health

To Survive or to Thrive: College Edition

Children are unapologetic about what they love; they are passionate and even obsessive. My childhood obsession was with archaeology; I read about the sarcophagi in Egypt thrive - childhood dreamsand the ruins in Pompeii. I dreamt that ancient bones and artifacts were still buried under my feet, just waiting for me to uncover them. Unfortunately, the dreams we have as children often fall away and are replaced with the pessimistic, “adult” mindset deemed necessary for the “real world.”

My dream of becoming an archaeologist was set aside, and I spent my high school trying to live up to an arbitrary definition of success. Adults stress the importance of “success;” they do not explain–and may not even understand– that this term is relative. I was told I needed to get into a good college in order to get a good job, and thus I set aside my “silly” childhood dreams.

By the time I entered college, I was used to the system; I understood that if I wanted to be successful, I had to manage my busy schedule and dedicate myself to my studies. Although I was a hard-working student, I felt like I was losing something; I was slowly forgetting the passion that I once felt for learning. By the time students enter college, they resemble machines; they are programmed to manage their classwork, jobs, and social lives. Time for rest and reflection are rare. We are always busy, and thus we grow distanced from our thoughts and ourselves. Like many of my fellow students, I grew detached from my true passions; I lost sight of what I really wanted.

Many students handle their academic and social stresses by simply going through the motions; attending classes and social events because we think we are “supposed to.” I tried to follow the example set by my peers, but, by sophomore year, I could see it was not working for me. I learned that it was better to let something go than to pretend. Instead of taking a class I was  not interested in simply because it looked impressive, I began taking classes that my childhood self calls out for– the class that reminds me of forgotten dreams.  If you simply pretend and go through the motions during college, it is likely that you will continue this habit after graduation. If you decide not to major in what you love because you are told it won’t make you “successful,” you will grow distanced from yourself. One day, you may forget who you are and what you truly love.

If we drop some of the tasks we feel we are “supposed to” complete, we become closer to ourselves and learn to understand who we are. When we are faced with a stressor, it is the way we respond to it that brings us closer to our true selves. In turn, we learn to love ourselves rather obsess over what is temporary. What is temporary includes both academic and social stresses, as well as our bodies. If we maintain perspective, we see that many of our worries are not worth dwelling on.thrive - college routine

If we want to truly love ourselves and become happy, successful adults, we must practice moderation. In school, we are forced to navigate two extremes. We are told to stay committed and work hard in order to succeed and make money. A nagging voice is often in the back of our minds, telling us we have no time to lose. The other extreme is a voice that tells us we are powerless and inadequate; it tempts us to give up. Our childhood fantasies are looked back at as silly dreams. We must navigate these extremes if we want to nurture our souls and stay grounded. Conflict forces us to either go through the motions or to reflect. We must reflect and force ourselves into consciousness. This creates an intimacy and honesty within ourselves. If we want to find the career that makes us happy, we must both love and learn with our whole hearts. 

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If we do not practice moderation, we often end up neglecting our mental and physical health. I use the app “Headspace” in order to check in with myself and stay focused on what truly matters. The app is described as “a gym membership for the mind.” Just like you train your body, you can train your mind. The app allows you ten days of free meditation. Using this app, I have slowly been learning how to clear my mind. By taking ten minutes each day to focus on my mental health, I have become more in touch with myself and what I really want. I have cut out activities that I was simply doing because I saw other students participating. I have learned that sometimes, the most productive thing I can do is to spend time alone and to not stretch myself too thin. My favorite meditation sessions focus on self-love. It is so easy to forget to congratulate yourself on what you have done, especially when you always have a new assignment or exam coming up. Being mindful of the present moment has allowed me to put things in perspective. During every meditation, I remind myself of all that I have to be grateful for and all that I have accomplished thus far.

Last weekend, I finally saw the ruins at Pompeii. During this experience, my heart was aching; I kept thinking about my childhood dreams and the love I had for archaeology. I let these dreams go because I believed they were unrealistic;  no one understood why I wanted to be an archeologist. I felt defeated. Through practicing both moderation and meditation, I have learned how to let things go; I have learned to focus on what I love and to disregard what others expect of me. Though I regret that I was defeated so easily by the pressures of adulthood, my experience in Pompeii reminded me that it is often the ideas and subjects you obsess over as a child that are the most true; the dreams we have as children never really die. The clean, “perfect” plan college students feel forced to follow is nothing but an act. If we keep on acting rather than living, we risk never truly understanding ourselves or what we want out of life. We must decide whether we will simply try to survive, or whether we will choose to thrive.

Simple Ways to Live a Healthier Life!

We all want to be healthier but not all of us want to make big sacrifices to reach this goal. I may be able to help you out. Read these simple ways to live a healthier life!

1. Switch to Whole Grains.

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Everyone loves carbs, but a lot of the ones many of us eat everyday are not great for you. Instead of white bread, go for whole wheat or multigrain bread. Instead of white rice, go for brown rice, quinoa, or wild rice. Whole grains have much more nutritional value and have tons of health benefits including heart health, reduced risk of cardiovascular and heart diseases, and slower digestion (which is good for lessening blood sugar spikes!) It’s actually quite easy to just substitute whole grains where you would normally eat refined grains without a massive change in your meals.

2. Go Carb-Free for One Meal a Day.

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This is typically easiest to do at breakfast. Go for things low in fat and high in protein, such as fat free yogurt or eggs. If you’re worried about the cholesterol in eggs, use one regular egg and the rest egg whites. You’ll still get the protein benefits with less of the cholesterol that comes with the yolk. For the yogurt option, you can go for a fat-free yogurt or low calorie Greek yogurt and then add fresh fruit and some chia seeds. Chia seeds are a super food with lots of protein, Omega-3s, and soluble fiber. They don’t really have a flavor so you can add them to lots of things for added nutrients! You can also incorporate the yogurt option into a smoothie with frozen fruit.

3.Eat More Soluble Fibers.

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Soluble fiber is better for you than insoluble fiber because it dissolves into the water in your body to create a viscous liquid/gel that prevents some of the fat and sugar in your food from absorbing, which can help reduce cholesterol or maintain healthy levels of cholesterol. It also helps to prevent your risk of diabetes. You can find soluble fiber in foods such as apples, oat bran, chia seeds, beans, barley, and sweet potatoes.

 4. Incorporate Regular Exercise into Your Routine.

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Take advantage of the gyms you have on campus. Try to go 3-4 times a week and find a fitness routine that you like and can manage. Do a mixture of cardio and weight training. Maybe get on the elliptical for a half hour and then head over to the free weights and resistance bands. If the gym isn’t your thing, try doing outdoor activities like jogging, hiking, biking, etc. You can even find guided workouts on YouTube if you’d rather exercise in your room! Just find something that works for you and stick with it. Eventually you’ll see results and you’ll be able to work up to more intense workouts. Go at your own pace, be safe, and don’t do more than you can handle. You’ll get to where you want to be eventually, so take it slow and build from there!

The Fitbit Killer – Apple Watch’s Health Benefits

“Is that your cell phone or your living room TV?”

This is a taunt my Android using friend Jill is more than familiar with as a courteously remind her about the ridiculous size of her Samsung Galaxy at every football tailgate. Last week however, I had to eat those words as Apple jumped on the bigger is better bandwagon with the iPhone 6. Despite the larger breadth of the phone, all is not lost for those of us who prefer our technology compact.

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The big news out of Cupertino last week was the reveal of the much anticipated Apple Watch. Rumors of this device have been swirling on the interwebs for some time, but on September 9th Tim Cook unveiled the first new Apple product since the passing of Steve Jobs. A live demonstration showed many of the device’s functions which include access to emails and texts, the ability to control Apple TV, GPS through the Maps function and even a cool feature that tells you what time of the day it is. It would seem that the only thing missing is a line of piano wire needed to disable rival KGB spies à la James Bond.

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While these features already make the Apple Watch worth its $350 price tag, the item that most interested my wife and I was the watch’s functionality as a health and fitness device. The party starts with the set of sensors on the back of the watch that monitors vital statistics such as your heart rate. From there, Apple Watch comes with two apps built in to measure your liveliness. In the Activity App, three different aspects of movement are tracked on various rings. The “Move” ring reports how many calories you’ve burned for the day and alerts you when you have achieved your daily goal. Of course this comes in handy for strolls on the treadmill with your sorority sister in the student gym, but if you’ve ever inquired how many calories you burn walking to your daily classes or back from Penny Pitcher Night, you’ll now have a picture of just how active you truly are. Second is the “Exercise” ring which captures your rapid movements and alerts you when you’ve reached the widely recommended time of 30 minutes of exercise per day. Lastly, there is the “Stand” ring (seemingly geared toward us nine to five desk jockeys) which motivates you to do just that; stand for at least one minute per hour in a 12 hour period.

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The Workout App allows you to select your favorite exercise and set calories and time goals for yourself. With just a swipe of the screen, the watch will give you up to date results on your current exercise campaign from the length of your run to the intensity of your yoga session. Once done, you can send your data to your iPhone’s Health App (Which we’ll have in tomorrow’s iPhone upgrade) as well as various third party fitness apps such as Lose It.

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From late night White Castle runs to pizza for every meal, college is a hotbed for poor heath choices. Many of us enter our undergraduate careers feeling invincible, only to discover after graduation that four years of keg parties, fast food runs and passing the gym without batting an eye has taken a toll on our once trim physiques. Though we’ll have to wait a few more months to get our hands on this device as it won’t be out until early 2015, it certainly seems that Apple is giving us a prime weapon to battle the Freshmen 15 with.

Healthy Summer Snacks

Summer is finally here and with the bright sunshine and rising temperatures come the numerous invites to summer barbecues and parties. You can still enjoy these events without sacrificing your healthy eating habits! Swap out a few of the traditional summer snacks for these healthier alternatives.

fruit salad1.Fruit salad
Most berries are in season during the summer so take advantage of this and try a fruit salad. They’re super quick and easy to make and are sweet without the worry of artificial flavors and sweeteners. Simply slice up your favorite fruit and mix them together in a large bowl. Popular options are star fruit, kiwi, watermelon, mango, and strawberries.

 

turkey burger2.Turkey burgers
You can’t have a summer barbecue without a grilled burger. Try swapping out the traditional beef patty for a lower fat but equally satisfying turkey burger.

 

frozen greek yogurt

 

3. Frozen Greek yogurt
Trade your ice cream for frozen greek yogurt to have the same taste with much less fat.

 

 

 

 

green tea

4. Iced Tea
Iced teas are a great alternative to sugary drinks. Try green tea with a sprig of mint for freshness or honey for a sweeter drink.

 

 

 

 

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5. Angel food cake
Between birthdays, graduation parties, and Independence Day, there’s bound to be a situation where desserts are a must. Angel food cake is a healthier alternative to most cakes because it has a very low fat content but still tastes great.

 

 

What are some of your favorite swaps to maintain healthy eating habits? Let us know in the comments below!

Obamacare: What You Need to Know

obamacare, obama health care, government health careObamacare. We’ve all heard this term thrown around on the news and in our Political Science classes. But if you’re anything like me, I’m sure you’re a bit confused about what Obamacare actually is, and how it affects you as a student.

What is Obamacare? The official name is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. Basically, the act requires that all Americans have health insurance by 2014 or be subject to a tax that will provide them with coverage. The goal of the act is to reform the American healthcare system and allow more individuals (many who previously have been turned away by insurance companies due to preexisting conditions) to access affordable healthcare.

Potential Pros of Obamacare:

  • Parents can now keep their children on their healthcare plans until the age of 26.
  • Individuals with preexisting conditions can no longer be denied healthcare. This change went into effect for children in 2010 and will go into effect for adults in 2014.
  • Insurance companies can no longer drop individuals who become sick.
  • Insurance companies are required to justify their reasoning for raising prices (otherwise known as “rate hikes”).

Potential Cons of Obamacare:

  • Starting in 2014, if you have not yet purchased healthcare, you will be taxed as much as 1% of your income to pay for healthcare services.
  • Some individuals and businesses could be forced to pay higher taxes.
  • 3-5 million people in the US could lose their company sponsored health insurance because their employers may find it more financially beneficial to pay a penalty for not offering insurance and allow their employees to buy coverage on their own.

Additional important (and often unknown) facts:

  • People without insurance can shop for a plan that meets their healthcare needs on different healthcare exchanges. These exchanges will provide individuals with information that will allow them to become educated about whether or not they qualify for tax credits, and will also allow them to compare plans before purchasing.
  • This plan has been in the works for decades and was an act created and developed by members of both political parties.
  • Insurance will now be provided to two groups who previously were uninsured: young people and people who chose to forgo preventative care and instead used hospital emergency rooms once their illnesses became severe. Insuring these individuals will save money in two ways: young people will be paying a premium but are traditionally healthier and therefore use healthcare services less, and ER users will now be treated before their illnesses reach expensive ER severity.

As college students that will soon be stepping out into the real world with real responsibilities, it is important that we stay informed about what is going on in the world around us. We love to hear your questions and comments about these topics so feel free to write to us in the comments section below!