Posts Tagged 'Health'

Destress with fall colors

We are getting to that time of year where everyone is getting sick and feeling stressed out. There are a lot of things you can do to help yourself destress and guard yourself against sickness. The best part is most of these strategies to better yourself, your health and your state of mind, are usually pretty simple. Some of them are as simple as eating certain foods to build up your immune system. Others are as easy as just setting foot outdoors.

Fresh air and exercise are always good for you, but with fall comes a whole new set of weather and surroundings. One of the most beautiful parts of fall weather will also help you relieve some stress. You guessed it: leaves! Fall has always been my favorite season because of the temperatures, the beautiful fall colors, and all of the fun fall activities. But, it is so interesting and exciting to know that there is actually science behind the destressing qualities of turning leaves. It turns out that the mere contrast of colors in the leaves spirals our brains into excitement because it’s something new! We get used to seeing only greens all summer, and then the fall leaves seem to appear suddenly, shocking our brains.

Not to mention, if the fall weather tempts us outside for a walk, then we are getting active. And being active always has a positive effect on our brain to release some stress. The combination of exercise and of the visually-stimulating effects of the colors around us are just enough to tell our brain to relax.

So, this is my way of saying we all need to get outside and enjoy the weather. I am accepting no excuses of having no time (especially from myself). I can’t wait to get outside and enjoy the weather while stealing away some great, stress relieving benefits. I hope to see all of you out enjoying the weather on campus, whether it’s just to have a short lunch, or to walk around and really take in all of the beauty that Marquette has to offer.

Alicia Diedrich

Wellbeing biography: Kristin Kipp – Whole 30

Image result for healthy foods

I’ve never liked the word diet. I think it’s because, more often than not, the word “diet” is used to describe a way of eating to lose weight, and in this sense, Garfield said it right, “DIET is DIE with a T.” There are many different definitions of the word diet, but one definition that puts diet in a positive light comes from the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Here it’s defined simply as “habitual nourishment.” I love thinking of food this way. I grew up on a farm with an abundance of fresh produce. We canned a lot of fruits and veggies for the winter and made our own jam. We even raised a pig every year to eat. From a young age, I loved good nutrition and physical activity, and my passion brought me to what I do today, so I am thankful for that.

Now I have a family of my own, and we are trying our best to instill good habits for our little girl. Thankfully my husband loves to garden and eat good food. He devotes much of his time to cooking good meals for us. We are a “whole foods” family – we drink whole milk, eat real butter, and eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. We buy our pork from a local farmer and make sure that there are no nitrates or MSG added at the butcher. We participate in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), go to local farmer’s markets, and try to buy organic, grass-fed, cage free etc. when possible. We rarely go out to eat, cooking most of our meals at home, but we’re definitely not perfect when it comes to food. No one should be. And although we try following all the good things I listed above, it doesn’t always happen, and we tend to follow the “everything in moderation” rule. Besides…Who can pass up those hostess cream filled chocolate cupcakes?

I really had no desire to look into the Whole30 when it came out. I hate all the fads that come and go, and I try to promote lifestyle changes for the people I work with. I’m not overweight, and I’m fairly physically active, so besides enjoying some sugary treats and having a glass of wine or a beer every now and again, I thought I was doing pretty good with my overall nutrition and health. A few years ago, though, I started having some health issues that took me almost 2 years to work through. During this time, I became really attuned to my body, and although the issues I was having didn’t stem from my diet, I became curious after I started feeling better. Was I feeling the best that I possibly could be? Could the Whole30 help me identify foods that aren’t working for me? Would elimination of these foods help me to run again without pain? Having felt really good for the last 6 months before I decided to try the Whole30, I really didn’t believe that I was going to feel much of a difference, but it turns out, I was wrong.

The first couple of days of the Whole30 were the worst…I’m not sure if everyone feels that way, but I was miserable. I felt like I was detoxing. I hated restricting myself from foods that I really wanted to eat, and not having my morning cup of coffee with whole milk and Organic Valley’s French vanilla half and half creamer was the worst. I also had a headache for the first four or five days, which could have been attributed to not drinking enough water, but nonetheless…I felt crappy. What I do know is that after about that first week, I started to feel good. Actually, I felt great. I had so much energy. I wasn’t experiencing that afternoon sluggishness around 2pm that makes you want to go to the nearest candy bowl on your co-worker’s desk. When my alarm went off at 4:45am, I felt well rested and ready for my morning swim. When I worked out, I felt amazing. I feel like I could go on and on about how great I felt, but then something really crazy happened after about two weeks….. I was able to run for the first time in 2 1/2 years without pain or stiffness.

Having completed the Whole30, I have a deeper appreciation of what eating healthy means to me, and to really eat well, feel good, and enjoy our food, I believe it takes a true conscious effort to eat mindfully. I’ve always told people to pay attention to how food makes them feel, and it’s not that I don’t pay attention to this myself, but the Whole30 required me to practice mindfulness as it relates to food every day for 30 days. Many people may do the Whole30 just to lose weight. They treat it as another fad diet that they are going to try and hope for results. Don’t get me wrong…you will lose weight, but if that’s all you are doing it for, you are missing the point, and as soon as you go back to your normal habits the weight will come back on. Eating mindfully – understanding what and why you are eating, taking the time to enjoy food, listening to whether you’re hungry or not, and understanding the effects food has on your body – is important for weight loss as well. Your body can’t do what it’s supposed to do if you are not fueling it correctly. This means that if you aren’t eating enough calories, or too many calories, or just not the right combination of foods, you’re not going to lose weight. This also means that if are fueling your body with foods that are causing inflammatory responses, you may just be sabotaging all your efforts to be healthy and lose weight as well.

Doing this 30-day challenge isn’t easy (or inexpensive). It takes a lot of preparation/cooking, time reading labels, space in your refrigerator, and self-discipline to do it. I’ve kept a lot of great habits from this process and found out what foods really impact the inflammation in my body. It hasn’t completely stopped me from eating these foods, but I do pay the price. I don’t know if there is anything else wrong in my body that is keeping me from running like I’d like, but now I know how food affects this already present inflammation. If you are thinking about trying it, I would ask you to the approach the Whole30 differently. Think of it as an experiment in helping you to take a mindful approach to your eating that will help you create new healthy habits that you’d like to continue once you’ve finished, and as a way to identify how food truly affects your body so you can try to limit these foods and avoid the ill effects.

Written by Kristin Kipp

Kristin is the Director of Employee Wellness at Marquette University and is a Registered Dietitian.

A quest for wellness

Hi all! This is the last blog of summer vacation, I can’t believe it went by so fast! I will be coming to you next week with a day and a half of my senior year under my belt. Because this is my senior year, I feel inspired to make this my best year yet, and I want to do that with you.

In my first blog post with the Marquette University Employee Wellness team, I shared my quest for wellness with all of you. One of the biggest aspects I focused on was that I always have highs and lows with my wellness journey. I would say that most of this summer was a wellness low for me, so I am ambitious about making this year a wellness high. Every week I blog about something we can all do to improve our wellness, but unless we are following through with these on a consistent basis, it probably won’t do much to help us meet our goals. I hope that you are all looking forward to making this year your best year alongside of me. Together, we can do this!

We have so many great resources on campus that will help you achieve your best year yet. Sign up for a group fitness class, the mindfulness meditation class, and/or take part in the National Bike Challenge. Pack a healthy lunch and snack in your bag every day, with the grand opening of Sendik’s on campus this week, it will be even easier to grab some healthy food to fuel our bodies between classes. (I don’t think I have ever been this excited about a grocery store in my life, we finally have one on campus!). Most importantly, I challenge all of us to be mindful of our everyday life, our surroundings, our decisions. If we stay mindful about our decisions, it really is just that easy. Make the mindful decision to eat the apple instead of the cake, or to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Anything you can do to give your mind and body a little healthy energy.

I am ready to take on my senior year at Marquette with a new perspective on myself and my life. I would like to encourage all of you to make this your best year yet alongside of me. Writing this blog every week will help keep me accountable for my wellness decisions, so I vow to bring all of you some great, new wellness advice every week in order to keep you accountable as well. Enjoy the last week of summer break, get in some rest and get ready for our best year yet!

Alicia Diedrich

Creating consistency

Image result for drinking water

We’re almost at the time of the year where we are going to be thrown into a completely different schedule as the semester begins. While a huge change can really mess with our bodies and minds, there are a few things we can do now to prepare ourselves for that schedule change.

An essential part to staying healthy and happy is getting your body on a consistent schedule. I really am the last person that should talk about consistent schedules. I am a student and a bartender, which means a lot of early mornings and many late nights. But because of this, having a routine is one of the things I want the most in my life right now. I would love to be able to wake up and go to sleep at the same time everyday. I know just how much my erratic sleeping and eating schedule can mess with me. However, there are still a few things we can all do to help our body establish some consistency.

There is one simple technique I hear about constantly: start off your morning with a full glass of water. Now, I definitely need to improve on this myself, but I am a firm believer that this really does make a huge difference in kick starting the mornings. Water is the best thing for our bodies, and since we need so much in a day, starting off the day with one glass is an easy way to get a head start. After a refreshing glass of water, it’s important to nourish our bodies with a healthy breakfast. Think protein and produce. Eggs, veggies and fruit make up the perfect, delicious breakfast. And after breakfast, I advise to always leave the house with a full water bottle. Ever since I started doing this, I have significantly increased my water intake, and it has helped me to avoid not-so-good-for-me drinks like soda and other sugar filled drinks. Adding these simple tasks into your morning will get you off to a great start for a morning routine.

Keeping a consistent nighttime routine is also essential to keeping our bodies in check. When you think about a night routine, try to think relaxing and winding down. For me this means a shower, lighting a candle, maybe reading a book, and of course, more water! Those are only a few of the things you could add to your nightly routine to help you wind down and get ready for a good night’s rest, so create a routine that works for you.

No matter what, establishing some consistency for your body will help you feel more rested and at ease. Start introducing yourself to a routine now so that by the time fall semester rolls around, we are already all set to take on our new schedules and challenges.

Alicia Diedrich

The power of laughter

Image result for laughAs the summer is winding down, I’m sure we are all grasping at any last opportunities to fit in some fun and relaxation while we still can. There are so many great things we can do for our mind and body to keep them strong, happy, and relaxed. One of the simplest ways we can help our brains stay happy is through laughter! You have probably heard the saying that laughter is the best medicine. And it turns out that saying is pretty accurate.

There’s some really cool science behind why this is. Studies have found links between laughter and healthy blood vessel and blood flow, and it can even raise good cholesterol and reduce inflammation in the heart. Along with muscle relaxation, lower stress hormones, and a boost in immunity, laughter can help boost your mood. There’s more information on how laughter can improve your health at the link below. Laughter is also free, so I don’t see how you could go wrong with a good laugh. So although you probably can’t laugh on command, make it a point to fit more laughter in your day to day life. Some of the best sources of laughter are your family members and friends, (I think I say this almost every week) so spend some quality time with the ones you love! Another great way to fit in some laughter is of course to watch a favorite tv show, a funny movie, or find hilarious YouTube videos, articles or books. Even just a small smile can help you feel better, try putting on a huge, ridiculous grin randomly during the day just because. Both laughter and smiling are contagious, see if you can get anyone else to catch it from you.

There definitely is no shortage of comic relief out there. And while laughter won’t fix everything, it really will help you lead a life of wellness, because who doesn’t love laughter, after all laughter may be the best medicine. I hope you have a week full of laughter!

Alicia Diedrich

http://www.theemotionmachine.com/psychology-of-laughter/

 

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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