Maintaining Healthy Habits in College

March 23, 2015 in Alive Campus, Health

Several college students undoubtedly have a love/hate relationship with the tedious task we simply call “exercise.” Every day is an ongoing process of questioning if we really want to workout out or catch up on the next episode of Friends on Netflix, despite the millions of times we’ve watched it. We know what we should do, but we also know what we want to do. We’re tired from our assignments and don’t have the motivation to spend our precious free time sweating it out at the gym, yet when we’re finished, our mood is instantly enhanced and we’re proud of the awesome workout we just forced ourselves to suffer through. It’s complicated.

The students at FSU are very much into fitness and working out, most likely because bathing suit season is year round in Tallahassee. The gym at FSU, also known as the Leach Center, is enormous, consisting of three floors, a swimming pool, a basketball court, volleyball court, indoor track, and every workout machine imaginable. Really, it’s no excuse to not take advantage of this on-campus amenity. It also offers a variety of free workout classes, ranging from Spin, Cardio Endurance, Zumba, Circuit Training, Yoga, Boxing, and so much more. While I have only participated twice in workout classes here, it definitely was well worth my time and blasted calories like no other. These classes are for the students who need that extra boost when exercising. A workout class will certainly push you to your limits and make the time go fast as the instructors force you to keep going. They don’t particularly care that you’re on the verge of collapsing, which will only benefit you in the end. In addition to fitness classes, each FSU student is entitled to 4 free personal training sessions at the Leach to gain some fitness tips and customize their workouts depending on their fitness goals. The trainers are very helpful and keep everything on file for future reference when you’re on your own. If you feel that the Leach Center is overly crowded or simply too overwhelming, the Health and Wellness Center recently built a small indoor gym as well.

Health and Wellness Center

Health and Wellness Center

Walking to class in itself may certainly burn calories, especially up the hills carrying heavy books in the blazing sun, but it’s also important to incorporate a set time for exercising and focusing on getting your heart rate up. A great way to stay in cardiovascular shape is to simply go for a 30-minute run on campus. The weather is usually always ideal for running, so you will often find students jogging along the campus any time of day. I actually prefer to run on campus because it’s hilly and more challenging than simply running on a treadmill in the gym. It’s also a great way to get your share of Vitamin D and enjoy the beautiful scenery around the campus. Yes, running can certainly be boring, but there’s always a sight to see when exercising outside as opposed to running in place. Take advantage of the beautiful Florida weather.

Another effective outdoor exercise is referred to as “stadiums.” This is basically just running up, down, and across the bleachers at Doak Campbell Stadium. It sounds easy, but it’s actually an unbelievably hard workout considering the stadium is enormous and the sun feels extra hot from the attraction of the metal bleachers. Bring a lot of water and mentally prepare yourself before doing them. Don’t forget to snap some photos of the empty stadium during your rest periods.

On days you simply don’t feel dealing with the crowded gym, there are always home workouts. I recommend Insanity as being one of the best home workouts that’s both time-efficient and provides an amazing, full-body workout. Each of the exercises pushes you to your max limits and essentially focuses on strengthening your core and providing an overall leaner appearance after the first few weeks. It involves HITT- High intensity interval training, which shoots your heart rate up in a matter of seconds with short rest periods in between, providing an even higher afterburn post-workout. Several of the workout videos are less than an hour, which include warm-up and cool-down stretch periods. So when you feel like exercising in the comfort of your own home and you lack both the time and energy to drive to and from the gym, give it a try. It’s extremely hard, but exceptionally rewarding!

FSU Leach Center

FSU Leach Center

It’s important to note that exercising a few times a week does not necessarily mean you’re staying in shape and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It actually only consists of 20 percent of your diet, so eating healthy is even more of a necessity when trying to stay fit. If you can’t find the time to workout, at least make sure to eat clean. I personally thrive off Publix grilled chicken and fish with a side of veggies and tons of water during the week so I can treat myself on weekends without feeling guilty. Eating healthy foods full of protein and nutrients will automatically make you feel better mentally and energetically. Most importantly, you will naturally look better physically. Snack on healthy food such as apples and protein bars. Make smart choices when going grocery shopping and keep yourself on the outside aisles as opposed to the ones containing processed foods. Prep your meals ahead of time if you have a crazy week ahead and so you don’t feel tempted to grab Chipotle for dinner when you’re too tired to cook. These will all contribute to a habitually healthier lifestyle with time. The thought of treating yourself on Saturday night to some sangria and Mexican food can be your motivation as you munch on healthy food Monday-Friday. (It’s certainly mine!) Yes, if I could eat Moe’s and Chick-fil-a every week I would, but unfortunately, college is the time to say goodbye to the Ramen noodles and start adopting healthy habits!

Controversy at VMI

February 19, 2015 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Colleges, Health

controversyI would say a majority of the time at VMI there is always controversial topics that are being brought up because of the environment we are in. Since VMI is a small school and it’s a public military college, it is like living under a microscope. Everything we do is watched and anything bad that happens is instantly publicized by the outside community. Therefore, the school goes to special lengths in order to keep the cadets reigned in just to protect the school’s image. Thus why I say everything is controversial at VMI.

However, recently the topic of sexual harassment and sexual assault has been more apparent. This is because of the recent survey the entire corps was “encouraged” to take. About a week and a half ago, the entire corps was broken into small groups in order for the VMI Office of Assessment and Research to personally tell the cadets the importance of the survey they recommended we take. The survey was called Campus Climate and it was supposed to gauge the “climate” around campus and to see if people felt they were being sexually mistreated. Although the survey was not mandatory to take, they stressed that is was our duty to take it and that it would create a better environment for everyone in the future.

Sadly, most of the male cadets thought the topic was funny and did not take the survey. In the meeting with the representatives from the Office of Assessment and Research they mentioned that it was a detailed and specific survey and would get very personal because it was asking very personal questions regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Therefore, since they stressed the importance of the survey and they stated that it was our duty to take it, I went back to my room to take it. When I started to answer some of the questions, I came to realize that I lived in a harsh environment that was not conducive to a healthy lifestyle, especially for females. The questions did get very personal about whether or not I felt I had been sexually harassed or assaulted in any way and I answered them honestly. These are the types of controversial issues that are brought up at VMI, but are not addressed.

VMI is a mostly male institution and the atmosphere for females can get rough sometimes. Such was the case last semester when there were a few instances when female freshman were sexually assaulted by upper class male cadets, but nothing was done about it and unfortunately nothing probably could have been done since the assaulter was not identified. The school breeds the mindset that females who go to this school do not deserve respect and that we do not belong here. This mindset is something that needs to be changed in order to make this a safer environment for women who attend the school and women who plan on attending in the future.  Sexual assault and sexual harassment is not something to joke around about and should not be something that students should be afraid to talk about. Therefore, it needs to be addressed.

Longwood University Goes Green

January 3, 2015 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Colleges, Health

Longwood is a very green school.  The university uses different ways to stay green as students come and go.  All throughout campus, people can find recycling bins in every academic, recreational, and residence hall building.  These are put there by the university to encourage students to go green.

With an Office of Sustainability, there are many programs that are offered to encourage students to go green.  A couple initiatives of the office, was a bird house making contest.  This contest allowed people to decorate bird houses, in order for them to be hung up all around campus to to promote being environmentally friendly.  Another thing they have done, is put on a week that was dedicated to recycling.

Also, the university has taken really unique and dirastic steps to making the campus more envoirnmentally friendly and sustainable, by actually building their buildings out of recycled materials.  One key building that is about seven years old now, is the Health and Fitness Center.  This is one of the biggest and most used buildings on Longwood’s campus, but many do not know that it is made entirely out of recycled materials.  As Longwood continues to grow and expand, they are taking what they did with the fitness center along with it.  The university has been dedicated to continuing to make the new buildings that they build all out of recycled materials.

During move in and move out, the university puts out large bins for students to throw away their cardboard and other recyclable materials.  The university also has an outdoor classroom to promote getting outside and being great to the green.  Longwood recently added an environmental studies major to its curriculum.  This major allows students to learn about issues in the environment.

The university’s dining services also try to be as environmentally friendly as possible.  They did this by selling the trays that students use to take to eat with them for charity, and that alone reduced the amount of water the dining hall used to wash the trays significantly.  Also, the dining services, such as the coffee shop Java City on campus, sells organic coffees and teas to costumers.

In order to reduce your carbon footprint, the Office of Sustainabiltiy encourages students, faculty, and staff to carpool, by using ride boards and other services.  They also encourage students to get out and walk instead of driving, by continually adding sidewalks and pedestrian bridges for students to walk on.

One of the main staples on Longwood’s campus is the Biomass Heating Plant.  This heating plant cost the university 14 million dollars and burns biomass for heating fuel.  Longwood is the only state institution of higher education in the state of Virginia that burns biomass to make heating fuel.  The plant provides 80 percent on the university’s heat and hot water. (All facts are from:  Click there to go straight to Longwood’s Office of Sustainability webpage.

But with all the cool things Longwood does to stay green, sustainable, and to encourage people in the community to go green, one things they always rememeber, is to celebrate Earth Day!

Earth Day

Earth Day

Dealing With Stress 101

November 14, 2014 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Health

Dealing with a lot of stress can lead to health issues and a lot of anxiety. At the end of the semester, I tend to gather a lot of stress due to final projects, presentations, and papers, but I deal with the stress in many different ways. There are four different ways I deal with stress: I spend spend time with my family, with my friends, watch some TV, and go for a walk.

Stress Management

Stress Management!

Spend Time With My Family: Spending time with my family is the best way I get some relief from stress. I always take mini breaks when I am working on papers or projects and go relax by talking with my mom, dad, or my brothers and sisters. Just by spending three to five minutes with them I feel relaxed. When I go back to my work, I am able to think more clearly and be more productive. I am sure this happens to a lot of people, and it is a routine when dealing with not only school stress, but personal, work, and life stress. The best part I love about being able to relax when I spend some time with my family they always find a way to make me laugh, even from the smallest actions I make, I get to laugh and that takes away a lot of my stress.

Spend Time with Friends: This is the second best way to relax and get rid of my stress. It is always fun to spend time with my friends and we always make jokes and laugh at old memories and new ones. Even though I do not get to see them every day like I used to in high school now that we are in college because we do not go the same college. I try to at least hang out with my friends once a week. Looking forward to spend some time with my friends, usually at the end of the week, motivates me to get through the week and when the day comes to hang out with them afterwards I feel relax and more motivated to get work done.

Watch Some TV: To some, this may not seem like the most effective and healthiest to relax and relief some stress, but to me this is the best way to relax if it really cold outside or I feel like going for a walk, hang out with friends, or spend some time with my family.

Go for a Walk: Going out for a walk a great way, of many, to relief some stress. Walking and getting exercise helps the body relax and take the mind off work and life. I recommend to take a walk for at least 30 to an hour four times a week because it will help your body and your mind.

Every person does not deal with stress the same way, but what ever method you use the most important part is to feel relax and give the mind some relief from everyday stressors. 

“You are worth it simply because you exist.”

November 8, 2014 in Academics, Alive Campus, Campus Life, Colleges, Health

I sneak a peak from the corners of my laptop and see two students sitting on the opposite end of the study room. To the right, I see a girl twirling her fingers through her hair, tugging at the ends in a nervous manner as she continues to read through an Organic Chemistry textbook. To the left, I see a boy chugging down a cup of coffee—I’m imagining a Red Eye to match his red, sleep-deprived eyes. I then look at my own laptop screen; my dock filled with minimized documents of Gender Studies texts and Word documents with unfinished midterm papers. I grab my quadruple shot espresso and finish the contents of my Venti-sized cup in a matter of seconds. I burp softly and continue to type as I think about the to-do list of tasks that I’ve yet to write up (maybe I should add “write to-do list” to my to-do list).

Cornell is, without a doubt, an academically rigorous institution. Add to that the stigma of being the Suicide Ivy, the university wide policy of grade deflation, and the Type-A peers in every classroom, and you have yourself an anxiety-ridden environment. As a student who has survived numerous suicide attempts and panic attacks, and now runs university wide “Happiness Projects,” I can attest that changing one’s mentality is the only sure-fire way of tackling the issue that is mental health at the university level.

Prelims season AKA stress stress stress!

Prelims season AKA stress stress stress!

“I am sitting next to Albert Einstein’s reincarnation.”

During my first week at Cornell, I couldn’t help but to notice the amount of students boasting about their high school achievements. “AP Scholar” and “National Champion” were casually inserted into conversations about the pasta being served. Most Frosh come to Cornell with the mentality that they will maintain their valedictorian status. In a school comprised of 99th percentile students, it becomes incredibly difficult to maintain said status. Rather than fighting for the spotlight in a small discussion seminar, or plotting to murder the students who score higher than you on a calculus midterm, think optimistically: “I am privileged enough to be sitting in a room with some of the brightest minds in the world. They are here, so they are valid. I am here, so I am valid, too. Maybe we can learn from each other!”

“My low GPA is my identity.”

In my circle of friends, the status of Valedictorian is synonymous to GPA-obsessed high school students. Cornell tends to attract—and accept—these types of students. While I’m not implying that GPAs in college are insignificant, I am asserting that there is more to a Cornell education than grades—in fact, considering grade deflation, grades become even less representative of one’s academic potential. Rather than crying over your first sub-par transcript, think to yourself, “Am I paying all of this tuition for an easy A+, or am I here for academic enrichment?”

“I don’t belong here”

Spreading positivity on Ho Plaza: Smile! You look beautiful today!

Spreading positivity on Ho Plaza: Smile! You look beautiful today!

Being a person of color, a gay identifying male, and having graduated from a sub-par public high school, I knew that I would feel slightly out of place. However, I never imagined that my isolation would extend further than my sexuality, skin color, and socio economic background. During my first semester, a negative thought constantly ran through my mind: “I am not intelligent like my roommate. That girl from my Feminist class is what a real Cornell student looks like. Even that annoying Frat bro can think outside of the box! I’m just an imposter.” It’s a strange feeling when you realize that you are no longer the big fish in the small pond; it’s unsettling to think that you may never achieve as much as others, that your best might never be good enough, that the endless nights of coffee and hours slaving over that one chapter in the textbook will amount to absolutely nothing. There are nights when you think you’ve studied hard enough to achieve a perfect grade on an exam and end up with a grade lower than the class’s mean. At some point during the end of my first semester, I received validation in the form of a coffee chat with a professor. She told me, “You’re here because someone knew—not thought, KNEW—that you belonged.” If you attend Cornell—or any university—just keep in mind, you got an acceptance letter for a reason. And that reason is because YOU BELONG.

Whether you go to Cornell or you attend online classes, you will feel certain emotions in reference to your academic potential. It’s incredibly important to remember that you are not your grades, that you are attending college for purposes other than being the best, and that you are wonderful simply because you exist. Think optimistically and never forget that you are worth it.