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Holly Van Hare

8 Healthy Valentine’s Day Themed Breakfasts-in-Bed To Impress Your SO

So your boo likes hitting the gym. Or they’re tryna be healthy. Ok, ok that’s great and all, but it can really put a damper on all the not-so-healthy-food related, chocolate loaded Valentine’s Day meals you had in mind.

Don’t worry – you can still make them a breakfast they’ll dream about! Just follow these healthy foodies and you’ll be on your way to a breakfast they’ll brag about.

1. Waffles 


I mean, does it get any better?! Check out her 4-ingredient recipe here.  

2. Collagen peanut butter french toast

Collagen is the new trend in the foodie Instagram world. And when it can be eaten like this, who can blame them?!

Packed with protein, and pretty enough to justify snapping a photo first, your lover will be begging you to make more. Don’t forget to provide some fruit for healthy toppings!

3. Chocolate bread loaf

 Chocolate for breakfast? Yes, please. Just follow her recipe and bake away. 

4. A bowl of oatmeal that loves you back

If your lover is any kind of fitness junkie or foodie, you know you can’t go wrong with oats. But they don’t have to be boring or bland; find this gal’s fun and lovable recipe here

5. Red berry pancakes

 

A photo posted by Sarah S. (@simplysarahswainson) on

Pancakes are always a classic. And the best part is, they can be healthy too! Give this girl’s recipe a try, our use our recipe for Red Velvet Protein Pancakes

6. Cherry nice cream 

 

A photo posted by JJ Beasley (@beazysbites) on

Ice cream for breakfast? Yep. Get the simple instructions here. All you need is a blender!

7. Breakfast tacos 

 

A photo posted by L y a n a (@healthymood_sf) on

Do you and your SO love Mexican food? These are for you. Get the simple instructions here. Bonus points if you get a healthy combo at Chipotle for your romantic V-Day dinner. 

8. Beet-red smoothie and yogurt 

 

A photo posted by Dani (@dani_nemeh) on

Show your love in nutrients & bright, bright red. Get Dani’s recipe and blend away!

Check out these recipes too:

4 Training Moves for Athletes That Anyone Can Do

Train like an athlete with Xplosive Performance Academy.

These 4 exercises are some of the basic Warm Up exercises used in the Xplosive Performance Academy program, a facility that uses athlete-level training techniques.

What’s great about training like an athlete? ANYONE, even non-athletes, can do it. Here are a few moves you can try in your dorm’s hallway, outside, or literally anywhere with a bit of space.

Although these exercises seem simple, they show how even the simplest movements without the right alignment, body control, balance, flexibility, and core strength can quickly become “difficult”, and how important the simple movements in the XPA program can be.

Give any of these a try? Let us know what you think! Post a photo or video yourself trying any one of the exercises and tag us on twitter or Instagram (@itsuhme_mario & @xpamass) with the hashtag #XPAMeetsFitU

If you’re interested in going through an entire session, visit our Twitter or Instagram or shoot us an email at m.darnell.hines@gmail.com!

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1st Exercise: Forward Froggies (20 yards)

Points of emphasis:

  • Good posture with a slight forward lean
  • Push knees outward
    • Don’t swing knees from in to out, knees should go directly out
  • Up & down knee punch motion
    • Movement is forward in a straight line as opposed to a pushing side to side
  • Knee level above the waist band
  • Rhythmic arm movement consistent to running mechanics
  • Limit twisting of upper body

2nd Exercise: Backward Froggies (20 yards)

Points of emphasis:

(Everything we do we should be able to do backwards. Shows sign of a balanced body)

  • Good posture with a slight forward lean
  • Push knees outward 
  • Up & down knee punch motion
    • Movement is forward in a straight line as opposed to a pushing side to side
  • Knee level above the waist band
  • Rhythmic arm movement consistent to running mechanics
  • Limit twisting of upper body

3rd Exercise: Left to Right Froggies (20 yards)

Points of emphasis:

  • Good posture with a slight forward lean
  • Push knees outward 
  • Up & down knee punch motion
    • Movement is forward in a straight line as opposed to a pushing side to side
  • Trail leg (back leg) does not cross lead leg
  • Use trail leg to create distance with each repetition
  • Knee level above the waist band
  • Rhythmic arm movement consistent to running mechanics
  • Limit twisting of upper body
  • Flip at the halfway mark with no false steps
    • No extra steps/transition with one step

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4th Exercise: Side Slides

Points of emphasis:

  • Find a nice bounce with a 2 beat rhythm 
  • Bounce from your dorsiflex location
    • “Kinda” the balls of your feet but not on the toes
  • Push each leg out to stretch hip abductors (outer hips)
  • Swing arms in a 4 beat rhythm 
  • Arms cross over head & cross at waist
  • Maintain body control of 2 different rhythms (upper body & lower body) in one exercise

And that’s it! Watch the video for a complete demo, and don’t forget to tag us when you give them a try. Ready for more? Come train with us!

Check out these articles, too:

Why It Doesn’t Matter “What A Fitness Instructor Eats in A Day”

A few weeks ago, someone asked me to write an article about what a fitness instructor eats in a day. I’m a fitness instructor and healthy eating enthusiast and she thought people would be interested in what I ate day in and day out.

In other words, how I do the following 2 things with food:

  1. Sustain my active lifestyle

  2. Stay “fit” (code for skinny and/or strong looking)

And the truth is, that person was right: a lot of people would be interested. However, I will not be writing that article. When I thought about following through with the idea, I was immediately unsettled.

I started thinking…why do people read articles like that? Do they do it to imitate that person’s lifestyle? To compare their own habits to the habits of someone they admire? To ridicule habits they find insanely out of reach? Or maybe to gain a sense of security if they eat a similar way? I don’t particularly want to support any of these aims.

I’ve seen a lot of them lately, regardless. They circulate the health and fitness online world, flaunting the daily contents and timing of a random fitness instructor’s food intake, as if that person is an exemplary eater simply because they teach fitness classes sometimes.

“What Spin Instructor, ___ Eats in A Day”
“What Barry’s Instructor Swears By for Breakfast”
“Marathon Trainer Eats This Superfood At Every Meal”

I mean, really. Which of these “experts” really knows what they’re doing?

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These articles are, more often than not, the opposite of helpful. There are soooo many misconceptions that fuel these articles, and that fuel their popularity. Here are some of the ones I see:

Firstly, they feed off of people’s food anxieties and unhealthy relationships with food.

The question, “Am I eating all wrong?” is in too many people’s minds for too many hours in a day.

There is no “right” or “wrong” way to eat. There are ways that make you feel good and strong and positive and energized, and there are ways that make you feel sluggish and depressed and weak. There is no one way that will do either of these things; there are many ways to eat well. You just have to use your intuition and figure out which way works best for you. Reading that article will not tell you the “right” way to eat.

Which brings me to my next point.

Everybody eats differently.

That’s just a fact of life: everyone has a different body, and therefore eats differently to fuel that different body. It makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Eating what that fitness instructor ate in a day could make that instructor feel awesome, but make YOU feel terrible. She might be fine with rice cakes and peanut butter before spin class, but you might feel stronger in class if you eat something more a few hours before. No way is better than the other, you’re just different people.

You also have a completely different life and activity level than that instructor, and likely need a different amount of food.

From personal experience, I can say that I’ve looked at those articles and felt threatened and unnerved by them because I realized eat way more than they do. I started comparing everything, wondering where I should start making cuts.

However, I should not feel the need to make any. I gave myself a reality check and worked through it; but I shouldn’t have had to go through that miserable process in the first place. I’m a different person. A banana for breakfast doesn’t cut it for me, and that’s ok. I’m not failing at anything by eating more. (And neither are you.)

Many of those articles flaunt really restrictive diets.

When I was comparing, I got really frustrated and decided to try and estimate how many calories that person was eating in a day. It was around 1500. TOO LOW for someone of their weight with an active lifestyle. Too low for me. Too low for most people. Parading that restricted diet as the ideal is dangerous, and works against the positive, healthy voices telling us to eat enough to fuel your body. So really, let’s think about it: who is that article benefitting? Who is it for?

Let me tell you: it’s not for you, and it’s not written with your best interests in mind. It’s written with the goal of getting the most page views.

These articles imply that we should be reactionary of our food habits based on our appearance or how “fit” we look.

And how “fit” we look has become equated with having a certain body type.

Yeah, that instructor probably has a “good” body, or what society views as one. People read those and think that the food that instructor eats will give them the same body. They think: I’m going to do that, I’m going to eat like that, and then I’ll look like that. However, that’s the absolute OPPOSITE of intuitive eating, and the opposite of a healthy relationship with food. 

There’s a belief that everyone who eats a certain way will look exactly the same. Bad news: you can eat that instructor’s diet and end up looking completely different. Again, different body. Different food.

I’ve seen this happen to people, where they change their diet to match someone else’s standards, and then they get discouraged when they don’t see the same results. They begin thinking that there’s something wrong with them and their body because it isn’t reacting the same way. Read here about why this kind of comparison and low self-esteem spiral can be detrimental in the long run.

Fitness instructors are not healthy eating experts.

Now, let’s take a second to stop and think about the actual people being used here as guides for healthy living. Like I said before: do these “experts” know what they’re doing at all?

No. Nothing about teaching fitness qualifies you to know or preach about nutrition. Of course, there are fitness instructors that are also certified nutritionsists but that is not the case for most. As a fitness instructor myself, I’ve seen a lot of coworkers who are really unhealthy, in one way or another.

I’ve seen fitness instructors who struggle with their weight.

I’ve seen fitness instructors who eat a lot of processed, pre-made meals and don’t have time to cook healthy food. 

I’ve seen fitness instructors who struggle with body image and go through cycles of bingeing and dieting.

I’ve seen fitness instructors with active eating disorders.

I’ve also seen a lot of really healthy fitness instructors.

But here’s the thing: fitness instructors are JUST PEOPLE. People who like working out and have decided to make money off of it. People who, like every other person on the planet, sometimes eat healthy and sometimes don’t. People who sometimes don’t get enough sleep, who sometimes binge drink on weekends, and who sometimes don’t eat well or don’t eat enough or eat way too much.

People who have body image demons of their own. Who have a potentially negative relationship with food. Who are embarrassed of how they actually eat, and maybe/probably lie about their actual daily intake. Who eat less than what is healthy for their bodies in order to maintain a certain image, for either their client base or for social media.

I know one thing for sure: I am certainly not an exemplar of healthy eating. An article about what I ate in a day wouldn’t be an ideal portrait for anyone. I don’t think people should imitate my eating habits to a T, because there’s a lot that could improve about them. I’m not going to get into what those things are, because that’s not important and again, isn’t the point.

But to be clear: just because I am a fitness instructor does not mean I am perfectly healthy.

So let’s all do ourselves a favor and stop it with these articles. I don’t care what you ate in a day, and you shouldn’t care what I ate either. Worry about yourself, eat intuitively, and mind your own damn business.

I’m out.

Check out these articles too:

Secrets of A Healthy Foodstagrammer

Ah, the foodstagram. A reservoir of healthy food inspiration, seemingly perfect nutrition, and allllll the food porn you could ever want or need. How many times can you like a similar picture of squash and zoodles in a day? The limit apparently does not exist.

zoodles

Of course, no two foodstagrams are alike. There are all kinds of foodstagram accounts on your feed, (read our breakdown of fitstagrammers here) but they all have one thing in common: they seem to have this whole “eating” thing figured out to a T. 

Well, as a healthy foodstagrammer myself, I’m here to tell you that that’s not at all true. We’ve all got our secrets (and if you foodstagram, too, I’m sure you understand). 

Here are 5 things you didn’t know about the life of a healthy food Instagrammer:

1. Sometimes the food looks way better than it tastes. 

Case in point: this toast tasted horrifically mediocre.

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I know, I know. Disappointing. Wouldn’t we all love to live in a world where the prettiest, healthiest food was also always the best tasting? 

Foodstagrammers also love to experiment in the kitchen. Bad news is, not every experiment turns out great. However, we put in the effort to make that plate beautiful – we’re posting that sh*&. And you can bet we’re going to tell you it was fantastic. 

2. Sometimes, the food looks too ugly to post but tasted so amazing you WISH you could share.

Sometimes I share anyway.

Case in point: 

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But most of the time I just endure the unfortunate reality that the food’s greatness will go unappreciated. True tragedy comes in many forms.

3. We always add on more toppings after taking the photo. 

Yeah – food instagrammers eat way more food than their feed would lead you to believe. 

For some perspective, here are two pictures of the same salad bowl: 

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I also ate some grapes on the side. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

Still don’t believe me? Same bowl of oats:

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On top of whatever I post, I usually also eat some more other food in addition. However, the apple and chips I grabbed from my pantry aren’t matching my salad aesthetic, so I left them out. 

What can you learn from this?

DON’T BOTHER COMPARING FOOD.

No reason to try and gauge how much you “should” eat based on observing someone else. It’s pointless, and a flawed system. Why? 2 main reasons:

  1. Everyone’s body is different.
  2. Unless you literally stalk someone, you’ll have no clue how much or what they’re really eating. 

Listen to your body and eat for you. Those foodstagrammers are great inspo, but trying to follow them exactly is a pointless venture. 

4. We’re always getting caught being #embarrassing and scrolling through food pics in public.

Why yes, I did just run into you walking on the sidewalk because I was commenting on this picture of kale. (Whoops.)

5. There’s a reason we only post once per day.

Think we always eat healthily and prettily? L.O.L. 

Sure I ate that gorgeous oatmeal bowl for breakfast, but my lunch was a slice of pizza at a club meeting between class (whoops). 

Again: comparison is pointless. 

Also, healthy people eat junk, too. It’s a fact. 

6. We think finding aesthetic ways to use random foods we sample is a fun challenge.

Perks of having a food instagram? We get to try out new foods from various companies. Sharing the foods we enjoy is fun, but sometimes the best foods don’t photograph well on their own. Here’s where the creativity comes in. No, no one (including me) eats popcorn as a toast topper on the reg.

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Sometimes, the combos we come up with are weird. But dang it, I’m gonna find a way to make popcorn look pretty if it’s the last thing I do! 

7. We’re consistently late, or running late, because it takes TIME to make your food pretty.

Worth it? Sometimes. Lol.

8. We annoy allllll our friends when we go out to eat. 

“Can we walk over to that patch of grass over there first and take a pic?!”

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9. We have more Instagram friends than friends IRL.

“Thanks, babe! Hope you had a great day!” sent from a stranger who also happens to enjoy eating farro.

Foodstagram post likes? In the thousands. Personal Instagram likes? Barely scraped 100. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

10. We’re up to date with all the latest food trends, hashtags, and new products.

“Have you heard of sweet potato bowls?” Um, duh. Try sweet potato bowls roasted with vanilla ghee and sprinkled with grain-free granola. Where have you been? #plantbased

-brushes off the haters-

11. Our love for food, and foodstagramming, is too real. 

It’s a seemingly pointless hobby, sure. But it’s the most fun, and I wouldn’t give it up for the world. 

You can follow me at @eating_peanut_better on Instagram 🙂 

Check out these articles too: 

Which Classpass Class You Should Attend, Based on Your Major

ClassPass

So you signed up for ClassPass.

Go you: the whole city is now at your fit fingertips. (If you have yet to sign up, I have good news for you: we have an exclusive Fit U promo waiting for ya right here and guess what? Your first month will only cost ONE DOLLAR. For real.)

You log on, click the class schedule, and immediately pause.

Oh my god. You’re overwhelmed: there are nearly 100 classes on this list. With so many options, how are you ever supposed to decide which class to take?!

Well, never fear: this science-backed, not-at-all-subjective method is foolproof for figuring out which class is right for you.

Here’s what you should sign up for, based on your college major. 

Business: Strength training

These classes will give you all the results you need to feel like Clark Kent (or Lois Lane) under your tailored suit. 

Plus, this is something you can TOTALLY bro about with fellow fitness buffs at networking meetings. Not to mention the networking you could achieve at the class itself. No cardio = no out-of-breath inability to talk to your neighbor. Compare lifts, talk start-ups. Two birds, one stone. (And you’re ALL about efficiency.)

Try ClassPass for $1.

Psychology: Yoga

You’ve studied the benefits of meditation and stretching. You’ve been taught to recommend the practice to your future patients. So if you’re ever stressed about school, work, internships, or just life in general, you know the yoga studio is the place for you. 

English: Aerial Arts

It’s possible you won’t look like this girl on your first day. But you don’t read a classic novel in a day, either; you’ve got the patience and dedication this activity requires. 

You’re all about seeing the world from a new perspective. This class, complete with graceful movements and effective core work, will provide you with all that new perspective you’ve been craving. Added bonus: the focused atmosphere and individual, skill-based style of the class will give you lots of time for internal monologue. 

Engineering: TRX

You’re always up to date with the up-and-coming technologies of the modern day. TRX, used in military training of the Navy, is the newest in affordable and, for lack of a better word, AWESOME fitness technology. 

Whether you look like this: 

or this: 

on your first day is no object to you, either. This class, like many other things in your daily life, is just yet another struggle for which you can just blame physics. 

Pre-Med: HIIT/Cardio

With all the homework and residencies and clinicals and MCATs approaching, you’re not wasting any time. These classes are all about efficiency. 20 minutes of HIIT can reap the same results as an hour of steady-state cardio, and you’ve read the medical studies to prove it. 

Try ClassPass for $1.

Pre-Law: Barre

There’s something you love about taking the old (ballet) and adapting it to fit something new. The same happens with the Constitution and other U.S. laws; you’re (understandably) drawn to the adapted art form. 

With the mountains of dull reading you’re expected to do already, you’ve got patience for the slow improvement in flexibility and core strength. Plus, all of the holds and pulses in uncomfortable positions will give you ample time to work on your resting bitch face.

Finance/Accounting: Gym Time

Time in = time out. You know these cold, hard facts like the back of your hand. 

Gym time means you get to do whatever you want with ALL of the gym’s equipment, for a whole hour. You’re a big fan of crunching the numbers, and that value clearly the biggest bang for your buck. 

Criminal Justice: Martial Arts

One day, you’re going to be face-to-face with the real criminals of the world. For now, though, you get to practice your self-defense skills on imaginary opponents in one of these classes. Plus you’ll get to look and feel like a total badass.

Ok, maybe just feel like one. Maybe someday you’ll look intimidating– once you have the uniform to help you out.

Try ClassPass for $1.

Women’s Studies: Kickboxing

Obviously.

You’re more than ready to get your kickboxing gloves on (especially after you’ve seen how amazing your female strong-woman pop idol, Taylor Swift, looks sporting the gear). 

Kickboxing is all about feeling empowered to defend yourself, and that’s a feeling you love. Unlike boxing, you don’t fight against other people (non-violent protest, for the win). Instead, you practice the moves bodyweight, which is how you would realistically be defending yourself from a situation were you were suddenly endangered. 

Political Science: Cycle/Spin 

The cult-like followings of high-end cycle studios are SO HYPED about the spin studios they attend. Their dedication reminds you of the commitment you’ll one day dedicate to your political party or candidate. 

Plus, these classes can’t help but appeal to your competitive side. Some studios keep track of your ride stats and send them to you after class. Your eyes rave over these charts and graphs like they’re eating up appealing poll results.  

So now that you know exactly what to sign up for, you’ve got nothing to lose. Want to try out any and all of these classes for yourself? Click HERE for a limited-time Fit University promo. 

5 Reasons Why Fit University Is So Much More Than Your Average Fitness Club

back to school blowout

So maybe you’ve heard of Fit University.

“Ha!” you might be thinking. “Another overly hyped club of weightlifting, protein-guzzling bro-dudes.”

Or maybe you’re like, “I’m not fit, so I can’t do that.”

Or maybe, “Running sucks, bye.” Or, “Donuts are great so there’s no way that club’s for me.”

Ohhhh, man. You don’t even know how wrong you are.

Yeah, Fit U’s got some weightlifters. We’ve also got some dancers. Some foodies. Some yoga-loving book nerds, some outgoing sports captains, and even some hikers who love to march into the woods and just get lost in them.

What do those people do? They get to share their stories, share their passions, come up with their own ideas and bring those ideas to life. Through Fit University’s platform and community, some of the best, most motivated people get to do their thang and CRUSH IT. The results of these combined efforts? That is what Fit U is.

We have occasional weightlifting meet-ups, sure. We also have events with glow yoga. For Bollywood dancing. For eating. For studying. And for plain old hanging out, because we all kinda enjoy being around each other.

And separately from the events, we tend to talk, laugh, and lift each other up through each and every one of our individual passions and pursuits.

If you’re part of the Fit University community, you already know how lucky you are. If you’re not: I’m here to explain to you what the hype is all about, and to let you know that considering becoming involved in Fit University is not only a fantastic idea, but also miles more rewarding than joining any other fitness/health-related club you stumble upon. There’s a reason students like Robert Huang  have described their time with Fit U as “[their] most fulfilling semester in [their] college career.”

Don’t believe it? Here are the top 5 reasons Fit University is so much more than just your average club about fitness, as told by the students themselves.

1. The community is strong, insanely supportive, and so much fun.

   

Fit University has brought people together:

"Fit U has allowed me to connect and meet more people at my school doing something I love." - Reilley Fellner
"Through my involvement with Fit U, I've found a community of like-minded people who care about their health and who love working out, but also people who are real. Who've struggled with the same things I have, who've struggled with the same things many, many college students have." - Nancy Chen

Connected common interests of those who may have formerly felt alone:

"I've always been passionate about fitness, but I never had a group of people that felt the same way about it as me. I honestly rarely talked about my love for working out or being fit because I didn't want to be "that kid". Fit University has allowed me to become a part of a community of people that understand and share the same interests as me. It has allowed me to open up more about my passions and want to share it with everyone." - Jessica Jobber
"Fit University has been the community I never even knew I'd been looking for." - Tanvi Ahuja
"Fit University made me realize that there are more of "us" out there." - Leonie Dupius

Provided a system of support through the more difficult times:

"On a personal level, Fit University has allowed me to connect with others who have similar passions but also similar struggles when it comes to health and fitness." - Alison Yeung

And formed a new, influential network of go-getters to flaunt it all:

"Fit University has impacted me by giving me a platform to connect with numerous other health professionals and other college students who are just as passionate about health and fitness as me." - Christina Chu

As Rebekah Marin (Northeastern University) puts it, Fit University “created an avenue for me to meet new people in a healthy environment (which isn’t always the easiest thing to do…) and since joining I’ve met and been inspired by so many awesome people.”

2. It brings out the best in people.

   

It creates leaders:

"Fit University has gave me the opportunity to be the leader that never thought I could be." - Jacqueline Borges

Influencers:

"Fit University has inspired me to embrace my own personal fitness/food story and OWN the shit out of it." - Hannah Liistro

High-achievers:

"Fit University has inspired me to step out of my comfort zone and do things I wouldn't typically do." - Christina Warriner

And all-around healthier and happier students, each and every day:

"Fit U has impacted me by giving me accountability to approach health and fitness in a truly balanced and HEALTHY manner. I'm not exaggerating when I say this organization has not only changed my lifestyle, but changed ME (for the better)." - Jessica Calderon

3. It breaks free from the mold (i.e., it’s NO BULLSH*&).

   

As ambassador Alison Yeung puts it, “There is so much negativity, shaming, and extremism surrounding the fitness industry… Fit University is a breath of fresh air.”

It’s main goal? Spreading the truth about health and fitness. An attainable truth, a real truth, and a truth that’s different for each and every person who’s part of it.

“Fit U is a voice of reason in a world that’s telling everyone you have to go to all sorts of extremes to be fit." - Ellen Slater
“[Fit University] shows everyone that there is not one definition of "fit" and that is attainable for everyone.” - Jacqueline Borges

In other words? Fit University is real.

"Fit U provide[s] such honest inspiration for #fitgoals and #balance, as well as realistic support for all types of students to enjoy life and fitness." - Kate Farrell

And people: the truth can set you free.

I used to work out because I wanted to have a perfect body. Fit U has helped me see that fitness is NOT about being perfect. Fitness should enhance, not consume, your life. Fit U help[ed] me realize that I am good enough the way that I am." - Becca Paul
"Fit University has change the way I view health. Before, I saw it as physical fitness and eating well; I now view it as a whole body experience including physical, emotional, and mental components." - Jessica Orpen

In summary? Fit University promotes “all kinds of fitness expertise, knowledge and supportive subjects like nutrition and community into this idea that everyone can be fit and have fun in college.” – Maddy Hunt

4. It inspires purpose in its members and never fails to motivate.

   

Through Fit University’s platform, students like Christina Chu have been provided with purpose and drive. “It launched me in a higher position that I would never be able to reach without Fit U.” Now, Christina is an Editor for her own team of writers, motivates people daily with her articles and inspiration, and does it all with her community by her side.

It inspires when you want to try something new:

"Fit University has encouraged me to work out, experiment with healthy recipes, and share those experiences with a positive and supportive fitness community." Alyse Jung

It’s motivated by campus leaders:

"Fit University has taken me out of my comfort zone and given me the ability to become a positive influence on campus." - Eliza Hunt

And those leaders are motivated right back:

"Fit University also motivates me to work harder at my goals because I want to be able to lead by example.  Being in an environment where there is only positivity is motivating in itself, and had a positive impact on my mental health." - Sarah Phillips

And speaking of mental health…

"Fit U has impacted me by making me confident in the skin I'm in!" - Lauren Dell
"Fit U has allowed me to challenge the stigma associated with obesity and foster a supportive, encouraging community." - Anmol Mathani

Those accomplishments are more than worthy to brag about, if you ask me.

If you’re not already convinced, the final reason Fit University is a big freaking deal is….

5. It’s run by the newly-vegan, go-getter, somehow-in-a-sorority, 1-2-1-2 chanting, food-loving, #bouldashoulda building SARAH GAINES.

   

The only person I know who has both taught me how to figure out lift numbers for a leg workout and shortly afterwards revealed her inner #basic and Starbucks expertise (“Oh my god, you mean you’ve never eaten a lavender macaroon?!”). Whose presence motivates the kids she babysits to come up with ways to workout in at their local playground. (8 year olds probably doing pull-ups and putting us all to shame.)

Today, September 9th, is her birthday. And we’re here to 1) congratulate her on what she’s created (which as you can probably tell by now, is pretty damn amazing), and 2) express to you all how kick-a$$ of a person she really is. Not only because she made this inspiring, forever-flexing, high-achieving community of fit students, but for a million other reasons, too.

Sarah goes above and beyond to be there for other people. She’s always there whenever you need her, and is pretty dang inspiring, too. If a new opportunity arises, never mind being already crazy busy– she makes it work. She puts in the time and gets the results. Not to mention she can make you laugh in half a second when you need it– all the while keeping it together and simultaneously dedicating so so many hours to making her dream a reality with Fit University. 

If you do get to hang with her or meet her through Fit U or any other capacity, I’m truly happy for you. Undoubtedly, she’ll motivate you to do and accomplish something awesome.

Here’s what those of us who have already had the privilege have to say:

“She has a heart of gold and the work ethic of an entire army and her efforts are so appreciated by tons of people.” – Samantha Poccia

“[Her] positive attitude and sense of drive are contagious.” – Emily Hartman

“Sarah is an entirely different kind of person. She is so motivated, that it has to be coded into her genetic makeup.” – Maddy Hunt

“I am constantly motivated by Sarah’s tenacity, enthusiasm, and drive. She genuinely loves what she does day in and day out.” – Hannah Liistro

“Sarah [has] impacted me by always being so understanding and encouraging!” – Lauren Dell

“Where do I begin? [Sarah is] a one-of-a-kind, inhaler of love and life, so great! …  a friend to me, a leader at Fit U, an inspirer and an overall amazing human being.” – Ali Matalon

“Sarah [is] such an inspiring leader, mentor, and woman. … incredibly brave, compassionate, and conscientious. I cannot imagine a better role model for a community of fitness minded college students.” – Hannah Heitz

It’s pretty clear: Fit U (so accurately put by Alison Yeung) is “an ever-growing empire that changes lives for the better.”

“[Fit U] has allowed me to be more confident and embrace who I am and what I love to do.” – Jessica Jobber

“Fit U has had an incredibly positive impact on my life!” – Genny Hepworth

“It has impacted so many college students’ lives!” – Kateryna Nahornyak

“It furthered my knowledge on what it means to live a healthy, balanced college lifestyle and how to have FUN while doing it.” – Rebekah Marin

And as said by Nancy Chen, Fit University’s social media coordinator, Fit U is a group of students “who know how to hustle, to get things done, to manage their health, fitness, and work, and who are passionate about what they do and how they impact others.”

Which begs the question: what will we do next?

10 Instagram Worthy Ways to Make Toast Less Boring

Never eat boring toast again. 

Toast is a reputable snack choice, there’s no doubt. With a healthy mix of carbs and fats, it’s a great quick way to eat something yummy and substantial between meals.

But when you’re just eating bread and butter every day, it can get pretty dull. Well, I’m here to tell you that that’s totally unnecessary: these Instagrammers have got this whole “toast” thing down, and replicating their ideas is easier than you’d think. 

1. Mix your sweet and savory. 

 One slice fruity, one slice eggy. No yawns from this girl this morning, that’s for sure. 

And this greek yogurt tuna salad is a perfect healthy way to sneak in some more protein. 

2. One word: yogurt.

 

Don’t mind me, just having a super sweet Saturday 😋 here’s some more of my newest obsession: YOGURT TOAST 🙌 and PECAN BUTTER ❤️ . . thanks so much @purelypecans for introducing me to this creamy & sweet nut butter — it’s a winner for sure. . . Livin it up with the summer fruits with toast topped with: 🔹nonfat plan @siggisdairy Greek yogurt . 🔹stevia packet from @sweetleafstevia (told y’all I’m into this stuff 🙃) 🔹sliced frozen peaches 🍑 🔹blueberries 💙 🔹pecan butter from @purelypecans (this stuff is the 💣 diggity) 🔹cinnamon! 😋👌 . . . . . . . . . . . #yogurt #foodisfuel #protein #toast #breakfast #healthybreakfast #healthy #nutrition #peach #blueberries #blueberry #sweettooth #fruit #fruits #carbs #nuts #peanutbutter #healthyeating #healthyfood #healthyliving #healthychoices #healthyeats #strongnotskinny #snack #foodstagram #fitfood #fitfam #postworkout #plantbased #vegetarian

A photo posted by Holly Van Hare (@eating_peanut_better) on

Get a little extra protein in there with your sweet snack by spreading greek yogurt on your toast before adding fruit and other toppings. 

3. Make your own (healthier) jam. 

 

Post-workout breakfast today was 2 slices of @foodforlifebaking 7 Sprouted Grains bread topped with @wild_friends Cinnamon Raisin Peanut Butter, @hodgsonmill Flax Chia Blend, delicious warm berries (just microwave, mash, then microwave again! So yummy!), banana coins, and then an extra drizzle of peanut butter because you can really never have too much in my book 🙈 I made this colorful plate to try to brighten up this gloomy, rainy day and right when I went outside to eat, the sun came out ☀️☀️☀️ Workout this morning was a 20 minute bike HIIT + about 40 minutes of ab work with as little rest as possible! Hopefully they’ll start coming around to say hi if I keep giving them attention 💪🏻 if the rain holds out, I plan to go for a long walk with the 🐶 Wishing you the best Thursday #fitfam 😸 #happyandhealthy #health #healthy #healthyfood #healthychoices #healthylifestyle #healthyliving #healthylife #healthybreakfast #healthyfoodshare #healthyeats #healthyeating #workout #postworkout #cleaneats #cleaneating #foodie #foodisfuel #eeeeeats #eatclean #eathealthy #eatinghealthy #eattherainbow #eattogrow #eatrealfood #eatright #strongnotskinny #fit #fitness

A photo posted by Taylor (@hummusjunkie) on

It’s as easy as microwaving berries, mashing them with a fork, microwaving them again, and BAM. Sweet, juicy, no-added-sugars-in-this-corner HEAVEN. 

4. Get seasonal.

Make like this gal and find some seasonal-flavored nut butter (pumpkin spice PB, say WHAAAAT?!) and in-season figs. 

Or, you know, use whatever in-season fruits you have at your disposal. Really any of them work like magic.  

5. Use allllll of the superfoods. 

This classy gal used a nice mix of seeds, but you can choose whatever nutrient-dense toppings your heart desires. 

6. Put an egg on it. 

No, I don’t mean just plain old eggs and toast. Scramble some eggs with cheese, and each bite will taste HEAVENLY with cheesy, yolk-y goodness. 

7. Add more grains. 

 

Taking Toast Tuesday to the beach this morning ☀️🙂 Of course I packed some of my staple food items with me! There was no way I was going a week without peanut butter 🙅🏻 Just gotta be careful cause my cousin is allergic, so I only brought one jar 🙈 But sadly, I didn’t have room for my waffles so y’all are gonna have to celebrate Waffle Wednesday in my honor tomorrow 😔😫 But for today, I’ve got BBG week 1 arms and abs to do (because my legs got burnt like 🔥 yesterday so legs couldn’t happen) 😡 Still pumped though 💪🏼 Love arm day! Two slice @foodforlifebaking cinnamon raisin ezekiel toast 🍞 + @crazyrichardspb chunky pb 🍯 + banana coins 🍌 + one w/ @purely_elizabeth blueberry hemp granola & one w/ @arrowheadmills puffed kumat • Strawberries 🍓 + unpictured coffee w/ hazelnut @so_delicious creamer #health #healthy #healthyfood #yummy #legday #fitness #fitspo #fitgirl #fitfood #foodie #food #foodporn #diet #eatclean #cleaneating #cleaneats #eathealthy #eatforabs #weightloss #plantbased #bbg #gains #bbggirls #iifym #workout #getfit #instafood #instagood #breakfast #eat

A photo posted by Shannon (@fitstrongshann) on

Who doesn’t love carbs? Adding some puffed grains or granola can take your toast to the next level. 

8. Use greens. 

 

decisions I never regret: having more GREENS in my life 🍃 • whether it’s with my food, beverages, or SURROUNDINGS 🌳 after this afternoon’s cycle class 🚴 with @sarahjgaines (her classes at @cycfitness leave me feeling A+, every time 👌) I took a lovely walk around Boston Common. Just spending time outdoors and hangin around trees (as lame as that sounds) is a wonderful way to brighten your entire day ~ . ANYWHO enough of my rambling. Here’s some food lol • SNACK includingggg: 🔹1 slice toast 🔹some spicy avocado @hopefoods hummus (this stuff rocks 🎉 🔹arugula for some #greens 🔹edamame! 💚 . . . . . . . . . . . . . #snack #toast #healthysnack #healthy #arugula #green #eattherainbow #eatclean #eattherainbow #edamame #hummus #spicy #avocado #carbs #chickpeas #protein #healthychoices #beans #healthyfood #healthyeating #healthyliving #vegan #vegetarian #vegetables #veggies #plantbased #postworkout #fitfood #fitfam

A photo posted by Holly Van Hare (@eating_peanut_better) on

Getting more greens in your diet is never a bad thing. And there are lots and lots to choose from. 

9. Don’t use bread. 

WOAH. Game = changed.

Use sweet potato like this foodie: 

Or even try fruit slices if you’re feelin’ extra sweet: 

 

tbh tried to make one of those artsy apple sandwiches & ultimately failed, but hey, it still tasted good // broke my juice cleanse this morning with this gorg red delicious apple covered with PB, pepitas, @manitobaharvest hemp seeds, @simplyorganicfoods cayenne & lots of cinnamon (per usual) // but I also wanted to talk to you guys about balance, mindset & listening to your body. today I woke up too late for my 7am boxing class, but instead of freaking out like I would half a year ago about not working out, I saw it as an opportunity to let my body rest after all the work it’s been through. & so I went on a short (and by short I mean like actually ridiculously short) run in the morning – & it was enough. it was enough to feel my feet pounding the pavement, to breathe in the pre-rain air. it was enough that I wasn’t trying to burn calories or justify eating – I just wanted to enjoy the weather by being outside. & it’s balance that some mornings you eat apples for breakfast and have ice cream before dinner (because you gotta take advantage of #freeconeday amiright?) #approachingpaleo

A photo posted by N A N C Y CH E N (@approachingpaleo) on

10. Stick with the tried and true. 

 

can we all agree that avo toast is the most beautiful thing on the planet??? #approachingpaleo

A photo posted by N A N C Y CH E N (@approachingpaleo) on

Sometimes all you really need is a good, trustee slice of avo toast. AVOCADOS FOR LIFE. 

I’ll toast to that 😏.

Fitness Instructors Share The 6 Most Common Newbie Mistakes

group fitness

You know you’re guilt of at least one of these…

Ever taken a group fitness class before? I’d be you were really nervous to step into the studio for the first time (we’ve all been there). Whether you’re a seasoned GroupXer or a complete newb, we asked a few fitness instructors to share the most common mistakes they see newbies make. 

1. Comparing yourself to others.

“New participants compare themselves with the people who’ve been coming to my class forever, and they get discouraged before they even start.” – Holly Van Hare, cardio and sculpting instructor (Northeastern)

So don’t let the others in the class get to you! Pay attention to your body. Plus, people only really are paying attention to themselves, anyway. So who cares if someone else seems to be doing “better” than you?

2. Thinking all eyes are on you.

“Going into class thinking that everyone is going to be watching you and therefore, feeling self conscious. I always tell people that everyone is there for their own personal benefit, not to look at you. Stop being so self-centered lol!! :P” – Sarah Gaines, founder of Fit University and Cycologist for Cyc Fitness

Just go in there, focus on YOU, yourself and oh yeah, you again. Pay attention to the instructor, the instructions given and look at yo’ fine self in the mirror. Look at you W-E-R-K-I-N I-T.

3. Trying to keep up with the person next to you.

“I sometimes see new people trying to work to the person next to them or trying to keep up, when this causes them to burn out before the class is done. I like to emphasize over and over again that my participants take the entire class to THEIR fitness level that day, modify as needed, and work with what thy need to do to get an effective workout for themselves, not the person next to them.” – Charlotte Kurz, cycle instructor (Binghamton)

After all, you can’t compare yourself with that person who’s been coming to the same class every week for a year. There’s no way you’ll be at the same level. In fact, doing exactly what the “fittest” person in the class is doing might actually do more harm than good.

4. Being scared to try something new.

There are SO many types of classes out there…spin, yoga, Zumba, BollyX, bootcamps, sculpting, pole dancing (to name just a few). Just because you don’t like one doesn’t mean you’ll hate all of them.

“I’m a huge advocate for trying different classes. Besides the differences between sculpting, cardio, and conditioning classes – each specific class has something unique to bring to the table, to push your body in a whole new way.” – Emily Lin; cardio, sculpting & kickboxing instructor

5. Giving up too soon.

You’ve seen those participants: they come once and you never see their faces again. And maybe they hated it, and it just isn’t for them. But maybe they just mistook the class being difficult for the class not being worthwhile.

“People don’t give the class at least a second chance! Rarely do you go to a class for the first time and pick up the counts, style, etc., right away… My general rule of thumb is to try a class at least twice before I decide that it isn’t for me. If after the second time, I’m still not feeling it, then I can say I tried and it just isn’t my thing.” – Amanda Gross (Northeastern)

And ps… just because a class is hard, doesn’t mean it’s bad! (or that you’re doing it wrong)

“I often hear comments from participants that because something is hard for them to do, they think they’re doing it wrong. It’s not going to be easy. If it were easy the first time, you wouldn’t be doing anything for your body! It’s pushing through the difficult parts that results in your improving your fitness.” – Holly Van Hare

6. Doing too much, too fast.

That’s why there’s a warm-up, people. “[People don’t take] the warm-up seriously! Although it may seem silly it’s really important to get the muscles moving — especially before the high intensity cardio classes.” – Aimee Fong, cardio & sculpting instructor (Northeastern)

And if you’ve never participated in group exercise before, maybe that “SUPER CARDIO BOOTCAMP BLAST” class isn’t for you.

“A big mistake that first time group fitness participants make is doing a super hard class. This can turn them off to group fit all together based on how sore they are. Remember, that’s a result of your body doing lots of work in a different way than you’re used to! “ – Emily Lin

I Went A Year Without Taking A Rest Day.

Yes, a whole year. Those Nike’s have gotten their fair share of wear and tear.

Well, ok not quite—11 months and 20 days. Nearly made it. That one-year mark was sinfully close, and I was tempted out of my mind to hit that 365-day mark. But I’m actually really proud of myself that I didn’t.

Why tell you this seemingly irrelevant, immensely personal aspect of my life? Simple: I’m not the only one who’s done this.

The fact that more than one human being would span a year of their lives without a day off from exercise might seem crazy to you, especially if you don’t exercise regularly or aren’t particularly interested in fitness. I mean, for many people, it’s hard to motivate follow-through on gym trips even once or twice a week.

That used to be the case for me, too. There was a time when I claimed I would never be someone who enjoyed exercise. I joked with friends about it and expressed extreme distaste when people invited me out on runs, to workout-related on-campus events, or to attend a yoga class at a nearby studio.

Then, I stumbled upon exercise that I enjoyed. I attended a few group fitness classes on a whim, and found that I loved not only participating in group exercise, but doing cardio and strength moves that didn’t involve monotonous gym machines.

From there, I fell in love with it. I was making goals and achieving them. Like a BOSS. And I felt great. I was more productive, emotionally balanced, and readily equipped to deal with the myriad of life’s daily stressors and unpredictability.

So I exercised more. And more. And more and more and more, and eventually I got really good at it. I even became a fitness instructor. (Don’t get me wrong—I don’t regret any of this. I’m still a fitness instructor, and I love every second of it.)

I started to work out every single day (without exception) last August, making sure I planned time for it. “Not exercising” didn’t even occur to me as an option. If there wasn’t a fitness class available for sign-up, I planned out an individual workout. If there was, you bet I’d be there.

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I’m the one on the left. Loving the sweat, as usual

I didn’t even think about the fact that I wasn’t taking rest days. I was feeling great! Moving, lifting weights, running, jump-squatting, and getting stronger all the while. Until, of course, I wasn’t. My body got tired, but I didn’t know enough to make the connection as to why it was feeling that way.

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Exercise still makes me feel GREAT! That will never change.

Here’s what I did know: exercise made me feel happy, confident, and empowered. So when I felt worn down and tired, I exercised to combat those weary feelings. And it did make me feel better—briefly. I would feel better until my body got over the endorphin high and (of course) became tired again. But that part wasn’t obvious to me. What was obvious was the rush I felt when I finished a tough workout. So, logically, I chased that rush with fierce determination, day in and day out.

I didn’t realize it, but I had become addicted to exercise.

This happens to a lot of people. And it’s time we talk about it. It’s time we mention, discuss, and hopefully learn to adequately address the rampant affliction that’s hitting young adults everywhere: exercise addiction.

You can’t tell me that this is not true. Not only have I experienced it firsthand, as I’ve explained to you above, I’ve also witnessed it festering in and tainting a number of otherwise positive environments. My campus gym? Rampant with it. My fitness instructor coworkers? Horribly infected. The accounts that follow my Instagram? Wretched with signs of belonging to hopeless addicts.

Let me get one thing straight: it’s not the people themselves that are wretched. It’s the addiction. It sucks. It seriously, seriously sucks. I mean, it’s a complex issue—I love exercise! And unlike alcohol, exercise is not something you should cut from your life entirely. Refraining from exercise entirely is not only unrealistic (you’ve gotta run to catch the bus now and then, maybe you want to go hiking one day, etc.) but also not at all recommended for your mental, emotional, or physical health.

Unlike alcohol, exercise doesn’t result in horrible hangovers, but instead boosts your productivity, mood, and overall vivacity.

Unlike alcohol, exercise addiction is not an affliction that is openly talked about and commonly treated.

Unlike alcohol, exercise addiction is not looked down upon by society and your peers (in fact, I’d argue that it’s actually admired).

Alternatively, like alcohol addiction, exercise addiction has the potential to take over your life. Like other addiction, exercise addiction has the potential to ruin your relationships, aspirations, and emotional stability. Like other addiction, exercise addiction is difficult to overcome. Like other addiction, recovery from exercise addiction involves withdrawal, emotional tumult, and potentially even medical bills.

Like other addiction, exercise addiction can cause serious and irreversible harm to your body.

Really? you’re thinking. I can end up in the hospital from getting too much exercise? Yes.

Ok, not like “I’m super fit, oh no I’m going to die!” No. More like “I’ve been overextending my body for 5 years now and keep running on two stress fractures and a heart rate that’s too low.”

Yeah, then you might.

I’ve witnessed consequences happen on less extreme, short-term scales, too. I have friends who, on sudden and dramatic plans to lose weight, overexercised for a couple of months and neglected to take rest days. These friends experienced some unsavory consequences including (but not limited to) stress fractures, sprains, and bone density changes.

So it can happen. And it does. Which is why it’s important that people know about it so that they can catch it before they, too, fall into a worsening addiction that’s hard to shake.

You might be wondering: who am I to be preaching all of this?

“Hi, my name is Holly and I am an exercise addict.”

CHORUS: Hi, Holly.

Ha, ha. But I mean, I just told you that I almost made it a year without giving my body a rest. So why listen to me? I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Ok, that may be true, but I do have experience; and I’m writing this because I’m hoping that someone out there can learn from it. I’m hoping that someone—whether it’s someone who’s planning on an extreme diet and exercise crash regimen to lose weight, or a fitness instructor who’s genuinely just lost his or her balance somewhere along the way—decides not to chronically overexercise because they’ve learned a bit from my mistakes.

Read about what constitutes overexercise here.

So. Based on my experience:

What happens to you when you don’t let your body rest?

  1. You feel tired.

    (Duh.) My body’s baseline feeling became just that: “worn out”. Notice that I didn’t say “sore”—it didn’t feel like muscle soreness. I experienced daily aches and pains and a general feeling of overuse, but my muscles wouldn’t get sore like they used to. I’m not sure why this is (I’m not a doctor) but I do know that once I did take that rest day, I was astonished at what it felt like to live in a body that wasn’t exhausted.

    It actually stressed me out. Why do I have all this energy? Should I do something to use it? What can I do to use it up? With my experience of “normalcy” at exhaustion, I was itching to try and get there again, itching to try and feel normal. This, I now know, isn’t healthy. “Normal” shouldn’t equate to “tired” in a healthy individual. Yes, it happens, and actually needs to in order to get stronger. But it shouldn’t by any means be a constant. So I went through with the rest, and learned something else along the way: change, in any and all forms, requires feelings of discomfort. However, these feelings do eventually subside, and something else good just might come of it.

  2. You get really protective over your time at the gym, and snap at people who “get in your way”.

    I was exercising every day, and I would not let anyone obstruct that. If people did, or if a friend suggested that I skip it, I would become genuinely upset. The gym was my time, and no one was going to take it from me. This mindset steadily grew into an encroaching “all-or-nothing” attitude in which my time at the gym was sacred. I was going to make it perfect, no matter what.

  3. You miss out on opportunities and experiences because you decide you’d rather exercise instead.

    So say I’d planned to exercise at 10 AM on Sunday morning. I was all signed up for my class and ready to go. Then, a friend planned a brunch at that same time and invited me to join her and some people I’d wanted to get to know. No way I’d choose to go to the brunch. I’d already planned to go have my sacred gym hour, and no one was going to get in my way, remember? Same thing applied in this scenario. Forget about making those new friendships—I’d choose to miss the brunch, every time.

  4. You stress out a lot over when you will exercise and if it will be “enough”.

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    Me after I tried out Bolly X (similar to Zumba); I look carefree, but I  stressed a lot over the fact that the dancing didn’t make me feel exhausted, instead of just enjoying the day.

    Schedules don’t always work out. What if something came up that drove a wedge into the time I’d dedicated to my workout? It was always a possibility, and always a worry.

    And like I said, once I did make it there, that hour was sacred and perfect. And if I’d signed up for a new type of class, I couldn’t be sure if the workout would be “enough” for my level of fitness. Leading up to the experience, I’d be stressed that I wouldn’t get enough of a workout out of the hour. What if it was too easy? What if I didn’t experience that post-workout high I so ardently chased? That would suck. So I’d worry, until I of course had a tough workout again and then it was okay.

    The problem with this mentality of exercise being “enough” is that it’s an ever-increasing scale with no end goal. So what have I learned? There doesn’t need to be a standard of “enough” exercise, unless it’s for health-related reasons—do what is best for your body and what you feel like you want to. Do what makes you feel good. The end. For me right now, that’s still a lot of exercise. I’m still intending to stay fit, that hasn’t changed. But if I’m not working out to the point of exhaustion every time, I no longer feel anxious about it. It’s okay—the workout was fun, anyway, even if it wouldn’t have hit my previous standard of “enough”.

What happens when you take a rest day after a year of neglecting to do so?

  1. You cry.

    I cried twice. It was an emotional day, in a lot of ways. Not only did I realize how reliant I’d become, I was also experiencing some anxiety and, frankly, panic. Tumultuous, indeed.

  2. Your body thinks it can feel itself getting weaker from just one day.

    This was a trick of my mind: in all probability, my body was getting stronger. Finally, finally, I was letting it use its recovery time towards building itself up, rather than scrambling to recuperate after being repeatedly broken down. But the power of perception wasn’t on my side, and I thought I would lose out on the progress I’d made at the gym. The verdict? I did not.

  3. Your muscles actually ache from not being used.

    Weird, but true.

  4. You’re hyper-aware of your body and how strong it is.

    After that year of exercise, I’m pretty dang strong. I found my arms and abs flexing without realizing it. Additionally, I was increasingly conscious of how much work I could be doing, but was choosing not to. The contrast drove me insane.

  5. You try to get out of it.

    This is hard for me to admit, but I did almost give up. A friend of mine teaches tabata at my campus gym and texted me that day to ask if I was going to her class. I told her I was. In the moment, it was easy to make excuses. I ended up planning on going to the high-intensity tabata class in the late afternoon, making the contention that it was of course a positive choice: I loved that class, and had gone every week. So it was ok. I was making a decision for my own enjoyment, indulging in a “treat yoself” moment. (False.)

    I told myself I’d rest another day (knowing full well I wouldn’t) and my brain conveniently blocked out the warning signs that I was making a choice that was potentially bad for me.

    The class was (in)conveniently cancelled. When I found out, at first I was angry. Furious, even. My excuses had been outed. Something had gotten in my way. At that point, I knew I couldn’t hide it anymore—I had a problem. In order to still exercise and not take my rest day, I’d have to work much harder to come up with a plan. I’d have to premeditate my negligent, self-sabotaging decision to give up. I’d promised myself rest, and instead I would be actively denying myself from it. If I exercised I would have to feel disappointed and weak, out of control, and addicted, rather than proud, positive, and strong. So I followed through with it, and wow I’m glad I did.

  1. You’re immensely anxious.

    That being said, it wasn’t easy. Like you can probably already glean from the previous bullet points, I was a miserable ball of moving tension.

  2. You’re really hungry.

    Ok, so I’m not sure if this happens to everybody who experiences this. But it happened to me. I was hungry all day, and I ate just as much (if not more) than I usually did with exercise. Why? I still don’t know. What I know is that I hated it, and I grew really frustrated trying to understand why my body was craving food when I didn’t “need” the calories I usually did. Read here about why healthy eating is actually NOT about the calories here.

  3. You have tons more energy than you’re used to.

    This is something I was told would happen, but didn’t believe. Well, it’s 100% true. It’s not jittery energy, either, like when you drink too much coffee, but instead is genuine vivacity. So if you’re on the fence, try it. It’s pretty great. On the day itself, of course, I wasn’t happy and the energy wasn’t all positive. But it was there, and my workout the following day was AMAZINGLY motivating and powerful. It’s amazing what a little rest can do.

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What’s in the future for me? Hopefully, a future where I find balance and moderation with exercise. I’m hoping for a future where I make fitness-related goals for myself and work to achieve them while remaining within the scope of my physical and mental health. Undoubtedly, this will take work and practice. I’m getting there.

I’d love to chat about it, if you’re interested or experiencing something similar.

Not sure if you’re experiencing exercise addiction?

My advice is to take a step back and evaluate. What happens when you can’t exercise? Is your impression of your exercise inextricably tied to the way you view your day overall? Is a day with exercise a “good day” and a day without exercise a “bad day”? Are you taking rest days? If you are concerned that you might be addicted to exercise, consult a medical professional.

Or, you know, take a rest day. And don’t wait a year to do it, either.

DISCLAIMER. Again: I AM NOT A DOCTOR. I am a college student who studies a non-scientific subject and overexercises. Therefore I am by no means a professional.

What It’s Like to Be an Olympic Trial Athlete (in College)

A few months ago, Jesse Garn competed in the Olympic trials. Jesse is a recent graduate from Binghamton University. He graduated this past May, meaning that all of his pre-Olympic training was done during his final senior semester. 

Jesse grew up in Marcellus, NY. There, he attended Marcellus High School, graduating in 2011. He continued his education at Binghamton University for 5 years, and is now 23 years old. Post-graduation, Jesse is planning to continue his running career through the next Olympic cycle and hopes to have a better shot of making the next Games (Tokyo 2020). In addition to running, Jesse is also a certified ACE personal trainer and a certified lifeguard.

The accomplishments of Olympic athletes are incredible: competitors dedicate their lives to their bodies’ ability to perform, risking everything to make it to the big event. Jesse, though he talks of his pursuit of the Games quite casually, is no exception. In an average week, he runs 50-60 miles– broken up into various increments, of course. On top of a full course load (and not to mention a social life), his ability to find time for his Olympic-level training is an impressive feat in itself. (It’s a good thing he runs fast.) 

jesse garn

When I heard about Jesse’s accomplishments, I reached out to see if I could ask him a few questions. Through his answers, I got to know an Olympic-trial athlete who– shockingly– seems like a totally normal college guy. 

1. How did you get started with running competitively?

Jesse started running (starting the domino effect that has led to his Olympic aspirations) in 7th grade. He ran modified cross country for his middle school, and claims that since then, he has “simply kept up with it”. He definitely did more than keep up: by the time he graduated senior year of high school, he had become a sectional champion more than once, and was also a New York State Champion for the 1,000 m run. 

After graduation, he decided to attend Binghamton University to run Division I cross country at the collegiate level.

2. What does your training look like?

“My training changes depending on the time of year,” Jesse says, “but a typical week would include 50-60 miles of running.”  Those runs would be broken down into a few distance runs, 2 track workouts, and one long run.

“It’s normal for me to take one day off a week to rest,” he explained. (Yes, even Olympic-trial-running athletes need rest days.) 

Jesse also does a little bit of cross-training. “Outside of running, I enjoy swimming to stay fit. So I’ll do that to cross-train, as well as strength, conditioning, and biking.” In short: Jesse’s legs do a lot. 

3. How do you fuel your training? 

Jesse doesn’t have a terribly struct diet. While many athletes track their food and make sure to eat certain types of foods before or after training days, Jesse eats like any other normal college student. “I ate at the dining halls on campus more often than not,” he explained. 

However, Jesse does make sure he’s eating enough. “As long as I was having 3 meals a day with snacks, I considered myself okay.” 

Since Jesse trains in the afternoons, his lunch tends to be his smallest meal. No one like running on a full stomach. Helloooo cramps, am I right? 

“The day of a competition, it’s difficult for me to eat due to nerves,” Jesse confesses. “But I usually have a big breakfast, a small sandwich, and snack frequently after leading up to the race.” What are examples of pre-race snacks? He says he usually grabs a protein bar, some pretzels, graham crackers, and Gatorade. Foods he knows won’t upset his stomach, but that will give him the fuel he needs to perform well. 

4. How do you balance training and classes?

Seriously, I think Jesse got pretty lucky that the trials didn’t happen to fall on finals week. But Jesse says he never really had any class conflicts. He was able to make his running practices every day, and managed it all just fine. In fact, Jesse graduated this past May with a B.S. in Biochemistry and minor in Health and Wellness studies. 

“I had plenty of time after practice to finish schoolwork and study as necessary,” Jesse insists. “Frankly, I think being a student-athlete made my life more structured, and in a sense, easier to balance.”

5. What was the hardest part about making it to the Olympic trials? 

“The trickiest thing with qualifying for the Olympic Trials is the obvious one – hitting the A standard.” The A standard is the running time needed in order to qualify for the highest marks to be considered for the Olympic Games. 

For the 800 m, which was Jesse’s run, the time to beat was 1:46.00. This was coincidentally also the Olympic Standard for that event, which is the time needed to qualify for the Games.

“My personal best remains 1:46.98, and my season best was 1:47.11,” Jesse explains. “So I actually never hit the standard, but since they take 32 people to the field, I had to wait on others who had run faster than myself to declare/scratch.” This means that Jesse had to wait for the groups of runners who had records better than his own to compete against each other first. Jesse ran with a group of runners with times comparable to his own.  “When all was said and done, I entered as the 28th seed.” There are some fast runners out there– the competition sounds intense. 

6. What does it mean to you to have the potential to be going to the Olympics?

“If someone had asked me at the beginning of my college career if I had the potential to make the Olympics, let alone the U.S. Olympic Trials, I would have seriously doubted them,” Jesse confessed. He never would have put himself up to the task. However, those that saw his talent thought otherwise.

“My coach recognized my potential, and each year I continued to develop and run faster.” And he’s still improving.

“I am amidst the search for a post-collegiate, professional group to train with,” Jesse continued. He’s planning to compete again in the 2020 Olympic Trials– this isn’t the end of Jesse’s running career. “There,” Jesse explains, determined, “I will hopefully stand a better chance at becoming a finalist in the event I go with competing in.” Right now, Jesse’s think it’s either going to be the 800 m or 1500 m/1 mile run.

7. Tell us about the trials! Were they anything like what you expected?

“The U.S. Olympic Trials were insane, in the best of ways,” Jesse began. “Eugene, Oregon has hosted the event many times, and their venue is like no other. I have raced at their track, Historic Hayward Field, four times now.” But this experience wasn’t like the rest. The energy in the familiar venue was entirely different, much more emotional and electric.

jesse garn

Jesse at the Historic Hayward Field

“I actually felt I handled the pressure best going into this event, better than any other.” Jesse says that this might be due to his familiarity with the venue, in terms of the check-in and warm-up procedures leading up to the race. He knew what formalities to expect.

Jesse claims that “the race itself wasn’t by any means perfect, finishing 6th of 7 in [his] heat”. However, only a half second (exactly) separated Jesse’s time from the winner’s. “So I was content being in the mix,” he says. 

The race! Jesse's the one in the green.

The race! Jesse’s the one in the green with the yellow shoes.

Despite the fact that he didn’t finish first, Jesse is altogether pleased with his run and with the experience of the event. “Having battled a few injuries this past year, it was really icing in the cake. Afterwards, I had the opportunity to be a spectator and witness the emotion of other runners in their successes and/or short-comings.” I can’t even imagine the tensions running high and the intense determination Jesse was surrounded with.

“It was truly an event of upsets and surprises. Every single race, jump and throw was thrilling.”

Check out these articles, too: 

Finals week, as told by “Parks and Rec”

parks-and-rec

Finals week is coming. 

You’ve said goodbye to your professors: 

And opened up your study guides to get cracking with prepping for your finals. And damn, good thing you did, cause when you open it up you’re just like:

Your friends are all going out to the bars, but you decide to study instead. I mean, come on! FINALS ARE APPROACHING, PEOPLE. DID YOU SEE THAT STUDY GUIDE?! But still… being responsible is hard.

Your classmates you’ve barely heard a word from all semester are suddenly acting like your best friends, hitting you up for notes and study help like:

And somehow you end up in the library with a group of near strangers from your class going over hours worth of notes. 

They’re all spitting knowledge like nobody’s business: 

And you’re just over here like: 

Studying at the lib is not going so well. 

So now you’re seeing your friends’ posts on insta and they’re like: 

And you’re in the library at 2 AM and trying to justify ordering pizza for delivery to this group of strangers.

After your late-night pizza, you read an article filled with healthy finals snacks and decide you’re going to make ALL OF THEM. 

But after studying for 5 hours, ALL YOU WANT IS JUNK FOOD

And somehow you ended up not eating so healthily after all… 

(Where did those come from?!) 

And somehow, you ended up out at the bars the next night anyway…

Days later… Finals week is well underway. 

The night before your last final comes around. You realize you somehow procrastinated this week WAY more than you should have. 

You leave the room after your exam like: 

But you know you and your classmates kicked that final’s butt. 

YOU DID IT! Now go out and celebrate 🙂 

This Student is Biking 4,000 Miles for Young Adults with Cancer

4k for cancer

This June, Fit University ambassador and University of Tennessee senior, Sydney Trentham plans to bike over 4,000 miles.

Yes, you read that right. Over 4,000 miles.

You see, Sydney is participating in one of the most ambitious, dedicated, and endurance-based cancer fundraisers there is. The event is called the 4k for Cancer, and it raises money for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.

4k for cancerThe group started in 2001, when a group of college students decided to ride bikes across the country. They partnered with the Ulman Cancer Fund to raise money for helping young adults afflicted with cancer. The idea came from college students for college students – so many students want to give back to people their age, to give hope for them.

Since then, the organization has accomplished amazing things. In a nutshell, they help support young adults with cancer by developing support groups, establishing scholarships for college-aged young adults with cancer, delivering cancer care packages, and giving money to people who need it to pay for treatment.

Through the program, Sydney will be riding with a horde of fellow college-aged runners and cyclists to travel across the country.

4k for cancerMid-August, she will arrive in San Francisco: triumphant, fatigued, and content in knowing that she aided the organization that raises nearly a million dollars towards cancer research each year.

So what made her want to participate? When we asked, Sydney told us that her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Through her mother’s diagnosis, she found she was brought closer to the cancer-affected community, and heard about the race through those contacts. In addition, she was looking for something to do this summer that would allow her to travel after she graduated – specifically, something that worked for a cause and hit close to home. The 4k was perfect.

And it was quite the ambitious goal. As for the intensity of the ride itself, Sydney had never participated in anything close. Sure she’s ridden charity rides, done a 5k or two, and biked 30 miles once. But 4,000 miles? You could say it’s a little out of her comfort zone.

The ride itself takes off from Baltimore. Sydney is riding in one of 25 groups of 180 total college-aged students, all running and riding on a few different tracks throughout the country. Routes end in big cities like San Diego and Portland. Some travel East to West like Sydney, while others push in the opposite direction.

Sydney’s particular trip is finishing in San Francisco, and will take a total of 70 days to complete. She’ll be riding for 10 weeks, scaling 50-120 miles per day. Every 7-10 days, she’ll get one rest day, which she’ll be spending delivering scholarships and care packages to young adults struggling with cancer. She’ll be roughing it—sleeping in sleeping bags at a local church, a YMCA, or outside.
4k for cancer

Traveling that far a distance with so little recovery time between rides requires quite the training regimen.

To prepare for the event this summer, Sydney started her training about two months ago. “I ride my bike anywhere around school,” she says. “4-5 days a week I’ll ride, and I’ll go anywhere from 60 to a couple hundred miles each week.” She goes on different types of rides on different terrain to prepare herself for the varied track she’ll be embarking on cross-country.

But that’s not all she’s doing to prep. Sydney also is fitting in Crossfit 3-5 days each week on top of her bike rides. This provides the cross training she needs, allowing her to build up her core stability and mobility.

The race gives her recommended training plans, which she participates in and modifies to fit her personal fitness levels and needs. She also participates in intramural sports at her school.

 

Found @trailheadbeer on my route, caught the sunset on the river, AND didn’t wreck. Great ride today!

A photo posted by Sydney Trentham (@sydneytrentham) on


All that training is a lot for one person’s body to handle—it’s a ton of expended energy each day. Which begs the question: what is she eating to fuel it all?

“I’m eating a lot,” she said. In fact, her appetite is through the roof. In one sitting, she’ll find herself eating 3 baskets of chips and queso, guacamole, salsa… (um, YUM) and still not feeling as full as she expected. “Everything you put in front of me, I’ll eat,” she explains.

Sydney makes sure she’s getting plenty of protein to prevent muscle degradation. That means lots of yogurt and lots of meat. Typically, riders have a lot of issues with GI, so Sydney needs probiotics which she gets through the yogurt. 

Training sounds intense. And it takes up a huge part of Sydney’s already-busy college life. So we asked her how she’s balancing all the training with school and other senior-year activities. 

Simply put, she’s really, really busy. Her calendar is packed, and her social life has taken somewhat of a beating. However, she considers herself lucky to have a group of friends who are really supportive of everything she’s been doing. In fact, her roommates even accompany her on spin bikes at the gym (she may have to drag them every once in awhile, but they’re still down to go with her!).

Not only has Sydney had to put in a great deal of time and effort to train for the 4k, but she’s also invested a lot in raising the money to enter. In order to participate, she has to raise her $4,500 entrance fee. Motivated by her passion for the cause, Sydney has raised money by selling apple butter, reigned in support from her family, held a potluck dinner at her church and is holding a Crossfit fundraiser in April.

We then asked Sydney what she was most nervous about the event. Basically (even though she’s putting in tons of training), she’s nervous that she won’t be in shape enough—particularly for the 12,000-13,000 foot climb she’ll be facing in the mountains of Colorado.

But her excitement far outweighs her fears.

What’s she excited about? Everything else! Seeing the country (she’s never been North of the Mason-Dixon line or West of the Mississippi), the thrill of the great outdoors, meeting a whole bunch of new people just as passionate about the cause as she is, and (of course) giving back to the cancer community. Giving them hope and support is so important to Sydney; she can only imagine how difficult it is to for someone her age to have cancer.

4k for cancer“What do you hope to accomplish by doing the 4k?” we asked next.

“More awareness and support to young adults with cancer,” Sydney replied. “People are already asking about what I’m doing and why. People want to know why.” Through her dedication and training, Sydney is raising even more awareness for the event, and therefore the cause.

You go Sydney!

As a final message, she has to say: “With a community like Fit U, take something that you’re passionate about and turn it towards a great cause. We can do a lot with the tools we have, and not everyone out there is able to do what you or I can. Use it to your advantage!”

Interesting in donating to Sydney’s 4k for Cancer? Click here!

You can also join her Facebook event, where she posts fun fundraisers like health tips, apple butter & ebooks.

The Silent Predator of New Year’s Resolutions That Nobody Talks About

new years resolution

Consider these 3 things when making your resolutions.

Well, guys, it’s a new year.

Another year has come and gone, and I’m sure you’re all doing a lot of worthy reflecting: you’re probably looking back on achievements, feeling thankful for the good things, and feeling hopeful that the not-so-good things will get better.

It’s during this annual reflection that a lot of really valuable conclusions are made. You take a step back, look at your life, and strengthen your resolve to enact positive change. But the New Year is also a time when a lot of really invaluable conclusions are made—though these kinds of conclusions can be much harder to see. Reflecting can be overdone. It can also be done in a way that becomes negative.

When people think about resolutions, they tend to think about things they can do better. This could be really great! I mean, who doesn’t want to improve? Life is a constant tumult of learned improvement, a slow and hefty upward climb through to the end. Learning how and trying to do better is the only real constant life has to offer.

But I’d be willing to bet this sounds familiar to you, too:

This year, I didn’t do ________.

This year, I sucked at _________.

Wow, I really fell through on my resolution from last year.

We beat ourselves up for the things we wish we’d done. We imbibe a sense of lacking to our concepts of ourselves and insert disappointment where there formerly was none. We look at the past year and find the loopholes in our accomplishments, the blemishes on our timelines, the mix-ups, the mistakes, and the blotches of failure on an otherwise dazzling portrait of a year.

Then, we hone in on them. The bad things become our conception of the entire year instead, and we forget to give ourselves credit for the things we did do well.

This, unfortunately, is especially true with regards to fitness and body image. Physical fitness is a great aspiration; but it can also be a slippery slope. It’s easy to get caught up in the mentality that nothing is ever enough, that you always could have done more: eaten “better”, done more pushups, ran an extra mile on the treadmill.

That kind of slope? It can be really dangerous. And it often enacts itself in our New Year’s resolutions. How many times have you heard someone make a resolution about his or her weight? How many times have you heard someone crack a joke or make a passing remark about his or her failure at the last year’s weight loss-centered goal?

Saying these things is not only dangerous for yourself, but it can affect those around you. It seeps into our culture and creates a festering wound of bitter comparison and self-criticism.

Let’s keep it #noregrets, am I right?

giphy1

So, when you’re making your New Year’s resolution this year, I challenge you to take a step back and do a good and honest search for these three harmful aspects of New Year’s resolution goals.

1) Making absolutes

These are the all-or-nothing goals, the ones that set rigid rules on our lives and set an impossibly high standard. In reality, these are just set-ups for feelings of failure. This can look innocent, like: I’m going to go to the gym five times a week! or I’m going to get straight A’s! Yeah, that’d be nice, but here’s the thing: life happens. It gets in the way and you need to make room for the other things that matter, too. You might have a really crazy week and not make it to the gym 5 times, and that’s ok. It doesn’t mean that you failed at your goal (at least not if you absolve the absolute). 🙂 

2) Negatively comparing yourself to others

These are the “I’m going to do better than last year” goals. Not only are they extremely non-specific and totally subjective (who’s to decide what constitutes “better than last year”, anyway?) but they also paint a negative view on yourself from the year prior. No good. Not productive, and also not good for your self-esteem or self-image. Why bring yourself down? Keep your goals positive, and you’ll give them the power to do positive things. Negativity breeds negativity: stay looking up.

3) Setting overly high expectations

But not too far up! These are the goals that are way too far-reaching to ever really be accomplished while maintaining a sense of balance. For example, I’m going to read 100 books, even though last year I read 5! or I’m going to lift 400 pounds by next month! Again, sure that’d be cool. But you’re really setting yourself up for failure by setting the bar too high. If you read 10 books, that’d still be an accomplishment: you don’t need to be logic-defyingly amazing to still be amazing. You can do well at something without doing the best.

So…now that we’ve cleansed ourselves of the bad: what does a positive goal look like?

I think it totally depends on the individual. For me, I’m trying to make my goals for this year mindset-based. Instead of making up some steadfast rule or creating an accomplishment-based external goal, I’m going to try and set internal goals that are much more flexible. 

For instance, I want to enter the new semester while maintaining an open mind. That’s going to be hard for me, since I love conjuring expectations and standards for myself for the future. However, I think that adding a little wiggle room will be good for me. After all, it’s impossible to know what lies ahead in the coming months, anyway.

Well, fit readers, thanks for listening. I’m sure you’re all headed towards a wonderful 2016 just stuffed full of accomplishments and if you need some more guidance, check out our 5-step plan to actually keep your resolutions. And now:

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Check out these articles too:

Why You Should Set Non-Fitness Resolutions Too
New Years Resolutions: A New Perspective
How To Actually Keep Your New Years Resolutions
Food Trends To Get You Excited for 2017

10 Tips to Maintaining Your Sanity During Finals

How to make it through finals frenzy

I know what you’re thinking: sanity?! During finals?? Well that’s impossible.

Okay, guys. Deep breath…
 
Finals are starting. Your planner is blowing up with frantic scrawls written with the only pen you have yet to lose this semester, professors all appear to be forgetting that you’re enrolled in four classes for God’s sake, and due dates are approaching faster than you’re mentally prepared for. Don’t panic.
 
Now, I do feel like a little bit of a hypocrite saying that, because I definitely am panicking. But, to help make it through this week of essay edits and last-minute memorization, I’ve devised 10 tactics I plan to use to make it through relatively unscathed (or at least with minimal mental scarring).

1. Prioritize you. 

That’s right: be selfish. Remember what’s most important here. For me, it’s my grades. This week, I’ve got a lot on my plate. However, I know that keeping up my GPA is the most important. That, and my mental health. Know what you need to do to make each day a success and make sure you do those things. So, when your friend asks you for that extraneous favor that will take 30 minutes out of your study time, say no. If you think you can swing it, then by all means go ahead. But if helping out your friend will stress you out and risk you getting done what you need to, don’t feel obligated. Your friend will be ok.

Also, here’s a secret: they’re prioritizing themselves, too. It’s a stressful time. So be a little selfish this week, and do what you gotta do to make it through.

2. Make a running to-do list. 

When you have so much on your plate, it can be easy to let things fall through the cracks. As great as the “I can just remember everything I have to do” method is, it’s not. And once things start slipping, it can feel like the whole universe is crashing down. Cue stress attack. However, you can prevent this before it happens! Keep a running to-do list of every little thing you need to get done. As the list shrinks throughout the week, you’ll feel like a badass, accomplished member of society.

list-372766_960_720

3. Make a daily to-do list. 

Yes. More to-do lists. Don’t knock it till you try it— because that running to-do list is probably going to be a lengthy one. It might get a little overwhelming. Again: cue stress attack. However, you can make smaller, more manageable to-do lists at the start of each day. When you wake up, sit down for 3 minutes and think: what do I absolutely, non-negotiably need to get done today? Write those things down. Then start with accomplishing those things first.

It can be easy to clog up your to-do list with things that would be ok to leave undone, like your laundry or cleaning your room. Keep these things on that longer to-do list, and preserve this one for the things you 100% NEED to finish today. 10000% more manageable amount of tasks, I promise.

4. Schedule in study time. 

It’ll keep you accountable. It also can help you visualize how much free time you really have at your disposal, and will make sure you don’t waste it.

5. Limit study time with friends. 

Friends make great study partners from time to time, but if you find yourself continually spending hours in the library chatting instead of getting anything done, take note of that. Prioritize you, make changes accordingly. Friends and social sanity are important, yes, but limiting this time can make the time you do spend with them more valuable and the time you spend studying more effective.

6. Work out. 

This may seem counter-intuitive, cause of the time commitment. However: endorphins. Stress release. Productive jump to your day. Beating the mid-day slump. Need I go on?

mike crespo

7. Take productivity breaks that are still, well… productive. 

Some examples of activities that are productive but give your brain a break include laundry, making your bed, prepping your meals for the next day, etc. You can make these tasks more fun, too! For example, I like to blast some music while I do my laundry, and maybe dance a little in my room. Or try out a new recipe for your lunch the next day.

8. Meal plan.

This may sound like an odd suggestion, because it’s time consuming. But you know what won’t make you feel better this week? Not eating healthily. The sugary or processed foods you’ll most likely find in the library vending machine will probably make you feel sluggish, tired and unproductive. Hence, more stress. To prevent this, before the barrage of assignments really start, plan and prep a few healthy meals for the week, even if it’s just one or two. But here are 10 healthy snacks to get you through finals.

You can store them in your freezer or fridge and pack them in to-go containers for easy access to meals you can bring with you to the library or class. That way, when you’re inevitably too busy to have time to cook during the week, you’ll have some healthy options. You’ll thank your past self, and get quality, wholesome meals instead of losing out on money and nutrition by buying something on campus when you’re pressed for time.

what's the big deal with oatmeal

9. Reward yourself. 

Buy yourself an extra coffee, make some tea and watch an episode or two of Netflix, finally buy yourself that shirt or new sneakers you’ve been eyeing… The rewards will help balance out the workload, and help keep your spirits from plummeting. Plus, TREAT YO SELF. You deserve it.

10. Take one day at a time. 

Remember those daily to-do lists? You can absolutely accomplish them. You are a strong, equipped, adult and you can kick this final’s week’s ass 🙂

Check out these articles too:

10 Healthy Study Snacks To Get You Through Finals
Namast’ay in the Library: How Yoga Helps Me Survive Finals Week
The Ultimate Comfort Food Recipe For Finals
Take a Study Break With This Short Workout

What Do Marathon Training Plans and Knitting Patterns Have in Common?

marathon and knitting

Answer: Meredith’s now an expert at both.

I know what you’re thinking: knitting and running? Those are two activities you don’t see paired together too often. I mean, when’s the last time you spotted your grandma running 26 miles?

marathon and knitting

However, Meredith Parmalee (Northeastern University International Business major, senior, and recent marathon conqueror) saw potential in the paradoxical activities, and took to the New York City streets a few weeks ago decked in running shoes and yarn-in-arm. 

The NYC Marathon is an annual event coursing through five boroughs in New York City. Each year, runners and attendees hail from all over the US to put their training to good use and cheer on their friends and family. It is the largest marathon in the world, with tens of thousands of runners participating each year.

This year, Meredith stood out from the rest. Not only did she run the NYC Marathon, but she knit a 22-foot scarf along the way.

July of last year, Meredith was stationed at her second co-op (for all you non-Northeastern readers, that means that she was working full time for a semester while in undergrad at NEU) in Madrid, Spain. She worked in the marketing department of We Are Knitters, a knitting company in the city that made knitting supplies and various knitting kits. One day, while doing some marketing research, she came across a man who was notorious for knitting and running a marathon simultaneously. Meredith was intrigued, and joked the next day at work that she’d do it—of course, never thinking it’d actually happen.

marathon and knitting

But then, with the encouragement of her co-workers, she came up with an idea. She could do it; and for charity, too. Her grandmother had taught her to knit when she was a child, and while on co-op, her knitting skills got a little more serious. So she had the first half of it down. Suddenly inspired, she laced up her sneakers and attempted the feat of knitting and running at the same time. After the first mile, she was pretty winded. As you might have guessed, the activities don’t exactly mesh as easily as one might have hoped. However, Meredith remained motivated and found a team to train with.

She decided that she would train with Team in Training, a team perfect for Marathon newbies that raises money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. With her fundraising in mind and team at her back, she began going on training runs.

marathon and knittingMeredith embarked on a 16-week marathon training plan, bringing yarn with her all the while. She maneuvered it by wrapping the yarn around her wrist and completing a finger knit pattern, holding the knit scarf underneath her arm. The knitting did limit her mobility considerably, but she knew it was nothing her training couldn’t fix.

With her co-op ending in mid-August and her return to the states mid-training, Meredith continued to raise awareness for her cause.

Back in Boston, classes started to take up a good portion of her time. Beginning her last semester of undergrad, Meredith says that this last stretch of training was the hardest part. She went on her long runs before her 9:15 AM class and over the weekend when she had the most time. However, it was still her senior year, and her friends wanted to go out on weekends. Motivated still, Meredith cut back on drinking and going to bars over the weekend and worked hard to fit in her training, despite the temptation to go out – not to mention, also having to study. Though it was an adjustment, Meredith says she had a great support system at her back the entire time.

“I’d run 3 half marathons, 5 k’s, 10 k’s, and cross country; but I didn’t think I could do it,” Meredith confessed. But with her friends and family’s support, she continued to train for her run. “There’s no end to what you can do,” she said. “And I surprised myself in how much I could physically do with training!”

Flash forward to Sunday, November 1st. Race day. “I didn’t know what to expect,” Meredith said. “I didn’t know what people would think, or if people would say anything.”

marathon and knittingMeredith’s wave left at 11am. Before the start, there was a lot of waiting around, which can really work on the nerves. But the sense of community Meredith found at the race lifted her spirits. “Everyone has his or her own story for doing it [running a marathon],” she explained. “There’s a whole community I didn’t even know existed.”

Meredith had quite the community to support her efforts at the race as well. Her co-workers traveled from Spain to support her, cheering enthusiastically from the sidelines and waiting at mile 16 with replacement yarn when she ran out. From what she told us, it sounds like an awesome time; people took selfies with her running with her yarn and shouted things like “Make me a sweater!” from the raucous surrounding crowds. “It was such a good experience!” she professed.

marathon and knitting

The scarf may have been bulky, but she says it ended up even serving as a helpful distraction from the pain in her legs. “Some people listen to music while they run—I knit!”

Overall, Meredith explains, it was a hugely rewarding endeavor. “Maybe in a couple of weeks when my legs heal,” she said, “I’ll decide to do it again, but in a different city.”

Before training, Meredith admits that at times, she hadn’t always had this ambitious mindset. She thought, “No, I can’t do that. I can never do a full marathon—those people are crazy.” But the doubts we tell ourselves aren’t always so accurate. She did it, and she’s got the scarf and the medal to prove it.

If Meredith’s story tells us anything, it’s in the power of motivation and believing in yourself. If you persist and keeping working towards your goal, there’s no limit to what you can achieve. 

Wanna try your take at knitting and running? Check out this video where Meredith explains her technique: