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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Health |  Source: @linashib

This is Why I Love to Hate Group Exercise Classes

I theoretically should love them.

You would think that growing up with a mom who was an aerobics instructor would make me more inclined to love group fitness classes, but it didn't. It's not like I want to hate them.

I mean, a majority of my childhood was spent at a studio window, watching my mom, dressed in retro workout gear, lead a pack of ladies in some step touch combo. What's not to like? I always thought it looked pretty fun. But, it wasn't until I actually took a class that I realized, group fitness might not be for me.

1. You actually have to be around people.
As an introvert, who really values her "me time" at the gym, I'm not okay with this. I mean, I don't even like having one gym buddy, let alone an entire studio full of them.

Nothing against social interaction, but I workout to clear my head; it's hard to do that when all you can hear is the person next to you breathing.

2. You can't escape the eye contact.
Now, I know what you must be thinking, "If you really hate people that much just take a smaller class." Well, guess what? Been there, done that, never made so much eye contact with someone in my life.

A small class means more one on one attention, which seems like a good thing, but trust me, it's not. I took front row in a class of four, which made for a very intimate workout between me and the instructor. Even if I wanted to escape the eye contact, I couldn't; there were mirrors everywhere!


3. What was that move again?
Participating in a group fitness class is like performing a dance routine without knowing the moves.. Maybe it's just me, but I feel like I'm always one step behind; when I finally get a hang of one move, the instructor is calling out another.

This is probably when I miss my solitary gym routine the most. I want to walk out of my workout feeling accomplished and satisfied, not confused as hell.

4. It's not all bad.
Despite all of my obvious problems with group fitness, I'm still trying to push myself to try more classes. As much as I love my solo workout, it's always good to shake things up.

This is especially true when it comes to challenging your body in different ways. I'll admit it, I've even incorporated a few of the things I've learned in class into my regular workout. So there, proof that even though I hate the idea of group fitness I also kind of love it.

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Health |  Source: @_eatandlove_

Stop Fearing Food

Why take pictures of pizza when you can eat it?

My first day of school I did a quick run through the dining hall, then ran right back to my dorm room without eating a thing. I was terrified to eat here. I had never had such an abundance of food at my fingertips. I was terrified of the dining hall.

It was full of so many temptations. My room was safe and stocked up with my usual safety food, which meant Nature Valley bars and Cheerios. Foods I could monitor. I was terrified of calories and gaining weight, and that's exactly what college was threatening to do to me in this very moment.

Skinny. It's all I ever wanted to be. And yet, even when I was at my tiniest, I wasn't happy. Because I couldn't be like some girls, who literally had legs the size of my arms. Growing up I was called "chubby but cute", "muscular and stockier", "bulkier."

These words were drilled into my head. By the end of high school I had reached a bad stage of my life: I had broken up with my boyfriend, and I decided to settle that heartbreak by excessively working out and limiting my intake to less than 1200 calories a day.

So when college came around, I lost control. I had dropped over 25 pounds within the last year, and most of it was unnaturally unhealthy. What most people thought were abs were my ribs poking painfully out of my stomach.

I was below the weight my body type needed, and it rebelled by nourishing itself. It took away the nausea, the pangs in the stomach, the anemia I had given myself from lack of food. It was tired of vitamin supplements and bars in place of meals.

I still tried to resist. I found myself making two trips a day to the gym in an attempt to stop it. I tried to keep myself from the dining halls, yet the more I deprived myself, the worse the binges got.

By the end of first semester, I had reached one conclusion: I had a major problem with food.

So what did I do? I set out to solve this problem.

I was not working out half as much, and I was enjoying myself. I made less excuses as to why I couldn't go to dinner with friends and began accepting that I had to eat around other people.

I also opened up to my best friends on campus about my issues with food, which was one of the best things I could have possibly done - and I still managed to drop off a lot of the weight I had battled with first semester without even trying.

Unconsciously, I had succeeded in doing what I never could have done with the obsessive, unhealthy mindset I was in.

I can't say I am perfect and have overcome all obstacles when it comes to food, but I can say this: learn to love your body. Skinny doesn't correlate with happiness. Weight won't make a guy, or anyone for that matter, like you any more or any less.

You can't spend your entire life worrying about what's going on your plate.

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Health |  Source: @michie.gram

How to Start Weight Training

Fit is the new skinny.

Just like brunch is the new darty and quote tees are the new black, fit is the new skinny. It used to be that the supermodels that were idolized were skinnier than my pinky finger and on a diet of leaves and water. Now, the sexiest thing you can be is toned.

Eating the right foods throughout the day and hitting the gym is the best thing you can be doing for your body. Instead of power walking through the malls, you need to be lifting weights and picking up on a few boxing classes.

It's incredibly easy to get in shape without looking like a body building hulk. Allow me to point out the body parts to focus on with accompanying beginner moves that specifically target that muscle group.

Chest:

Dumbbell Pec Fly: Lie down on a flat bench with a dumbbell on each hand resting on top of your thighs. The palms of your hand will be facing each other. "Fly" arms outward with arms bent at the elbow. Then bring back to starting position.

Biceps:
Dumbbell Curls: Start with arms down and palms outward gripping dumbbells. Bring arms up, bending at the elbow. Return to starting position.

Abs:
Front Plank: Hold your body weight for 30 seconds facing the ground. Your feet will be holding you up on your toes, while you rest your forearms and elbows on the ground up front.

Thighs:

Leg Press/Leg Extension: The best way to do these are by using the leg press and leg extension machines. Ask a trainer to help you locate them and find the weight best fit for you.

Shoulders (Front and Lateral Delts)

Front and Lateral Raises: Hold a dumbbell in each hand and raise arms both out in front of you and out to the side. Both raises are down with straight arms. Stop when your arm is parallel with your shoulder.

Shoulders (Rear Delts):
Reverse Flys: Knees should be slightly bent, with your upper body leaning slightly forward with back straight. With a dumbbell in each hand, start with the dumbbells pressed together with almost straight arms out in front of you. "Fly" arms outward. Return to starting position and repeat.

Obliques:

Side Plank: Similar to front plank, but on each side. Balance on only one foot and one forearm. Outstretch opposite arm if it helps.

Upper Traps:
Dumbbell Shrugs: hold dumbbells in hands on side and shrug shoulders.

Triceps:
Close-Grip Pushups: Keep your head up and get in push up position. To focus on triceps, keep your arms close to your side and elbow back when you lower to the ground. Raise up and repeat.

Lats:
Lat Pulldown: It's easy to find the lat machine at the gym. It is a simple pulldown method.

Mid-Back (Traps, Rhomboids):
Rows (dumbbell, barbell, or cable): If there isn't a rowing machine available, you can row with dumbbells. Slightly bent knees, slightly leaned forward with straight back. With dumbbells in hand, bring arms back in a rowing motion.

Glutes:
Single Leg Hip Thrusts: Lay with your back on the floor, knees bent, and feet flat on the ground. Raise one leg straight outward. Thrust hips upward and lower back down.

Calves:
Standing Calf Raises: Standing with feet shoulder length apart, lift up on tippy toes, and back down. Repeat.

I would recommend grouping these body parts into days of the week. Don't start out doing full body workouts everyday! Day one could be shoulders, arms, and chest. Day two could be abs, obliques, and back. Day three could be glutes and legs. It's entirely up to you!

I usually do three sets of 6-8 reps for exercises involving dumbbells. For exercises without weights, I will do thirty second reps twice. Once you get the hang of your routine, you can continue to advance your moves!

Sweat is the new sexy.



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Health |  Source: @lisashalom

New Year's Resolutions For 2017

It's that time of year!

Year after year, we make new goals, promises and resolutions to ourselves. The new year brings hope, change and growth to each and every one of us. If we're being honest, most of those resolutions do not last for the entire 12-month time frame. For 2017, let's allow our first resolution stick through the year. I've come up with some ideas that could make 2017 a bit brighter than the slop tart that was 2016.

1. No more petty Facebook status fights and Twitter wars. By all means stand up for things that you believe in. Use your social media to project your voice and beliefs. You should stand strong for what you believe is right, but at the same time respect the opinions of others. There is no need to start fights in the comment sections or attack people using a status. Instead, spread light, positivity, and love.

2. Travel. See the world! Take a vacation on the beach, teach English abroad, or go visit family that you never see. Spend the year on the road and allow yourself to let those experiences shape who you are.

3. Go to the gym. Remember three very important rules: Never miss a Monday, never go three days without working out, and go at least three times per week. There are going to be days where you don't feel like going, but on those days just push yourself to do something, like taking the dog on a walk at the very least.

4. Wave goodbye to toxic people. Putting up with someone's crap is doing neither you or them a favor. Life is too short to allow yourself to be miserable by caring about people who do not care about you.

5. Put yourself out there more. Tell the person you love how you feel. If it doesn't work out, at least you tried. Post pictures that make you feel beautiful and don't give yourself a panic attack over who likes it and who doesn't. Own who you are and give this life all you have.

6. Selflessly pay it forward. Do things to make the world a more beautiful place without benefiting from it.

7. Tackle one of your greatest fears. It's completely normal to have fear, but never let it keep you from living. Have courage, be brave.

8. Start your weekday mornings off without your phone. Instead of laying in bed for the first twenty minutes pouring over texts and social media, start your day with meditation, a morning run, and a great breakfast.

9. Keep a journal. I started doing this in 2016 and found it very therapeutic. You choose what you want to write down. Be alone with your thoughts and you never know where it might take you.

10. Forgive. Forgive yourself for mistakes you've made and forgive people who have hurt you in the past. Once you forgive, you can leave it all behind you and continue on to better things.

2017 brings with it all the opportunity in the world. It's up to you what you do with it. And let's be real, it can't get much worse than 2016. There's no where to go but up!

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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.