HOW TO: Fit in at the Gym

(Paul Revere voice)

“The Resolutioners are coming, the Resolutioners are coming!”

Yes folks, ’tis the season of not being able to find parking at the gym, and your usual routine being interrupted by someone you’ve never seen before using your machine.  Happy January!

As both a gym employee and gym goer, I have enjoyed seeing both sides of January.  The annoyed but trying-to-be-patient face of the gym-regular AND the newbie with eyes as big and round as dinner plates (Mmm, dinner) as they try to figure out how to adjust the weights on the machine that said gym regular is waiting to use.

 Everyone was a newbie once, so I am definitely not knocking anyone trying to better themselves (I am trying to do the same right now,  but more on that at another time).  I’m just saying, it can be a rough time of year for all involved when it comes to gym.

Which is why I thought I’d help out some of the newbies by sharing a few tips from the inside.  As an employee, I see everything and hear everything, so I thought I’d share my knowledge that I’ve picked up over the years.

Exercise tips

1. Grunt.  It makes you look like you’re working really hard and is super impressive sounding.  If people stare at you, don’t worry.  It just means you’re doing it right.

2. Slam around weights.  Again, it’s all about being seen and heard at the gym.  The louder, the better. Assert your dominance and show them that you belong by illustrating your comfort with the equipment.

3. If you see someone’s water bottle or towel hanging off a machine, just assume they forgot it there and the machine is free.  Go ahead and use it, it’s fine.  And if someone comes back and gives you the  stink eye while you’re working out, it’s probably just because they’re jealous of how fit you are.

4. Make sure to leave your sweat stains on the equipment.  It shows how hard you worked and will motivate the person after you to work harder.  Cleaning it off when you’re done may seem like the responsible and clean thing to do, but it’s really just the opposite.

5.  Make sure you go out and buy special clothes just for the gym.  T-shirts and comfortable, stretchable pants/shorts just won’t cut it.  And the more expensive, the better.  And gentlemen, the cotton shorts are your best option.  You know, those ones that are super thin and basically just look like giant boxer shorts?  Those are perfect.  Gotta make sure you let your boys breath, ya know what I’m saying?  It’s just healthy.

6.  If you use chalk when you lift, make sure to sprinkle it all over the floor and leave some still on the bars when you’re done.  The person after you will be so grateful that you left some for them to use too, even if they don’t use chalk.  You’re so thoughtful!

7.  It’s totally okay to give someone unsolicited advice.  If they’re doing an exercise you’ve never seen before, then they probably are wrong and would love to have your help.  After all, there is only one way to do things when it comes to exercising.

8.  Pre-workout and protein are non-negotiable.  Get a GNC Gold Card and make sure everyone sees it.  Also, like #7, if someone is drinking a brand of protein that you don’t like, make sure to let them know.  They probably had no idea how bad it was and will appreciate your advice.

9.  Don’t worry about reracking your weights or picking up your equipment.  That’s what the gym employees are for, and it just gives everyone a little extra cardio when they have to walk around and look for the equipment they need.  So, really, you’re just doing everyone else around you a service by leaving the place in shambles.  Good job, you.

10.  Gym hours are just a suggestion.  If it’s closing, but you still have a few sets left to go and still wanted to shower, that’s totally fine.  The staff will totally wait, it’s not a big deal.

And finally, the most important rule:

11. It isn’t supposed to be fun.  You’re here to work, so act like it.  Smiling, laughing, or enjoying yourself of any kind shows weakness.  Just keep your head down, finish your workout, and then go post about it on Facebook.  Exercise is serious business.

So there you have it.  Follow all of my tips and you’ll be a gym expert in no time.  Happy January!

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14 Things I Learned in 2014

A year in review, by Kelsey:

1. Taylor Swift is everything. I was a skeptic before, but now I am a whole-hearted believer.  All Hail Queen Tay Tay.

2.  Gluten will kill you.  So will sugar, and diary.  As will all GMO-products.  Actually, on second thought, maybe all food is awful.  Just learn to survive on air and quinoa, and you’ll survive.

3.  The Walking Dead is a thing.  I don’t understand it, but supposedly it’s a Thing.  Start watching it or get used to not understanding the work-place conversations about it because it’ll probably never stop.

4. Onesies are amazing.  I knew this before, but had no idea the power of an animal onesie over a regular onesie.  They’re not only cozy, but the added level of whimsey can brighten your mood when you didn’t even know you needed cheering up.

5. “Furries” are a community. They confuse and excite me all at the same time.  I’m excited to see how this pans out in 2015.

(Sidenote: Does my animal onesie make me apart of this group? Still undecided about how I feel about it.)

6. It’s really easy to lose a plane.  And it’s also super hard to find that plane after you lose it.  (Is nobody concerned about the Malaysia flight anymore!? Am I the only one?! ALIENS?)

7.   It’s totally worth it to spend a few extra bucks on quality products.  The money you save in the long-run by buying something better made that will last way longer will far outweigh the money you think you save upfront by buying the cheaper version you have to replace more often.  Plan your purchases when your bank account can afford it, and just remember how awesome it feels to look good/feel good with said products when you use them.

8.  Givings gifts feels exceptionally better than receiving them.  And gifts don’t have to be goods, they can be actions as well.  You can never put a price on showing a loved one that you care, or reminding a stranger that despite all the bad in the world, there are still good people too.

9.  Triple shot Americanos with a little bit of heavy cream are the best coffee-shop orders for several reasons: It’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s universal (every shop usually has it), and it’s still different and decadent enough that you don’t feel like you’re wasting money when you order it (see: buying a black coffee from a shop when you could have made it yourself at home).  Shoutout to the QueenSCB for this recommendation.

10.  Invest in some of the rewards cards for your favorite stores.   Maybe I’m slow to party here, but Sephora rewards points, and Starbucks rewards were the best thing to ever happen to me.  I’m going to spend my money there anyway, so why not rack up points and earn free sh*t while I do it?

11. Everyone has a story.  It’s super easy to make judgements about people, especially when you’re young and have a very narrow world view.  Asking questions and getting to know people can teach you about the world, as well as about that person.  And it’s usually the people with the seemingly most unimpressive lives that have the best insight and knowledge.  Get to know your co-workers and neighbors and you won’t be disappointed.

12.  Puppies are still cute.  I know this seems like a given, but still.  It’s worth it to remind everyone.

13.  Time is short, but there is also a lot of it.  Chase your dreams and your ambitions, but rest assured that although anything could happen at any moment, you do have time.  You can act as quickly, or as slowly and calculated as you want.  It’s okay not to have things figured out at 22, the same way it’s okay to feel like you’re at a cross-roads at 50.  Move at your own pace, but know that there are consequences.  The time you’ll waste, you’ll never get back.  Choose wisely.

(Was that vague? Good.  Life is vague.  Buddha. Yoga.  Find an approach to live that works for you and stick to it.  But change your approach as you seem fit.  Maybe this is too vague.  Or maybe I’ve had too much coffee. Whatever)

14. Pants are overrated.  See #12.

See you all in 2015!

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Practical Things Every Twenty-Something Needs

Being post-grad is a constant learning experience.  Learning about how to live in a new city, with a new roommate (or alone), away from your family and friends, with a full time job, or being responsible financially. Or even just moving back in with your mom in your hometown.  All of these new experiences will have you thinking, “Man, I wish I had…” when the time comes to do something “grown up” and out of your comfort zone.

Having lived in the “real world” (LOLz) for a few months now, I have adopted a few new invaluable items in my life that I think are essential for any young adult:

1.  Address book

Your friends have moved away and have new houses/apartments.  And you’re finally at that age where you should be sending your own birthday card to your grandma.  Save yourself the time and effort of texting to ask for their address each time, and get an address book.

For the truly lazy, just start an Excel doc on your computer.  Or use this as an excuse to go stationary shopping.  Huzzah for cute new notebooks!

Either way, start writing down contact details when you get them.  It’s way easier to surprise your friends with cards or gifts when you don’t have to ask for their address for 10th time.

2.  Savings Account

This seems like a huge pain– because let’s be real, you already have a checking account, so what else do you need?  Wrong-o.

Depending on your bank, you can probably do this online in a few minutes.  Open it up and transfer a good chunk of cash into it.  Create a plan to keep slowly adding to it, and never remove money unless it’s an emergency.  And I mean real emergency, not a “these shoes are cute and they’re my size!” emergency.

Adding just $10 per paycheck to this account will only benefit you in the long run.  When your car suddenly breaks down, or an unexpected bill comes up, you’ll be SUPER happy you have something like this.

Or, if you really want to go for it, make a plan.  My goal for 2015 is to add $100 dollars to my savings account on the first of every month, in addition to my new half-of-every-paycheck rule.  At the end of 2015, I’ll have made an extra $1,200.  That’s what we call Rainy Day money!

3.  Important Documents Box

My mother began one of these for me a few years ago.  Immediately I rolled my eyes at the thought, but after purchasing a new car, and moving a bunch of bills into my own name, I’m so glad I have this.

My box contains my banking info, loan info for my car, medical information, birth certificate, passport, etc.  I also have files for keepsakes, like meaningful cards or letters, clippings from newspapers that I kept, and back-up copies of recipes in the same box.  It’s my catch-all for important things.

Bonus: If you are a forgetful/messy/lazy person (like me), this is your go-to place for anything super important you need.  Never a reason to think about where to put something to keep it safe (and then forget about it) if you know exactly where it goes.

4.  A Credit Card

Even if it’s just a Target card, have SOMETHING under your name that helps you build credit. One day you will want to do something like a buy house, a car, or take out a loan.  And to do that, it’s amazingly helpful to have a good credit score.

How do you build a credit score?  Get a credit card.

Recently when getting my new car, I learned about this first hand.  Thanks to my father forcing me into setting up a small credit account in the beginning of college (and teaching me responsible use of it) my credit score is actually very good.  Therefore, my interest payment for my car loan is incredibly low.  Just by having this card, and using it to buy gas, or my books for school, and then paying it back off immediately, I managed to build good credit.

5.  Résumé with References

For some this is a no-brainer, but it’s worth saying again: Have a resume, and keep it updated.  Also, learning to write a cover letter is a good skill to have as well.  You never know when you’ll need one, or what kind of job will ask for it.  Both the restaurant and the gym asked for my resume when applying for part-time jobs, which was very surprising to me.  I’m super glad I had it on hand (and updated) so I could whip it out immediately.  They were also very impressed by this, believe it or not.

Go above and beyond and keep some references handy as well.  For jobs, promotions, or financial dealings, you’ll never know when you need to have references on hand.  Asking your references ahead of time if they’d be happy to sing your praises for you will take so much stress out of a situation that will require you to have one.  Might as well have it ready!

I’m sure this list will grow as I continue to navigate this super scary world outside of school, but these are the weapons in my adult arsenal at the moment.  Bonus: You can buy cute versions of them as well (like the address book!) and cute accessories, so no matter how practical, they can still be fun!

What are the practical (yet boring) adult items you can’t live without?

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Man Buns & Unspirational Monday

This weekend I was in Chicago (Again? Shocker.) to spend some much needed QT with my loving friends.

Not as much debauchery was had as last time, unless you count being sober at a bar while two horrifically drunk guys try to pick you up by demanding your input on their “Which Disney movie is the best of all time?” debate.   (Recap: They said Aladdin, whereas we suggested Pocahontas, Mulan, or Frozen.  I am apparently very into strong female characters, much to the drunk boys’ surprise.  It’s a shame it didn’t work out between us.)

In between unwanted advances from sweaty, whiskey-breathed men, we had an in-depth conversation about our favorite Instagram accounts of the moment, which is what inspires today’s post:

The Instagram account “unspirational” is my new favorite thing, and here is why:

A photo posted by Unspirational (@unspirational) on Nov 11, 2014 at 10:06am PST

A photo posted by Unspirational (@unspirational) on Nov 11, 2014 at 9:47am PST

A photo posted by Unspirational (@unspirational) on Nov 11, 2014 at 11:42am PST

A photo posted by Unspirational (@unspirational) on Sep 9, 2014 at 3:06pm PDT

I am a little obsessed.  We spent most of dinner on Saturday laughing over these pictures, as well as drooling over the pictures on “dilfs_of_disneyland” and “manbunmonday“, my two other new favorite Instas.  Babies AND dads with tattoos?  How can you go wrong?

We were pretty split on the man buns, but I am all for a stud with a top knot.  Add a little stubble and maybe a tattoo to that?  Lordy.  Don’t even get me started on the “Lumbersexuals” either.

A photo posted by @manbunmonday on Nov 11, 2014 at 3:50pm PST

AM I RIGHT??

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Buck up, Sailor

Maybe you got some bad news.  Maybe something you were hoping to do didn’t exactly turn out like you thought it would.  Or maybe you are just feeling blue for no good reason whatsoever.

Time to snap out of it.

1.  Look at this video of the puppy rolling down the hill.  So happy and so fluffy and WEARING A SWEATER.

2. Dance to Taylor Swift or Betty Who in your underwear.  “Shake it off,” “Somebody Loves You,” or “Heartbreak Dream” are always great options.  Shake what your momma gave you until you’re out of breath and smiling.
3. Military reunion videos.  Force that happy cry out, like a emotional purge.  Make sure to close the door and keep tissues on hand though, because this one could be awkward to explain in public.  No, I’m really fine, just watching videos of strangers.  No need to call the police or the white coat people.

4.  Read about the Indiana University Dance Marathon.  Check their Instagram, Twitter and website. Hell, just search “#IUDM14” on any social media.  This year they raised $3.2 MILLION dollars for the Riley Hospital for Children.  It’s truly an amazing organization (and I’m not just saying that because I’m a 4-year dance marathon alum).  Put your life and problems into perspective while listening to stories of families fighting horrible circumstances and overcoming.  Watch children dancing on stage in front of hundreds of people and the pure bliss on their faces while the crowd screams for them as they forget their illnesses, challenges and pain for just a few moments.  
5. Nutella.
Onward and upward, my friends.  
Happy Sunday.

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