We have all the time in the world study, we have time to go to class, and we have a little time to hang out with friends. The only thing we don’t have time for is ourselves. We don’t have time to eat, we don’t have time to cook, we don’t have time to sleep, we don’t have five minutes to breathe, and we certainly don’t have a few minutes to exercise. Plain and simple: exercising will give you enough energy to make it through eighteen hour days, will get rid of all that pent up stress and frustration, and will double the memory storage you have in your brain. Credentials? Working out for six years now; I’ve run/walked a marathon, few half-marathons, and numberous 5K’s; I’ve learned just about everything the hard way. Let’s learn how to work out.
1. It’s All In Your Head
The hardest part of working out is putting your shoes on. I’ve had one too many days where I spend two hours figuring out if I want to go to the gym that day when it would have been easier to just go to the gym and get it over with. I’m training for a half marathon right now and my goal was to be jogging for an hour by the end of the month. I’m only at 45 minutes right now because, for some reason, I’m not mentally into it.
The first thing I tell people when they want to get healthy and work out is to cut all the candy, chocolate, soda, pizza, and all the other junk food for a week, preferably a month. You start losing weight without putting much effort into it. At the same time you learn self-control, if you don’t already have it, and you build up your self-esteem. More importantly, you mentally prepare yourself for a new way of life. This will help you not only with your work outs but also with procrastinating, studying, and grades.
2. The Best Diet is to Eat in Moderation
Too much of anything is a bad thing such as too much sun light causing skin cancer. Just the same, too little of anything is a bad thing such as vitamin deficiency. You can have that piece of cake at a birthday party; hell, you could even take home three or four pieces and eat them for the next few days. But make sure at some point in the near future you cap the junk food as much as you can and you’ll be fine.
The best way to eat moderately is to find a balance between eating carbohydrates, proteins, and fats while getting as many vitamins and minerals as possible. MyPyramid, which is the USDA’s updated food pyramid, can help you find a variety of foods to help you meet your daily and weekly diet needs.
3. Micro Exercising (Exercise a Lot Less)
This is by far one of the main reasons people don’t like working out and one of the main reasons they can’t get that shoe on when they need to. While people are talking with their friends they hear about how one of them just worked out for two hours or just ran five miles or bench pressed five times their weight. When they’re watching the Olympics they see a runner who is pushing four minute miles. And the words come out, “I could never do that.” People see this so much that it becomes overwhelming and they internalize the phrase. But please remember the athletes have been training and practicing these activities just as long as you’ve been learning how to study. They had to start at ground zero just like you.
Don’t start big and work your way up to impossible. Start small and stay there for a while. Try out two push-ups for a week and then move up to five if you feel ready. The next week see if you can do six a day. About two months ago I started doing push-ups and the first day I did three and couldn’t move my arms for like four days. Now I’m up to about six three times a day. If you want to start jogging and haven’t gone out for a while, then take a light walk for five minutes. Slowly up the speed and duration over the next couple of months as you feel comfortable.
4. Stretching: Feel the Burn
Stretching is that thing you see old people doing in the morning so they have enough flexibility to walk for the day. This is the undertone we have given to an activity that should be integral in our daily activities and especially in our workouts. Research is still being conducted on what stretches should be done at what time in the work out however some results are agreed upon.
Do dynamic stretches for a warm up or at the beginning of your exercise. Static stretches, the ones you’ve been practicing most your life, should be done at the end of your exercise. These should always be held for longer than ten seconds, preferably a minute. If they are done for a shorter amount of time it is called ballistic stretching and you’re at a higher risk for hurting yourself (pulling a muscle, etc).
5. Calisthenics: Buy a Ball
Doing calisthenics is a great way to work muscle groups in the comfort of your own room. You don’t need to bust out a thousand jumping-jacks, not only because people will run out the door thinking earthquake but these are not the only type of exercise you can do without weights and machines. Almost anything that works out your body is going to work, but a few examples: crunches and sit-ups (make sure your neck is always supported), push-ups (use the perfect pushup or another variation if you have bad wrists), squats (make sure to support your knees), and calf-raises. You could even dance to some music you have stuck in your head or playing on the computer; and if you really can’t enough of your bio lecture, then you could dance to that too. To get the most for your buck, slow and steady movements are the way to go; you’ll increase how much muscle you have while increasing how far your muscles go up when you flex them. More importantly, you’ll burn the fat away like you threw some of the cells into an oven.
Buying a balance ball is another great way to bake fat cells quickly. Pump that baby up and look at a few Youtube videos online for areas you want to target. It’s great during exam week because it’s hard to spend more than five minutes on that thing without crying from all the burning. Highly recommending buying one, it works fast and it’s fun to bounce around on.
Yo-Yos Are For Kids (It Takes longer than A Minute)
When you throw a yo-yo down from the palm of your hand, what usually happens? It comes right back up. If you work out for three straight days, if you exercise for three straight months, if you eat celery and peanut butter for five weeks because you have to fit into that summer bathing suit, if you use hydroxycut, if you only eat carbs, if you only eat red meat, if you binge on bacon and chocolate for a straight week, and you stop, then you’re body is going to adjust. The three straight months that you worked out, your muscles will love you, your fat will hate you, and your mind will adore you. The nine month intersession between your last work out and the next first workout you do after that “two week” break, your body will start storing more fat, muscles will go down, and your mind gets weak. If you take hydroxycut, what happens when you don’t take it? If you only eat carbs, what happens when you shove a steak down your throat?
Your body has a great ability to adapt and adjust to its surroundings. It doesn’t take long for it to figure out you’ve changed your diet or the way you work out. Your best bet is to stay consistent. Working out hard and eating fantastically for three months and then lying dormant the next three months is the same as doing nothing for six months. Do half or a fourth of what you were planning on doing and stick with it for as long as necessary. Do more if you need more and do less if you can’t handle that much.
Working out is all about you and it’s customizable to the way you like it. If you’ve read a paragraph four times in a row and you still have no idea what you’ve read then take a walk around the block. If it’s 4AM and you have five pages left for a midterm, pop out a few pushups. If you like listening to music, then buy an MP3 player and pull a Forest Gump. If you like kickboxing and don’t care for gyms then buy a cardboard box and kick it around. If you want to look more into yourself, then take a Yoga class on campus. The options are infinite.
I have never seen a person who doesn’t like working out and/or being active, so get up every once in a while, and have some fun. If you have any questions about your diet, exercising, or need some motivation, please do not hesitate to ask.
Share your favorite tips for exercising in the comments below.