thighs and lower stomach, where women tend to hold fat. On the plus side (no pun intended), the scan showed that I have essentially zero visceral fat (bad fat surrounding your organs that can lead to all kinda bad diseases). Another thing that was cool about the DEXA was that is showed me my body fat % in each of my limbs..the meathead in me was very happy to see that both my right & left leg have pretty much the same amount of muscle. #symmetry

I’m interested to see how this number changes over the next 2 months. Based on my RMR, Skylar has me eating 2000 calories per day, which with exercise, should have me at ~1500 net calories per day. If you’re not good at math (like me!), that means I should lose some weight over the course of this experiment. I couldn’t really care less about losing weight – that was never my intention with this experiment – but what I do care about is not losing any muscle. Sure, I could lose weight by going vegan (a common misconception), but if I’m losing muscle and gaining fat, I will be one very sad lady. That’s why I’m working with Skylar, to ensure I’m eating both the proper amount of food & the proper types of food so that doesn’t happen.

VO2 Max: Normal range is 33.0 – 36.9 (women), 42.5 – 46.4 (men) for someone my age. Other ages found here.

How efficiently your body exchanges oxygen… the higher your VO2 Max, the better. To put it into perspective, endurance athletes like Lance Armstrong rack up numbers in 70-80 range. Your grandma that chain smokes? Probably 10-20.


A video posted by Sarah Gaines (@sarahjgaines) on

My 44.2 score put me above average and in the “Superior” fitness level. *Pats self on back*

Mark explained that leaner people tend to have higher VO2 maxes, so this number could potentially raise if I lose some weight. We shall see.

Bone Density: Normal range based on a T score at or above -1.0.

I didn’t have any expectations for this test…I’m young, I exercise, I’ve only broken one bone (knock on wood), and like Inside Tracker showed, my calcium levels are good. So it was very surprising when two vertebras in my spine showed Osteopenia – bone density lower than normal. Granted, I’m right on the cusp on Osteopenia and normal, but still…this is an issue that needs addressing and I would have NEVER known if I hadn’t taken this test. If you’re familiar with Osteoporosis, Osteopenia is one step below it. This was especially alarming to me because my mom has Osteoporosis so it clearly runs in the family…and again, I’m only 22!!! Wtf bones.

Mark explained that taking a Vitamin D & Calcium supplement and eating an alkaline diet – lots of leafy green veggies – could help to improve this. I’m pretty sure that changing my diet over the course of 2 months won’t make a huge difference but this is something that I will be getting a second opinion on and actively working to improve.

Of all the tests I had done, this was certainly most shocking. It just goes to show you that our bodies have so much going on in the inside that we may never know about. This is why it’s so important to be proactive and treat your body right. Eat good for you foods, exercise, and give your body the love & rest it deserves. Experiment with what YOUR good for you foods are. Figure out what kind of exercise you love most and what works for your body. I may thrive off toast & avocado and you may live off bananas & peanut butter. I may be a meathead and you may be a runner – we will probably never workout together and that’s ok! See you in yoga maybe? 

My results:
 RMR: 1613 calories
 Body fat: 30.9% (37.8 lb fat, 84.3lb lean)
 VO2 max: 44.2 ml O2/kg/min
 Bone density: L1 = -1.2, L2 = -1/4, L3 = -0.5, L4 = -.3


Over the next two months, I’m switching from a heavy animal-based diet to a plant-based vegan one. I’ve started the experiment off with blood work from Inside Tracker and a few physical tests from Cenegenics. I’m working alongside Nutritionist & Registered Dietician Skylar Griggs to make sure I’m getting all the macro & micronutrients I need. At the end of the two months, I’ll be getting all of these tests done again to see how things have changed. For better? For worse? Til death do us part.

I’ll be checking in back here after a month with an update but if you wanna see what I’m eating & feeling on daily basis, make sure you’re following me on Instagram and Snapchat: username is @sarahjgaines for both.

As I begin my vegan adventure down the road of legumes, kale and tofu, I leave you with one final thought….

vegan Until next time, friends!

10 Healthy Snacks That Will Get You Through Finals

healthy study snacks to get you through finals

1. Apples & peanut butter

Grab an apple, slice it up, and have with a side of peanut butter (1-2 tbsp is the average serving size). Give yourself a creative break and make your plate look as good as @jordankrausefit’s.


A photo posted by Jordan Krause (@jordankrausefit) on

2.Mint chocolate overnight oats

The excite-mint is real with this one. Make your overnight oats ahead of time so you can be ready to go first thing in the morning. @beccasbowl’s layers it with a chocolate banana protein shake then tops it off with half a protein bar and some granola. 


A photo posted by ? Becca’s Bowls ? (@beccasbowls) on

3. Cacao coconut bliss balls

Throw a handful of these in a plastic bag and pop a few when you’re getting hungry. @freshfitfearless has the full recipe in her e-book full of vegan recipes & smoothies. 

4. Greek yogurt with fruit & choco peanut butter

Protein-packed and crazy easy to make. Follow Fit U ambassador @ellen_slater’s lead with greek yogurt, chocolate peanut butter & some fruit.


A photo posted by Ellen (@ellen_slater) on

5. Cinnamon sweet potato fries

Your friends will love you – and possibly eat all of these. Fit U ambassador @wholesomehannah gives the full recipe on her blog.

6. Baked bananas & peanut butter

Bananas & peanut butter are good, but baked bananas & peanut butter takes it to a whole other level. Fit U’s Content Manager @bites.and.banter knows how to get it done.


A photo posted by Holly Van Hare (@bites.and.banter) on

7. Mixed nuts, dark chocolate & fruit

Incredibly easy, incredibly satisfying. Nuts are filled with healthy fats to fuel your study session. Fit U ambassador @foodietunes throws in some dark chocolate for added sweetness.


A photo posted by Christina Chu (@foodietunes) on

8. Celery sticks with drizzled chocolate

Ants on a log are a classic snack. @eatcleanandexercisedaily amps it up by adding drizzled chocolate (mix 1 tbsp of coconut oil & 1 tbsp of cocoa powder) and granola.

9. Oats & fruit 

You can’t really go wrong with oatmeal…it can be made 10000 different ways. @hummusjunkie adds peanut butter & fruit – between the fiber of the oatmeal and the healthy fats of the PB, you’ve got yourself an A level snack.


A photo posted by Taylor (@hummusjunkie) on

10. Banana ice cream

When you get home from the library at 2am and you really want something sweet, make @balanced_beaming’s banana nice cream. Here are some other healthy ice cream options you could try.


A photo posted by ? K I M ? (@balanced_beaming) on

College Students Gear Up For the Boston Marathon

Boston Marathon

If you’re anything like me, the idea of running for more than five minutes makes you want to cry.

boston marathon

Me, thinking about running.

So the thought of running for HOURS without stopping? That is something I cannot even begin to fathom.

When I moved Boston from Florida to attend Northeastern (2012), I had little to no idea what the Boston Marathon was. Sure, there are marathons all the time, all over the world. What’s so special about the Boston Marathon? And why are we taking the day off of classes for it? (Not that that was anything to complain about, though…)

I didn’t celebrate my first Patriots Day at Northeastern. (For those of you not familiar, Patriots Day is the day of the Boston Marathon. People of Boston fill the streets to watch the Marathon, and use it as an excuse to day drink. You may tailgate for football games, Boston tailgates for the marathon.)

I spent my first Patriots Day at Emerson College, seeing a show that a friend from high school was in. Halfway through, someone interrupted the performance to tell us there had been a bombing at the marathon. We were ushered into a dorm building and stayed there for many hours until the streets were deemed safe to walk on.  The way the city of Boston came together throughout that next week made me realize what a special city I had moved to. And over the past few years, Patriots Day has come to be one of my favorite holidays (because of the excitement in the city, not the day drinking 😉 ). 

Boston Marathon

Photo via

You cannot help but be inspired by the runners of the Boston Marathon. Traveling from all over the world, runners of all races, genders, and ages come together to race in our beautiful city of Boston. And you best believe that there are some amazing college students running the Boston Marathon tomorrow. Hannah Fusaro (Boston University ’18) and Lexi Prather (Northeastern University ’17) are two of them. I had the pleasure of interviewing them before the big day. 

My first question may be an obvious one. How do two college students end up in the Boston Marathon? Where did their journey begin? Hannah, a Dietetics major, started running cross-country during her sophomore year of high school, and later did her first half marathon. It was then that she discovered her love for long distance running and ran her first full marathon senior year of high school. Hannah qualified for the Boston Marathon this year by just over 5 minutes while running her second marathon in Hartford, Connecticut. NBD.

boston marathon hannah

Meet Hannah!

Lexi, a Human Services major, considers herself to have always been an active person but never a long distance runner. When she started training for the marathon in December, she hadn’t run more than 6 miles. So for all ya’ll that don’t think you have a marathon in you… if Lexi can do it, you can too.

boston marathon lexi

Meet Lexi!

To get in to the Boston Marathon, you must either qualify by time or raise money for an organization. While Hannah qualified with her impressive time, Lexi is running for buildOn, which empowers urban youth in the U.S. to transform not only their own neighborhoods, but the world through community service. Lexi says, “They work they do is incredible and impactful and I am happy I have the opportunity to share that with my own network of family and friends.” She was introduced to the org when the President & CEO came to talk to her Global Social Entrepreneurship course this past fall. See, going to classes has its benefits sometimes! 

Training for the Marathon requires hard work, dedication and a whole lot of passion. Hannah says that the best part about training are the runs that she feels like she could go forever without stopping. “These runs show me that all the hard work I’ve put in so far is paying off, and the sense of accomplishment following these runs is incredible.”(Can you teach me to run like this Hannah?? Help!!) Lexi also points out that training for a marathon gives you no option other than to workout — it’s not like you can just sign up for a marathon and run all 26.2 miles the next day. Lexi loves the pressure to workout because it makes her feel incredibly healthy. 

But don’t get these ladies wrong, there have been some tough times during the training. Long runs are no picnic when outside temperatures are below freezing and you have a 15 mile run ahead of you. It often takes them a great amount of time to mentally prepare themselves to get out the door. Once they finally make their way to the street, both students agree that long runs are a mental game. 

boston marathon

Hannah explains that, “In this sport, mental toughness is what will get you through those hard runs and then go out and do it again the next day. When I’m doing my long runs, I remember that I have done this before and I know I am capable of it and the work that I am doing now is getting me to my goal in the race.” 

Lexi echoes that same sentiment…”Knowing that it will make the actual race that much easier and thinking about how great I will feel after. Each long run I have done, has been the longest run yet. So on Monday I will run the longest I have ever run in my life, and that is a pretty great way to get me through.”

You might be wondering how Hannah and Lexi had time to train for the marathon when you barely have time to make it to the gym for 30 minutes. Hannah says it’s been easy to find time for running since it’s something she loves so much. Running is a huge stress reliever for her, so it’s the perfect way to wind down after a long day of classes. As for Lexi, her secret weapon is her support team. Her supervisor at work is running the Marathon with her so having someone by her side makes things a whole lot easier.

Moral of the story? Find fitness you love, and find a kickass workout buddy to do it with.

via GIPHY 
The Boston Marathon is one of the most sought after races in the world. It’s preeeetty impressive that these college students are able to be part of it. As Hannah describes, the Boston Marathon isn’t a race you can just decide to run in, you have to earn your place. Hannah and Lexi admit that they feel proud to be part of this historic race, one that some of the most amazing athletes in the world compete in. They’re both most looking forward to the crowds on race day. As students in Boston, all of their friends and family will be along the sidelines cheering them one. (If you’re in Boston, go down and cheer for them!)

Training for a marathon is no easy feat. What have Hannah and Lexi learned throughout the process? Hannah’s answer is one that can be applied to all aspects of life, way beyond running. She says, “running is a sport where you will get out exactly what you put into it. If you want to do well and you want to see the results, you have to put in the work and run the miles. No matter how hard it can be, if you set your mind to a goal and work toward it, you really can accomplish anything.” 

Lexi’s response is one that makes me even consider wanting to train for a marathon (maybe…). Here’s a little bit of motivation for you to leave with. Lexi says, “When I tell people that I am running, so many respond that they could never run a marathon, but I disagree! I have learned, that as long as you are physically able and healthy, it really starts with one choice at the beginning. I decided I was going to and then I had to train.”

boston marathon

Best of luck to Lexi, Hannah and all of the runners of the Boston Marathon. You are an inspiration to us all and we’ll be cheering for you every step of the way – literally! 

I Run A Health & Ftness Company, And I’m A Fraud

fitness company

I need to come clean….I have something to confess. 

I am a fraud. 

My name is Sarah Gaines and I am the founder of Fit University, a college student’s go-to source for all things health & fitness. Fit University aims to inspire and motivate college students to live a fit & healthy lifestyle, no matter what their favorite form of fitness is or what their fitness level is. We preach moderation, self love and enjoyment through fitness. Fit University aims to teach college students that fitness is not a certain look. Rather, we hope to make students realize that fitness looks and feels different for everyone. Fitness is not skinny, it’s not toned, it’s not muscular, it’s not ripped. Fitness is different for each person, depending on their body type, their preferred form of fitness and their experience participating in that form of fitness.

As the founder of Fit University, I believe those things – I really do. And I think it’s incredibly important for students (and people of all ages) to believe those things in order to develop a healthy body and mind. But here’s thing thing – I believe those things to be true for everyone…except myself. 

Writing that makes me feel a bit narcissistic actually. Why am I so special? Why am I the one exception to the rule? Read this article about narcissism in the fitness industry that prompted me to come clean about my fraudulent behavior. 

What I’m about to reveal is something that I’ve been struggling with for a while now. I’ve felt that since I am the founder of Fit University, and for a lack of a better term, the “face” of Fit University, that I needed to look the part. I needed to look “fit.” And don’t get me wrong, I know that I’m fit. I can squat 200 pounds, run the Harvard Stadium and spin for 3-4 hours at a time (not something I’m suggesting anyone do on a regular basis, but something I’ve had to do while training to be a Cycologist at Cyc Fitness). But despite all that, I’ve felt that because I have a little extra fat on my body – covering whatever six-pack may lie beneath, keeping my arms from looking like those you see on a fitness model – that I am not doing my part as the founder of a health & fitness company. 

Therein lies where the fraud starts to creep out. How can I, as someone who is constantly pushing to others that fitness is NOT that fitness model you see on the front of magazines, not believe it myself? All this time while I’ve been preaching fitness for all, I’ve secretly been trying to get my body to a point that I think it should look like as a fitness professional. 

And you know what? I’ve been there. I’ve had that fitness model body before. I’ve had those popping shoulders and cut obliques. But you know what else? I love food too much for that shit.

compare front

Does the picture on the left make me look like a fitness model?

compare back

Left – May 2014, Right – Today (Feb 2016)

To maintain that sort of figure, you need to do one of a few things: 

1. Eat a very regimented diet (or count your macros to a T) every day

2. Have incredible genetics that make you naturally lean 

3. Build up muscle and your metabolism over the course of many years

And frankly…

1. Eating a very regimented diet has caused me to have unhealthy attitudes towards food in the past. I’ve counted macros here and there but I can’t seem to get myself to do it consistently. 

2. I, unfortunately, do not have those genetics.

3. I’m working on it! This is the ultimate goal but I recognize that it takes time. And even still, I know that being as “lean” as I was in May 2014, all year long, is not healthy. Not getting a period because your body is so low in fat? Yeah, not healthy.

For me, fitness is much more enjoyable when I am moving and eating in ways that make me feel good. I won’t lie…I’d love to have those “boulder shoulders.” I love the look of a woman with strong, muscular arms. But will looking like I have muscular arms make any bit of a difference in my life? Unless I’m competing in a fitness competition (which I’m not…been there, done that), who gives a shit? The answer is NO ONE. No one cares how muscular, or toned, or jacked I look. And if they do – I’m sorry, but please find a hobby to entertain yourself. 

You know what people do care about? Practicing what I preach. Being authentic to my company, to my brand and to the words that come out of my mouth. 

And so that’s what I’m going to continue to do. No, I do not have the look of a fitness model. No, I do not have a six pack. But you know what I do have?

The strength to move furniture in and out of my apartment.
The stamina to run hill sprints.
The endurance to compete in a Spartan Race.
The judgement to know when my body needs to rest.

Fitness looks and feels different for everyone. It’s time I start believing that for myself.

Project BEaUtifull: A Mission To Build Self Love

“I’m too fat.”

“I’m too thin.”

“I’m so small compared to the other guys.”

Sound familiar? Maybe you’ve made comments like these before. Maybe your friends have made comments like these before. Either way, negative comments about one’s bodies are all too common in today’s society.

It’s incredibly easy to get wrapped up in your peers’ appearances and compare yourself to them, especially in college. In fact, 91% of female college students have attempted to control their weight through dieting1. Further, “data from one college over a 13 year period shows total eating disorders increased from 23 to 32% among females and from 7.9 to 25% among males.”2

We are lucky that more and more resources are becoming available to people who suffer with eating disorders. Similarly, more and more people are coming forward to share their struggles with disordered eating in an effort to prevent others from going down the same path. Enter, Shreeya Tuladhar.

project beautifull

Shreeya is a student at Stony Brook University, and the founder of Project BEaUtifull, a non-profit organization that has one simple message: You are you. You are beautiful.

What started as a class assignment has quickly turned something much, much more. I got to talk to Shreeya about Project BEaUtifull and I’ve got to say, it’s pretty amazing. What I love most about our Fit University community is having inspiring students like Shreeya on our team, who are going out and creating their own movements towards healthy living. Nothing makes me happier than seeing a student take something that they’re passionate about and using it to help other students just like themselves. 

Read the interview with Shreeya below!

Fit U: What is Project BEaUtifull?

Project BEaUtifull is a movement that focuses on the idea that being beautiful doesn’t come with standards… being beautiful is about you. It’s a platform for people [who struggle with body image and eating disorders] that have nobody to turn to, and a place where people can help one another. With the help of social media accounts, our non-profit organization aims to spread our message (by video projects on YouTube), let other people’s voices be heard (through submissions of stories on Tumblr), and advocate self-love (with featured pictures on Instagram and positivity on Facebook Page).

Our motto is, “be true, be you.”

project beautifull

Fit U: How did you come up with the idea for it?

I never meant for Project BEaUtifull to be an organization, it just sort of happened that way!

Last spring (April 2015), the final project for my Personal Essay class was to write about something that had impacted my life the most. The one thing that came to mind was my body image issues and unhealthy habits related to it.

I grew up as a performer and dancer in Nepal and always struggled to love myself fully because of it. My choreographers would say, “this move would look good on you if you lost weight!”  It didn’t’ stop there though – being bullied about being “too skinny” when moving to the USA, the constant idea of “beauty” seen on TV, and the comparison made between friends and families made me believe that my weight was how people measured my self worth.

project beautifull

Shreeya as a performer in Nepal

As I got older, I would hide my disorder from doctors and was able to pass as being anemic. By the time I got to college (September 2014), I was in complete denial… I would eat salad three times a day and think I was eating a lot. My sophomore year (January 2015), I threw up blood after dinner one night because my body could not handle digesting any regular food. That’s when I realized I needed help. I wanted to be a doctor, and how could I preach healthy living but not be living healthy myself?

I called my therapist and together, we started working on my recovery. It was four months into therapy when I got my assignment for my Personal Essay class and so, Project BEaUtifull was born. I wrote a paper and made a video, and when I presented it to my class, my classmates all encouraged me to make it larger than just a class project. Here’s the video below.

At first, I didn’t want it to be published. The hardest thing is for a person to come out to the world and I didn’t feel comfortable sharing it beyond my classmates.

The writing office at Stony Brook University asked to feature me and I initially refused. But over the summer, I thought about it more and came back to school ready to open up to my friends. They were extremely supportive and wanted to help spread the message of Project BEaUtifull.

We created a team and have been working together on spreading Project BEaUtifull across Stony Brook’s campus and beyond that, too!

Fit U: What are you hoping to accomplish with Project BEaUtifull?

Our biggest goal is to raise awareness about body image issues. There is such a stigma against mental disorders and we want to create a supportive community for people of all ages and identities. We want to continue making positive videos to spread the love, feature stories on various struggles and overcoming them on our Tumblr, and use our Instagram and Facebook page to allow others to share their pictures!

project beautifull

The team (L to R): Kevin, Shimul, Shreeya, Kasmika, Aaron, Suson.
Not pictured: Tasfia & Yiji

We also want to educate people to love themselves. It’s so important to teach others how to have an active & healthy lifestyle [and self love is a huge aspect of that healthy lifestyle!], and by teaming up with Fit University, we hope to be able to spread the message of being fit in all aspects of your life – spiritually, mentally, and physically.

True love is great, but self-love is better.

Fit U: What issues do you see with body confidence on college campuses and how can Project BEaUtifull help?

In college, there are so many people from so many different places on campus. Everyone is chasing their own dreams and at the end of the day, chasing perfection. It’s so easy compare yourself to other people on campus and try to compete with them; but we should strive to be better than ourselves, not anyone else.

Ideas of beauty shouldn’t be based on how you look, but on what you do. Project BEaUtifull helps people realize that.

Fit U: If you could give one piece of advice to college students about their self worth, what would it be?

Beauty comes from within you. Love yourself first.

Want to learn more about Project BEaUtifull? Like them on Facebook and share this page with your friends! You can reach Shreeya and the rest of the team at Submit your stories on Tumblr, and share a picture and personal story to be featured on Instagram and Facebook.

project beautifull


  1. Walden Center for Education and Research
  2. Eating Disorders on the College Campus, NEDA

Fit University Symposium

This weekend, Fit University hosted the first annual Fit University Symposium for our incredible team of ambassadors and chapter leaders in the Boston area. It was a chance to bring everyone together to have fun, workout, eat and learn. Here’s how the day went down:

12:30pm – Thirty Fit University ambassadors & chapter leaders gather at BFX Studio on Boylston St. 

12:45pm – We play a game of Fit U Bingo to get to know each other. It’s crazy how many students on our team only know each other through social media. Fit U Bingo was a way to break the ice and meet everyone in “real life.”

1:15pm – Workout begins. Nobody has any idea what they’re getting themselves into. This workout is no joke. One hour, spent half on a spin bike, half on the floor. The spin portion includes heavy hills, sprints and short recoveries. Floor work includes sandbags, TRX bands, and intervals. There is not a dry shirt in the room…Rob Wood & Alex Grossomanides completely kick our ass. Try a BFX Class for yourself – they’ve got student discounts 😉

“The Symposium was the best fitness event I’ve ever been to. The workout was a challenging combination of cardio and strength and the instructor perfectly matched the intensity to the music. The healthy food and drink from sponsors was also much appreciated after a tough workout.

Concise truth is that it was fucking awesome! Everyone who didn’t go really missed out.” – Cam R., Fit NU Community Manager

2:15pm – Workout ends, we all drain the sweat out of our shirts and WE EAT. Lunch was provided by b.good and it was exactly what we needed to refuel post workout. 


Obviously need some food after a hard workout

A photo posted by Fit BC (@fitboscollege) on

2:30pm -The Fit U team also gets to try Biena Foods, these delicious chickpea snacks filled with protein and fiber. Top flavors seem to be a toss up between Cinnamon Crunch & BBQ. Highly recommended.  We all take chickpea shots with Biena. Because this is is college. And we take shots in college. Cheers to Fit U!


2:45pm – We head into a Master Class with Rob Wood & Jenny Hanway of BFX. Main topic of conversation: “How to influence change on your campus.” We talk about leadership & qualities that make up a good leader. We break up into groups and draw our ideal “Fit U Campus.” My team decides that our campus will have rock climbing walls on the side of dorm buildings. Anything is possible at Fit U.

— Nina Stepanov (@ninarstepanov) January 23, 2016

3:30pm – The team heads out of the master class and gets ready to leave. They make their own healthy swag bag of healthy snacks, because that’s how we do at Fit U. Swag bags include Justin’s nut butter, Hint Water, Quest bars & protein powder.


3:45pm – We leave BFX excited, inspired and ready for a kick ass semester. We begin our countdown to the Fit University Symposium 2017. Want to join the Fit U team and attend events like the Symposium? Here’s how you can get involved! 

fit university symposium

“The Fit University Symposium was by far the highlight of my freshman year of college. Coming together with a group of peers who are so willing to become leaders and make a change not by being perfect, or by being like some other health and fitness stars, but simply by being themselves and finding their own unique ways to stay fit and healthy was so refreshing. The joy and passion with which these students shared fitness was infectious, and I am MORE than excited to be a part of a team that’s so willing to make a difference in such a fun and approachable way!!” – Jess C., Fit NU ambassador

Check out the video above to get an inside glimpse to the Fit University Symposium! 

A huge thank you to BFX Studio for hosting us! Extra shout out to Rob Wood, Jenny Hanway & Alex Grossomanides for kicking our ass & leading an inspiring workshop. Check out our sponsors b.good, Biena Foods, Justin’s & Quest Nutrition..all Fit U approved for living healthy in college.

Why You Won’t Get Bulky from Lifting Weights

Why You Won't Get Bulky From Lifting Weights | Fit University

Why You Won't Get Bulky From Lifting Weights | Fit University

There’s a common misconception that by lifting weights, women will get too “bulky,” muscular, masculine, etc. We’ve all heard it and have been taught to believe that it’s the truth. But it’s not! Let’s look at some science here. Some cold hard facts.

Testosterone is the hormone that assists in the creation of muscle mass. So, the more testosterone you have, the more muscle you are able to create in your body.

According to the National Institute of Health, the normal range of testosterone for females vs. males is:

         Males: 300 – 1,000 ng/dL
         Females: 15 – 70 ng/dL
         *ng\dL = nanograms per deciliter

By looking at these numbers alone, it’s easy to see that women simply don’t have the hormones available to build muscle like men do. Let all your fears of becoming too “muscle-y” be washed away.

However, that’s not to say women can’t put on muscle. They certainly can and it’s important to do so for a number of reasons. Here’s why:

  • Muscle helps to strengthen your bones and prevent osteoporosis + other bone problems.
  • Strength training reduces your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. 
  • Strength training improves your quality of sleep. Particularly, your ability to fall asleep faster + sleep deeper.
  • Muscle increases your metabolism and therefore, burns calories. More muscle = faster metabolism = more calories burned. 

Case in point, don’t stick to the little 5lb weights because you’re scared of getting “too big.” There’s a common misconception that lifting light weight with lots of reps is the way to get “toned” while lifting heavy weights will make you huge. That’s not how it works. Nobody’s telling you to go out and squat 200 pounds (unless that’s your goal, then go get em!) but do yourself a favor and drop the tiny pink weights and challenge yourself a bit. Go for 10, 12, or dare I say, 20 pound weights. Pushing yourself to a higher weight will strengthen your muscles and as a result, get you all of those great benefits listed above. 

As discussed in this great blog post, everyone has their own definition of “bulky” but it’s important to note that adding some muscle to your frame will only benefit you in the long run. Modify your weight training to suit your specific needs – maybe you want to lift super heavy and build a ton of muscle or maybe you just want to incorporate some moderate strength training into your routine to build your metabolism. Whatever your goal is, consider adding some form of weight lifting into your workouts. I promise you, you will not get bulky from lifting weights, women simply don’t have the hormones to do so. You will see improvements in strength, muscle definition (think “toned arms” magazines are always talking about), and confidence.

Want some daily motivation? Get social + share using #fituniversity

Inspire Yourself

Fit University | Inspire Yourself

I woke up this morning and immediately knew something was up. My stomach felt tight and I felt light as if I were about to fly off the mattress. Do I sound crazy? Maybe… but it’s true! With a little over 8 weeks to go in my prep, this morning was the first morning where I thought “wow, I’m really started to feel a difference in my body.” I’ve been seeing the changes but haven’t necessarily been feeling them. It’s kind of a weird concept to explain. But anyway, I got out of bed, looked in the mirror and thought “Damn, I look good. Check out those abs!”

Fit University - Inspire Yourself

That’s right, I said. I like the way I’m looking right now. Does that make me cocky or conceited? No way. You are allowed to acknowledge your accomplishments and honor your body. In fact, you should be doing those things on a daily basis. It’s important to inspire yourself. Point out something great and take a second to really recognize it.

“Damn, my hair looks good to today.” 

“Look at dat booty in these jeans!”

Here’s an idea. Write all of those things down. Have a little notebook to keep track in, email yourself, keep a list on the fridge. Not so much of a writer? Keep a folder on your computer of really awesome pictures of yourself. Label the folder “Inspire Yourself.” When you’re feeling down and not so hot, take a look back at that list or those pictures to get back into a proper mindset. You are your own motivation, you are your own inspiration. Find the way to inspire yourself.

Fit University | Inspire Yourself

How do you inspire yourself?


Get Up And Do Something

get up and do something

How many hours do we spend scrolling and re-scrolling through our Facebooks, our Twitters, our Instagrams? No status is particularly eye-catching yet we can’t seem to stray away from the screen. You know you do it way too often. I know I do it way too often.

Nemo’s snow is coming down hard. It’s 10AM on Saturday morning. I realize that I’ve been sitting in the exact same position since 4PM yesterday. Discounting my sleep, I’ve spent roughly 9 hours with my legs crossed, laptop open, and TV playing in the background. 9 HOURS! Have I done anything useful with that time? Maybe an hour or two were productive but aside from that, what have I accomplished?

Now, I have two options. (1) I could use Nemo as an excuse and continue to be a couch potato all day. (2) I could use this time to my advantage and get up and do something. Clean the kitchen, organize my closet, make Valentine’s Day cards, start studying for my upcoming exam. Anything is better than wasting the day away scrolling through that girl-from-high-school-that-I-sort-of know’s Facebook.

Get up and do something. Even if your trapped in your apartment, there are better things for you do be doing than staring at your computer screen. There are great things you could be doing. Read a book, get an early start to spring cleaning, catch up with an old friend. Be creative. Be productive. Get up and do something.