Being your own Valentine

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Photo via botcommunications.com

Valentine’s Day is around the corner and we’re all scrambling to get our loved ones mementos to show them our love. One thing that we should not forget this season of love, though, is to show some love to the most important person in our lives – ourselves!

Self-love is one of the most challenging goals to reach but with small steps, its totally achievable. And what better time to take care of yourself than Valentine’s Day, the day of love? Here’s some quick ways to reinforce the self-love this week.

Accept your flaws. – Everyday each of us messes up. That’s alright, we are only human. Go ahead and give yourself some love by being forgiving of yourself when you mess up. Instead of taking a negative position on the matter, encourage yourself to do better next time.

Take a bath. – Or an extra long shower or just sit in the sauna at the gym. You deserve to relax, especially after all the hard work you put in at work and at home every day. Taking the time to pamper yourself can really improve your mood and view of yourself.

Chocolate (in moderation). – Not just chocolate, but any kind of small savory treat is alright every once in a while. As long as it is in moderation, treating yourself is always a great way to reward yourself for being exactly the way you are.

Spend quality time with your loved ones. – Surrounding yourself with positive people and people you care about a lot is a great way to build up your own self-respect and self-worth. Hanging out with your family or other loved ones not only allows you to positively influence their lives, but they can positively influence yours too.

Dress up. – Dressing for success is a real thing. When you take the time to wear your favorite shirt with a pair of shoes you like or do your hair the way you think is best, it helps build your self-confidence. Feeling like you look good on a daily basis can help you keep you chin up and ultimately boost your self-esteem.

Seasonal sadness isn’t just a winter fad

Finally, when the weather got warmer this past week, I could not wait to go outside. Of course, though, it rained. Right around this time of year, staring out the window at the frigid outdoors can be downright depressing. Aside from a beautiful fresh layer of brilliant white snow, I think we can all pretty much agree that salt-covered roads or a sleet-filled afternoon is not our favorite view. These cold-weather blues that we are feeling, though, are not just a myth. According to recent studies, doctors are finding that seasonal depression is rooted in biology and nutrition.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood ailment that features depressive symptoms that can occur during the darker seasons of the year. So no, your mopey mood right now could be based on more than just the fact that Christmas isn’t for a whole year. Since the days are shorter and being outdoorsy right now usually constitutes with losing feeling in your fingers, toes or nose due to the cold, us Milwaukee folk are getting much less sunlight than during the summer months. Sunshine provides the human body with its main source of Vitamin D, which helps with calcium digestion and also aids in serotonin production in the brain. Without the extra dose of outdoors, your body isn’t exposed to as much sun, limiting Vitamin D intake. This lack of Vitamin D leads some people to experience symptoms of depression.

No wonder bears hibernate all winter; who wants to feel down for months at a time? Luckily, this issue has a solution. Everyone, we’re all moving to Florida. Go. No? Oh, okay. I don’t much like alligators anyway. Kidding, but despite the cold weather, getting outside as much as possible can improve your mood. I’m not recommending that you lie outside in your swimsuit these days, but a walk around the block could prove beneficial. Also, Vitamin D supplements are available over the counter at the drug store. Don’t overdo the supplementing, though, too much Vitamin D can backfire. Ask your doctor what a healthy amount to take would be.

Marquette has plenty of resources to help out with depression and other mental issues. The Employee Assistance Program through the university offers support and counseling for employees with mental instabilities. If needed, don’t be afraid to reach out. The clinics throughout the EAP are confidential and available to help.

It’s nice to know that we don’t have to let SAD impede on our lives. Like all mental disorders, though, depression, whether it be SAD or not, should be taken seriously. It’s also extremely nice to know that winter will soon be over; we will all be enjoying the Milwaukee summer soon enough. But until then, don’t let the cold bring you down.

New Year, New Me

Wishing everyone a happy New Year and belated holiday season from the Marquette University Employee Wellness Center. But before we go any further, I want to take a second to introduce myself because I’m new around these parts. My name is Sarah Schlaefke, and I am a junior here at Marquette studying journalism and Spanish. This semester I have decided to take my passion of healthy living and share it with you right here. How does this girl know anything about living well, you ask? Well, I am no 10542808_686438604774954_562593613831696879_oprofessional, but through lots of reading, fact checking, trial and error and real life application, what you read on here is what I have learned. In my free time you can find me engulfed by the most recently released new musical albums or kickboxing down the street at 9Round Fitness. All right, now enough about me.

 

As the New Year is rolling in, most people like to kick it off with a new goal or resolution. Drink less soda, hit the gym more often, even just writing letters to old friends or family sprinkle New Year’s resolution lists. And for the first few weeks, maybe even a month, we all feel great completing another day of sticking with our newest lifestyle change. Sadly, though, the will power usually wears out, and by the time spring break shows up, our resolutions are as far out of our minds as school is.

So, what is the cure to the New Year’s resolution fad? How can we change our hard-to habits into an aspect of our lifestyles? Here are a few techniques I use to do my best to keep my goals going.

It is often heard that it takes a certain amount of days to create a habit, but really establishing a daily routine is the key. A lifestyle is not created in a month; it’s created in a lifetime. Setting aside time daily devoted to your goal. Take the hour to run on a treadmill at the gym, the half hour to cut up fresh veggies or the 45-minute-nap you are fitting in to get more rest. Adding the time into you calendar helps make it a priority. And don’t let other things take up its time slot!

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Photo via independentfinancialservices.net

Another effective resolution-keeping tactic is the buddy system. Whether your buddy is a co-worker, friend or family member, having another person devoted to the same New Year’s goal success will help hold you accountable for sticking with it. Talk to those around you and see if their resolutions line up with yours. See if your family wants to partake in a whole-house resolution. Offer encouragement and constructive criticism to your counterparts. You know what they say, the struggle is easier with someone by your side.

My last (and favorite) suggestion is all the hype and everyone’s favorite excuse these days: treat yo’self! What do I mean? Well, after all of your hard work of committing to better your life, you deserve a reward. In your New Year’s resolution, also include a New Year’s reward. Tell yourself that by the time the summer rolls around, you deserve a new swimsuit if you stick to your gym resolution. Or if you give up soda, allow yourself to try a new juice every other week. Life is all about balance, so rewarding yourself for taking care of yourself is also a part of a healthy lifestyle.

With the commitment to a healthy lifestyle comes the expected down day where we might screw up, be too tired or just blatantly not want to deal with our new goal. When this happens, it is important not to be too hard on yourself and just pick up your routine again the next day. Now that you have these tricks up your sleeve, hopefully the resolution struggle can turn into the lifestyle you planned for.

-Sarah Schlaefke

Healthier Traveling for the Holidays

Although the Holidays are often the time we excuse ourselves from being very calorie conscious, it is actually better to find balance. By this I mean: learn when to maintain your healthy habits and when to allow yourself to a little extra treat. With this in mind, many of us travel for the Holidays. Sometimes it is difficult to stay healthy while traveling, but it is in our best interest to do this, especially around the Holidays when calories tend to increase and activity tends to decrease. So, to avoid paying for “convenience” later on, try these ideas to remain healthy during the hectic Holiday season.

1. Get enough sleep. With crazy flight times and long road trips, it is often easy to get a lack of sleep. A lack of sleep can cause you to be moody (no Grinches allowed), feel sluggish, and actually encourage you to overeat. Try to still get the golden 8 hours of sleep, even while traveling. If you need to, take a snooze on the plane, switch drivers periodically to rest, or take a nap in the afternoon upon arriving at your destination.

2. Stay hydrated. Drinking enough water is essential to being healthy always. Your body needs water to stay hydrated, flush things throughout your body, and have healthy looking skin. However, especially with flying or taking public transportation, your chances of getting sick increase greatly, and who wants to spend their Holidays snuggled up to a box of Kleenex? Pair water with a multivitamin to keep your immune system ready to fight back.

3. Manage your stress. The Holidays tend to be stressful for most people. With delayed flights, staying with the in-laws, or preparing your best dish to impress the family, it is important to make sure to take some “you” time. If yoga helps you to center yourself, find a free class online to follow. Ask if any of your family members have a gym membership that you could use, and go exercise as a guest. Or even if it is as simple as taking a 20-minute walk around the neighborhood, make sure to take time to de-stress yourself.

4. Eat a healthy breakfast. As I said previously, we usually let ourselves have extra treats over the Holiday season. So do yourself a favor and eat healthy while traveling to and from your destination. Not only will this help you to find balance, but it will also allow you to feel more energized while traveling. Boiled eggs with fresh fruit, scrambled eggs and turkey sausage, or oatmeal with sliced strawberries on top are quick and healthy options that will allow you to fuel yourself for your travels.

5. Pack healthy snacks. The temptation to buy snacks at the airport or stop for a snack at a fast food restaurant can be high while traveling, because it is so quick and easy. However, if you plan ahead, healthy options can be quick and easy as well and save you money. Try some of these healthy snacks:

• Veggies and hummus
• Apple and natural peanut butter/almond butter
• Hard boiled eggs
• Nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios)
• Single serve Wholly Guacamole
• Single serve cream cheese with crackers
• Cherry tomatoes
• Grapes
• Bananas
• Olives
• String cheese

6. Remain active. If you are staying in a hotel, take advantage of their swimming pool or workout facilities. If you are staying with friends or family, ask them to go on a walk or enjoy winter activities outdoors (refer to last week’s blog). If you are visiting a warmer climate, enjoy a walk/jog on the beach or some friendly competition on the sand volleyball courts. If you try to sneak in exercising during your travels, you will feel so much better, less sluggish, and more apt to be smiley and enjoy your time with family and friends.

7. Be aware of Holiday cheer. As in accordance with the Holiday spirit, flights and hotels tend to have complimentary snacks, holiday cakes, or cookies. If you are attending Holiday parties, you may also be offered high calorie drinks or appetizers. Having a sip or a bit is no big deal, but would you rather have a possibly stale cookie that wasn’t as good as you thought it would be, or save your high calories for the homemade dishes and baked goods? I know I would most definitely prefer the latter.

The Holidays are the time of the year that we get to spend in the presence of family, friends, and loved ones. Usually this means lots of great food and sitting around and catching up on everyone’s lives. Meanwhile, traveling to our destinations can be stressful. This Holiday season, do your best to stay healthy while traveling, and remain active once you get to your destination. That way you can enjoy a little extra bite of stuffing or your favorite cookie without feeling guilty. Have Healthy, Happy Holidays, everyone!

By: Natalie Radloff

Winter Wonderland

As the winter weather approaches, it is very easy to want to cuddle up at home with some hot cocoa and watch a movie or your favorite TV show. This is a great every once in a while pastime. However, with additional eating and drinking this Holiday Season as well as the temptation to snuggle up, it is important to still incorporate exercise and activity into your regular schedule this winter.

Try these simple techniques to stay active this winter!

1. Walking/Running Outside. Walking is a great place for anyone to start exercising in the first place, or a way for them to increase the frequency of their exercise routine. Walking can be a fun way to socialize with a neighbor, friend, or family members and also make exercising a “buddy system” mechanism. Perhaps it is an after dinner routine that you make and explore your neighborhood or other surrounding neighborhoods to look at the beautiful Holiday lights around the town! When walking outside, make sure to be dressed warm enough and be able to take off layers when you begin to heat up too much. It is also important to stretch before leaving your home to walk outside, as it is important for your muscles to warm up before you begin to exercise. If you are capable and able, you can still run outdoors during these cold months. However, once again, be sure to be dressed warmly enough in performance exercise clothes and outerwear so that you are initially warm enough, but are still able to take off layers. If you are not a runner, outdoor running when it is cold and often times slippery outside, this is not the time to explore running. Perhaps you could run on an indoor track if you would like to begin running this winter.

2. Snowy Activities. Winter allows for outdoor sports such as skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and tubing! Cross-country skiing is the most obvious cardio workout, however, even trudging through the snow is a great cardio workout! It provides more resistance than just walking on a normal, clear path and thus makes your heart work harder! Although it is not always a crowd-pleaser, shoveling is also a great snow-filled way to stay active. When shoveling, understand your own strength and do not overload yourself. It is easy to hurt your back or be sore after shoveling. As preventative measures, stretch before going out to shovel and do not try to lift too much snow in one shovel load. So instead of dreading shoveling the driveway, next time think of it as a way to get in some exercise time for the day!

3. Be Playful. It is always fun to push away your adulthood for a bit and enjoy life with the laughter and enjoyment of a child. After a snowfall, take your kids outside and build a snowman with them or a neat snow fort. After all, who doesn’t secretly enjoy building the best fortress to make themselves undefeatable in a snow ball fight? If you do not have kids, you can still go out and play in the snow and embrace your inner child. You could also go ice-skating or play ice hockey. Either way, you can have fun and exercise all at the same time!

4. Indoor Gym Activities. If you have a gym membership, winter can be the best time to get the most bang out of your buck! Schedule out a time 3-4 times per week that you will go to the gym to exercise. It does not have to be the cliché walking on the treadmill. Try a group fitness class that your gym offers, such as kickboxing, Zumba, or spinning. You could also go for a swim in the indoor pool. As a Marquette employee, you can get great rates at the Rec Center, so what better time than now to sign up!

5. Indoor Workouts in the Comfort of Your Own Home. If a snowstorm keeps you homebound for the day, put in those exercise DVDs you bought but do not get much use and get moving using those! If that is not the case for you, during this day and age, you can find almost any type of workout routine on the Internet. You could definitely find a Zumba or kickboxing class, or even a body weight type of class online—so you would not need any additional equipment. If you are just looking for a fun/carefree activity, put on your favorite tunes and dance around your house! Your kids would LOVE this!

6. Restorative Activities. Winter is a great excuse to explore gentle or peaceful activities, such as yoga, tai chai, or meditation. Meditation is more so focused on relaxation (both physically and mentally), but yoga and tai chai can also build strength (especially core strength) and increase your flexibility. These types of classes can be a great way to restore your energy and keep a positive mindset throughout these months where it can be saddening to be inside so much and also that it gets dark outside so much earlier.

7. Household Chores. Give yourself credit for cleaning! When we are inside our homes so much more during these winter months, try to limit your screen time and amp up your cleaning! Most people enjoy a clean house anyways—now we get to be excited that this can be a form of activity! Vacuuming, swiffering, mopping, dusting, rearranging, organizing, and general cleaning are all great ways to get moving and feel a great sense of accomplishment.

Winter is not always everyone’s favorite time of year, especially here in Wisconsin when it seems to snow and be cold for sometimes forever. Additionally to the Holiday season, winter does offer things to get excited about. There are so many fun things to do outdoors during the winter that can get you moving and off of the couch. Think of this winter as a challenge for yourself and your family to find creative ways to stay moving!

By: Natalie Radloff

The Secret To Weight Loss

“Take this diet pill and lose 30 pounds in 2 weeks!”; “Use this body wrap to lose 6 inches off your waist!”; “Try this juice diet to lose weight fast!” How many times have you heard commercials or seen billboards advertising similar statements? Many people would love to lose a little weight to feel better about themselves and look better in their favorite pair of jeans. Who doesn’t want a quick and easy fix to weight loss? I know I have also been tempted to try a “quick fix” method to lose weight. However, these methods are not the safest, healthiest, or most effective ways to lose weight. It is important to be able to differentiate between healthy and effective methods and methods that are not.

These types of products, supplements, or devices that do not meet up to its promises and are usually created and promoted by an untrained individuals are called quackery. Use these six steps to try to differentiate between products/supplements that are quackery and which could be beneficial and useful to you.

1. Promotes little to no weight loss due to exercise. For example, a diet supplement may advertise that if you take this single pill, you could lose up to 5 pounds in 24 hours, eliminate cravings, and rejuvenate your body. However, if you are not exercising to help aid your weight loss process, you are most likely just losing water weight and could put yourself at risk of dehydration. In order to lose weight most effectively, it is important to combine healthy eating with regular exercise. So therefore, if a product claims that you will lose weight from doing something without doing any exercise, it is most likely quackery.

2. Provides a calorie discrepancy. For example, the Hollywood cookie diet allows its participants to eat cookies as the majority of their diet and controls their caloric intake to around 1,100 calories per day. The lowest amount of calories an average person’s body can function on is between 1,500-1,600 (this is their basal metabolic rate). To lose weight, your energy output must be greater than your energy (or calorie) intake. Therefore, by eating less than the necessary 1,500-1,600 calories, a person will lose weight. But this person is technically starving himself/herself because this is less calories than his/her body needs. You also cannot just eat whatever you want. In order to be healthy, you need to eat a variety of healthy foods: fruits, veggies, protein, the right carbs, and fats. So once again, consume more healthy calories and then exercise to cause your caloric output to be greater than your caloric intake. In conclusion, chances are, if a diet is claiming that you can eat cookies and lose weight, it is quackery.

3. An exercise product claims to tone large muscle groups. For example, the ThighMaster claimed to be able to firm and tone chest muscles, shape your inner thighs, tone your stomach, and tighten your upper arms. However, in order to tone and strengthen large muscle groups, we need to have a lot of resistance and overload that area. A simple ThighMaster will not provide enough resistance to be that effective for most populations. So if one product is claiming to tone and improve large muscle groups, you should be cautious of its truth and conduct further research to determine if it is quackery (it most likely is).
4. The product states that it is “University tested.” A weight loss pill claimed it was tested by the University for Traditional Chinese Medicine in Los Angeles, CA. While this may be true, was the study cited? Was it peer reviewed or publicized? Who funded this research? Sometimes companies will fund their own research to make sure the results will portray the message they desire. For example, data can be manipulated to seem as though it is saying one thing, although this could have been one data point instead of the average. So, if a product says it is University tested, proceed with caution.
5. Nutritional facts seem to overpromise or seem off. Although a label may say various things it contains, you never truly know what is in something unless you make it yourself. So be aware that things could be left out of labels or labels could not tell the whole truth of its product’s contents.

Although it would be absolutely wonderful to have a secret, magic pill that caused you to lose a lot of weight very quickly and did so in a healthy manner, this is not the case in real life. But please do not become discouraged by this. Is it do-able to lose weight. In order to do so, your energy output must be greater than your caloric intake—in other words, you must burn more calories than you eat. In order to do this, eat a well-balanced array of foods and exercise regularly. A great place to start as far as exercising is for 20 minutes 3 times per week. Then work your way up to 30 minutes and perhaps increase the frequency to 4 or 5 days per week. As far as food goes, try to stay away from processed foods. As a general rule of thumb, try to shop on the perimeter of the grocery store. This is where most of the “whole foods” are, or naturally occurring, unprocessed foods. If you eat a variety of whole foods, eat in moderation, and exercise regularly, you are well on your way to the weight loss you desire.

To leave you, I want to state that yes, everyone wants a quick fix to their problems; everyone wants the easy way out. But unfortunately, that is not the case. So the next time you see a commercial for a weight loss product, supplement, or piece of equipment, think: is this trying to get me to think I can take the easy way out, or is this going to help me to eat right, exercise regularly, drink plenty of water, and get adequate sleep? Finally, do not just think that this 5 pound weight loss is something you want to accomplish by the time you go on vacation or attend a wedding. Make taking charge of your health—eating healthy, exercising regularly, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep—a lifestyle. Something you will continue to work towards for the duration of your life and not just to look good in something for one occasion a few months from now. You only have one body—take good care of it!

By Natalie Radloff

2015: The Year of a Healthier Thanksgiving

It is that time of the year again. Turkey, Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Cranberry Sauce, and Pumpkin Pie overflow from the dining room table and kitchen counters. The Holidays can be daunting as many family gatherings are centered around food. But fret not! There are ways to make this Holiday Season a healthier one.

Think about your favorite Thanksgiving dish. Whether it is fluffy mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, or stuffing, the deliciousness of a recipe does not equate to the calories it contains. You can still have a delicious dish without as many calories, fat, sodium, etc. As a starting point, try swapping these ingredients in some of your dishes this Thanksgiving:

*Heavy Cream → Coconut Milk. Same taste and texture, but 1/2 the calories!

*Oil in cakes → Applesauce. Use 1 cup of applesauce for every recipe that calls for 1 cup of oil. Vegetable oil has 480 calories and 56g of fat in 1/4 cup; meanwhile, applesauce has 25 calories and 0g of fat for the same amount.

*One Whole Egg → Two egg whites. Two egg whites instead of one whole egg saves 36 calories
*Sour Cream → Greek Yogurt. This substitution will save 55 calories per ¼ cup.

*Buttermilk → Low-fat Plain Yogurt (1 cup of low-fat plain yogurt for every recipe that calls for 1 cup of buttermilk). Greek Yogurt decreases the amount of fat and sodium.

*Pasta → Whole-Wheat Pasta. Whole-wheat pasta has more fiber and decreases the calories per serving up to 50 calories.

*Chocolate Chips → Cacao Nibs/Dark Chocolate. Your desserts will be filled with antioxidants.

I attended a Mindful Cooking Series through Marquette Employee Wellness. There was a chef who made three Thanksgiving favorites: mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and green bean casserole. All of the dishes were delightfully delicious and the kicker is that they were healthier! I never thought that I would like any mashed potatoes more than my mom’s, but his mashed potatoes were wonderful! Instead of using butter and heavy cream, the chef used extra-virgin olive oil. This significantly lowered the calories, sodium, and fat from the normal mashed potato recipe. Give this a try!

Mashed Potatoes with Olive Oil and Herbs

Ingredients:

2 pounds of russet potatoes
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp finely chopped basil
1 tsp minced flesh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp minced tarragon
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Combine the potatoes, 1 tsp of salt, and cold water in a large saucepan and cover. Bring to a boil. After boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, or until able to poke through potato with a fork. Drain the potatoes, but save ½ cup of the cooking liquid. Place the potatoes back in the saucepan and shake over medium heat for 1 minute to dry potatoes. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl.
Add the oil and reserved cooking liquid to the saucepan and warm over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat. Mash the potatoes. Transfer the potatoes back to the saucepan. Add the basil, parsley, and tarragon, stirring to combine. Season with salt and pepper as needed. After dished, make indent in the potatoes and pour a little extra-virgin olive oil to keep potatoes moist and soft. Enjoy!

A great article about ways to have a healthier Thanksgiving was written by Joanna Dolgoff, a Medical Doctor and nutrition specialist. Check out this article to get a healthier pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce recipe: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joanna-dolgoff-md/healthy-thanksgiving-tips-recipes_b_1092915.html!

Although calories and macro-nutrients can be scary, the Holidays should be about spending valuable time with friends and loved ones. Be conscious of the foods you are eating, but do not make this the main focus. Try to fill your Thanksgiving feast with more fruits and vegetables this year, as well as making an effort to substitute healthier options into your recipes so that you can sit back and relax instead of trying to mentally calculate every calorie you are consuming. Lastly, if you take anything away from this blog: eat foods in moderation. This will help you to not overindulge. If you do these things, you will be well on your way to a healthier Thanksgiving. And just think! Instead of being in a food coma after the big feast, if you do not fill yourself to the brim, you may be able to participate in the competitive family Turkey Bowl or go for a walk together around the neighborhood. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

By: Natalie Radloff


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