Monday, January 28, 2013

Baby, It's Cold Outside

I'm done. This cold weather is absolutely ridiculous. My best friend has become my space heater. Yeap, that's a new low.

Now that I'm over the initial shock of the negative degree weather, I'm trying to embrace it. Trying is the key word here. No, but really there are some positive things about these teeth-chattering temperatures! 

First of all, think of the cute clothes you can wear during the chilly months. Sweaters, boots, legwarmers- you name it. And what about those steamy, delicious Starbucks drinks you have to have to survive? I mean, when else can you rationalize spending five dollars on coffee? Or doing absolutely nothing but cuddling in bed in your cozy pajamas watching your favorite TV show? Or skipping class because it's "too dangerous" to be out in the cold? Use the weather to your advantage. When our bodies are cold, they actually burn more calories to try to warm up the core temperature. So...does this mean I can skip the gym again? Score.

Think of the weather like life events. If there were no ups and downs in'd be dead. Flat-lined. Done. Our body responds to change. Without change, our brain can't interpret situations to be good or bad. Long story short, you need to experience some lows to appreciate the highs. And in this case, the lows I'm talking about are temperatures. Sure, I like to think I'd never get sick of warm weather, but the truth is, if it were always warm, I'd grow accustomed to it and forget how much I enjoy it.

When you're cooped up in the house searching for warmth, you're mostly likely not alone. Spend time with family or enjoy a long phone call to your BFF. According to a study in 2012, we are more likely to talk to loved ones longer when it's cold out (Huffington Post). So even if your body is cold, your heart won't be. How touching.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out...and Dance

Okay, I'll admit it I lied. I said I did absolutely nothing for the majority of winter break. False- I've become a pro at pretending to be able to sing and dance. Fake it til you make it, people. After discovering Spotify, I've spent endless hours blasting music, dancing like crazy, and singing at the top of my lungs in my room. (My deepest apologies to my family and neighbors.) Turns out, singing and dancing actually have many benefits. So for the record, I'm not losing my mind; I'm simply enriching my life ;)  

Whether you're talented or not, singing and dancing is necessary at least once in a while.  On a scale of one to Christina Aguilera, I'm a zero with my singing abilities- and my dancing is even worse. But ya know what? I still do it... and so should you! 

“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.”- Friedrich Nietzsche

Cutting a rug is not only an excellent form of exercise, but also a great confidence booster. In the UK, students who participated in a ten week dance program reaped the benefits. Not only did they have increased lung capacity and aerobic capacity, they were also more flexible. On top of that, the students had more motivation and self-esteem.  ( If nothing else, remember- Luke Bryan told you to shake it and who could say no to that face? 

"Life is a song- sing it." -Sai Baba

Karaoke night? YES. Not only is it fun (or maybe just hilarious), singing is good for both your mind and body. It exercises the lungs, and brings awareness to your breathing and the rest of your body, similar to yoga. Combat the flu this season by singing- it's thought to improve your immune system. Singing exercises your abs as well. Hello, six-pack! That might be stretching it a little, but still you get the point. Singing is an important part of expressing yourself so play your favorite song and sing along. Instantly, you'll feel happier. 


Both singing and dancing involve music. Lucky for you, listening to music is also good for you. Ever noticed how certain songs can affect your mood? If you said no, you're probably hiding under a rock. If that's the case you may have bigger issues than music can solve. Anyway, listening to your favorite songs can actually stimulate the release of dopamine in your brain which is associated with pleasure and addiction. Dopamine is also released when we have a crush or eat chocolate. Music can also help trigger your memory which could be helpful while doing homework or studying. Listening to tunes helps the brain concentrate. Plug in your headphones while working and see for yourself. According to a study at Brunel University in West London "music can help increase endurance by as much as fifteen percent, helping to lower the perception of effort during exercise, as well as increasing energy efficiency by between one and three percent" ( ). Music proves to be an effective means for therapy, as music can put into words what we are feeling. It's an excellent form of expression too. Feeling anxious about school, work, friends, family? Let the bass drop and enjoy the stress relieving powers of music. 

So next time you're at a party- dance. Next time there's karaoke- sing. And whenever you need a pick-me-up listen to music. Your life will suddenly feel like a happy-go-lucky musical. I can dig it. Zac Efron where you at?

Friday, January 11, 2013

What to Do BEFORE School Starts

As it gets down to the last week of winter break, I've realized how much I still have to do before school starts. The first half of break consisted of sleeping til noon, watching endless hours of Netflix (aka Gossip Girl), and hanging out with friends, which turned out to be movie nights every single night. So what have I accomplished so far? Absolutely nothing. That is if you don't count sleeping 12 hours not including occasional naps during the day. Pretty sure I set a world record with the amount of sleep I got. But hey, at least I'm finally caught up on the sleep I never got during first semester.

 Time to get crackin' on that to-do list I thought I'd have accomplished by now. Here are some things you should do while you still have extra time before you get overwhelmed by the excitement and novelty of this next semester.

P.S. If you're already back in school 1) I'm sorry but more importantly 2) try to take advantage of syllabus week and knock a couple of these off your own to-do list.

Catch up on Your Favorite TV Shows, Movies, books, and Magazine Subscriptions.
Let's face it- when will you have enough free time to actually have time to read for enjoyment? (No, reading about biology or American history doesn't count.) Funny how fast you can go through a three hundred page book for fun, but reading just five pages of material for class takes an hour. Take some time to get lost in another world. Hunger Games anyone? Or just in time for Valentine's Day why not stick to a classic Nicholas Sparks book? On second thought, that sounds like a horrible idea considering this Valentine's Day I have a date with Helen C. White also known as College Library.

For TV shows, it's important to get up-to-date since a lot of new seasons are starting up again. Watch whatever floats your boat, even if that includes Snooki & JWOWW I won't judge (although other people probably will.) Other big hits include Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, and Psych.

Go to the movie theater. At school you'll rarely find time, transportation, or money to actually make it to the theater. So far, I've seen Les Mis  and Promise Land. Both were alright, but don't trust my opinion. I only like romantic comedies. Or comedies. Or High School Musical but that's beside the point.

Make sure to look through magazines for tips on make-up, fashion, beauty regimens, celebrity gossip and health. Be sure to take note of your favorite advice and incorporate it into your schedule this semester. You'll have heads turning with your keen fashion sense and hot new hairstyles. As for celebrity gossip, it's valuable knowledge...okay, okay maybe not but sometimes you need a good conversation starter with potential friends in your classes.

Begin the Post-holiday Cleanse Now.
It'll be so much easier gradually reducing intake of all those holiday sweets if you start now. Once school starts getting hectic, you may be tempted to turn to old habits of stress-eating, or eating one-too-many Dove chocolates. Good thing is, if you're used to healthy habits now, you'll be less likely to binge when you get overwhelmed with schoolwork.

Spend Time with Friends!
It's hard to keep in touch with friends from home while at school. People are on different schedules. And those plans to visit one another never seem to work out. Embrace the time you have with the people you like at home. Don't spend time with the people you don't like. Simple.

Just Drive. 
One of the most liberating things is getting in the car and just driving, even if you don't have a destination in mind. Turn up the music and cruise. It's just not the same jamming to your iPod on your walk to class. A little more embarrassing.

Perfect That Resume.
You never know when a job or internship opportunity will come your way. In the very least, put together a draft so that you can have it edited at your school's career center. That application will seem a lot less daunting if you have a head-start on your resume. Look up some possible jobs or internships for the summer so that you can tailor your resume to fit the position's expectations. A resume is the last thing you want to worry about when finals roll around. Snag your dream job or internship now.

Pamper Yourself. 
Nails, hair, massage- the works. You'll be refreshed and ready to tackle whatever this semester will bring. While also looking fine. ;)

Plan a Budget. 
I may or may not be addicted to online shopping. (I am.)  But seriously, I swear my paychecks disappear into thin air. Nowhere to be found. This semester, I'm determined to keep my eye on those buggers and know exactly where the money is going. Setting aside certain amounts of money for fun, traveling, food, emergencies, and of course for your savings account is crucial. With a plan, you'll be able to (maybe) resist that cute dress on Tobi. Unless it's on sale...

Set Goals.
Come with at least three goals for this next semester. Write them down and put it in a visible spot so you'll be reminded throughout this semester what you want to accomplish. Easy now, you aren't Superman. Don't set the expectations too high, but remember to always push yourself to be the best you you can be.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Rock Yo Body!

Can't believe it's already January. Let the countdown to Spring Break begin! I know right when I get back to school from break the gym will be PACKED. It's crunch time people. Literally.

What's my plan? It's a little different than most. I'm trying going vegan. Yes, that means no meat, dairy, eggs, or anything that comes from an animal. For me, this approach works perfectly because I have impeccable self-control when I have goals and restrictions, but when it's a free-for-all it gets ugly. I can't control myself.

Today is day 2 of going vegan and I already feel so much better about myself. I feel more energized, more awake, more confident, more like myself. Yes, I want milk. Yes, that cake looks amazing but ya know what? It's not worth it. I would rather feel like this every day, than give into temptation. Trust me, once you're over the initial pang of desire, you're golden. Remember, you're stronger than that.

Veganism has health benefits like reducing cholesterol, and the risk of cancer and heart disease. It can also help you shed some lbs since it's mostly plant-based. Hello beach bod! There are other benefits associated with going vegan. It helps the planet and no animal cruelty is involved.

It's become a hot trend in Hollywood. And by hot, I mean these stars are smokin hot. Take Carrie Underwood for example. She admits she's 95% vegan and look at her bod and glowing complection. Other full-fledged vegans include Ellen DeGeneres, Lea Michele, Russell Brand, Pamela Anderson, and my favorite- Brad Pitt. Brad Pitt. That's enough motivation in itself right?

 Here's to a rockin bod by Spring Break! Whatever works for you, do it wholeheartedly. Come March, you'll be the babe everyone is checkin out at the beach. Doesn't sound half bad ;) Ready. Set. Go. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

We're Doin It Live

That's one of my new mottos- we're doin it live. In case you're confused, it means going for whatever opportunity comes your way. Just go with the flow and experience everything to the fullest. Kind of like starting a blog. I'm doin it live. 

What influenced this new motto though? The Rose Bowl. Last year as a freshman, I went to all of the UW-Madison football games cheering on the Badgers week after week. When they finally made it to the Rose Bowl I was somewhat clueless. I didn't think it would be possible for me to solidify plans and actually come up with the funds to go. When people returned, they said it was one of their best experiences of their life. From that moment on, I promised myself I would go hands-down no excuses if they made it again. 

This year as a sophomore, I again got season tickets. The Badgers weren't lookin' too hot early in the season and I thought it was out of the picture for them to go to the Rose Bowl a third year in a row. Next thing I knew, they beat Nebraska in the Big 10 Championship! Long story short, although I was dying to go, I kind of gave up that idea. It's hard enough finding a group to go with, figuring out plans, coming up with the money, and I was supposed to be in Denver during the Rose Bowl. But a promise is a promise. After a ton of changes in the plan, I was on my way to the Rose Bowl meeting up with one of my best friends at the LAX airport, and staying with another one of my best friends who carpooled with five other people. 

Basically, we got there with no plans whatsoever except that all eight of us were staying in a hotel in West Hollywood. Which is how "we're doin it live" was born. Our only concern was having fun. It didn't matter what we did. We didn't have to have a plan. We were just going with the flow. New Years Eve turned out to be a blast even though we just staying in the hotel the whole time (besides going to a dance party at 3 AM for about 2 seconds) AND missing midnight. 

9 AM rolled around the next day and we got on our game day bibs and were ready to go. We made it Pasadena and started tailgating among thousands of people on a huge golf course. All of the Badger fans were my best friends that day and all the Stanford fans were my worst enemies. My friend and I made a point of running, no sprinting, through everyone screaming about Wisconsin. We may or may not have been trying to start fights with the Stanford fans as well. 

The game was amazing. New Years Eve was amazing. Tailgating? Amazing. Everything about the trip was unbelievable. Whether it was just walking around in California, going out to eat, or hanging out on the beach every second was worth it. In no way do I regret the money I spent on this trip. Although it was spur of the moment, and none of us had any plans whatsoever, I wouldn't do it over any other way. We did it live and that's all that matters. 

Sometimes, I get so caught up in making plans that I forget to just enjoy life. Other times, I pass up experiences because I'm too busy or don't have enough money or whatever. In this new year, I plan to take myself less seriously and let go while also remembering what's important. There are times when it's necessary to just go for it. There will always be excuses, but will there always be these opportunities? No. Whatever 2013 brings, go with it. I promise you won't regret it.