Review of The Millennial’s Guide to Changing The World

Disclaimer: I received this product for free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Let me begin by saying “The Millennial’s Guide to Changing The World” is the wake-up call, not just millennials need but everyone. For most millennials when we hear the term referring to our generation; we cringe a little because of the negativity that is associated with it. I personally, can’t think of the last time I heard “millennial” in a positive way. Here’s my review of The Millennial’s Guide to Changing The World.

In Alison Lea Sher’s debut book she writes in a real and relatable way. This comes from the facts, her life experience, and the overall drive to share her thoughts on what’s wrong with society, the world, and everything in between in the most real and honest way. However, she doesn’t stop there. She also offers real advice for what we, millennials, can do to change things.

I highly recommend this inspiring read. You can find it on Amazon through this link. You can also check out Alison Sher’s website: http://www.millennials-incorporated.com

Sher sums it up the best by saying this book isn’t just for millennials, but also for the baby boomers are trying to understand us, the forgotten Gen X’ers, and the Gen Z’ers who might be trying to figure out what their future looks like.

Let me say it a little for those in the back, this book is NOT just for millennials. It’s to help bring a common understanding between the current generations that are attempting to coexist on this planet.

Once I began to read this book I was like, “wait… that’s me!” Sher discusses how millennials are struggling with finding purpose in a society where a traditional lifestyle looks like education, stable job, marriage, house, children, etc. But, millennials are most often seeking higher levels of education than the generations that came before us. Despite that, we still face an extremely competitive job market that leaves a percentage of us… screwed. This leaves most of us having to push off the traditional lifestyle, if not possibly walking away from it altogether.

Times are constantly changing, and the millennial generation alone is changing the way things are done. There are people making careers on YouTube and Instagram. You’re reading this on my blog, something I rarely tell people about because of the raised eyebrow I know I can expect in response due to currently seeking a degree. Then there’s the fact our generation is one of the most aware generations and has a desire to make a difference in the world. We want to feel like we have a purpose and fulfill it.

Honestly, this book made me feel like I wasn’t alone. It somewhat reinforces the idea that I’m not alone in stressing about my purpose – common for college students. Sher includes a multitude of interviews with millennials who are doing various things. Real stories from real people giving a dose of reality to anyone who reads this book. Sher includes stories of people with identity struggles finding themselves, the ones who are still struggling to find themselves, the ones who are already making a huge difference in the world, and the ones who are just trying to survive. These stories are all important.

A point that Sher emphasizes is the idea that everything is connected. Meaning, everything we do and every choice we make influence our environment which, in turn, then affects us. That’s why there is this overwhelming need for change. As millennials, we have the resources and power to make a difference… and that’s what we need to do.

“The Millennial’s Guide to Changing The World” is the book our world needs right now. Sher manages to touch on everything from politics, relationships, our environment and gets real about what’s wrong with us (ALL of us). Her humorous approach is what makes this book an enjoyable read, but she shows that change is possible with little perseverance.

So if you’re looking to change the world, or maybe just make a difference, I highly recommend checking this book out. It’s one of those books you can truly read over and over.

Disclaimer: I received this product for free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

My Journey to Self-Love as a Runner

Can I get a little personal today? Some of you may know that I started this blog as a freshman in high school… at the age of 14, I knew I wanted to help empower women (men are welcome too!) on their fitness journey. Part of helping empower people is by helping them feel more confident which means learning to love yourself just the way you are. With that, today I wanted to share my personal journey to self-love as a runner.

I grew up running around a track, some of my biggest goals are running based. Running is a sport I’ve fallen in love with, but it’s been a rocky road with running. Even though I love my sport today, it wasn’t always so simple.

Despite growing up running, I wasn’t always thrilled about having a “runner’s body”. When I began to truly focus on improving in my sport, instead of focusing on improving my time, I could only focus on how my body looked. To me at that point, it didn’t matter that I could keep up with and beat others my age. It only mattered that I had larger quads and calves, strong arms, a defined back and core, but none of the other girls did. That for some unknown reason I was a distance runner with “thunder thighs”.

These thoughts weren’t limited to my early teenage years either; they were there up until I ran my first half-marathon just a few months ago – roughly 5ish years. It was at this point I was pushed athletically to limits I partially didn’t know existed. My entire life I was a 5,000-meter runner, with an occasional 10K thrown in, but it never occurred to me that it was because of my strong body, including my “thunder thighs” that I was able to quickly run these distances comfortably.

It’s been almost a year since my mentality of hating my muscular thighs, arms, back, etc switched to learning to love it. It’s because of my muscles that I can run.

My “thunder thighs” have helped finish numerous 5 and 10Ks and two half-marathons; plus running however many miles in each training cycle. Have pushed through however many 200, 400, 800m repeats. Lightly danced up a hill at the end of the race when you have nothing left in the tank. Somehow manage to keep pushing through even though your mind gave up a half mile ago.

I grew up not liking the way I looked because it wasn’t normal in my sport to look strong. Despite all distance runners being strong, it almost felt as though everyone else on the track could look strong but we couldn’t. The acceptance we see today is very new, but I’m glad that our sport is evolving. However, this acceptance goes beyond our sport. It’s becoming more prominent in other areas as well such as the fashion industry. A prime example is True & Co. who’s goal is to create bra’s that help women feel confident in their own skin.

Hopefully, with the evolution, our sport is going through, it will help give confidence to those young girls (or boys) coming up in our sport to love the way they are built even if it isn’t like their teammates. Despite the importance of that, I also hope it helps any of you out there whether you’ve grown up running or just picked it up a day ago, that no matter where you start you’re a runner. I see so many women constantly put themselves down in our sport.

Either because they have strong runner thighs, or because they “don’t look like a runner”. The beauty of our sport is the true diversity in it. I’ve toed the lines at many 5k, 10k, and a couple of half-marathons; I’d say 90% of the people there didn’t have what you would consider a “runner’s body”. It doesn’t matter how you look if you love running, yoga, powerlifting, whatever. Quit beating yourself down for not looking a certain way, learn to embrace your body.

Embrace it and learn to love it by understanding that without your “thunder thighs” you couldn’t properly perform in your sport. Without broad shoulders, keeping yourself balanced would be tougher. The list could go on, but you see the point I’m making. Your body is built the way it is because it adapts to the stress you put it under whether it be running, cross-country skiing, etc. I know it’s tough, but you can do it; you can learn to love your self just the way you are. Just takes looking at what you consider “flaws”, in a different light.

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

Importance of a Dynamic Warm-up

Bye-bye-bye static stretching, and hello dynamic stretching! If you’ve read a few of my posts then you probably know how I feel about static stretching. Considering it can reduce performance and increase injury risk while presenting few benefits to runners, I’m not a fan – I’ll cover this more in-depth in an injury prevention series coming soon!

So, if you’re not supposed to stretch before a run, then what do you do? Well… it’s simple: a series of dynamic warm-up exercises that prepares your body to run.

Which if you think about it, static stretching doesn’t even accomplish what a good series of warm-up exercises should, like:

  • Increased heart rate and respiration (prepping your body for work)
  • Improved range of motion and lubricates joints
  • Increased capillary activation (fancy way of saying it’s delivering oxygen to your muscles)
  • More elasticity in your tendons and ligaments (reducing chance of tears)
  • Enhanced performance

That last point is what I really want to stress; I mean a simple series of warm-up exercises can help you run faster? Sign me up!

For some research behind this, in 2015 the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research published a study showing that male runners who were well-trained, run faster after a dynamic warm-up

Maybe more importantly, after years of evidence from runners (myself included) who have simply felt better after a dynamic warm-up, I’m a big believer in these types of dynamic warm-up exercises

Which brings me to share my favorite dynamic warm-up with you:

The Dynamic Sole Warm-up

This routine requires no equipment and can be done almost anywhere.

Since the routines in the Easy Injury Prevention for Runners (Coming Soon!) are all plays on the blog name, so is this warm-up.

Most of these exercises are done standing, so if you’re running a muddy trail, or from your car in the rain, just skip the first couple of exercises (Also, Q&A below!)

Below are instructions on how to complete the warm-up exercises in the routine (PDF w/ photos and instructions coming soon!).

#1. Hurdle Mobility:

In a table position – hands under shoulder, knees under hips – lift your leg so that your thigh is parallel to the ground and shin is at a 90-degree angle from your thigh. Make a circular motion with your knee like you’re moving your thigh over a hurdle.

The next movement is exactly the same, except in the opposite direction.

#2. Cross Over:

Lie in a supine position (on your back) with your arms out to your sides and swing your right leg across your torso up to your left hand. The goal is to keep your shoulder and chest as flat against the ground as possible. There will be a good amount of rotation in your torso and hips as you swing your leg toward your hand. Repeat the same movement for the left leg.

#3. Scorpion:

Lie in a prone position (on stomach) with your arms out to your sides and swing your right leg across your back up to your left hand. Keep your shoulders and chest as flat against the ground as possible. Like Cross Over, there will be a good amount of rotation in your torso and hips as you swing your leg over. Repeat the same movement for the left leg.

#4. Squat:

Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and your toes pointing straight ahead. It’s okay if your toes are pointing slightly outward. Sit back with your butt like you’re sitting down in a chair until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Drive your heels down and return to the standing position, ensuring your lower back stays in a neutral position.

#5. Walking Lunge

Step forward with your right leg, flexing the knees and dropping your hips. Descend until your left knee almost touches the ground. Drive your right heel into the ground and push yourself back to a standing position while taking a step forward. Repeat with the opposite leg. Maintain a tall posture, and ensure your knee does not go too far beyond the toes while lunging.

#6. Walking Leg Swings (Zombie Walk)

With your hands straight out in front of you (like a zombie!), swing your right leg up toward your right hand. Keep both knees as straight as possible, and repeat on the opposite side.

#7. High-knee Skips:

Skip forward and drive your right knee up so it’s about parallel to the ground and drive your foot back down to the ground. Alternate each leg. Keep you back ball with an exaggerated arm swing and make sure you don’t slam your feet on the ground.

#8. Side Leg Swings

While standing in front of a wall or pole for suppost, swing your leg parallel to the support so your foot comes up about hip level. Make sure to swing your leg fully extended but not forcefully locked.

Dynamic Warm-up Q&A

To help get you started, I answered some of the most common questions you have asked me regarding dynamic warm-ups, stretching, and when you should do these exercises.

When Should I do This Routine?

This is dynamic warm-up so it’s done before you run, preferably right before running.

If you are traveling somewhere to run (like so many of us do) and won’t be able to get on the ground to do the first couple of exerises, just do the floor exercises at home and the standing exercises when you arrive right before you start running.

How Many Times Per Week Can I do This Routine?

Personally, I consider this an “easy” warm-up routine, so it’s best used before short, easy runs.

For faster workouts, long runs, and other challenging runs (like races), I suggest a more standard warm-up (coming soon!)

Is The Order of Exercises Important?

Absolutely! The sequence goes from general to more specific (floor to standing); simple to complex.

One of The Exercises Causes Pain – What Should I Do?

Skip it. None of these exercises should cause any discomfort, pain (especially sharp or stabbing pain), or hurt in any way.

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

How to Perform Strides

A top question I get is, “What are strides, why are they important, and how do I do them?” So I thought, I would answer all three of those questions today, because strides are one of the most important drills that should be a part of every runner’s training plan. Here’s a quick answer guide for one of the most essential running drills, and of course an explanation on how to perform strides.

Strides – AKA accelerations – are a staple of just about every high school and university track team. However, the majority of recreational runners never do them despite a long list of benefits. What makes this shocking is that it only takes a couple of minutes to knock out some stride after a run. In turn, this helps improve your training and best of all they can be done anywhere – not just on a track.

What are Strides?

Strides are roughly 100m accelerations where you start at a jog, build to roughly 95% of your max speed, and then gradually slow to a stop. A single stride should take around 20-30 seconds.

To begin, start with four strides and after 3-4 weeks increase to six. Take about 45-90 seconds of walking or standing in between each stride to catch your breath. Running strides is NOT an aerobic workout so don’t rush them – you get ZERO additional benefits by shortening the recovery period! So make sure that you’ve recovered properly before moving on.

Also, keep in mind that strides are very short and you’re only running really fast for a few seconds, so they shouldn’t be too difficult. Remember to stay relaxed during a stride – at no point should you be straining or racing.

Where Should I be Running Strides?

Anywhere! I’ve done them in parking lots (be careful!), sidewalks, roads, fields, and of course on the track. If your yard is big enough you can even do them there.

My favorite way to intelligently use barefoot running in a training plan is to incorporate barefoot strides 1-2 times per week. It’s best to do these on a synthetic turf track where the surface is predictable, plush, and free of debris.

When Should I Run Strides?

There are two situations that they are best used:

#1: After an easy or base run

In this scenario, think of strides like a dynamic stretch. They’re helping to increase your range of motion, increase your turnover, and subtly improving your form. By helping shake out some of the tightness you might feel after miles of running at the same pace, strides can help you feel better for your next run.

#2 Before a workout or race

In this case, strides are preparing your body to run fast. They serve as your transition to sustained, harder running.

In either situation, strides should be run at about the same distance and pace. However, if you’re preparing for a very short, fast race like a mile on the track, you might want to do shorter, faster stride. The opposite holds true as well: if you’re running a half or full marathon, a few longer, slower strides can help you warm up properly.

Why Should I be Running Strides?

Well… there’s a lot of reasons why they should be in your training plan.

  • They help you loosen up after a slow distance run
  • Serve as a transition to faster workouts – especially for beginners learning how to start running
  • Increase your running economy by reinforcing proper form (i.e. they make you more efficient)
  • When done barefoot, they develop foot and lower leg strength with a small risk of injury
  • They prepare you to run fast before a race or hard workout
  • They only take a few minutes

Many runners say they’re able to run faster (with less effort) on their distance runs after adding strides in their training regime after a few weeks. Give them a try for 4 weeks, and let me know how you feel!

Here’s a graph showing you a rough idea of how your effort should look when running strides:

Most of the runners I’ve helped coach tell me that they’ve learned to love strides and they make them feel better. Since they’re short, strides don’t require too much effort and they’re actually easy for most people.

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

Breaking The Pain Barrier: How To Overcome Pain For Good

This post is sponsored by Lewonde

Back pain is one of the most common ailments in the US. Did you know that at any given time, around 30 million Americans are suffering from back pain? If you have a bad back, and you feel like you’ve tried every trick in the book to banish pain, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some suggestions to help you hopefully overcome pain for good.

Determining the cause

There are myriad factors that contribute to back pain, and the first thing to do if you suffer from chronic pain or pain that is getting worse is seek medical advice. When you see a doctor, they will examine you and ask you some questions about your symptoms. It may be that pain is associated with underlying causes, in which case, treating the cause could help to alleviate pain.

In other cases, lifestyle changes may be recommended. There may also be causes related to your job. If this is the case, a doctor may be able to recommend safer techniques to try and offer some tips to help you feel more comfortable at work. If you have severe back pain, your doctor may recommend further tests, such as an MRI scan. This will enable them to see if there is damage to the spine or the surrounding muscles or bone tissue.

Correcting your posture

Poor posture is a contributing factor in most cases of lower back pain. Your posture relates to the position of your spine when you’re sitting or standing. If your spine isn’t in an ideal position, this can increase pressure and strain on your muscles, causing discomfort. In this day and age, we tend to spend more time than ever sitting down, due to the prevalence of office jobs.

If you do spend eight hours a day sitting at a desk, it’s essential to make sure you understand how you should be sitting to prevent back pain. Your spine should be straight, your shoulders should be relaxed, and you shouldn’t have to crane the neck to see the screen properly. If you’re reaching for the keyboard or the screen isn’t level with your eye line, adjust the height of your chair or desk. If you don’t already have a specially designed ergonomic office chair, ask your employer to provide one. It’s very important that your spine is supported properly while you’re in a sitting position.

Maintaining good posture is not just important when you’re sitting down. You should also pay attention to your posture when you’re standing, especially if your job involves standing for long periods of time or lifting. If you do have to lift items as part of your job, use machinery for heavy loads and make sure you bend your knees and keep your back straight. When you’re standing, try to avoid stooping or slumping and keep your shoulders back.

Finding the right mattress

The importance of getting a good night’s sleep cannot be underestimated. If you suffer from back pain or you’re prone to bouts of discomfort, it’s particularly beneficial to find the right mattress. If your mattress isn’t perfect, this can cause back pain or make existing symptoms worse. Therefore, if you’re looking for a new mattress to help with back pain, try some different styles and brands and avoid going for the cheapest option. You often get what you pay for in terms of quality and durability when you’re shopping for mattresses. If back pain is an issue, look out for products that have been ergonomically designed. These mattresses promote relaxation and reduce muscle tension, and they provide support for the spine while you sleep.

Choosing the right forms of exercise

Most of us are aware of the benefits of doing regular exercise for our health and wellbeing. Living with pain can make exercising difficult, but you don’t have to give up on working out if you suffer from back pain. You may not be able to do certain activities, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t be active.

Aim for low-impact exercises and avoid anything that involves jarring movements. Lifting weights and jumping aren’t ideal for people with back pain, for example. Swimming is often recommended, as the water supports your body weight. If you want to stay active without risking injury, speak to your doctor or a qualified personal trainer before changing your exercise regime or embarking on a new training program.

Conditioning your back

They say that prevention is better than cure, and conditioning can help to reduce the risk of recurrent pain. Conditioning involves strengthening the muscles to make your body resistant to injury. You can do this with a physical therapist or by doing specific, targeted exercises at home. These exercises are not focused solely on the back. They also help to increases strength and suppleness in the hips and the core.

Examples of exercises include McKenzie stretches and dynamic lumbar stabilization. The aim is to stretch the back, build muscle, and improve flexibility. You may also find that exercises like those found in yoga and Pilates routines effective. If you’re new to these activities, it’s best to go to a beginner’s class. Once you’re familiar with the stretches, and you’ve honed your technique, you can then practice at home.

Posture

Back pain can make life a misery, especially if you have periods when pain intensifies or you have prolonged bouts. If you suffer from back pain, it’s always a good idea to seek medical advice. In some cases, there may be an underlying cause, and treating this should be a priority. Many cases of back pain are linked to poor posture. If you slouch when you’re standing or you tend to sit slumped in your chair at work; this can affect the alignment of your spine and increase tension in your muscles.

Due to most of sitting during a large portion of our day, it can lead to muscles being tight and pulling us into a position that leads to poor posture. To help release these muscles and let your spine relax and decompress, you can use a lumbar stretcher like the Lewonde Back Stretcher (pictured above). By stretching your spine, you allow it to decompress, which allows it pull in nutrients, oxygen, and fluid back into the discs. Therefore, alleviating your back pain, and hopefully letting you overcome pain for good. Plus you can use it to stretch your spine, or put it in your office chair to help you maintain proper posture while sitting. I use mine everyday and have noticed a real difference in the tightness of my back.

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

3 Ways to Live a More Positive Lifestyle

Life is full of stressors. Sometimes hard work doesn’t seem to pay off, and sometimes it takes a long time to get where people want to get. It’s easy to get swept up in the negativity and to make unhealthy life choices.

But making positive life choices ultimately leads to a more healthy and fruitful existence, even when those choices are initially hard to make.

Below are some tips and tricks to feeding and cultivating a more positive lifestyle.

Journal

One of the biggest new trends in lifestyle development is the practice of mindfulness.

Mindfulness can be practiced through meditation, journaling, therapy, or a number of other mediums. Mindfulness is the process through which a person attempts to be entirely present in each moment, rather than thinking about the future and all the things they want to achieve, the past, or some event or goal that is not yet happening.

Mindfulness is a great way to be appreciative of the present moment, regardless of what that moment holds. Mindfulness journaling can be used to meditate on the joys and pitfalls of the present moment, and to ground the individual in the positivity of the present.

Journaling can also be utilized as a way to recall and store memories. After a great day out on an adventure with friends, or a good conversation on the phone, journaling can culture an appreciation of this memory by recalling it and recording it. Then, this memory can be revisited later, sparking even more joy and thankfulness.

Journaling overall can be a huge addition to the positivity in an individual’s life. Journals can also be daunting. For this reason, many advise keeping a one-line-a-day journal, in which each day a line is written about a positive experience from that day, this way they don’t get overwhelmed or feel bad when they cannot keep up with extensive journaling for every day.

Create a Fresh Start

The closet is full of clothes, but there is nothing to wear. All the books on the bookshelf have already been read, or have never and will never be read. Last year’s junk is piling up, leaving no room for positive changes in a new year.

A big clean out of the house or the apartment is a great way to make room for new memories and new positive experiences in life. Utilizing the system of a keep, give away, or throw away is useful. And items kept in the keep pile should have a significant reason for being there.

Many claim that the best way to decide what to keep a clothing item is to hold it while asking three questions: is it a special occasion or seasonal garment; has it been worn in the last three months; and does it bring joy. If the garment does not fit one or more of these categories, it should be given away or thrown away. The same types of questions can be applied to other types of items in the home as well.

Cleaning out the closet and giving items to charity can be a cathartic experience and leaving empty space for new clothes and new items is a wonderful way to build excitement and to invest in the future.

After the big clean out, space can be carefully curated to hold only items of importance that make the homeowner happy to look at and to wear or utilize.

Taking pride in personal items and getting rid of items that don’t bring that sense of pride, happiness, or sentimentality is a wonderful way to invest in positivity and to live a more positive lifestyle.

Have an Adventure

Individuals wishing to live a more positive life need to remember to invest in themselves, their future, and their happiness. This means that while an adventure might not be practical at the time, planning and budgeting for the future is a wonderful investment in themselves.

This self-investment breeds eternal positivity because it reinforces self-love and self-compassion, as well as the fact that every individual deserves happiness and positivity. Even if an adventure is seemingly out of reach financially, like a backpacking trip through Europe or skydiving, a loan from Payoff.com can make it easier and closer than it might seem.

Using a personal loan, individuals can go on a nature-driven vacation to visit a national park, backpack a trail, or camp with friends. Maybe someone’s dream vacation is to see the Eiffel Tower, or Big Ben, or the Statue of Liberty, or even a show on Broadway. Taking a beach day is an adventure as well.

The inherent positivity of an individual investing in their own happiness is one of the biggest leaps one can take in the quest to live a more positive lifestyle.

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

10 Things to Do The Summer Before College

The summer before college is a little bittersweet. You’ve just thrown your graduation cap with all of your grade school friends and are now preparing to not only say goodbye to them but also your family. It’s a weird transitional time of where you’re closing one chapter and preparing to begin another one. Here are 10 things to do the summer before college to help make the transition a little easier and fun.

#1. Contact your soon-to-be roommate (if you’re living in the dorms).

Once school begins you’ll be spending quite a bit of time with your roommate, so you might as well get to know them before school starts. Because, how awkward is it to meet someone for the first time and then sleep in the same room as them that same day? To avoid the awkwardness, you should at least talk to your roommate before the move-in day. The first step could be email (simply introduce yourself), and then maybe after a couple of back and forth you can add them on social media. But REMEMBER: while social media can be a good way to learn about the other person’s interests, hobbies, and lifestyle, it’s never the whole story. So skim, don’t stalk!

Speaking of social media…

#2. Clean up/organize your social media accounts.

Remove any old embarrassingng posts that you don’t want your roommate to see.

Make a LinkedIn account. You can find jobs/internships, network with professionals in any field, and much more. You might not use it all too much right away, but you’ll definitely see the use of it later on in your college life. (Speaking of which… you should begin your internship search NOW – trust me, it’s not too early!)

Join the Facebook page and/or follow the Twitter account for your class and stay updated! Talk to people, ask questions, and make friends before you officially start college.

#3. Make a list of things you need to buy for your college dorm.

But you might want to hold off on actually buying them until you’ve seen your dorm room.

#4. Register for classes.

Review (which means actually read through) the syllabus for each class to see if it’s something that you’d actually be interested in. Remember, this is college, where you actually pay for your classes – therefore only register for classes that you think are going to be worth your time, money, and effort!

*You might want to check the reputation of the professor before registering for a class, although you have to use your discretion with some of the reviews.*

#5. Apply for scholarships.

Most colleges offer financial assistance of some sort, including university grants, but you can always apply for outside scholarships! But before you go ahead and start applying to scholarships, master these scholarship hacks first so you don’t waste time!

#6. Look up textbooks for your classes.

Be warned: textbooks are expensive! However, there are good and bad times to buy textbooks, and TUN’s Textbook Search Engine will give you the cheapest options (new, used, or e-books) for your textbooks.

#7. Research clubs and organizations offered by your school.

Be prepared to get involved! One thing that a lot of college grads express regret over is not being involved on campus. Joining clubs and organizations is a great way to make friends and build professional relationships.

#8. Look into your school’s Study Abroad programs (highly recommended!).

Plan ahead: talk to your parents, do some research, and write down any questions you might have.

#9: Pick up your forgotten hobbies or learn new skills!

This may be picking up your guitar that’s been collecting dust in the corner of your room for years, vlogging, workout out, or learning Photoshop or Excel. Let’s face it – you probably have more time now than you’ll ever have (sorry…) so make good use of it!

#10. Take it easy.

In college, most students work over the summer, and after you graduate from college, you’ll miss the big block of free time called summer vacation. So take advantage of it. Take a road trip with some friends, go on a family vacation, and hang out with your high school friends before parting ways (even though you’re probably going to get together for Thanksgiving break, Christmas break, New Years, and basically any major Holiday or breaks)!

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

How to Stay Fashionable on a Budget

A lot of people consider their fashion choices to be very important—they are a reflection of who you are as a person after all. So, it goes to say that a lot of people are inclined to spend quite a bit of cash on their clothes. But what happens when life gets in the way, and your budget for clothing plummets? Here’s some tips to so you can keep your look fresh by having a stay fashionable budget.

It might be that you’re simply not making enough to afford the styles you desire, or maybe you’re saving up for a big purchase, like an engagement ring for your fiancée. If you find yourself on a tight budget, there is no need to worry that your style will slip. In fact, it’s not that hard to stay fashionable while you are on a budget using these tips:

Invest in Staples

You’re probably thinking “How is investing going to help me save money on fashion?” Well, listen up, because this is a very important lesson. There are some staple fashion pieces that will never go out of style—they serve as the base for your wardrobe and constitute the outfits that you wear every single day. If you invest a little extra cash in these pieces, then you will save some money in the long run by not having to replace them as often. Plus, it’s a good way to supplement some of the cheaper options in your wardrobe with some nicer pieces.

A lot of people have different ideas about what are and are not considered “staples,” and that’s okay! It all depends on your body shape, personal style, and what you feel most comfortable in. Here are some examples of what a lot of people consider to be “staple” wardrobe pieces:

  • Jeans
  • A leather jacket
  • Black slacks
  • Black flats
  • A little black dress

These don’t have to be name brands or cost a ton of money. You can get a great pair of jeans for $20, and a great leather jacket at the thrift store. The idea is not to spend a lot of money, but instead to spend your money wisely on classic pieces that will remain in your wardrobe for a long time.

Stay Ahead of the Trends

Any true fashionista understands just how truly cyclical trends are. This means that everything that was once in style will most likely come back into style, for better or for worse. This is great news for those who stay one step of the trends, however, because they can always catch the next fashion trend before it becomes expensive.

If you read blogs, pay attention to fashion week trends and stay on top of what is hot in fashion. Not only will you be able to be one of the first on the fashion bandwagon, but you might also be able to find some trendy pieces for dirt cheap in thrift stores! This is due to the cyclical nature of trends and people’s tendency to dispose of their unwanted clothing without realizing those fashions will come back in style.

Have a Clothing Swap

This is one of the most fun options on this list. If you find yourself getting tired of your current wardrobe, then it’s time to throw a clothing swap party! This is a fun and innovative way to spice up your wardrobe for free.

All you do is clean out your closet of gently-used clothing that you no longer want or wear and encourage all your most fashionable friends to do the same. Then, grab some drinks and snacks and invite your friends over. Pick and choose new pieces from each other’s unwanted clothing until you have some awesome new additions to your wardrobe!

Shop the Menswear Section

With the fashion industry today being what it is, men’s clothing is generally less expensive. This is great news for the smart fashionista who knows how to rock an androgynous look and for every sale-savvy, fashion-forward gentleman. A menswear garment can easily become one of your best statement pieces with a little fashion know-how.

From bold blazers to basic white t-shirts, the men’s sections of stores have a lot of great clothing to offer at a lower price point. Here are some other great pieces that can be found in the men’s section:

  • Button-ups
  • Sweatshirts
  • Graphic T-shirts
  • Flannels

Of course, this last bit mainly applies to the ladies. If you’re already a man who shops in the men’s section though; there are still things you can do to stay within your budget while looking good. Sometimes, it means making changes to your habits outside your clothing. Do you find yourself buying new razors every month? If so, it might be time to invest in a beard trimmer Not having to make repeat purchases monthly can save you in the long run. It can also mean thinking ahead to prevent yourself from incurring future costs. Find your eyes straining from staring at a computer all day long? It’s not a good look. Instead, save your eyes—and your wallet—from having to buy glasses later down the line with a pair of sleek anti-glare shades.

Adjust Other Factors in Your Budget

Sometimes, after all this, it still might seem like your budget is still too small to accommodate the styles you really want. It might also be time to sit down, look at your budget, and see if there are other unnecessary costs that you can cut out.

If you’ve recently started a home renovation project that leaves you little money for clothes, maybe you can determine where to make more affordable purchases. Blinds at low prices, or even DIY furniture allow you to make a great home space without leaving you in rags. If you find yourself spending exorbitant amounts on a chiropractor and massage therapist for back pains every month, have you considered that it might be a new mattress is what you need or a back-friendly stand-up desk to reduce shoulder and lower back pain? Or if you travel frequently for work, and you have to pay out-of-pocket until your company reimburses you, maybe you need to look into affordable car rentals and hotel expenses. You’ll be amazed at all the ways you can free up more of your budget by eliminating or diminishing repeat expenses with smart choices and quality products.

Conclusion

Fashion is a fun expression of what you feel on the inside. It helps you create a visual representation of who you are as a person. While sometimes it can be expensive, it doesn’t have to be as unaffordable as it seems. With some smart thinking and some expert tips; you can be your most fashionable self while still adhering to your budget.

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

Reflection on 2017 and What’s to Come in 2018

First, Happy New Year! Although I’ve been MIA for a solid minute, I’m hoping to be back for a while. I wanted to start back this year with a little reflection on 2017 and sharing some goals and changes to the blog for 2018.

#1. If you had to describe your 2017 in three words, what would they be?

They would be: Exciting, Adventurous, challenging

#2. What, or who, are you most thankful for?

My friends for supporting me through the ups and downs that I’ve faced the past few months.

#3. What new things did you discover about yourself?

I learned a lot of things, but the main would be, when I put my mind to something, I’ll achieve it.

#4. What single achievement are you most proud of?

I’ve achieved a lot this year, but honestly, the thing I’m most proud of is my volunteering twice a week with Reading Partners and helping my RP become a better and stronger reader.

#5. What was the best news you received?

That I got accepted into the University I’m attending, which was my first choice #ReignCane!

#6. What was your favorite place that you visited in 2017?

Panama City, Panama. Hands down an amazing country with amazing food and people.

#7. Which of your personal qualities turned out to be the most helpful this year?

I’m going to say friendliness. Starting college requires you to go out of your way and be friendly to people since everyone’s trying to make friends.

#8. Which new skills did you learn?

I learned how to ask for help.

#9. What was the most important lesson you learned in 2017?

The only thing stopping you from doing something is you.

#10. What advice would you give your early 2017 self if you could?

Be excited about opportunities, and enjoy the adventure along the way.

Getting Excited About 2018

Despite the fact that any day of the year you can set a goal to achieve, January 1st seems to be the day we all choose to do so. I have three main goals this year. I’ve already been working on these goals whether I’ve actually started working on them, or I’ve just been planning the steps needed to achieve it. Here are the three goals I’m hoping to achieve or start the journey to achieve in 2018.

#1: Do well in college

I’m not going to lie. College is hard. There’s a transitional period that nobody tells you about. Which is that it takes you about half of your first semester to learn how to study in college because mid-terms and finals in high school are comparable to that of quizzes in college. So my goal is to keep my head above water this year, and the next couple of years ahead of me.

#2: Run a sub-2hr half marathon

I ran my first half-marathon this year. It was an amazing experience, and I did it with relatively little training. Don’t worry, that sentence makes me cringe too. At the time of which would’ve been time to train for it, I was on a D1 collegiate rowing team. Due to rowing being an endurance sport that requires a lot of strength, I was able to pull off a decent finish for my first half-marathon. With the races I’ve signed up for this year including 2 half marathons, I’m going to truly train for them.

#3: The Next Phase for RunningSoleGirl

It’s crazy to think I started RunningSoleGirl as a freshman in high school, and I want to continue on with it as a freshman in college. RunningSoleGirl has always focused on empowering women when it comes to health and fitness, and my mission is to continue that. However, I want to change it up a bit, but this has to do with my other two goals to begin working on in 2018. I plan on posting my training logs as well as tips to survive college. The usual health and fitness posts will continue on, but there will be some variety now. This makes it easier for me to continue posting on here, and I hope you lovelies support it.

Here’s to the journey that 2018 will bring us on!

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

Choose A Path To Learn More About Your Health

Are you interesting in learning more about your health? Perhaps you want to understand how to get your body in better shape, or maybe you’re fascinated by what makes your body tick. If that’s the case, there are a few different paths you can take to learn more about your health. But before we get to the right paths to knowledge let’s consider one that you should avoid.

Make sure that you don’t start by conducting research online. If you type in any symptoms or signs of health issues online within five minutes, you are likely to diagnose yourself with a dangerous, perhaps life-threatening disease. The reason for this is obvious. Some of the most basic symptoms can crop up for no reason, or they can be the first sign of a fatal illness. But unless you have expert knowledge in this area, there’s no way to tell which it is. This brings us to the first pathway you can take to learn more about your health.

Study Medicine

If you want to learn more about your health and your body the best option is always going to be to study medicine. You probably think that you need to get great grades in school and have a massive IQ to study medicine, but that’s not true. Indeed you can take an RN to BSN online course with very little experience or existing knowledge. This will provide you with key information and give you the chance to get first-hand experience working in a hospital with patients. It is easily one of the best ways to learn more about the human body and your own health.

Talk To A Nutritionist

Of course, if you are interested in the state of your health specifically; you might want to think about speaking to a nutritionist. After all, ninety percent of health issues can be resolved by fixing your diet. You really are what you eat; whether you’re eating too much dairy, have an undiagnosed allergy to gluten or need to cut back on the red meats a nutritionist will be able to help.

Celebs regularly start by speaking to a nutritionist when they want to lose weight. So, if you are eager to get in shape, this could be a great place to begin.

Pick Up A Book

We definitely think that you need to stay offline if you want to learn more about the health. It’s impossible to ignore the scaremongering articles, and even positive health posts could lead you to weird sections of the web where you’ll be self-diagnosed with a fatal illness. However, you can still research and read. The books and resources that intern doctors read each night are readily available from sites like Amazon. If you’re interested in how your body works, why not read a few? Who knows it might encourage you to pursue a late career in medicine.

I hope this advice helps you find your own path to more knowledge about your health.

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

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