5 Ways to Spring Clean for Wellness

By: Shannon McHale ’15, CRS Weight/Fitness Supervisor

During the transition from spring to winter, the old adage, “Out with the old, and in with the new” seems most appropriate.

The nice weather and uplifting mood that comes with the season change often inspires us to ditch the unnecessary stuff that’s accumulated in our homes since our last “spring cleaning.”

Credit: don-denver.blogpost.com

Credit: don-denver.blogpost.com

While getting rid of old stuff is definitely important, so is getting rid of old habits.

The motivation that comes when the snow melts away can be put to great use by taking time now to establish important new routines.

Here are five ways you can use “spring cleaning” time to improve your overall wellness:

Clean up your place. It may be the obvious and traditional tip, but actual cleaning is still an important task. A less cluttered space equals less stress – it’s a lot easier to do your homework when you can find it, or when you’re not distracted by the pile of clothes on your floor. If you’re anything like us, when a big assignment is due it often suddenly seems that you need to clean up your room, organize your fridge, throw away the trash, and go through your closet… the list goes on. It’s a lot tougher to procrastinate when you’ve got your space organized, and the cleanliness will put you in a good headspace regardless of what you’re doing.

Clean up your workout routine. A new routine can give you back some of that motivation we all lose when we’re confined to exercising indoors. Getting outside is a great way to fight off stress or feeling down – and combining the outdoors with some good old fashioned exercise will give you double the endorphin boost! If you’re not into outdoor activities, try out a simple gym or home exercise plan. Choose one that you can realistically stick to, and you’ll be feeling great in no time!

Clean up your eating. As the colder months disappear in favor of the warmer ones, try incorporating some of the freshness of spring into your meals. Let fresh, crunchy salads replace some of those heavy, wintry meals like thick stews. Using produce that’s in season will really make you feel like spring is in the air – which is a much-needed feeling after the brutal winter we’ve (hopefully) finally escaped from. You can buy seasonal produce at the on-campus farmers market that opens for its regular season on April 23.

Clean up your sleep schedule. We know you felt it when time “sprung forward” a few weeks ago. Good news: you can use that feeling to your advantage by setting a new schedule. Try going to bed and waking up an hour earlier than usual. Most college students don’t get enough sleep, and this can be combated by normalizing your sleep schedule. Experts say to aim for 7-8 hours a night, so even going to bed at 11 p.m. would still give you plenty of sleep, even if you have to wake up for a dreaded 8 a.m. class.

Clean up your resolve. Spring is the season of “new,” and not just in nature. Take the opportunity that comes with a new season to renew your New Year’s resolutions, or make new ones altogether. Having a goal to work towards will help you power through the last few weeks of a tough semester, and you’ll be rewarded with a hard-earned summer break!

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A New Look for Food Labels? FDA Proposes Changes to Nutrition Facts Label

 By: Elizabeth Hubbard, University of Maryland Health Center, Dietetic Intern

Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced plans to revamp the Nutrition Facts label that appears on most food products.

The proposed Nutrition Facts label (above) will emphasize the number of calories and servings per container; update serving sizes; list the amount of added sugars; and require listing of potassium and vitamin D if present.  Source: FDA.gov

The proposed Nutrition Facts label
Source: FDA.gov

What does this mean for you?

First of all, don’t expect to see any changes the next time you go to the grocery store.  The FDA has only proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts label.

The general public now has 90 days to provide comments to the FDA on the proposed changes, after which the FDA may take more time to revise their proposal.  Once the new requirements are finalized, the FDA has proposed allowing the food industry two years to make changes to their packaging.

All in all, it could be another three years before you see the new label on the food products you buy.

How would the new Nutrition Facts label differ from the old label?

New Design

The most noticeable feature of the new label is the calorie count displayed in big, bold text.

This change reflects the most current nutritional science, which has shown that, when it comes to weight maintenance, total calorie intake matters most.  In other words, how many calories one eats matters a lot more than where those calories come from (fats, carbs, etc.).

The new label is also designed to be less cluttered and easier to read.

Realistic, Up-to-Date Serving Sizes

Ever wonder why the bag of potato chips you eat with your lunch claims to be “two servings”?  Or why soda you drink with your meal is “2.5 servings”?

Current food labels often confuse consumers with serving sizes that don’t resemble the amount that people actually eat.  Under the new labeling requirements, any food that is typically consumed in one sitting would be described as “one serving.”

Some foods that may or may not be eaten in one sitting would have double-column labels, showing both “per serving” and “per package” nutritional information.

In general, we eat larger servings than we did twenty years ago. The new proposal would change serving sizes to reflect how much we really eat now.  For example, a “serving” of ice cream would increase from ½ cup to a full cup.

Required Disclosure of Added Sugars

The FDA’s proposed new labels would require food manufacturers to declare the amount of added sugars in their products.

Food manufacturers are currently required to show the total amount of sugar in their products, but labels do not distinguish between naturally-occurring sugars (such as the kind found in fruit) and sugars added in food processing.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend reducing added sugars in the diet, because added sugars contribute empty calories while providing no nutritional benefit.

The new requirement would ensure that food labels provide consumers with enough information to enable them to choose products low in added sugars.  Requiring disclosure of added sugars may also encourage food manufacturers to reduce the amount of added sugars in their products in order to appeal to health-conscious consumers.

Potassium and Vitamin D Required

The FDA requires that food labels display the content of certain nutrients in foods.  Not every nutrient needs to be listed; instead, labels highlight nutrients that may be deficient in American diets and that contribute to health problems.

For the past twenty years, food labels have displayed the amount of calcium, iron, vitamin A and vitamin C in foods.  The proposed new labels would keep calcium and iron, but would replace vitamins A and C with potassium and vitamin D.

Why the switch? 

Potassium intake is low for many American consumers, which contributes to their risk of developing high blood pressure.  Similarly, many Americans consume insufficient vitamin D, which can have wide-ranging health consequences, including bone density problems such as osteoporosis.

Vitamins A and C, by contrast, are not nutrients in which American diets are typically deficient, and they do not contribute as significantly to the chronic diseases that afflict many Americans.

Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics issued a statement supporting the proposed label, with Academy President Glenna McCollum calling the proposed label a “big win for consumers.”

But the Academy’s press release also pointed out that many consumers do not know how to read the existing Nutrition Facts label, so more education is needed in order to ensure that consumers can use this tool to improve their diets and their health.

To learn more about the FDA’s proposed changes, check out these links:

To learn more about how to read a food label and how to use this information to make healthy choices,  sign up for a FREE diet analysis through the University Health Center.

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Beating the Winter Blues

By: Shannon McHale ’15, CRS Weight/Fitness Supervisor

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that this winter has been especially brutal … and that cold, snowy weather can probably go ahead and stop anytime now. Luckily, spring is right around the corner!

Spring is right around the corner!

Spring really is right around the corner!

Even if you don’t have Seasonal Affective Disorder, a form of depression that typically starts in the fall and continues through winter, it’s definitely easier to succumb to the blues when it’s cold, gray, and wet outside.

Because we’re awesome (or because we need to knock out those winter blues, too), we scoured our sources and collected some ways to make the remaining weeks of winter more manageable.

  1. Get (natural) sunlight. The bad news: the lack of sunlight that accompanies winter time impedes your brain’s ability to produce serotonin, the “feel-good” hormone – and, new studies have shown that “extra” darkness may affect our circadian rhythms, making us feel like we should be sleeping more. The good news: getting more sunlight can help put a stop to the gloom. Try going for a walk or eating lunch outside. Opening your curtains and sitting by the window if it’s too cold to actually go outside can have a positive impact, too.
  2. Clean up your diet. Cravings for carbs and warm, stick-to-your-ribs foods are especially common during cold months. Part of this can be attributed to literally wanting to warm up – but part of it can be attributed to lowered serotonin levels. There’s two ways to tackle this:
      1. Watch the carbs you eat. Look for whole grains with slow-releasing sugars to keep blood sugar spikes (and hunger) at bay, rather than white rice or flour – which can send sugar skyrocketing and make you feel hungry again minutes after you finish eating.
      2. Add tryptophan to your diet, an amino acid that may aid serotonin production. Foods rich in tryptophan like turkey, milk, and egg whites might help decrease the cravings; if not, they’re still smart food choices that will provide nourishment to power you through a dark and sad day.
  3. Exercise. We can’t emphasize it enough – move, move, move. In fact, we developed a whole Make Moves campaign encouraging you to do just that. And do it outdoors if you can – it’s a good way to spend some time outdoors, and by exercising outside, you’ll get the double benefit of exercise plus sunlight.
  4. Take a getaway … to somewhere a little less wintry. Luckily for us, Spring Break is right around the corner – if you can, use the time off as an opportunity to get somewhere a bit sunnier and warmer than… ahem, College Park. If you don’t already have plans, some careful searching can get you last-minute deals from companies who need to fill plane seats, hotel beds, or cruise ship spots in the near future. Sites like Hotwire, Travelocity, Kayak, and the like even have “last-minute getaway” sections, so have no fear! And, if you’re short on time or money, a day or weekend trip to somewhere a little bit more south could do the trick.

While all of these are great ways to beat a case of the average “winter blues”, we recommend seeing a professional if you’re experiencing seasonal depression that’s interfering with your life. You may have diagnosable Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and while implementing the above strategies can definitely make a difference, SAD is a serious condition that is treatable through therapy, medication, and/or light treatments.

There are lots of ways to seek help right here on campus, including the Counseling Center, the Health Center’s Mental Health Services, and the Help Center.

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Wellness App of the Week: Moves

By: Shannon McHale ’15, CRS Weight/Fitness Supervisor

This Week’s App: Moves

icon_256App : Moves
Price: $2.99
For: Apple App Store, Google Play
Wellness Dimensions: Physical

In the spirit of Make Moves Maryland, this week’s wellness app is, well… Moves!

This super-sleek looking app is an easy way to track the non-intentional (as well as intentional) activity you do each day.

At its base, Moves works like a pedometer. All you have to do is input your home and work addresses, and the app will track and store both the steps and time it takes you to get between the two.

The cool part is that Moves actually recognizes when you’re walking, running, biking, or taking transit systems – so you only get credit for the movement that you do totally on your own.

The newest version allows you to manually add your gym time and over 60 new activities, and according to the Moves website, those activities may soon be automatically recognized the same way walking, running, and biking are!


source: moves-app.com

Our Take

For us, the biggest draw to Moves was its simplicity – you just turn the app on in the morning and let it run throughout the day.

It does take a fair amount of battery power, but our batteries still lasted the whole day (plus, there’s an optional battery-saving mode if you’re really worried).

We liked the end-of-day “timeline” output that showed us where we traveled and how we got there during the day. And, because Moves is a pedometer at its core, it shows you your daily step count. While it’s not fun to realize that you’re really falling short of the recommended 10,000 steps a day, it’s hard to make a change when you don’t know that you’re falling short.

On the downside, Moves does cost money: the newest version is $2.99. While it’s not free, it’s definitely cheaper than a FitBit or Nike Fuelband… and it does way more than a standard “running” or calorie-counting app.

Our verdict: worth it if you’re trying to increase your daily activity level, and definitely worth it if you’re considering investing in a FitBit or FuelBand.

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Feeling Confident as a Woman in the Weight Room

By: Brandi Rosser ’15, Kinesiology Major, Campus Recreation Services Personal Trainer

Manly grunts, loud unsettling noises, and the nervous thump, thump of my heart is all I heard when I walked into the ERC weight rooms for the first time. Looking around and noticing that I was the only girl in a sea of half-dressed, sweaty men, was not a good feeling.

My first impression was less than appealing, but I’ve worked at the ERC for a year now and I frequent the gym often. I’ve come to realize that women can and should feel empowered to use the weight rooms.

Here are my tips to feel more comfortable if you’re a woman in the weight room.

women in the weight room

Relax and walk in with confidence.

If you act confident, you will start to feel confident.

Remember that everyone starts off as a beginner. No one just wakes up and knows how to lift weights. So don’t feel awkward or out of place because you’re a junior in college and you’ve never stepped foot in the weight rooms (or the gym for that matter). You gotta start somewhere, right?

Heck, I would bet that a good portion of people using the weight rooms are beginners, but because they walk with a purpose and a determined look on their faces, you would never guess it.

Do your research.

Ok, so you walk in there like you own the place and you’re ready to work. But wait…you just remembered you still don’t really know what you are doing.

This is why you need a plan of action. Come in with an idea of what you want to accomplish. This way you won’t waste time looking around having your brain wander into bad territory- What am I doing here? I can’t lift!  Where do I go? What do I do? PANIC TIME!!

No. Shut that down quick! Stay focused on your workout plan. Before you go to the weight room, define your goal – what muscle groups do you want to focus on today? Arms, back, core or leg muscles?

Find some exercises online from a reputable resource like www.acefitness.com or talk to a friend who is familiar with the weight room. Figuring it out beforehand will help you feel more at ease.

Bring a friend.

Finding a friend to workout will help you feel less intimidated and you have someone to hold you accountable to your goals. It can be easier to figure out a new machine with a friends there to help you and a more comfortable experience overall.

Lifting weights should be a consistent part of any well-rounded workout and offers many benefits. Aim for a strength training routine 2-3 times a week.

If you’re not sure where to turn, consider signing up for a free weight/fitness orientation or Functional Training 101. You might also consider working with a personal trainer to help guide you in your workout plan.

Once it becomes habit, those nerves will be gone and you’ll be a more confident and healthier you!

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Introducing … Make Moves Maryland

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It may still be cold and wintry outside, but the first day of spring is just around the corner!

The beginning of every new seasons comes with an opportunity to start fresh, and springtime is all about new beginnings (spring cleaning, anyone?). If you perhaps spent a little too much time on the couch and not enough time being active this winter, we’ve got a surprisingly easy solution for you — just move.

Join us on our mission to MAKE MOVES and up our activity level this spring.

We believe, and studies show, that even a little physical activity will help you focus on mental tasks, whether you are reading, studying, problem solving, engaged in debate or conversation, or developing the next fearless idea.

Contrary to what fitness magazines may tell you, you don’t have to carve out an hour in the gym every day in order to reap the benefits of upping your activity.

Getting active can be as simple as finding small ways to move during the day.

We’re sure you’ve heard it a million times: take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk or bike instead of driving or taking the bus, and get up from your desk every so often to move around. Yada yada yada …

As common as this advice sounds, there’s a reason you’ve heard it so many times.

Minimizing the time you spend sitting or being still can have just as significant an impact on your health as hitting the gym for dedicated exercise time. And, if you’re not in crazy good shape yet, don’t worry: you can improve your health by making small, incremental increases in your daily activity.

With that knowledge in hand, we’re inviting you to join Make Moves Maryland this spring!

All you have to do is make a concentrated effort to up your activity level throughout each day.

This can be as easy or as hard as you want it to be – taking the stairs instead of the elevator is a super easy way to move more, while doing jumping jacks or stretches during TV commercials requires a little bit more motivation.

Either way, you’re doing something good for yourself and your body – and it doesn’t require any special equipment or advanced planning.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@UMDCRS) and stay tuned for more ways to get involved with Make Moves Maryland!

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EveryBODY is Beautiful: How to love the skin you’re in

By: Tal Lee ’15, Public Health and Structural Inequalities Major, University Health Center HEALTH Works Peer Educator

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Body image is the way you see yourself, how you feel about you body, and how you feel in your body.

Research shows that body image concerns are extremely prevalent among both men and women on college campuses.

Body image is socially constructed. A person is not born with set perceptions of an ideal physical appearance. Body image affects not only how we treat ourselves physically, but also emotionally.

Loving your body and yourself is crucial to your happiness and overall wellbeing.

We receive so many messages on a daily basis that tell us we’re not good enough, pretty enough, strong enough, thin enough, ______ enough, that sometimes it can be difficult to accept and love yourself as you are.

The journey to body acceptance and self-love starts with small steps. Here are some tips for starting that journey.

5 ways to love the skin you’re in

  1. Go “fat-talk free.” Do your friends ever ask you, “Do I look fat in this?” This is an example of fat talk. A study conducted by Northwestern University found 93% of college women admit to participating in fat talk. Eliminating fat-talk is a great way to avoid unhealthy lifestyle behaviors such as associating with negative feelings or adopting irregular eating habits. Check out Operation Beautiful for more tips about avoiding fat talk.
  2. Make a list of things you like about yourself. Keep a growing list of everything you like about yourself and read it when you need a boost of positivity. Make sure there are plenty of things on your list that are not related to physical appearance.
  3. Be a critical viewer of the media. Images in the media of both males and females present an unattainable and unrealistic image of the “ideal” body image. Women are impossibly thin and men have huge muscles. It is important to recognize that these images are frequently retouched to unnatural extremes.
  4. Take care of you body’s needs. Staying active through yoga or other types of exercise is a great way to get in touch with your body and appreciate what your body can do for you. Fueling your body with nutritious foods will help you feel good and stay physically active. Additionally, maintaining your mental health is key to positive body image.
  5. Wear comfy clothes that you like. Clothes are a wonderful way to express yourself. Wear clothes that are comfortable for you and that make your body feel good.

Want to learn more about body image? February is LOVE YOUR BODY Month at UMD. The month promotes positive body image and healthy living through events held around campus throughout the month. View the calendar of events and the student-run Facebook page.

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