Staying Healthy in College

The Holidays are upon us; an open invitation for all things festive, colorful and…delicious. For many people, the defining moments of the holidays often revolve around food. Whether it’s baking cookies in the kitchen or sitting down to a dinner feast, the Holidays are a time to rightfully indulge. That being said, there are times where being indulgent should be kept in moderation. Keeping an active, healthy lifestyle in general should be a main priority for everyone, but sometimes it can be difficult to do so with so many other commitments. Often, we allow regular life to get in the way of our own health, and that is not the way it should be.

As college students, staying fit and healthy may seem like a demanding prospect. We cannot deny that everything we approach, even keeping ourselves healthy, is a time-commitment. Many of us are so busy with rigorous schedules and heavy course-loads that it may feel as though we cannot make the time to stay fit. We say that we will go to the gym, but another week flies by without some cardio work-out. It may be easier to reach for the chicken nuggets than the salad when we’re in a rush at the dining hall. And of course, we’ve all had those nights where we struggle to finish our work through sleep-deprived eyes in the wee hours of the morning. These issues are commonplace for college students, yet can be alleviated with a few simple lifestyle changes. While it is vital for us to focus on our academic and social successes, taking care of our physical well-being can most definitely be mindfully integrated within our schedules. Whether you’re looking for a new routine, wanting to stay fit during “off-season,” or hoping to boost your energy, staying healthy in college does not need to be mission impossible.

Tip #1: Make a “Work-Out” Schedule

There is no denying the obvious and widely-known health benefits of regular exercise. According to the Harvard Business Review, staying fit in college does not only correlate with higher rates of psychological well-being, but also lower chances of becoming seriously ill. Before coming to college, I found it very hard to get to the gym because I felt as though I never had time to go. The real reason is that I never set aside time to go to the gym in the first place. With access to fitness centers all across campus, I knew I could not take that for granted. When you review out your schedule, see when you have substantial breaks that can be used for working out. For example, let’s say your classes end early Monday and Wednesday. Those afternoons can be set aside for gym days. The Harvard Review mentions that twenty-minute bursts of intense work outs at least three times a week can be sufficient. Make sure the time spent at the gym and the time between or after classes is realistic and manageable. Also, adding rest days are great for recuperating and taking a break on those very hectic days!

Feeling tired after a long day of classes? Going to gym is actually a natural energy booster (as long as you have the energy to get yourself to the gym)!

Tip #2: Work-Outs: Mix It Up

The key to staying fit is consistency, aka making sure that if you make a plan, you should stick to it as close as you possible can. However, getting into a routine may seem a little boring, so its a good idea to switch up workouts and do a variety of exercises. For me, working out was not part of my “routine” before going to college. Therefore, I was not sure what to do when I first entered the Cook/Douglass fitness center. A good place to start for anyone who is unfamiliar with working out is cardio. This includes running, biking, dancing, and utilizing a treadmill, elliptical, or other cardio device. From heart-pumping cardio, you can move onto strength exercises like weights or machines. Studies show that strength exercises actually burn more residual (post-work-out) calories than cardio exercises do. Also, do not forget to stretch! Having a variety of exercises will not only work out more of your body, but also keep working out exciting. Having a gym buddy, especially an experienced one, is also a wonderful way to stay motivated with each other, try new things, and do a larger number of workouts together.

If going to the gym is not your thing, Rutgers actually offers many really awesome Fitness programs that I feel are definitely worth looking into! There are several activities throughout the year, such as Zumba sessions and various clubs, that can be great ways to get a fun and intensive work out.

Tip #3: Food: Don’t Limit, Expand

I will not even hold back – I do love food. When I go into the dining hall, of course the pizza is going to catch my eye before the salad does. That being said, limiting food or starving yourself is not the way to go when wanting to stay healthy. Instead, try diversifying your plate while keeping this in mind: 1/2 leafy green vegetables, 1/4 protein, and 1/4 starch/grain. That way, you can remain satisfied with that pizza, but also get nutrients needed from a delicious, crisp salad. Outside the dining halls, college students love their ramen and other proceed goodies. However, cutting down on processed food often results in feeling psychically better overall. Some great alternative (and energy-packed) snacks are frozen grapes, almonds, bananas, trail mix (hopefully home-made), yogurt, and veggies with hummus, so keep your dorm-room fridge chock-full of healthy, delicious options. The most important thing to remember with eating is to make sure you eat and drink enough water during college and maintain a balance for maximum health and wellness.

Tip #4: Get Enough Sleep!

Sure, this is far easier said than done, and I definitely need more help with this one as well. The severity of this situation is made clear when you consider that only about 11% of college students get enough sleep. Still, there are ways to tackle this troubling issue. One way is time management, and one step ahead of that is actually creating and sticking to a sleeping schedule. The key to a sleeping schedule is to always stick to it, or at least as close to it, as possible – even during the weekends. 7-9 hours is vital for maximum energy and focus, and leads to a less chance of having poor health overall. More sleep also results in higher academic success and lower chances of dropping out, so catch those Zs!

These are the ways that have personally helped me stay active and ultimately find balance within the hectic college life. I truly do believe that staying healthy is important because it helps you feel better overall and carries over to all aspects of your student life. Ever since I’ve become more health-conscious, I find myself having more energy to do the things I love and stay focused for school. Granted, before I came to college, I was not exactly a “fitness guru.” After I took a year off from dance my senior year in high school, I admittedly struggled staying fit. I was constantly eating out and staying up late for no valid reason. My gym membership card barely exceeded its use as a key chain. It soon dawned on me that I could not keep up this lifestyle which was not only draining me, but also might have dire effects on me later on since my family has a history of cardiovascular issues. When I finally started college, I decided that I would change my ways and balance studying with staying healthy. It was more than just avoiding the freshmen fifteen – it was a conscious effort to maintain my health and my energy. With these tips, I have been able to keep up with staying fit while not sacrificing too much time. In fact, when you approach staying healthy as a part of everyday life, it does not have to be a chore.

So, treat yourself to the dessert table on Winter Break, but don’t forget to enjoy some iron-packed spinach during dinner and find some time to work out after the food coma concludes!

Prepping for Finals

The last few days have been blissful because of Thanksgiving break, the delicious homemade food and the copious amounts of therapeutic shopping. However, the stress of finals is almost here. In a few days, we will start crying over last minute assignments, drowning in coffee and staying awake for three days straight. It’s so tempting to get in the holiday spirit right away and to get carried away, but if we want excellent grades we should start studying now. Here are a few basic yet essential tips to help you prepare for the vicious exam cycle ahead of time:


  1. Plan ahead! This is pretty obvious but instead of just saying that you will study an hour a day, try to set small portions of material assigned to a specific date. Write all of the exam/assignment dates and set a little amount to study each day leading up to your specific exam. Set weekends or free days aside for larger 2-3 hour study blocks. If you purposely fall behind, punish yourself. Force yourself to study extra the next day or have a friend push you and make sure you keep up. Even try to make studying a competition between you and your friends to increase your motivation level.
  2. Be active not passive. One of the best ways to actively study instead of flipping through your notes is to grab a sheet of paper and to write whatever you remember from memory. After you have done that, go back and add information you missed. For subjects that require extensive memorization this is one of the best methods to actually remember. Another way to learn the material instead of memorizing it word for word is to study with a friend that takes the same class and to teach the material to them. My friends and I often take turns teaching each other biology in the library study rooms, and even end up covering a lot more material together then we would on our own.
  3. Practice tests. The best way to test your knowledge is to have exam simulations. If your professor doesn’t offer practice tests, ask other friends taking the same subject for their practice exams or even try to search them up on the Rutgers departmental page. If all else fails, google practice tests and look through your homework/textbook to make your own mini test. Highlighting and rereading is not always the best strategy, it’s better to do bad on practice tests and to learn from your mistakes than to be stuck on the actual exam.

The countdown to finals is ticking. The tips above may have just been a reiteration from some, but I hope they serve as a reminder for everyone to stop procrastinating. Hope everyone enjoyed their break. Good Luck!

My Evolving Understanding of Thanksgiving

I think I’m finally at the point in my life where Thanksgiving means a little more than the turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce on the table. Growing up, Thanksgiving meant just that, giving thanks. We were taught to be grateful on this particular day in the year, what with the rich history of our country, and the strong tradition that had been carried on since. I’ll add some cliché to this by saying that college has opened my eyes to a whole new meaning of the word and the holiday.

College is a time of reflection and personal growth, and one thing I’ve noticed is that there is so much more occurring in the world that I can imagine. When someone goes to college, his / her world no longer consists of high school, family, and friends. My world has grown, both literally and metaphorically, and I’ve come to realize how many people there are and how many differences we have.

I could defeat the purpose of this post by providing a detailed list of the individual things for which I used to be grateful and a more updated list of the things I’m now grateful for. But one of the realizations I’ve come to is that Thanksgiving isn’t really about listing all the things that are going well in your life and counting your blessings for just those things. Rather, this holiday is about appreciating where you are in your life, and for being thankful for that place as a whole.

I’m thankful for being slightly confused, very determined, and absolutely enamored by what college has offered me thus far. I’m grateful for having chosen a school that allows me to share my thoughts, raise my voice, and speak up when I feel something.  I’m so glad I attend a college that has expanded my world and my views in ways I would never imagine.  And above all, I’m grateful to have been exposed to people and ideas that have brought me to this very realization. I hope everyone has a great holiday. I hope each of you appreciates where you are in your life, and I hope that this year, your “What I’m Thankful For” List has grown beyond belief. Happy Thanksgiving, Rutgers.


We Desperately Need to Vote

As ashamed as I am to admit it, I didn’t vote for my hometown’s local elections. The logistics of squeezing it in between classes and parts of my daily routine simply escaped my grasp. I take slight solace in knowing I’m not the only one to pass out on voting. But not enough solace to wash my hands of it all.

Poll results from claim a sad 19.9% of college students voted in the 2014 presidential election. Understanding that a presidential elections attract a significantly greater amount of interest than local elections, this statistic must be lower. In fact, usually about 20% of a municipality’s citizens vote in a local election. Drawing from these two, it’s hard not to ask if only 4% of Rutgers students voted this November.

To me, 4% sounds optimistic. Knowing how busy we are and how voting isn’t really a habit for us, local elections probably pass by without a blink from students. And this is disappointing because naturally students are interested in making educated decisions; and voters of that kind are the best kind.

Now sometimes if we don’t vote, we face consequences, which my hometown might face: a local ice-cream shop owner was elected as a Board of Education representative. I loved his business’ ice cream, but I absolutely no idea what qualifications he had other than injecting a “businessman’s mind into government.” But I guess when you smile, shake a lot of hands, and keep the conversation only on “resident’s money,” people stop caring about qualifications.

I truly hope that Rutgers students head to the polls for the 2016 election. There’s another businessman eying up the  Oval Officeand his name need not be mention.


Here are some tips:

  1. Make an organized schedule. Don’t just think of things, actually write down what you have to do and when you should do it.
  2. Cross off things off your list as you complete them. It’s a confidence booster and it motivates you to want to finish the rest of the items on the list.
  3. Break down studying into chunks, and assign yourself different chunks to study on different days. This way you’re more likely to study and it’ll appear like less material, yet build up to everything in the end.
  4. Plan the bigger chunks of tasks ahead of time. This way you’ll accomplish more sooner and feel more relieved about dealing with the large task.
  5. Do more important tasks first, or if task is equally important, do the one you like the least first. This way you’ll end with the task you’d prefer to do.


Cold Weather Tips for Students

With the weather changing, sunny days and warm breezes have slowly transitioned into whipping winds and overcast afternoons. After much thought (and experience), I’ve decided to put together some tips to help you stay warm and dry as the weather becomes dreary. After all, a warm spirit and body will help you focus on your studies and be the best you can be!

Layers, layers, layers– This may seem intuitive, but wearing at least 3 layers will usually help keep that bone-chilling wind outside of your garments. First, a soft and comfortably shirt, either a long sleeve or a t-shirt will be suffice, but try and make this the most comfortable layer! Next, a sweater or long sleeve shirt will do, but make sure it is not bulky. Functionality is key here as one does not want to keep stripping layers in class. Finally, a jacket or fleece that is easy to remove will be the final layer. Let the latter be your variable in maintaining comfort.

Waterproof boots or shoes– As one has perhaps noticed, it rains here often. There is nothing worst than going to class with cold and damp shoes, and more disparagingly, socks! I always keep a pair of dry socks in the bottom pocket of my backpack (I’m a commuter after all). However, a quality pair of boots or sneakers with a waterproof rating will easily become your best friend. I suggest looking at Dicks Sporting Goods or on Amazon for a nice pair (often some fashionable ones can be found online).

Wool jacket/pea coat– It is no wonder the Navy uses wool pea coats as standard issue, they are warm and cozy. Also, wool will keep you warm even if it gets wet. One note of caution however, wool is itchy, so be sure to have a protective layer underneath. Army/Navy stores will usually carry a variety of sizes for around 80$.

Gloves, hats, ear warmers– Nothing hurts more than the cold bite of Fall/Winter on your bodily extremities, so be sure to get a decent and easily stowed pair of gloves, a hat and/or ear warmers. Trust me, waiting for the EE on College ave can be horrid without these essentials. Make sure they easily fit in your backpack or purse!

Pocket warmers– These little square pouches, usually found at larger stores such as Walmart and Target, are not necessary, but most certainly efficient means to keep you warm on the coldest or rainiest of days. Simply activate the unit and place it in your pocket for hours of warmth and comfort.

Hopefully the latter tips will provide some ideas on how to keep warm while traversing our large Rutgers campus! Remember, layers of comfortable clothes, waterproof shoes, and protection for the extremities are a must!

Where You Belong

Throughout our entire academic lives we have heard of the importance of extra curricular activities.  When I was in high school I joined every student organization that sounded like it could get me into a notable university.  Now that I’ve made it to RU I’ve realized that I can actually join clubs that I’m interested in.

This year I joined Rutgers Bhangra team. It has been one of the most enjoyable experiences for me.  I’m not only a part of a team- but a family.

This past weekend I had the honor of being a part of my first event as a member of the Association of Punjabis at Rutgers (APRU).  This event, Bhangra on the Banks 3, was a smashing success and attracted over 400 people.  The feeling of being a part of the few who actually made this happen was so rewarding.  I’ve met some of the best people at Rutgers through this club.

I have become a part of organizations that I truly enjoy being a part of.  I love the feeling of knowing that I have accomplished something and become a part of something I truly love. I encourage you all to find something you’re passionate about and do the same.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity Rutgers.

Get Promoted to Manager: Using Your Time Effectively

When I say to you “time management” what comes to mind? My bet is on color-code planners, complicated schedules, detailed to-do lists and other paraphernalia of organization. I’d also bet that those thoughts make you tense your shoulders, pinch the bridge of your nose, and clench your jaw with the crippling fear that you might not be getting the most out of every possible second of your life experiences.

Well, take a deep breath, because I’m not here to lecture you about the best way to put together a binder or tips to reduce the length of your wake-up routine. Because, whether you’re a high school senior set on maximizing your last few months as top dog or a college student trying to maximize the return on your tuition investment, time management is not about cramming as many activities as possible into a single day, but about getting as much out of the time you spend as possible.

While this might seem obvious, and almost redundant, it’s a concept that continues to escape even the highest-achieving students. Let me give you an example.

Last year, I would sit down at the end of a day to write a paper before I started any of my other assignments. I’d sit in front of my computer four, maybe six hours if it was a long one, banging out the words with occasional guilty wanderings down my Facebook or twitter timeline and a running commentary on my snapstory. These nights ended with me banging out a mediocre paper until two in the morning and then still not having finished any of my other assignments, let alone gotten sleep. Not optimal time management, I think you will agree.

Let’s fast-forward to the “reinvented” sophomore Celine! The last few papers I’ve written, I followed this system: First, I got a good night’s sleep. Then, I woke up and wrote the papers in two hours. Bam.

I still got the same amount of tasks accomplished, and in roughly the same amount of time as I did on any given “paper night” last year, but instead of spending six hours frustratedly writing and guiltily procrastinating and maybe four asleep, I spent eight sleeping and two writing. This reapportioning is smarter time management in a nut-shell: My time remains the same, but my quality of life is increased because more sleep = happier, healthier Celine and a fresher brain, which means faster writing and better papers.

Little switches of perspective like that can help you re-prioritize your planning to really get what you’re paying for at college. Remember, it’s not about what you do, but how you do it: That’s management.

Getting Involved Without an Agenda

One of the most common suggestions I received before entering college was to get involved. I’d heard it from staff, program directors, upperclassmen, and friends. I’ve brushed off quite a few things in my life, and this suggestion was one of them. Go for the resume builders, I convinced myself, don’t do anything that won’t bolster your resume or your academic career. From the mere 2 months of college that I’ve experienced, I can safely say that getting truly involved in our college community means more than just attending classes and going to career fairs. Getting involved isn’t about hitting up every frat house on College Ave. It isn’t about snagging free food and merchandise; (although those are pretty nice I’ll admit) it’s about finding what you like and hunting it down.

Getting involved is going to a slam poetry showcase on feminism and learning that gender issues and poetry don’t always have to be boring subjects. Getting involved is about meeting the man behind Humans of New York, and maybe being a little inspired along the way. Getting involved is about exploring the different animals that share a home with us on Cook/ Douglass. It’s about going to a seminar on space and discovery. It’s about climbing the Rockwall, or participating in Dance Marathon. It’s about understanding that the world of opportunities is at your fingertips.

Wear your tie, sharpen your pencils, and update your LinkedIn profiles, sure, but don’t forget how great it feels to sing your heart out with your floormates at Karaoke Night, or how inspired that speaker made you feel. Remind yourself that these are your years to be goofy, impressed, outspoken, infatuated, and completely passionate about whatever it is that interests you.

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