If you are a member of the Vassar community, then you are privy to the wonderful anomaly that this school likes to call “October Break.” A wonderful yet abstract phenomenon, October Break is a time to escape the hard curriculum of Vassar at least for a little bit, rejuvenating your body and soul. It feels as though you are in a nice limbo, and time has stopped. Nothing in the world can affect you. And then you get to the Saturday before you go back to school.
You are lethargic, and your clothes are starting to feel a little bit tighter. It’s a common trap that many fall into. Striving to avoid the freshman 15, students start the year off well, going to the gym regularly, getting into a routine. Yet when breaks hit, all motivation is lost, as the prospects of a real bed and mom’s home cooking call your name. You run for twenty minutes on Sunday, fifteen on Monday, and by Tuesday, you’re waking up at 2:00 p.m.
I fell into the trap last year, and coming back to Vassar after each break left me struggling to get back into my fitness routine. However, all hope is not lost. This past October Break, I made it a goal to maintain my schedule, and the effects have been marvelous. And as one struggling college student to another, I am here to say that maintaining fitness levels during breaks takes diligence, dedication and determination, but is a very attainable goal for all.
The first thing everyone wants to do when they start break is sleep. Just collapse on the bed and not wake up for a total of four days. But don’t do it! Yes, you have been emotionally drained by the woes of midterms or finals, but rule one to maintaining an exercising routine is to not let up at the start of break. Give yourself a little time to process all of the academic craziness that you just endured, but don’t use this as an excuse to sit in front of the television for five hours the first day you get back.
Running can be very therapeutic and more effective at bringing your body back to homeostasis compared to an ice cream binge fest. If you tell your body that it’s okay to take that long of a break, it makes it that much more difficult to get back into the swing of things. Yet, if you happen to go into break with the mindset that nothing has changed, at least in a physical sense, then you can be mentally prepared to stay on a casual exercise cycle right at the start and make falling back into things back at school a lot easier.
The next step to keeping up your fitness away from Vassar is to switch it up! By day three or four of break, many of us have started to feel what I like to call “the perennial fatigue.” You are getting tired of your third day doing the same exact thing, and you’re starting to lose motivation to continue to do anything productive. One way you can change up your daily routine is to do something completely different physically. Go on a hike with friends or take a swim at the local pool. Sitting at the gray, dull gym can sometimes add to your monotone experience. If you do different activities throughout the break, you are more likely to continue to look for new ways to push your body and have a good time as well.
Group activities are also a great way to enhance this process. Let’s face it, everything is better with a group of good, nice friends. Instead of taking your nightly run to the local McDonald’s for some soft serve ice cream, challenge your friends to do something completely different. It will help maintain your sanity at home and your overall fitness level within yourself.
Another important rule is to try and stay away from all the delicious food that will be offered to you. At Vassar, it can be easy to maintain a healthy diet with all the options on campus. However, everyone knows that when nana offers you a slice of that apple pie, it’s hard to turn down. Just moderate what you eat. You don’t have to go all health nutty in order to maintain a certain level of health. Just try your best not to pig out the first day back.
Next, you have to keep a schedule that you follow. If you set aside a time everyday of your break to go do something outside or go to the gym, you are much more likely to follow it. Many, including myself, have used the “I’ll go when I have time” excuse far too often times. You find that unless you give yourself a definite time to go exercise, other parts of your life begin to take priority. You keep pushing back your workout hours until you find yourself not doing anything physical at all. Maintaining a schedule can sound a bit tedious and tiresome, but it is a sure fire way to make sure you stay true to yourself and really keep on a fitness track during those breaks.
The final, and most important, step of this process is to have fun! Exercising can be the most boring thing in the world if you want it to be. If you attempt to force yourself to wake up at 6:00 a.m. everyday, have a negative attitude about the situation and want to be anywhere else, then what’s the point?
First, you will be affecting your emotional well-being, and maintaining a strong mental state of health is extremely important when it comes to physical well-being. Studies have shown that your body is much more likely to respond to physical activity when you are happy and energetic compared to an unhappy and annoyed attitude. Second, if you are annoyed at the prospect of exercising over break, then that feeling will transfer back to Vassar and continue throughout your time here. You will come back finding that you are much less motivated to make that long trek to the gym.
Having fun and being positive about exercise and fitness will help you come back to Vassar refreshed and happy, making your transition to college after breaks an overall easier and more pleasant experience for your mind, body and soul.