The Freshman Zero

All the information you need to stay in shape or get in shape in school.


Tune In and Tone

They don't call them lazy summer days for nothing. It's hard to get off the couch when you get in the habit of it, and you don't always have to. You can work out while you watch crappy reruns- all you need is a carpet. Try any combination of these 10 exercises, and take as long as you like to do them... the faster you do them, the harder it is, the longer breaks you take, the easier. But you get a double benefit of getting in a little toning and your favorite episodes of whatever.


1. Wall Sits- aim for 60 seconds, maybe less, maybe more depending on your fitness level
2. Lunges- do 20 (that would be 10 for each leg). Try alternating stepping forward and back if you don't have much room to move.


3. Pushups- aim for 10- 15 pushups, go for more if you can. If you need to modify them, feel free.
4. Superman- Lie on your stomach and raise your arms and legs at the same time, contracting your back. Hold for 2 or 3 seconds, lower. Repeat 10-15 times.


5. Segmented abs- this is my favorite ab workout: Begin on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor. Pull your knees into your chest and then raise your shoulders to meet your knees. Contract as tightly as you can, then return to start and repeat. Aim for 15- 20 of these.
6. Plank- On your elbows and toes, form a straight line with your body (think about pulling your stomach against your spine) Try for 30- 60 seconds
7. Side Plank- from the plank position, shift onto your right or left elbow and the side of that same foot. place your other foot on top of the bottom foot or in front of it to balance. You can raise your left arm straight above your head to make it harder. Try to hold for 20- 30 seconds.
8. Bicycle Crunches- Aim for a few sets of 20 to each side (that would be 40 total)
9. Bridge/Butt Raises- I tend to call the plank exercise a bridge, and I don't really know how else to describe this exercise. Begin on your back with your knees bent. Relax your abs and lift your hips as high as you can. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10-20 times.
10. Side Crunches- Lay on your back with knees bent, then lower them to one side. Crunch up as you normally would (you won't be able to go as high). Try a few sets of 15- 20 on each side.

These exercises can be done back to back or over the course of an hour or so. You'll be surprised at how fast they go by, too. It's the perfect workout for a day when you don't feel like moving- you end up with a little more tone and you don't even have to leave your living room.


Summer Special

Now that most college students are out for the summer (with the exception of you over-achievers taking summer courses), there is plenty of time to do whatever you want. Sure, you could sleep more, watch more TV, eat more... but why not use the extra hours in your day to fit in exercise that you couldn't during the school year? Summer is a great time to get in shape, especially since you'll be bearing more than usual the next two or three months.

Working out during the summer prevents just as many challenges as doing so during the year, just of different sorts. For one thing, you've probably got a free gym to use at school, and being home means buying access. If you're serious about weightlifting, want to take advantage of fitness classes, or just like a gym atmosphere, look for a summer membership offer. It's important to choose a gym that you'll actually go to, so look for one where you get a good workout vibe that's nearby. If you can find a gym buddy to join with you, you're even more likely to go. If you're looking for a serious investment in your fitness, consider getting a personal trainer. They can show you efficient, effective workouts and keep you accountable for your progress. PTs cost quite a bit though, and you should make sure you feel comfortable with your instructor if you want the best experience.

If you'd rather not spend the money on a gym or a personal trainer, you can get great workouts of all types on your own. Look through fitness magazines and online for strength workouts that don't need weights. Shape magazine has a lot of total body toning moves available on their website. As for your cardio workouts, the MOST IMPORTANT THING IS TO STAY HYDRATED!! I'm serious, the summer sun can dehydrate you much faster than you realize, seriously threatening your health. To be super safe, run, walk or bike in the morning or evening, skipping the middle of the day heat. If you must exercise in the middle of the day (as I do) make sure you drink a ton of water in the morning (before you head out) and keep some water with you on your workout. If you start to feel faint, stop and walk. It's always a good idea to let someone know your route so if there is a problem, they know where to find you.

The summer is a perfect time to start taking care of your body in other ways too. Take advantage of the fresh summer produce and eat healthier meals full of yummy ripe fruits and vegetables. Corn-on-the-cob, strawberries, watermelon, canteloupe, and peaches are just some of the great foods you can get cheap and tasty during the summer. Try to add them into your diet over the next few weeks and enjoy the juicy summer goodness.


Post Run Treats

While you exercise, whether it be weightlifting or cardiovascular, you use up your energy stores, and you should always refuel, especially after any workout session longer than 45 minutes. For many people trying to lose weight however, it seems counter-intuitive to consume calories right after you burn them, but it does make sense: replenishing your carbohydrate stores keeps you from getting tired and really hungry later on, and eating protein helps speed the recovery of muscles and therefore muscle mass- which in turn causes increased metabolism. Another benefit of protein is that it helps you feel satisfied longer, keeping you from munching all day long.

The trick is snacking smartly. As always, you want to focus on low-fat products (or small amounts of heart healthy fats), whole grains, and foods high in protein. It's okay to eat something a little sweet or salty- your body needs the sugar and the electrolytes. Below I've listed some of my favorite things to eat after running or working out- all are fairly easy to make and taste super good (I promise):

1. Natural Peanut Butter, Honey and Cinnamon on anything whole wheat
Use 1 slice of whatever sort of whole wheat bread (sliced, english muffin, bagel, pita, tortilla) you'd like, not too much peanut butter and not too much honey. You could also use regular peanut butter, but it has trans fats and added sugar, so try the natural if you can bear it-- the addition of the honey and cinnamon contrasts really well and you get sweet and salty together.

2. Fruit Smoothie
Again, totally customizable. You can use frozen fruit, fresh sliced fruit, whatever flavor of lowfat yogurt you'd like. Basic recipie:
1/2 cup of fruit
1/2 cup of yogurt
2-4 ice cubes
You can also add peanut butter, honey, whatever else you'd like. Here's a good recipie from Runner's Worldfor a Chocolate-Espresso Smoothie. If you like mochas, you have to try this.. its sooooo good.

3. Clif Bars
I got into these as a climber, not as a runner, but they're a perfect refueling treat for both activities. With lots of flavors to choose from and no preparation to do, they're good to keep around when you're really rushed after workouts. You can order a box online and get a pretty good discount.


The First Slow, Painful Steps

It's funny that I can be simultaneously lazy and run a marathon in the same week. But it happpened. Now that I'm back and recovering from a really strong debut (3:49:53)- I'll try to catch up on posting.
Because I'm currently obsessed with the topic of running, I'll start with a few personal-experience tips on getting started and then later some great post-run snacks (which are the best part of running).

For my favorite beginner, Marc
1. Get Good Shoes
Quality running shoes are expensive, and if you buy a good pair, you're guaranteed to use them just to avoid the guilt of seeing them wasting closet space. If you start with bad shoes, you'll be in pain before you can even begin to enjoy running.
2. Start Slow
Don't expect to go out and run 3 Miles on your first try. Start by alternating running and walking. Push yourself- but not too far. Running will hurt at first, but you shouldn't get hurt. You'll be surprised at how quickly you improve.
3. Set Good, Multiple Goals
A good goal is one which is difficult to reach but definitely possible. Setting short-term and long-term goals, such as "I will run or walk at least 4 times this week" and "By January, I will be able to jog for 45 minutes" allows you to focus on either depending on what motivation you need.
4. Find a Training Partner
Get a friend who is a runner or who wants to start running too and keep each other on track. You don't always have to run together, just having a person holding you accountable for your actions will give you a good enough guilt trip to get you out the door.
5. Buy a Full Length Mirror
Okay, I don't actually do this one, but Runner's World has suggested it multiple times, and I trust them. The idea is, if you're running to lose weight or just slim down, looking at your body every day will keep you motivated. But please, please don't get obsessive about it. If you start to obsess over how you look, get rid of the mirror, but keep running. It'll make you a more powerful person, improving your self-confidence and your body image.
6. Dedicate Each Run
It sounds silly, but thinking about a specific thing- whether it's reviewing vocabulary in your head for an exam, thinking over a conversation you want to have with someone, or just focusing on one person who inspires you- will keep your mind of the labors of running. Before you're done thinking, you'll be done running.
7. Run For Fun
If you want to run, run your way. When you're getting started, you don't have to do the hard workouts you would if you were training for a race. Try different types of running, depending on your mood. Run trails one day when the weather's nice, Do hills if you feel like a good challenge, or jog slow and just see how far you go. Don't try to hold yourself to the same workout over and over- you're apt to get bored and lose interest.
8. Enter a Race
If the shoes aren't enough, entering a race is your commitment to yourself that you'll be running by that date. Enter with your accountability partner for extra motivation. A race can also double as a long-term or a short-term goal.

Bottom line: Get out there and do it!


Smarter Snacking

One of the benefits of working at a gym is getting to read all of the health and fitness magazines that we stock for patrons. A recent issue of SHAPE had 2 great ideas for how to snack without feeling you're depriving yourself.

1) Eat half and half- if you're craving something that's bad for you, eat half of a serving, and have half a serving of something healthy. Example: cocoa puffs and cornflakes or high-fiber cereal, alfredo sauce and red sauce, M&Ms and almonds.

2) The 10-calorie trick: take 20 10-calorie servings of multiple types of food to make a 200 calorie snack that satisfies all of your various cravings. Some good suggestions from SHAPE:

2 skittles
3 plain M&Ms
1 gummi bear
1.5 black licorice bites
1 Whopper
2.5 Jelly beans
3 Altoids
4 Nestle Toll House chocolate chips

2 teddy grahams
40 cheerios
1 container tropical berry or strawberry kiwi sugar-free Jello
1 Animal Cracker

1.5 Almonds
1 Pecan Half
1 Cashew Half
20 roasted salted soy nuts
1 shoestring french fry
1 Wheatables cracker
2.5 Pistachios
18 salted sunflower seeds
2 fritos
7 pieces pirate's booty
1/3 cup air-popped popcorn (not butter!)
1 French Onion Sunchip
4 Goldfish
2.5 baked Cheetos

1 apple slice
3 red or green grapes
1 orange wedge
2 large strawberries
12.5 blueberries
1 dried pineapple piece
3 watermelon balls

Combine any of the above to have your own customized low-calorie snack.
It doesn't count if you go over the given amount.

Happy eating :)

Wake-up Right

This sounds crazy, but I woke up at 6 am today and I feel GREAT.
There's something really rewarding about getting a lot accomplished before the time your day would normally start.
Plus, now that the weather's getting nicer, the early morning is a wonderful time to enjoy it in a quieter, peaceful setting.

One day this week, set your alarm an hour or two earlier, make yourself get out of bed, sit around for a while, have a cup of coffee, read the paper, do some yoga or go for run.
Having that time in the morning to yourself can help you get going on a long day by letting you take your time getting ready instead of rushing out the door, already stressed.

I promise that it's worth that lost hour or two of sleep.


Bad Mood?

Take a kickboxing class.

Absolutely nothing will make you feel better than working out, no matter what kind of funk you're in.
Transfer the anger or frustration you feel at the world into a harder workout. The more upset you are, the harder you can dig into your workout. When you finish, you've gotten a double bonus: you've worked out AND you feel better.

Here's some suggestions for bad-mood workouts:

Intervals on the Treadmill:
Start by warming up at your own easy pace for 5-10 minutes, then alternate 1 minute of sprinting with 2 minutes of jogging or walking. When you sprint, concentrate on using your negative emotions. Repeat for as long as you want, ending with an easy 5-10 minute cooldown.

If your gym has a spin room, it's the perfect place to work out stress. If there's no classes available, grab your iPod and try making up your own routine. After a 2-or-3 song warmup (low resistance, moderate speed), alternate the following with easy song breaks:
-"climb"- choose a 4 or 5 minute song, increase resistance at a constant speed
-"jumps"- at a medium resistance, bike in your seat for an 8-count, then come out of the seat, keeping your butt above the seat, leaning on your elbows for another 8-count, then bike standing up as straight as you can for another 8. Repeat for the whole song.
-"sprints"- at a low resistance, sprint out the chorus of a fast-paced song.

Do a 1-2 song cooldown when you finish, and stretch!