Monthly Archives: January 2014

So You’re Single on Valentine’s Day

Jan 27, 2014 | Author: Colleen Bierstine

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I’ve stopped looking at Valentine’s Day as a day allotted for celebrating your sweetheart, and instead started looking at it as an excuse for celebrating whatever you love most. For me, that’s food, family, and cats. In that order.

It might seem hard to face V-Day alone, especially if you’re living on campus while your family is miles away and your roommate happens to have a hot date. But don’t let your relationship status get you down; there’s so much more to February 14th than romance.

If nothing else, V-Day is a great excuse to binge-eat chocolate, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that. It’s also a good reason to show some love to yourself. You can make it a day about you, and use it to indulge and treat yourself more than you normally would. There are so many possibilities and so many reasons why it doesn’t have to stink.

The key is changing how you think. Get the idea of candle-lit dinners with a significant other out of your head. Yes, for some people, that’s what V-Day means. But for others, it has a whole different meaning. What means the most to you? What do you love? That should be what the day centers around.

There are plenty of things to do on Friday, Feb. 14th that will make it an awesome day regardless of your relationship status. You can have a movie marathon. It doesn’t have to be rom-coms; watch a marathon of blood and gore if that’s what you’re into. Just pick you favorites, pull on your pj’s, and settle in with a smorgasbord of snacks.

Here’s my favorite: eat as much chocolate as you want. Forget your diet; it’s one day out of the year. Grab as much chocolate as you can handle from the store then eat it with every meal: chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, Nutella-peanut butter-banana sandwiches for lunch, your favorite dish with hot cocoa to drink for dinner, and endless chocolate candies for dessert.

It’s all about treating yourself. Grab another single friend and head to your favorite restaurant to indulge in comfort foods. Or, stay in and get your favorite take-out. You could even cook a fancy meal for your friends or family.

Heck, spoil your pets too while you’re at it. Make it a day of appreciation for them. I love my cats like they’re my children, so I’ll happily throw them a V-Day celebration. Animals are much easier to please than people anyway.

You could even go on a little shopping spree to treat yourself. Chances are, you’ll have the mall to yourself since all the lovebirds will be off having fancy dinners.

And, if nothing else, rejoice for the awesome sales on Valentine’s Day candy the day after.

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What Not to Forget When You Return From Winter Break

Jan 22, 2014 | Author: Colleen Bierstine
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Photo from Utica College

I know nobody wants to talk about it (I certainly don’t), but we’ve got to address this pressing matter regardless: winter break is over.

But I’ve done my crying, and I’ve dried my tears, and now it’s time to man-up and prepare. We’ve got a long couple of months ahead of us until summer warmly welcomes us with open arms, and I want to make sure you make it to see the sun.

There are obvious things you need to have ready to go with you like clothes and money, but I’ve got a list for you of a few things you might not have thought of.

  1. Textbooks – Yeah, an obvious one it would seem, but I guarantee there are a few people reading this right now and exclaiming, “Crap!” because they forgot to order them yet. Get on it.
  2. Family photos – Even if your dorm’s already decked out in photos, I’m sure you’ve acquired a few new ones over break. Hang ‘em up in your dorm to make it feel a little more like home and freshen up the room you became so used to last semester.
  3. Recipes – Remember all those great dorm-ready recipes you saw on Pinterest that you said you were going to make? Unless you print them out and have a tangible version, you’re going to forget about them. So, go ahead and print out recipes you like, then compile them into a folder or binder like your own little cookbook.
  4. Holiday decor – this one might be more for the females, but you’d be surprised how festive you’ll feel with just a few cheap decorations for your dorm. You’ll have Valentine’s Day and Easter to decorate for this semester, and although it may be early to shop for Easter stuff, the V-Day decor is already out. Little things like this will keep your mood lifted.
  5. Emergency comfort food supply – I don’t care how healthy you eat on a daily basis; everyone needs a little bit of chocolate or instant mac & cheese or whatever it is that tickles your fancy. Have a little bit on hand, and keep it hidden, so you don’t have to rush out to the store when you desperately need it.
  6. Reusable water bottle with filter – Ever since I bought my water bottle with a built-in Brita filter, my life has been so much better. You’ll save a ton of money not buying bottles all the time, it’s environmentally friendly, and you can feel safe drinking from most faucets.
  7. Back-up hard drive – This sounds like something only high-tech people need, but if you’re a student, or just someone who relies on their computer for things like picture and music storage, then you NEED a back-up hard drive. What would you do if your computer crashed in the middle of the semester? That would stink, wouldn’t it? These guys aren’t that expensive, about $60 for a decent amount of space, and definitely worth it. They will save your life.
  8. Notepad – Just a tiny one is all you need. You’d be amazed the difference writing down little reminders can make. “Run the dishwasher,” “Do laundry,” “Remember your book for class tomorrow,” etc. It is so helpful for a scatter-brained person like myself. You can also use it to write down long-term stuff like papers, final projects, and goals. And of course, write out those grocery lists.
  9. Way more pens than you think you need – Because they get up and walk away when you’re not looking, am I right?
  10. Extra underwear and socks – Because doing laundry is the worst.

What non-traditional stuff do you tote along to school each semester?

How to Trick Yourself into Getting Fit Without Leaving Campus

Jan 9, 2014 | Author: Colleen Bierstine
Frisbee

Photo by Kevin Waldron

With the recently relentless cold, we’re all about ready to go into hibernation mode. But it’s important to keep yourself moving so that, come summertime, you’re in great shape to enjoy the sunshine and freedom. And of course, your health doesn’t become any less essential in the winter.

For me, an hour or two at the gym each day is my way of staying active and fit. But some folks just aren’t gym people, and that’s okay. You can work little spurts of fitness into your already existing daily routine, and you don’t even have to step foot off campus to do it.

  1.  Get walking. You already don’t have much of a choice when it comes to walking to class if you live on campus. However, you can leave your dorm 5, 10, or even 30 minutes early to walk around campus & maybe the local streets before you head to class.  Just a few minutes of walking means extra calorie burn, plus it will wake you up for your class. Even if you commute to school, you can leave early and take a walk before class too.
  2. Pack heavy. Wait…aren’t you supposed to pack light? Not in this case. Take as much junk to class with you as you want: water bottles, all the books you need for the day, laptop, a sweatshirt, food, etc. That extra weight means more work toting it around, so you’ll burn calories and build strength without even trying. It might seem like a pain, but it’ll  be convenient having everything you could need with you so you don’t have to return to your dorm.
  3. Be a stair master. Got a few minutes between classes? Why not take a hike up and down the stairs a few times? There are plenty of staircases to choose from, and you can take different ones if you don’t want to look weird walking up and down the same flight. Climbing stairs will get your blood pumping fast, and it will wake you up after you’ve been sitting most of your day.
  4. Plank like it’s your job. I love planks because you can do them anytime, anywhere – no equipment required. Plus, they are one of the most effective exercises you can do. If you’re in the middle of studying (or more likely, browsing the internet), take a break to do a quick plank. It’s not an hour-long workout commitment; it can be as short as a minute. Make sure your elbows are aligned with your shoulders, and keep your butt down and back flat. Your abs should be doing the work here, not your back. However, this will work your shoulders too. If you don’t do planks often, start with 30 second intervals then work your way up to longer and longer planks.6-exercises-you-are-doing-wrong-plank
  5. Take a seat. Wall sits are another great anytime, anywhere workout as long as you’ve got a wall. You can take study breaks to do these with the planks, or alternate doing them. Wall sits will work the back and front of your legs, and you’ll feel it fast. Again, start with 30-second intervals, then work your way up. Press your back flat against the wall then slide down until your knees are aligned with your toes and bent at a 90-degree angle. It’s like you’re sitting in an invisible chair. Now hold that position. You can make it harder by placing a book in your lap.

    wall-sits

    Photo from Fit Chicks Central

  6. Get creative. You probably don’t have a set of weights in your dorm room, but you don’t need one to get stronger. Anything remotely heavy can serve as a weight, whether it be a water bottle or a book. You can do bicep curls, weighted lunges, dead rows and more with all kinds of objects you already have lying around.
  7. Blow dry your hair. I know this one sounds like a long shot, but you get a serious shoulder workout blow-drying your hair! Try to switch arms halfway through to fatigue each side equally (although this may be difficult if you’re only used to one side).
  8. Get up. If you’re studying or doing something that doesn’t absolutely require sitting, get off your butt! You can pace around your room while doing flashcards or browsing Pinterest on your iPad. I wouldn’t suggest taking this outside your dorm though because then it gets a little dangerous and you run the risk of bumping into something (or someone). You can even take your downtime outside on nice days. Play frisbee with your friends instead of opting for Netflix on the couch.
  9. Jam out. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love to rock out to their favorite music in the privacy of their own room. And if anyone tells you otherwise, they’re probably lying. Turn up the tunes, put on comfy pjs or sweats and dance your heart out. It’s so silly and fun, you don’t even realize you’re torching calories. Get your roommate in on the fun too, if you like. Just make sure you keep your music at a respectable level.
  10. Take the long way. There is usually more than one way to get to whatever class or part of campus you’re heading to, so take the longest one. This little change can make a big difference over time without being a huge inconvenience to you.

Moral of the story: a lot of little changes make for a big pay-off. You don’t have to over-exert yourself to get in better shape. In fact, you just have to trick your brain into thinking you’re not doing anything different than normal. These small tweaks to your day won’t cost you a lot of time or pain, but they’ll trick you into working harder and whipping your body into better shape, all from the comfort of the UC campus.

What are YOUR favorite fitness tricks?