Archive for the 'Lifestyle' Category

Well, it’s been good, MU

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Hey, Marquette Wellness community. Sarah here. And I would just like to let you know about what’s coming up for us here at Employee Wellness.

First off, our school year is almost through, which is great because summer is great and outdoors activities are great. But also it’s a bit sad, considering I graduate and have to take on real-world things instead of college-world things. That being said, I have to leave Marquette Employee Wellness behind. But don’t worry, I’ve left you in good hands with my protege, Alicia.

With the end coming near for me, though, I thought I would take this post as a chance to talk about moving forward and how it opens doors. I don’t have scientific evidence or research studies to back this up, but it’s something that my mom always said to me and your probably said this to you too. When one door closes, another one opens.

So if you’re like me and looking to move up and on from where you are in life right now, believe me I know that fear you may be feeling. Let this serve as a reminder though that it is all part of a plan. And while it can be tough to let a door shut behind you, remember that if you forward, there is probably a new door waiting to open right ahead.

I know I am writing this a little bit for myself, just to keep my anxiety at bay, but it’s not like what I am saying is useless. If your day or week or month or semester is scary because it involves moving on to unknown territory, hold fast. It will all work out.

“And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him.” Romans 8:28

Over and out – Sarah Schlaefke

How pets can make you happy and healthy

petsI cannot stress enough how much I would love to have about 20 dogs and 15 other animals living with me. Unfortunately, I live in a tiny little studio apartment, and I am only allowed to have fish. Maybe in a different lifetime this crazy dream of mine will come true. One can only hope.

While you do not need to be as crazy about animals (especially dogs) as I am, having even one pet will add something to your life you never knew was missing in the first place. Although, I have always had a pet at home since the day I was born, I know what it is like to live with and without pets, and my life is always better when there’s an animal in it. One thing for sure is that they make me a happier and healthier person.

One of the best benefits of owning a pet are the social and emotional benefits. While you can’t really take a cat or a fish to a park to socialize like you can with dogs, each pet will bring its’ own benefits to you. And with the recent emerging of things like cat cafes, there are options for you to get out in the world and socialize with a cat as well. I don’t think I can say the same thing for fish… yet. Along with improving your social life, pets can improve your overall mood and reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Having my fish around my apartment definitely does help put me in a better mood. Another great thing about having a furry companion around is that they will encourage you to be more active. You can go for walks, hikes, runs, or bike rides (if you’re brave enough), my dog and cat will even do yoga with me when I go home to visit. Sadly, I haven’t yet been able to get my fish to do yoga with me. 

Having a family pet will put everyone in happier and healthier state of mind, and is a great step towards living a life of wellness. You can find more information on how pets will make you a healthier person here. If you decide that you want a pet, make sure you do your research on how to care for your new friend because they aren’t always easy, but they are always worth it.

Alicia Diedrich

Wellbeing Biography: Lauren Scherer and her Crossfit love

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Gym Class (\’jim ’klas\) noun

  1. The most torturous experience in which an awkward, uncoordinated, non-athletic bookworm could be forced to participate in in front of her peers.

At least, that’s how I defined it all of my school-going life. I have never considered myself “athletic” by any means. I only played tennis in high school because there were no cuts and the team t-shirts were cool. When I got to college, however, I started exercising more regularly to get out of my “prison cell” of a dorm room, as well as for stress relief and all of those other health benefits. I tried a little of everything. Running, yoga, elliptical, Zumba, and strength training classes over the years, never really finding anything I loved to do.

CrossFit was being offered for the first time shortly after I started working at Marquette. I decided to try it out after hearing how it could transform your body, and how every workout was different so I wouldn’t get bored. It was like having your own personal trainer every time you work out. I still did not consider myself very strong or athletic, and did not know what to expect, or if I could even finish a CrossFit workout. I decided to give it a try anyway, and I’m glad I did! Three and a half years later, I’m still enjoying it, and have never felt any better, healthier, or stronger!

CrossFit at Marquette is a 45 minute class, twice per week. It starts with a warm up, and then moves on to a lifting set such as a back squat, deadlift, or overhead press. After that, the WOD (workout of the day) could range anywhere from 5-20 minutes, averaging somewhere around 12 minutes (trust me – 12 minutes sounds a lot shorter than it feels!).

The instructor, Ryan, is diligent in providing foundational knowledge behind every movement and lift, and makes sure we all have correct form before starting the WOD. These workouts are completely customizable to fit any level of fitness or mobility, which is evident in every CrossFit class at Marquette. It doesn’t matter if you’re lifting 5 lbs. or 105 lbs., there is no judgement in class, just encouragement (and maybe a little complaining to Ryan J).

While many of us are now considered “veterans” of CrossFit at Marquette, we always welcome new participants to join us for whatever torture Ryan has in store for us that day. I call it torture, and it might feel torturous at the time, but it’s worth it. I have pushed myself through tough workouts, and I have become significantly stronger because of it. The results are what keeps me coming back for more!

 

By Lauren Scherer

A healthier you and a healthier Earth

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There are so many reasons to adapt a healthier eating regimen, but let me add this one to the list. Eating healthier not only helps you be healthier, but it also helps our planet out, too.

When the New Year rolled around a few months ago, I had to think long about a New Year’s resolution that I wouldn’t quit on after only a few weeks or a month. My final consensus was to no longer eat red meat. And this was not an easy sacrifice to make, either, especially because my grandfather is a commercial beef farmer, and my house is riddled with frozen pounds of delicious steaks and hamburgers. I wanted to start making a positive change and serve as an example, too, so I went ahead and gave it up anyway.

In 2011, a non-profit in Washington D.C., the Environmental Working Group, conducted a study on how the types of meat we consume impacts the environment based on the amount of greenhouse gases emitted through the industry per kilogram of the meat consumed. Lamb meat was ranked the worst for the environment, spitting out about 86.6 pounds of greenhouse gases per kilogram of meat.

I don’t eat a lot of lamb, so giving up that type of meat was easy and not all that impactful in my opinion. Beef came in second worse, according to the study, producing 59.5 pounds of greenhouse gases per kilogram. Then pork, at 26.5 pounds. And chicken showed to be the most environmentally friendly meat, producing only 15. 5 pounds of greenhouse gases per kilogram eaten.

These numbers were enough to make me reconsider my food choices. Along with the well-known fact that chicken is much learner that beef. Since beef is so high in fat and cholesterol, if consumed too regularly, it can lead to heart disease, high cholesterol and other fat-related diseases. It only made sense to me to discontinue my hamburger obsession and turn to turkey burgers.

Along with the greenhouse gas issue, meat also takes a toll on the supply and demand for clean water. Throughout the farming processes, we have to keep in mind the plant side of what goes into maintaining livestock. In order to keep cows, you have to feed them. In order to feed them, you have to grow corn and soybeans. These plants then require watering, and many farmers use pesticides and herbicides in order to ensure their harvest. This creates toxic run off and toxic soil, affecting all living organisms around these plants, eventually dwindling down to affecting us. So when it came to the choice to set aside a steak or poison the ground we walk on, I couldn’t choose the latter.

Now, in no way am I a vegetarian, and in no way do I condemn anyone who just can’t separate from his or her steak. I feel you. But it doesn’t have to be to beef or not to beef. It is more of a how-often-do-you-eat-it kind of ordeal. By choosing beef less often, by only eating it once or twice a week, we could reduce greenhouse gas emission, land and water use by up to 45 percent. On top of that, we’d be investing in our own health, helping us breath in fewer harmful toxins in the air, purifying our water and consuming less fat. Eating less red meat is a win-win — a happier, healthier you and me and a happier, healthier planet and future.

Be quiet

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When was the last time that your idea of relaxing was listening to the air conditioning pump waves of coolness through the room? Or staring blankly off into space while slouched in the couch in your living room? Or lying on the floor motionless and waiting until all you can see is the black behind your eyelids? These forms of relaxing aren’t what first crosses my mind when I need to wind down. But maybe they should be.

If you are anything like me, free time is consumed by the TV yammering in the background, maybe music faintly playing from my computer or the sound of my family’s voices or someone on the phone fills the quiet space of my house. Recently, though, I have been trying something new. Instead of dousing my calm-craving brain in more and more noises, I’ve sought silence instead.

At first, the quiet bugged me. I was tempted to at least turn on some music. But after really thinking about it, I realized that even if silence was irksome at the moment, maybe it shouldn’t be.

Especially in this day and age, everything we do can seem like multitasking. It may seem like our brains have adapted to our busy-bee life style, but having to take in and process information constantly actually really stresses our brains.

As part of my New Year’s resolution, I jumped back into habitual yoga. Most practice sessions end with corpse pose, shavasana, where you lie motionless on your yoga mat and space out until you don’t even realize that you are breathing. For a busy-body like me, this was a hard pose to do. Halfway through, my anxious, impatient self would want to look around, move around or at least tap my fingers to fill the blank, quiet space.

As I keep going to yoga, though, this pose has become easier and easier to settle into at the end of practice. The quiet lets my brain calm down, relax and stop having to put up with the constant stimulation I otherwise am putting it through. Lying in silence has taught me how to truly relax and has opened my mind to welcoming the quiet at other times of my day, not only when I am at the yoga studio.

I’ll present some crazy silence science later on in another post probably, but I wanted this one to just serve as a tip from me to you. If you are looking for an ultimate way to relax and escape, let your brain rest with some minutes of pure silence. Whether it be at your desk, on your couch after work or in bed before you sleep, try to take a second to let your mind go blank. I like to think about looking at the night sky. My brain eventually takes over and fills in the black you see when you close your eyes. Taking seconds of silence has helped me reduce my stress and maintain a more acute focus throughout the day. I hope that you might try being quiet, too.

Helping others helps you

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Wellbeing is usually a balance of a healthy diet, exercise and rest, but we all use different ways of getting to this well state of mind and body. For me, one of the biggest contributors to my own wellness is actually helping others!

Throughout my life I have dedicated hours upon hours of my time to volunteering. And while the amount of time I spent doing so may have been slightly unhealthy, it made me a happier, more positive, and passionate person. You always hear people say that volunteering has a positive influence on the community around you, but you do not often hear people talking about the tremendous impact it has on the volunteer. I can tell you first hand how big of an impact helping others has had on me. While I was in various community service clubs, I sought out other opportunities within the community as well. I have done everything – serving food at homeless shelters, raising money, tutoring kids, teaching tennis, working in a hospital and more. Looking back, these were some of the best experiences in my life, and I only wish everyone could share these same experiences. I was able to see the differences that my actions made on other people. Seeing the smile on the kid who finally got that difficult math problem right. Or meeting new people who shared my passion for helping. Each and every part of my volunteering opportunities has helped me move forward toward living a life of wellness.

With my chaotic college life, I have found that I spend less and less time doing these activities that I used to love. However, when I once again set aside some time to take part in serving my community, my mood improves, and I tend to forget about all the other worrisome aspects of my life. All of these trivial parts of life seem to melt away when you immerse yourself into the act of giving. Due to this, I encourage you to take on a new community service project, even if it’s only a one day thing. It will help your community and give you a new and different sense of wellness and connectedness with that community. Sign up with your spouse, your kids, a sibling or a few coworkers. This will make for a day of fun and adventure while making a difference in the community and your own life.

Seeing the impact that just one person can have on another person, a family, a community and the world is absolutely inspiring. And if my passion for helping others encourages just one other person to get out there and make a difference in their community and their own life, then I will consider my mission accomplished.

The impact that volunteering has had on me is everlasting, and I hope that my accounts inspire you to dive into these amazing experiences as well.

 

Alicia Diedrich

Wellbeing Biography: Alicia Diedrich

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Hello Marquette employees! My name is Alicia Diedrich, and I am junior transfer student studying Communication Studies and English, with a special interest in Spanish. I wanted to start off by saying that I am very excited to become part of the Marquette University Employee Wellness team. As I am joining this team, I thought I might share with you the story of why I am passionate about wellness.

When it comes to wellness and healthy living, my journey is just merely beginning. In November of 2015 when I finally discovered what had been causing me to go through life living like a zombie, my quest for wellness began. I had spent months, probably years struggling with undiagnosed hypothyroidism, and an iron deficiency. Now, both of these issues have many of the same symptoms, so I like to believe that my symptoms were just amplified. Once I knew, the weight that had been sitting on my shoulders for what may have been four or more years started to lessen. Of course, we threw medications at it, but it continued to get worse with each and every blood test, my symptoms returning sometimes even worse than before.

I had gone far too long just dismissing my symptoms as normal. I was too tired to function most of the time, getting out of bed was the most difficult part of my life every day (even more so than working 35+ hours a week and going to school full time). I had always written it off because I was a teenager, and a college student – I was supposed to be tired. But was I supposed to be so exhausted that I could barely function? Was I supposed to have no energy or passion to do the things I loved to do?

I was beginning to realize that I had to make a change in my lifestyle. I had to get out of this menacing cycle. I decided to take matters into my own hands. Alongside my mother, who has struggled with the same issues, I set out on a journey to regain control of my life. Endless amounts of research went into taking better care of myself.

Since then, I have taken pride in eating healthier, being more active and overall putting my well-being above everything else, yes, including work and school. It started to make sense that if I was not well, then I would not excel in the other areas of my life either. I have had uphill battles, and downhill battles with my health, but I’m glad to say that my new found sense of wellbeing has made these battles significantly easier. Since I have made an active choice to be well, I have no longer had to stay home sick while missing an exam, I have no longer skipped my morning classes because it was simply too difficult and terrifying to face the task of getting out of bed in the morning.  During this quest to be well I have encountered setbacks, but that’s okay. I am still learning about wellness.

I reinvested in myself, and in my future. Taking care of myself now means being happier and healthier in the future. It is never too late to begin taking care of yourself. I repeat, it is NEVER too late to begin taking care of YOU. Make yourself a priority.

Now, although this is where my wellness journey began, it is certainly not where it ends, and I am constantly searching for ways to improve my health and well-being. I am in this journey with you, and I cannot wait to share what I learn along the way with all of you.  
Alicia Diedrich


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