Posts Tagged 'Wellness'

December Kindness

The Dalai Lama once said “be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” I find this quote to be especially inspiring because it brings light to a topic that is not often discussed. I feel as though a common view on kindness is that it is simply being polite and respectful. In fact, Oxford dictionary’s definition is “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.” And although I do find this definition to be true, I find there to be much more to kindness than just this.

A couple weeks ago I stumbled across the “Kindness Calendar – December 2017” and immediately shared it on our Twitter page. I loved the idea! I find it to be so creative and unique. Kindness is not often represented as something that requires much effort, and I think that’s exactly where the dictionary definition falls short. It is viewed as something that is more passive or just any basic human interaction. And this is why I say maybe there should be more thought and action behind our everyday kindness. There are so many monthly challenges out there that are great way to start up a new habit like eating healthy, working out, practicing meditation or mindfulness. And all of these actions require thought, effort, and consideration.

This calendar is great because it encompasses so many different forms of kindness. We can be kind to others: family, friends, or strangers, but we can also be kind to the earth, to animals, and even to ourselves and our bodies. Keeping in mind all of these forms of kindness, it really does become a challenge to overall treat life with kindness. It is such a fitting theme for December because it is so often seen as a month of giving and presents. But this year, let’s take our kindness to a new level. Practicing kindness is something I want to challenge all of us to do. So, this month I want all of you to follow along with this calendar with me. That means tomorrow, all of us are going to do something helpful for a family member. And on Thursday we are going to be kind to the earth, and so on.

I hope you all have a very kindness-filled week, and please share the amazing results that your kindness brings to your life with us, let’s spread kindness!

Alicia Diedrich

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

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

The season of eating

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Hi everyone! We’re almost to that time of year again. The time of year when there is delicious food everywhere in sight. The time of year where it is next to impossible to resist eating tons of extra unhealthy food. I am here just as a simple reminder that it is possible to keep to a healthy diet, even during the season of social eating.

Although it is extremely difficult, it can be done! And maybe it doesn’t need to be that difficult. Now, I do like to promote healthy eating and balanced diets, but I also like to add on: everything in moderation. One of the most difficult parts about eating healthy during huge Thanksgiving feasts and holiday parties that would give any buffet a run for their money, is simply just the volume of food there is. It seems next to impossible to not load up your plate full of everything in sight. I would like to offer some advice to make conquering your cravings easier. This past weekend, my mother and I were discussing what we wanted to do for Thanksgiving dinner. Since we try to eat healthy, we decided the easiest way to do that during the season of eating would be to just cut back on the amount of food we’re making to begin with. If you’re throwing a get together, just simplify your menu. Pick out just a few items for your menu, maybe you decide you need your turkey and mashed potatoes because they are staples to any Thanksgiving dinner! But maybe you decide instead of stuffing, cranberry sauces, green beans filled with fattening ingredients, and three different kind of pies, you opt to make a side salad. Suddenly, you only have a few options to choose from, making eating healthy and choosing good portions a much easier feat, and you have a new found sense of willpower.

Let’s say you’re not hosting, then what? There is food everywhere! And I’m sure we all feel like we have to try at least some of everything. I want to propose that the same advice works here. Simplify your personal menu, choose just a few dishes to put on your plate. I repeat again, everything in moderation. Go ahead and have a piece of pie if you want it, but then make sure you skip on the thousands of other desserts that are there. Eating healthy during the holidays doesn’t have to be depressing. In the end, when you make a healthy choice about your eating habits, you’ll feel better physically and mentally. I don’t know about you, but when I eat too much in one sitting and your stomach hurts from all the food, you end up regretting it almost immediately .

So, although it may seem incredibly difficult to eat healthier during the holidays, I want to assure you it’s easier than we make it out to be. Give yourself some credit and realize that you have the power and the option to overcome your cravings and to make good decisions for your body. In the end, you will be happier and healthier. I will leave you this week with a challenge for us all, to take control of our bodies and test out that willpower that we all have deep within us. Have a great week Marquette, I’ll talk to you next week!

Alicia Diedrich

Forgiveness is wellness

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Every week I try to bring you the best in wellness tips and news on campus. I have discussed this concept of wellness lows and highs before, and at the beginning of the semester I made it my goal to make this my (and our) best year yet. Well, let me tell you, I was not prepared at all for what this semester has thrown my way. It has sent me spiraling into a wellness low, but that is OKAY! One of the most important things I have learned about wellness is that when you are not being as well as you can be (making poor nutrition choices, skipping workouts, or even not taking enough time to relax) you must forgive yourself.

It took me a while to not feel guilty about poor wellness decisions, or at least feel like I should feel guilty. However, I have come to realize that beating yourself up over past mistakes only leads to a hindered sense of emotional wellness. The only thing we can do when it comes to bad decisions (or just a wellness low we are experiencing that may be no fault of our own) is to learn from them and use that to work towards bettering ourselves in the present and future. So you ate two pieces of cake, maybe three, that’s okay. You skipped your workouts for the last week? Or you haven’t exercised in months, maybe years? That’s okay too. Remember how that made your body feel. We have one body to get us through the rest of our lives, and we should treat it as such, no matter how poorly it may treat us at times. I shared a quote on our Twitter account a while back by Jim Rohn, who says “[t]ake care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” Despite how simple this is, it made a big impact in my mind because there is so much truth to that. Good wellness decisions may not cure our health problems, but it will 100% make the ride that much easier.

Proper nutrition, regular exercise and mindfulness, just to name a few, all help to put us in the state of mind we need to be in to tackle every day with our best and brightest selves. These simple things give us the energy to get up and do great things, to grow stronger and smarter, and to be the best for others in our lives as well. I have always been a firm believer that if you don’t first take care of yourself, you can’t be at your best for others in your life either.

This is just another friendly push to make this our best year yet, and to remind you that wellness setbacks can and do happen, and it is OKAY! Now, go do something that is good for you, you deserve it.

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.

Marquette Wellness Ambassadors

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As promised at the beginning of the semester, Marquette University Employee Wellness has some exciting new changes and improvements going on. We already celebrated the grand opening of the new employee wellness space! And now we are excited to bring you the news of the formation of Marquette University Wellness Ambassadors.

The Wellness Ambassadors program was formed with the vision of being able to better promote, support and encourage healthy choices. I have always been a firm believer that it is so much easier to make better choices for yourself when you have great support from others backing you. For me it is so much easier to stick to my fitness goals and really push myself when everyone around me is doing so too, this is why I find having workout buddies or going to the gym where everyone around you is working out to be so beneficial. The same thing holds true when we are talking about making healthy food choices or discussing our mental, emotional and spiritual wellness. And this is why it is so difficult to maintain our healthy eating habits around the holidays: everyone is eating cookies, cakes and unhealthy snacks. It is extremely difficult to maintain healthy choices when we give way to social eating or “I’ll just have one.” This is why support systems with healthy intentions and encouragement are so vital to our own healthy choices.

The Marquette Wellness Ambassadors (MWA) will work to create these networks of support and encouragement. The goal for the ambassadors is to help others work towards healthy lifestyle choices at work, identify environmental supports to influence and enhance co-workers healthy lifestyle, create peer support networks and other wellness and health related topics. If you are passionate about wellness, or just want to take on a new challenge for yourself and your peers, the Ambassador team is looking for individuals who can be enthusiastic and inspiring in a wellness role and lead by example. Our motto here is BE THE HEALTHY DIFFERENCE. If this sounds like you, you can fill out the application or contact Kristin Kipp at kristin.kipp@mu.edu for more information on the Marquette Wellness Ambassadors program.

Even if you decide not to become a MWA I still urge you to make a healthy difference in your own life and those around you. We all have to power and ability to make healthy choices and changes in our lives. Choose to do that now and you will thank yourself later.

Alicia Diedrich


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