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23 January 2006

“If we fail to prepare, we are preparing to fail.”
—Benjamin Franklin

On the first day of class of my spring semester when I arrived, not on time, but 10 minutes early, somewhere in heaven angels harmoniously sang “Hallelujah!” in exaltation. If you knew anything about me last semester, you would know that I was perpetually plagued by an internal clock that ran on “Asian time,” which is about 30 minutes behind everybody else. And so, getting anywhere on time was always a feat, a miracle or an act of God.

But this year, my new year’s resolution was not to eat less, save more or promise to live life in moderation, but rather to be on time. Although well intentioned, my resolution was becoming in danger of suffering the same fate of fading into oblivion like those that preceded it. With the rigorous schedule that I had established, taking 15 hours of school, maintaining active involvement in Alpha Kappa Psi (UT’s biggest co-ed professional business fraternity), being chair for both PALs (Peer Arbitration Leaders) and the Residence Hall Judicial Board, working at Jester City Limits and Jester Market during the week, and preparing for my upcoming internship working as a branch operator with College Works Painting for the summer during the weekends, it looked like being on time was going to be the least of my worries and keeping my sanity was suddenly my top priority.

And so, with the danger of a mental breakdown becoming even more prevalent I looked for a solution to my looming mental madness. At first I asked myself, “What would Vince do…?” But, with no end zone in sight and my less-than-stellar football skills I had to look for another solution. Surprisingly, I found the answer, not in a mental health clinic, not in a bottle of prescribed mental medication and definitely not in an episode of “Dr. Phil,” but paradoxically enough, by adding more to my schedule. No, I didn’t go crazy. Not yet anyway. But, let me explain. When my “girl” friends (that is, friends who are female, and not a significant other… yes ladies, I’m single) noticed my imminent mental breakdown they offered to help by doing what ladies do best, they took me to their aerobics class.

Needless to say, in my vulnerable state of mind, it didn’t take long to persuade me to purchase a Texercise pass from the university’s Gregory Gym. And so, a few neon spandex shorts later (with a matching headband!), before you could even say, “Holy, Richard Simmons!” I was in a cardio-dance class “jazzercising” to Britney Spears’ “I’m A Slave 4 U.”

Before you think I’ve gone completely off into the deep end, let me assure you there is a method to my madness, and believe me, it’s not because I look sexy flopping around on the dance floor in my neon spandex shorts. By devoting a few hours a week for myself in the form of exercise, time that didn’t involve work-related stress, just the embarrassment of my quickly disappearing masculinity, I was able to relieve myself of the pressure that accumulated throughout the week.

I know for most of you, you’re finding it hard to believe that an aerobics class will solve your stress-related woes, but don’t worry, you have options. Take the time to reserve a few hours of the week for any physical activity that you can enjoy, whether it’s basketball, taking a walk, or yes, even jazzercising. Now I know for some of us, exercise might be a foreign concept, but take it from me, it all starts by getting out of bed or off the couch. And at first you might feel a little discomfort, but then again it’s probably because you’re using muscles that you didn’t even know you have. It’s actually been proven that exercise not only improves your health, increases energy and improves self esteem, but it also helps reduce stress. And who hates feeling happy and looking sexy? Looking sexy, that is, without the neon spandex shorts.

And although exercise is a crucial ingredient in my formula for sanity and success when you’re living a hectic life, there’s one other key ingredient that without it, would be like an apple pie without the apples, American Idol without Simon Cowell, and even more horrifying, the Rose Bowl game without Vince Young. It’s a wonderful little invention called a “planner.”

Whether it’s a good old-fashioned notebook planner, or the more technologically advanced PDA or Pocket PC, a planner is essential for time management and ultimately for keeping sane. And although the mind is a powerful, complex machine, it’s just easier when you have a concrete visualization of your schedule. Sometimes deadlines have a way of creeping around the corner when you least expect. Save yourself the mental breakdown and purchase a planner. You won’t regret it. I love my planner. In fact, I love it so much that I’m going to name it “Eman Jr.” I love it so much, that I just might marry it… OK, so I’m still recovering from my traumatizing experience in the cardio-dance class. But seriously, invest in a planner, it’s one of the wisest decisions I’ve made since coming to college.

So, armed with a healthy dose of exercise and my planner, Eman Jr., I’m ready to tackle any challenges that happen my way. With my planner, I’ll schedule like a pro, make appointments effortlessly and face deadlines with confidence and ease. And as for my days of “jazzercising,” I’ve decided to broaden my horizons and try something different, hopefully something a little less intense. I’ve decided to do yoga as a form of relaxation, run a mile to increase my cardio and on some days you might catch me swimming laps at Gregory Gym’s new aquatic center. And, don’t worry I’ve retired the neon spandex shorts. Instead, you just might see me in the pool in a tangerine Speedo… I’m kidding.

If you have any comments or concerns or you just want to say hi, e-mail me at emmanuel.winston@gmail.com.

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