UC changed me

My freshmen year is coming to a close, and as cliché as this may sound , Utica College has changed me for the better. Although my stay has just begun, this small but not-so-small place has taught me knowledge within the classroom, and also knowledge outside of equations , writing skills and all the other occupational skills we hope to acquire when we enter college. This knowledge that was provided to me was about me. It seems crazy, but Utica College gave me knowledge about myself.
I know that sounds even crazier that an institution taught me about myself, and none of the information that was taught has anything to do with books, but UC did just that. It provided me with new friends, poetry events , monologues , talent shows , forms , fraternities , sororities , walks for different causes and so many different things I really don’t have the time to speak about.

Before I stepped foot on campus, I was all about football, and only football. With these new influences on my life, I’m now about football , poetry , owning my own fashion company , writing blogs, and yes, making sure that my grades are where they need to be. I’m thankful for this new thought process UC has given me. And I guess the saying is true: “When you think you know everything about yourself, you learn something else … It just takes the right time , people and place to reveal it.”

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A Little-Known Treasure on Campus

Over the three years I have been working in the Art Gallery on campus, I’ve heard the same question at least 100 times from students: “We have an art gallery?” It’s even possible that you asked the same question as you began reading this post. Though sometimes overlooked, the gallery provides a unique opportunity for students to experience high-quality art right on campus, and it’s free!

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Generally, the gallery exhibits two to three shows a semester, each lasting about one or two months long. These exhibits range from local artists like those of the “Utica Camera Club” show, to renowned artists like those exhibited this month in “The Landscape Revisited.” The common theme is the quality of the work that the gallery exhibits. Each show is produced, hung, and advertised by the student staff, under the leadership of the gallery director Carolynne Whitefeather.

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In addition to the great exhibits, the gallery provides other services for the college community. The gallery is able to be reserved for meetings by students and staff with the gallery directors approval. Likewise, the gallery regularly shows films and documentaries, while also maintaining a quiet reserved space for students to come study or simply relax after a stressful day.

The gallery also hosts two to three Art Fridays during each semester, which give students the opportunity to relax and hang out while learning how to make fine arts and crafts. These crafts range from holiday themed pieces to creative uses for household items, but all are easy and fun to create. Often, attendees will be entered into a giveaway to win prizes just for showing up.

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The gallery is one of the largest employers of students on campus with 16 students currently on staff, each bringing their own skills and experiences to the production and presentation of the exhibit. It is not uncommon for the gallery employees to be responsible for conducting research on upcoming exhibits and projects, as well as pieces contained in the college’s extensive art collection.

The gallery aims to send each student away with something they can use to market themselves to potential employers after they graduate from Utica College. The student employees are thoroughly taught information about the exhibits to provide the best experience for the visitor when they come to the gallery. I would challenge you, perhaps to the dismay of my co-workers, to come down and ask any employee about the artwork. I expect that you will walk away being impressed with the information and insight they can give you.

I personally encourage any student to stop down to the gallery whenever they can, and that’s not just because I work there. Having a knowledge of artwork can really be a selling point when applying for jobs or impressing the higher-ups once you have the job. Also, who wouldn’t want to add a little culture to their lives? I can tell you from personal experience that being able to speak about art will make you seem all that more intelligent.

Want to know more?

You can connect to the Gallery Online at these links:

Website: http://www.utica.edu/academic/as/fine_arts/gallery/index.cfm

Email: ucexhibits@gmail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Edith-Langley-Barrett-Fine-Arts-Gallery/241248979265223?ref=hl

Twitter: https://twitter.com/UCBarrettArt

Instagram: http://instagram.com/ucbarrettart#

 

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How To Be Stress-Free.

Being stress-free may be a challenging goal for most people, but there are ways to decrease the amount of stress you feel on a daily basis, especially with midterms right around the corner.

Personally, I do not handle stress well. I know this and live up to it. I do, however, try to reduce the amount of stress I feel on a daily basis. Here are some quick (and easy!) tips I have learned and have asked of others for how to reduce how stressed you feel.

1. Exercise!

Photo: Yoga with Jeff today was a success! Thank you to everyone who came out to support. Keep a look out for the next class.

(A picture from the yoga class I attended that the Utica College Medical Society, and Alpha Epsilon Delta put on.)

I find yoga incredibly relaxing. (And if you’re like me, there is going to be another charity yoga class put on soon, which you can attend!) However, if “namaste” really isn’t your thing, you can run, walk, lift weights, go crazy with the Insanity program, or do anything that gets you moving more than usual. Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy, happy people just don’t go crazy from stress.

2. Make Lists!

Write down what you have to do. I’m one of those people that writes down every. single. thing. I would forget something if I didn’t have it down on a post-it, or in a list. Also, you feel extra great when you get to cross something off your list. Being productive makes people feel happy. Happy=less stress.

3. Schedule Free Time!

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(A picture I tweeted last year from my personal planner)

This is a joke, I obviously don’t have to plan to be spontaneous. However, sometimes people forget. When you have so much to do, and so many classes requiring different things, you sometimes get so caught up in doing all the work. Take a break. Breathe. Watch some TV. Go creep on Facebook for a bit – whatever you can do to take your mind off of the work for a while;  just that small time off can help you destress.

4. Sleep!

(Brittany Thompson taking a nap in public.)

Take some time to sleep. Write it in your schedule if you have to. People get mean when they’re tired. Or people who are tired….are tired. When you’re tired you’re more susceptible to being irritable, being depressed, and increasing your stress levels. So, destress, take a nap.

5. Eat! (Regular Meals!)

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(When you’re stressed you should vary your diet. Eat fruits and vegetables, carbohydrates, and be sure to get good sources of protein.)

When I’m working along, I tend to forget to grab a meal, and when I’m hungry I just grab a quick bite by eating a granola bar or an apple. When you’re stressed, you should vary what you eat. Eat a wide variety of foods. Make Michelle Obama happy and choose foods from each part of the pyramid.

So, may the force be with you this midterms (and extra stressful) season, you can do it.

 

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Spring Has Sprung! Maybe?

The current temperature in Utica, New York is 37°  Fahrenheit. If you’re anything like me, you are currently jumping for joy. Don’t get me wrong, I love winter. I love being able to wear scarves and sweaters, and I love tromping around in the snow. But I hate being freezing and shoveling snow. So by the time March rolls around, I’m pretty ready for a change. 

(A picture from last weekend’s Heart Run and Walk. I was clearly over the cold.)

Spring makes me think of flowers, fresh vegetables, and fresh air. Do not lie, spring air smells crisper than winter air; it’s a thing. …and I may have driven home from class with my car windows down a bit. It was a tad chilly, but so worth it.

(The ASA Gray Biological society planted vegetables this past week. Very “Spring-like behavior.”)

One of my favorite events on campus last year was an event in celebration of spring, Holi. It is a Hindu celebration commonly known as “The Festival of Colors.” People get together and throw non-toxic “color” at each other as a way of ushering in the spring season.

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(One of my favorite pictures from last year’s celebration.)

I’ve been told that the coordinators of the event are planning to do it again this year, which I sincerely hope they do. Matty Campos, a student at UC and an individual involved with the planning of the event said, “It will def. happen.” So, I’m taking that as a positive thing, and will count on the event.

It really is one of my favorite things about the spring semester though. It is so much fun being able to throw colored powder at random people. However, be sure to close your mouth because the stuff tastes horrible. It is a great event, and once information starts going up about it, I encourage everyone to get involved! It is so much fun.

(I got color in my mouth last year, not very nice.)

So while I patiently wait for spring (and Holi!) to actually be here, I’ve been told that the temperatures are supposed to drop again heading into next week. I’m disappointed and sad…but I’ll take the little bit of Spring-like weather while we have it! I’m going to take full advantage by blasting Miley Cyrus while driving with the windows down, no shame.

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Ally Week: How Utica College’s Gay-Straight Alliance is Spreading Equality

March 3rd-7th is Ally Week here at Utica College! Throughout the week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), the Gay-Straight Alliance will be posted outside the caf from 12-2 pm. There, you can find a photoshoot area, complete with rainbow flag, where you can take your very own “No H8” picture.

(My own “No H8”  ally picture.)

The concept of the photoshoot comes from the successful campaign venture started in California by the No H8 Organization in protest of “Proposition 8.” Proposition 8 was a state constitutional amendment by the state of California which many felt violated the rights of LGBTQIA individuals. The proposition was passed in 2008, and then ruled unconstitutional in 2010. Despite the proposition no longer being relevant, the idea behind the campaign still remains valid: Equality.

(No H8 supporters, Francis S. Bartkowiak and Georgie Archundia)

The club encourages EVERYONE to come out and show your support; support for the equality of ALL people. The emphasis is on “Ally” week, however, and if you are an individual that identifies as straight, you are equally encouraged to come take a picture!

(Karita Rawlins, Courtney Hryniowski, and Me: Straight Allies)

(Jesse Haggerty, Proud GSA Member)

So come on out this week (March 3rd-7th) and help encourage people to love, and live, freely.

 

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High Heels, Senators, and Lobbyist

Tuesday morning at 7, several fellow Utica/MVCC students and faculty and I boarded the comfort of a Bernie coach bus to head to Student Advocacy Day in Albany. In the government capital building, more than 100 other New York students, along with our small group, came to lobby the state representatives, senators, and assembly members to advocate for student financial aid. What could be a better experience than seeing firsthand how government makes its decisions on something that affects us as students?

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Starting off the day we have to go through security, typical precautions for an important building like this. But of course, I am made to walk through several times because of the glitter on my shoes – a very interesting start to the day. We all then gathered to meet with fellow Utica alumni, John Casellini, who currently works in Albany as an advocate for Utica College. Meeting with him helped ease the nervousness because he is a professional lobbyist, and we needed his help!

After the of wisdom from Casellini, all students were gathered to speak about their stories, and listen to several speakers about these aid options. Students told their stories at the rally about their struggles with financial aid, and their experience with the New York student aid options. They were very relatable, sad, and inspiring stories from other students all around the state who needed to advocate for their education.

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We had three meetings with two very important people, and I mean important. We met with assembly members, Anthony Brindisi, who is on the board of higher education, and Senator Griffo. We all went into their offices, sat down, and spoke about our issues with the finical aid programs. Not only is it just fantastic to meet these people, but this experience of acting as professional lobbyist, and actually using one of our Constitutional rights to advocate was just cool all in and of itself. When else do we as individuals ever get to go lobby the government?

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At the end of the day, we got a chance to walk around the building and explore. Talk about gorgeous; the famous “Million dollar stair case” is a sight to see: hand-crafted sandstone that goes four floors up. Not to mention, the history artifacts, and the Hall of Governors is practically a museum. The history in this building goes all the way to our founding fathers of America.

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In the end, after the pain of walking for hours, and the constant annoyance of dress slacks and dress shoes, we managed to get our messages across. Not only was this a rewarding experience in the way that we get to see government happen before our eyes, but rewarding as in the way that I feel like we accomplished to relay the vice of the students to our government.

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How to Survive Night Class If You’re Not a Night Owl

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Photo from camelcitydispatch.com

Some people thrive in night classes. In fact, some people actually prefer to take them  because night classes are generally only one night out of the week as opposed to the typical Tuesday/Thursday or Monday/Wednesday/Friday combination.

However, there are also a lot of folks like me who would much rather take an earlier class, and often avoid night classes like the plague. On top of not being an evening person, I am also night-blind (it’s a legitimate genetic condition; look it up), so driving at night is a struggle. Night classes are basically my worst nightmare.

I successfully avoided taking any until this semester in my senior year when two classes I needed to take were only offered at night. I’m sure many of you have run into this as well, and the most we can do is suck it up.

But there are ways to make it more bearable, tolerable even.

  1. Start by looking on the bright side. You only have to take this class once a week! That means less trips to campus and less days to worry about the class in general. It also usually means you have more time in between classes to get your assignments done. If you play your cards right, this could mean having a day or two off except for the night class(es).
  2. Learn to reverse your homework schedule. If you’re like me and you’re used to getting your homework done at night, you’re going to have to learn to switch that around on the days you have night classes. Get your work done early in the day so you don’t have to tackle it when you roll in at 10 o’ clock at night.
  3. Eat a light dinner beforehand. You want to make sure you’re not going to class on an empty stomach because that’s miserable and distracting, but you also want to make sure you don’t overeat so you aren’t uncomfortably full during class.
  4. Check the weather a day or two in advance. This only applies to commuters, but you want to be prepared if you’re going to have bad weather while traveling at night. Plan to leave a few minutes early so you can take your time. Also get your professor’s cell number so you can contact them if the weather is making it completely impossible for you to finish the trip safely.
  5. Carpool, if possible. Again, this is just for commuters, but you can arrange to carpool with a friend, switching off each week. Driving at night is just annoying, so it helps to share the burden. Plus, you can make it a point to stop and get ice cream or something on the way home, giving you something to look forward to.
  6. Bring snacks. Your mind is bound to wander during three straight hours of class, so keep yourself focused with energizing snacks. Just be wary of the super loud and crunchy snacks like carrots and chips that could be distracting in class.
  7. Ideally, have a classmate walk to your car with you. There’s safety in numbers, people!
  8. If that’s not possible, call a friend or family member while you’re walking to the car. Have a safeword agreed upon so if anything happens, you can say it to them so they can call the police for you. I know this stuff is ominous, but it’s good to be prepared.
  9. Don’t go the gym right beforehand. Okay, this one is really just for me. I took a cardio fitness class right before my night class and didn’t have time to shower or cool down in between. It was rough.
  10. Caffeine! An obvious one, but essential. If you’re not a night owl, you’re going to need a little pick-me-up in order to stay focused at the end of the day.
  11. Don’t wear uncomfortable clothing. It’s college; nobody cares if you wear sweats, and you aren’t going to want to sit there in your Sunday’s best at 9 o’ clock at night.
  12. Get a friend to take the class with you. Even if it’s not related to their major, there’s a good chance they can get elective or liberal arts credits for it. And obviously, class is a heck of a lot more fun with a buddy.

What are your opinions on night classes? Are you a night owl or a morning person?

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The Blame Game Won’t Fix Negative Female Body Images

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In one of my communication classes, we have a lot of interesting discussions about gender differences and the effects of these differences on American society. In one of our conversations the other day, I watched the blame game play out: men vs. women arguing over whose fault it is that women feel pressured to meet an impossible physical appearance standard.

It’s no secret that these body image issues are particularly prevalent in college-age women. Eating disorders are frighteningly common among college students, and according to Brown University, “74.4% of the normal-weight women stated that they thought about their weight or appearance ‘all the time’ or ‘frequently.'”

Photo by Brittney Sabo
Photo by Brittney Sabo

But can we really say this is because men have unrealistic expectations of women, or conversely, that women pressure each other into looking a certain way?

As I watched my classmates go back and forth defending their own gender and condemning the other, I realized herein lies the problem. If all we ever do is declare that the fault belongs to someone else, then we ourselves will never change.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my short 20 years, it’s that you cannot change people who don’t want to change. The most you can do is work on improving yourself.

Of course, changing yourself isn’t much easier than changing someone else. In the past year, I have done a lot of work on self-improvement – not physically per se, but mentally. I used to be like many other women who look at 6-foot, stick thin models and flawless celebrities and felt the crushing self-criticism as I analyzed every difference, every thing I thought I lacked.

I’m 5’1″ and not stick-thin. I knew I couldn’t change my height, but I thought losing weight was the most important thing in the world. Slowly, I have been trying to change this mentality. I am trying to accept my body as unique and beautiful for what it is. It’s a simple enough concept, but an incredibly difficult process, and it’s easy to fall off track.

Here is the thing that fashion magazines don’t tell us: we’re all built differently; our bodies don’t do the same things. You and I could have the same diet and workout regime, and still look drastically different.

If you think about it, it’s sort of ridiculous that we should find one very specific body type beautiful when there is such a rainbow of body types out there. Why not embrace all the differences?

Everyone, including men, needs to try to join me in this process of changing our own thoughts. Don’t worry about anyone else right now; just concentrate on you. Start looking at your body differently, and when you feel those negative thoughts coming, remember that there are parts of you that other people are jealous of. Your beauty is different from everyone else’s, and that’s what makes you so incredible.

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Remember to be realistic. You can beat yourself up endlessly for not having longer legs, but is that going to change anything? Stop fighting yourself, because the second you start working what you’ve got, you’ll become exponentially more beautiful.

It’s all much easier said than done, but the first step to improving society’s feelings toward female body image is reevaluating our own thoughts first. The next time you look at a female and start picking out what’s “wrong” with her, stop and ask why you’re doing that. Is there really anything wrong with her, or is that just what you’ve been made to think? Are you just jealous of things she has that you don’t?

And don’t forget to include your own body in this. Unless your “problem” is endangering your health, it’s not a “problem” at all.

Change how you think; it’s infectious – others will follow.

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So You’re Single on Valentine’s Day

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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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How to Trick Yourself into Getting Fit Without Leaving Campus

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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.

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    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?

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