exercise

10 Ways to Fight Summer Boredom

We all know that when it comes summer and everything is winding down, it can be pretty easy to slip into the feeling of not wanting to do anything.  However, once you’ve arrived at that point, it doesn’t take long until not doing anything morphs into being bored.  While it is perfectly acceptable to feel that you have deserved a break after duking it out with the school year, don’t let too much of a “good” thing bore you down!  Try some of these ideas to still maintain the freedom of a vacation, but also keep your summer exiting and memorable.

1. Travel

Planning a fun road trip with some high school friends, or perhaps college friends who live nearby, is a great option and relatively inexpensive if you split the gas cost amongst four or five people.  Another alterative could be driving to visit other friends a few cities away, which then provides you with a place to stay overnight without having to pay hotel/motel fees.  Or, if you’ve decided to save up for a travel splurge, going abroad or flying domestically – either to tour or visit friends – is very rewarding and calls for a great way to spend some of your vacation.

2. Get a Job

While working isn’t always the ideal way to spend a summer, the money racked in can more than make up for it.  A summer job doesn’t necessarily have to be related to retail or food service.  There are a lot of opportunities to make good money but also enjoy what you’re doing (but that’s not to say that some retail and food service jobs will never meet that criteria!).  Working at a day camp or water park is a good option if you like working with kids.  You can serve either as a counselor or a lifeguard, be able to relax in the sun all day, but still earn your keep.  Babysitting is another viable option if you have the qualifications and the ability to reach out to your community as a trusted sitter.

3. Do Some Summer Cleaning

If you’re one of those people (like me!) who enjoy cleaning out that cluttered basement or garage, take on one of those projects this summer.  It’s a great way to be on your feet and concentrate on a worthwhile task at the same time.  Once the space is cleared, you can even decorate and make the place more “live-able”—who knows, you might have just created a new summer hangout spot!  Even better, your parents may offer to pay you a small sum for the service.

4. Make Some Money off of Your Clutter

Once you’ve cleaned out that living space, you’re probably going to find a lot of old furniture/toys/clothing that you don’t really need anymore (or didn’t even remember having as a kid!).  Talk it over with your parents and see if a garage sale might not be a bad idea.  Other options for your nicer furnishings are to take them to a consignment store in your area.  These stores will typically accept and display your belongings on the storefront for a specified amount of time (perhaps 60-90 days on average) and cut you part of the profits if they sell.  Many other thrift stores will pay you cash on the spot for your items (usually in the clothing and toys category).  Hop online and type in those keywords and your zip code to find such places near you.

5. Earn Money by Taking Surveys

On those slow days when you’re not sure what to do, and feel like making some extra cash, enroll in a few online survey websites that pay you by check or by PayPal for the redemption of a certain amount of points.  This is fun if you already love sharing your opinion.  However, always check first to make sure the site is legitimate (there are scams out there, after all).  The best way to do this is by searching for reviews online by people who have used the site, and likewise by checking the Better Business Bureau website for accreditation.  Once you find the right survey site, you can take multiple questionnaires that may award you points immediately so that the site knows what kind of surveys to match you up with.  It is also recommended by survey takers that you join multiple panels to yield better results and increase the amount of surveys that you qualify for (you will screen out after the first few questions if your answers don’t match the type of person the survey giver wants).  Despite that, if you put the time and effort into it, you can rack up enough points that can be redeemed for a cash payout, or other type of reward.  Just make sure you understand how each site regulates their points/payout system, and you’re good to go!  You won’t get rich off of this by any means, but you may make some spending money.

6. Take on a Crafting Project

I’m also one of those people who love being creative.  One of my early summer projects this month was making a T-shirt quilt out of some old shirts I found shoved into the back of my dresser.  Seeing as I already had sewing materials, the shirts, and one black throw blanket to sew them onto, it only cost me approximately $15 to complete:  $10 for another black throw to sew as the back of the quilt, and $5 for some quilt batting from the local crafting store.  It’s an excellent way to keep yourself busy and make something useful at the same time!

7. Exercise

Whether it’s joining a local gym for the summer, jogging around the neighborhood, or exercising at home, keeping active is a great way to avoid gaining weight during a summer of being stagnant, and to promote positive energy and self-esteem.  Exercising outside especially helps you to get a safe amount of sun (as long as you monitor how long you’re outside and make sure to wear sunscreen) and release more endorphins.  Make it a group activity when you can as well.  Exercising in a social setting can make the act of exercising in itself more enjoyable and doable.  And in the end, who doesn’t want to come back to school in the fall looking their best?

8. Attend a Seminar or Workshop

If there’s something you’re really interested in but don’t have time to pursue at school, summer is the perfect opportunity to let that interest take hold.  If you like art or writing, for example, take some summer writing workshops or art classes that may be offered at your local library or on a nearby school’s campus.  Explore something you’ve always wanted to try, but just never had the time to.

9. Explore the City

I never knew how many attractions were available in my own hometown until after I had already gone away to college.  When I came home for my first summer, many of my college friends who were also from my hometown (but had attended other high schools), showed me a wide array of places I had never been to.  Keep an eye out for areas of town that have great restaurants, bars, and clubs for that fun Friday night with your friends—but also check for some good theatre, museums, and concerts that you may have never known existed.  Larger city parks (like, for me, Forest Park in St. Louis) usually house more than one of these attractions, so just by traveling to one area you can discover a multitude of fun activities.  But as always, remember to stay in a group if you’re in an unfamiliar part of town.  Be safe—while also being classy!

10. Take Some “You” Time!

While it’s great to have an eventful summer, remember to relax and focus on you.  Some alone time can be a good thing.  Keep a journal, decorate your room, shop around the mall—do something that you enjoy that doesn’t necessarily have to be done with other people all the time.

Your entire summer shouldn’t be limited to these ten things, but the most important concept is making sure that you maintain an active summer but also get that feeling of elation.  After all, you did make it through that school year; perhaps you didn’t get all the grades you wanted, or perhaps you were more stressed out than you would have liked.  But regenerating over the summer can certainly lead to a more positive school year in the fall.  The more relaxed and prepared you are for the upcoming semester, the more successful you will be.

 

 

Summer Makeovers Just In Time for School

Starting now, there are just over two months of summer until we hit the books! Two months is plenty of time to change for the better and look amazing next time you walk onto campus. I have come up with a few ideas that can really help improve your outer appearance this summer. All of my ideas can be accomplished in two months with a little dedication and a lot of self-control.

The first one involves weight. If you feel that shedding a few pounds will help you to feel better about the way you look there are a few things that you need to start on right away. Your diet is essential when trying to drop extra weight fast. Cut out all sugary beverages, especially pop. If you are a routine pop drinker, simply cutting it out will instantly allow you to drop a couple pounds and feel less bloated. Along with beverages you need to watch what you eat. Try and cut out extra calories you don’t need such as condiments. Eat grilled food instead of fried. Eat a side of veggies or fruit instead of a side of fries. You might feel like your depriving yourself at first, but eating healthy can be fun and become a habit. I used to drink a soft drink a day, I completely cut it from my diet about three years ago and now the thought of drinking it makes me sick. I don’t even want it anymore, the closest I get to carbonation is carbonated water and that’s a rarity.

Besides your diet, you need cardio! Cardio is the only way to burn fat. I hate to break it to you, but sitting still doing yoga poses is not going to burn the fat you want. You have to get busy. Either run, bike, elliptical, or swim. You need something to really get you moving in order to lose extra weight.

If you are satisfied with your weight but you’re what they call “skinny fat,” which is skinny but not toned, it’s time to tone up. Try working with dumbbells to get your arms toned and pretty. Do lunges with weights in your hands to tone up your legs and squats to tone your booty. Yoga and Pilates come in handy for toning as well. You could also do abs videos.  Doing abs in a video always helps me work a little harder than trying to do crunches on my own. There are tons of videos on YouTube that can strengthen your stomach and help you get the lean look you desire. One of my favorites is Thin Q ten minute abs. This video has really helped me out because it slows the abs down and makes you really feel them. You need to do abs every other day, doing them every day will actually not allow you to see the results you want to see.

Another idea to help improve your appearance besides weight is hairstyle. You don’t have to dye your hair a new color to create a change. Try to either grow it out or cut a new style. This summer my goal is to grow mine really long! Another thing to try is to get a nice and pretty tan. Jergen’s natural glow lotion is a healthy way to get an even all over tan in just a week!

Have fun this summer and get to work! It will all be worth it when you walk onto campus confident and happy with the way you look. Surprise all your friends with the new you! Come ready to tackle the books without anything else in your way, be healthy, active, and happy this coming school year.

-Speedy G.

It Is Time to Stop Stressing Out

In college, sometimes things get tough. I’m going to shed some light on how you can help yourself get through these “tough” times and not get too stressed out.

Scenario number one: I need a job! Money is tight for most all college students. If you have time to work but are worried you won’t be able to find a job in your new town, don’t be! I moved from Iowa to Omaha and I wanted a job more than anything. You have to be proactive. I went around to various stores and introduced myself to many managers.  I filled out numerous applications and sure enough, quickly got multiple interviews. The key is to look for a job right at the beginning of the school year. Most part time jobs have seasonal workers who maybe live in your college town but go to school elsewhere. When these employees to away to school, they need people to fill their shoes fast during the school year, it’s perfect! Be confident and go get em!

Scenario number two: Homework overload! College is interesting because although you will suddenly have an abundance of free time, you will also find yourself with insane amounts of homework. If you put two and two together, do your homework in your free time! I know it doesn’t sound like the most fun to use your free time for your studies, but it will benefit you. If you use time between classes or at lunch to study, you can use your evenings to relax. I’ve found myself mastering the art of getting everything done early in the day or afternoon; it’s so nice to be able to relax when dinner time rolls around.

Scenario number three: I got dumped! I know the initial thing to do after being dumped is going to one extreme or the other. Either you don’t eat or you eat the whole pantry. Either you don’t sleep or you sleep your life away. Either you don’t work out or you never stop. Point is, neither extreme is healthy. College brings change that sometimes high school relationships or summer flings can’t handle. If you find yourself suddenly riding solo, embrace it! Think of all the new fish in the college sea. I know at first it will seem as though no one can compare to the one you were with, truth is; only time will tell. If you are supposed to be with that person, eventually it will happen if not, it might as well end sooner than later.  Have fun, remain confident, and don’t always think you NEED to be in a relationship to be happy.

Scenario number four: I’ve gained weight! Everyone has heard of the so called, “freshman 15.” It’s true that college can initially lead to weight gain. This is due to eating at later times in the night, eating more fast food, and not working out as much. Alcohol is also one of the main causes of weight gain in college students.  To fix your sudden weight gain, start with eating right. Pick meals that include each food group, and attempt to snack less. Along with eating the right foods, try and eat all your food before 9 at night. The later you eat, the more food sticks on your body once you sleep. Eating breakfast is one of the main contributors to a healthy diet. Breakfast gets your metabolism going sooner, and leads to less hunger overall throughout the day. If you must go to a fast food restaurant to eat, try and pick a subway or order off the lower calorie menu. The best advice is to just avoid fast food. Other things to avoid include pop and alcohol. These beverages are loaded with a ridiculous amount of calories. If you feel a good workout is in order, just do it! Now that the weather is getting nice, try going for a run or a bike ride. Getting active is a step in the right direction.

I hope if any of my scenarios related to you, my advice will also. Have an awesome last few weeks of school!

-Speedy G.

College Food Pyramid

My parents are in the next cycle of college visits. First it was my older brothers, then it was my turn, and now it’s on to my little brother, the baby of the family. As they jump from school to school some things seem to blend together—nice campus, good “quad” space, excellent facilities etc. However the one area that I wasn’t expecting to get a progress report on was the dining halls and food options. At least when I was getting ready to jet set off to school, I almost forgot to check out the accommodations. I figured, “How bad can it be? I’m sure they are all the same!”. But when you stop to consider it, how do your dining options stack up? How do you navigate through it all to make sure you are eating right and still getting a little of the college feel for food?

My mom was shocked at some of the schools—they really had a lot to choose from! From little markets, to pizzerias, to actual chain restaurants right smack in the union. She called me saying, “How do kids do it? They have so much food here, how does everyone keep the weight off?”. While weight is a tricky topic, some keep it off, some don’t, she was right in saying that the choices can be overwhelming. When should we indulge in treats, and when should we stick to the basics? Where are the good eats and where are they hiding the bad treats?

I look at dining halls in a couple of ways—take your school union for example. I’m sure that there are campus “fast-food” options, ready to pick up, and eat so you can run to class. At my school there is a sandwich stop, a pizza place, a stand that is also ready to serve chicken fingers and fries, and grill type option. In theory, all great food, but not so much if you are trying to watch the pounds.

Then there is the stable “Dining Hall”. Every day there is a different hot meal, your typical meat, vegetable, and carb. There are often different stations you can filter through—a salad bar, a soup stop, meat “carver”, a fruit bar—the options seem endless. You figure, “Hey, it’s all here, why not try it all”. In my opinion, that’s where we all go wrong.

The food on any campus is not going to be gourmet seven days a week, but it certainly isn’t down right bad for you. There are staples that help to create reliable balanced meals whatever your tastes are. You can stick to the planned meal; pick up whatever they are serving as a complete plate. However, most students take this as phase one. I’ve got the plate—what else can I add?

Students go from having a balanced meal—probably right in the zone for calories—a little protein, a potato of some sort (fries kind of count), and a vegetable. Then they add soup, grab some pasta, and maybe throw in a sandwich. Pretty soon it all starts to add up and before you know it, you have a full tray complete with soda, water, or a Powerade. Dining halls can be dangerous. Your eyes are almost always bigger than your stomach and anything can happen.

On the one hand you could eat everything on your plate—good for the kitchen, bad for your waistline. On the other hand, you could have all the food and really only touch a few things and shove peas around your plate. Students don’t realize how much food goes to waste when they pile up the plates on their tray only to discover they really aren’t that hungry later.

An important rule of thumb to consider when navigating your dining hall or school eating options is moderation. This isn’t the last time you are eating all week—it’s just one meal! Stick to the normal stuff, don’t pack it all on your tray! There will be more food in a few hours, tomorrow and the next day. It seems like you have to try it everything before some other student sneaks up behind you and takes it all, but I promise that won’t happen.

Try to align your eyes with you stomach and shoot for what you need as opposed to all the food you want—you could be making trips back and forth for hours if that’s the case. Food options can be tough, but remember that anything is good in moderation and small portions of anything can be great—as long as you don’t go overboard! Us your conscious as your food GPS and stick to the stuff that your mind and your body would say yes to. Maybe opt out of the ice cream bar and the choc chip cookie and settle for just one!

-Ring Queen

I’m reading Statistics for Behavioral Sciences

The Benefits of Riding Your Bike to Class

Who needs a car when you’ve got a bike? Gas prices are climbing and they’re expected to reach $5 per gallon or more. That’s just crazy. And I’m sure you’ve heard of another little thing that’s going around called global warming. What’s going on with our environment is just crazy too. So lock up your cars and do some stretches. You’re about to be schooled in how you can change your life by simply busting out your trusty bicycle.

You’ve most likely seen someone on campus biking or skateboarding around (heck, I live in the snowiest city of the US and I still see kids biking in blizzards). Maybe you’ve made fun of them for taking up the road or for having a goofy looking bike. Perhaps you’ve mocked their helmet hair or saw them get almost hit by a bus and had a mini heart attack—and don’t let this turn you off to bike riding; only the bikers not paying attention get in the way of a bus (crazies!). Laugh all you want because those foot pedalers are saving green in more ways than one.

Bike riding is good for you and the environment. You’ve likely heard all this before. Oh, I can build some muscles if I ride my bike for half an hour today. I won’t pollute the earth if I leave behind my car for this shopping trip. You think you can’t really make a difference. You think biking won’t really make a difference in your life. Err, wrong!

For starters, riding a bike can make a test day tolerable. By cycling to class on a fine morning, your stress will noticeably diminish. And if you keep this up every day for the week, your anxiety and any depression you feel will greatly reduce. It gives you time to take in nature—or, you know, all the buildings between your apartment and campus—clear your head, take in fresh air and relax. So, really, a bike ride is like taking a mini mental health day.

By riding your bike to class, you will actually make time to exercise. It can be hard to find time to go to the gym or sign up for a workout type elective. Between homework, internships or jobs, poor campus food and a lot of your day spent sitting behind a desk, those pounds will add on without you even noticing. Biking will give you a chance to tone up your legs, get in the cardio, increase your mobility, and just make you feel better about yourself.

If you’re concerned about leaving a carbon footprint, bike riding can haul that worry away. Not only will your car not be sputtering out harmful pollutants, you’ll also use less gas overall, which is a definite benefit with the world’s problems right now. With a four mile trip, you save us all 15 pounds of pollutants. Imagine if you and everyone you knew contributed to that! Also, instead of needing new roads and driving routes, you can take a scenic route and stick to the sidewalk, helping to save materials and keep nature as it should be—without a highway cutting through it. Plus, supplies for bikes don’t require the deforestation necessary for rubber plants and bio-fuels used in other transportation methods (aka the car).

Biking can also become a great way to meet new people and enhance existing relationships. Some people don’t like to drive to a store alone. So get them to bike with you instead. Believe it or not, just seeing you bike ride every day will inspire your neighbors and others to lower their environmental impact and work out on their way to work or school. You’ll be like a modern day gang…without the bandanas and violence.

And if that wasn’t enough to convince you, think of all the traffic you can avoid, alternate routes you can take, animals you can save (especially if you’re not a good driver), and the excuse to wear tight biking shorts without feeling like a total weirdo.

Oh, yeah, and it’s the third most popular activity in England, so if you want to pick up a cute Brit, biking could break the ice!

-ToonyToon

I’m reading A History of Western Art