The Secret: Exercise!
Upon entering college, you probably had a mild understanding of your objective. Get in. Kick ass. Graduate. Find a job. Make that money. Live happily ever after.
To do so requires a great deal of effort and determination as you have to balance work life, studying, and social life. But there’s a key component that shouldn’t be avoided: Exercise! I know, I know! College is a busy time and some people don’t have time to exercise.
FALSE! Everyone has time!
Everyone has time to exercise. You just gotta learn how to make time! Workouts don’t need to be long and complicated. 10-20 minutes is all that’s required.
Here’s a hypothetical question: What if I told you that your social and academic life could be greatly enhanced by you sacrificing less than a mere hour a week? Think about all of the benefits for a second!
For many college students, gaining the affection and attention of the opposite sex is a large part of the social game. Being attractive never hurt anyone’s chances at finding a partner (or even a random hookup—if that’s your thing). Now, let me clue you in on a secret: Exercise can make you more attractive!
Whether it’s bigger arms or chest for guys or a bigger butt or toned thighs for girls, there’s always something to gain from exercise. These attributes not only make you more well-received by those around you but they also boost your own confidence—further enhancing your self-image and self-esteem.
If those reasons weren’t a compelling enough reason to get you moving, then what about this? The greatest benefit that you can get from exercising as a student is a grade boost. Yes, you read that correctly! Exercise makes your brain work better—it makes you smart(er). According to the book The Athlete’s Way, exercise increase BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor) to overall boost memory and brain performance.
Now that I’ve convinced you to exercise, you might be wondering how you can get it done. Simply reading about it won’t get the brain juices flowing and the blood pumping. Here’s 5 methods that I think will get you looking chiseled, lean, and/or buff in no time:
1. Cut the Crap!
There’s not much to it. Get all of the crappy foods out of your diet. I’m talking about fast food, beer and liquor, and overall fatty snacks. Now, I get it. College sometimes puts you in situations when eating healthy isn’t always an option. Sometimes you just wanna grab chipotle with the gang. And sometimes that happy hour special is just too appealing to turn down. And I’ll admit, eating healthy can be expensive sometimes.
I get it, trust me. The Taco Bell several feet off campus is WAY more convenient than trekking back home to grill some chicken and mix some veggies (for those of you living off campus). I’m not saying you should never eat anything mildly close to junk food again. Just take it down a little and limit your consumption. Moderation is key!
Also, if you live in a dorm and have access to a meal plan, take full advantage of eating healthy. There’s loads of great options to choose from. No excuses!
2. Eat More to Lose More!
Now this is a weird tip. You’re probably wondering how anyone could lose weight while eating more food. Well, there’s a bit of an art to this science that has worked well for me in the past. First, let me say that eating next to nothing won’t help you at all! Your body and metabolism work slightly different than you might imagine.
Basically, by consuming only a single small meal or two in a day, you drastically undershoot how many calories your body needs for fuel. In essence, you’re making your body believe that food is scarce. As a response, it chooses to hold on to what little food it thinks is available by decreasing your metabolism (a key component to helping you burn fat and lose weight).
What I recommend is eating multiple small meals per day (about 6-8 to be exact depending on your size). What this does is allow you to fuel your body while also forcing your body to break down the food naturally and quickly. This, combined with a good diet and the right kind of training, will surely lead to results.
When I first tried this, I thought each meal needed to be a legitimate, full scale meal with various food groups in one sitting. No. I was young, dumb, and just plain wrong. Actually, you should shoot to get about 250-400 calories per meal (again, the calorie amount will vary based on gender, size, goals, etc).
This is actually pretty easy. If you were to consume a protein shake (around 120 calories) and perhaps a breakfast bar (another 120 or so calories) you’ll notice you’be crossed into the smaller end of the spectrum with just two items. It’s not too difficult once you get consistent and plan ahead. This leads to the next point.
3. Plan Ahead and Make Exercise a Habit
This is the part that we’ve been waiting for. You were probably wondering why I included those steps about food while the article is about exercise. Well, from what I’ve witnessed, the diet and exercise aspects are all-encompassing. In order to be healthy and truly feel the results, you need to have balance with both.
Of course, diet is a huge part (some would argue the most important) of being healthy. But now, it’s time for the fun stuff. The exercise is overall what will make the dramatic difference in the classroom. As you exercise, your body releases different neurotransmitters to ease the pain that accompanies a grueling workout.
These neurotransmitters literally make you feel great—no lie. On top of that, it’s been scientifically proven that accomplishing large tasks (exercising in this case) also leads to a better sense of health and well-being and overall self-esteem. The key is to make exercise a habit. You need to do this often! My advice: strive to never go 3 days without working out. Remember, this doesn’t need to be complicated. A workout can take 15-20 minutes. Just plan ahead, strategize, and get it done!
4. Find the Right Tools for the Job
These are honestly unlimited resources to help you work out. Most of them are spectacular. Personally, I’ve used Insanity, Youtube videos, workout articles, and the list goes on. It’s up to you to figure out what you want to get out of exercise. That will determine what you do.
For those of you that want to lose body fat and lose it (relatively) fast, I recommend doing HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), utilizing fasted cardio, and buying a jump rope. HIIT involves bouts of intense cardio followed by an active rest. The major benefits of HIIT is that an intense workout can take 20 minutes and your body will continue to burn fat throughout the day.
Compare that to standard cardio (jogging, running, etc), which usually takes about 45 minutes to get into the fat burning zone and has diminished return as it’s effective mostly as you do it. Fasted cardio is another great skill to utilize. However, in my opinion, it can difficult to do consistently.
Simply put, fasted cardio involves doing light cardio before your first meal in order to target fat. Why? Well, a carbohydrate known as glycogen is at a low point upon first waking up (your body uses it while you’re sleeping and unable to eat). Glycogen acts as an initial source of energy but when it’s depleted, your body begins to utilize fat as a source of energy. Give it a try! But give it time, it’s not an overnight process.
Of course, the downside to fasted cardio is that you’ll need to wake up early enough to use this which can be difficult if you have early classes or work.
Finally, if those options sound too demanding, buy yourself a jump rope. Take 15-20 minutes jump roping at a pace that’s suitable for you. Easy on the joints and easily performed anywhere, jumping rope utilizes multiple muscles simultaneously, allowing you to target fat more effectively than some of the aforementioned cardio practices.
5. Take Classes
If the previous methods overwhelm you for whatever reason, be sure to look into taking classes. Chances are, your local gym or on-campus fitness center has a variety of classes that you can choose from. Being in an environment with other people forces you to really work hard and will dramatically increase your motivation. Also, having instructors teach you how to exercise correctly and safely is always an added bonus.
That’s it! Nothing more from me! All that’s left is to actually put in the work. Trust me, once I started exercising more, I could see a huge difference overall. My confidence, mental clarity, and grades all increased! I think the main thing to remember is to be consistent in your endeavors. Once a week won’t be enough. Shoot for exercising at least 3 times a week if you’re just starting out and then try to work your way up to about 5 times a week (depending on your fitness goals).
Other Sources: [Healthy Mind, Healthy Body], [Scientists Discover why Exercise Makes you Smarter]