Author: Emma Rose Callen

Exercise Tips for College Students

Thomas Jefferson once wrote that we should “give about two of them [that’s hours, people!], every day, to exercise; for health must not be sacrificed to learning. A strong body makes the mind strong.” We all know how hard it can be to find time for exercise during college. Between academic and social obligations, our physical health is something we often neglect. It is important that we find time to be active; there is a great deal of scientific evidence pointing towards the cognitive benefits of exercise. New York Times writer Gretchen Reynolds describes how, in a recent experiment performed on mice at the University of Illinois, mice who ran regularly were found to have more brain cells than those that were sedentary. The mice that ran for a couple weeks had about twice as many neurons as sedentary animals! This study reveals how exercise seems to “slow or reverse the brain’s physical decay,” which starts in your late twenties. So, if you exercise, you are actually “jump-start[ing] neurogenesis,” or the creation of new brain cells! Just like other muscles, you can strengthen your brain.

So, how do you get started? What exercises are best? How can you avoid injuries? Well, that’s where I come in. If you are struggling with picking the perfect exercise routine, this is for you!

Strength Training

Many of us–particularly women– exercise, but neglect strength training. Some women worry that they will become too bulky; this is very unlikely. Strength training helps you become more shapely and trim. According to the trainer Debbie Seibers, “three to four hours after a strength-training workout, you’re still burning calories.” Try lifting weights every third day and see how you feel!

Make Sure to Use Proper Form!

Many people do more harm than good when they lift weights. This is because they do not really know what they are doing. While men tend to pick a weight that is too heavy, women, worried that they will bulk up, pick weights that are too light. Both extremes can lead to incorrect form. According to a study published by The Journal of Applied Physiology, lighter weights can even be more effective at helping you gain more muscle.


Don’t hurt yourself. Many serious injuries arewomen-weight-lifting-exercise caused from lifting weights incorrectly. Disc herniations are very common; if you are in pain when you are picking things up, this may be why. Degenerative disc disease is also very common. writer Kenneth Leung states that this is a “common term that doctors use to describe ‘excessive wear and tear on the spine.’” Leung goes on to say that disease can be worsened if you have poor posture; this includes your posture while you are lifting weights! Leung recommends focusing on hinging at the hips and engaging your core in order to keep your spine properly aligned.

Do your reps slowly! If you are patient and consistent, you will get results. I recommend spending a half an hour lifting weights a couple times a week. Also, if you decide to do cardio on the same day as strength training, I would lift weights first; this way you don’t tire yourself out! For images of correct weightlifting form, check out this page.  

Running: Positives and Negatives

I used to be a runner in high school. Unfortunately, I am prone to knee injuries and had to stop. This is a very common problem among runners. Among the most common injuries are to the IT Band and the achilles tendon.

If you have an IT Band injury, you may feel pain “anywhere from your outside hip bone down to your knee.” In order to prevent these injuries, Leung states that you should keep your knees aligned with your toes and make sure your hips do not sway too much. Leung also recommends the single leg hip hinge in order to strengthen your glutes and hips. I also recommend using a foam roller when you are in pain; this will give you a deep tissue massage.

I know from personal experience how painful tendonitis can be. If you have an achilles tendon injury, you may feel pain in the back part of your heel, all the way up to the Achilles tendon. Unfortunately, these injuries take a long time to heal. Leung recommends resting first in order to decrease inflammation. Then, you should “gradually built up the strength in the calf muscle by doing heel raises.” If you are going to continue running, make sure to stretch your ankles and calves frequently. Leung recommends jumping rope as a warm-up, stating that it will help “strengthen the calves and keep you quick on your feet.”


Another major injury often caused by running is a hamstring tear. If you feel a sharp, shooting pain in the back of your thigh, you probably tore your hamstring. Leung states that this is often caused by “explosive activities like sprinting or jumping.” Unfortunately, it could take years for this to heal. It is important to warm-up in order to avoid this injury.

Sadly, for me, running is not an option; my body is too delicate and prone to injuries. I believe that you are either born to run or you shouldn’t do it. My sister has always been a runner and she usually has no injuries. My father is more like me: he ran all his life and now has horrible knee injuries. So, listen to your body! If it’s telling you to run, run! If it’s telling you to stop, find an alternative. For me, kickboxing was the answer.

Kickboxing: The Ultimate Exercise!

I found kickboxing shortly after I stopped running. It is a fantastic way to get out your aggression and it’s easy on your knees. In addition, kickboxing helps immensely with muscle toning, flexibility, circulation, stress relief, and coordination. The fitness instructor Samir Becic praises kickboxing because it is a full body workout. He states that kickboxing will help you “save time by combining your cardio and resistance workouts.” I love how efficient kickboxing is! According to Sammie Kennedy, CEO and creator of Femme Fitale, kickboxing alone “burns about 750 calories in an hour… add in jump rope and conditioning drills, and you could burn anywhere from 750 to 900 calories in an hour.” I always walk out of my kickboxing class feeling absolutely amazing. I was lucky enough to find a kickboxing class at college– maybe you will be too! If you’re interested, do some research and see if there’s a class on campus or nearby.

Strengthening Your Abs: Do’s and Dont’s

Ab exercises are my favorite. I usually spend about a half an hour every other day doing abdominal exercises. For great suggestions, check out this site. Make sure that you are doing the exercises correctly! I have seen plenty people waste their time by doing incorrect ab exercises. Many people think that the faster you go, the better the workout. In fact, it is actually better to go slower! For an extra burn, keep your head off of the ground during your abdominal exercises!

The Elliptical: Is it Worth it?

Many people–especially women– choose the elliptical over the treadmill. The elliptical is great because it is low-impact. I rarely feel in pain after working out on the elliptical. comments that you can burn up to 400 calories in just 30 minutes of exercising on an elliptical machine. Although the elliptical doesn’t burn calories as quickly as a treadmill can, it is still a great workout; your whole body is engaged and you are able to increase your aerobic capacity. This will allow you to workout for longer periods of time. If you have any injuries, I recommend the elliptical!

Conclusions: Where Should You Start?

Before you begin exercising, you must know your body. Understand what your strengths and weaknesses are. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Getting in shape takes time and dedication. Above all, make sure you are having fun; you don’t want to feel terrified every time you go to the gym! Also (obviously!) if you can, you should workout outside instead. Especially after a long day of classes, you need the fresh air. Go for a run, a bike ride, a hike, or even do your ab workouts out on the grass. Good luck and happy exercising!

Why College Students Should Watch The Princess Bride

Most of us have seen the famous 1987 film, The Princess Bride, adapted from William Goldman’s book and produced by Rob Reiner. If you haven’t, you should drop everything, grab a bag of popcorn, and enjoy! If you have seen the iconic movie, you know that there are a lot of witty and emotional quotes that stay with you long after the final credits. I have seen this movie more times than I can count; my parents watched it with me for the first time when I was ten years old. Even then, I was captivated; I loved the romance, the adventure, and the comedy. As the years went on and I re-watched the film, I got more and more out of it. When I am feeling lonely or sad, this is the movie I watch; it has gotten me through many difficult times. The more you watch The Princess Bride, the more you fall in love with the characters; I am always inspired by their dedication and their love for one another. The more my family and I watched this movie, the more it became a part of our family’s culture; we even recite our favorite quotes. Remember the following quotes; let them guide you as they have guided me. Find your own “Princess Bride”– your own movie that helps you stay happy and keep college in perspective.

“As You Wish”

This is possibly the most romantic quote of the film. Westley says this to Buttercup at the beginning of the movie, when they are living on a farm. It doesn’t take long for Buttercup to realize that, when Westley says “as you wish,” he really means “I love you.” As in real life, sometimes we do not say what we truly mean; our actions are what show that we care. Whenever I hear Westley say “as you wish,” I remember how important my actions are; I remember that I must show those that matter to me how much I care. Like Westley, many people have trouble explaining their feelings; this doesn’t mean that they don’t care. Some of my best friends have trouble saying “I love you.” This doesn’t upset me because they show me that they care. Best friends are the ones who are there to support you through hard times, and there to celebrate with you when you are happy. Love does not require words; love is shown through selflessness.

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At the end of the film, the grandson asks his grandpa to come read The Princess Bride to him again tomorrow. The grandpa replies, “as you wish.” This ending always makes me cry. Though the grandson originally puts on an act and tries to isolate himself, by the end of the story, his relationship with his grandpa has changed completely. It seems as though the two have never said “I love you” to one another; this doesn’t matter. By caring enough to come read to his grandson while he is sick, the grandpa expresses his love. The grandson is at first resistant, but he eventually comes to appreciate his grandpa. Though he isn’t originally thrilled at reading a book, it seems as though he understands what the book represents; his grandfather’s love.

“Life is Pain, Highness. Anyone Who Says Differently is Selling Something”

Westley says this to Buttercup when he is disguised as the Dread Pirate Roberts. Though he is playing with her, there is truth in this statement. When people sugar-coat life, they are usually in denial, or trying to manipulate someone. It is not helpful to pretend that life isn’t painful; this will only distance you from your problems and create unrealistic expectations. Life is full of pain; it is the pain of Buttercup and Westley’s separation that ultimately leads to happiness. Their happiness would not be possible if they had not been willing to make sacrifices. Westley works for the Dread Pirate Roberts, fights off a giant, and even survives torture in order to be with the one he loves. Buttercup stands up against Prince Humperdink and remains hopeful, even when everything seems to be lost.  

This is a quote that my parents often recite. They usually say it as a joke, in order to “mock my pain,” as Buttercup claims that Westley is doing. Though this can make me mad, I know they do it out of love; it is their way of saying that what I am going through is manageable. They have faith in me. My parents know that, sometimes, you need to make light of your struggles. Humor can be the best solution to pain; it can help you put your pain in perspective.

It is my dad who tends to recite this quote genuinely. I have inherited my father’s pessimism. Sometimes, it does feel as though life is not enjoyable. When I am trapped in a never-ending cycle of exams and papers, it is hard to gain any perspective; pain can seem perpetual. The Princess Bride has helped me escape the tight grasp of pessimism. Though Westley says that life is pain, there is hope in the way he looks at Buttercup. As much as life is painful for the couple in their years apart, life is pure joy when they are together; their love is so strong, it overpowers all pain. I truly believe this is possible; the love I have for my family exceeds any pain I have ever endured.

“Have Fun Storming the Castle!”

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After Westley is brought back to life, Miracle Max and his wife, Valerie, say this to Fezzik and Vizzini as they leave. On the surface, this is a humorous quote;  Max and Valerie somehow bring Westley back to life after declaring that he is only “mostly dead.” It is true love that is keeping him alive, although Miracle Max says that he is saying “to bluff,” and comments that they “were probably playing cards and he cheated.” At this moment, Valerie runs in shouting “liar!”  The couple bicker and Valerie tries to convince Max to help, because “true love lies expiring.” Saving Westley seems to resolve the issues between the old couple, at least temporarily. Though many viewers see this scene as simply for comedic relief, I found it touching to see the couple come together. Miracle Max and Valerie show that love is not perfect; all couples are dysfunctional. Even though The Princess Bride is in the guise of a fairy tale, it subverts all expectations. Few characters are simply “good” or “evil;” we learn about the hidden motivations behind every character. Not even Buttercup is perfect; though she does stand up for herself and remain loyal, she tends to be passive and hopeless. Max and Valerie seem to be the most dysfunctional, crazy characters, they truly have what Buttercup and Westley are looking for: a life together. As couples grow with one another, they pick up unusual or humorous mannerism. Max and Valerie may seem humorous to an outsider, yet their relationship has stood the test of time.

This is my mother and father’s favorite quote. Any time my sister and I leave home, they stand by the car arm in arm and wave goodbye, shouting, “have fun storming the castle!” This has become a family tradition. Not only does it show how much my parents love my sister and I, but also how much they love each other. Like Max and Valerie, my parents’ relationship has stood the test of time. As they grow older, they become more alike; I cannot picture them without one another. They may bicker and fight sometimes, but they are always there for one another. Whenever I leave home, this quote reminds me of the loving family I have, and the love I deserve to find. My parents– and The Princess Bride– remind me that, although life is not perfect, it is definitely filled with love.

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How to be a Healthy and Creative College Cook


Most people think that if you wish to have a healthy diet, you must deal with being hungry; healthy food can’t possibly keep you full, can it? Faced with what appears to be an “either-or” choice, college students often choose to stick with what they are comfortable with: an unbalanced diet. It is hard for many people to realize that eating healthy does not mean cutting out all your favorite foods; it simply means getting creative. If you are cooking for yourself and struggling to buy the proper foods, these tips are for you.

College can becoming monotonous– the same schedule, day after day, and tests week after week. Creating healthy, delicious meals can help add some variety to your daily obligations. In order to create meals you enjoy, you must listen to your body: what upsets your stomach? What foods make you feel lethargic? Many people do not realize how much what they eat affects their mood; you will be surprised at how much better you feel if you listen to your body! It is helpful to keep a food log in order to keep track of what you eat and how you react to it. Through this process, I learned that I should avoid gluten and dairy. In fact, most of the population has a sensitivity to dairy; it is hard to digest and provides few health benefits.

You must stay focused at the supermarket: stay out of the isles that are too tempting. Start off in the produce section and pick out the vegetables you like the most. No one is forcing you to eat anything; pick only what you enjoy! I always buy spinach because it is delicious, healthy, and can be added to almost every meal. Next, pick out some fruits; they are the perfect snack and the perfect alternative to a high-calorie dessert.

Many college students fail to pick out the proper grains. Processed gluten ha2187748015_b23f5bd7ed_bs few health benefits and does not keep you full for long. Instead, look for foods with a low glycemic index; these grains keep you full for longer. This does not mean you have to compromise on taste– it is all about how you prepare your food. The better you are at cooking, the less you have to worry about finding that perfect balance between delicious and healthy. I usually buy rice products like basmati rice or rice noodles.

Next, pick your protein. It is important to be aware of what happens to your food before it reaches the grocery store; many animals are raised in horrible conditions and are not fed a natural diet. If this upsets you, I recommend becoming a vegetarian or pescatarian. Apart from the occasional chicken or turkey, I eat only fish. No matter your diet, it is important to eat protein. I recommend fish, beans, yogurt, and eggs; these foods keep you full for a long time.

Everyone loves snacks. Just because you want to eat healthy, doesn’t mean you have to cut out snacks. Moderation is key; only buy one of your favorite snacks. Give yourself some freedom– if you are too strict with yourself, you won’t succeed. Be smart about what snack you choose. I recommend dark chocolate, because it is both delicious and does not contain artificial ingredients. Avoid buying sugary drinks. Many people don’t realize how dangerous it is to buy soda; drinking your calories tricks you into thinking you are not being unhealthy. In addition, pick out a healthier snack– something you can eat a lot of without feeling too guilty or getting a stomach ache. I love rice crisps or Snapea crisps; they come in a lot of different flavors and are relatively light snacks. Don’t avoid the snacks that “sound healthy.” Just because something is healthy, doesn’t mean it’s gross!

Before you leave the store, make sure you have seasoning; something this simple can elevate your meals. I make sure to always have salt, pepper, and garlic. On top of those essentials, I also buy plenty of olive oil and teriyaki sauce. Olive oil is a healthy alternative to butter or canola oil; it is a monounsaturated fatty acid, not a saturated or trans fat. These little details are what make all the difference–always check the ingredients before you buy something!

Many people give up on a healthy diet because they think it requires too much effort or takes up too much time. Once you create a system, eating healthy is easy. After you have all your ingredients, check out before you get tempted to buy more than you have to! Now the challenge is to think about what your favorite meals are; there is always a way to create a healthy version of a meal. For example, if you like french fries, make your own– buy some potatoes, cut them into fries, cover them with olive oil and a little salt, and bake them! This is much healthier than the pre-made french fries you buy at McDonald’s.

Though eating healthy inevitably takes more time than buying pre-made food, it does not have to be complicated. When you have a break, start cooking. I recommend cooking big meals so that you will have leftovers. I sometimes cook a meal that lasts for two or three days, which allows me to eat quickly on the days when I am the most busy. The stigma 4920968077_8523c4b35a_qagainst leftovers is not true; they can be delicious! I have found that the most successful meals are stir-frys; simply choose a protein, a vegetable, and a grain. Add garlic and teriyaki sauce to the pan and you’re ready to go.

I believe that the main reason college students do not eat healthy is because they do not make their own food. Many college students don’t really know how to cook. People do not realize how easy and fun cooking can be. Not only does it allow you to see exactly what is going into your food, but it is also a great way to take a break from studying. When I feel overworked but know that I don’t have the time to take a real break, I choose to cook instead. While you are cooking, you have time to yourself; you can think through problems or you can turn off your racing mind and listen to music. Enjoy cooking healthy–your mind and your body will thank you!