How to Keep Sane During Finals Week

A horrible thing is about to happen.

A painful

tragic

beautiful

thing.

Finals week is about to end, meaning that it is officially the time for the big workout.

The hard, going-to-die workout.

The I-haven’t-done-much-this-month regrets finally catch up with you, and now it is time to get real.

You know that it needs to happen. Those long study nights do not add up to great health, physically or mentally.

So here is what you do.

Do not just sleep for an entire day straight, despite the appeal I know that has.

  1. Listen to the Mayo Clinic and work on creating a steady sleep schedule. This may not seem like the first step, but trust me, if you have had a semester anything like mine, this is a key ingredient to a healthy summer.
  2. Hydrate and stretch before, during and after your workouts. This is incredibly important, as I am sure every person in the state of Arizona has heard more times than they can handle.
  3. Find a buddy. “If you can find a workout buddy it can help you keep yourself accountable,” says exercise and wellness major Ben Holko. If you alone will know that you did or did not work out, it is much easier to put it off.
  4. Create a playlist.
    Music is a great counter to stress.

    Music is a great counter to stress.

    I promise, it is necessary. Start with some motivating, high-tempo songs that make you feel fantastic and empowered — I suggest including plenty of Queen Bee. Work your way into some angrier, more intense pieces to push you through the rough patch and end with the most fun song you can find. Here are some must-haves:

    • “You Give Love a Bad Name” – Bon Jovi

      In order for you to be properly psyched for the legendary workout you are about to have, you must include this hit — at least, according to Barney Stinson.

    • “Are You Satisfied” – Marina and the Diamonds

      I have never been more motivated to challenge myself than when listening to some Marina. You are not complacent. You are strong and ready to destroy that treadmill.

    • “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” – Weezer

      This song always makes me feel happy and ready to take on the elliptical.

    • Everything Beyonce has ever touched.

      But seriously. Looking into that big mirror showing all your sweat and jiggle can be very detrimental. The entire purpose of this workout is to feel better inside and no one can make you feel more proud, capable and strong than Queen Bee. You can, and will, take on the world.

    • Wannabe – Spice Girls

      A throwback, but still a great mid-workout song. I recommend filling the middle part of your Get Psyched mix with throwbacks that will make you laugh. Working out can be fun. Painful, maybe, but fun.

    • One Foot – Fun.

      Maybe it is just me, but Fun is the soundtrack to my summer. This song is a great way to finish and get you through that final push.

  5. Create a plan. Stretch, warm up with some cardio and hit the machines. Do not forget to do a cool down. Decide your goal beforehand and give yourself a set amount of time you want to be at the gym or wherever you are.

    “Have a plan with you on paper and have a schedule of your workouts. It’s hard to keep it up, but when you have a journal-type thing, it helps,” Holko suggests.

    Only you can really know all the improvements that you have made, and that concrete proof can be a great motivation. Avoid overdoing it. You may think you can handle it, but this will negatively affect your future workouts.

Head out! Do not forget water, headphones and an optimistic outlook.

It’s going to be legendary.

When is the best time to work out?

It’s the second to last week of March, which puts us a little bit past the Ides of March. No worries, though, nobody’s getting assassinated any time soon — unless they’re an inefficient workout routine!

Find the perfect medium between your internal clock and an external clock.

Find the perfect medium between your internal clock and an external clock.

ASU’s spring break recently ended, and some students might be feeling like they had a little bit too much fun. Well, now’s the time to get back on track with that workout routine!

Now is the perfect time to start evaluating if you’re exercising efficiently. You still have a few more months before summer and plenty of time to be in shape prior to beach season!

So, with all the workout hype out there, I’m sure you’ve come across a few sources that tell you to work out at a certain time of day.

While these articles might not present blatant errors, the way these articles go about suggesting when you should work out is definitely wrong.

These articles assume that everyone’s the same and that everyone has the same metabolism and circadian rhythm. Well, this isn’t the case.

After you commit to making exercise part of your daily routine, it’s best to create a workout schedule that fits in your life and, more importantly, with your body.

Some questions to answer before crafting a workout routine are:

  • Are you a morning person or a night person?
  • How well do you sleep at night?
  • Are you trying to lose weight or tone up muscles? (both might apply but if you had to choose one which would it be).

Addressing the first question: if you’re a morning person, you’re naturally going to be more energetic in the morning, and therefore, morning workouts will be the more efficient route for you. If you’re a night person, a workout session after work or before you go to bed might be better for you. It’s all about knowing your body and when it works the best.

When it comes to the second question, sleep pattern is essential to take into account. If you struggle to get to sleep at night, it’s probably a better idea for you to work out in the morning. Studies have shown that people who work out in the morning sleep better at night.

As for the third question, some studies have shown that working out in the morning before breakfast lends to higher burn of fat reserves, instead of burning calories that you’ve consumed throughout the day if you work out in the evening. But, honestly, all of these are theories.

Another thing to consider is where you live. Do you live in an urban hotspot such as downtown Phoenix, where people are out and about at 4-6 a.m.? Or do you live in the middle of nowhere where people start crawling out of bed at about 10 a.m.? It’s important to make sure you’ll be safe and around people when you work out, just in case there’s a medical emergency or dangerous encounter.

At the end of the day, you have to figure out what’s right for your body! Despite what any article or doctor tells you, you’ve got to consider what’s appropriate for your needs, because you know yourself best! So, the verdict is: there is no “perfect” or “optimal” time to work out that will burn the most calories. You’ve just got to figure out a time that suits your body best.

Stay healthy, my friends!

Biking in Downtown Phoenix

Have you ever considered reducing your travel time if you walk between two places, toning the muscles you have without any extra effort or increasing your stamina and, in turn, making your heart healthier?

Urban biking has a bright future in downtown Phoenix.

Urban biking has a bright future in downtown Phoenix.

If not, you should consider taking to two wheels as your source of urban transportation. Biking is an activity that enhances your health and the health of your community!

Urban biking is especially something downtown Phoenix residents should consider. Commuting by car or by foot in downtown can sometimes be a challenge. That’s where biking can make your life so much easier.

If you bike, you don’t have to worry about long commutes or traffic jams. On a healthier note, biking is good for you in many ways.

Biking helps burn fat, promotes healthy sleeping habits, encourages healthy digestion and even increases the endorphins in your brain, which makes you a happier, more confident person.

ASU exercise physiologist Christopher Berger is an avid biker and takes a personal interest in biking issues.

“Of course biking is healthy. We’ve got pretty dry air and nice sunshine, so it’s nice to be outside. Our roads are pretty well-kept, you know, there are no potholes or anything like that … and they’re flat, so biking isn’t very strenuous. Logistically, biking is a good idea — it saves you so much time. Health- and fitness-wise, it’s a good idea. It’s just nice to be outside.”

Berger said he thinks biking has more of a future in downtown Phoenix compared to Tempe simply because enforcement is a little bit different.

“People would be more proactive about putting bike lanes in around downtown Phoenix. There are already colored biking lanes on some downtown streets, so I’m pretty optimistic.”

So what exactly makes biking so healthy, and how do you ensure to make the most of your biking experience?

Berger said it’s a combination of things.

“Depending on how you set your gears up, biking can be a very aerobic exercise. If you set your gears really high, it become anaerobic for a little while, because you have to increase the amount of force you generate to move the bike. If you have a lightweight bike, you can bike for a long period of time. I think there’s a lot to be said for a really strong-frame mountain bike because in urban biking you have to have something that’s pretty durable.”

Another source that really promotes urban biking is the organization BikeForce.

BikeForce Phoenix is a collaboration of courier cyclists in downtown Phoenix who serve the business community.

BikeForce aims to help businesses reduce the operating costs of sending packages, documents and parcels all while promoting green energy, environmental awareness and physical fitness.

Could this get any better?

Thomas Johnston, office manager of BikeForce Phoenix, explained why biking is so beneficial to the downtown community.

“We deliver packages from business to business via bike. We are all for urban cycling here at BikeForce. I’m a big believer in biking — the more bikes on the road, the better. It’s healthier and better for the economy. Studies have shown that when there’s more biking, the economy’s better, because people don’t have to worry about parking. I bike almost 100 miles a week. I’ve been a courier for 16 years, and it’s just how I move around.”

Now that you’ve heard testimonials from two passionate sources about the benefits of urban biking, it’s up to you to broaden those horizons and perhaps try breaking biking into your schedule.

Not only will it help the environment, it will help keep you healthier! So get out there and cycle away toward a healthier you.

Stay healthy, my friends!

Zumba: Dance Your Way to a Healthy Lifestyle

“Zumba fitness!!”

I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase exclaimed in a high-pitched, almost-maniacal voice at least once in your lifetime.

Get that beach body by this summer! Enroll in a Zumba class ASAP!

Get that beach body by this summer! Enroll in a Zumba class ASAP!

Well, the fact is, Zumba is something everyone should get excited about — it’s one of the liveliest ways you can stay fit! With a lively beat, your body can do wonders, and your overall health will increase tenfold.

First of all, Zumba burns a lot of calories. We’re not talking a measly 200 calories per session. We’re talking from 800-1,000 calories per 30- to 60-minute period. By dancing, you can lose that unwanted weight, just as though you were working out on an elliptical or treadmill.

Zumba tones your whole body. Not only do you burn a ton of calories — and I mean a ton — you also allow muscles all over your body to be contoured. The amount of movement you do and the regulation of moves that occurs allows for an even muscle tone that you will absolutely love.

Zumba is addicting. In a good way. Unlike many other addictive things that could be detrimental to your health, Zumba is a fun activity that helps you maintain a healthy weight and increase your muscle mass. You will never want to miss a Zumba session once you start. You’ll build lasting friendships, and your Zumba class will become a family away from home. At least, that’s what I experienced.

Zumba works for all age groups and body types! You don’t have to be 21 and stick-thin to participate in an upbeat, lively Zumba class. The truth is, you can be any age and really any weight and still do Zumba. There are classes of varying levels, and they help you feel comfortable with where you’re at and increase your ability to advance to harder, more complex choreography.

Zumba is a great way to release stress! Dancing in itself is known to be a great way to alleviate stress. Zumba not only utilizes dancing, it also comprises fitness techniques that help release chemicals in your brain that keep you happy and stress-free. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, join a Zumba class! It will make a huge difference in your life.

Lastly, Zumba makes you a better dancer. Let’s face it. Good dancing is almost always a desired skill set. Well, enrolling is a great way to make your dreams of becoming a better dancer a reality! So get out there and enroll in that Zumba class. You will not regret it!

Stay healthy, my friends!

Spring Break Slump

Spring Break is the Wednesday of the second semester. Our tans (and sunburns) from Cabo and Vegas are still shining brightly and we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. For some it’s the beacon of graduation; for others it’s the end of the first year of being thrust into the new college life. For everyone though, there are still a lot of classes to attend, homework to be accomplished and hopefully workouts before we get there.

Photo via collegelifestyles.org

Don’t fall into the Spring Break Slump. Remember what you’re working toward: the start of summer and a body you’re proud to show off. Now is the time to try something new: Take a new class at the Y, try out a new gym and see how far you can push your body to achieve something great. Set three main goals and focus on your exercise and eating habits. To see any kind of result in weight loss or toning, both must be a part of your plan.

Here are my top three goals to accomplish for the remainder of the semester:

1. Try out a new form of exercise — I have decided to try cross fit at Core Crossfit. I’m a sucker for attempting anything that has a little hype around it, and I love to put myself out of my comfort zone to see what happens. Also, I miss the aspect of having a coach like I did in my high school sports, so it’ll be interesting to see how that will go over. I’m hoping to gain strength, power and speed that will translate into my running.

Photo via crossfitrecoil.blogspot.com

2. Make Sunday a meal-prep day — As a senior, I don’t even want to think about the amount of macaroni and cheese packages I have gone through during my entire college career. Truth be told, I have tried almost every brand and type out there and I’m well aware of the lack of nutrients each cheesy, delicious box contains. I need to break my lazy habit of popping a little cup into the microwave and actually create a well balanced meal I can take on the go. Now that I’ve gathered enough inspiration on Pinterest, I just need to get my eating habits back into shape.

Photo via Pinterest.com

3. Cut back on Happy Hour — Now I’m sure that not everyone is of age to drink, but for those who are, this is a key health goal to focus on. My dear friend Jillian Michaels has a strict “Two drinks per week rule” and I’m going to adhere to it. Alcohol is packed with sugar and unnecessary calories, and neither is something I need more of. I think everyone can use a little cut back from time to time, especially after a full week of Spring Break. Therefore, I’m substituting happy hour drinks with a happy hour workout.

Photo via theluxuryspot.com

Now it’s time for you to come up with three ways to break out of the Spring Break Slump. What are your top health goals, Devils?

15 ways to avoid the Freshman 15

There’s an ancient myth, told and re-told, passed down from generation to generation: THE FRESHMAN 15. Dun-dun-dunnnn. Is it true? Does the Freshman 15 exist? Are you at risk of falling prey to the mysterious weight gain? Is there anything you can do to save yourself?

Avoid the Freshman 15

The Freshman 15 is easily one of the most frightening things in college, aside from finals week and group projects. And surprisingly, it’s something that can be easily avoided! Here are 15 ways to avoid the dreaded Freshman 15.

  1. Get an adequate amount of sleep. I’m talking about 7-8 hours a night. It’s so easy to fall into the pattern of staying up late cramming for that early morning exam or talking with friends.
  2. Eat some breakfast. Waking up in time for breakfast before classes takes some serious skill. Try your best to master it and you’ll have a more balanced diet throughout the day.
  3. Remember that fruits and veggies are your friends. Now that a microwave is your main source of everything, you’ll soon realize that Hot Pockets will only be appetizing for so long. Try incorporating fruits and veggies into every meal and snack to balance out your diet and get necessary vitamins that aren’t found in Ramen.
  4. Limit the late night fast food run. Heading out with your friends for a late night snack is a college staple. When you’re in the habit of going out every night at midnight, you’ve run into a problem. Put a limit on the times you go out and your waistline and wallet will thank you.
  5. De-stress. College is stressful. You’re going to need to find what works best for you to help you relax. Adjusting to your new schedule and your new classes and your new environment is enough to send your body into a crazy state of stress overload. When you take time to de-stress, your body and mind will thank you.
  6. Drinking in moderation. This is for all you 21-year-old freshman out there. Drinking equates to calories. Excess calories equate to weight gain. No one actually intended to get a beer gut, so it’s a good idea to stick to a limit when you go out.
  7. Know what it is that you’re eating. Now that you’re on your own, everything you eat is up to you. Do your best to make informed choices when you’re in the cafeteria and shy away from the same foods all the time. Your body need variety.
  8. Stick to the rules. The new and improved food pyramid is your new best friend. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, you need fruits, grains, dairy, vegetables and protein to have a balanced diet. Focus on meeting all the goals for the day and it’ll soon become a habit.
  9. Get physical. Start hitting the gym, take to the great outdoors, do whatever you can to stay active. Take an hour each day to engage in physical activity.
  10. Join an intramural sport! You’ll make some amazing memories and new friends all while saving yourself from some extra weight gain. You can join a team on any campus, as long as you’re an ASU student you’re good to go!
  11. Make some friends. You are surrounded by new people (most of them friendly I hope) who are all looking for a great college experience. When you have friends, you spend less time alone. When you spend less time alone, you don’t eat alone. When you don’t eat alone, you are less likely to over eat.
  12. Don’t stock your dorm room with unhealthy food. It’s easy to start hoarding snacks in your small space, so when you do, make sure they have some nutritional value and aren’t loaded with empty calories.
  13. If you played sports in high school, be aware of the changes your body is undergoing to adjust to your less active lifestyle. If you ate six meals a day to keep up your weight in wrestling or to compensate for calories lost while swimming, realize the need to adjust and make some changes.
  14. Emotional eating. Do you ever eat something just because you’re bored? Has anyone ever suggested that ice cream can cure a break-up? When you watch TV, do you aimlessly snack out of habit? Eating can comfort us in almost any situation. Don’t fall into the trap of emotional eating. Learn what triggers emotional eating for you and change your behavior.
  15. Water is your new best friend. Drinking water is one of the best things you can do for your body. Energy drinks, coffees and sodas are loaded with extra sugar your body doesn’t need, so eliminate them from your diet as much as possible.
It’s possible to survive freshman year without gaining 15 pounds or more. Follow these simple rules and you’ll never have to worry about the Freshman 15.