We’ve all been there – that moment when you realize that, damn, you’re out of shape. You’re trying to catch your breath as you walk (slowly) up the stairs of Fox, your jeans that once had wiggle room are now almost too tight… In fact, last year I was in this boat. I spent my entire summer dedicated to getting back into shape, and now that I have I honestly wish I could do last year all over again. Even if you’re a freshman (ohhh, the Freshmen 15 is inevitable!) let me tell you: you’re going to regret every last drunk munchy that touches your lips when Spring Term rolls around and all the sophomore girls are out on the quad wearing crop tops and you can barely fit into your shorts from last spring. So do yourself a favor: try to get back in shape now, before winter comes and you’re stuck inside with only the overcrowded gym to help you out.
Getting back into shape is a miserable experience if you’re the way I was last year. First off, I was afraid of the gym. Don’t laugh – the gym can be a scary place! You’ve got all those soccer and track girls who seem like they’ve been on the treadmill for over an hour and they’re really in shape; all the football guys walking around making you feel inferior; it really seems like everybody there is checking you out. No offense, but they’re not In fact, they probably don’t even notice you (really, no offense). People who go to the gym, are at the gym for themselves, not to stand around and talk about you and certainly not to pick up girls/guys! That’s what frats are for on the weekends. If you’re really too afraid to go to the gym, bring a friend! But don’t let the “all my friends are busy right now” excuse turn you off from going at all.
Secondly, I truly and firmly believe that doing the same routine everyday at the gym is not going to help you get back into shape. College is supposed to be fun, and you need some variety in your life! So make yourself a little time limit (today I’m going to work out for 45 minutes) and divide it up into increments (25 min on the elliptical, 20 on the treadmill for example). If you’re someone (like me) who really HATES the gym, then don’t be afraid of Schenectady! Go outside and run! There is a great little bike path (Hudson/Mohawk Bike Trail) that starts at College Park Hall and goes into Niskayuna. It’s safe, clean, and my roommate and I use it everyday to run. Also, for those of you who really are afraid of Schenectady and don’t feel comfortable venturing out yet, running the sidewalk around the perimeter of campus is 1.7 miles around. It’s got two small hills within the loop, it feels like it goes by really quickly, and 2 laps around campus later you’ve got yourself 3.4 mile run done and over with! If running isn’t your style, but you really like hiking, check out the Outing Club. They do some awesome hiking and trips (sometimes camping/canoeing too!): http://www.facebook.com/groups/147430767363/ . Union also offers a variety of different gym classes that you can utilize too. Check out the Union Athletics page and you can find them in the Wellness and Fitness Section under Inside Athletics.
Lastly, stop making excuses for yourself. We’ve all got class, work, commitments, etc. But people make exercise a part of their routine everyday. As Elle Woods from Legally Blonde says, “ Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands, they just don't.” You are going to kill so many birds with one stone if you spend at least 30 minutes of your day excercising. You will feel healthier, you will be able to eat more calories, you will be a happier roommate/friend/girlfriend, you get time for yourself (very rare in college)… The list goes on forever! Take my advice from personal experience: don’t let yourself succumb to the belief that “you’re supposed to gain weight in college.” College is supposed to be the most exciting time of your life – sure, try new foods, drink on the weekends, load up on brunch on Sundays. But don’t let the pizza at West become your everyday dinner! College is also supposed to be the time in your life when you learn how to manage your time productively – so don’t forget to add exercise into your day, wherever it can fit!
Here are my last minute tips:
- You don’t have to starve yourself to be healthy on campus. There are great healthy choices on campus like O3, Ozone Café, the salad bars, and if you’re willing to spend a Saturday/Sunday morning off campus there is a wonderful Farmers market downtown on the weekends.
- For those of you freshmen who don’t know what O3 is, it’s an all organic restaurant on campus that accompanies your declining balance – its located next to Dutch in Reamer. It took me until Winter of Freshman year to see how healthy I could eat by going here once a day!
- If you want to squeeze in a gym sesh between classes, throw a face cloth and deodorant in your bag with a fresh tee shirt – wipe the sweat off, put the deodorant on, and change your shirt. There – no one will smell you in class now!
- No one is going to judge you for not showering immediately after you go to the gym – in fact people, are usually impressed and ask “Did you just go to the gym? Go you!”
- Always charge your iPod when you get back. Always. Don’t let the “I forgot to charge my iPod” excuse ever stop you from working out!
- It takes a long time for working out to feel good – especially if you’ve never done it before. I understand why people hate it – it took me six weeks to finally enjoy working out. If your legs hurt when you run, build up your muscles by using the elliptical or stationary bike. Then, when you have built up a tolerance for your heart rate and can control your breathing, try the treadmill and work on running. Everyone’s pace is different, but if you keep at it and do it everyday, you will get better, faster, and stronger.
- Hide your credit card from yourself in your room before you go out – bring cash to Gepettos only. This has saved me from a lot of munchies and people putting their drinks on my tab many times…
- Don’t run in Schenectady in the dark
- Make a killer iPod playlist – I download new music everyday to keep myself from getting bored
- Set goals for yourself (Today I want to burn 400 calories)
- Get your friends on board – adapting to a new lifestyle alone is challenging; with friends its fun
- Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org you need any help or suggestions!