Friday, 17 October 2014

Something New?

"I like to challenge myself. I like to learn - so I like to try new things and try to keep growing"
- David Schwimmer

In my last post, I mentioned taking up a new exercise activity. Don't remember? Check it out here. Well I took up BOXING! Yes, you read it right, boxing.

Why did I decide on boxing?
I actually did a few classes over the summer - some boxfit classes, nothing serious and I enjoyed them so I decided to give the sport a go. I joined my university's boxing club and I'm glad I did. It's not everyday go gym or go's good to change things up!

How am I finding it? 
I'll admit after my first training session, my upper body was unbelievably sore, I could barely move. Surprisingly, my body adjusted after the first week or so and I don't feel anything now. Training sessions are intense y'all...before warm-up is done I'm already sweating and before training is over, I'm drenched in sweat. That's good though, it means I definitely got a good workout in. I train twice a week and I actually had my first sparring session this week i.e. I got in the ring and had a mock fight. It was such an adrenaline rush.

Boxing? Are you crazy? Isn't that dangerous?
Boxing isn't as dangerous as most people think. Like with any other sport, it comes with injuries. You're actually more likely to be severely injured playing something like rugby rather than boxing. And just to be clear - I'm talking about amateur boxing, it's relatively safe. Honestly though, I'm more concerned with the fitness aspect than competing - so I'll be OK! :D

I've been doing the sport for about a month now and so far I'm loving it! It's a great way to work-out, I can definitely see improvements in my upper body strength and I've shed some pounds too! It's a wonderful way to relieve stress. Boxing actually challenges you mentally - it teaches you discipline and requires focus and perseverance. I

Are you tired of your workout routines? Why not challenge yourself and try something new? It doesn't have to be boxing, it maybe something you've always wanted to do or something completely out of your comfort zone. It's a fantastic way to keep boredom at bay and keep you on that fitness journey!

- Precious Amaka

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

September Check-In

Hello lovelies!

I know. It's been and other unexpected responsibilities took over my life so I've been super busy, with very little time to blog (or engage in other forms of social media). Anyhoo, how did everyone get on with their September goals? Here's how I got on with mine.

(Haven't a clue what I'm talking about? Check out this post!)

#1 Train for a 5K race
Surprisingly, I kept up with this. I got into into a routine of running 3 mornings a week before class. Unfortunately I won't be able to compete in the race as I had hoped :( but I am going to continue with the training and try run the 5K distance by myself. I quite enjoy running in the morning. I have so much energy and better concentration during class, it's incredible!

#2 Read two books this month
I only read one this month - The Thing Around Your Neck - a collection of short stories by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I really liked this book, it's so simply written with enjoyable story lines.

#3 Two blog posts and comment on 5+ blogs a week
This was such a FAIL. Ha. (I need to sort out a posting schedule...and my life!) I did actually interact very well on a few blogs in the first couple of weeks, so that was good. :D

#4 Consistency
I did very well on this on the aspect of running and fitness, so I'm glad about that. I still need to keep at it though!

Overall, it's not so bad. There are areas I definitely need to work on. My plans for October are to:

- Continue with the 5K training
- Try out a new exercise activity
- Blog more often - once a week seems more reasonable

With all that said....October come at me brah!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

College Series #3: How NOT to go broke while in university

Learning how to manage our finances is one of the life lessons that we as students must learn. College education is costly and if we aren't careful, we can incur a serious amount of debt. From the moment I began university, I was bombarded with various financial advice from different sources (I'm sure it's the same thing in most universities). I've whittled down all the information that I've gathered in my own experience into 10 essential tips on how NOT to go broke while in university.

  1. Find out about all the financial aid available in your college that you can apply for, such as grants, scholarships, bursaries etc
  2. Start budgeting. It doesn't have to be fancy. Calculate your available income and from that deduct the cost of items that must be paid for such as bills, rent, travel etc. The amount left over is your dispensable income i.e how much you can spend on yourself for entertainment, clothes etc
  3. Begin the habit of SAVING. Avoid splurging and save towards a particular item. Is there a new handbag you have your eye on? Use that as your motivation to save instead of splurging on the item and feeling guilty about it afterwards.
  4. Shop around for the best deals. Here in Ireland, sites like GroupOn have great deals on various things.
  5. Always ask if shops do student discounts. Shops such as New Look and TopShop in Ireland give 10% student discount - always ask at the checkout!
  6. Don't hang with big spenders. Some students have parents with deep pockets. If you know you aren't able to keep up with their kind of spending, stay in your own lane. Don't live outside of your means to keep up appearances. It isn't worth it.
  7. Get real with your expenses. Figure out the areas where you are spending unnecessarily and break those habits. Is it buying bottled water? Buy yourself a water bottle and refill as you need. Is it on food? Bring in your own lunch/food - spending €5 a day on food certainly adds up!
  8. Cheap entertainment is always good. We all want to have fun without breaking the bank. Want to catch a movie? Find out the student deals available in the cinema. Going on a night out? Put yourself on the cheaplists/gueslists. A lot of clubs do free entry before a certain time. Never bring your debit/credit card out on a night-out - very bad idea. Your transport money and the amount you want to spend on the night is all you need.
  9. Buy used textbooks. University books cost a fortune, one can easily spend €500 buying new textbooks! Ask around in your college/university for a second hand bookshop. Amazon is also amazing for second hand books. Before you buy, make sure the book is an absolute requirement!
  10. Look for ways to earn money. Dont have a job? Start your own business. Offering lessons in musical instruments, secondary school subjects are great ways to earn cash. Find a particular service that you can offer and charge people for it! I used to tutor secondary school kids in certain subjects and I earned good money that way. Keep your eyes open for once-off jobs on campus. There's always money lurking about to be earned!
I hope this helps someone. Don't fret too much about money. There's much more to life than that. 

"The art is not in making money, but in keeping it"

Thursday, 4 September 2014

September - A Fresh Start!

It's the month of September already! Can you believe it? I feel like it was just two weeks ago that we celebrated New Years and now we're in to the "-ember" months. I'll be honest, I've been SLACKING on the health and fitness front, I haven't been as committed as much as I would like. September means back-to-school season and as a child I was always excited for back-to-school season - new clothes, new books, new things etc. So in the spirit of the season I decided to regroup, give myself a fresh start and set myself some goals!

1. Train for a 5K race
When I was trying to lose weight, it was easier to stay on top of exercising because I had a goal. But now that I achieved my goal, it's been hard to maintain the healthy lifestyle, I let myself go halfway through summer. To get back on track, I've decided to start outdoor running (I usually run on the treadmill). I've always liked running, it's an easy form of cardio so I'm hoping to compete in my very first race! It's a 5K race (Run in the Dark Dublin). My goal is to be able to run 5K by the 12th November (the day of the race). I'll be using the C25K app - an app which trains you to be able to run 5K over a period of 8 weeks.

2. Read two books a month
I loved to read when I was younger, but as I grew older my academics took up more and more of my time and I had less time to read. I recently rediscovered my love for books and actually I finished a novel last week - Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I have one word for this book - amaaaazing! I really can't get into it, it would require it's own blog post.

3. Write a minimum of two blog posts and comment on 5+ blogs a week 
I'm still a newbie to the blogosphere so I should post and interact with other bloggers more regularly to help increase my readership. But I haven't. I have no excuses really, just plain old laziness. That's going to change by the grace of God.

4. Be more consistent
Consistency is my major struggle at the moment. I've been on a plateau for some time when in fact, I should be making progress as regards fitness. This basically means I need to be more consistent with my  workouts...and stop having so many cheat days!

These goals are not just for the month of September, but for the next couple of months. I'll do a check in at the end of the month to see how I get on. Do you guys have any goals? Comment below and tell me what they are!

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
- Aristotle

Monday, 1 September 2014

College Series #2: Friendships

People say that university is the time to make lifelong friends. I don't know how true that is because I'm not yet out of university. What I do know is that the first steps in making those friends can be quite difficult. Coming from a background where my classmates from primary school were the same as in secondary school, I had never been in a situation where I was forced to make friends. So, the transition into a large university where I knew nobody was daunting and stressful. I'm going to be sharing a few things that I wish I had known going into uni.

Make the most of Orientation/Freshers week. It's an equal playing field for everyone. People don't know each other and are feeling just as nervous as you. Try to engage in conversation with as many people as you can. Sign up for clubs and societies where you'll meet people who have the same interests as you. Three conversation starters usually are: "What's your name? What course are you studying? Where are you from?" The flow of the conversation will determine the kind of relationship you develop with that person - you may end up never speaking to that person again or you may very well become best friends.

Be yourself and be comfortable in who you are. Don't try to force yourself to be a certain personality. Why? It's going to be darn well difficult to keep up appearances for your remaining college years. Don't compromise yourself and your standards to fit in with others. It's not worth it - something I learned the hard way.

Smile! :) Smiling creates an inviting and welcoming aura about you that people will want to be your friend. When speaking with people, don't forget to listen. People appreciate being made feel important. Nod your head along with the conversation if you have to - your body language speaks volumes!

Remember, finding  people you click with generally takes some time. Be patient - those lifelong friends aren't made within a week. It took me most of my first year to meet people that I would hang with most of the time.

Finally, choose your friends wisely! We all need people who we can hang out with, have a laugh with and share the college struggle with. Good friends are a support system away from home. A popular saying goes, "show me your friends and I'll tell you who you are." Experts say we become an average of the top five people closest to us. Friends influence us - for good or for bad - so choose wisely!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

College Series #1: Time Management

Hello friends! So back to school season is upon us again and I decided to start a college series for those who may be entering into college/university, providing tips on dealing with issues that affect us as students such as study techniques, friendships, anxiety etc. These topics can also be useful for those who are already in university. Today, I'll be writing on time management while at university.

University is a big change from school - we have more freedom, we are immersed in a new environment, we meet new people, we get involved with clubs and societies, we have to balance our social life while trying not to fall behind in our academics and so on. I speak from experience when I say it can be overwhelming. How does one balance it all? How does one keep it together without losing one's sanity?

Here are a few things I've learned in my time at university, helping me balance extracurricular activities along with my school work.

#1 - Become ORGANISED
Keep track of everything. Write everything down. This is the single most important step to ensure that you don't forget anything. At the start of every academic year, I buy a planner and I write down when I have exams, assignments, meetings, events....everything. Go crazy and make it colour coded if you want. If you aren't old school like me, you can use your phone, iPad etc.

#2 - Develop a ROUTINE
Once you have your college timetable, develop a schedule. Figure out when you study best and put it into your schedule. Schedule in meetings/training sessions for clubs and societies, your workout sessions and don't forget to schedule in time for fun! All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! They say it takes 30 days for us to get into a routine but once we develop good habits it makes our lives easier. I like routine, it has definitely help me manage my time more effectively. I like to plan ahead, so every Sunday evening, I'd schedule my week ahead, it keeps me organised and on top of things.

#3 - Choose your PRIORITIES
It's very easy for us to become engulfed by university life and lose sight of the important things, putting ourselves under unnecessary stress. I've learned to just take charge of the situation and focus on my main priorities. While it is important to get involved with extracurriculars, our number one priority in uni should be our education. All other activities are secondary to this. Prioritising means deciding on tasks that are urgent and important i.e your college work and dealing with those first before tackling other things.

The biggest one of them all. Let's be real, every student has and will procrastinate - it's our thing. I procrastinate too. What is procrastination? It is the act of avoiding doing things that need to be done or leaving things undone for as long as possible. Procrastination may not necessarily be a bad thing, for example some people say they work best under pressure and tight deadlines. I ain't one of those people so I'm trying to overcome my tendency to procrastinate. If you find that procrastinating is affecting your ability to be productive then you need to work on it. One way that I deal with procrastination, especially during busy times is that I make daily to-do lists and only when I complete my to-do list do I reward myself with something that I would much rather do.

#5 - Learn to let things GO
A lot of the time we like to please people and take on too much tasks than we are able to manage. Remember it's OK to say no to people. It's OK to decline that party invitation if you know there's an important exam that you need to study for. Skip a few society meetings or sports games or whatever if you must. (Remember, what is your main priority?) Also, avoid the drama that comes with being involved with so many people. This can lead to major time wastage. There will be confrontations and people who will step on your toes and push your buttons. Sort out the issue and move on with your life. Ain't nobody got time for that!

There will be unexpected situations that arise, unplanned emergencies, etc - such is life. Make adjustments for them in your schedule and don't be freaked out when they occur. You may not be able to complete all that you would like to in a week, it happens, move things around so that you complete those which are urgent and important.

“You can’t save time, you can only spend it wisely”

This post has been in collaboration with Jenny (Jennos Health) & ID (iolatunji) who are also doing back to school posts.

Monday, 11 August 2014

So You Want To Lose Weight At Uni - How I Lost 17 pounds!

University can be the most exciting time of your life with the thrill of new experiences, new friends, living away from home and the freedom to make your own choices etc. But weight gain is a very commonplace issue that comes with adjusting to the change and new environment. Many students use food as a coping mechanism to deal with the new stresses they are under. In the United Sates, the weight gain in the first year of uni is often referred to as the "Freshman 15" (as in 15 pounds). I was a victim of this, gaining weight in my first two years of college due to poor diet habits and lack of exercise.

However, over the last academic year (2013/2014) I managed to lose 17 pounds. My starting weight was 78kg (171 lb) and I currently weigh 70kg (154 lb), a healthier weight for my height. I've had a lot of people asking about the "secret" to my weight loss, so I decided to share my weight loss story - what I did to get the weight off while in university.

First off, there is no "secret" - just plain old exercise + diet. The key thing I learnt over the whole process is that weight loss is truly 80% diet and 20 % exercise. Over the period I lost weight, I focused mainly on my diet and tried my best to workout as much as I could.


#1 - Stop OBSESSING over weight loss
I've had many tries at this weight loss thing and each time I failed. Why? Because my mind was too preoccupied with trying to lose weight, that I gave up each time when I didn't see quick results. This time around, my focus was on trying to be healthier. I rearranged my mindset and forgot about the weighing scale. I got more involved with societies at uni, so that took up a lot of my attention and I focused on eating a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner.

#2 - Portion Control
This has to be the most important. I cannot stress this enough but portion sizes has a very big role to play in weight loss. To help me in reducing my portions, I would use a smaller plate, drink water before my meal to help me eat less. And over time, I reduced my portion sizes drastically.

#3 - Watch your grocery shopping
I lived away from home while in university, so I bought my own groceries. When shopping I made sure I would buy more fruits and veggies and I avoided buying junk foods that would always be readily available when I lived at home. This helped me because if the junk food wasn't in my kitchen, then I wouldn't give myself the opportunity to eat it. Once in awhile I would indulge myself in a little junk food, especially when my housemates would bake hehe. Like I said earlier, the key thing is to watch your portions!

I started drinking a lot more water. I made sure I drank at least 2 litres a day. Although it meant more trips to the toilet, it kept me fuller for longer and I also saw improvements in my skin - double win!

#5 - Exercise
This wasn't a huge factor in losing the weight, it was mostly my diet. My goal was to go to the gym at least three times a week, there were some busy weeks when I made it to the gym only once in the week. During study week and exam periods, when all my focus was on the books, I did home workouts instead of going to the gym. For example, I would do 10 min workout routines during my study breaks.

Weight loss takes time and in my case it was a very gradual process. I hope this helps someone, especially as it's back-to-school season, and motivates them for the next school year!