Create Your Own Summer Fitness Challenge

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While the rest of the world is inundated with ads encouraging them to get “slim by summer”, us college ladies are on a slightly different page. You see, for the many of us that aren’t taking summer classes, summer is a time to kick it a little bit slower, relax (while we’re not working or interning), and escape the constant pressure of being surrounded by young, good looking people 24/7.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m exercise’s #1 fan (not really, but I tell myself that trick me into doing it every day). It makes you healthier, happier and hotter. But as my fellow CC gals know, it’s summer time-and that comes with certain duties as a college student. Let’s not kid ourselves here, sometimes day drinking just takes precedence over willpower or dietary discretion- and I don’t know about you guys but I’m still coasting on what’s left of my Spring Break bod.

But alas! Three months fly by too fast, and before we know it, we’re back at school sweet school. And if there’s one goal college women can agree on, it’s that we want to look fierce during welcome week. So put down the margarita and get ready to turn heads on the first day of classes by giving yourself a summer fitness challenge!

First things first: Weigh yourself and figure out your BMI. Set a realistic goal weight and BMI for you to reach by move in day/welcome week/ your first day of classes. Next, determine how many calories you need to eat and burn in order to reach your goal-here’s your secret weapon. The only way to lose weight – the right way – is to burn more calories than you’re eating. To find out how many calories are in whatever food I’m eating (fresh fruit doesn’t have nutrition labels, much to my annoyance) I like to use Calorie King. It has virtually every food’s nutrition facts, along with graphs that show you what percentage of the food is fat, protein, carbs, etc., so it’s easy to make sure you’re getting the right amount of each at every meal. And it tells you exactly how many minutes of various exercises like biking, jogging and rowing it will take to burn those calories off. One warning though, after a moment of weakness I broke down and got Moe’s – seeing how many hours (yes, hours) it would take to completely burn off those calories was slightly traumatic.  I’ll never look at a burrito the same way again.

And speaking of shocking realizations… Losing weight this summer will be so much easier if you actually know what you’re putting in your body, and how much of it you actually need. The best way to keep track of what you’re eating – and how much of it – is by keeping a food journal. It forces you to realize everything that you’re eating, and being brutally honest with yourself (see aforementioned burrito) makes you want to eat healthy. It also helps to keep an exercise journal. I hate seeing a blank day on mine, or even the days when I know I could have done better. Seeing everything in black and white is definitely a huge motivation and there are easy online tools that make it easier to do every day. So let’s talk…

Motivation: Saying you’re going to get in sick shape this summer and actually doing it are two different things. In most cases (well, at least in mine), the biggest problem is motivation. At the end of the day, only you can decide if you’re going to put down that cookie or go the extra 10 minutes on the Stairmaster. Unless you enlist a partner in weight loss, that is. Your partner can be your sibling, boyfriend or best friend, as long as they make the same commitment to summer fitness that you’re making. Find a partner, and you’ve got yourself a fitness challenge!

Schedule workouts for the week ahead of time and write them down, put them in your Blackberry, Google calendar, whatever – just make sure you’ve got a visual, concrete schedule of your workouts. These now function as “dates”. You wouldn’t want to blow off your partner (or have them blow you off), so there’ll be a voice of reason when one of you just doesn’t feel like hitting the gym.

Once you’re actually working up a sweat, decide on fun challenges you can compete in. Think you can kick your bff’s ass at a 10 minute mile? Bet your next pedicure on it. Think you can lap your baby bro in freestyle? Put a week’s worth of dishwashing duty on the line. And if you know you can out-crunch your man, for Pete’s sake bet sexual favors on it!

Finally…

Keep your hot streak going! You’ll feel damn good back-to-school shopping and sauntering around campus come September, but don’t let your summer’s hard work go to waste. Keep in mind the eating habits you developed over the summer. It’s important not to think of healthy eating as a “diet.” Being nutritious should be a lifestyle. Yes, you will occasionally mess up and go to Taco Bell after a long night of flip cup (and flip cup itself isn’t all that great for you, supposedly), but that doesn’t mean you should spiral into the deep abyss of terrible food all the time.

Same goes for the gym. After 3 months of reaping the benefits of daily cardio, your body will most likely be hooked on all those post-gym endorphins. But don’t let the stress of school keep you away from working out. Even if you’re swamped with papers and exam studying, make time to work out. Just 30 minutes of stress relief will be infinitely better than the hour you’ll inevitably spend procrastinating on Facebook. Maintaining the same eating and exercise habits that you practiced all summer will help you stay healthy – and hot – long into the fall semester.

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