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Planks and Peanut Butter

A college girl's guide to healthy living

The Perfect Dorm-Room Plant

Looking for some vegetation for your dorm room that won’t die when you forget to water it all week? Succulents are the way to go. These cute plant buddies only need watering once a week or every other week.

They may be small, but a succulent adds a pop of green to what may be a dull cinderblock dorm room. Succulents come in many varieties and there are thousands cute pots to plant them in. Check out these creative pots on Etsy, or make your own.

Make sure to plant your succulent in a pot with holes in the bottom so water can drain. When you bring your little baby home, give it a good dousing of water so the soil is wet to the core and water starts to spill through the drainage holes in the pot. After a week, check to see if the soil is still moist. If it is, wait another week to water. Smaller pots may need to be watered more often because they can’t hold as much water as larger pots.

Succulents need more water in the spring, when they first start growing, than they do in the summer or winter. They’re very durable and can usually survive a plane ride from school to home (if packaged carefully in a carry-on bag).

For more information on how to take care of your succulent, read this Better Homes & Gardens article.

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First Day of Spring!

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Although the flowers may not be blooming quite yet, there are still several things you can do to get into the spring spirit:

-Plan what you’re going to grow this summer: Gardens can take a long time to plan out and construct, so start thinking about what you’d like to grow, where you’re going to plant, and where you’re going to buy your seeds or starter plants. Challenge: try getting your plants from a farmer’s market or local nursery rather than a chain store like Walmart or Lowe’s.

-Do some spring cleaning: Vacuuming isn’t very high on my list of things I like to do in my free time, but I always feel more relaxed and ready to tackle challenges after I clean up my room. It’s been shown that clutter can make people feel anxious or distracted, so try organizing your things and only keeping out what’s most important or inspirational for your daily life. Challenge: make some cute spring decorations for your dorm room or front door.

-Get outside: whether you’re in Florida where it’s 78 or you’re in New Hampshire where it’s 40, spend some time outside. Nature is starting to wake up, and you can witness some amazing things, like baby birds being born or trees growing their first buds. It’s the perfect time to use the camera that’s been sitting in your closet since Christmas. Plus, sunshine can increase your mood and help you get started on that summer tan!

Spring is a Mindset

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Although the gray skies and unseasonably chilly temperatures can be depressing, just remember that the best is yet to come. Spring is only two days away, so stay positive — the warm weather and flowers will be here soon!

 

Put Down the Laptop and Treat Yo’Self

We all have those days — get up early to finish a paper, spill coffee on your white jeans, and walk through campus in the rain, only to find out your class is cancelled. It’s days like these when you feel like the world is out to get you. However, these kind of days are the perfect time for a little pick-me-up.

As a college student on the go, I don’t usually have much down time for activities I enjoy. But when I have a rough day or I find myself especially stressed out, I like to take time to craft or build something with my hands. Making origami, drawing, and painting toenails are just the beginning.

I love cutting up old t-shirts and making something new out of them. Whether I wear the shirt to the gym or just to bed, it’s a refreshing change and gives me time to let my mind wander as I shred and color until it’s unrecognizable. Here are some examples of “t-shirt rejuvenation,” as I like to call it:

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Click here for instructions.
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Click here for instructions.

If you’re looking to really pamper yourself during a difficult day, treat yourself to getting your nails done (yes, professionally, not by your roommate), ordering that little something you’ve had in your Etsy cart for weeks, or getting a gourmet cupcake.

Not everything has to involve spending money, either. You can watch a movie you haven’t seen in years, plan something special for the future, or mix up a fancy drink you found on Pinterest.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure to treat yourself every so often because let’s face it: we can’t dominate the world 24/7.

Healthy Ramen

Ramen: it’s the classic college staple that anyone can buy without breaking their weekly budget. And although it’s relatively high in calories and fat (Nissin Top Ramen has about 14 grams of fat in one package), there are ways to make it somewhat healthy for those days when you just can’t deal with campus food.

A classic stir fry: In a skillet on medium heat, cook 4 ounces of chicken strips until brown (about 5 minutes). Cook ramen as you would, in the microwave or on the stove. Steam 1 cup of broccoli, 1 cup of carrots, 1 cup of mushrooms, and any other veggies you desire. In a bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of low-sodium soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, ¼ cup of shallots, and 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds and whisk until incorporated. Transfer the chicken, vegetables, noodles, and sauce to a skillet on low and mix. Let cook for a couple of minutes and then dig in. This recipe gives you three servings of veggies, plenty of protein, and some tasty Asian cuisine.

A crunchy salad: Lay 1 cup of sliced almonds and 2 packages of crunched-up ramen on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 3-4 minutes, toss the mixture around on the sheet to prevent burning, and bake again for another 3-4 minutes. In a bowl, combine ½ a cup of green onions and 6 cups of your favorite salad mixture (this could be lettuce, spinach, and carrots; or a mixture of cabbages; or any other leafy combination). Toss in the almonds and ramen and top with an Asian salad dressing (or use a homemade dressing made of sesame oil, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, and dried ginger, if you’re feeling adventurous). Add some grilled chicken if you’re looking for more protein. Makes about 4 servings.

A spicy rendition: Marinate 4 ounces of chicken in 3 tablespoons of low-sodium soy sauce and 3 tablespoons of green onions overnight. The next day, saute a yellow and red bell pepper and a sweet vidalia onion (all cut into strips) in canola oil for four minutes. Add in 2 tablespoons of sriracha sauce during the last minute. In a separate skillet, add 1 teaspoon of ground ginger to the chicken and cook until brown, about 5 minutes. Either make half a package of ramen or make a full one and save half for later. Combine the ramen, chicken, and vegetables in a bowl and enjoy!

Friday Workout

In need of a quickie? A quick workout, that is –

Try this HIIT workout, doing each exercise for 30 seconds with little to no rest in between. Do each set three times in a row, then move on to the next set. Take a 30 to 60 second break between each set.

Set 1:

Exercise 1: push ups. Exercise 2: squat jumps. Exercise 3: Russian twists with 10 to 16 pound weight.

Set 2:

Exercise 1: plank jacks with push up in between. Exercise 2: mountain climber with a twist. Exercise 3: bicycle.

Set 3:

Exercise 1: plank rows with six to 12 pound weights. Exercise 2: skaters (hold a 10 pound weight if you want to make it more difficult). Exercise 3: single-leg glute bridge.

Remember: HIIT workouts are effective because they involve going all-out during each exercise, for the full 30 seconds. So, keep working hard until the break, and if you need to catch your breath or get some water, give yourself an extra 15 seconds rather than doing the next exercise poorly.

 

2017

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New Year’s resolutions give us the chance to solidify our goals and re-center our lives around the things we care about. But these resolutions don’t have to be massive or life-changing; they can be as simple as learning how to ballroom dance or mastering that cat-eye look you’ve been wanting to try.

Usually, I’ve forgotten what my New Year’s resolution was by May. This year, I’m going to try a new tactic: a new month’s resolution. Each month, I’m going to focus on a different goal of mine, such as to try new vegetables or read an entire book for fun.

If you’re at a loss for what your new month or New Year’s resolution should be, here are some ideas to get you started:

-Spend 15 minutes each day pampering yourself (massaging your feet, painting your nails, turning off electronics and practicing mindful breathing, coloring)

-Reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while

-Volunteer

-Write a poem every day (haikus count)

-Learn how to make a new breakfast, lunch, or dinner recipe to spice up your usual cuisine

-Practice complimenting people (it will make their day!)

-Try a workout class that is difficult for you

-Start a blog 😉

Study Break

Tired of studying for finals? Take a break and let your mind drift for a while. Make a bracelet or origami, color a picture, stretch, scrapbook, or do anything creative that doesn’t involve looking at a screen. This will keep your eyes from straining and will help you refocus and stay refreshed once you start studying again.

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HIIT It

Between classes, meetings, and homework, it’s difficult to find time to get to the gym, especially as finals are approaching. But with HIIT workouts, you get some serious bang for your buck: an intense workout that burns 200 to 300 calories, and it only takes about 15 minutes. Crazy, right? I assure you, it does the trick. I’ve been doing HIIT workouts for about two months now and have seen the results: my stamina is better, my muscles have grown visibly, and I’m not as run down by the end of the day.

A HIIT workout involves going all-out on an exercise for 30 to 50 seconds, resting for 10 to 30 seconds, and then moving on to the next exercise. There are usually four to six exercises per cycle. You then repeat the cycle three to five times, with about a minute of rest in between.

The key is to go as hard as possible during each exercise, since they only last about 30 seconds. The rest in between each move lets you catch your breath, but your heart rate stays high as you move on to the next exercise, therefore your body burns fat more quickly than if you were steadily exercising for a longer period of time. It may sound complicated at first, but after your first class or workout, you’ll get the hang of it quickly.

The first time I tried HIIT was at a fitness class at my university’s gym. Starting out with a class is wise because it sets the bar as to how hard you should be working. When practicing HIIT on your own, it’s easy to let yourself slack off or get extra time between each exercise, so make sure to push yourself throughout the workout.

HIIT workouts can become monotonous if you always do the same exercises, and your body will soon adapt, meaning you won’t be working as hard or burning as many calories. This is why it’s important to switch it up. Below are a few HIIT workouts that will keep things interesting and work various parts of the body. Feel free to switch up the times when you get bored – you can try doing one move for 30 seconds and then resting for 10 seconds, then moving on to the next exercise. Or, you can do one move for 50 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, and then move on to the next exercise. 

The Booty Call

  1. Squats with 10-pound weight (or kettlebell)
  2. Single leg hip lifts (do one leg for 15 seconds, then switch to the other leg)edited hip down.jpg hip leg.jpg hip and leg up.jpg
  3. Plank with side step
  4. Squat jumps
  5. Backward lunge into kick (one leg for 15 seconds, then switch to the other leg for 15 seconds)

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Abs Master:

  1. Toe touches
  2. Mountain climbers
  3. Russian twists with 10-pound weight
  4. Renegade rows
  5. Burpees

Leg Day:

  1. Side lunge with twist with 10-pound weight

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2. Split squat

3. Side kick

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4. Jump squat

5. Skaters

Check in each week for more HIIT workouts!

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