It’s that point in the semester when the going gets rough. You have a professor who thinks that her class is the only one you’re taking. You have to go see a mandatory play for your theater class and must spend your Saturday night doing so. You have approximately fifty-three pages of reading – complete with an after-reading quiz, of course! And finally, the cherry on top, you have a group project due next week and seem to be the only person in the group who not only knows anything going on in the class, but also the only person who knows how to email/text/respond to GroupMe. So, what do you do to cope with all of this built-up stress? You go grab a burrito loaded with toppings on Main Street, wrap yourself into a burrito in bed, and watch the same episode of The Office that you’ve watched on repeat for the past week.
Wrong! You know what you should actually do to deal with this pent-up stress? Put the burrito down, unwrap yourself, and say goodbye to Netflix. Put on a pair of sneakers, and get moving! Throughout my college experience, I’ve learned that the best way to not only deal with stress but also feel my best is to be active. Luckily, here at the University of Delaware, we have tons of ways to do so, and I’m here to share my insider tips and tricks for how I never miss my workout (shoutout Chance the Rapper for those wonderful lyrics).
Wake up Early
My first tip is something that I know many people will instantly hate, but just hear me out. I’m not saying to wake up everyday at 5am, run 10 miles, and then go sit through hours of classes and homework. I’m saying that if your schedule permits it, try waking up before the sun rises and engaging in some form of physical activity at least once a week. It’s amazing how accomplished you’ll feel knowing that you not only got your daily workout out of the way but that you now have the rest of the day to use as you wish. You might find that you actually enjoy waking up early and will make that a part of your daily routine. Personally, I love going to the gym when it’s dark out and leaving when the sun is just rising; it makes me feel like I already have a head start to my day. An added bonus is that the gym is basically empty in the early hours of the morning, giving free reign to any machine you could possibly want. If motivation is an issue, try laying out your gym clothes the night before, setting only one alarm which will automatically force you to get up, or planning your workout routine ahead of time so that you have a goal in mind. As I’ve found, waking up early to work out has given me the jolt of energy that I need to carry me through my busy days.
Try New Things
I first came to college relying mostly on three different activities to keep me fit: playing tennis, running, and bike-riding around my neighborhood. With a whole gym at my fingertips, however, I soon learned that there were so many more options from which I could take advantage. Not only does the Lil Bob have every machine and device imaginable – including a rock wall – but the tons of group fitness classes are fun and exciting. While I still play tennis for the Club Tennis team and make that a regular part of my exercise routine, I’ve branched out and have tried things that I never had before. Last year, I took my first BODYPUMP class, having a break in my schedule that coincided perfectly with the class time. At first, I had no clue what I was doing, but having continued doing BODYPUMP for a year, I can not only recognize which tracks coincide with certain launches but have also been able to improve my form and increase my weights. I’ve also fallen in love with Cycling, Barre, and Butts n’ Guts, classes that I had never done before coming to college. And, finally, I just recently started doing Pilates (shout out to Mini who keeps me coming back for more each week!). I signed up for Pilates on the fly one day and went to the class not having any expectations. But, having gone numerous times this semester, I now cannot see my week without it. I look forward to my Friday mornings when I can de-stress and get a good workout in – the perfect start to my weekend. I really enjoy group fitness classes because I commit to being there for a set amount of time and cannot just decide to cut my workout short. What this hopefully shows is that being active can take many shapes and forms. Try new things, and find what moves you, literally!
Mix up your Workout
Going along with trying new things is the idea that mixing up what you do can give you an even better workout. Running on the treadmill everyday or doing the same ab routine can get boring, causing a quick loss in motivation. In addition, your muscles can get accustomed to doing the same workouts and will, in turn, remain the same, not producing great results. From my own experience, I’ve found that I feel best when I’m doing a variety of different activities, whether it’s cardio, weight-training, or balance and flexibility exercises. On an average week, I try to include at least one day of each and then fill in my other workouts with whatever I’m feeling for that day. In addition to mixing up your actual workout, change up the intensity of your workouts, as well. If I push myself really hard one day, I will likely do a less-strenuous workout the next day. By constantly varying your workouts, you’ll not only never feel like Phil in Groundhog Day, but you’ll also maximize your results.
This one is simple: get yourself a workout partner! While some people prefer to workout alone and do their own thing (which I totally get), having a friend right alongside you can actually be a great motivator. Seeing your friends push themselves can make you push yourself to the same degree. There’s nothing like a little healthy competition to get the juices flowing. And, even better, there are so many different ways that you can incorporate partner moves into your workout whether that means spotting each other, having a catch with a medicine ball, or doing plank hand slaps. Additionally, making plans to go to the gym with someone holds you accountable; skipping out on the workout affects both you and your friend as well. Bringing a buddy to the gym is a surefire way to work hard and have fun while doing so.
Make it Exciting
My last tip is to make working out exciting. Sure, we all have those lazy days when we just want to lounge around and only get up off the sofa to refill a bowl of popcorn. But, if your workout is entertaining and lively, then you’re more likely to actually want to do it. For me, the biggest thing that can make or break my workout is music. If I have a killer playlist – filled with Kanye, Chance, and Post – then I can zone out and just focus on the music, as opposed to the fact that I’m dripping sweat and most likely look like a sunburnt tomato. If you’re planning on doing a more stationary workout such as running on the treadmill, using the elliptical, or riding on a bike, then another way to make those workouts less monotonous is to watch something, whether it be your favorite TV show or a movie. Getting engrossed in what you’re watching is a guaranteed way to keep your eyes off of the clock. I sometimes even save watching my favorite TV shows for when I go to the gym so that I have something to look forward to. Encompassing the entire workout experience is something that oftentimes gets overlooked: your outfit. I have always gone by the motto that it doesn’t matter what I do as long as I look good doing it. While this is not always the case, feeling good in what you wear is definitely a way to increase your confidence. A new tank top or pair of leggings can be just the push you need to get going. And, finally, my last tip for making workouts exciting is to think outside of the box. Not every workout needs to be done in the gym. Throw a football, go for a hike, run up and down the stairs until you feel like your lungs might fall out. This past weekend, my roommates and I spent an hour jumping on our neighbors’ trampoline and playing “popcorn.” If that doesn’t scream college, I don’t know what does!
Being active is a great way to break up your everyday routine. Classes are only going to get harder, and having something to depend on to de-stress is critical. Working out can clear your mind and provide you the energy to deal with anything that this semester has to offer. That being said, as with everything, never push yourself too hard. If you’re not feeling it one day, that’s okay, and you should never feel guilty for not working out. Listen to your body and what makes you feel good. Going off of that, feeling good is not just about doing push-ups on a regular basis or increasing how much you can lift. There are so many other factors to focus on from balancing your social life with your academics, finding clubs and organizations that really speak to you, maintaining relationships with family and friends, and eating foods that will fuel you to keep this all going (shameless plug to my next blog post on healthy eating tips and tricks!). Without a doubt, you’ll be feeling harder, better, faster, stronger in no time!