Category

Motivation

The Stages of a Dead Lift PR, As Told by Buddy the Elf

Preparing to try for a personal record for any lift is an emotional thing.  You’re nervous, frustrated, and exhilarated all at once.

In the spirit of the holiday season, I’ve expressed some of the things I go through during a training session, as told by my favorite Christmas movie character, Buddy the Elf.

The Night Before

Carb loading for the big day with anything you can get your hands on (preferably candy, candy corns, candy canes, and syrup)…

The Day Of

Walking into the gym ready to dominate like… 

And then you walk to the squat rack and stretch while you mentally prepare yourself… 

While you warm-up, you watch some powerlifters throw around 495 pounds like it’s no problem… 

And, finally, you’re mentally ready and you start setting up your barbell…

Only to drop a 45 pound plate on your foot because you were just so ~in the zone~… 

This psyches you out and you realize that this PR is going to be much more challenging than you thought…

Dropping the barbell mid lift, you get extremely frustrated because you know you’re strong enough to pull this weight…

So you give yourself a pep talk to get your head back in the game…

And just when you think you can’t do it, you hit that PR with such ferocity that you can’t help but do a happy dance… 

Your lifting buddy comes over and is just as proud as you are…

And you walk out of the gym with great pride, either entirely exhausted… 

…or so jazzed about your PR that you can’t help but cheerfully skip out…

Either way, you just did what you once couldn’t do, and you can’t wait to do it again! 

Check out these articles too: 

Your Health Matters, and Fitness Can Help

back to school blowout

If you hang out with other fitness-minded people, you’re probably used to a frequent exchange of killer workouts and green juice recipes. If you get into that health bubble enough, it can even be hard to remember that not everyone lives that lifestyle. In fact, if I listen around campus, I hear people joke all the time about their unhealthy lifestyles.

“I’m 22. I know I should be in the best shape of my life, but I can’t stop smoking, drinking, and eating Easy Mac.”

“Same, honestly.”

No judgment from me. Really. Processed foods are designed to taste good, and for many, smoking and drinking are social activities. Friends are important to your health, too, and I’m not suggesting you ditch them exclusively for people who go spinning at 5am and eat bowl after bowl of roasted veggies. But maybe take your Easy Mac and add some carrots on the side.

fitness fit in Maybe you go for a drink with your friends after you take a yoga class together. Maybe you go for a walk instead of taking the subway every time. It’s not about overhauling every area of your life. No, it’s about finding little ways to make the life you love healthier.

And you’re never in too ‘bad’ of a place to start.

“Wow. I just got winded taking a shower because it was more activity than I’ve done in weeks.”

“Do you want to go to the gym with me?”

“Nah, I’m too out of shape.”

It can be hard to change your routine. And if you think everyone else knows what they’re doing, you’re dead wrong. Going to the gym can be scary.

You also don’t have to go. If you feel too out of place there, go for a walk. Go rock climbing if that sounds more fun. Or, ask some fit friends to help you out. Even if they aren’t experts, they have a little experience and will probably be happy to help you on your health journey.

You don’t want to go it alone; health can be intimidating. If you aren’t the person who hits the gym regularly and meal preps religiously, you might feel put off because it seems like a lot of work. I get it. Even though I am that person, sometimes it still gets to be overwhelming. That’s what happens when you try to do it all.

But here’s the thing: You do not have to do it all. You don’t even have to do a lot. Well, really, you don’t have to do anything. Still, I hope you do. Not for me, but for you – and your future self.

Confused?

We don’t always do a good job of emphasizing why fitness actually matters. A lot of the time it seems like we are blindly chasing #bodygoals or the next PR. We want to run faster, lift heavier, and get leaner. 

health matters battle ropesWhat if you could forget all that? I want you to try. Not because being fast or crazy strong are bad goals; sometimes they’re great.

Rather because at the most basic level, fitness is about health. It’s about making your quality of life better – and speed, super strength, or a low body fat percentage can’t really accomplish that.

But the extra steps you take to live a healthier life might. Strength training a few times a week might make moving out of your apartment that much easier. Eating fresher food might make your skin clearer or boost your energy. Going for a walk might just make it more enjoyable to run around with your dog.

health run with dog

Your health is not a joke and it matters way more than your physique – and you don’t have to make huge changes to improve it. A little fitness goes a long way.

Check out these articles too:

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

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

The #fitufam is not new to obstacle racing.

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

tough mudder

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

Quick reminder that fitness is better with your #fitufam.

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

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

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

tough mudder 2

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

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

Community is key

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

Your mind is the strongest muscle in your body

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

tough mudder 3The body is an amazing thing

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

Everybody has different strengths

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

tough mudder 5

Fitness should be fun

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

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

Check out these articles too:

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

How to take a Productive Rest Day

How to have a Productive Rest Day

Here at FitU, we’ve gone over the importance of taking rest days. Oftentimes, people think working out every day is the best way to see results, whether those desired results are improving your lifts, losing weight, or just living a healthy lifestyle. While consistency is definitely important for achieving your goals, learning to listen to your body and give it the rest it needs is just as valuable.

Not only do rest days help prevent injury and encourage muscle recovery, but studies show that over-training can lead to excess levels of cortisol in your body. This can thus make you feel fatigued and depressed. In the end, taking a day or two off will help your body in the long run, and make your workouts more effective.

Just because you take a day off from your usual fitness routine does not mean you have to sit at home all day instead. Here are some ideas on how to keep moving, even on an off day. 

1. Deep clean your room or apartment.

Get moving and feel refreshed by vacuuming under your furniture and all those hard to reach spaces, deep cleaning your bathroom, cleaning out your fridge and changing your sheets. Not only will your health benefit from a cleaner space but there is a clear link between mental wellness and an organized, clean home. Blast some music and get moving like Mr. Clean.

2. Do an “active” activity.

Most cities and suburbs have tons of different events and attractions like rock climbing gyms, trampoline parks, or ice skating rinks. Be a kid again and grab some friends to tag along. Most of these options are cheap, and you’ll make memories and spend time with others in addition to keeping active. 

3. Stretch.

So many of us neglect this aspect of our fitness routine, despite the clear benefits it has to our bodies. It can be done just about anywhere at any time. Use a foam roller or do some yoga if you’re feeling fancy. 

4. Go for a walk outside.

This walk can range from a loop around your neighborhood with your family to a day-hike. Walks are free and benefit your health via a dose of Vitamin D and clean air. Being outside also improves your sleep and psychological health

A day off won’t kill your progress. As seen above, there are a variety of options in which you can make a rest day valuable and useful without traditional exercise. 

Check out these articles too: 

Three Tips To End Workout Comparison

end workout comparison

We’ve all been there. You’re running on the treadmill and the person next to you is going at a speed of 7.0 but you’re only going at 6.0, so you speed up to be at the same pace. Or you look over at what the person next to you is squatting and add an extra plate. You do one more rep because the person who’s always at the gym is watching you and you want them to see that you’re doing just as much as he is (reality check: nobody is actually watching you in the gym! – everyone is there for themselves). 

Workout comparison gets pretty ugly. Just like any sort of comparison does. It brings you down and robs you of your joy. 

So how do you stop comparing what you do in the gym to what everyone else does? 

Appreciate your differences.

Remember your body is unique. What feels best for you during a workout may not feel as great for someone else. Honor that. Do what feels good for you, don’t do something because someone else is doing it.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Don’t beat yourself up because you may not be able to run as fast as the person next to you. They may not be able to do something as well as you. Remembering that we all excel at some things more so than others is crucial.

Remember your why.

Don’t lose sight of why you go to the gym. Everyone has different fitness goals but overall, you shouldn’t be working out to be better than someone else. Unless you’re training for a race or powerlifting meet, your goal shouldn’t be to out-lift someone or out-run someone. You should be exercising because moving is beneficial to your health, because it helps to relieve stress, and because working out is fun. You should love what you’re doing and embrace the fact that whatever workout you are doing feels good for your body. 

Refocus your attention.

Comparison steals your joy. When you find yourself comparing what you’re doing to someone else, take a step back and refocus your mind by thinking back to your why. Work on being better than yesterday, not better than the person next to you in the gym. When we comparison within ourselves, we allow for growth. When we have it with others, we set ourselves up for feeling insecure and disappointed. 

Stay focused on your own journey with fitness and you’ll stop caring about others’.

Check out these articles too:

I Worked Out at Midnight for 30 Days. Here’s What I Learned.

midnight workout

While you were watching “just one more episode…” of Netflix, I was in the weight room.

Why? No, I didn’t do it for the Instagram (or the blog post). That summer, I had to fast for thirty straight days for religious reasons. The custom is to refrain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset, eating only while the sun is down.

Through this time, I was determined to stay active. I had goals for at the gym that meant a lot to me; and since religion meant a lot to me, too, I decided to attempt to keep up with both. I knew that I couldn’t workout without eating. That made my daytime workouts not an option. So I managed to fit my workouts in after sunset and before sunrise.

A lot of people are sleeping at midnight. A lot of people are eating, watching, showering, and texting, on Instagram and Facebook. But not me– I was at the gym. For the summer of 2016, I challenged myself in a whole new way. 

Here’s what I learned in the process.

1. There are some pros.

I’m sure those who have been to the gym during peak hours understand how crazy it can get. Now imagine how many people are actually in the gym at midnight. I mean, for someone searching for an open squat rack, the view was absolutely breathtaking. All of them were free.

I walked in like:

Really, the perks were unbelievable. Empty gym. Empty saunas. Not a single person within a 10 foot radius of me. I could grunt, sing out loud, dance, flex in the mirror, and admire myself… or anything else I so desired, with no one near me.

2. There are some cons.

Actually getting there at midnight wasn’t as easy as you’d expect. Or, it was about as difficult as you would expect. At 11:45 pm, sometimes the last thing I felt like doing was walking into a workout.

But it’s all about the motivation–getting yourself to walk through those doors so you can walk out an hour later knowing you put in 110%, ever rep and every set.

And let me tell you, at 11:45 pm, my mind could get pretty creative with excuses to skip it. You can’t even imagine the extent of excuses I came up with. 

3. Sometimes, the hardest part isn’t just getting there.

One I arrived, I figured this workout would be easy, right? Wrong.

There were times when I went in and just wanted to get my workout over with. For me, this was unusual; I’m all about enjoying my workouts and keeping it interesting. But with my body not used to giving that much energy so late in the day, I was struggling. I cheated on sets by doing three instead of four. I cheated on reps by either using less weights or performing less reps.

My body just wasn’t used to this time. This was the time of the day when my body was ready to fall asleep and my mind was tired form the day’s work. 

Here are some of the ways I kept the energy up through those late night workouts:

1. I used pre-workout.

Pre-workout supplements worked really well for me, but don’t feel like you have to use them. They aren’t for everyone. In my case, one serving shocked my brain back to life and back into gear. My awareness, energy, and alertness were sky high.

For those of you who aren’t into pre-workout, you could try another source of caffeine. My workout partner, for instance, would always have a cup of coffee before our gym sessions.

Though taking pre-workout or caffeine could make it hard to sleep if you’re taking it so late at night – don’t forget how important sleep is to a healthy lifestyle.

2. I had a workout partner.

Speaking of my workout partner… A workout partner is so important, whether you’re a newbie to the weight room or have been going to the gym for years. Whoever you are, big or small, you can benefit from going with a friend.

There are some things in life that can’t be measured, and one of those is having a partner by your side. Nobody else can motivate you, keep your workouts challenged, help you finish sets, and make the workout experience more worthwhile and fun.

I always say: Before you leave your house for the gym, check for your keys, your phone, and the ETA (estimated time of arrival) of your gym buddy. Then, you’ve got all you need.

3. I pumped up the music.

Make sure you have music with you at all times. Music is what pumps you up, gets you hyped, and resonates throughout your body.

Like a natural pre-workout, it makes you feel jumpy and excited to get to the iron paradise and to start putting your body to the test. Personally, I can never get through a workout without a little Evanescence and Jonas Brothers by my side.

The takeaway?

Every hour is a good hour as long as you can make it work for you! If your schedule allows for late workout and in turn, late starts to your morning, then by all means try it out. I wouldn’t suggest working out at midnight if you have a 8am class. You don’t want to end up like this baby….

worked out at midnight

All in all, those midnight workouts taught me a lot about myself and fitness. They taught me that there is never a time when being active, however you want to, isn’t an option. You should never feel like you can’t put in your hour of fitness a day just because it’s late in the day or the gym is closed. 

And if your gym does close before midnight, there will always be great workouts to do at home or even in your small dorm room. 

Check out some of these articles too:

I Took A Week Off From Working Out: Here’s What Happened

Nothing.

That’s exactly what happened: nothing. At the end of one week without working out, I looked in the mirror and nothing had changed. If anything, I felt more liberated. My body felt a lot better rested.

Let me back up a few weeks. 

Have you ever reached the point where you’re fed up with the gym? Where your body and mind just don’t feel like working out? Your alarm goes off and you can’t imagine getting up and dragging yourself to the gym. Or the late afternoon rolls around and your body is just begging for a nap.

A few weeks ago, I reached this point. I absolutely resented going to the gym. It was then that I asked myself: why am I forcing myself to workout if my body doesn’t want to?

So I decided to take a whole week off from the gym, and what happened was both surprising and empowering: nothing. I actually felt better rested, my mind felt clearer, and I didn’t gain or lose a single pound.

I had more time to study, do work, and hang out with my friends. My diet was a lot more balanced and I felt relieved that I didn’t have to force myself to get up and go do something I was dreading. It was in one word, freeing. 

After my week of relaxation was over, I felt rejuvenated and ready to continue with my workouts. 

I Took A Week Off From Working Out Here's What Happened

I realized that taking time off from working out isn’t the end of the world.

In fact, it can be a whole new beginning for a fresh spurt of motivation. Taking breaks from the gym not only gives your body time to rest and recover from the constant stress it’s under, but it also strengthens your mental resolve. Before that week, I would have been afraid to take more than a few days off from the gym. But realizing that it really has little effect on performance, I feel like I can practice mindfulness and balance even more.  

The Bottom Line:

If you are tired, worn down, and sick of the gym, take a break. Listen to your body. Respect your body. It is smarter and more capable than you think. 

Check out these articles too:

Increase Your Motivation as Summer Heats Up

As you sit inside, cooled either by a fan or in-house AC, watching the temperature outside rise, it can be really hard to motivate to get out and moving. Doesn’t sitting in a cool room burn calories too? Won’t I get heat exhaustion or sun burn if I workout for too long outside? 

While the answers to these are both yes (with easy remedies of shortening your workout or stopping when you begin feeling faint, and wearing sunscreen), there is still reason to go for a quick bike ride or run out among the sizzlingly concrete and scorching sun. 

Working out in hot temperatures can increase your core temperature, and this has been shown to suppress appetites.

Not only does working in hot temperatures suppress your appetite initial post-workout hunger, it also leads to an increase in performance at colder level temperatures — so if you are doing a half marathon in October and do a lot of distance in July and August, you will be that much faster!

But it is just so hard to motivate! 

If you don’t want to run or walk, because we all know how incredibly painful and horrible sweating off every single electrolyte EVER off our bodies, try biking or swimming. Both are cooler ways to workout. Biking helps motivate you to create your own wind by pedaling faster and swimming immerses your body with much cooler temperatures than you would be dealing with on land (unless it’s a hot tub and then all I can say is that’s something you brought on yourself). 

 

Check out these articles too! 

Your Deodorant Could Be Making You Sweat More

How To Make The Most of Summer Break

A DIY Cycling Class for When You Can’t Make it to the Studio

Three Life Lessons I Learned From Running

 

Three Life Lessons I Learned From Running

I had such an awesome run Morgan Freeman should’ve narrated it.

Running is likely one of the world’s most basic (but challenging) forms of exercise. It requires a slew of highly developed emotional and physical qualities to really pursue the sport.

Though running can be exceptionally painful, it is worth all the challenge that comes with it. Running has the power to teach us endlessly important lessons. Through my eight years of running, the three most important lessons I have learned are:

1. Emotional Resilience 

Running can be frustrating. You see marathon runners, Olympic track stars, and crazy ultra 100-mile racers all over the media. They seem to flow through their races with ease and grace as their legs effortlessly work beneath them.

Meanwhile, for us regular folk, sometimes an easy 3-miler or a few intervals seems like an impossible challenge.

It’s easy for us to give up and get down on ourselves. However, we must remember that hard work breeds better results, and though we may never be that Olympic champion, we can become the most determined, fastest, and best versions of our runner selves. Through running, we realize that our hard work will take us places and allow us to achieve our dreams.

2. What Goes Up Must Come Down

This one is pretty literal. It applies to hills, yes, but also the highs and lows of existence.

There will always be good times, and there will always be bad times. Both are inescapable, but both provide valuable lessons. Without the good, the bad would be unbearable. And without the bad, the good would be less sweet. So next time you’re dreading that hill, just remember: keep going, keep striding, and soon you’ll be coasting toward victory.

3. Hold Your Judgement

Let’s say you see someone out on a run. They’re jogging slowly, with labored breath. Your first thought may be to say, “Run, Forrest, Run!” or maybe make a comment on how sluggish they are. I ask you, from now on, to refrain from judging this runner.

You don’t know if this is their first mile ever, or their 18th mile out of 20. You don’t know if they’re recovering from an injury, or just trying to get back on the workout wagon. Maybe that mile is their newest personal record– and even if it’s not quite up to par with your PR, or another runner’s, it’s a wonderful accomplishment nonetheless.

In all situations, it’s not your place or your right to judge this individual. A person on a run is just like any other individual you will encounter in life. Instead of judging their situation: root for them, support them, think kindly of them. This positive mindset and compassion toward others will take you far in life.

Running has proven to be challenging and heartbreaking, but also beautiful and awe-inspiring. I am proud to be a runner, for running has taught me how to be a better friend, leader, and citizen of the world, and without it, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

Check out these articles too:

Why You Need to Stop Fighting Your Body, and Start Loving Yourself

Stop Fighting Your Body, Start Loving Yourself

Love yourself first.” It’s easy to say, but incredibly difficult to do.

I’m here to tell you my story– to show you that even under the strongest doubts, it is possible to practice self love and forgiveness. With nearly four years of self-improvement under my belt, I can say I’ve made immense progress in my journey to self love. But I’ll never be perfect. Even now, I sometimes struggle to love myself all the time. But that is okay. That’s part of it.

I still look in the mirror with a critical eye sometimes. I still occasionally feel guilty when I eat one too many cookies. But the difference is that now I can step back, realize what’s really going on, and forgive myself.

In the past, I would labor over that cookie or that unflattering photo and create a storm of self-hate and disrespect.

Self-love is something to be cultivated, not perfected, and it’s possible for everyone.

My story began when I was in elementary school: a happy-go-lucky, carefree kid who loved cake and pushed the limits of Abercrombie’s sizes. Soon enough, though, the beauty standards of society became a reality surrounding me, and I was forced to face the fact that I was… different. My friends were all smaller than me, I couldn’t share clothes with anyone, and I compared myself with every other girl in the room.

Fast forward to high school, when fasting and cardio became my identity. I hated my body, I hated myself, and for some reason I thought that if I was skinny, that everything wrong in my life would suddenly turn right. I was so wrong in this assumption. I found “clean eating” but took it to an extreme; my orthorexic tendencies caused me to miss out on birthday parties, get togethers, and, to be honest, life. 

After months, or really years, I got there. I was skinny.

But nothing else in my life changed. I still hated how I looked, I couldn’t stop comparing myself to other girls, and I was still incredibly unhappy. Sure, it was nice to hear the compliments, but that external validation only fed into my fears. I was so blind to the idea that there could be something other than this, that body positivity could be a reality or even attainable.

I guess I got tired. I guess I got fed up with counting every single calorie I ate and ensuring that everything I fed myself was “low-cal” or “clean”. I felt something inside of me that wanted more, that knew there was a different path for me– and that if I continued down my current one, I would just keep on searching for something that didn’t even exist.

Your body does nothing but work to keep you alive each and every day. It exists for you and cares for you in ways that nothing else can.

Each cell inside of you is there to serve a purpose, affirmed by you: either you can help your body grow and flourish, or you can hinder it. Sure, it’s easy to work against yourself, but there is absolutely no sense in fighting against the one thing that is all for you… So please don’t do it. 

We all have stretch marks, we all have rolls when we sit down, and we certainly all have that little fat pocket between our arms. But you know what? That makes us human. It means we are alive and here, and that should be enough. Nobody’s judging you as hard as yourself but, on the flip side, nobody can love you as much as yourself.

How you treat yourself is extremely telling in how much you will tolerate from others. I used to punish myself and put myself down; I had the idea that I was undeserving of any kind of love or happiness. In return, I interpreted negativity from situations that aligned with my thinking.

Body image is woven into all other aspects of life– whether it be relationships, work, school, or well being. What you put out, you will get right back.

There’s no easy way to get past a negative self-image. I’m not saying there is any one path, but it’s important to recognize that there is a path. Start listening to your body and remember that balance is the key to sanity. While you should be nurturing your health nine times out of ten, it won’t be the end of the world if you slip up. That makes you human and serves as a reminder that you are trying, and I promise, even that is enough!

Once you free yourself from negative self-talk and restriction, the world opens up to you. You’ll be amazed at the situations and opportunities that begin to arise when you stop saying no and begin to say perhaps. Really, the world is yours to take and anything you could imagine is within reach. It just starts with self-acceptance. Before others can love and accept you, you must be able to sit alone with yourself and feel comfortable. It takes work and by no means is it a quick fix, but it is accessible for each and every one of us.

So, please, stop fighting your body. Put the weapons down and trade them in for love, gratitude, and self-care. Listen to your body and make sure that your head and your heart are in balance. Release the idea that you have to restrict yourself or look a certain way to be happy, because otherwise you will be chasing an ideal that cannot be reached. Love yo self, treat yo self, cherish yo self. Life opens up when you do, so make the step towards reaching your potential today by deciding to work with your body rather than against it. 

Check out these articles too:

Why I Switched To Morning Workouts

morning workouts

Picture this: 5:30 AM on a monday morning, your alarm blaring, the sun not yet risen, your bed sheets warm and soft. And yet, you’re about to get out of bed to walk half a mile in the 20 degree weather to your University’s gym

Yeah, that’s me – Every. Single. Day.

All of my friends look at me in shock when I say I’ll be hitting the gym at 6 AM – let’s just say my 10:30 PM bedtime doesn’t really fit the “college lifestyle” norm. Yet everyday I make the bleary eyed trek to the gym to get in my workout. 

So why do I do it? 

I used to be a night workout person. 9 PM was my go-to gym time. Finishing my day on a workout left me exhilarated and energized. But of course, my schedule changed, I joined new clubs and organizations, and this semester I found myself so busy that between the hours of 9 AM and 10 PM I simply don’t have time for a workout. I thought my workouts were done for – until one day I decided to try the gym at 6 AM – and so my morning workouts were born. 

Here are my top reasons (besides scheduling) for getting a morning workout in. 

The feeling lasts throughout the day. 

It’s true – when the first part of the day is my workout, it centers my day and makes me feel less sluggish as the day progresses. When I workout in the morning, I feel like I go through the day with a clearer mind and a more open heart. And knowing you got your workout over with first thing in the morning is a pretty nice feeling too.

Hardly anyone else is awake. 

Anyone that works out in their college gym knows the struggle of peak gym hours – don’t even try to go between the hours of 4-7 PM or  9-12. Or any time honestly, because when is it ever empty? I’ll tell you  – 6 in the morning, that’s when. There are maybe 8 people in the weight section max, which can help your workout immensely, especially if you suffer from the dreaded gym anxiety. I find my workouts being much more effective in the morning when I’m not surrounded by other gym goers and just focusing on myself.

The atmosphere of the gym.

At peak gym hours, the atmosphere can be summed up as stressful, aggressive, competitive, and just overall unpleasant (for me, at least). No one wants to be surrounded by people they think are silently judging them. But the morning gym goers? I see the same people every morning and they are pleasant and focused on themselves and not on silently competing with the people around them. This type of atmosphere has worked wonders for my workouts. 

It’s something to be proud of.

Getting up and getting to the gym in the morning before most of your friends even roll out of bed is an accomplishment. It’s easy to get sucked into the cycle of staying up way too late and ruining your sleep schedule, but getting up to workout at such an early time shows discipline, perseverance and keeps you motivated. Trust me, the last thing I wanna do when I hear my alarm go off so early in the morning is go to the gym. But I get up and I go anyway, and I never regret it. 

Check out these articles too: 

Fitness, College, And Finding My Inner Self

Healthy Habits that are Never too Late to Start

From high school athlete, to collegiate fitness extraordinaire…

Being 6’0” in middle school was an interesting experience. My days consisted of dodging questions from strangers inquiring about whether I played basketball, attempting to squeeze into the tiny school bus seats, and trying not to hit my head as I dismounted the bus.

Inevitably, I played a variety of sports, and due to my height and my “athletic” look, I was always expected to be the best on the team.  This was entirely bittersweet.

At times, the pressure to be good at a sport and not let my teammates down overwhelmed my ability to actually enjoy my time on the field or court and find my niche. Because of this, I decided not to be a collegiate athlete when the time came. I enjoyed every aspect of being part of a team; however, I wanted to take advantage of the new space to learn more about myself and what I enjoyed. I wanted to identify myself beyond the court.

My definition of “fitness” during my first year of college was extremely narrow. In my mind, being fit meant that I had to go to the gym everyday. It meant that my workouts had to include 30 minutes of cardio. And, it meant that if I did not leave the gym sweating, then my workout was not “intense” enough.

Fitness, or my health for that matter, was just another thing on the laundry list of tasks that I had to complete. Exercising had transitioned from something I loved to something tedious. Fitness was no longer fun, and trying to find the motivation to get active became increasingly difficult.

At this point, I knew I needed to reassess my lifestyle.

FitnessCollegeandFindingMyInnerSelf

Like any other college freshman, I underestimated the difficulty of university life and being away from home. At times, I was too preoccupied with work that I often skipped dinner and instead would spend nights in my room eating copious amounts of snacks. Balance became difficult, and I was merely eating foods for caloric value without paying attention to which foods made me feel energetic and which foods made me feel sluggish.

I ignored the bloating and discomfort that I experienced when I ate certain foods and assumed everyone else experienced similar symptoms. I thought that it was “normal” to feel this way.

Eliminating the foods that made me feel this way, I decided to adopt a predominantly plant-based/vegetarian diet, which was beneficial to my physical well-being, and my physical appearance. The sleepless nights became fewer and I felt much stronger.

During this transition phase in my life, YouTube became my best friend. I was curious about other vegetarian/vegan college students living in dorms and how they managed to navigate school and their health. Instead of merely eating foods to ensure I consumed adequate calories, I paid more attention to eating foods that made me feel energized, and not ill.

Living in a dorm room didn’t have to restrict what I could and could not eat. Realizing that I could still enjoy wholesome meals — rather than living off snacks — even though I was away from home, was extremely liberating. Overnight oats, smoothie bowls, and loaded/stuffed sweet potatoes were just a select few of the gourmet meals I enjoyed.  

In addition to altering my nutrition, I knew I needed a boost in my workout routine if I wanted to remain active. I slowly transitioned away from the cardio machines, away from the monotonous routine I had gotten used to, and starting incorporating weights, and speed and agility workouts that I learned when I was on the track team in high school. At the beginning of every week, I included a daily fitness plan in my journal, but made sure that my plan did not solely include a workout schedule. I wanted to break out and try new things, while also learning to listen to my body and take rest days when I needed them.

My college experience plays a significant role in my fitness journey. Stepping away from team sports was bittersweet. However, it was an important decision that I made to help me find my niche in the world. Fitness transitioned from something taxing and stressful, to something that I thoroughly enjoyed. It became a way for me to meet new people, while also learning about myself.

I also discovered my passion for nutrition. By playing around with foods that made my own body feel good, I declared a nutrition major after my freshman year so I could help others do the same.

Nothing excites me more than discussing health tips with my friends, convincing my friends to try new workouts with me at the gym, or surfing social media in search of new recipes. I am excited by where I am in my fitness journey: I am happy, having fun, and I am doing what I love. What more can I ask for?  

Fitness Journey

Check out these articles too: 

4 Ways to Keep Your Senioritis In Check

Post-spring break is usually the time when our gym routines start to tapper off, the weather starts to tempt us into laying by the pool instead of going to class, and that little taste of summer vacay has us thinking about anything BUT school or getting back into a routine.

For some of us this probably started way before spring break, but either way we can’t just throw all that hard work out the window!

As a 5th year (because of my double major) and all of my applications turned in for grad school, I was struggling hard to stay on track even before spring break. I injured my lower back and had zero exams until after spring break. I started to really lack motivation to do anything but to binge watch 4 seasons of Vanderpump Rules.

                        

But, I know this cycle can’t last forever. The more I slacked off, the worse I actually started to feel. So I started to wake up early, stretch and ice my back, make lots of coffee, and get back to work. Here’s some inspiration to make that final push through the rest of the semester:

1. Don’t skip your workouts

Remember those goals you made at the beginning of January? Yes, I like to keep bringing them up because I, too, fall off the wagon.

Ace Fitness explains getting your sweat on early in the morning is shown to help you burn more calories throughout the day through the EPOC effect, and improve your mood and concentration for the rest of your day (you can read more about that via the American Psychological Association here). Even if you’re injured! (Or out of shape from slacking.) Set aside 20 minutes in the morning to get moving. Your mind and body will thank you.

                           

2. Actually use your planner.

Or calendar. Or old school sticky notes. Doesn’t matter, as long as it’s working.

Make a list in the morning of all of the things you want to accomplish in the day. Be proud if you only get half of them done. Half is better than none!

                              

3. Be a Weekend Warrior.

Don’t let yourself slack off during the week! Get all your work done, get enough sleep, and stay on track as best you can before your weekend starts. By getting work done for the next week early (write those Sunday night blog posts, prep for a Tuesday exam), you can fully enjoy the weekend.

Then cut loose: let yourself enjoy and soak up these last few weekends of college. You deserve it! It’s all about balance baby.

                             

4. Remember why you started.

These last four (or five) years have been some of the best of your life. But you’ve also spent countless hours studying, cramming, and in the library for a reason– to get that degree! Jot down all of the goals you have for after graduation and reflect back on how far you’ve come. Don’t bomb your last finals just because you can. Finish strong and be proud of this huge accomplishment.

                                     

Check out these articles too:

Interview with Jonathan Levitt, Marathoner

jonathan levitt

This month is all about the Boston Marathon for all of us at Fit University HQ and beyond! In honor of the incredible people making the trip to run all 26.2 miles, we invited Jonathan Levitt, Boston Marathon alum, taco aficionado, and human behind @restydaybrags, to share his experience training, eating, and living the marathoner lifestyle.

Before we jump in, a quick note from the interviewer, me! I’m Emily Marr and I’m a Fit University® ambassador from Grand Valley State University in Michigan. I’ll be working with the team at Fit Universty® HQ to share inspiring, insightful, and all-around enjoyable stories from people in the fitness and health industry. This is my first, I hope you enjoy it!

Ok, let’s get to it.

Emily Marr: Why and when did you decide to start running?

Jonathan Levitt: I started seriously running shortly after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. After watching all these people of different shapes and sizes running this crazy distance, I thought, well, if they can do it, then I can too. So, I decided to train for a marathon with the thought of, I’ll do one and be done…. well, I’m a few days out from my fifth! There is this atmosphere around the Boston Marathon, which even increased after the bombing with people rallying around running and being in Boston; it is just so motivating.

Before this realization, I was only running about once per week. Around the same time of the Boston Marathon bombing, I also started reading a book called “Born to Run” (by Christopher McDougall), which says that humans are meant to run and to run long distances. So I started and fell into the running community through groups in Boston and have grown more serious about it ever since.

EM: Were you into fitness and health while in college? What did your lifestyle look like then compared to now?

JL: Not exactly, I had the typical state school experience; work hard play harder. I went to the gym three to four times per week just for fitness reasons and played intramural hockey and baseball, but had no real fitness focus. Then, one of my friends junior year got into the Paleo diet, and I decided to as well. I realized that I started feeling better and continued eating this way for about a year (while also drinking tons of beer…balance I guess 😉). This caused me to start being more mindful on how I was eating, and what made me truly feel better. I did have a pretty bad dairy intolerance, so that was a necessary cut for sure. I’m now really mindful of what I am eating and why as a result of that restriction. I no longer eat Paleo, I just eat mindfully!

I’m also big supporter of personalizing nutrition and fitness, as seen by my job at InsideTracker.

EM: What are some tips you have for people who want to start running? If they are new to exercise in general or just want to incorporate more running.

JM: Pick a tangible goal and put it on your calendar! Something like signing up for a race. It’s the consistency and goal orientation that gets people out of bed in the morning.

I’m also a part of and recommend joining The November Project. It’s a free, open-to-the-public exercise group founded in Boston and now in multiple cities around the world, which is a super cool way to hold yourself accountable, like the buddy system. They call it a “Verbal,” and if you Verbal you better show up. It helps people avoid the snooze button and get their exercise in. The community atmosphere is great because there’s always someone training for something, so it can be aspirational, but there is also always someone your speed. So whether it be through The November Project or something else the community aspect is huge for beginners and those continuing to advance.

EM: I heard you love tacos… Build your perfect taco for me and tell me what your favorite taco place is?

JM: Hummm, my favorite taco would probably start with a soft corn tortilla, then add in some pulled pork and grilled pineapple; or any fish with salsa, and always add a generous serving of guacamole!

My favorite taco place would have to be Dorado. It’s a quarter mile from where I live, which makes it a danger to me. I also like this place called Felipe’s, they have a roof deck too! And of course, I am a big fan of chipotle but who isn’t?

EM: What is your go-to pre- and post-run fuel?

JL: The night before I usually have some type of fish, my favorite is salmon, with sweet potato, and a veggie. I skip the veggie on nights before a big run like a marathon. A few hours before a run I usually have oatmeal with peanut or almond butter, and then will have a GU Energy  chocolate waffle right before I go out. After a run, if I go home and cook, I’ll make myself a breakfast sandwich with eggs, or I’ll head over to Chipotle. (I’m sensing a trend here!)

EM: How do you feel about rest days? How often do you take them and what do you do?

JL: People don’t rest enough. They think that by training harder and more they’ll get better results but that can cause injuries by not allowing the muscles and body to recover enough. My buddies would give me slack for this, but I only rests one full day every other week. I run 5 or 6 days a week with 1-2 days of easy recovery swims built in around the harder run days, which have replaced an extra run or two that I was doing previously. On those rest days though I literally do nothing, it’s like a competition on how few steps I can take; I also won’t let myself bike or run to work on rest days like I usually would.

Fun fact: Jonathan is one of the faces behind @restdaybrags on Twitter, which he started with an Olympian and a pro runner to “de-stigmatize the rest part of training”. All three of them have endured major injuries from not resting so they decided to start this account together.

EM: What about stretching? What’s your regimen?

JL: I never stretch before a workout, I do more of a dynamic warm-up. There’s a lot of research on stretching not having a positive impact pre-run, but instead post run; and no I don’t do that enough either.

EM: Outside of running, what are some of your other passions?

JL: Umm.. (he laughs), I do a lot of running. I always struggle with this question. I like spending time with friends and family. Oh and cooking or making food…sometimes. My favorite thing to cook is fish, it’s getting into copper river salmon time! No I don’t go out and fish myself but I’ve got a good relationship with Paul the fish guy, I get the fresh cut.

EM: How and why do you use social media and what is your opinion of it?

JL: I use it all the time, it’s a necessary evil but more good than evil. I work for a company that has grown through influencers, through people saying good things about the company such as bloggers, writers, people who have a lot of followers, and people listen to them because they respect them. I spend a lot of my time talking to these people through social media. I mean people are even meeting their significant others through social media these days. I use it with an aspirational intent. Like, here is what hard work looks like, anything is possible, keep doing your thing, compare yourself to yourself. It’s not “look at me I’m awesome”, its “look at you, you can be awesome too”. It seems to be working!

EM: You’re getting ready for your 2nd Boston Marathon. What does your training schedule and regimen look like?

JL: Less miles. I’m now in the taper, running 25-50% less in the last 2 weeks. More focus on sleep, getting to bed earlier, sleeping in a little more. Using the time I would have been running an extra 30 minutes, to sleep a bit longer instead. I also don’t eat raw veggies within five days of a marathon. And then obviously, the whole carbo-loading which is fun. Just eating more. But the thing is, you don’t necessarily have to eat more if your training less, but it can’t hurt if you do it right.

EM: Where do you see yourself in the future as it pertains to running and fitness?

JM: I what to run a sub 3 marathon (running a marathon under 3 hours). I want to do that this year. Beyond that, I want to run farther distances and see what I’m capable of. I think beyond the marathon it becomes way more mental than physical, and I kind of want to see where my limit it and then push it. It just fascinates me what the human body is capable of…. Faster and longer!

How to Get at Your Goals, According to Psychology

We got goals.

Everyone does, right? Yet how many times have you set a goal, only for it to slowly slip from consciousness and become abandoned within weeks…? I don’t know about you, but I have quite the goal graveyard.

We tell ourselves, “I’m going to lose weight,” or, “I’m going to workout more,” but without true intention and action, those words alone don’t make anything happen. They don’t have any meaning on their own.

I’m here to direct you through adding meaning to your goals. I spent the past semester learning about personal health and behavior change, so believe me when I say I gotchu. Get ready for the science to blow your mind.

Goal Getter: A Comprehensive Guide to Realistic Goal-Setting

According to the health belief model, whether or not a person will change their behavior is based on their perspective. They have to believe that the perceived benefits, barriers, and consequences are too great to ignore. This, paired with this is the belief in one’s ability to succeed in making a change, influence someone to take action. That belief in yourself is called your self efficacy

There are several stages of change, illustrated in the transtheoretical model of behavior change.

  • Someone in the “precontemplation” stage believes that there is nothing wrong with them and that their behaviors are just great the way they are.
  • Then, “contemplation” includes thinking about changing, but not being incredibly serious about taking action.
  • The “preparation” stage is when you start to actually plan for the behavior change. For example, you might buy a gym membership or plan a new workout regimen
  • Those preparations quickly turn into action; this is the stage where the behavior change is actively being made.
  • After six months of action, one enters the maintenance stage, and voila! A change has been made. 

How to Get at Your Goals, According to Psychology

So that’s how it all goes down. When you find yourself in the preparation stage, it’s important to set goals to fuel your action phase. Not your big goal, your “I’m going to get in shape!” or your “I’m going to build my resume!” These goals need to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. To clear up what that kind of goal looks like, let me break it down with an example.

“I’m going to workout (with a mix of strength training and cardio) 4-5x a week for a month straight before the first week of May.” 

Specific: Outlines what type of exercise will be performed and how many times per week. An example of a non-specific goal would be, “I’m going to go to the gym more.” 

Measurable: It’s certainly possible to measure how many days per week one works out! Check.

Attainable: For someone who’s pretty fit who has access to a gym, there should be no problem getting in the gym 4-5 times a week. Check.

Realistic: Similar to above, this goal is pretty realistic. Something that wouldn’t check the box (for me, at least) would be, “I’m going to squat 500 pounds by next week.” See what I’m getting at?
Unrealistic goals, or aiming higher than is kind or forgiving to yourself, might seem like a good idea but they can set you up for failure and low self esteem. If you’ve taken a year off exercise, maybe don’t start with 4-5 times a week. There’s a difference between starting off strong and overdoing it

Time-bound: This goal has an end date and clarifies how long the intention will be set for. Of course it could continue after the first week of May, but the fact that it’s set for a month straight is a good sign. Check!

Goal Getter: A Comprehensive Guide to Realistic Goal-Setting

Get the point? I hope so! Now you’re ready to begin goal-getting.

It’s important to remember that goals are mere guidelines and that your journey towards reaching it won’t always be smooth sailing. You have to be prepared for hardship and failure. After setting your goal, write down every single thing you could think of that would block you from attaining it; these are called barriers. 

If you plan ahead and decide how you will react to each barrier as it meets you, you will be less likely to abandon your goal when the going gets tough.

In terms of the example goal I’ve been using, some common barriers to working out include time, materials, relationships, etc. You may believe you don’t have time to workout, you may not have a gym membership, or you may prioritize school and friends over working out. As long as you know this, you can plan for the change and ensure that these barriers won’t get in your way. Make time, use what you’ve got, and if it’s really important to you, it’ll show.

Now, all you have to do is start. I promise you that the hardest part of doing anything is just getting going with it. I can’t promise you that it will be easy, but I know that it’ll be worth it.

Anything you could wish for is already yours, you just have to unlock it! Armed with these tools, you’ll be sure to succeed. Determine what you want to change and GO GET IT. You got this.

Check out these articles too:

How to Incorporate Movement into Your Work (or School) Day

Time to break that Netflix binge, get up, and move!

While I’m a college student, I currently work a full-time job through my school’s experiential education program. I’m so grateful for this opportunity, in part because it’s led me to realize how passionate I am about workplace wellness. 

My work in the marketing department involves a lot of screen-time, where I sit. On my butt. At my desk. For 8 hours. I take lunch breaks, where I also sit. On my behind. In the cafe. Finally, I am cooped up in traffic for two hours each day (hello, California freeways!!). Does this sound similar to something you experience, too? 

It can be so easy to get in the cycle of: wake up, walk to class, sit in classes, walk to the library, sit in the library, walk to the gym, workout, go home, sit at the table for dinner, sit in bed and watch Netflix, go to sleep, repeat. I totally get it. I’ve been there. 

Even if we do workout for an hour each day, a key component to staying healthy and energized is to move as much as possible throughout the day. The New York Times reported a study which found that taking frequent, brief walking breaks throughout the day are “more effective at improving well-being than a single, longer walk before work”. 

In addition, people “who sit for more than eight or nine hours daily, which for many of us describes a typical workday, also are at heightened risk for diabetes, depression and obesity compared with people who move more often”. 

Photo via Visualhunt.com

Recently, there was one week where I got so fed up with all of this sitting I was doing that I started incorporating more walking, moving, and shaking into my week days.

I’ll be honest here — that week has completely transformed my entire workplace experience. It was this week that I began to feel tremendously more productive creative, rejuvenated, and happier at work. My efficiency increased, I began to think of more creative ideas within the projects I was working on, and my general contentment while at the office (speaking with colleagues, in meetings, handling fire-drills) skyrocketed. I even have started to trade my old snack-mindlessly-on-dried-apricots-even-though-not-hungry habit into a let’s-go-on-a-short-walk habit. This has been a win-win situation all around for me, and I know it will be for you, too. 

Because of this, I’ve become all-too passionate about integrating a bit of movement each day while at work, and I’m pumped to share what I have learned with you.** Let’s get MOVING, friend!! It’s so worth it. 

1.) Take a drink of water every 10-15 minutes.

Not only will you stay hydrated and maintain energy, but you’ll have to use the restroom more. This is one of the easiest ways to integrate more movement into your workday because, I mean, when you’ve gotta go, there’s no holding it for too long. 

2.) On that note, use a restroom that is far(ish) away from you.

For example, I work on third floor of a pretty large building, and I always opt for the bathroom that’s on the first floor. This enables me to get some stair-climbing in every hour or so. 

3.) Take walking meetings. 

If you can have a meeting with your team while getting some steps and fresh air, you’re set. Walking meetings and breaks enable you to stretch, get you to not look at a computer screen for a little while, and they are intellectually stimulating.

Side note: I know that some people like to take notes during meetings, which is why it’s helpful to be sitting at a desk for them. If you are open to a new format of note-taking, and really do want to have the meeting outside as opposed to in a boardroom, try audio recording the conversation, or writing notes on your phone. 

Photo via Visualhunt.com

4.) Walk somewhere for lunch as opposed to just eating at your desk.

If you don’t buy lunch at work, you can always walk with a colleague to an outdoor area or lunch space and eat there. If you can take an hour for lunch, I recommend eating for 30 minutes, and then going for a 30 minute walk! 

5.) Schedule walking breaks into your calendar. 

Every day at 2:30PM, a calendar notification goes off from my work email, reminding me to go for a 15-20 minute walking break. I look forward to this break so much — it’s short enough that I can still complete all my work in the afternoon, but it’s long enough that, when I arrive back at my desk, I feel refreshed, happy AF, and ready to tackle projects. 

**And no, I’m not talking about “movement” here as in ultra high-intensity strength training workouts…where you and I will sweat our literal faces off and need to take a shower. I’m all about HIIT, but I’m equally as adamant about not working out with makeup on. Eww. Save that for after work/school. Simply get up and get the blood flowing. It makes all the difference.

Check out these articles, too: 

 

Students Share The Toughest Part About Training for The Boston Marathon

hardest part about training for boston marathon

The Boston Marathon is six days away.

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

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

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

Balancing schoolwork + training 

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

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

Join us at the Marathon Monday Pre-Game!

Marathon Monday Header

Keeping disciplined

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

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

Staying home on Friday nights

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

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

Raising money

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

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

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

CLIF Cheer Zone hosted by Fit University Eventbrite Header

One College Student Gets Real About Her Fitness Journey

one college student gets real about her fitness journey

A fitness journey you might relate to.

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

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

Day 1: Childhood

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

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

 

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

A post shared by Izzy S (@quinoahandleit) on

Day 2: Middle + high school 

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

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

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

 

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

A post shared by Izzy S (@quinoahandleit) on

Day 3: College (AKA, now)

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

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

 

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

A post shared by Izzy S (@quinoahandleit) on

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

Give Izzy a follow at @quinoahandleit!

Check out these articles too:

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

 

Lift Like a Girl: The Benefits of Strength Training for Women

After a year of working on my own fitness, I made a breakthrough. Rather than spending hours on the treadmill or stairmaster (hating my life), I could spend thirty minutes to an hour in the weight room and get better results while, you know, not hating my life.

Crazy, I know. But let me elaborate.

It’s an extremely common belief that lifting weights (as a girl) will make you bulky. I’d like to challenge every bit of this belief and support you in your own journey towards weightlifting.

I know from my own experience and a lot of research that just doing cardio is not the answer, and success lies in a combination of cardio, preferably high-intensity, and strength training. 

While cardiorespiratory endurance exercise such as running five miles or laboring on the elliptical for an hour burns muscle and fat, weight lifting burns almost exclusively fat. Sorry ladies, that “fat-burning” zone is kind of a scam.

Plus, with more muscle mass, your resting metabolic rate increases, causing your body to burn more calories throughout the day than you would normally. That means you’ll be burning calories just by checking Instagram! On a serious note, though, it will boost your metabolism in a way that detox teas or a magic fix will never be able to. 

Lift Like a Girl: The Benefits of Strength Training in Women

To address the idea that lifting makes girls bulky, I’ll just say this: you have to try really, really hard to become bodybuilder muscular. It’s not going to happen by accident.

Believe me, I’ve been trying for three years, and I still haven’t reached that status. A goal many girls have is to “tone up,” but just cardio will never give you those muscle-building results. Building a baseline of muscular strength and building it up will give you the “toned” look, in conjunction with some cardio (which helps to shed off that extra fat).

In summary, it’s a combination of the two that will boost your results, depending on what works for your body.

Lift Like a Girl: The Benefits of Strength Training in Women

If I can do it, so can you!

Beyond sculpting a super hot bod, weightlifting has incredible effects on the mind. Once you begin to see results, it becomes an addiction and you strive to better yourself each and every time you step into that gym. You learn discipline and begin to find motivation within yourself rather than from an external source.

Confidence and self-esteem inevitably get boosted and all aspects of your life seem to fall into place.  When you learn to love your body, somehow you learn to love and appreciate all other corners of yourself and your life. If you’re skeptical about this, try it for yourself and let me know. 

If and when you do begin lifting weights, don’t expect results to come overnight. Like the 50 day squat challenges and what not, success just doesn’t happen in such a short time frame. You have to want it, be consistent, and love yourself along the way. Nothing good in life comes easy, and this applies to your own self. So get in the gym, get your head and heart in it, and lift all the things.

Check out these articles too:

Fitness Taught Me To Love Myself No Matter What

My name is Danielle, and I want you to know that my fitness journey is still in progress.

I have been a dancer since I was very young, but I became interested in fitness my freshman year of high school.

My Dad taught me the basics such as bicep curls, tricep extensions, and lunges to get me started. They were easy-to-follow moves, and I continued to do them.

I began to get bored with my routine and I asked my mom to take me to her gym. I tagged along one day and did one of the workouts she was learning from her personal trainer. The workout kicked my BUTT.

Funny thing is, I’m seriously not exaggerating when I say that: I ended up passing out at the gym. And nearly dying. Okay, that part’s a bit dramatic. But it was frightening; my eyes rolled back, my lips turned blue, and I distinctly remember my hearing fading.

At this point, I realized how important eating enough and staying hydrated were. We went in the morning, so I hadn’t felt hungry beforehand and I generally didn’t drink very much water. That was definitely a wake-up call to the nutritional aspect of fitness.

Loving your body requires more than physical activity.

Up until my senior year of high school, I had just tried to figure out the basics. But then, I wanted to be pushed, so I took a weightlifting class. That’s when my love for fitness really took off. As much I loved learning the new lifts, I also learned about other important aspects of training such as how long each rep should be, the correct form for each movement, and about what it meant to believe in and push yourself. 

Not in just the physical sense, but also mentally. High school is filled with immature, like-minded beings who only have one image of what beauty is, so people said a lot of hurtful things. Most of them would claim to be joking, but words hurt.

Along with taking this class, I began to kick box in my local area. This team was incredible. The encouragement and determination of the other members was so inspiring. Everyday after school, I would have dance practice and then I would head to train with them. Even though I had no free time, I was happier than ever and loved spending my days active and on-the-go.

Then I entered my freshman year of college, and I was struggling. I have always been a busy-bee and managed my time well, but this first semester was unlike anything I had ever encountered.

The stress I put on myself became emotionally, mentally, and physically straining. The stress became apparent and my optimism quickly turned into constant crying, calling my parents two or three times a week because all I could manage to feel was hopeless and tired.

Weight (and muscle) slowly slid away because the stress would sit in my stomach, not allowing me to get a full meal down. My hours of sleep became smaller and smaller because I would try to fit too much done in to too little of time. A never ending cycle was established resulting in me being absolutely drained all the time. With my lack of sleep, energy, and food, there was no way I was making it to the gym. 

 

A photo posted by Danielle (@boss_danielle) on


Even though I looked relatively strong, I was weak.

I was not healthy. 

So for my health, I ended up transferring to a school closer to home, and so far it has been the best decision. I have found a balance between school, my friends, getting my workouts in, and extracurriculars. I am involved in the Dance Company at my school, work out regularly, and have recently joined the Women’s Lacrosse Team, along with my participation in clubs, studying, etc.

My (incomplete) fitness journey has been a whirlwind, but it’s made me who I am today. Fitness goes beyond the aesthetic of one’s body. It is something that you do because you love it and you love yourself. It helps you gain an appreciation for yourself that you never had before. You can squat 250 lbs? Heck, then you can do anything!

The encouragement I get from my friends, family, and people I don’t even know has been tremendous. Every insult that has ever been said to me, has only made me try ever harder because I am a strong, independent woman and I love what I do. Some days are harder than others, but you keep on going.

 

A photo posted by Danielle (@boss_danielle) on

Fitness has truly taught me to love myself — no matter what comes my way.

Check out these articles too:

How I Got Rid Of My Gym Anxiety

Everyone knows the feeling – you’re pumped to do a great workout, you have an awesome playlist, you’re excited to sweat – that is, until you walk into the gym and see hoards of people who look more fit and experienced than you, lifting seriously heavy weights and using equipment you’ve never touched before.

The feeling is daunting, and can ruin a workout for anyone. Being an introvert, gym anxiety has always followed me since I started venturing in the free weights. But for all of us who suffer from gym anxiety, luckily it doesn’t have to be permanent. 

How I Got Rid Of My Gym Anxiety

When I started college a little over a year ago, I was still glued to the elliptical and wouldn’t dream of touching any weights. After I tried a few Body Pump classes, however, I started to love the way lifting weights made me feel. One of my best friends started showing me bodybuilding exercises, and since then, I have always loved strength and conditioning workouts. The thing I didn’t love was the intense pressure I felt every single time I walked into my university’s gym.

It seemed there was always an underlying, unspoken competition – who can lift the heaviest, who looks the fittest, and who dominates the gym. I hated this stress I felt every time I wanted to workout – not only did I feel like I had to dress and look a certain way, I became nervous to try new equipment for the fear of looking silly or messing up. This ultimately led to a major dislike of my gym and led to my workouts becoming mundane and boring

When I finally went home for summer break, I decided to do a workout in my local gym. Stepping into the gym at home was a completely different atmosphere. There were people of all ages and body types doing crazy workouts that I wouldn’t have dreamed of “embarrassing” myself with at school. I felt comfortable and welcome, not stressed. For the first time, my workout wasn’t focused on the environment around me, but on myself and what my body could do. That summer ended up leading me to better body image, better workouts, and almost no stress.

Going back to school in the fall, I made a decision that my workouts would no longer be focused on my environment, but instead solely on myself. And guess what? It turns out no one really cares what kind of workout your doing. By focusing only on myself at the gym, my workout became so much better and I began to feel much more comfortable in the school’s gym. As soon as I walked through the doors, my hat was on and my music was turned up until the second I left. 

So for everyone that suffers from gym anxiety, the best advice I can give is to focus on nothing but yourself and your goals. Everyone is in the gym for their own reasons, and even though it may seem like people are hyper aware of you, I promise, no one is. Work out for you – not for the people who you’re around. 

Check out these articles too: 

How to Make Fitness a Life Long Love Affair

“Sometimes, even I get bored with picking things up and putting them down.” -Eileen, weightlifting enthusiast
 
Every once in a while, I look at a treadmill and think, wouldn’t it be fun to try running one day?  But then I go to the weight room and crank out my squats and dead lifts per usual because that’s just what I do. -Also Eileen, weightlifting enthusiast
 
Are you getting into a funk with your fitness routine?  Is your pep sadly missing from your step every time you head into the gym?  Well, I’ve got the scoop on why we fall victim to routine, and how to make fitness your favorite thing all over again.
 

 

We are creatures of habit.  

I admit it. Once I find a leg day routine that makes my want to cry while I do it, I want to do that routine every time I train because it makes me feel those #bootygainz for days after and because it feels effective. But, fitness is not one-size fits all. What works for you, might not work for me. And, what challenges me, might not challenge you. In order to keep making gains and keep getting stronger, we have to keep shocking our bodies with different movements and training styles to keep the momentum going.
 
If 2017 is really going to be the year you become your strongest and fittest self, let’s follow through with a more well-rounded training regime so we can maintain our excitement for fitness!
 

Go Back to the Basics

Our body is designed to move in multiple planes as a connected unit. Push-ups, pull-ups, step-ups…being able to move your own body around is a pretty incredible thing and takes quite a bit of strength.  
 
 

A video posted by E i l e e n (@simplyeileen_fit) on

 
The best part about bodyweight training is that at any fitness level, it is challenging. You have your basic push-up, ball push-up, clap push-up, and one-arm push-up. Then, you have your fast push-up, slow push-up, and static hold push-up, etc. The list goes on and on. With limitless variations and with consistency, your progress is obvious and pushes you to keep trying new things. At the same time, you are still able to go back to the most basic ways your body was intended to move.  
 

Group Fitness Classes

My favorite part about weight training is that with any frustration or anger I have, I can just put in my headphones and take it out on the weights. But sometimes, I crave that energy and team atmosphere that only group fitness can provide. My best friend takes spin classes like she’s preparing to ride in the Tour de France. So, recently, I tagged along to see why every time she came home, they were all she wanted to talk about.  
 

High energy, loud music, and encouraging pep talks made the class seem like more of a dance party than a workout. I don’t know about you, but sometimes dance parties are the best forms of cardio. Apart from the fact that I hardly ever do cardio in general, the class challenged my mind and body to get through 60 minutes of a fitness activity that was entirely foreign to me. Talk about needing ultra focus. In addition to realizing how much I can improve my aerobic fitness, the positive energy that filled the room stuck with me for the rest of the day and made me giddy to go back to the gym.
 

Change Up Your Cardio

Ok, I just told you that I hardly ever do cardio. “Like ever,” as Taylor Swift may say. On the rare occasion that I decide to step on a treadmill, I run for few minutes…only to get off approximately 6 minutes later because I get bored and hate feeling like I am a hamster running in a little hamster wheel.  
 

I’ve taken enough kinesiology classes at school to know that heart disease is the leading cause of death. So, I feel like doing at least some aerobic activity a time or two each week is something that would really be beneficial in living this whole “healthy lifestyle.” We’ve already established the fact that, for me: 1) running is not an option, 2) I get bored easily, and 3) I hate feeling like a hamster. So, what is a girl to do?
 
To accommodate these strict rules I have for myself for cardio, I love trying new things every cardio session. Sometimes, I like to incorporate High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to keep me engaged and because it can be super quick. HIIT workouts can be as short as 10 minutes, which is definitely a win for people who thrive in the weight room instead of the on the track. Occasionally, I’ll take a salsa dancing class with my friends to change it up even more. Cardio, to me, is anything that keeps my heart rate elevated for a period of time, while also keeping my brain entertained.
 
One of my goals at the moment, is to try a new fitness activity each week. Whether it be hiking, TRX, swimming, whatever, I am always looking for new ways to get that warm and fuzzy feeling I get when I enter a weight room. Fitness is supposed to challenge your body and push it to its limits, but it is also supposed to feed your soul. So here’s to trying new things and making fitness a life long love affair. Cheers!
 

Check out these articles too:

New Years Resolutions: Expectation vs. Reality

The start of the new year brings motivation and encouragement to make resolutions. Whether they’re in the gym, in the classroom, or in your personal life, sometimes they just don’t go according to plan.

But never fear! It takes a while to get into a new routine. So here’s some funny memes to remind you not to feel discouraged; we all go through the same thoughts during our “resolutions”.

Working Out Everyday

Expectation:

Reality: 

Meal Prepping Every Sunday 

Expectation:

                         expectations vs reality         expectations vs reality          expectations vs reality

Reality:

           
                                 

Getting straight A’s

               Expectation:

                               

                Reality:

                              

Get More Sleep / Wake up earlier 

                   Expectation:

                                      

                 Reality:

                                       

Drink more water 

             Expectation:

 
                             

 

           Reality:

                                 

Whatever your New Years Resolutions may be, just remember you’re not alone here at Fit University! And if you fall off the healthy lifestyle wagon that’s okay, just remember to jump back on when you’re ready. 

Check out these other articles too:

Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions

stick to your new year resolution

Every year do you find yourself losing motivation or not following through with your New Year’s resolution? Well, this is a new year and you have made new resolutions, so here are a few tips to make sure you stick to them! 

Make your goal realistic.

Sometimes when you set a big goal it is hard to see results, the light at the end of the tunnel. Go for the big goal, but it might be easier if you make smaller goals so you see success along the way to encourage you and motivate you to continue.

Make a routine.

day-planner-828611_1920

Depending on your resolutions make a routine. When you are trying to eat healthier, workout more often, or reach your push-up goal, make a schedule. Get into the habit of working out every morning or every day before dinner. Get in the habit of packing your lunch the night before so you cannot use the “no time” excuse. Dedicate Sunday or Saturday morning to cooking in bulk for the week. Therefore, when you have a busy day and cannot cook you still have a homemade healthy meal.

Remind yourself.

Make an inspiration board to help remind you of your goals. Want to get healthier? Make it full of workouts or healthy foods and inspirational quotes. Trying to swear less or be more positive? Fill a board with alternative words that reflect the language and attitude you want to have.

If you’re trying to simply trying to enjoy life more or be a nicer person or take life day by day, live slowly and enjoy each moment create a board with inspirational quotes or pictures to remind you. These could be pictures of things you enjoy doing. 

You can carry physical reminders with you, too. Wear a new bracelet, and tell yourself you’re putting it on for a specific reason. When you see it, it’ll give you a friendly reminder of your resolution. Not into jewelry? Change the background on your phone to a quote or a picture to that reminds you of your goals. We are always on our phones, so you’ll be sure to see it! And hey, if your goal is it limit your phone use, then put a big X or stop sign on your phone screen. Need a more jolting motivator? Set alarms on your phone with titles that remind you to eat an apple, do 10 push-ups, or take 3 deep breaths and remind yourself to take life moment by moment.

Set a time limit.

watch-932814_1920

It is much easier to achieve a goal when you set a time limit. For example, say you want to be able to run 5 miles by spring break, you won’t eat out for 3 months, or you will do three acts of kindness per day. Quantifying your goals eliminates any doubts about what you want to accomplish.

Reward yourself. 

Every time you cook a meal or are able to do one more push up, put a dollar in a jar. This is a great way to save money – and you can spend it on a bigger reward later. Or if you finish your goal early tell yourself you’ll reward yourself with a massage, your favorite restaurant meal (Skyline Chili would be mine), or even a pricy studio workout. Incentives are a great form of encouragement.

Check out these articles too:

You Know You Need a Good Workout When…

There are plenty of times when I find myself feeling off my game. Maybe I’m doing or saying things that I don’t normally. Or maybe I’m feeling restless. Those are some of the ways I know it’s time for me to hit the gym or sign up for a fitness class.

Here’s my list of other ways I know I need a good workout when…

I get irritable.

If I start to get in a bad mood and I don’t know the exact reason for it, chances are I just need to sweat it out!

I have a lot of energy…and time.

What better way to use my energy than put it to good use towards those #gains?

Or on the other hand, I can’t sleep. 

I haven’t used all my energy and lay awake at night. Even though I’m mentally tired, I’m physically not. “Alright,” I think, lying there jittery. “I’m going for it tomorrow.” 

I’ve gone without access to an exercise facility for longer than I would like.

There are times when I have traveled or just had full days of class, cleaning, and activities. During those times, I just can’t find the extra hour to spend or the energy I need to work out (and that’s ok!). In these cases, I try to find the time before and after those busy days to get those workouts in and balance myself.

I take a rest day or two and realize I’m missing my edge.

Time to get back on the horse! This usually happens if I’m not getting enough rest or eating right and need to take care of myself by giving myself time to catch up and heal. When I realize I’m out of it, then it’s time to get back into it.

I crave unhealthy food.

Think about it: why am I craving that food? Sometimes, I just am. Sometimes, I go ahead and treat myself. But sometimes that craving is more emotional. If I just went ahead and indulged and skipped the gym every time I felt this way, 0 actual problems would be solved and I’d feel pretty terrible from all the junk. This is how a downward spiral happens. Eat well, sleep well, do well, feel well.

I’m training for something.

I trained for the Spartan Race Sprint that took place in June and boy, that was incentive to give my best every time I was in the gym.

I just need to feel good.

My favorite part of exercising is the post-workout high. This only comes after I workout and I know I have a lot to feel good about and be thankful for. It turns a crappy day into a good day pretty quickly!

Check out these articles too:

The Trainers At This Gym Have More Experience Than You Think

I grew up in “America’s safest city” where the worst crime was wearing the same homecoming dress as another girl in school. If I told my friends and family that I was being dropped off at a secret location to workout, they would definitely have disapproved. 

Naturally, I went anyways. I was invited by InnerCity Weightlifting to one of their two secret locations in the Boston area for a training session.

I Was Trained By An Ex-Con, and Here's How It Went

InnerCity Weightlifting is a Boston organization that takes high-risk individuals – those who have been shot, done significant jail time, and/or grown up on a family income under $10k per year – and teaches them how to be personal trainers. They develop their students’ physical training skills as well as the social, academic, and networking support needed, which college students like us take for granted. In doing so, InnerCity Weightlifting makes a huge impact in the community they work with by decreasing street violence and creating a social change. In keeping their gym location a secret, they are able to provide a safe space for their students who have certain conflicts with others. Read more about their mission here.

Due to their secret location and my lack of navigation skills, I eventually found the location and entered an ordinary building, only to open the doors to a pretty damn good-looking facility.

I was greeted by Josh, the Director of Development and Communication who originally invited me, and he introduced me to all the trainers. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming, so Mom and Dad, no need to worry.

After getting dressed in appropriate attire, I met with my trainer for the day, Carlos. We started up with some dynamic warm-ups and then he took me through a killer workout. It looked easy on paper, but with his encouragement to go for just one more rep, I was sweating for the entire hour.

Being a personal trainer myself, I can appreciate when someone knows what they’re doing. In our time together, it didn’t matter that we live in opposite walks of life, that we call very different parts of town home, or whether or not our free time is spent on probation or in the library. The only thing that mattered was that I, Carlos’s client, got a good workout in. And I liked Carlos… that is, until he said “Give me 10 burpees“.

In the end, I sweated my ass off. Was my safety at risk? No. Did I feel uncomfortable or vulnerable, as I honestly probably would have if I saw a guy like Carlos out on the streets? No.

I did, however, get killed (by rope slams) and was tortured (by wall sits).

It is so easy to judge someone by their looks or background, but until you see what they are capable of doing, you don’t know them. You don’t know that Carlos just wants his kids to have a better life than him. You don’t know that he is a great trainer, regardless of whether or not he has a fancy certification. You won’t know until you’ve had a conversation with him or trained with him. 

I Was Trained By An Ex-Con, and Here's How It Went

There’s Carlos teaching a group class at one of their secret locations!

If I’m being completely honest, I wouldn’t have had this mindset before I met Carlos. I would have said that I don’t treat people differently, but in reality, I would have. It’s in my nature. I was born in a town where if something does not fit a cookie-cutter image, it means danger, and you’d rather be safe than sorry. But life is short, and I recognize that it’s sometimes better to step out of your comfort zone than to stay in this cookie-cutter mindset.

Lesson learned? There are numerous social justice groups who just want to make change. But change doesn’t happen by saying how you feel. Change happens when you physically dive into the community and take action, which is exactly what InnerCity Weightlifting is doing. 

Want to get involved with InnerCity Weightlifting? Click here for more information.

Check out these articles too:

Taking My Body Back After My Fibromyalgia Diagnosis

You can work through almost anything if you push yourself.

During the second semester of my freshman year, I started to notice that I was really tired from walking to class and walking up the stairs to my room left me out of breath and winded.

To give you some background, I’ve always been a pretty active and healthy person. I played sports growing up, enjoyed running in high school, and I loved my fruits and vegetables. When I got to college, none of that changed even though life got a whole lot crazier. My schedule was busy and life was chaotic, but I kept up with it. 

Well… until that semester. I thought that maybe I just had a weird bug or virus and that it would get better. It didn’t.

Unfortunately, it got worse. I began to wake up with terrible pain in my muscles and joints. I felt exhausted no matter how much sleep I got. After a couple months of this, I began to realize that something was definitely wrong. My body didn’t feel like it was mine anymore… it felt old, tired, and weak.

woman-918981_960_720

After months of going to different doctors and specialists and getting various tests, I was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is a musculoskeletal disorder that affects muscles, joints, energy levels, and the mind. Those who suffer from fibromyalgia experience a variety of pain and constant exhaustion, as well as “brain fog” which effects focus and memory. Fibromyalgia is considered an “invisible illness.” Those who suffer from it may look healthy and be able to function, but in reality they are suffering from what can be tremendous pain and fatigue. The worst moment I experienced was one day when I couldn’t get out of bed. My body was so physically exhausted and ache-y that I legitimately couldn’t leave my bed.

Since I was diagnosed, I’ve tried various treatments, medicine, and natural remedies. At first I was told not to push myself too far physically and to stretch my muscles in the morning and at night. That really didn’t work, so I was prescribed drugs that were shown to help some patients. The problem with fibromyalgia is that everyone’s case is different, so everyone needs a different type of treatment. After a year or so, the medicines did help but I still didn’t feel like the “old” me. I still felt my body wasn’t mine, and I wanted to get it back.

So at the beginning of 2016 I resolved to better myself and my body, doing whatever it took to get there. And I started to go to the gym.

At first, I was intimidated by everyone who seemed to know exactly what they were doing. It was a scary experience for me… I was a workout newbie who’d never really lifted weights in her whole entire life. I felt a little judged and a lot inadequate. There were times that I gave up and told myself that this wasn’t for me.

weight-1634760_960_720

But thankfully, a friend showed me the ropes. She taught me how to lift right and how to work out and target different muscle groups. She showed me what to do and what to eat to get stronger. She was patient with me, but also pushed me to stay dedicated to it. Once I got a handle on it, I began to work out on my own.

Now I’m at the point where I go to the gym nearly every day. I’m setting PRs and seeing my body change and get stronger. And it’s amazing, really. I feel like I have my life, my body back. I feel like I’m kicking fibromyalgia’s butt one rep at a time.

Today I am happier, healthier, and hella stronger than I have ever been. And it’s absolutely empowering. Just two years ago doctors told me that I probably would never be able to be as active as I once was, that fibromyalgia would always dictate my life. But now I can say that I’m the one calling the shots, not fibromyalgia. I’m doing things that they said I might never be able to. And I can’t explain how good that feels.

I’m not sure where you’re at in your fitness journey. Maybe you’re just beginning, maybe you’re a seasoned gym rat. But my encouragement to you is to never give up. Think of your biggest fitness goals and dreams… I promise you that they’re reachable, with perseverance, a strong mindset, and a willingness to fall at times. There are so many times when I have failed and have felt defeated, but I didn’t stay there. I got back up and tried harder until I accomplished it. Everyone’s fitness journey is unique and different, but they all require hard-work, dedication, a little courage, and a lot of perseverance. I’m cheering for you!

This fitness story was written by Erin Mathews. To see more, check out her blog, Instagram, and Twitter.

Check out these articles too:

Winter is Coming: Why You Brace the Cold and Exercise Outdoors

Yes winter is coming. It is often said that this is ” The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, why not make it the most wonderful time of the year to exercise? It might sound crazy, but recent research has proven so.

You might live up north where it snows more than it doesn’t, or you could be in the deep south asking yourself, “what is even snow?” Or if you’re like me, you could just honestly be dreading the cold weather all together.

The Facts

Fitness experts and researchers are saying that working out outdoors during the winter can offer benefits that one might not be aware of. It might not seem like the sun is shining during the winter months, but it is. Exposing yourself to some good ol’ vitamin D may help you fend off those winter blues.

“Going for a walk in the park after a fresh snowfall is one of the most exhilarating, stress-reducing things I can think of,” says Wotjek Jan Chodzko-Zajko, head of the department of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (go Illini!). He  runs to and from work everyday no matter the season. The study does have the claim saying “if it is bitterly cold stay inside”, but that should be common sense.

The Tips

There are four easy tips to keep in mind when your are going to work out in the winter months.

1. Dress the Part– one word: LAYERS, LAYERS, LAYERS. Having your hands, feet and head covered up is important too because a majority of your body heat escapes there.

2. Warm up Inside– Its always important to warm up before working up, but in the winter months, warming up inside will be a lot more comfortable and overall better for your body.

3. Beware of the Sun– Often over looked, use sunscreen. If the sun is bright or reflecting off the snow wear some sunglasses.

 

4. Drink Up- People tend to think they are less thirsty in the colder months, despite the fact that we actually need to drink more. Our bodies in the winter receive less moisture than in the warmer months. Another reason is we don’t sweat as much- that doesn’t mean we aren’t losing water.

Now that you have the information you need, don’t be afraid to get out there, exercise, and enjoy these wonderful winter months because in the blink of an eye its going to be summer…not that I’m complaining.

Check out these articles too:

How To Start Running If You Hate Running

Some people think I’m absolutely crazy when I tell them that I love to run.

They say things like: “How could you possibly love something so painful and tiring?” and “Are you nuts? No one actually enjoys running.”

Truth be told, running is one of my favorite things in the world, and there are a few reasons why.

1. You are in control.

When you run, you are in complete control of your breathing, pace, and the way you move your body. You choose to speed up or slow down; no one is in charge but you!

I like to set a timer and then just run, letting my body and mind set the pace. Some days I keep the same pace throughout the entirety of the run, while other days I like to change it up by sprinting a bit and then jogging.

2. Set yourself free.

Another reason why I love running so much is because it gives me a sense of ultimate freedom. When I’m running, I just feel free. There is no other way to explain it. My worries trail behind me with every stride and my mind becomes more and more clear. Something about the combination of fresh air, sunshine, heavy breathing, and endorphins…. It’s got me hooked.

pexels-photo-2

3. It’s an excuse to listen to music.

I am a person who loves listening to music, so running gives me an extra hour to jam out to some good tunes. This may sound a bit silly, but honestly your playlist can make or break your run. Some songs get me extra pumped and motivate me to run faster, better, and for a longer period of time.

4. De-stress and cure that anxiety.

I have always been a pretty anxious/worried person and running helps me deal with this. It allows me to focus on myself for the time being and really be in the moment. While I’m running, I can re-evaluate my actions, set good intentions, and think about my goals for the future and how I am going to accomplish them. I like to think of it as channeling my anxious energy in a positive way.

5. The aftermath.

When you finish a long run, you just feel AMAZING. You think to yourself, “Yes, I just ran all that and yes, I am amazing.” You realize how much you have already accomplished and it leaves you wanting to accomplish more.

But I hate running. How do I start? 

These are just a few of the reasons I became passionate about running. Whether you are someone who has a lot of energy and needs an outlet or someone who just wants to start running more often, here are some tips for you.

Start slow.

Do not push yourself to the max right from the start. Start with a moderate pace and work up to a faster one. Once you get in the groove of running, it will be easier to go faster than if you start out super fast and the use up all your energy in the beginning.

The hardest part is getting yourself out the door.

Know this from the start. Push yourself to wake up when that alarm goes off, put those earbuds in, and walk out the front door. Try not to think about how you will feel on your run, just get yourself out there! Trust me, it makes all the difference.

Go at your own pace.

Everyone runs differently. Do what feels most comfortable to you and try not to compare yourself to anyone else. Listen to the signs that your body gives you and focus on improving your breathing and form throughout your run.

Now lets shake off the haters, get out there, and get running! Who’s with me? 🙂

Check out these articles too: 

This One Tip Will Help You Get Fit on A Busy Schedule

I’m a college student, so I fully understand giving the all-too-common excuse to not exercise: there’s just not enough time.

I’m also a personal trainer, so I fully understand the importance of making the time. Exercise is so important not only for maintaining your physical health, but for your mental health as well. Exercise is actually a major stress reliever, and the more you stick with it, the better it feels!

So I’m here to help you figure out how to fit it all in.

untitled

Yeah, we’re gonna do some scheduling.

Here’s what I want you to do. Print out a table similar to the one above (I simply searched ‘single day schedule template’ on Google to find this one). Fill it out three days in a row, or for as many days as you need to look at before you really understand where all 24 hours of your day are going.

I don’t just mean write down the major events in your day like classes and meetings. I mean write down EVERY single thing you do in your day. Include Netflix, naps, browsing the web, scrolling through social media, homework, work, and class.

Now go back and look at those time slots that you filled with Netflix, naps, browsing and scrolling. Of course, some of the time is important. It is important to take a break now and then, refresh your mind, and take some deep breaths.

But take out a half hour from any of those activities and insert exercise. It’s that simple! (You can even try out one of our quick workouts if you’re short on time) I know you can do it, because when it comes down to it, we are all capable of doing it, if we just find the time. That’s why your time management is key.

They key to managing your workouts and staying fit at school? Schedule your time. Manage your day. Take control of your free time and use it to take care of your body and mind with exercise. Chances are, you’ll feel even better during the other parts of your day too.

Check out these articles too:

The Weight Room, and Why I Keep Coming Back

The Weight Room, and Why I Keep Coming Back; Fitness

So you want my fitness story?  I don’t really think I have one.  

After putting so many miles in on the treadmill, one day I just walked into the weight room. I don’t know why, but I did know that  being surrounded by people stronger than me didn’t scare me. It gave me the “strength” — no pun intended — to work harder so I could keep up with the rest.  

 

A video posted by E i l e e n (@simplyeileen_fit) on

I liked the feeling of burning muscles, pouring sweat and feeling like I may cry out of exhaustion because I knew I could push through that weakness.  This would discourage most people from ever walking into the weight room again, but I knew I had found my sport, and I knew I wanted to get better.

Now, I live for callused hands and soaked through shirts. I live for that moment when I can push the last rep of a personal record, put the bar down, and do a little happy dance because what I thought I couldn’t do, I just did.

No one can deadlift for you. No one can push past that limit for you. No one can tell you where and when your comfort zone ends. You have to find it, you have to journey through it, and you have to go even further. It’s all you. And that’s what I love the most.

When my mind tells me to stop, that’s when I have to tell it, “No, Eileen. You can do this.” 

So you want my fitness story?  I don’t have a story, because its not over.  

Each day when I step foot into the gym, there’s a new goal. Form, focus, reps, whatever, it all leads to the main event. 

Each day I get up and I train, making the choice to work towards my goal of walking on the NPC stage.  Each day I make the choice to work towards the day where I’ll earn my IFBB Pro card and the day where I’ll qualify for the Olympia roster.  Each day I work towards the day where they announce my name as Ms. Bikini Olympia.

Each day I get up and I train.  And that’s why.

So you want my fitness story?  Just keep reading, keep watching, and see for yourself how it unfolds.

Check out these articles too: 

How I Fell in Love with the Post-Workout High (And You Can, Too)

Starting Something New…or Trying

I’m a college gal. I love to eat, sleep, talk, explore, learn, and (above all) live.

I emphasize “live” because I am so much more alive now than I was when I started college three years ago. Three years ago, I was waning off of my high school days, when I depended entirely on sports practices and pasta to get me through.

I love sports, dancing, and gymnastics and growing up, I never stopped moving. In high school, I loved coming home with the post-practice or post-game high feeling like I just took on the world. I’m 5’4” and weighed 103 pounds entering college. I was 18, moody, and definitely immature.

I started college and lived across the street from the gym, literally. My window’s scenic view was of the treadmills on the third floor. I wish I could tell you that I had a routine and went to the gym to make progress. To be honest, I only went to the gym a couple of times all year to “workout” and a few other times for intramural volleyball games. My “workout” wasn’t the most effective thing in the world. I think I benched once in the weight room and I ran around the indoor track a couple of times (and I hate running so you know that didn’t last very long). But beyond that, what was I doing? Nothing.

I was going to the gym because I didn’t know what to do without sports practices and when I got to the gym, I really didn’t know what to do.

I joined the Club Sailing Team during my fall semester, too. Surprisingly, I did this having never sailed before. This was my opportunity to meet new people and learn a new sport – I love a new challenge. Sailing is a sport, but a very different one from the ones I was used to, where I was doing long distance running or sprints.

I gained ten pounds my freshman year with no routine or good habits. For me, the freshman 15 was a real thing, even if it wasn’t the full 15. It’s not that I felt uncomfortable at the gym or that I had no desire to be in good shape. I just didn’t know what I was doing.

Sailing in one of my first regattas for the sailing team!

Sailing in one of my first regattas for the sailing team!

My Cancer-Free, Ass-Kicking Best Friend… and Personal Trainer

My sophomore year, I chose to live with random roommates. One of these roommates, Gabbi, became my best friend. She was a brave, smart, bubbly girl who changed my life.

Before we moved in to our on-campus apartment, she disclosed to me that she would be missing the first couple days of school because she needed to go to the hospital for her very last round of chemo. Gabbi survived Ewing’s Sarcoma and lived to inspire every person she has ever met. Sure, she had her extremely unfortunate happenings and not everything is perfect, but damn, did she make the best of everything – to me, that’s what it means to have it all.

I learned and developed more positive habits simply from spending time around her. I learned to listen more. I learned to respond not in a quick and thoughtless way, but in a gentle and caring way. I learned to clean up after myself, how to dress well, and most importantly, how to take care of myself. This was a girl who played field hockey for years, was more fit than most girls our age, was driven and determined to conquer everything (including cancer), and started going back to the gym as soon as the doctors finally let her do even the littlest of things.

My fitness story starts here – the cold walks through the fall air at night to get to the gym because Gabbi was going and if she could do it, I was damn well more than able to do it too. She loved a good workout and I loved the post-workout high that followed. I learned to appreciate yogurt and granola, home cooking, and being some of the last people at the gym – but hey, we did it anyway. My eating got better, my attitude got better, my mind got better and I was growing.

My fitness journey started because I was fortunate enough to have a mentor and motivator living with me and dismissing all of my excuses. She didn’t pressure or force me to go. If I made an excuse, she would just say, “Okay, I’ll see you later then” and walk out the door. I decided I didn’t want to be left behind. I didn’t want to not be the best version of myself. 

By the end of sophomore year, I had gained seven more pounds and the scale didn’t matter to me anymore. It still doesn’t, because I know I am strong and capable and those numbers reflected back at me do not define me.

It's so important to be surrounded by good people who lift you up and push you to be your best. Thanks, Gabbi! XO

It’s so important to be surrounded by good people who lift you up and push you to be your best. Thanks, Gabbi! XO

Getting in the Groove

My third year of college, I started working at a spin studio, Cyc Fitness, got hooked on it, and incorporated strength training. I worked at the spin studio at least three days a week and was spinning around four times per week – now that provides a damn good post-workout high. Between spin workouts, I would use Kayla Itsines BBG guides periodically, but never fully committed to completing the program.

During the spring semester of my third year, I studied abroad in Barcelona and joined a gym. I would go for a run once in a while, but the gym was located between my school and my apartment, so I had no excuse to skip it everyday. I completed Kayla Itsines BBG program in May for the first time and it felt amazing!

Now, I know I’m only one workout away from a good mood everyday. I feed off the post-workout high on many days. Being back on campus this semester, my routines vary based on my schedule, classes, activities, etc. But I make time for myself because exercise is equally important to me as everything else in my routine.

"Working out" is actually fun!

“Working out” is actually fun!

So, Here I Am

And so now, looking back on that whirlwind of sophomore year and trying to explain it to you – it starts with a thank you to Gabbi, for being my rock. I want to translate this experience into a relatable story because not everyone has a best friend who kicks cancer’s ass and yours in the same year.

The biggest lesson I want you to take away is that I learned I can’t be someone else, but more importantly, that I shouldn’t want to be. I am comfortable and confident wearing my skin everyday. People are meant to motivate and inspire you. Women encourage, support, and challenge each other. Women look each other in the eyes, fearless and inspired.

I learned that the change starts with you. One million people can tell you how to fix something, but it will never start until you want to change it. And your reason for change should be for you because other things may come and go, but you will still be standing. So when you start your fitness journey or need help continuing, know that there is no high so good as the one you feel at the end of a workout, nothing cleaner than the freshness of supplying yourself with the goodness of food and exercise, and no feeling so good as the end of the day when you feel alive.

And so my question to the readers is: what makes YOU come alive?

img_2585

#StrongIsTheNewSkinny

#StrongIsTheNewSkinny

 

Check out these articles too!

What I Wish I Knew About High Impact Workouts

I have two main pieces of advice for girls who want to do, or who are doing, Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide* (or any high impact workout, for that matter): 

1. Have fun.

Don’t take yourself or the guide (especially those transformation pictures) too seriously. You’ll drive yourself crazy. Enjoy the journey, and don’t focus solely on the so-called “destination”, or end result. 

2. More importantly, protect your KNEES.

Our knees are so much more fragile than we think they are. We work them really hard with jump lunges, jump squats, jumping rope, weighted leg exercises, etc.

I used to love these moves because they would help me break a good sweat and contribute to a heart-pumping, invigorating workout. And while they are excellent plyometric exercises, if we are not careful, these moves can do (potentially long-term) damage to our knees. 

I did Kayla’s guide for six months, 3-4 days a week, with a walk, run, sprints, or the elliptical on non-resistance days. Then, I stopped this workout program because of light-to-moderate knee soreness. A few weeks later, the pain started to get very bad. Simple squats hurt, and it wasn’t cute.

After thinking that the pain would simply “go away” (it didn’t), I finally went to a orthopedic doctor. It turns out I have patella tendinitis.

Now, I wear a supportive CoreFlex knee brace when I workout. This is not the worst thing that could have happened, and I don’t need any type of surgery — for this, I’m grateful.

Going forward, though, I plan to be extremely careful with my knee. I’m only 20, and as someone who gets so much joy out of exercise, I do not want to do further damage to this crucial part of my body. Thanks to my newfound love for yoga, I’ve been able to work on strengthening while resting my left knee, but I still get twinges a few times a week.

I ice my leg every night now, and I can no longer do jumping, plyometric exercises or sprinting, which I used to enjoy. Maybe one day I’ll be able to, but definitely not now. 

 

A photo posted by Hannah (@wholesomelyhannah) on

I encourage my fellow fitness enthusiasts and high-impact doers to be extremely careful and loving to those knees of yours. If you don’t experience any knee pain and ensure safe practices when it comes to jumping or other high-impact exercises, good for you! Keep going.

For those of you who do exerpeicne knee pain, I totally get it — it’s so easy to want to fight through the pain because you want to see results, or because it’s “leg day”, or because this set has 30 jump lunges, but you’re only on number 15. 

Let me tell you from experience, though: pushing through the pain will enable you to see results, sure. Just not the kind you’re looking for. Instead, you’ll start to see sharp pains while going up stairs, feeling like something’s wrong in your kneecap each time you walk, and the inability to perform those same high impact exercises without an excess of pangs. 

 

A photo posted by Hannah (@wholesomelyhannah) on

If you ever feel sharp pain, don’t push through it like I did. You can still achieve an amazing workout, get your sweat on, and make fantastic progress in muscle strength by doing lower impact exercises. 

I encourage you to honor and protect your knees — you’ve only got two, and you have a whole life (filled with fitness!) ahead of you to live.

Check out these articles: 

*To read about my experience with Kayla’s BBG guide, read this article. For answers to more questions about BBG, check it out here

 

A photo posted by Hannah (@wholesomelyhannah) on

I Am Not Perfect, And I Am Proud Of That

perfect

I’m not perfect. And neither are you.

My name is Tori Richardson, I am 22 years old and my take on fitness has evolved over many years.

I started dancing when I was four years old. By the time I was 12, I was dancing 15-20 hours a week, and probably even more during my high school years.  I’ve always had a passion for moving and dancing, with or without music. Fitness to me, for a long long time, was dance… sweating and pushing through hours of rehearsals and training was what I loved (and absolutely still do love). I danced on a nationally ranked competitive dance team during high school and once I graduated in 2012, I transitioned to being a dance instructor at a local studio. I stopped competing at the age of 19, and began dancing more recreationally…I was still dancing but not nearly to the extent I was previously.

During this time I was attending the Napa Valley College, working on my gen eds and transfer requirements. I slowly felt my fitness level (i.e. endurance, stamina, strength) decrease over time. My mom proposed the idea of joining a gym, and I said “sure, why not?”

Starting out, we went 3-4 times a week, taking all the general exercise classes because we weren’t exactly “experienced” or motivated to lead our own workout routine. Long story short, these classes were just not doing it for me. After a while they got repetitive and I felt that I wanted something more. So, what did I do? My mom and I signed up for an eight week boot camp program. We loved it. It kicked our ass. And then… the eight weeks ended. I felt completely discouraged by the little results I received from the large amount of effort I gave over the past two months (little did I know this would teach me patience later in my fitness journey).

A short time after the bootcamp program ended, I started working out less and fell into bad eating habits, which led me to weigh the most I have ever weighed. These unhealthy habits continued for a year before I realized it wasn’t the lifestyle I wanted to lead. I turned my mindset around, and wanted to go into healthy living this second time with a new outlook on fitness. I didn’t want my second attempt at fitness to be an eight-week short cut to a healthy lifestyle, I wanted it to become my lifestyle. And slowly, it did. I stopped comparing myself to athletes and body builders that had been working out for years and instead, I turned my focus to MYSELF.

 

A video posted by TORI (@toritoofit) on


From that point on, I’ve learned self-love, self-confidence, dedication, consistency, and most of all, PATIENCE are the key to living a healthy lifestyle! There is no quick way to being fit and healthy. Sure, you could go on a crazy diet, lose 20lbs in six weeks and look great. But is that healthy? What about when you stop the diet? What happens when you stop the hard work in the gym and the attentiveness to what you’re eating? This is exactly what happened to me when I started my fitness journey. I lost weight and saw progress but once I hit my goal, I stopped my workout routine and paying  attention to the foods I was eating. Then I was suddenly back to square one. Now, I am in this for THE LONG RUN. I’m in no rush to get a “perfect bod” because fitness has taught me to love the body that I have. My body is the “perfect bod” for me.

When I first started my fitness journey, what I found most difficult was my confidence in the weight room. I obviously didn’t have any strength or experience with weights or machines and this fear of the weight room really hindered me from reaching my full potential. I felt that since I lacked strength, I didn’t deserve to be there. Especially as a woman, lifting just seemed too far fetched. BUT I was so intrigued by it and desired to learn.

After my first fallout in the gym, I came back motivated to grow my confidence, my strength and to become a better version of myself. I got inspired by a popular YouTuber Heidi Somers, AKA BuffBunny. She’s a perfect example of a confident woman who’s proud to lift weights and is an advocate for self-love and girl power. Watching her videos gave me knowledge on how to lift properly and confidently. The most important thing I’ve learned? Don’t compare yourself to others. You can’t, and shouldn’t, compare your first month of weight lifting to another persons third year of weight lifting. I’ve learned to just walk in there, have a plan (most important), and execute it. Narrow your focus on yourself, the weights your lifting, and your progress! Consistency equals progress.

I believe women should be proud of themselves for stepping in the weight room, a place that’s mostly dominated by men. Women can do the same things as men, and I believe we need to change our mindset and embrace the fact that we are beautiful, feminine and we lift. Once I learned to embrace the fact that I was a woman who enjoyed lifting, I didn’t pay attention to what other people might think of my strength. I just did what Tori loved and everything fell into place from there. 

If it is your first time in the weight room my advice for you would be:

  • Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone, that is the best way to learn and grow!
  • Go with a friend. Strength in numbers 😉
  • Start with light weights– I know, I know. You’re thinking,”doesn’t that defeat the purpose?” The answer is, NO. You want to learn the exercises with proper technique and once you feel comfortable increase the weight.
  • Consider meeting with a Certified Personal Trainer to help you learn the correct technique- This is important to prevent injury.
  • Finally… chin up, eyes forward and have fun! Life hack: Most of the time when you think someone is watching you lift, they most likely aren’t. Everyone is there to focus on their own workout and growth!  

My fitness journey continues everyday through my daily workouts, clean eating (with the occasional donut), and overall positive well-being. Trust me, I know I’m nothing close to perfect. Some days I’m productive and on track with my fitness goals, and others I don’t mind staying in bed catching up on Netflix for a few hours. Having a balanced lifestyle is what will keep you saneWhat I have learned through my fitness journey, and continue to learn, is that YOU ARE NOT PERFECT – NO ONE IS!

For a long time I thought being “fit” was this magical perfect thing that you could reach. It doesn’t work that way. If you have that mind set, you are setting yourself up for failure. The idea of fit” is different for everyone, and I encourage you to find what being “fit” means to you. Embrace the fact that you are HUMAN and you will be so amazed the things your body and mind can accomplish and conquer. My next step in my fitness journey is to keep killing it in the gym, grow my YouTube channel and start my new journey as a Fit University Ambassador! 🙂 

Check out these articles too:

The Fitness Motivation You Need to Get Past Your Slump

Feeling Slumped? Motivation Tips!

Whether you’ve been working out for a few years and consider yourself a #gymboss or are just getting started with fitness, everyone has hit their slump.  It could last a day or up to a week, but do not let this get the best of you!  Try these motivation tips to revamp your mind, your body and your attitude about fitness.

Change up your routine.

Ask yourself this: when was the last time you changed your workout? A month? 3 months?

Just like your mind, your body gets accustomed to your workouts. Because of this, the gain train might miss your stop after awhile. Though undoubtedly frustrating, this is completely normal. Maybe you’re working out because you’re a college athlete, trying to gain muscle mass, or just trying to stay in shape. No matter your goals, switching things up can only help you improve. Try to spice things up and give a new type of workout a try.

Bump some different tunes.

If you don’t listen to music when you work out, then this does not apply to you – or does it? Before you scroll down and skip this one, think about it: if the way you’re doing it now (silently) is getting dull, couldn’t playing some fun new tunes help?

If you’re lacking on the motivation and there’s no music in the background, consider picking up the headphones. From my personal experience, I get tired of listening to the same stuff over and over again.  For that reason, every couple weeks or so I’ll switch up what I listen to.  Whether its alternative, throwbacks, rap or some house music – switching up the tunes can give your workout a different rhythm and a different mindset.

If you’re not sure what to listen to, or don’t want to spend the time making a playlist, don’t worry: we’ve got you covered

Find a workout buddy (or ditch your usual buddy & go alone).

This is pretty straightforward. If you work alone and the motivation is not there, try and find a workout buddy.  I always find working out with someone will help push and motivate each other to new PRs! 

On the other hand, maybe you’re tired of your buddy (maybe he or she doesn’t show up on time).  Try going alone.  You may need just some alone time with the gym to get in touch with what you really want to be doing and accomplish.

Try going at a different time of day.

I personally prefer the morning to workout out in, but some people may not know what works best for them. If your schedule is flexible enough, try going at different times of the day: it may give you a burst of new energy.

Supplementation

I am an avid believer on taking the right supplements for you to enhance your workouts. For myself, I take Cellucor Cinnamon Swirl Protein (10/10 rating in my opinion), Best Creatine by BPI Sports (if you are unaware of creatine, I highly recommend researching the benefits of this amazing supplement), and ON multivitamins. Do a little research and figure out which ones you want to be taking for your fitness goals (or consult an expert).

The right supplements go a long way in terms of endurance, performance and recovery.

 

A photo posted by BPI Sports (@bpi_sports) on

Take advantage of the summer weather.

Get outdoors! With a little of creativity, the traditional playground can turn into your own outdoor gym. Try a simple routine while you get your tan on at the beach, even.

You can try this bodyweight workout you can do anywhere (Or this one. Or this one.). Just do each move for 30 seconds, then rest for 10-30 seconds before moving to the next exercise. Repeat the circuit as many times as you want.

  1. Pull-ups
  2. Push-ups
  3. Hanging leg raises
  4. Triceps dips
  5. Burpees
  6. Finish off with some sprints

Don’t forget to stretch!

Ditch fitness for a week.

The problem might just be that your body is lacking energy and needs a break. You may just be fatigued. Listen to your body. A rest week can in fact be beneficial every once in a while. Rest up and get some cheat meals in!

 

A photo posted by Fit University (@gofitu) on

Watch Pumping Iron

Then watch it again. Feel motivated?

Feeling Slumped? Try These Motivation Tips To Get Back On Track!

Remember why you started.

To start something is one thing, but the real reason we’re all here is to finish something – to stick with your goals all the way through.

Remember why you started your fitness journey; everyone has their own reasons. What are yours? Like the great MJ once said, “limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.”  Get those limits you have in your head out— let finish this.

Pokémon Go

Ha, ha. But for real. Download it. Go on a run and catch some rare Pokémon and hatch those eggs! #TeamMystic4Life

Now that you’re all motivated, what are you waiting for? Go for it! 

Check out these articles too: 

I Had This One Realization About Fitness, & It Changed Everything

Move and exercise in ways that you enjoy. Not how magazines, friends, apps, people on the Internet, TV shows, or celebrities tell you that you “should”. 

During my conversation with health coach & CPT, Cara (of the Balanced Bod) last week, I finally realized something that I had been unwilling to admit to myself.

I had been lifting weights at the gym at Northeastern on-and-off all year. While I certainly liked some parts of this form of exercise, there were other parts I simply did not connect with. It made me feel stressed out to know that I “had” to wake up and lift heavy things first thing in the morning (which is usually my favorite time of day to exercise). Despite these factors, I kept dragging myself to Marino, lifting the free weights, and working the machines.

I felt okay — pretty good, even, but I never could stick with any weight-training program for long, and I didn’t have a feeling of euphoria after these workouts.

This summer, I purchased a membership to a yoga studio (that included a much appreciated student discount), and I’ve gone almost every day. After each class, I feel full of strength, flexibility, and tranquility. For me, yoga is the perfect combination of strength training, core work, stretching, and meditation. I can already tell that I’ve improved a lot (physically as well as mentally) since I started in June. I uncovered that the reason I’ve been able to be so consistent with going to the studio this summer is because I genuinely LOVE yoga.

On my call with Cara, I came to terms with the fact that I was not able to stick with any lifting program for any period of time because I am not wholeheartedly passionate about this type of fitness. At the root of it, I was lifting weights because I had read and heard about the numerous benefits and the reasons why I “should” do it. I listened to those media outlets instead of myself; I became utterly lost and out of touch with my own passions along the way. 

My advice to you is to try every single type of exercise until you find one that you genuinely enjoy and connect with. Reach for that glorious post workout feeling. What’s even better is this: once you discover and choose to practice types of exercise that you love, you’ll naturally start to integrate fitness into your daily life. 

If you like weightlifting, that is wonderful! If you love running, run like the wind. If you enjoy dancing, that’s super cool. Do what works for YOU, and remember that you do not have to do anything for your health that you are told you “should” do. That is all pure bullsh*t. I hope you all go on and have a fantastic rest of your week!

 

 Check out these articles, too: 

6 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got into Fitness

I love fitness. I look forward to it. I include it in as many aspects of my life as I can. To be honest, fitness is a part of me. It doesn’t define me, but yes—it is a major part of me. Over the past 5 years or so, I have had lots of highs, but also have had my fair share of lows when it comes to my involvement with fitness.

I’ve tried many new things and gone to several extremes; I’ve done many things I am proud of, but also some things I could have easily gone without. I won’t bore you with the details, but I will tell you that where I am now is a place that I love. And, from someone who’s been through it all, I want to share with you the 6 major things I have learned that have gotten me to where I am today.

1. ‘Fitness’ and ‘Health’ do not have set definitions.

They are set by YOU. I started a brand called YouMakeYou® that focuses on this idea. What works for me may not work for you, and vice versa. What makes you happy might not make me happy. When it comes to your health, you have to find what works for YOU, figure out what YOU want to do, and go do it. You need to not let what others think steer your decisions, you need to not worry about if you are going against mainstream whatever. You are YOU, and this is YOUR life. Define it.

2. Not everyone will ‘get you.’

Building off of number one, you will have people who question you and try to tell you what to do. Ignore them (unless they are a professional and are helping you or trying to keep you safe). If someone is trying to control how you live your life, you don’t need them in your life.   Don’t ever let your ego get in the way of your happiness. Ignore negativity, but also brush it off. It is not worth your time. Accept that some people just won’t get it.

3. Do it for the right reason.

From experience, I can PROMISE you that being a certain size or a certain shape does not make you happier, or more liked, or more popular. It just doesn’t. Decide to find your fitness because you WANT TO. Find it for personal reasons. If you set out on your journey with the intention of satisfying others, making yourself ‘more appealing’, or fitting a standard—you will not enjoy it, you will get wrapped up in worry and dissatisfaction, and you will most likely fall off the wagon or lose your balance along the way.

4. Have fun with it.

If you aren’t, you’re not doing it right. Yes, fitness is not all fun and games: you will have tough workouts. But everything that’s worth doing gets tough sometimes. Forget about the individual days and lifts and runs. Are you, in the greater scheme of things, having fun with it? If not, don’t be afraid to try something new. Try a new type of workout, switch up your routine (try working out outside!), grab a friend, go to a group fitness class… The list goes on. Think about what I have mentioned in the above bullets too: do you have the right motivation? Are you trying to satisfy others before yourself?

 

hi yes 🙏🏻 #YouMakeYou

A photo posted by Colby Triolo #YouMakeYou (@colbytriolo_youmakeyou) on

5. Share your journey.

**Disclaimer: I swear on my jars of almond butter I am not sharing this point because this is for FitUniversity, a platform for students to share their fitness stories, this a personal view. **

I can’t tell you how many years I’ve spent not only working out alone but also refraining from sharing my beliefs, interests, and journey with anyone. I always thought of myself as someone who loved working out alone and doing my own thing, which is true. On the most basic level, I do love doing just that: I feel like I get an awesome workout in on my own terms, it is my ‘me time’, and I just simply enjoy that experience.

 

before I share this workout I want to say I ordered an #almondmilklatte from @dunkindonuts for the first time && it was litralllllllly #nametheshow the best one ive ever had #NotSponsored #Truth 😍 WORKOUT TIME 👊🏻 #TagYourWorkoutBuddy for this #TuesdayChallenge (TAP FOR SOUND) 👉🏼 Find a set of stairs or a stadium, run up a column, do a strength move, run down, Repeat for 30-40 minutes 👊🏻 end with 2 columns of the end exercises: 3 double step jumps, 3 mountain climbers, 3 step up and kicks each leg ✔ ps thanks @sarahjgaines for being my bangin #workoutbuddy 🔥 . #youmakeyou #StairWorkout #IntenseWorkout #OutdoorWorkout #iamfitu #crossfit #summer #partnerworkouts #fitchick #fitchicks #ibleedred #boston #cornell #ivy #weightloss #hiit #harvard #runnergirl #fitfam

A video posted by Colby Triolo #YouMakeYou (@colbytriolo_youmakeyou) on


That being said, everything is better when you have someone to share an experience with. This is completely new to me, but this past summer I have begun doing almost all of my workouts with a partner, or just with someone else beside me doing their own thing. I still get in a #bangin workout and there is the extra umph and accountability that comes from having someone there with me. It adds a really unique dimension to my workouts. Don’t be afraid to try something new and expand your horizons. You will find like-minded people and learn from each other.

 

you’ve got the whole world in your hands 😎🌎

A photo posted by Colby Triolo (@itscool_b) on

 

6. Be proud and happy with where you are.

You will always want more. You will always want what you don’t have. It’s just the way we are. But I want you to put all of that aside and realize: where you are right now? You are there for a reason. You are meant to be right here, right now. Be happy with where you stand currently and embrace it. Stop criticizing yourself for what you’re not and be proud of everything you are. Be proud of the things you have done, rather than focusing on what you haven’t yet. It is O.K. to want to improve, and in fact I often preach the importance of having goals—hello YouMakeYou®. But I just as often preach embracing each step in the journey, because it is there for a reason.


 Check out these articles too: 

No, I Didn’t Always Love Staying Fit (But I Do Now)

If I had to describe my fitness journey in a few words, I’d say: it’s taken a complete 180-degree turn.

As a young kid, I was probably one of the laziest of the lot. My friends could be running, jumping, and skipping all around me and I’d be perfectly content sitting, watching the world (and my friends) run right on by. I generally came in last place in every short sprint race and made any (and all) excuses possible to get out of swimming lessons.

Even at parties, I’d tap my toes while everyone else was throwing their hands up in the air, shaking their hair around, and well… just being kids. I realize that at this point, I’ve made my kid self seem like a loser. I wasn’t completely lame… but when it came to physical activity, I preferred to sit out.

swimFast-forward a few years. I finally learned to swim – through lots of forced lessons, I must add – and even began to enjoy it. In third grade, I found myself signing up for the swim team. But still, I lived for the days the lightning siren went off. I used to live in a tropical climate and the siren meant practice was called off for the evening due to the weather. And even weather permitting, I went to the minimum number of required practices and was primarily motivated by the chocolate muffin my mom may have brought me to eat on the way home. I’ve always been a “foodie”, you see.

Shift forward another few years. I started running here and there, picked up a bit of tennis, dabbled (not for long) in golf, and kept on swimming. I went on to be selected for the varsity swim team. There, I swam the long(ish) distance events, travelled around for competitions, and started to feel a real sense of comfort and exhilaration from being with my #swimteamfam.

One thing led to another, and eventually I began running on the weekends. I also would do hour-long sessions on the stationary bike at the gym to be “fit and healthy”. And to some extent, I was—but not necessarily for the right reasons. Exercising just felt like something I had to do. It was an escape from SAT practice. Fitness was a big part of my life, but in hindsight it wasn’t my conscious choice. Rather, it was just a passive following of what I thought “being fit” looked like. And I was doing it all wrong.

Which brings me to where I am today: now I workout because it feels good. What’s the point if it doesn’t? Health is as much, if not more, about happiness than all the other typical nutrition and fitness stuff that goes along with it. I really do love getting sweaty, moving around, feeling the fresh air, hitting the gym with friends, going for runs in the park with my dad, and even taking the stairs instead of the elevator. I stay fit when and how I want to.

Who wouldn't love this post-run view?

Who wouldn’t want to stop and enjoy this post-run view?

Sometimes, I may not do a real workout for a month (*gasp*) and other times I work out six days in a row. And for me, this just works. Some days I eat like a nutritionist (or let’s just say mostly healthy) and other days I eat cake for breakfast, ice cream sundaes for lunch, and pizza for dinner. PS. My body craaaves veggies the next day.

YES, you can eat this and still be "healthy".

YES, you can eat this now and then and still be “healthy”.

Because all in all, healthy and fit are two words that equate to: #balance.

Loving Your Workouts Is The Key To Keep Up Your Fitness

I started doing yoga with my mom when I was fifteen. We went to an incredible studio with amazing instructors and wonderful people, and the experience helped me establish what has become a life-long love of yoga.

However, when I was a freshman, I attended a yoga class on campus, and it was so horrible I actually cried. Yeah, that’s right, I cried during class. If this had been my first experience with yoga, I probably never would’ve tried it again.

Getting into shape and working on your fitness doesn’t have to be torture. In fact, it shouldn’t be torture. I love going to the gym (most of the time) and I never understood why when I’ve invited friends to go with me, they’d react with a grunt and a groan and either a reluctant “ugh fine” or an excuse like “I really don’t want to today”.

There are so many different workouts to choose from! It’s impossible to hate all of them. Going to the gym doesn’t have to mean thirty boring minutes on the elliptical followed up with struggling on a mat through the same ab workouts week after week.

Switching up your workout routine prevents you from getting bored. If you ate the same exact foods everyday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, even if they were super healthy, you’d get sick of them pretty fast. The same goes for your workouts. Additionally, if you didn’t like a certain type of food, you wouldn’t continue eating it. If you don’t like whatever form of cardio you’ve been pushing through each week, try doing a different form. Try the AMTS machine, or the bike, or the stair master, or get outside and hike instead. Try dancing, even!

handstand

Or go do some cool poses in the sun 🙂

Also, if your cardio feels too difficult to motivate yourself into, try to incorporate strength training and calisthenics into your routine. It’ll make cardio easier. When your muscles are in better shape, they perform better during cardio… Who would’ve thought?

No access to weights? Try the Nike Training Club app, or even just look up some no-equipment/bodyweight workouts here at Fit U or on Pinterest. There are a million to choose from, so you never have to get bored.

Group fitness classes are also a great way to get back into a good relationship with exercise. Plus, they make working out more social and fun!

Barre classes are my new obsession, and I’ll schedule a few into my week if I can. Grab a friend and try a few out, either at your school’s gym or elsewhere. If group fitness classes aren’t for you but you still feel like you’d benefit from some instruction, look into hiring a personal trainer. Having someone guide you through a workout and help you create a personalized routine is extremely helpful, even if you only meet with them a few times.

Here’s the thing: all bodies were made to move. However, not everyone likes moving in the same way. Just because you don’t like one form of exercise doesn’t mean your body won’t enjoy another. In fact, you’re biologically MADE to enjoy exercise!

Too many people give up on working out altogether, just based on one or two failed experiences. When you enjoy what you’re doing, you’re more likely to do it: it’s that simple! So figure out what works for you, mix it up, and go get that endorphin rush. Your body will thank you.

Need a Cool Down Playlist? We’ve Got You Covered.

When you are finished being a beast at the gym, running in the sweltering sun, or cycling until your palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy (or my favorite, mom’s spaghetti), it is so important to remember to cool down and STRETCH.

stretch

Unfortunately, music that makes you want to tear sh*t up isn’t really the best to blast in your earbuds while stretching your hamstrings at the end of your workout.

Fortunately for you all, your girl @foodietunes here loves making playlists (you can thank me later), and this time I made one just perfect for those cool down stretches, yoga sessions, or any other moment where you need to just be calm and breathe.

Listen to the Spotify playlist here (OR at the bottom of this article).

  1. Here for You//Kygo, Ella Henderson
  2. Unhinged//Nick Jonas
  3. I Was Made For Loving You//Tori Kelly, Ed Sheeran
  4. Eyes Shut//Years & Years

  1. Dynasty//MIIA
  2. Latch-Acoustic//Sam Smith
  3. Looking For Your Name//Armin van Buuren, Gavin DeGraw
  4. Barcelona//George Ezra
  5. Raging//Kygo, Kodaline

  1. Home To Mama//Justin Bieber, Cody Simpson
  2. I Choose You//Andy Grammer
  3. I’m Not the Only One//Sam Smith
  4. Paper Hearts//Tori Kelly
  5. She is Love//Parachute
  6. Fragile//Kygo, Labrinth
  7. Rise Up//Andra Day
  8. Give Me Love//MAX
  9. Talking To The Moon//Bruno Mars
  10. Run to You//Pentatonix
  11. The Men That Drive Me Places//Ben Rector
  12. The Scientist//Tyler Ward, Lindsey Stirling & Kina Grannis
  13. Lay Me Down//Sam Smith, John Legend
  14. Glitter in the Air//P!nk
  15. Make You Feel My Love//Adele

 

3 Steps to Staying Fit This Summer

summer fitness

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

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

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

1) Find a workout that you enjoy.

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

2) Find a workout buddy.

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

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

3) Don’t be afraid to enjoy yourself.

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

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

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

Check out these articles too:

College, the Gym, and Learning to Lift

fitness4nonners

My name is Pat Sadowski and I am an ambassador for Fit University! But I wasn’t always the gym buff that I am today. Here is a little background about how I got into fitness, especially in college.

I am originally from NJ, specifically near the Jersey Shore (side note: I dressed up as Pauly D for Halloween a few years back).

I currently attend Northeastern University in Boston, MA, and right now I am finishing up my 3rd (middler) year. Though I call Boston my home, for the past 6 months I have been co-oping (working full-time) in NYC!

Back down in Jersey, I learned about working out from being on my high school’s track team. I was placed on the throwing team due to my inability to run fast (this will make more sense when I explain my views on cardio momentarily). From there it was history – I was hooked.

The first few workouts I learned were primarily weightlifting. I learned the standard Olympic lifts – mainly the big 3: bench, squat, and deadlift. Immediately, I fell in love with one of these lifts: – the bench. Way back then, when I still had so much to learn, legs meant nothing to me. Therefore, I saw no purpose to do squats or deadlifts. It was a dark time; I did not know any better.

squat

Fast forward a couple years. My sports career came to an end, but my love for weightlifting does not stop. I loved everything about the working out lifestyle (besides legs of course). Researching new workouts, diets, and supplements now took up my free time. Bodybuilding.com became my best friend. I was making initial muscle gains, and I loved it.

To me, working out was like working hard on your academics at school – you’re able to see the progress. If you work hard in class, generally the end results will reflect that. The same was true for fitness, where not only can you see the physical changes in your body, but you can feel it too. The amount of force you are able to generate in the gym increases over time and it is a sensational feeling hitting a new PR!

These rookie gains I was achieving were great, but soon I started to plateau. I finally came to my senses as to how important working out your legs really is. To put things in perspective: your legs make up more than half of your body. So if you’re not working them out, only half of your body is seeing the effects of fitness.

After some critical research on the squat, deadlift, and lifting with legs in general, I fell in love all over again. Deadlifts soon became the G.O.A.T. for me, and continue to be a favorite lift. Squats are just as fun; and as many people say, it’s a great analogy for when something heavy brings you down and you get back up.

 

Although my perspective of working out and fitness as grown exponentially over the years, some things do not change: my hate for cardio. I played sports my whole life, and even swam competitively for well over a decade. And yet I cannot stand cardio. Treadmills, ellipticals, Stairmasters… You name it, I hate it. I think we can all relate that a minute on the treadmill is equivalent to an 8 hour work day. However, even though I truly do hate cardio, I’ve also come to understand the importance of it, especially when it’s cutting season. And with summer just starting, cardio has been a huge part of my cutting phase. 

So that is my background and the start to my fitness lifestyle. Some days I work out because I want to stay in shape or see changes in myself, and some days it is simply my therapy. My love for it is constantly evolving and that is the main reason why I signed up to be a FitU ambassador.

I love fitness and I hope to spread my passion for it throughout the college community – one squat at a time. If anyone ever wants to talk fitness, I can spend all day talking about it so please reach out!

~ Stay fit my friends ~

Check out these articles, too: 

26.2 Reflections on 26.2 Miles

marathon

Last weekend, I ran my first marathon in Traverse City, Michigan. I trained throughout the spring semester with the goal in mind to qualify for the 2017 Boston Marathon.

Traverse City’s Bayshore marathon was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it was a great race. And the best part is, I qualified for Boston with time to spare, and am so excited for next April!

The whole experience of training, tapering, racing, and recovering was new for me. I have done it all before for halves and for rowing, but a marathon? 26.2 miles is a whole different beast to tackle.

I learned a lot through the process, and here are some of my main takeaways. These are just my experiences, however, and if you’re planning on running one, take all of these thoughts with a grain of salt – running and racing is different for everyone!

1. You will worry. A lot. About what you’re eating, whether you’re tapering right, if it will rain – I could go on and on.

2. You will worry, but relax. Take a deep breath. At the end of the day, all that matters is the race – whatever that means for you, whether it’s finishing, running a good race, running a PR, or qualifying for Boston.

3. Be well rested. This doesn’t mean it is the end of the world if you don’t sleep a lot the night before the race. What does matter is the week leading up to the race – get plenty of sleep during your taper period!

4. Get hype for race day. Even if you have to wake up at an ungodly hour of the morning, do whatever it takes. Listen to music, eat a good breakfast, visualize, make the bus on time..

 

5.Bring water to the start, and whatever else you might need (Vaseline and sunscreen, for example). Almost all races have bag drops, but as I discovered at Bayshore, not all starting areas will have stands of water, gatorade, and all the pre-race necessities.

6. While on the topic, bathrooms will obviously be available, but there will never be enough. Almost every runner has an impulsive five-minutes-before-the-start nervous pee, so don’t have shame and just go in the woods, behind a building, wherever you need to to make the start comfortably.

7. Okay, so you’re running. People start marathons with wide ranges of training behind them, but no matter what, start SLOW.


 

8. I found the first 10 miles to be the hardest mentally (until I got to the last 6, which is a whole different story). I was excited, but I knew if I got too excited and started using my mind tricks to motivate myself, I would start to go too fast. I had to keep myself in a very bored, focused cage in order to stay on pace for the first third of the race.

9. That resistance paid off, and I felt great for miles 10-16. So I picked it up. After looking back at my splits, apparently I picked it up a little too much. Miles 13-18 will make you want to fly if you’ve been holding back for the first half, but remember that the last eight miles are tough after already running 18 miles.

10. Biggest lesson I probably learned: even if it means carrying a little extra weight, bring along your own fuel. Not only is it good to be able to use what you’re used to, but some races’ aid station information is not always accurate. I could not wait to get to my well-needed second GU at mile 17, but Bayshore ran out by the time I arrived. It wasn’t there!

11. Knowing I was approaching the dreaded carb-depletion wall, I sipped on some diluted Gatorade for the next few miles. I didn’t crash, but it would’ve been safer, less stressful, and perhaps slightly easier had I fueled as planned.

12. Make sure to run with your butt and hips during the entire race. Your quads will thank you at mile 18 – where they really start to burn.

13. I felt strong, but by the time I got to mile 20, I was definitely approaching survival-mode. When people tell you that the two halves to marathons are the first 20 and the last 6 miles, they aren’t exaggerating.

14. Breaking up the race is different for everyone, of course (my mom told me that once I got to mile 18, I would know I could finish). The point is, the last 10k will go slowly – mile by mile. This is when your mental tricks and inner motivation need to turn on and keep you going (at pace, preferably).

marathon

15. I think the last 6 miles’ brutality really depends on the marathon and the size of the race. For Boston and many others, the crowds take runners in for the end with encouragement, excitement, and adrenaline. For Bayshore, however, the excitement didn’t really come until mile 26 – and by then, I was too intent on collapsing after the finish line to notice the crowds in the stadium.

16. The feeling you have when crossing the finish line really depends on how hard you went. Everyone is tired after running 26.2 miles, of course. I had pushed myself so hard to go faster than qualifying pace (and to finish strong and faster than the girl I had been running with for the last 2 miles because my competitive side kicked in), that I was spent at the end.

17. My post-race experience could have been better. My quads were in shreds and my back hurt so badly that it was extremely painful to walk. I knew I needed fuel, my bag, water, and to find my mom, so I mustered the strength to do so.

18. When my mom found me, she was so excited for me. I wish I could have been too, but I was in so much pain before the Gatorade kicked in that it took awhile.

19. Anyway, once you recover, you will have the biggest runner’s high you’ve ever had. It will last for a good week.

20. I was hungry, sore, proud, and happy for days. You just finished 26.2 miles. You deserve to be proud. Not many in the people in the world can run a mile. Even getting across the starting line is an accomplishment.

 

21. I am proud of my race, but I wish I would have taken in the excitement of the experience more. The pockets of crowds were great along the way, but I was so focused and in pain when I entered the stadium and the finisher’s tents afterwards, that I didn’t fully take in the entir buzz of roaring fans cheering on the runners.

22. I wouldn’t say I would have raced differently – I was trying to qualify.

23. My next goal is to appreciate being at the start in Hopkinton and just enjoying the Boston Marathon. It is an experience like no other, and most people are just happy to be there. It is a tough course with many hills, and the crowds along the entire course are worth taking in. I cannot wait to enter Beacon street, Kenmore, and Copley where I will be among BU students, my campus and home!

boston
24. My quads were in the most pain they’ve ever been – I couldn’t sit down or walk down stairs normally for about 3 days. However, the body is amazing at its muscle recovery job.

25. The next commonly stated truth is that once finishing a marathon, you will never want to do it again – until thirty minutes later when you’re ready to sign up for another one. The mind does weird things where once your body recovers; it blocks out the trauma of running those 26.2 (or last 6) miles and only remembers how great it was.

26. Whether you run 5ks, marathons, row, swim, lift weights, compete against others or only yourself, or are just getting started, be proud of yourself. It takes a lot of strength to start. People will question you, support you, encourage you, and cheer you on, but at the end of the day, the strength to keep going can only come from within yourself.

26.2  Get outside, have fun, notice the sun and the breeze, and do whatever makes you happy and healthy!

Check out these articles too:

26 tips for 26 miles
I used to run a 13 minute mile
How to train for your first marathon
What do knitting patterns and marathons have in common?

Why My Love for Fitness Will Never Change

To be honest, life without fitness seems unimaginable to me. Ever since I can remember, I have been an athlete. From running the summer series in my town in the 4 year old division, to choosing to play baseball over art at camp, to eventually joining travel AND rec teams when I could, making my parents crazy driving me everywhere (thanks guys). Fitness has always been in my life.

I think that’s mainly due to my family. Whether it was cheering my mom on in her weekly races, watching my sister in lacrosse games, or seeing my brother do one of the countless (what I thought would be) impossible athletic challenges, someone was always competing. Obviously I had to do the same, and even better– we were competing after all.

Basketball quickly became my sport. There were definitely people who played better than I did, but very few who worked harder. I always pushed to play the best that I could. On one of my high school teams, I became “the pitbull”, which meant I now had a reputation to uphold in addition to the pressure I put on myself.

jenna

Baby me taking home the title of “free throw champ of Fairfield County”

One thing I enjoyed about practice was the feeling of accomplishment (and of trying not to puke) after coach made us do suicides. Knowing I had just given it my all, that there wasn’t any more to leave out on the court, was my favorite form of satisfaction. This is how I tried to handle every sport-related thing I did: let’s just say, with no mercy.

But I guess I became too fierce, too much of a pitbull (who knew that could be a thing!), because I ended up with a concussion that finished my basketball (and every other sport) career. I began to get headaches on a daily basis and I had trouble focusing on simple activities and conversations. Not being able to play sports my senior year was heartbreaking. I had no idea how to function without them in my life– it was what I knew. Sitting on my butt every day after school most definitely wasn’t an option for me, but I had never even considered getting a gym membership because I was an athlete; I didn’t need the gym. Sports were what kept me fit and active. I had a set schedule made by someone else, telling me where and when to workout and that was how I liked it. Having no other option though, and wanting to stay in shape, I knew I needed to get a membership.

For the first few months, I rarely picked up weights. I felt like I’d lost that intense drive that I had when playing sports. Ever since the day I decided to migrate over to the weight area (don’t ask me what drove me to try the weights, because to this day I have NO idea), I haven’t looked back. The feeling I got from lifting more one week than I could the week before, of being sore to the point where I couldn’t walk straight, or of the dripping t-shirt after a HIIT session were what got me hooked to start. What kept me hooked was something completely different.

Fit University Ambassador: Jenna BernardI love fitness because it’s so humbling. You’re never “finished”. There’s ALWAYS more you can be doing or working towards, and of course there’s always someone else better than you. Instead of being discouraged by this, I find it inspiring. Thinking about these things, I become determined to get that extra pull up, run another 30 seconds, or finally get that pistol squat I’ve been trying to get for months (literally– it’s a slow process). Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely times when I feel like I’m not making any progress, or something’s too hard and I should just give up. But the second I achieve the goal I’ve been working towards, all the reasons why I started working out come rushing back into my mind. And lemme tell you, it’s an amazing feeling. If I can get just one other person to change their attitude about working out, I’ll count it as a win. I joined Fit University to be a role model, to show others what they can do when they set their mind to it, and to get them as addicted to fitness as I am.

Fitness is a lifestyle, and anyone who says it’s not the lifestyle for them just hasn’t found their passion yet. There is a role in fitness for everyone, it doesn’t just have to be in the gym. It could be walking your dog around the block every day, or biking to your classes instead of taking the bus. Whatever it is, once you start, I promise you won’t look back. Like me, you’ll be hooked.

Don’t Work Through That Injury. Recover.

via shape.com

You’ve been training consistently: lifting heavier weights, running longer distances, running quicker times. You feel on top of the world! You’re super positive, and you feel as though nothing can stop you, like you can only improve and get better. You’re doing everything right, and nothing can go wrong.

Until something does.

One day, though you feel that you have done everything right, you get an unexpected surge of pain in your lower back while deadlifting. Or suddenly you feel a serious tightness in your hamstring. Or you unexpectedly get tripped in an important race and your ankle begins to throb.

Whatever it might be, it was totally unexpected, and out of nowhere you’re in pain. “Why did this happen? I feel like I am at my peak, nothing is supposed to pull me backwards. I take care of every detail of my workout!”

Next thing you know, you’re on the sidelines over the next few weeks. You are being told by doctors to rest and recover, when all you really want to do is get back into your routine and keep feeling unstoppable. So you do.

injury

Sure, you may feel a little pain! But you decide to work through it. You lighten your workout a bit so that your injury can heal while you’re still working out. Unfortunately, though this seems like a potentially good idea, it can actually backfire in the long run. If you do not give yourself enough time to recover and get the proper recovery resources (trainers, chiros, PT’s, etc) then you may not be able to reach the same peak performance that you were able to reach in the past. This can be really frustrating.

This is unfortunately what happened to me back in 2011. And because I never gave myself time to recover, I continue to weave between injuries, and I feel as though I never returned to my peak ability.

katerynaIt all started at the county championships of Winter Track 2011, during my 3000m race. I had only 4 laps left out of 15, and I was steadily running between the 3rd and 4th spot, fighting for the front. Suddenly, I tripped over my opponent’s foot and took a hard fall. I quickly got up, and I immediately knew there was something wrong with my ankle. However, the adrenaline took over me in the heat of the moment, and this allowed me to finish my race without a lot of pain sensation.

It was only after the race that I felt the heat rushing toward my ankle and a throbbing pain right along with it. I was supposed to run the 4×800 relay at the end of the meet, but I had to sit out. My trainers all told me to not run the rest of the season and to take a rest, but that didn’t sound like something I wanted to do. You see, I was very frustrated because it was my junior year and I was trying to impress college coaches for recruitment. So of course I ran over the injury, and started a roller coaster of peaks and plateaus in performance from there on out because I would constantly reinjure myself. To this day, my ankle still hurts once I hit the 78 mile mark in my long runs. If I had taken care of my injury when it happened, I think this could have been avoided, and I would have had much better performance during my senior year.

I think I learned my lesson from this, however; when I injured my back this year in college after deadlifting, I took 2 months off from the heavy weights. I spent the time getting stronger in my running instead, and consistently went to the chiropractor for adjustments and ultrasound heat therapy. I am slowly making a comeback to lifting again, but these 2 months of recovery are nothing compared to what I would have faced had I just tried to work through the pain and ended up injuring myself even worse.

kateryna

Bottom line? If you get injured, yes it is very frustrating to have to take a pause and take a few steps back in your training, but it is well worth it in the long run. By giving your body the recovery it needs, you can avoid a roller coaster of injuries in the future and escape a lot of recurring aches and pains in your body.

I feel as though this subject isn’t talked about or even touched upon nearly enough in teams and in the gym environment. People feel as though they are stronger than their injury and can therefore work through it. Not enough people understand the consequences of not allowing yourself time to recover. Heal now, so that you can make an even stronger comeback later!

Stay fit and take care of yourself #fitufam!

34 Songs to Bring Your Workout To The Next Level

We’ve all been there before. You turn on Spotify at the gym, getting ready to get that good pump on. You put on that gym playlist that you made back in high school.

music

Yeah… and then you hear the first millisecond of the song and you’re like

penguins nope

Soon, you’ve skipped through half the playlist and you’re back to square one.

Have no fear! Today is the day that we end this tragedy once and for all. I have compiled this list of 34 pumped-up songs to get you amped while working out. 🙂 Careful, you may feel like you want to bust a drug deal or fight a guy at a bar upon first listen — but grind it out during your workout instead!

Listen to it on Spotify here.

  1. Dynasty//MIIA, Elephante Remix

  1. Don’t Let Me Down//The Chainsmokers, Daya
  2. Get Down//Tiësto, Tony Junior
  3. Light It Up//Major Lazer, Nyla

  1. Spack Jarrow//W&W, Moti
  2. No Money//Galantis
  3. How To Love//Cash Cash ft Sofia Reyes

  1. Bonfire//Childish Gambino
  2. Off The Hook//Hardwell, Armin van Buuren
  3. SummerThing!//Afrojack, Mike Taylor

  1. GDFR//Flo Rida, Sage The Gemini, Lookas
  2. Now//Bassnectar, Rye Rye
  3. Now That I’ve Found You//Martin Garrix, ft. John & Michael

  1. Love Me A Little// Riggi & Piros
  2. To Ü//Jack Ü, Skrillex, Diplo, AlunaGeorge
  3. X Gon Give It To Ya//DMX

You know those workouts that were just… Good? Today was one of them 💪 💦 Practiced deadlifts (thanks to all that commented/DM'ed with pointers!) So I lowered the weight to 95# to focus on form. This video is the last couple reps out of 12, so it was a struggle but very beneficial to focus on form for today! To burn my body, I did light back squats (65#) immediately followed by the same weight but for front squats.. Legs were on fire 🔥 then ended with calf raises with 2 45# plates supersetted with oblique raises with the same 45# (my grip was fried by the end of this workout), <10 minutes of body weight abs, and a ton of stretching and rolling out… @alison_grooves inspires me that mobility is just as important as strength! Looking forward to not being able to walk tomorrow! 🐧 Gym song (inspired by the boyfriend @reillypat24) : X Gon Give It To Ya// DMX #fituniversity

A post shared by Christina Chu, CPT (@foodietunes) on

  1. TECHNO// Yellow Claw, Diplo, LNY-TNZ, Waka Flocka Flame
  2. Kanye (Riggi & Piros Remix)//The Chainsmokers, Riggi & Piros
  3. BoomBox//JETFIRE, Mr Black, Sonny Wilson

  1. All Night Longer//Sammy Adams
  2. Jump & Sweat//Garmiani, Sanjin
  3. The Universe is Ours//Headhunterz, Crystal Lake, Reunify, KiFi

  1. The Only Way Is Up//Martin Garrix, Tiësto
  2. POWER//Kanye West
  3. DJ Turn It Up//Yellow Claw
  4. Burial//Yogi, Skrillex, Pusha T, Trollphace, Moody Good
  5. This is Dirty//DVBBS, Moti
  6. Rave after Rave//W&W
  7. How Deep Is Your Love//Calvin Harris, Disciples, R3hab
  8. Inner Flame//Dasian
  9. 6 Foot 7 Foot//Lil Wayne, Cory Gunz
  10. All I Do Is Win//DJ Khaled
  11. Working For It//ZHU, Skrillex, THEY.
  12. Secrets (Diplo Remix)// Tiësto, KSHMR, Vassy

Check out @foodietunes for up-to-date song recommendations and a healthy #foodstagram!


 

How I Got Into College Fitness

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see my progress and day-to-day developments towards a bold, brighter and healthier future! Buttttt, not many know who I am and how I got started.

I currently attend Florida State University, which is located in the capital of Florida, Tallahassee. I’m from a medium-sized beach city called Sarasota, FL, where the weather is consistently hot and humid  🙂 .

kiahI chose to apply FSU as a last minute decision without even knowing the slightest bit about the school, but ended up falling in love as soon as I stepped foot on campus. FSU has a great atmosphere and almost immediately after starting, I made close friends who had very similar interests as me – which actually helped begin my fitness journey. But more on that later.

I’m majoring in Biological Sciences and minoring in Chemistry, which can get extremely difficult and frustrating (science majors, where you at?). But believe it or not, I’ve actually loved studying science since middle school. My goals for post-undergrad are to pursue medical school.

What officially began my fitness journey is quite different than how a lot of other people out there get started.

Let me explain…

Throughout my life I’ve had total of 8 different body phases: how is this possible?! Two words: KNEE SURGERY.

  • kiahFreshman year of high school, I was on the heavier side. I had gained some weight from puberty and pretty much ate what ever I wanted, I played competitive volleyball year-round, which I believed made me “fit” and athletic. Towards the end of that year I tore my ACL and meniscus in my right knee. Being bed ridden and on drugs made me lose almost 20 pounds.
  • Sophomore year I gained almost all of that weight back and then some.
  • Lost some weight after getting involved with beach volleyball along with my year round indoor volleyball.
  • Senior year tore my ACL again (other knee). After the second tear, I gave up my dream of playing in college and opportunities to play at the collegiate level. This cause me to go into a depressive stage and again lost weight a ton of weight. I graduated high school at a weight too low for my height.

And then, I got to college…

The fall semester of my freshman year, two of my closest guy friends practically forced me to try out the large school gym, what we call “The Leach” at FSU. I was immensely intimidated at first, and stuck to the various cardio and hammer strength machines like many girls do at the gym. However, my friends were the ones to get me off my bed and into the gym and, slowly but surely, I started to branch out a little more, moving from cardio machines and into the weight room. I began to isolate muscle groups and gathered up the courage to pick up a dumbbell in front of all those sweaty frat guys in the weight room (lol). As I kept returning to the gym, I began to learn more and more through my own research, experience and after following a bunch of Instagram fitness pages. The rest is history!

Also, as it turns out, one of those guys became my boyfriend and we’ve been dating for 11 months now 🙂 #fitcouple

 

A photo posted by Kiah McSwain (@kiahmfit) on

Summer of sophomore year is when I started to notice significant changes all over my body. Though it took 8 months to even see a little visible progress, I was so addicted to the way training helped me become confident and fall in love with my body (because NO, I was not always confident in the way I looked — especially as a freshman in college).

It was hard for me to find others with my same mindset at FSU, such a huge party university. I wanted to find people who not only ranked their education as their #1 priority but also ranked their #2 as living a fit and healthy lifestyle. So I decided to look elsewhere and thankfully I found Fit U! Their promotion of a well-balanced college lifestyle reflected everything that I believe in, so I couldn’t help but join this amazing community of powerlifters, runners, and healthy foodies, all with the same goals that I have!

Before wrapping up, I want to touch on the struggles of choosing this lifestyle. It’s not as easy as it seems in college, nor is it an always-positive slope. Fall semester of my Sophomore year went great—I aced Orgo 1, ended up with a 4.0, and had a set workout schedule where I made amazing #GAINS.

kiah

Then the spring semester came. My schedule was awkward, and Orgo 2 and genetics were wake up calls: my grades were not where I wanted them to be. I got sick and lost weight, and I missed the gym 2-3 times in one week. When spring break came along, I finally was able to catch a break and reassess what I wanted to do with fitness and school. I came up with a schedule and returned back to spring semester with a plan. I amped up my weekend study sessions by 3-4+ hours. By doing this, I saw my grades come up immensely and was still able to squeeze in my workout sessions!

Moral of the story? As college students, things don’t always go as planned…classes get hard, exams spring up and life gets in the way. I’ve gathered a lot from my fitness journey but if I had to boil it down…prioritization and patience are the two most important things I have learned thus far.

Your BBG questions, answered.

First of all, what is BBG, and who is Kayla? 

Kayla Itsines is a personal trainer from Australia who created the Bikini Body Guide and the Sweat With Kayla app. BBG first started out as a 12-week workout e-book, and has grown a lot since then: there are now multiple editions that all contain different resistance exercises (BBG 1.0, BBG 2.0, BBG 3.0 – found in the app). The weekly workout schedule consists of 3-4 days of resistance training, 3-4 days of LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) cardio, and 1-2 days of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). The resistance training workouts are incrementally challenging as the weeks progress.

BBG

Would you recommend BBG? 

YES. For sure. I talk in much more detail about what I got out of BBG in this article, if you want to check that out!

Essentially, BBG is an excellent tool for staying in/getting in shape, and it’s easy to fit into a busy schedule. The resistance workouts are a little under 30 minutes long and they can be accomplished at home or the gym. During the summer, I did all of these workouts in my backyard. At school, I did them in the studio rooms of my school’s gym (when they were free to use).

BBG is not easy, but it is truly an empowering and fun program. Even though it was so physically tough at times, much of it is a mental game. Once I got myself to push past the “AH I cannot do one more burpee” mentality, the workouts actually became enjoyable. It felt great to push myself, and I was always proud upon finishing each resistance workout; I know that you will be proud of yourselves, too! Furthermore, I liked BBG because I didn’t have to think about planning my exercise program — it was entirely laid out for me in an organized format and schedule.

BBG

Is it difficult to make time for? 

Nope! This workout program took up approximately 45 to 60 minutes of each day. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, the program has you doing resistance/bodyweight workouts. Each workout is said to be 28 minutes, but with set up, a short little warmup of jumping jacks, a 1 minute break in between each circuit, and stretching after, it took about 45 minutes of my day.

On the non-resistance days, there is the option to do LISS, so I would power walk (ideally outdoors, if it was nice out) or do the elliptical/spin bike for 30 minutes, about 3 days per week. During the final weeks (9 – 12), the guide starts incorporating HIIT. So on cardio days, I would add 10 minutes of HIIT (I liked sprinting on the treadmill) to my workout. I’m sure this probably sounds overwhelming, but trust me — when you’re doing it, it’s not at all! 

BBG

How expensive is it?

To buy the guide, it’s $70.00, but Kayla created an app recently, which is $19.99 per month. To be honest, I actually do not use the app or purchase the e-book guide…I got the e-book from a close friend. Since I know many of you may be college students who, like me, are always on the lookout for free goods, I’ve also seen the workouts on Pinterest. If you search the words such as: “BBG Week 1 Legs” or “BBG Week 1 Arms“, that specific workout will pop up.

BBG

What are the resistance workouts like?

The workouts incorporate many different types of bodyweight movements and weighted exercises. There are a lot of pushups, burpees, tricep dips, weighted squats, straight leg raises, jump squats, weighted lunges, jump lunges, commandos, jumping rope, and mountain climbers.

In general, since there are three resistance workouts per week, there will be an arm, ab, and a leg day. Even though the “ARMS” workout will be mostly emphasizing biceps and triceps, the movements that you do always end up working your entire body. There wasn’t a BBG workout that didn’t end with me red-faced and very sweaty!

The structure of the resistance workouts goes like this:

7 minutes: Circuit One
30 - 60 seconds: water break
7 minutes: Circuit Two
30 - 60 seconds: break
7 minutes: (repeat) Circuit One
30 - 60 seconds: break
7 Minutes: (repeat) Circuit Two 

DONE!

I really enjoyed this structure because, when I was tired and didn’t want to do 5 more pushups, I just had to tell myself, “You can do it — you have less than 7 minutes to go!”. In moments of despair, reminding myself that I only had a few more minutes until a break made these challenging workouts manageable. 

In the second version of the guide (BBG 2.0), there is the option to do a fourth resistance workout in certain weeks — they are called “Personal Challenges”. Those workouts, while they are similar in movements, are different in structure; they are challenge/time-based. Here is an example of what one of them looks like! 

BBG

Did you follow Kayla’s H.E.L.P. nutrition guide?

I did not follow H.E.L.P. (Health Eating and Lifestyle Plan). When I started BBG during my freshman year at Northeastern, I didn’t have a kitchen (and how sad were those days), so it would’ve been really hard for me to follow a guide without being able to cook the foods I was supposed to eat. Additionally, I was also not in a place where I was looking to follow someone else’s food plan. Back then, I was just beginning to experiment with eating in a paleo way, and I wanted to have what I felt like eating. This meant way too much almond butter on a spoon a lot of the time, but that’s what I wanted! I do remember that I ate a lot of salads, chicken, veggies, almond milk, and fruit.

What I think is important here is that, while it’s great to exercise and follow BBG, it’s equally (if not more) important to refuel your body with nutrient-rich, whole foods. So if you follow the H.E.L.P guide, some other plan, or do your own thing, be sure to eat lots of veggies, fruits, complete proteins, and healthy carbohydrates + fats! To see what I eat these days, look over on Instagram 🙂

That’s a wrap for now — what other BBG questions are you dying to get answered? Send them my way!

4 Amazing Lessons I Learned from Fitness YouTuber, Mike Rashid

mike rashid

Over the last couple of years, Mike Rashid has become incredibly popular among the YouTube fitness community. He is the CEO and founder ImSoAlpha and Alpha Academy Apparel, as well as the co-owner of both Metroflex LPC and the Original Addicts Gym. So you could say he’s pretty a pretty accomplished guy in the fitness world.

Mike Rashid is also an author, ex-boxer, father of three, and WBFF Pro. He advocates for fitness as a way to strengthen your mind, body, and spirit in order to become successful in the real world. But there’s more to be learned from Mike than just tips for keeping up physical fitness. Above all, Mike stresses the importance of hard work, discipline, human experiences, and core values. Here are 4 things that I have learned from Mike Rashid.

Health, Not Aesthetics

mike rashid article

Is this what fitness really looks like?

A really present issue in the fitness industry is the perception of shooting for an extremely low (and in some cases unhealthy) body fat percentage in order to acquire “fitness” in the form of shredded abs and diced obliques.

While competing in bodybuilding for a brief period of time, Mike Rashid noticed that many of the fitness models he encountered were not really fit at all. They acquired abs by essentially starving themselves with little to no carbohydrates and extremely low-calorie diets. This is a false illusion of health: in fact, many complications arise from these extreme diets such as hormonal imbalance, depression, erectile dysfunction in men, and malnourishment (to name a few). Instead of focusing on getting down to dangerously low body fat percentages such as 5 or 6%, one’s focus in fitness should be to maintain good health by exercising, eating healthy, and making other healthy choices for your body and mind.  

Progression

Life is all about progression. The gym is only one example in a gym rat’s life in which progression occurs. Over time, you get physically stronger, you grow wiser about which exercises are most beneficial to you, and you learn about the ins and outs of your body through experience. You are essentially progressing within your fitness life. However, progression doesn’t end at the gym. Mike Rashid stresses the significance of using the arsenal of skill that you’ve acquired mentally from pushing yourself at the gym and applying it to other aspects of your life. This includes investing time and creating dedication towards your occupation, relationships, businesses, and personal aspirations.

Overtraining

weight

The first video that I had seen of Mike Rashid was his overtraining chest workout. Mike wanted to change the definition of overtraining and the negative connotations attached to it. Overtraining is generally seen as working out too hard, spending too much time in the gym, or not taking enough rest days. Overtraining is accommodated with symptoms such as persistent muscle soreness, loss of strength, increase incidents of injuries, and sleeplessness. Therefore, many people fear overtraining and compensate by sticking to low intensity workouts that are too easy for them, and never really push themselves in the gym. However, Mike Rashid believes that the only way to see drastic changes to your body is to overtrain. He believes that you should push yourself to the absolute limit during every workout, tap into your mental willpower to get that extra final rep, and take your sets to muscle failure every time.

Although Mike praises the notion of overtraining, he also acknowledges that one should consume enough calories and get proper sleep to adequately recover from intense workouts. Once I started applying overtraining principles to my workouts, I discovered I had better workouts, a more intense muscle pump, and increase in strength and muscle gains.

Shakespeare; Julius Caesar: Cowards die many times before their death; The valiant never taste of death but once.

Mike Rashid mentioned this quote in one of his videos when talking about being real with others. He interpreted the quote as someone envying someone else and holding hatred in their heart towards that person, yet still smiling and shaking that person’s hand when they see them. Every time the coward does this, he/she essentially dies a little on the inside. The coward isn’t brave enough to express his emotions and treat someone based on how they feel about them. I believe that authenticity gains not only respect from others, but also allows you to respect yourself.

These are just a few of the valuable lessons Rashid has to offer. With a fan base growing each day, Mike Rashid inspires many people across the globe. He advocates for following a healthy lifestyle, progressing in all aspects of life, training hard in the gym, and displaying authenticity in your character.

As Mike Rashid once said,

“Be disciplined, train hard. Train your mind as thoroughly as you train your body. Be a complete warrior. Not just a brute. Practice eloquence of the tongue, be fluid in thought.. Be gentle, but strong. Be humble. Stand firm in your beliefs. Be a protector. Make your word your bond. Firm handshakes, make eye contact. Be accountable for your actions.”

 

Gym & Juice: My Transition from Average Athlete to Fitness Enthusiast

At four years old I stood, knees wobbling, at the top of a “blue square” trail on Mount Sunapee. If you’re not familiar with ski trail ratings, the blue square means “advanced intermediate”, a category that (at only four years old) I definitely did not fit into. Wide-eyed and probably ready to pee myself, I felt my dad grab hold on my waist as we started down the trail.

When I tell people this story, their immediate reaction usually goes something like this: “Wow, you must be really good at skiing then, right?”

Wrong.

Truthfully, I’ve never competed in ski races, worked as an instructor, or anything like that. What I did do though, was get out there on the slopes whenever I could and enjoyed the sport.

For me, fitness has never really been about competition. (Okay, except maybe when it comes to soccer, but other than that…) I’d rather focus on the enjoyment I get from being active and sharing that with others rather than on the competition. I grew up playing tennis, playing on my school’s soccer team, and eventually even joining both the track team and the golf team at my high school. Don’t get me wrong; I wasn’t a star athlete. I was only on the “varsity” golf team because there was no junior varsity team. But I didn’t let that stop me from getting out on the tee box and giving it my best shot.

via GIPHY 

Growing up in middle-of-nowhere New Hampshire, I spent most of my summers doing outdoor activities like biking, swimming and hiking. It wasn’t until I hit college that I started devoting time to actually going to a gym to workout. With a little help from my gym buddy and a whole lot of YouTube tutorial watching, I started learning how to use all those scary looking machines I never thought I would be strong enough to use. It was also around this time that I started using Pinterest, where there were hundreds of workout routines right at my fingertips. To me, that meant I didn’t have any more excuses. And once I had learned the basics, I was hooked. Working out became an integral part of my daily routine and I haven’t looked back since.

Being in college also meant I had to learn to be more conscious of the kinds of food I was putting into my body. Living at home, it was easy to eat healthy because my mom rarely bought junk food and was always cooking nutritious meals. And if she wasn’t cooking, I would try. In college, however, I was faced with the nightly decision of which flavor of ice cream I was going to eat. During my first two years in college, eating healthy became a challenge. I went back and forth between hardly eating two meals because I wanted to be skinny, to stress eating all of the snacks I could get my hands on in a matter of minutes. I figured that if I worked out enough, all of the stress eating wouldn’t affect me, but I was wrong. Eating all of that junk food slowed me down. I wouldn’t have the energy to workout and when I did, I felt like my body wasn’t making any progress.  It wasn’t until last summer that I really figured out the right mindset to have about fitness.

When I moved back home for the summer, I found out that a juice bar had just opened up about 5 minutes from my house. Within a week of applying, I started training to work at said juice bar. It quickly and completely changed the way I thought about nutrition. One of my first tasks after joining the team was to take a ginger shot, which consisted of juiced ginger root, pineapple, and pear juice. I had never been a fan of ginger before and the first shot certainly didn’t change that. But the more I tried it and learned about all of its amazing health benefits, the more I loved drinking ginger shots. I went through the same process with things like wheatgrass shots and beet juice and eventually I couldn’t get enough of these natural and delicious concoctions.

via GIPHY 

Coming back to school this fall, I brought back all of the things I learned about nutrition while working at the juice bar. I chose foods based on how they made me feel, and in doing so felt much better about my choices. Having my own kitchen this year has also helped me develop better eating habits and improved my overall view of my personal fitness because I feel more in control. My fitness journey isn’t full of record-breaking races or MVP awards, but it is one that I’m proud of anyway. I’m passionate about striving for self-improvement and self confidence, and in sharing my journey as a Fit University ambassador I hope to encourage other students to embark on their own path to a fit and balanced lifestyle.