Wanna Get Fit?

So obviously college is a time of new life changes that I was personally ready and not ready for at the same time. I was expecting to not get enough sleep and I was expecting a lot of stress. I was even expecting to eat more unhealthy food than I usually do. But what I wasn’t expecting was how much of a toll this would take on my body. I definitely gained more weight than I wanted to but it was hard to start exercising regularly in the middle of the semester.

I obviously don’t want to gain the freshmen 15 again during my second year. In addition, there are many benefits to exercise that improves productivity and learning. I been using the summer to get fit and try to build up exercise habits that will carry on to next semester. So here a some of the habits that I have been doing over the summer.

  • Waking up early and going to the gym
    • Whenever I go to the gym, I tend to feel a little bit insecure going to the gym because there are always so many guys (and some girls) who know how to use the equipment and knows what they are doing.
    • So I found that going to the gym in the morning (if I don’t have morning classes), is nice because there is not that many people there and I feel less insecure. In addition, I feel great afterword and feel ready to study and take on the day.
  • Doing cardio and weights
    • I used to go only on the elliptical because I was always just focused on losing weight. However going to the elliptical gets really boring especially if there is nothing good on the TV. So I try to do weights to change up my fitness routine.
    • This makes working out more fun and more rewarding afterword.
  • Getting 7 hours of sleep
    • Obviously during college, getting 7 hours of sleep can be difficult. But sleeping honestly helps me stay alert, aware and happy throughout the day.
  • Eating more fruits/vegetables and protein
    • My diet usually consists of cereal for breakfast, rice for lunch and dinner, and some random thing in the kitchen for snack. But lately I have been trying to eat much more vegetables and fruits for all my meals and some protein for energy. And surprisingly I have not been getting hungry. Ever since I started this, I have been feeling very fresh and healthy.
  • Listening to body
    • Your diet is so important to your mental and physical health. It’s important to fuel your body and mind with the right products to live healthy, to be productive and to feel happy.
    • Personally, my body doesn’t digest carbs or gluten very well which is the main reason why I started eating more fruits and vegetables. I also found that when I start eating a lot of junk food, I have been feeling very ‘gross’ the next day. The sugar makes me feel happy in the moment but not overall.
    • So when I am presented with options either at the dining hall, students centers, or stores, I try to remember this when I want to avoid the tempting ice cream and cookies and pizza.

While it’s unrealistic to do everything when the school year begins I definitely want to be healthier and stay fit during next semester. It is important to treat your body right because it can have a major effect on your emotions, your work, and obviously your health. So try to hit the gym every once in awhile and try to makes healthier choices for yourself.

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You’ll Have to Pry My Harry Potter Obsession out of My Cold, Dead Hands

Today I want to talk about something that’s near and dear to my heart:

Harry Potter.

I had first read the Harry Potter series when I was around nine or ten years old, definitely before Deathly Hallows was published in 2010 because I have distinct memories of my mother pre-ordering the book for me and then waiting impatiently for it to arrive. I had seen the movies before then, of course, because it was almost impossible not to (though I do know of certain exceptions) but it wasn’t until I read the books that I became, and I’ll admit this, obsessed.

I’m not ashamed to admit this, though I probably should be. I have an encyclopedic knowledge of Harry Potter (I frequently wonder what I could be and all the things I would be able to do if 30% of my  brain wasn’t devoted to ‘useless Harry Potter trivia’).  In the weeks leading up to the premiere of the sixth movie, Half-Blood Prince, I’d read the entire series non-stop. A week long cycle of  “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much” to “All was well.” I must have read each book ten times that week, but I was twelve so I didn’t really have anything better to do.

I’ve seen the movies more times than I can count and every time I watch them I feel like it’s the first time. My friends and I won a Harry Potter trivia contest after three tie-breakers. I got a Pottermore account as soon as I could and was Sorted (and yes, I used a capital letter for that) into Ravenclaw, just as I knew I would even though I’m terrible at solving riddles.

“Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure!”

But it was nice to know that I wasn’t the only one who was obsessed. I wasn’t even the most obsessed. Fans have gone on to make three entire musicals, a puppet show, a convention, fan art, fan fiction, cosplay, and countless other things that I probably don’t know about, which is a level of devotion and commitment that kind of scares me, to be honest. 

I loved Harry Potter when I was growing up and if you look at it from a certain perspective I’m still growing up, so I love Harry Potter with all my heart even now, when I haven’t had the time to read the Harry Potter books in an endless loop since I was about fifteen. The books were my childhood.  They were an entire generation’s childhood. We grew up with them and it seemed the books grew up right along with us as we grew up with Harry.  The later books in the series hit on some pretty dark themes, now that I look back on them now that I’m older. They touch on things like death, fascism, racism, war, sacrifice packaged up nearly in a story about wizards and magic. It strikes me now just how young everyone was. Lily and James Potter were only 21 when they died. Harry was 17 when he finally defeated Voldemort for good. I’m three years older than him and I can barely manage feed myself let alone save the world. When you’re nine or ten, 17 and 21 seem ancient, but not really.

I often wonder how Harry Potter grew to be so popular, the science of it, I guess. What exactly was it that caused Harry Potter to hit that thing in our brains that launched it into the cultural juggernaut that it is today (and will continue to be, she thinks hopefully). 

Was it the writing? The part of me that finds hyper-analyzing every little aspect of my life incredibly fun wants to say yes. That the setting, the plot, the style, the tone, the dozens of literary terms that I could shove in this sentence but I won’t because sometimes I forget what the all mean were all so brilliant and well-crafted that they impelled Harry Potter to fame. And  get me wrong, those things are definitely a part of it, but I’m not so besotted to say that the Harry Potter books are the best books ever written. Of all time. It’s a children’s book about wizards and not all well written books achieve this level of…I don’t even know what to call it. Impact? Adoration? Who knows. 

Maybe it was a matter of right place, right time? It hit just at the right time for an entire generation to get hooked.

Maybe the magical world Rowling created hit just the right spot between fantasy and reality. “Harry Potter goes to school just like me but he learns magic. He gets to take classes on charms and how to turn goblets into ravens. They learn about spells and hexes and there are flying cars and talking spiders and dragons! Dragons! That’s so cool! I wish that was me!” I still wish that was me, to be honest.

Still waiting for mine

Maybe it was a combination of both. Maybe it was a lot of other things. Maybe it was magic. Who knows?

But Harry Potter is not without its flaws. It’s been criticized for its LGBT and minority representation. Confirming that Dumbledore is gay in an interview is not the same as confirming it in the books. Rowling’s depiction of Native American culture in Pottermore was tone-deaf.   

But nothing’s perfect and nothing has to be perfect (as long as, of course, you don’t try to pretend that it’s perfect in the first place. It’s important to be critical of the things you love.) 

I love the Harry Potter books and will continue to do so for the rest of my life (probably). So I’ll read the supplemental material on Pottermore, I’ll read the play, I’ll watch the Fantastic Beasts movies, I’ll go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter someday, and do or buy whatever other thing corporate executives come up with to suck money from poor, innocent millennials who love Harry Potter.

Just take my money

I know it may seem weird to still be so obsessed, but isn’t it nice when a lot of people love something this much?

 

RU Top 4 Eats

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I’m a commuter, and I’m hungry. ALL the time. And I spend most of my time (and money) at my top 4 favorite RU food destinations (when my lunchbox from home is empty, but my pockets aren’t). What are they? Read to find out, of course.

#4: Henry’s Diner ~ Livingston Plaza

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I honestly couldn’t decide if I wanted to place Henry’s at a tie with #3 (which shall remain unnamed for now). Apart from offering an aesthetic atmosphere, Henry’s also provides what seems like an unlimited amount of meals to choose from on the menu (that’s designed to look and feel like a newspaper, by the way!). You want eggs? Well, there’ll probably be more than twenty ways to have them. You want chicken? Prepare yourself to choose from a variety of chicken dish combinations. Orrrr, do you want to have pasta? Then you can Build Your Own Pasta Bowl!! What I’m saying here is that there’s a lot you can choose from when it comes to Henry’s. And the food itself? It won’t let you down. I usually have Chicken Marsala or Chicken Parm, which comes with a side of veggies and your choice of starch–rice or pasta. And the pasta bowls are so creamy and definitely exceed expectations. These dishes are super delish and extremely filling. Last time, my friend and I left with a food coma because there was so much “GOOD” to eat. Alas, Henry’s falls on the expensive spectrum for us college students, but hey, if you want a nice lunch out once in a while, this is the place to go!

#3: Moe’s ~ Busch Campus Center

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Moe’s: my go-to place to eat with my best friend! After a long lecture, this is the food we choose to dig in to cool off and rejuvenate. It’s quite healthy–a salad-like bowl that you build, with free tortilla chips and salsa in your bag (that’s designed like Mad Libs, by the way!) It’s a lot like Chipotle, so if you’re looking for something similar without taking the A or H bus to College Ave, then this is for you!

#2: Mamoun’s Falafel Restaurant ~ College Ave; Easton

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Ever wonder what Middle Eastern food tastes like? After going to Mamoun’s, you will definitely know. Mamoun’s offers authentic Middle Eastern dishes, along with some beautiful Middle Eastern music! The chicken kebob sandwich is. AMAZING. That’s what I have every single time I go there, because I truly can never get enough of it. It’s  marinated cubes of juicy chicken with lettuce and tomatoes stuffed inside soft, fluffy pita bread. Tahini sauce, made from tahini paste (crushed sesame seeds), lemon juice, garlic, and water, is generously added inside this sandwich. I always ask for feta cheese in that sandwich as well, because why not? (Remember, folks, there is never “too much cheese” in this world.) Aaaand, of course, Mamoun’s Falafel Restaurant proffers the best and real falafel on the East Coast. Falafel, or deep-fried balls of finely ground chickpeas, onions, parsley, garlic, and spices, also comes in a sandwich option at Mamoun’s. Try this restaurant–you won’t be disappointed!

#1: Hidden Grounds ~ College Ave; Easton

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This, my friends, is only one of the many pictures of my coffee from Hidden Grounds. Not only does this fantastic coffee shop have stunning latte art, but it also has one of the best coffee concoctions ever. EVER. That up there is a cup of Nutella Mocha–coffee, but with the perfect amount of chocolate sweetness drizzled in. Every cup I have at Hidden Grounds is steamed, stirred, and served with actual perfection. The atmosphere of this place will make you want to whip out your notebook and just start scribbling away. The suave wooden surfaces of the tables, chairs, stools, and counters are simple, but just so soothing, and they also make an ideal setting for a date. 😉 There’s also food available here, from the Bombay Sandwich to Vegan Cookie Brittle! I just adore Hidden Grounds, and it’s my favorite place at Rutgers, not to mention on Earth.

Hope y’all visit these excellent places for a bite–or drink–at one point!

Fireworks at Home

The Fourth of July may have passed already, but there are personal moments from this particular celebration of the national holiday that I thought I should share on this hot July weekend. Trust me, whenever you don’t know what to do, I would advise writing something down, anything. Even a simple written statement as “I’m bored” can do wonders for your overall well-being.

This was the first time in over 5 years that I had actually managed to capture the view of fireworks up close. Every year, I was always away with family on trips out of the country that prevented us from appreciating the freedom our nation has worked so hard to obtain, but this time, I had the pleasure of looking up at the sky and listening to the loud deafening roars of American pride in the form of bright colors and beauty, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

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Even if some of you may be too busy to celebrate, I would advise just looking at the sky even for a second on this special day, and if within earshot, to just take a moment to listen to the sounds that accompany it. In a world and in a nation where most of us are fortunate to have the civil liberties and opportunities to do what we put our mind to, we may tend to take those liberties for granted, and forget that two hundred years ago, the similar sounds of the fireworks we hear today instilled feelings of fear, not excitement. Although we no longer have to worry about being under British rule and fighting intensely for our freedom, the Fourth of July is a day we could just be happy to exist as fellow Americans, and only after seeing the fireworks up close for the first time in years did I finally come to realize the power of the human spirit to push forward even in the most difficult of times, leaving future generations to look back and appreciate all that has been done.

If this post comes off as excessively preachy and didactic, I do apologize. I simply intend to convey to my readers the astonishing moments that we may not realize we are missing sometimes, and that these small moments can be useful for days of low activity or motivation that the summer sometimes tends to bring upon us. After returning from a long vacation in Baltimore the previous week, it was nice to just sit down on the grass, amidst the mosquitoes and loud screaming children, and be part of a diverse crowd of various different races and ethnicities, all dedicated to one simple goal: to enjoy our freedoms on the birthday of the United States.

Now that I am done speaking about what Independence Day meant to me, here are some more pictures of the elusive fireworks I was fast enough to take. For you smartphone users (I have the iPhone 6s), a Noir and Process background really fits if you’re trying to capture the fireworks when it gets really dark after 9 pm.

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