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SNAP Benefits

Hello everyone, yet another beautiful summer week has passed. It’s August already! It’s also my 21st birthday today and I am so glad to be here writing today. I am coming to you with some great information on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). I know I write a lot about how it’s important to eat well in order to live a life of wellness, but I don’t often talk about how difficult eating well can be, for so many different reasons.

Well I am here to say that there is a way! SNAP benefits offers nutrition assistance to low-income individuals and families, senior citizens, those with disabilities, and others. The program delivers monthly electronic benefits that can be used just like cash to purchase food at authorized retailers. The program allows individuals and families get the food they need. If you even think you could be eligible for SNAP benefits, don’t hesitate to go through the pre-screening eligibility process. If you qualify, all you have to do is contact your local SNAP office or apply online. You can find more detailed information on how to apply here.

There are so many different retailers that will accept the SNAP benefits in their stores so you are bound to find a store that you love with products you can enjoy and that will hopefully help you get a start on mindful eating. The Near West Side is starting a farmers market and they want people to be able to use their benefits there. This is such a fantastic opportunity to use the benefits on delicious, local, healthy produce. There are so many great benefits to eating well that everyone should be able to enjoy. Being healthy and happy goes hand in hand, but you don’t have to do it alone. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is here to help.

Any and all information about the SNAP benefits can be found here. I hope you all have a great last month of summer vacation before we’re back at Marquette for the fall semester. And again, don’t be afraid to look into the SNAP benefits program, they are here for you.

Alicia Diedrich

Mindfulness Meditation

I hope this week finds all of you in a peaceful, calm, and relaxed state of mind. I am anything but all of these right now! I am moving to a new apartment today, and it’s only a block away from where I was living. Needless to say, my day is a little hectic! So even if you are finding yourself in the midst of some crazy life change like me or just any old stressful day, week, or month, I’d like to remind you it will all be okay. But make sure you’re taking some proactive steps to help yourself along the way to a relaxed mind so you don’t get too stressed out. We’re lucky here at Marquette because we have lots of great resources to help you work towards a life of wellness.

One of these great resources is the free Mindfulness Meditation sessions that are held every week. Now I’ve definitely heard it before. “How is sitting there in silence and meditating going to help me?” And I have definitely been skeptical about it before, but this year I was given the opportunity and motivation to have a new experience with meditation. This past spring semester I took Theology 2310 – Explorations in Christian Theology with Dr. Nussberger. In this class we were assigned a project to spend half of the semester regularly performing or participating in any kind of prayer practice. I chose to do at least 10 to 15 minutes of meditation daily for the remainder of the semester. I did a quiet meditation where I focused solely on my breathing, allowing all of my other thoughts to escape my mind. And while this was not always an easy task with my crazy-busy, racing mind, it was well worth it in the end.

I could not believe what just a few minutes of silence could do for me. Letting myself turn off my brain from all of my worries and everything on my to-do list. Before my quiet meditation days I never realized just how necessary it is to give all of your body a break: yes, including your brain! Now, if you’re unsure how to get started on meditation, let’s backtrack to the Mindfulness Meditation classes that I mentioned. There’s just a few more weeks left of the summer session, so get started on your meditation now! Join this week’s Mindfulness Meditation on Wednesday from 12:15 to 1 in AMU 233. If you end up loving the Mindfulness Meditation, don’t worry that the summer session is almost over, we will surely be back with another session this fall! Mindfulness is just one step in the direction of living a life of wellness, but being mindful in your everyday decisions on nutrition, exercise, and a well mind are the key to overall well-being. Meditation is a great way to achieve a new level of mindfulness.

Hopefully discovering Mindfulness Meditation will allow you to find yourself in a new, relaxed and peaceful state of mind despite whatever craziness is going on in your life, just like it did for me. Happy meditating!

Alicia Diedrich

Beat the summer blues

Although it is summer and there have been plenty of warm and sunshine filled days, this year has been particularly stormy. And there are thunderstorms in the forecast for most of the rest of this week. So if storms give you the blues, then make sure you get outside today while it’s nice and hot to take in some vitamin D (and don’t forget to wear sunscreen).  

Personally, I really enjoy thunderstorms, but when it’s rainy every day or wakes me up in the middle of the night, it gets a little sickening. It’s summer, It’s supposed to be nice enough to enjoy a day at the beach or biking the trails. But this year has left us all wanting to close our blinds and stay in bed all day. Who wants to walk around campus in the rain? And although you may be tempted to stay in the darkness in the comfort of your bed, lift your mood by doing the exact opposite. Get up and move around the house, turn on lights to help you forget about the looming dark clouds in the sky above. I personally say get outside and enjoy it, rain or shine, but I realize this option may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

If you do decide to stay indoors because of rain, do something good for yourself at home. It’s the best excuse there is to clean your house from top to bottom, cook a delicious and healthy meal, do some yoga and meditation, read a new and exciting book, or spend some quality time with your pets and family. There are an endless amount of healthy and positive activities to fill your day so that you don’t have to give in to the gloomy weather.

No matter what the weather is, use it to your advantage. Use the nice, warm days to be active outdoors, and use the stormy days as personal days to work on improving yourself or your surroundings. Never let a day go to waste, find something meaningful to do everyday. Finding a purpose in your everyday life will help beat the summer storm blues.

Alicia Diedrich

National Bike Challenge: Accepted

The National Bike Challenge – Town Gown Showdown has been going on since May 1st and there’s still a couple months left to take part! Marquette teamed up with other Milwaukee-area schools and Milwaukee County as a whole to take on this annual cycling competition. Last year Milwaukee took 3rd place with over 169,000 miles from May 1st through September 31st! If you ask me that’s pretty incredible. But I also say that means this year Marquette and Milwaukee will do even better.

I want to see Milwaukee as the #1 biking community. I especially want to see all of Marquette’s employees and retirees out putting on some miles on their bikes. As of week 8, we were sitting at 57,746 miles. Considering the challenge lasts a total of 18 weeks, I think it’s safe to say we’re off to a good start (although behind last year).  We are currently in week 11 and have 7 more to go, so that leaves plenty of time to make sure you log some miles. Whether you are going 1 mile, 10 miles, or 30 miles at a time, it all counts. When you are doing something beneficial for your body, IT ALL COUNTS. So don’t be afraid to get out there and do some biking today.

It’s really easy to take part in the challenge. First, you have to create a Strava account, connect with Marquette’s club and then sync to the National Bike Challenge. For detailed instructions on how to participate, visit our employee wellness page.

After you’re all set up with your Strava account, it’s time to get on your bike. You could go on a grand, solo adventure, or gather up some family members and enjoy a fun afternoon together. There are so many cool places to bike in Milwaukee and the surrounding areas. You can find maps of biking trails here along with plenty of other biking resources from bike sharing to safety information.

Now that you’re all set with biking resources and plenty of motivation to get out there and make Milwaukee and Marquette proud, I hope to see you all on the trails.

Alicia Diedrich

Healthy you, happy 4th

Happy 4th of July to everyone! I hope you are all planning to spend some quality time with loved ones today. As we spend today celebrating our independence day, we must keep wellness in mind, just like any other day. It’s a great day to get in some exercise or spend some time cooking a delicious, healthy meal for the holiday. The weather is supposed to be beautiful all day today here in Milwaukee, so make sure to enjoy it!

When it comes to holidays, it’s normally a lot harder to keep ourselves active and well since there always seems to be tons of unhealthy food around and plenty of excuses to put off exercise until later. But I encourage you to instead use those very reasons as motivators to get up, get in some exercise, and take pride in eating something healthy. Do something for the wellness of your mind and body. If you have some extra free time on your hands, that’s exactly why you should do something good for you.

Since you may already be spending time with family and friends, you can easily make it into a fun group activity. If you want to do something fun and active, get in a bike ride or a swim, or pick up a ball and toss it around for a game of catch. If you just want to relax, do some yoga and mindful meditation. You’ll feel more relaxed and rejuvenated afterwards. Cooking or putting together a healthy snack can even be a relaxing activity, and you get to fuel your body with plenty of vitamins and nutrients at the same time. Berries are a healthy, delicious, and easy snack to make into a 4th of July themed appetizer, but there are an endless amount of options for eating something healthy. 

Most of all, it’s good to keep a positive attitude and know that just because it’s a holiday, that’s no reason to forget about taking care of your health and well-being. 

Wishing you a safe and healthy 4th of July!

Alicia Diedrich

Sweet dreams – the importance of sleep

We’ve all heard it before: sleep is important for your health and well-being. But for some reason, sleep seems to be one of the first things to take a back burner when life gets crazy. You just have to finish grading those papers, answering those emails, or maybe even just watching one more episode of your latest Netflix craze. I will admit that I too do these things. But I will also admit that because of that, I learned a hard lesson about putting my health and well-being before anything else. My freshman year of college, there was one week where EVERYTHING was due. I stayed up late working on my homework the whole week. But, that’s when classes got even more difficult because I got the flu. I was miserable the whole next week and had to miss a few classes. Bottom line is, is staying up late to finish something really worth it if it will later affect the same thing?

My answer is no. From then on, I have always completed as much homework as I possibly could within a reasonable time. I would rather take extra time on a project than turn it in in my sleep-deprived state, because it probably wasn’t done to the best of my abilities in the first place. Anything you have to do will still be there in the morning. My best tip is to learn how to practice good time management skills so you can get the beauty rest you really need.

If my personal story doesn’t convince you, then maybe some science will. According to the National Institutes of Health, a consistent loss of sleep can lead to struggling with memory, concentration, and slowed reaction time. These things are detrimental to personal and professional lives, not to mention getting into the driver’s seat of a car, or other dangerous activities. Sleep deprivation can increase the risk of accidents in the car, or just in everyday life tasks. These are only the beginning effects that sleep loss has on the body. Over time, prolonged sleep loss can lead to hostility, alcohol use, use of medications to stay awake, weight problems, poor decision making, and more

So really, just put down the work, the book, or the remote and get some shut eye. You will be a happier, healthier person both psychologically, and physiologically. And if you are having trouble sleeping all the time, you aren’t alone. There are over 40 million Americans suffering from over 70 different sleep disorders, so don’t be afraid to seek help from a doctor. Wishing you sweet dreams and a good night’s rest.

Alicia Diedrich

Summer recipe: Chicken and black bean salad

It’s the first day of summer today, so that calls for a healthy seasonal recipe. This chicken and black bean salad is one of my absolute favorite summer recipes. It is healthy, easy to prepare and best of all it is so delicious that the whole family can enjoy it. This recipe makes six servings. 1 serving contains 259 calories, 519 mg of sodium, and 21 mg of cholesterol. Here’s what you need:

Salad dressing:

⅓ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

1½ teaspoons sugar

1 garlic clove, minced

¼ teaspoon pepper

Salad:

1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (11 ounces) Mexicorn, drained

1 medium sweet red pepper, julienned

⅓ cup sliced green onions

6 cups torn romaine

1½ cups cooked chicken strips

Additional cilantro or parsley, optional

First, combine all salad dressing ingredients, shake well and set aside. In a large bowl, toss beans, corn, red pepper and onions and set aside. Arrange romaine on individual plates; top with bean mixture and chicken. Then, drizzle with dressing and garnish the dish with additional cilantro or parsley if desired.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do (especially since I don’t have to turn on my oven in my hot apartment). And I also encourage you to make this into a fun family cooking activity before you sit down to have dinner together as a family. Or you can cut the recipe in half and have flavorful, healthy salads for lunch the next few days. Either way, since today is the longest day of the year, you’ll have plenty of daylight to fit this quick and easy recipe into your day today. If you’re looking for another healthy, oven-free recipe, the spring recipe that I published is just as tasty in the summer! Happy cooking!

Alicia Diedrich


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