Posts Tagged 'Lifestyle'

Lifestyle is everything

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Welcome back from Thanksgiving break, Marquette! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, a relaxing, rejuvenating break, and some much needed family time. My short break was all of those things and more, just not long enough. But that brings me to my next thought though, there’s only a few weeks left of the semester. Less than two weeks of classes, and then we are into finals week. I cannot believe how quickly it has gone by, and I am sure you are thinking the same thing. And with that thought, comes some impending anxiety about the last push. In my case, all of the projects and presentations, all of the papers, and all of the exams. Maybe for you, all of the grading, or all of the other deadlines approaching.

I know I have said it before, but it is more important now than ever: step back and destress. Now crunch times can be stressful for anyone, but having anxiety can make deadlines and pressure all that more stressful. We are lucky to have some wonderful campus resources for dealing with anxiety, and other mental health struggles. Now, I completely understand that even thinking about talking to someone about anxiety would just give you even more anxiety, but I assure you, it shouldn’t. There are a lot of misconceptions about anxiety (or any mental health concern in general) that give it a stigma, making it seem like a bad thing, like struggling with mental health makes you weak. But these misconceptions are just that, they are wrong, and it is worth talking about. And, according to David Spiegel, Stanford University’s associate chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, “avoidance is not a good strategy.” Even I could have told you that, but when it comes from an expert on the subject, it reassures the idea even further. I have spent a lot of time running from my anxiety, but when I recognized and acknowledged it, I was then able to also recognize and acknowledge some great ways to help live my everyday life more fully and freely.

I am a big advocate for making lifestyle changes in order to deal with health related issues. This includes my struggle with an autoimmune disease, depression, and anxiety. And a lot has changed since I wrote that first blog over a year ago. I have come to terms with what I can do for myself through my lifestyle. There are more connections between lifestyle and health and wellness than people realize. When your body is given the proper care it needs and deserves, it is amazing what it will return to you. Eating healthy, exercising, and taking care of your spiritual and emotional wellness won’t solve everything, it isn’t a miracle cure. It seems as though many people expect it to be, and that makes it difficult to follow through on a lifestyle change. It can be disheartening to start eating healthy or to begin a new exercise routine and to not see results right away. It can take a while, but I assure you it is worth it. You may not see immediate changes in your health or how your body feels. In fact, you may even feel worse for a while, maybe you will be tired and groggy, or you will get headaches since your body is used to a lot of sugar, and other harmful ingredients. So, in spirit of what I assured at the beginning of the semester, let’s do this together and make this our best year yet with a lifestyle change.

You don’t have to do anything crazy or drastic if you don’t want to. Start off small to make it easy. Make a small change: eat more fruits and vegetables, cut your daily bowl of ice cream to once a week, get up in the morning and go for a walk or do some yoga, and don’t be afraid to get help from others, because we are not on this earth alone and we do care. Have a productive, but stress-free week, and I will talk to you next Tuesday.

Alicia Diedrich

Gratitude and giving

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It’s that time of the year. Thanksgiving is just a few days away, the spirit of gratitude and giving is all around us. But there is more to gratitude than just Thanksgiving, November is national gratitude month. How exciting is that?! Not that we should need a day or even a month to dedicate to gratitude and giving, it should be something we practice and integrate into our everyday life. But, I would definitely say that having specific days, months, and movements dedicated towards certain issues helps to shine a much needed light on all of the issues that deserve the attention.

In today’s society, there is so much to be grateful for, yet so much left to be improved. Ironically, this is one reason I am so thankful for blogging and social media. It allows me to help spread gratitude and giving, something I have always been so passionate about. This year I have so much gratitude for all of the wonderful opportunities that Marquette has given me: including this internship with Marquette University Employee Wellness and leading me into my other internship as well. I am grateful for my friends and my family, and so much more. And although I am aware of my gratitude every day, being in the spirit of giving season feels great. I encourage all of us to express gratitude every day of our lives, but to take advantage of the amazing opportunities that arrive during this time of the year.

Every year there is a global movement called Giving Tuesday. There’s Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday. This is such an amazing movement because the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has decided to match all donations given to nonprofits through Facebook giving tools. This is such a great way to show gratitude for all that life gives us and to pay it forward. So this year, instead of spending all of our money on things we only want, I say we skip Black Friday and Cyber Monday and put that towards Giving Tuesday. Let’s make this world a better place. It only takes a little bit of gratitude, but there are so many ways to make this world a better place. Donating is just one of them, but volunteering your time, or even just sharing and spreading the news goes a long way.

This year, join me in showing gratitude by making a difference in the world in any way that you can. Be grateful for what you have and give what you can. Let the season of giving and thanks make a new impact on you. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving break, and remember, everything in moderation, you can do it!

Alicia Diedrich

No tension, no worries

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Hi again, Marquette! We’re only a little over a week away from Thanksgiving break and only 4 more weeks of classes (including this week and the short Thanksgiving week) before finals week. As always, the semester is flying by. In the midst of this, it is sometimes hard to find some time for yourself and to wind down and just enjoy life. We are just trying to fit everything into our busy lives. We have work, and we want to spend time working out, eating healthy, relaxing, spending time with family and friends, catching up on a good book. And the list goes on and on.

One part of having such a chaotic life that I have always struggled with is the actual physical pain it leaves my body in. Yes, I know, I am 21 years old, I shouldn’t have so much pain. But, I tend to carry all of my stress in my neck and shoulders. A lot of it stems from my struggle with an autoimmune disorder that affects my thyroid. And if I am managing to fit in regular workouts, that muscle tension gets even worse. Today, I want to be the one that tells you to go ahead and splurge on something for yourself. If you carry a lot of your stress in your muscles like I do, then you are just as much in need of a massage as I am. I don’t get massages frequently, but when I do, it leaves me wondering why I don’t do it more often. Especially since it has so many great health benefits.

Massage therapy can help with everything from that stress and pain relief I was talking about, to anxiety, headaches, sleep troubles, blood pressure, and an endless list of other issues. This means there can’t possibly any downside to going for it. I also firmly believe that massage therapy on a consistent basis creates the best results. It gives you some down time to unwind and relax, to release the tension in your body and mind. And while massages can be expensive, they don’t have to be. Marquette offers a very generous massage therapy discount to students, faculty and staff. This means you can focus on the relaxation aspect instead of the frightening costs. And of course there is always the option of arranging a massage agreement with a loved one. It may not be the same as a trained massage therapist, but it offers many of the same benefits along with providing a bonding moment.

Allowing yourself something that makes you feel good is an absolutely essential aspect of wellness. Working out feels good. Eating healthy feels good. Mindfulness feels good. And so does taking time to take care of yourself. So go ahead, take some time for you and work on making yourself well.

Alicia Diedrich

Wellbeing biography: Kristin Kipp – Whole 30

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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.

Local produce for a healthy you

Hello everyone! I hope you have enjoyed a relaxing and rejuvenating first few weeks of summer vacation! I am back to bring you some awesome blog posts for the rest of the summer! Summer is such a great time to make sure you are living a healthy lifestyle. With the beautiful, warm weather and plenty of summer produce, there are so many ways to take great care of your body through exercise and eating right.

One of my favorite things to do in the summer to take care of myself is to go to farmer’s markets! It is the perfect opportunity to look for some delicious and nutritious foods, get some exercise, and support your local farmers all at the same time. You can load up on fruits and veggies to eat as a snack, or plan to make a healthy recipe with the colorful, fresh produce. There are farmer’s markets all over Milwaukee on four different days of the week so there are plenty of options to make it fit into your schedule!

You can find a list of the times and locations here. If you aren’t located in Milwaukee you can just search for farmers markets in your area, you are bound to find something. Hope to see you out at the markets!

Alicia Diedrich

What’s “wellness” and how can I get it?

PrintHello to my fellow Golden Eagles! My name is Ben Eccles and I am one of the brand new Wellness Program interns for this school year. I am so excited to get involved with everything our wellness program has to offer, but first let me tell you all a bit about myself.

I have just started my junior year in the college of health sciences studying exercise physiology. I work as a desk receptionist in Carpenter Tower and as a campus tour guide. My hobbies include playing volleyball, soccer and basketball with my friends and trying to teach myself how to cook because I can’t rely on the meal plan anymore.

As interesting as I might seem, that is not the main focus of today’s post. I wanted to share some insight on how I view wellness. Many people (including myself at times) think that they are too busy to eat well, live well and feel well, but I believe a great way to fight this misconception is with knowledge. Allowing yourself to learn is the first step you can take to become the best version of you.

So what does wellness mean? Most people believe wellness is going for a run every day or eating green vegetables with every meal. While those things can nurture a healthy life style, not everyone has the ability or the option to do them. Being asked to define wellness as I am studying to be a wellness professional is something that can’t be done in simple terms.

Wellness, the way I have learned it, has 8 dimensions. Meaning there are 8 different facets of life for us as individuals to be well in. These dimensions are emotional, financial, social, spiritual, occupational, physical, intellectual, and environmental. I’m sure that at least half of these are fairly simple to understand in terms of wellness, but what on earth does occupational or intellectual wellness mean? I have provided a list that I found from samhsa.gov of brief definitions for all of these dimensions to give you an idea of what each of them mean.

Emotional Wellness – the ability to effectively cope with life and create meaningful relationships

Financial Wellness – satisfaction with current and future financial situation

Social Wellness – developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system

Spiritual Wellness – expanding our sense of purpose and meaning in life

Occupational Wellness – personal satisfaction and enrichment derived from one’s work

Physical Wellness – recognizing the need for physical activity, diet, sleep and nutrition

Intellectual Wellness – recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills

Environmental Wellness – Good health by occupying pleasant, stimulation environments that support well-being 

That is all I have for today! I will be back soon to expand on these ideas and cover new topics in health and wellness.

 

Ben

New year, new us

IMG_3267Welcome back, MU community! It’s the second day of the school year and Employee Wellness has lots planned for this semester. We are really excited to share it all with you! First off, yes, it is still me, Sarah, but we have a new face on the team. Her name is Alicia Diedrich, and she is excited to start spreading some wellness news, too. You’ll be hearing from her more next week.

Last January, I started a little bit of a redesign of the structure and content on our webpage. You may have noticed. Get ready for some more future updates and cool upgrades to where you are finding wellness information through us. We hope to have more helpful facts ready for you more often very soon.

I’m also pretty stoked to let you know that we will be working more with the Office of Marketing and Communication. Hopefully this will allow us to become a full service wellness desk, able to answer all your questions and bring you details about tons of cool and health-centric events on campus and throughout Milwaukee.

Speaking of cool events on campus, we already have plenty of fun classes planned to help you get in your daily fitness. From yoga to crossfit, we don’t want you to forget to have fun every once in a while during the work day. Getting fit at the same time is a plus. Be sure to register here to check out our calendar and take another step toward a healthier lifestyle.

So get excited and get moving, MU! Let’s make this a great and healthy semester.


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