Think back to the last time you had a full course load and exams at the same time. You were desperate and frantic, and did any number of things to pass. Pulling all nighters, barely pausing to eat. While you may have passed, I’d be willing to bet that you retained little to none of the material being tested. Speaking of cramming, how about those two magical months of cramming all types of sin into our greedy mouths? Subsequently, many of us found ourselves surviving on water and carrots sticks in an effort of redemption. We realized that big wedding, reunion, or bar mitzvah was right around the corner, and we’re looking decidedly less than stellar. We lost weight on this carrot fast, to be sure. Since we did nothing but shock and strain our bodies, you can bet they’ve been holding on to those pounds in some remote storage, and are patiently waiting to give them back. Here’s the thing; no one likes to be jerked around. How would you like to be stuck with a friend whose behavior was so erratic? One minute, the pillar of health, and the next you are punishing that poor body for a crime it didn’t commit. We’ve all been there, ladies. Instead of putting so much emphasis on what you want to achieve on the outside, why not try a little TLC on the inside? Cramming, like crash diets and over-exercising, is a short and shallow solution to an ongoing concern. A few quick sets in the weight room will have your mirror muscles pumped, but after several hours it’s all smokescreen, because you haven’t done the work to make structural changes inside. Instead of viciously demanding that your body change, by means of brut force, how about building it up from the inside out? It’s simple, really. Give it what it needs to thrive and it will astound you with performance. Stuff it full of junk and halfhearted workouts, and those results will be equally impressive, though not in your favor. Sure, if you cut carbs and take water pills for a few days, you will temporarily flatten out as the cells dehydrate. Similarly, if you burn a gazillion calories per day on the stairmaster, you will temporarily burn fat as well. But you will most likely burn out quickly, and look exactly the same as before. You will have real and lasting success only when you commit fully to this lifestyle. At the core of that commitment is a realistic mindset. This includes creative problem solving, sidestepping excuses and a little flexibility sometimes, too. Twenty minutes of exercise every day trumps two hours, once a week, in my book. Do what you can realistically continue to do, and build your success from there. There are more quick fixes than I could begin to list, but the fact remains that in the game of body-shaping, slow and steady always wins the race. Stop sprinting for the finish, and allow yourself to ease into the changes that you’re making. If you treat your body right from the beginning, it will continue to repay your efforts. Erin stays busy pursuing her own fitness goals, and helping to educate and inspire those she loves to live healthier lives. A hair stylist by trade, she manages a salon, and is chipping away at a degree, ultimately in dietetics and kinesiology. She lives in South Florida with her husband and a “pound puppy” named Pedro.