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Fitness Tips to Keep You Healthy

“I can’t wait to get started on my workout tomorrow! I’m going to get up before work so I have time to fit everything in!”

We’ve all been there before — we have a lot of motivation late at night to start our fitness regime bright and early the next morning. But once morning rolls around, something seriously derails our efforts. Especially as college students, we often find ourselves wondering how we’re supposed to fit it into our schedules. The average college student doesn’t just go to class anymore. There’s four or five classes on the docket, one or two part-time jobs, and clubs and organizations. When it’s boiled down to what can be fit into a day’s work, physical fitness is usually the first to be crossed off the list.

Believe me though, you want to make time now that we’re moving fast into those winter months. Studies have shown that those who exercise regularly suffer less from severe colds. Don’t have time to be sick? Avoid these three habits and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier, happier you.

1. Hitting the snooze button.

After all, what’s an extra five minutes going to do for you? It isn’t enough time for your body to fall back into an effective sleep stage, and you’re submitting yourself to unnecessary side effects because you’re interrupting sleep patterns. Those who constantly hit the snooze button can suffer from tiredness (obviously), headaches, mood swings and agitation.

Oversleeping can also mess with your metabolism. According to Health Watch Center, reaching for that small little button can lead to weight increase because you’re altering your sleep patterns, thus throwing your  metabolism out of whack. So wouldn’t it be more beneficial to just hop out of bed and drag your butt to the gym? You’ll feel better later, and be glad you went. After all, how many people actually regret going to the gym?

2. Waiting until tomorrow.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” After all, doesn’t tomorrow never come? If you keep postponing your workout session, you’re going to end up kicking yourself. Remember, working out releases endorphins, those feel-good chemicals that help you de-stress and unwind. Not to mention you can snag some alone time away from all of the technological devices that consume today’s society.

Working out today will also keep you healthy — Mayo Clinic says “aerobic activity activates your immune system,” leaving you stronger and less susceptible to illness. So stop waiting and hit the ground running!

3. Skipping meals.

Skipping meals, particularly breakfast, is never a smart idea. However, most of us bolt out the door without putting anything in our stomachs, or with just a measly granola bar. Don’t get me wrong, a granola bar would be sufficient if you ate shortly after, but how many of us wait four to five hours before eating again? I know I fall victim to that sometimes.

Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School found that skipping meals also contributes to obesity.The longer you wait to eat, the more your metabolism slows down. Signals are sent to the brain, essentially stating “I’m starving, hang onto everything you can because I don’t know when I’m being fed again.” What’s the first thing the body hangs on to? Fat. So try waking up a few minutes earlier (not hitting that snooze button!) so you can fit in a healthy breakfast to kick-start your day and get your body running right.

What are some of your fitness pitfalls?

Marines Too Much for The Biggest Loser Contestants

On the latest episode of The Biggest Loser, the contestants were whisked away to one of the boot camps for the U.S. Marines. The contestants, still split into teams of black and blue, raced through an intense obstacle course and the first ones to finish received a phone call from home.

Who did you root for?

Personally, I root for team blue during every challenge and at every weigh-in. Not only because Aaron Thompkins, my favorite contestant, is on that team, but also because the black team is way too into game play and they whine all the time. Brendan Donovan makes me angry when he tries to act completely innocent, and the same goes for Frado Dinten when he apologizes at the weigh-in before the scale even shows his current weight. Not to mention Brendan’s new bald head isn’t flattering in the least bit.

Sorry for my rant there, but I needed to get that out of my system.

Needless to say, team blue came out on top and they received their coveted phone calls. After being cut off from everybody in their lives for more than six weeks, I’d say all of the contestants deserve to talk to their loved ones. But alas, it’s still a game, so dangling phone calls as a prize only pushes the contestants to work harder. Watching Aaron talk to his adorable little boy and Lisa Mosley choke up while she talked to her little ones was so heart-wrenching; it makes me cry nearly every time. It truly is the icing on the cake –no pun intended.

Lisa finally got to talk to her kids after winning a Marine challenge.

While the contestants spent their week with the Marines, they faced another challenge: they didn’t have any control over what they ate. There was no way for them to measure their portions or stay away from certain foods because they had to eat what was given to them. As a result, three of the contestants gained weight at the weigh-in, and the rest lost less than five pounds. Aaron was the only one who lost a massive amount of weight still, adding 14 pounds to his total weight loss (Another reason he’s my first pick to win). Jillian Michaels was surprisingly nice about it and blamed the circumstances the contestants were under, but Bob Harper was clearly pissed. Hopefully we’ll see both trainers kick some major butt in the gym next week.

The black team lost the weigh-in and were forced to eliminate another player from their team. It was obvious that game play and alliances were put into action during this time. Elizabeth Ruiz, who has never lost more than five pounds in a week and is never a valuable asset in the challenges, allows Brendan and Frado to shelter her, just like her brothers did when she was growing up. It never allowed her to gain strength and stand up for herself, and now it lets her slide by from week to week without actually changing her life.

It's time for Elizabeth to go home.

As a result, Anna Wright was sent home. Yes, she also struggles during the challenges, but she works hard and needs to be there to work through emotional and mental issues — her three-year-old son died from cancer and she never fully allowed herself to heal. Talk about a big cry for help to focus on yourself and finally heal from something so traumatic. Unfortunately though, Frado and Brendan are very persuasive and sent Anna packing.

What did you think about this week’s episode? I’d love to hear from people rooting for the black team! Which contestant would you like to win?

Temptations Begin on The Biggest Loser

Chocolate Sundae cupcake from Crumbs Bake Shop

 The stakes are rising on The Biggest Loser and temptations have been presented to the contestants. If you haven’t seen previous seasons, temptations are an optional challenge that involve food and allow the players to opt into game play. However, every contestant is allowed to decide whether they want to play. If they do decide to play and they win, a source of power is granted to them, such as immunity or a one-pound advantage at the weigh-in.

For the first temptation of the season, the players were offered cupcakes. But they weren’t boring chocolate or vanilla cupcakes that don’t really entice anyone. No, there were about 400 cupcakes of various sizes, colors and decorations. I’m not a huge fan of cupcakes and  even I thought these looked delicious, much like the ones from Crumbs Bake Shop (Warning: If you are ever near a Crumbs, walk quickly in the other direction because once you have one it is difficult to resist the rest because they are all different and delectable!)

Adam, Rick, Jesse and Elizabeth played in the temptation. Adam and Rick competed closely with one another, but Adam won out in the end. Unfortunately, his victory was earned to the tune of 1,350 calories (only three cupcakes!). He still has his one-pound advantage disc, so it will be interesting to see how long he hangs on to it!

With temptations comes more game play on The Biggest Loser. After Adam won, Brendan Donovan, 32, made it his mission to put a target on Adam’s back and side as many people as he could against him. He pressured Ada Wong, 27, into a pact to vote Adam off the show once he falls below the line. Donovan also brought three others into the pact, convincing them that Adam will have too much power if they don’t get rid of him. 

Brendan wants to eliminate Adam right away.

Now, I understand game play is a part of the show and it’s automatically integrated when there is $250,000 on the line, but come on! Leave the guy alone, he busts his butt in the gym and is terrified he’s going to die like his mom. If he deserves to be there and he’s losing weight, then don’t get rid of him because you’re scared. Man up and have a higher percentage of weight loss than him. Simple as that.

It’ll be interesting to see what other temptations The Biggest Loser producers throw at the contestants. What’s the hardest temptation for you to turn down?

The Biggest Loser: No Room for Slackers

Now in its tenth season on ABC, The Biggest Loser producers are proving there is no way they’re going soft on the contestants. Possibly one of the toughest season beginnings thus far, Jillian Michaels, Bob Harper and Alison Sweeney have let it be well-known that if you want a spot on the ranch, you need to earn it. So if any of the contestants thought they’d be able to game play or pass underneath the radar for half of the season, well, they thought wrong.

However, those at The Biggest Loser have also proven that they still have a soft spot for people with great stories. Let’s take a look at Aaron Thompkins, 29, from Kent, Ohio. He lost the original 500-step challenge during the season premiere, in which he had to be in the top two out of three contestants to complete 500 step-ups. For many Loser-hopefuls, a loss meant the end of their weight-loss journey in front of a national audience. This graphic designer made a soft spot for himself with Harper, though, and was allowed to move to the ranch as one half of the yellow team.

A 468-pound man with a three-year-old son, Thompkins struggled with weight partly because of his strained relationship with his alcoholic father. Without realizing it, Thompkins sank into his fathers’ destructive habits, only turning to food instead of alcohol. Luckily, he has realized the error of his ways and is pushing to change his life for his little boy. Personally, I’m rooting for this guy. Nothing like a great family story to tug at my heart-strings.

Aaron Thompkins, 29.

But back to the brutality of this season. Although Thompkins wiggled his way to the ranch, The Biggest Loser trio made it perfectly clear the contestants were no longer in paradise. If you want to stay here, you need to kick some serious butt. During day one’s workout, Michaels and Harper worked them to the bone (Michaels mentions the first speed on the treadmill is set at 7.0); with many puking or passing out. One contestant, Brendan Donovan, 32, asked Harper, “Are we almost done?” I shook my head once the words left his mouth. Harper went on a rampage, running this guy into the ground until snot was literally hanging out of his nose. Yum.

Then the producers kicked it into high gear. After only two workout days, the contestants were called for a weigh-in. This might seem insane, but remember they had two weeks to work out since their initial weigh-in. That’s not all, though! Remember that dreaded yellow line that two people were terrified of falling below? Well, it’s been bumped up — to eight. With 16 spots on the board, half were safe and half were eligible for elimination. No slacking, here!

To be saved from elimination, the seven women who found themselves below the yellow line (Patrick, the one guy below the line, was saved by Rick, this week’s weight-loss leader) had to complete sprint races and be the first to grab a flag at the finish line until only two contestants remained. Allie Ishcomer, 22, and Tina Elliott, 58, were the final two. The competitors who were safe from elimination participated in the final vote, and Allie was sent home.

I love that they’ve upped the ante, but do you think they’re pushing too hard?

Life Despite ED: My Name is Kristen

Here at The Pulse, I encourage exercise and nutrition that keeps you healthy in mind, body and spirit. Unfortunately, sometimes the drive to be healthy goes too far and pushes someone over the edge. Kristen Bouchard, 21, is a student at Albany College of Pharmacy who is struggling with anorexia and bulimia nervosa. With a competitive personality and a drive to live, she fights every day to beat the disease she calls ED. Read about her journey here and support her in the fight to regain control of her mind, body and spirit.

My name is Kristen and I have an eating disorder.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s focus on more important things. Because I am more than just an eating disorder. He does not define me. If I let that happen, then he wins.

But like I said, on to more important things. Like me! My name is Kristen and I went to a very small school (think graduating class size of 26). I’m sure you have heard this before, but when you go to a small school and live in a smaller town, everyone knows everything. But that’s not always a bad thing.

I remember being known as the “most caring” in second grade. My teacher printed out a little certificate for me and I was so proud of that piece of paper. I hung it on my refrigerator and after it fulfilled its lifespan, I filed it away in my room, tucked into a box that I would rediscover from time to time.

The idea of being known as someone, being defined as something, stuck with me. After that day, I strived to please everyone around me so that I could always keep the title of “most caring.” To me, it was more than a few words strung together. It became my identity. And when that identity shifted to an association with weight, I shifted my focus. Suddenly, being caring meant more than striving to please people through my actions. It also meant taking care of people’s opinions. My thoughts, my actions and my body were all put under a microscope; I was scrutinized for everything because I had to live up to my identity.

I soon found myself resentful of my title; this identity I wasn’t sure I wanted to bear. People often expect too much out of one person and I was usually the victim. At the time though, I didn’t realize someone relying on me could be a bad thing. So I kept plugging away because I was the most caring.

I released stress through sports. I was in love with all forms of them. In high school, I played softball, volleyball and soccer (Of course, these were the only sports that my school offered). One of my best friends, Samantha, was a great goalie. I, on the other hand, was a back-up goalie and spent most games screaming for my life. I was a middle blocker in volleyball and I pitched in softball. I felt so good whenever I played. It became an escape from reality and a time when I didn’t have to focus on my thoughts, my schedule or numbers on a scale. I thrived on the burn of my muscles and the strength I had to dominate in a competition. It was about the love for the game, not a method of weight-loss.

But when I left the field, I found myself squirming under the microscope again. Eventually, the scrutiny consumed me. It entered my daily thoughts. And it wasn’t until recently that I realized I need the answer to one question.

When had I stopped caring about myself?

Post written by Kristen Bouchard and edited by Samantha Shelton.