Fit Intimidation Is Real
Health |  Source: @mattmylesphoto

Fit Intimidation Is Real

I'm sure the fit people don't mean to scare me... probably

It's that time of year yet again.

Everyone is resolving to have a fit and healthy 2017 (including me), though by the end of February the number of people who have really resolved to get fit will be obvious.

For most people, getting fit involves getting some sort of membership. Whether its an online fitness program (there are so many, and some of them are fantastic), getting a membership for the local gym, or ordering one of those infomercial workout DVD's, most people are going to try something.

My angle is that I'm going to try going to the local gym. It's right beside campus (and I live on campus) and students get a steep discount on access to the facilities - pool, fitness center, track, etc. I headed over there one night, determined to pay for the first month of that pass and commit myself to being a paying full access member of the gym.

As soon as I walked in the door, my heart started pounding in my chest. Fit people... fit people everywhere.

I didn't fit in. I was just a skinny-fat unfit person who didn't know a barbell from a normal bell. Not to mention I was the only one wearing winter clothing, even though the lobby was filled with people who weren't actively working out. Are fit people immune to the cold or something? (Would I ever love that benefit though.)

Have you ever been in that position? Wanting to join a gym but just too intimidated to try? I couldn't even get up the nerve to check out the upstairs area when the woman at the front desk said I could look around.

If you haven't (if you're a fit person or just someone who has no social awkwardness at all)... I'm here to tell you why going to a gym is just so intimidating.

It feels like everyone is looking at me.

Who knows - maybe they are, maybe they aren't. The fact of the matter is that I feel like they are. Do you have any idea how scary that is? I don't want people judging me based on the amount of arm muscles I have (not many) or the size of my stomach (growing as I polish off the last of the Christmas chocolate).

How embarrassing would it be to use a piece of equipment wrong?

Pretty damn embarrassing. Oh gosh, was this supposed to be used on my arms? Really? How the hell did I manage to do a leg workout with it then? I guess that's why everyone's been giving me weird looks...

How embarrassing would it be to have to ask how to use a piece of equipment?

Ahhhhh no way. I don't want to look incompetent. I want to project this aura of 'I'm a fit person' - when really I'm not. Maybe I'll just stick to the treadmill and stair-climber. That's cardio. And they're easy to use.

I can't stop thinking about how I look compared to all of these muscular people.

Honestly, I can't help but feel like a walrus next to someone who can run at twice the speed I can. Some people might call that motivation. 'You could look just like them if you try!' In my opinion, it's just intimidation. Like they want me to get out of their gym and go back to where I came from.

It's a real struggle to get up the courage to go to the gym. I'm rooting for anyone out there who's trying to make their fitness resolution a reality this year, and remember...

Despite the eternal truth in that statement, your health and well-being is more than worth it. Fight the fit intimidation (whether they mean it or not) and get that workout in!

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Why New Year's Resolutions Are Bullshit

...stop making empty promises to yourself.

You're not fooling anyone by saying you're going to get a six-pack by summer; you'd be in shape if you really wanted to be in shape. Making New Year's resolutions is practicing making empty promises. If anything, they're just making you more comfortable with backing out on things you said you'd do. I think after reading these 5 points, you'll find yourself over the whole resolution thing, too.

1. You don't need to wait until the beginning of the year to make changes. People see New Year's resolutions as being these great opportunities to improve something in their life, when really New Year's resolutions are an excuse to be lazy for the rest of the year and wait until the next to get off your ass and make the changes you supposedly want to make. Why do you have to wait until the great hangover of January 1 to hit the gym or read a book?

2. No one ever sticks to them. Never. Let me paint you a picture of a gym the first week of the year; ellipticals and treadmills filled with middle-aged women and men trying to get the body they had when they were younger. The machines and free weights are all taken up by slightly out-of-shape young adults hoping to get hot and find love this year. Fast forward to 3 weeks later; there's maybe 5 people left in the cardio room and the only people left working on getting toned are already in shape. Now of course there are many other failed resolutions, but this just happens to be the most common and relatable.

3. You're only making changes because you feel like you have to not because you want to. Most of us probably aren't making resolutions for the hell of it. We're making them because we know we're inevitably going to be asked by a handful of people what our resolutions are. We pick one thing and tell people that's what we're going to work on this year because we feel obligated to work on something.

4. You're destined to feel like a failure about 3 weeks in. Just take a look back at point 2, you're not going to stick to your resolution and that's just going to make you feel worse than if you never even made one in the first place. Any goal given a start date is most likely going to flop. If you really wanted to do something, you'd start now. Not wait until a giant glittery ball dropped.

5. New Year's resolutions are really just a cycle of failed resolutions past. The past five years have probably been a rotation of saying that you're going to working out more, read more, or find love that year. I'm willing to bet you're still out of shape, all you've read is the summaries on Netflix when trying to pick a show to binge watch, and you're also probably doing this all alone. Guess what? You didn't find love. Not that anything is wrong with that; you do you. But stop promising yourself the same thing every year only to know you're not going to do any of it.

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Six Manageable New Year's Resolutions

Lez be real: you're not going to finish that book.

There's a new year on the horizon, followed by a list of resolutions you've probably created in your head to make yourself seem motivated. Let's be honest. You're not going to go to the gym five times a week. You most likely won't find enough time in your schedule to volunteer at the homeless shelter. And you're never going to finish that book you started two years ago.

I'm not judging, but it's the truth. Every January 1, we tell ourselves that we are going to do something productive in the New Year, but mostly never follow through with our plans.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I want this year to be different. With adulthood quickly approaching, I want to make a change in myself that I can actually feel. Here's six ways on how I plan on doing just that:

1. Stop caring so much about what other people think. As women, it's in our nature, but you have to stop worrying so much about how you're perceived by others. It's a toxic anxiety to have because you turn into a "people-pleaser," and no one like those types of people.

2. Buy a planner, and start keeping a schedule. You need to start organizing your life as far as school, my job, friends, etc. No one wants to be around a space cadet who can't get her shit together.

3. Learn how to budget. The "spending money on unnecessary things" has got to stop. Creating a budget and limiting yourself is a great way to prepare for post-college poorness.

4. Teach yourself how to cook. It's not that hard, and it's an important life skill--so ya might as well start now! You can even treat yourself to one of those cute, trendy cookbooks from Urban Outfitters to make yourself feel more productive.

5. Become more health-conscious. Sometimes it's hard to commit to going to the gym, or even modifying your diet to shed some lbs. But, you can make realistic promises to yourself such as not taking that extra shot of Vlad at the pregame, or not ordering insomnia pizza at 2 a.m.

6. Pick a hobby. Do something that you enjoy--and something that makes you happy. It's important to keep yourself stimulated and find an outlet to blow off some steam when you're feeling stressed. Try something like knitting, or even keeping a journal.

There's plenty more you can do to make small, manageable changes in your life. These are just some ideas to kick of your new year in the right direction. Best of luck, and happy New Year.

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Health |  Source: @spooner

There's Still Time to Get in Shape This Year

Don't forget about that New Year's resolution just yet.

There's still time to meet your 2016 New Year's resolution! With two months left in the year, there are a few habit changes you can make now to help you meet your health and fitness goals. If you're still struggling to get your shit together for 2016, here are five health habits you should pick up now.

Create a routine.
The most effective way to meet your fitness goals is to make it an everyday thing. Making a schedule for yourself and sticking to it can be one of the most pivotal changes you can make to lose those last few pounds. By schedule, I mean taking your supplements every day (i.e. fish oil, coconut oil, multivitamin, and probiotics, NOT diet pills)

Have a weekly workout plan.
A four or five day split between cardio and weight training works best for people trying to lose weight and tone up. This means Day 1: cardio, Day 2: weight train, Day 3: cardio, Day 4: weight train, Day 5: cardio, rest day, then back to Day 1.

Find foods that work best for you.
Find foods that fill you up and that you enjoy, but are also health beneficial. You should be looking for foods with a good amount of protein and carbs to keep you energized. Don't think about what you should be excluding from your diet, think about what you should be including.

Use fitness trackers.
I found that using a fitness tracker really helped with pushing myself in the gym. It's a good way to meet your goals. If you're workout blind without knowing your heart rate, steps, calories burned, it's a lot harder to know how much longer you should go for.

With fitness trackers, you can set a goal. For example you know you want to workout for 45 minutes and burn 300 calories. A fitness tracker with a heart rate monitor can help you track your heart rate so you know, "OK I've been working for 30 minutes and burned 200 calories. These last 15 minutes need to be more intense to reach my goal."

Challenge yourself and your friends.
Having a gym buddy or a virtual challenge (via fitness tracker apps) with friends can help push your goals even higher. Being able to share my daily progress with someone really helped me get into the gym a lot more than I would have if I was in it alone.

On days that I normally would have skipped out on the gym, I could see my friend took 15,000 steps that day and it would push me to get on the treadmill or Stairmaster. A real workout buddy is the best. Having someone there to physically push you makes things a lot easier.

Stop buying junk food
Losing weight is more about your eating habits than it is about the gym. A lot of people already know that the gym is about 20 percent of the battle and eating habits account for the rest.

Going to the grocery store and seeing all the amazing junk food we used to be able to eat as kids and not picking up a bag of chips or a pint of ice cream is hard. Responsibility and grown up shit is sometimes really difficult to go through.

But, if you're serious about reaching your fitness goals then I suggest you skip out on buying any junk food. If it's in the apartment or in your dorm, at some point, you're going to eat it. Stock your place up with good healthy foods you enjoy. When you get home from a long night of studying or drinking, you'll be more likely to stick to your goals when you're house is full of healthy food.

Educate yourself
When I'm struggling to find fitness or health inspiration I like to re-educate myself on why I'm even trying to be healthy. Watching Netflix documentaries or simply googling a bunch of health-related info can really resurge your interest in fitness and health.

If you notice you've hit a rut, there's tons of YouTube videos that are surprisingly informative. Search for new gym routines or healthy recipes you'll enjoy. It doesn't take much to re-amplify the fitness fire inside of you.
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Supplements You Should Take to Get Fit

Spoiler alert: There are no quick fixes.

There are no quick fixes if you're trying to get into shape. However, there are certain things that can help speed up the process and maintain any results you get with the right diet and exercise routine.

If you're just getting started and are unsure about what you should be taking to aid your fitness journey, here's a list of six supplements you should be taking in conjunction with a healthy diet.

1. Coconut oil
It seems like coconut oil can literally do anything. People use it in their hair, on their face, and in their food. Personally, I do all three and I try to take at least 2-3 coconut oil supplements a day, especially if i'm trying to get back into shape.

If you don't use coconut oil that often in your cooking, it might be wise to start taking the pill form. Coconut oil is full of healthy fats that you need to get your body going. And, it's even been proven that it supports your immune system, which is definitely something every person in college needs.

It also aids in digestion. This makes it a great tool for those who are trying to lean out a bit. Getting everything in your body in alignment is key when trying to lose a few pounds.

2.Green tea
Everyone loves their caffeinated drinks and, in moderation, caffeine can help with weight loss. The least amount of chemicals in the body, the better.

Finding a good caffeinated drink minus the processed shit can be trying. Luckily, god graced us with green tea. Green tea has antioxidants and caffeine. If you really want to boost your metabolism, start your mornings with a green tea (or iced green tea if you're into it).

3. BCAAs
BCAA's, or branched chain amino acids, help with building muscle and delaying fatigue in the gym. You take them before, after or during a workout. They help reduce cortisol which depletes the muscle.

BCAAs are important because the more muscle you gain and maintain, the easier it is to lose fat. They differ from protein powder because they contain only the most essential amino acids whereas protein powder contains all of them. BCAAs work well with people who don't like the taste of protein because this supplement tastes more like juice than a shake.

4. L-Carnitine
L-Carnitine has so many health benefits. It can aid with fat loss, gaining muscle and bone mass, treating certain heart and kidney conditions, support the immune system, and aid in brain function. It's surprising that more people don't take L-Carnitine because it's such a versatile supplement.

5. Vegan protein powder
Vegan protein has really helped me personally with losing weight and gaining muscle definition. I used to take regular whey protein which worked almost too well. I noticed with whey powder I would gain bulky muscle and I didn't seem to be dropping any fat. This could've been because whey is made from cow's milk.

Since I switched over to vegan protein powders, my figure has slimmed down a lot but I still see new muscle definition every now and then. If you're wondering why BCAAs and protein powder are both on this list, it is because they work best together. Protein promotes muscle strength and speeds up recovery while BCAAs repair muscle tissue and fight soreness and fatigue during a workout.

6. Fish oil
Fish oil is one supplement I take everyday without fail. I started taking it because it helps with heart health, cholesterol levels, and stabilizes mood.

But, like coconut oil, fish oil is full of healthy fats. The omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to help people lower their BMI and aid with fat loss. I notice a difference in my day-to-day when I don't take these. They're very beneficial to your overall health and as a plus, can help you reach your fitness goals.


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Health |  Source: @aubreeplodinec

Tips for Staying Fit Abroad

It's hard to do when you're away from home.

If you're abroad like I am, you might be struggling with staying fit and healthy. You're probably eating delicious food, legally drinking wine, and devouring gelato and cappuccinos every day.

If you're in a city, you probably walk an average of two miles per day because you have to go to class, the grocery store, and to your favorite hangout spots. However, walking is not as satisfying as the gym or a sports game.

I've found that joining a gym is not very realistic because a) it's hella expensive b) the gym is far away c) you wouldn't use it like you would on a typical college campus.

Even though it's already November, it's not too late to start living a more balanced lifestyle. One of my November goals is to start eating healthier and working exercise (other than walking) into my day. Here are some helpful and realistic tips to live a balanced abroad lifestyle!

Write a daily workout routine/schedule.
Pinterest has an amazing variety of daily workouts. Take an hour to sit down and look at different ones before throwing your own master workout list. Post it somewhere you will see it all the time to keep you motivated!

I have a workout routine for every day (except Sunday--gotta have an off day) in addition to days that I will run. I didn't realize how effective home workouts really can be. You don't need a lot of space to get cardio and ab work in!

Eat salad.
A lot of my diet in Italy has, of course, consisted of pizza and pasta. It's taken me two months to go to the grocery store and buy lettuce, fruit, and vegetables to put into salad form.

I forgot how delicious salad is, not to mention healthy! Some baby arugula, goat cheese, green apples, walnuts with balsamic and olive oil hits the spot, leaving you feeling full and good.

Cut back on your sweet tooth.
Try limiting yourself to gelato or pizza to once or twice a week instead of three to four times a week. You can still enjoy it, just less frequently.

Get a friend to help.
Friends can be great sources of motivation! Have them work out with you and eat healthy with you. You guys can push each other to get stronger.

This is a no brainer, but sleep is essential to your well-being. It can be hard on the nights when you want to go out with your friends before an 8 a.m., but make sure you are getting at least eight hours a night.

The abroad experience is one of the most invigorating and amazing experiences you'll ever have in your life. You'll learn unforgettable lessons, create lifelong memories, and make best friends. You should enjoy the food, culture, and sites, but it's important to keep things in perspective. Your health comes first!