Passion Blog 7- Recovery Tips

We all know that exercise is great for our bodies, but did you ever stop to think why it could potentially harm us, resulting in injuries? These injuries could be a result of overtraining, which is basically your body telling you to calm down! We constantly walk a tight rope between adequate stimulation leading to progression, and a lack of recovery which can lead to overtraining. If all you do is train, then your body is not receiving the proper recovery that it needs after an intense workout. It is what you do outside of the gym that truly shows results. Here are some helpful tips on how to recover after a workout:

  1. Sleep!

I know, I know. As a college student, it is hard already to get an adequate amount of sleep each night, but your body needs it. Getting around six to eight hours of sleep each night is not only essential for your health, but also for your body to recover for the next day a head.

2. Structured Rest

If you’re like me, you go to the gym every afternoon, and push yourself to your possible limits. But there are some downsides to always working out; overtraining! Deliberate rest days are essential for your body to get stronger. Taking a week out of every two months or so will allow your body to receive the proper rest and care that it needs. It will temporarily reduce weight and volume and you will even feel healthier the second you get back into the gym.

3. Stretch

Have you ever woken up the next morning after a workout and couldn’t move your legs without feeling the soreness throughout your entire body? We have all been there. But do you know why this happens? You don’t stretch enough before AND after a workout. Stretching is the most important thing you can do. It loosens your muscles, reduces lactic acid build up, and improves your circulation. Most people know to stretch before hand, but then neglect the idea of stretching after as well. It is just as important, if not more important for your muscles.

4. Avoid Alcohol, Drink more Water

Reading that title, your probably laughed at it and though “but we’re in college!” So what? Yes, we’re in college, but that doesn’t change the fact that alcohol i every harmful to your body recovery from a workout. From each drink you take, you are filling your body with toxins. Dehydration can cause much damage to your muscles and of course, reduce your recovery abilities. Water is the best component in helping your body recover. As it contains no added sugar, it will cleanse your system and help in making your body stronger.

5. Protein!

Proper nutrition is what is going to help you see results. If you workout then go and eat an entire meal at McDonald’s, you are completely counteracting everything you just did for your body. Protein is the main contributor in building muscle mass. Typically, I tend to eat a salad with grilled chicken or a grilled chicken wrap after a workout. When your body is deprived of protein, it makes it taste even better once you do eat some. Avoid heavily restricted diet programs, they are often unsustainable and do not facilitate healthy amounts of vigorous activity.

Whether you want to become faster, stronger or simply tweak your physique you need to introduce some of these methods into your overall fitness regime. It will not only make you feel better, but it will help to truly see the results.

Passion Blog 6- Helpful Tips to Get Yourself Into the Gym

We have all been there- the days where we just never want to leave our bed and cuddle up with Netflix and a bag of chips. I have especially experienced this on cold, winter days, where I just had no motivation to leave my nice, warm room to walk over to the gym. I would always tell myself “You are gonna workout today” then ended up in my pajamas with my favorite show on. Then there are the days where I am extremely motivated to go to the gym but either have no free time in the day, or even am so overwhelmed by classes where, once again, all I want to do is sleep. Even after deciding I would not go to the gym that day, I immediately regret it but can’t find any reason to change my mind. Here are some helpful tips that I use when I am completely unmotivated that have worked for me.

  1. Find a gym partner.

Getting a daily “Gym grind!!!” text from my friend is what helps me to get off of my lazy butt and go to the gym. We usually meet halfway, which makes the walk there seem a little less long and constant talking while walking there keeps my mind off of thinking how cold it is outside. Lately, I have been the one texting my friend that it’s time to grind, instead of them forcing me to come. It’s a lot more fun to go with a partner and hearing their words of motivation to push through makes the workout seem less strenuous.

2. Have a goal in mind.

Goals are what help push people to their limits. No one likes to let others down, but what is worse, is letting yourself down. Your goal could be as simple as “lose five pounds” but it can still motivate you to keep going and keep doing the best workouts possible. For myself, I never began with a goal in mind. It was not until I began to see progress that I thought of what goals I wanted to accomplish. Another great thing about goals is that your are intending yourself to places you never thought you could get to! Not only do you feel great about yourself once you reach your goal or even go beyond your goal, but you see the progress you have made and that will motivate you in itself.

3. Track your progress.

The number one motivator for me is seeing progress. The more progress that I notice, the more I genuinely want to go to the game each day. I have began to set new goals for each day that I go. Nothing kills motivation more than going to the gym daily but feeling as though you have made no new progress. Chances are, you have made progress, but you have not been paying close enough attention to what you have done. There are multiple apps that you can use to track your progress, such as Fitbit and MyFitnessPal. You may not see the progress right away, but it is happening.

4. Positive Thinking

This tip is possibly the most helpful motivator when debating on whether to workout or not. Thinking of how great you’ll feel after you workout is an example of positive thinking. The more you think about how great you will feel, the more motivated you will be to go. If you’re like me and like being sore (because it means you were working), then thinking about having “jello legs” after leg day can be another positive motivator. Even thinking about making an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend feel bad once they see how great you look is an example of positive thinking. Personally, my positive thinking consists of how much better I will be with Dance the more I cross train. Since I can’t practice at school, cross training is my only form of “practice”. I keep thinking of the World Championships or the National Championships coming up, which helps me to get out of bed and work out.

No one actually enjoys working out, but everyone enjoys progress and feeling good about yourself. The toughest thing about working out is finding that last push to get you to do it. Motivation is key in any workout, whether it be to make yourself feel good, make an ex jealous of how great you look, or wanting to reach new goals.

Passion Blog 5- Some types of alcohol can be healthy??

By now, I’m sure that we all know the dreaded Freshman 15 is a very real and very stressful thing. No matter what we do, we just can’t seem to escape even the slightest bit of weight gain. There are multiple causes to this weight gain, whether it be the fatty dining hall food, the lack of exercise, the immense amounts of stress, or, the most vital contributor, alcohol consumption. It is said that most of the weight we gain in our Freshman year of college is due to the dramatic increase in alcohol consumption upon entering school. BUT, did you know that there is some alcohol that can be beneficial to your health?!


Like any stereotypical Italian, I love wine. Now of course, I won’t be consuming it in a Frat or in a bar if I’m trying to party (Teresa, if you’re reading this; I don’t drink at all). But on occasion, my girlfriends and I love to have Wine nights! I’m not talking about Fiji’s Wine Wednesdays which consist of zero amounts of wine, I’m talking about sitting in our pajamas, watching movies, and consuming a glass each (or a bottle depends how we’re feeling). I never knew about the benefits of wine until a few weeks ago, which makes me love it even more!

Here are five reasons why Wine is good for your health:

  1. Wine reduces stress.

Now I’m sure people have said that because they are stressed, they are going to drink to get rid of it, but there is now scientific evidence that Wine really does reduce stress! (Not just in the context that alcoholics would use that statement). Not only does it have a sedating effect on the body, but also is a Central Nervous System depressant that helps to calm jitters or nerves. It can relax you and help one to fall asleep. Now I’m not suggesting to drink an entire bottle if you are stressed over finals, but half a glass could help you to calm down.

2. Wine helps your heart.

Several studies have been conducted on the hypothesis that wine can help your heart to maintain healthy function. Wine contains a substance called resveratrol, which has been a component in protecting the lining of blood heart vessels and lowering levels of cholesterol. However, this only applies to MODERATE wine consumption. I do not suggest chugging down as many bottles of wine as you can in order to stay healthy, that will more than likely give you complete opposite results.

3. Wine burns fat.

No, lifting up a bottle of wine and putting it down does not constitute as a workout, but substances in the liquid do help to give you a small “workout”. A study that was conducted at Oregon State University found that a chemical in red wine slows down the growth of fat cells and can also improve liver function in those who are seemingly overweight. Although wine does help in burning fat, please do not skip the gym and replace that time with drinking an entire bottle of wine instead. Only moderate consumption will, once again, be productive. Too much consumption can be counterproductive in the aspect of weight loss.

I don’t know about you, but I am extremely happy with these findings. Now, I can have wine without feeling guilty. That is of course, in moderation.

Passion Blog 4

Last semester, I switched back and forth on my blog between talking about fitness at the gym and the exercise I receive from Irish Dance. For those of you who do not know, I am a competitive Irish Dancer and have been competing since I was five years old. Since I am away at school, it is extremely difficult to keep up with practice, considering I don’t have the resources, space, and intensity of the practices at home. On the bright side, I only live about four hours away from Penn State, so each month (or every other month depending on what’s going on) I go home for the monthly dance workshops that we have. Leading up to a major competition, we just drill our routines over and over again, receiving sometimes harsh criticism, but we need it. When we are in between periods of “majors”, we learn new steps, revise old ones, and if nothing needs to be changed, still continue to drill routines. This past weekend I went home for workshops and, let me tell you, I got my ass beat.

Since there is really no designated area at school as to where I can practice, I have mostly just been cross training in the gym every week. Although this does help with my strength and stamina, it does not help if I am not running through routines. To my surprise, my dance instructors were pleasantly surprised with the shape that I was still in. With dance, it is extremely hard to keep up with strength. If you take even as little as a week off, you lose about 70% of your technique and need to work extremely hard to get it back. I’m truly not sure how I did not lose all of my ability, but I am so thankful that I hadn’t (mostly because if I did, my teachers would have killed me).

This summer, I am competing in the North American National Irish Dance Championships, or NAIDC for short. It’s location changes every year, but this coming summer it is being held in New Orleans, which I am way too excited about. Although I keep telling myself not to get my hopes up because of the limited amount of practicing I can do leading up to it, I remember that my entire age group is in the exact same position. This past November was the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships (MARO), and seeing just how much of an impact college had on other girls in my age group was drastic. Girls who were usually top 5, did not even make it to top 15. This is a good and bad thing; good because it gives everyone an even chance of doing well, but bad because it may hurt ones self esteem if they drop drastically in placements.

However, I am not worried about the competition, only worried about myself. I have high goals for this year’s nationals, and hope more than anything that I can accomplish these goals. My teachers believe in me, it is all a matter of my mentality. I can’t wait to see how this Nationals turns out, but more excited to see just how much I can push myself.

Passion Blog 3

These past two weeks I have realized just how easy it is to gain the freshman 15 for some people. With multiple exams per week, I barely had time to go to gym, I stress ate so much, and was just stressed in general. Honestly, I did not feel myself not being able to go to the gym as much as I usually do. I keep thinking about how much better I will feel after exams are over and I can finally get back to working out. So for this week, I’m going to stray a little from the workout aspect of this fitness blog and focus on how to stay healthy and happy when exams are coming up.

  1. Stay away from late night munchies!!I know just how tempting it is to whip out the Order Up app and order an XL pokey stix, or do run over to Redifer and get late night. DON’T! This is possibly the worst thing you can do for your body. According to the Washington Post, people consume at least 25 percent of their daily calories after dinner or who wake up to eat at least twice a week. Studies tend to show that when food is consumed late at night — anywhere from after dinner to outside a person’s typical sleep/wake cycle — the body is more likely to store those calories as fat and gain weight rather than burn it as energy, says Kelly Allison of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine’s Center for Weight and Eating Disorders.
  2. The Uber Will Get Another Customer.I know how lazy we all get after long nights of studying in Paterno or study sessions in our friends dorms. But the Uber will have other customers!! Personally, if I can’t make it to the gym one day, I will force myself to walk every where that I have to go, even though calling an Uber may sound like heaven. However, after walking from place to place, I feel better about myself because, although it’s not an intense workout and I’m not burning as many calories, it is still better than sitting in the backseat of a car, doing nothing to help myself.
  3. SLEEP!!!During exams people sleep less because of the intensive studying and overwhelming stress. Sleep is essential to everyone’s health, and when you are pulling all-nighters doing homework or studying for exams, you are unintentionally harming your body. Studies show that sleep helps you to retain more information, not to mention you do burn calories in your sleep.
  4. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.By breakfast, I don’t mean stopping at Starbucks in the Hub and ordering a large coffee and MAYBE a piece of coffee cake. By breakfast, I mean a healthy assortment of food. Such as, eggs, toast, milk, fruit, etc. It’s important to get your intake of protein, calcium, fiber, and a piece of fruit or a vegetable in there. It’s better to eat smarter in the morning, so you are not binging on unhealthy food later in the day.
  5. Water is the skin’s best friend!Caffeinated and sugary drinks may seem like a good idea at the time when you can barely keep one eye open, but your body (and your break outs) will hate you later. Too much caffeine can make you extremely jittery and unable to focus. I always recommend just drinking water, as it keeps your skin healthy and it overall better for your body. Some other options are fruit juice, milk, and anti-oxidant-rich green tea.

We all go through numerous exams at some point, but why not stay healthy while taking them.

Good luck!

Passion Blog #2

I forgot just how hard it is to fully get back in to a daily gym routine. Last semester it took me about two months to finally have a set routine and to not be too lazy or tired to go every day. During Christmas break I never went to the gym, I would just lay in bed all day. I’m pretty sure that my slacking off during Christmas break is what is contributing to my laziness here. I want to go to the gym but I get so tired after my classes are over, or I don’t have time with my extremely busy schedule. Mondays seem to be the only day that I have consistently gone so far while being back at school. However, I am truly hoping to change that. I am planning on making a schedule of when I will be able to work out and what times would be better to relax, just so going to the gym does not conflict with any classes or mandatory sorority events.

I have not yet switched up my gym routine as I said I would try to in my last post. I stuck with my usual routine. However, I did use each machine for a longer amount of time. Although I did not switch up my routine, I was able to move up in the amount of weight I used on the leg press and bar. On the leg press I usually only went up to 400 pounds. On Monday I reached 415! Surprisingly, my legs did not even feel weak afterwards, they felt great. I worked my way downstairs to the bar. I intend to slowly move up the amount of weight that I can squat, eventually hoping to reach 200 pounds. After being able to move up in weight on the leg press, I decided to challenge myself a little more on the bar. In addition to the weights that I already use, I decided that I could definitely squat some more, not as many reps, however, which was a given. I decided to add 25 pound weights to each side in addition to what I was already squatting. This would put me up to squatting 185. I was a little nervous to try it since I had never squatted that much weight, but I was determined to reach my goals.

What I was most surprised about is that I was not that sore after this week’s workout. That is always the best feeling because it just means that I am building up the muscle. With not being able to go to dance practice at school, it is so easy to lose the muscle that I had built up from the intense practices. Although I joined the dance team here, there are not enough solo practices for me to go over my routines as much as I need to. Cross training has really helped my dancing that much more. I am going home next weekend for dance workshops and I couldn’t be more excited to get back in the studio.

Passion Blog #1

I have decided to stick with the same topic that I had used last semester- fitness. Last semester, I mostly stuck with the same fitness routine, and did not totally branch out when it came to trying new classes at the IM building. This semester I plan on taking multiple classes at IM, not only Washboard Abs and Yoga classes. I also intend to mix up my workout routine, that being said, use new machines and spend longer on the machines that I already incorporated in my routine. Choosing to write about fitness for my passion blog last semester was not only enjoyable, but it really helped with staying in shape and sticking to routine schedules. I dedicated my time every day and, if unable to make it to the gym on a certain day, I would stay longer the next time I went. In my opinion, my gym routine really helped to keep the freshman 15 away but also helped when it came to my dancing.

Since I was in a different English class last semester, I will catch everyone up. 🙂

I am a competitive Irish Dancer and have been competing since the age of five. I plan on continuing to compete, however, since I can’t attend practices, I have been cross-training, mostly focusing on legs, cardio, and abs. I joined the Irish Dance Team here, but have not been consistent with attending. However, they mostly focus on group dances for their own team and, it may sound a little selfish, but I had to focus on my solo dances for the upcoming regionals. I placed 13th out of around 80 dancers and could not be happier. Cross training allowed me to build more leg strength and I had come back stronger than ever, despite barely having the space to fully run through routines.

In the gym, I use multiple machines and weights in order to really get a good workout. To start off, I always go straight towards the elliptical. In the beginning of last semester I would always to the “fat burner” work out, which changes the resistance on the machine, usually going up to 12, but keeps the same height of “steps”, lasting for twenty minutes. Towards the end of the semester I found myself always doing the “Glutes Plus” workout. This workout also lasts for twenty minutes, however, it keep the resistance constantly at four but changes the height of the steps, reaching a maximum of 13. This workout also has you pedal backwards. Next I move to the leg press. Last semester I worked my way up to leg pressing 400 pounds and this semester I would like to see an increase to at least 450. After this machine, I use the Abduction/Adduction machine, in which you put out and push in the handles with your legs. After that I work my way over to the weights. I use the 15 pound weights and work on lunges for twenty reps on each leg, then twenty reps of pulses on each leg. Finally, I make my way downstairs to squat at the bar. Last semester I slowly made my way up to squatting 150 pounds. Since the end of last semester I have worked up to 170 pounds and by now, it just comes easily. Squatting is probably my favorite workout, solely because it is the best for building leg strength and, since I have tendonitis in both knees, my doctor told me to build up the strength of my quads in order to not have any pressure on my knee caps.

All in all, I hope to expand my workout routine by the end of this semester. I have seen great results but hope to see even more results by the time May comes around.

Conclusion of Passion Blogs

I have always been passionate about good health and strength. As a dancer, I always had a specific fitness routine in order to keep my strength and stamina at the level it was. Coming to college, it was a tough adjustment to find that routine again. I wasn’t able to practice as much and I barely had time to keep up with my fitness. However, the Passion Blogs allowed me to find that routine here. Even though I was unable to practice as much as I did at home, I found that cross-training helped just as much when it came to keeping my strength and stamina within my dancing. Choosing the topic of fitness for my blog truly helped me to find what best worked for me and enabled me to continue to dance. Even after the passion blogs end, I know I will be able to keep up with this same fitness routine, as I have been doing. In the beginning, it was extremely tough to find time to go to the gym, but as I got more comfortable and assimilated into the Penn State community, I found everything that would work for my schedule. The Passion Blogs helped to find myself in this huge school and get back to normal routines, as I had been so use to at home.

Also here is a little update with how dance is going:

Over Thanksgiving break, as some of you may know from my previous blog posts, I competed in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships. Despite not having a lot of practice time and the lack of a designated practice area, I mostly cross-trained leading up to this competition. The amount of competitors in my solo competition had dropped dramatically from the previous year, solely due to everyone going away to college and quitting dance. It was mostly the top ranked dancers left in the competition and would be a blood battle for top placements. However, I am proud to say I am 13th in the Region (out of around eighty dancers). I could not be happier and feel more accomplished. Receiving that placement after having this huge adjustment was an achievement all in itself and I hope to continue to keep up with dance and possibly move up in rankings.

Next stop: New Orleans for the National Irish Dance Competition.

Passion Blog #7- Fitness

Attempting to balance school work, workouts, dance practice, and sorority events has become extremely challenging. I never expected it to be easy, but I never thought I wouldn’t be able to attend dance practices, mostly because they are so late at night. However, thanks to Greek Sing practice for my sorority, I haven’t been able to practice- which is a problem considering regionals has passed the 30 day mark. For the first time in about two weeks, I was able to attend dance class, and I have never felt better. I was certain that I would not be able to make it through a full routine, due to my lack of practicing. I entered the room with a very pessimistic view of how it was going to go. To my surprise, I did a lot better than I expected. Because I had not been going to practice, I spent majority of my free time at the gym, as you all know, cross-training and working to build more leg muscle. It didn’t feel as though I was doing anything productive, and I certainly did not think my legs had grown any stronger. However, this dance practice proved me wrong. I was able to get through two full routines, all while keeping my stamina in tact and was able to end the routine without the dreaded “jello-legs”, a term we use to describe how our legs feel once finishing a dance (they are completely dead). I had completely forgot just how vital cross-training is for dance. Stamina and knowing your steps are not the only things involved with it. Strong legs are what can help keep your stamina up! If your legs are not weakening throughout the dance, you will be able to get through it with no problem. All in all, I had began to discourage myself about how my result at regionals would turn out, solely because of how crazy my schedule is and how little time I have to practice, but after this last class, my hopes have been lifted once again. I just have to keep cross-training and try my best to make it to practice. Let’s hope for the best!

Passion Blog #6- Fitness

Guess who has finally been consistent with going to the gym again! Meeee (big surprise). This week, I had a new instructor for Washboard Abs. She took a new approach to the class as opposed to the other instructors I have had. She worked backwards. The workouts we would usually do at the end of the class, she started with, and vice versa. This class consisted of mostly lower ab workouts, which I loved! The other instructors usually focus on top abs, so it was nice to finally switch it up a bit. In my opinion, working backwards made me feel a lot better afterwards. Instead of starting with the easy ab workouts, we started with the harder ones, thus allowing ourselves to use the easier moves at the end in order to cool down. We began with an Air Bike, in which you extend one leg and bend the other, bringing your opposite elbow to your knee. Usually we start with a basic crunch, but this was much harder. The pace of the class was a lot slower than the usual class, allowing myself to focus more on doing the moves properly, as opposed to trying to fit as many as I can into the short time frame. The instructor focused more on form rather than intensity, which I enjoyed.

Due to Big-Little Week for my sorority, I was advised to be out of my room from 4 pm -6 pm, so I decided to spend that time at the gym before abs class. I used the elliptical and chose the Fat Burner workout, which lasts for twenty minutes and the resistance changes after every few minutes, making it much harder. After that, I used the hip abductor for about ten minutes. To my surprise, I was not as sore as I thought I would be the next morning. I moved my way over to the leg press and then I worked on squats and lunges. I clearly don’t skip leg day- arms, however, I do skip.