Midnight Snacks for Better Sleep

By: Margo Roth  ’15, University of Maryland Health Center, HEALTH Works Peer Educator

Midnight Snacks for Better Sleep

Let’s face it, college doesn’t always make it easy for early bedtimes. You’re up until 3 am finishing a paper, sleep for a few hours, and then drag yourself to your 9 am class while gulping down some coffee on the way.

However, sleep is one of the most important things we need to do well in school. Getting enough sleep can improve your mental health, physical health, brain function and daily performance.

You may not realize it, but what and when you eat has a huge impact on your sleep.

You may have heard dieters say that eating at night is a huge no-no. But, is that really realistic? Not in the college world.

We need to refuel every 4 to 5 hours, so it’s natural to feel hungry if you’re up super late.

The best thing to do is to go ahead and grab a small snack, which will actually help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

Which foods should I eat before bed?

Going to bed hungry might actually wake you up during the night and make it harder to fall asleep. So, when hunger strikes, go ahead and eat something!

Here are some examples of great midnight munchies:

  • Whole grain cereal and low-fat milk. Even though this may sound like your typical breakfast, it’s a smart snack to pick before bedtime. Cereal is a good source of carbohydrates and milk is packed with protein. Pairing a protein with a carbohydrate will keep you satisfied and won’t ruin your sleep. Other great protein and carb pairs are cheese and crackers, hummus and pretzels or peanut butter and banana.
  • Greek yogurt, honey and banana. All of these foods are high in tryptophan, a sleep-inducing hormone, and also have other added bonuses. Bananas are a great source of carbs. Yogurt is packed with calcium, which helps your body turn tryptophan into melatonin to help you relax. Other good sources of calcium are cottage cheese, kale, milk and cheese.
  • A warm beverage. That warm glass of milk mom always offered you before bed is actually a smart choice! Drinking something hot raises your body temperature and helps you fall asleep naturally. If warm milk sounds gross to you, try decaffeinated tea as another choice.

Which foods should I stay away from late at night?

  • Avoid spicy, fried, or heavy foods. Studies have shown that eating spicy, fried, or heavy foods during nighttime hours may disturb your sleep. Eating a big snack or meal before bed may also be a mistake. Your body will work hard to digest the food, so it might prevent you from falling asleep and staying asleep.
  • Step away from the caffeine. Skip that evening cup of coffee or caffeinated soda with dinner; even a little bit of caffeine can disrupt your sleep. Watch out for hidden sources of caffeine such as chocolate and some teas.

It’s important to recognize when your body needs more fuel during those late night studying hours.

Don’t feel guilty grabbing a midnight snack; just make sure to pick the one that works for you.

Try to plan ahead and prepare some snacks for those nights when you know you’ll need a pick me up!

To get additional healthy snack ideas, take advantage of the free diet analysis service offered at the Health Center.

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Dance Fitness: Converting Art to Sport

By: Tori Fyock ’15, Campus Recreation Services Group Fitness Instructor
Terps dancing for fitness in Cole Fieldhouse at "Dance Through the Decades"

Terps dancing for fitness in Cole Fieldhouse at “Dance Through the Decades”

Dance is a physically taxing activity that puts performers at high risk for injury by its very nature – traditional dance training is unnatural to the human body. According to a 1975 study in the Journal of Sports Medicine, ballet was ranked as the number one most physically and mentally demanding activity, followed by football and bullfighting. The premise of traditional dance is perfecting the lines on the human body with controlled body positioning and limb extensions. In everyday life, no human being should ever turn out his or her hips nor walk on their toes as ballet dancers do, but that strain is the essence of basic training.  It is beauty over everything because dance is not a sport; it is an art. And in order to maintain the artistry, the subject must make sacrifices.

This is not to say that dancers are not athletes. The ability to play a sport and the ability to be an athlete are mutually exclusive. As a matter of fact, the career lifespan of a dancer closely resembles that of the stereotypical athlete today. Most dancers retire in their late 30’s due to aging or bodily damage.

This is why dance fitness classes like our Zumba® and Hip Hop Shake options through Campus Recreation pose such a dilemma for group gitness instructors.

The objective of a dance fitness class is to provide a means of exercise that walks the line between dance and sport.

Not only do dance fitness classes disguise a holistic cardiovascular workout, but they also improve coordination, boost memory, enhance flexibility and provide a social outlet for participants.

Here are some principles that we bring from classical dance training to class, and the caveats that we steer away from:

  1. Bend your knees. Unless you want my soul to cry, please heed the warning to bend your knees when you jump in your classes. This is the first thing every dancer learns because by bending at those joints, you can not only propel yourself higher in the air, but also cushion your knee caps from the shock of landing back on the floor.
  2. Engage your core. If you have taken any of my abs series classes, you have heard the phrase “Belly button back to spine”. My Russian ballet instructor made sure this was always the posture in class, and it’s a principle that you can apply anywhere. By engaging your lower abdominal muscles, you automatically straighten your spinal cord, lifting your chest higher and correcting your overall stance.
  3. You don’t need to look pretty doing it. Modern dance, pioneered by Martha Graham, was the beginning of contemporary movement that focused on body alignment and contracting. To this day, despite drastically increased popularity, modern dance is not considered beautiful by a majority of audiences, but it is the most natural on the human body. Don’t pretend to be a contestant on Dancing with the Stars in Zumba®; it’s not natural!
  4. Learn the combos, but feel free to make it your own. As we always say, there are no mistakes, only solos. Professional dancers are confined by the limits of choreography, while dance fitness classes use choreography as a guide. Instructors simplify movements and repeat combinations to engage less seasoned participants, but if you want to challenge yourself, go ahead and try a different arm with that salsa. After all, the class is for you.
  5. Control your pops. Whether it’s shimmies or twerking, we yell to encourage you to have fun with it, but use your muscles to control your body. Flailing is never promoted in dance nor fitness and strains your body.
  6. Pay attention to form when squatting. The most common mistake that we see in class is a squat that takes everything low, including the chest. By letting go of your upper body as well, you are handicapping your leg muscles from getting any kind of workout.
  7. Stay for cool down! Take advantage of the elasticity of your warm muscles and stay until the end of the class to stretch and properly reduce your heart rate. It’s no longer than 5 minutes, and I promise it makes such a huge difference in your flexibility and  how sore you feel the next day.
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The Real Deal About Post-Workout Protein

By: Ivey Smith ’15, University Health Center, Dietetic Student Volunteer
Chocolate milk is an ideal source of post-workout protein.

Chocolate milk is an ideal source of post-workout protein.

“Muscle” sells. We see it in the media and on the shelves of grocery stores, Walmarts, GNCs, and in our local gyms, day in and day out. Images of Arnold Schwarzenegger flexing his giant biceps on the tub of Arnold Iron Whey appeals to our desire for gains, and titles like Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard and Muscle Pharm Combat Powder practically send us running for the cash register with our shopping carts piled high with promising powders!

When it comes to choosing a post-workout meal, snack, or beverage, we are bombarded with options, so it is important to be informed.

Despite the alluring brand names and labels, there is an important fact to consider if you choose a supplement or powder as a protein source over food; the FDA does not regulate protein powders and supplements, or vitamins, for that matter, the same way it does pharmaceuticals.

When you purchase a powder or supplement, you are taking the word of the company that it is safe and that it actually contains the ingredients listed on the label, but there is no guarantee!

The FDA “is responsible for taking action against any adulterated or misbranded dietary supplement product after it reaches the market”; key word being “after”, that is, after an unsuspecting consumer is harmed by it.

But let’s take a step back for a moment, what about real food?

What happened to drinking actual milk in order to get the proteins casein and whey, for example? Jane Jacubczak, the registered dietician here at the University of Maryland, used to keep a refrigerator stocked with chocolate milk post practice for the Washington professional football team during her time as their dietician. Each day that refrigerator was completely emptied of chocolate milk – it was the football players’ preferred post workout drink! Why, you ask?

Chocolate milk can be made to have the ideal 1:4 or 1:3 ratio of protein to carbohydrates your muscles need to recover post workout. While protein is key in the muscle reparation process, carbs are also necessary to replenish energy spent during the workout. Carbs are the body’s preferred fuel source. They are protein sparing, meaning by consuming enough carbs, your body will not have to break protein down for energy and all of it can go towards building stronger muscles.

So what if you don’t like dairy or are lactose intolerant? Do not be discouraged; chocolate milk is just one of many post work out meals that can refuel your body and rebuild your muscles. Some other examples include:

  • 2 oz grilled chicken (18g protein), one 10” whole grain tortilla wrap (35g carbs), add shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers (vegetables of your choice) and a dressing (Italian, low-fat ranch etc.) to be paired with a cup of 100% fruit juice to reach a ratio of about 18:70 grams of protein to carbs.
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter (8g protein, 6g carbs), one banana (1g protein, 27g carbs), 1/3c oatmeal (4g protein, 19g carbs), throw all of this into a blender with a splash of almond mild to get a ratio of 13:52 grams of protein to carbs.

In addition, you could choose a dried fruit and nut mixture (a calorie dense option), hummus and peppers or pita, tuna salad on whole grain crackers, or an omelet chocked full of veggies and topped with cheese.

By choosing food over a supplement post-workout, not only is your dietary safety guaranteed to a higher degree, but you are also taking advantage of the plethora of other nutrients the food provides.

More nutrients than just protein go into building muscle, such as calcium, iron, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and many trace minerals. We need to maintain a balanced diet and attain good health status in order for our bodies to preform properly both during and after a workout.

It may seem like a lot of work, but don’t let the hours you spend at the gym on a regular basis go to waste!

Fuel your body with the real-deal FOOD, and get the real-deal RESULTS!

For more information on how to build a balanced diet or to achieve your goals in gains, schedule a free diet analysis appointment today.

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#iamCRS Spotlight: Mike McGovern

Did you know Campus Recreation Services offers over 40 sport clubs? Clubs are open to all students and you don’t have to have any prior experience with a sport to join. Mike McGovern served as the president for one of those clubs — the D3 men’s ice hockey team. He has contributed greatly to the sport clubs program at Campus Recreation Services, and we asked him a few questions about his involvement with sport clubs. Here’s what he had to say in his own words…

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Why did you get involved with the ice hockey sport club?

One of the reasons I attended the University of Maryland was because I knew I would be able to continue playing ice hockey. I’ve been playing hockey since the first grade and first learned how to skate when I was five years old. Growing up, I would always look forward to the long hockey season and I knew that I would want to keep playing at a competitive level in college after graduating high school. The University of Maryland Club Sports program provided that opportunity to me and I jumped on it!

What is your favorite memory with club?

My favorite memory with the Maryland Ice Hockey Club would have to be finishing the season undefeated at 12-0 in conference play as part of the Blue Ridge Hockey Conference, thus being the Regular Season Blue Ridge Hockey Conference Champions!

What would you say to students who are thinking about joining a sport club? What are the benefits of participating in a sport club?

If you have the opportunity to join a club sport then go for it! Club sports are completely student-run so they offer great opportunities for leadership and mentorship. The skills you will learn as a club officer are transferable to real-world positions and make you a better candidate.
Beyond leadership, your team members will end up becoming your family. I know that I can trust my hockey teammates to be there to support me and vice versa because of all the time that we spend together. Some of the best memories I have at the University of Maryland are ones that I made with my hockey teammates.

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What is 1 thing you learned from serving as a sport club officer that you’ll take with you beyond your time here at Maryland?

Communication. Communication is absolutely essential when running a sports club team. As President of the D3 Club Ice Hockey Team, I was in constant communication with professional sport club staff at Campus Recreation Services, my coaches, my teammates, referees, league officials, and officials from our opposing teams.

Engaging in effective and efficient communication allowed for our team to receive funding, play our opponents, and be on the same page as the University. As I transition into an entry-level position, I will continue to use and strengthen the communication skills that I have learned as President of the D3 Club Ice Hockey Team.

Learn more about the sport clubs program >>

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4 Easy Ways to Combat Constant Exhaustion

By: Michele Correnti, Campus Recreation Services Marketing Intern and NESTA Certified Personal Fitness Trainer


Tiredness is one of the most common complaints among college students. And it is understandably so. How can we not be tired juggling classes, studying, attending club meetings, staying active and on top of all of that, having a social life?

Did I forget to mention that at some point we are expected to get an average of seven to eight hours of sleep?

Even on the days that we get ample amounts of sleep, it seems like our bodies never catch up to us. If you need a solution to being perpetually tired, here are four easy ways to combat constant exhaustion:

  1. Stay hydrated. Our bodies are essentially made of water, so dehydration makes our internal systems work extra hard and causes fatigue. The easiest way to help your body wake up is to drink water throughout the day. As an added bonus, staying hydrated also boosts your immune system to keep you healthier! Try carrying a reusable water bottle with you around campus and challenge yourself to refill it at twice once by the end of day. There are lots of bottle filling stations around campus to make it easy. View the map of campus locations >>
  2. Power down. In this day and age, we are constantly connected to our technology. Most of us would agree that leaving our phones behind for just an hour causes some serious separation anxiety. But all this technology is causing over stimulation to our brains. As difficult as it may be, try putting your phone away or turning off the TV for at least an hour before you plan on going to sleep. Studies show that this can help you sleep more soundly at night.
  3. Consume less caffeine. Coming from someone who used to drink two to three cups of coffee a day, I am living proof that this works. Caffeine causes your body to temporarily wake up and then eventually crash. On top of that, the more caffeine products you consume on a regular basis, the less effective they can be at waking you up when you really need it. If you find yourself crashing by mid-afternoon, try keeping your caffeine to a minimum and not consuming any after the morning.
  4. Get active! I know what you are thinking, “Why in the world would going to the gym make me less tired?”. Let me explain. Science has shown that exercise, although tiresome at the time, actually activates your brain. By elevating your heart rate, parts of your brain that lay dormant when you sit still begin to light up. Not too mention, it helps you sleep better at night! Next time you are feeling drowsy, try taking a brisk walk or jog around the mall or a quick trip to the gym. Even something as simple as jumping jacks will help.

If you find yourself struggling to stay alert during the day, try out one or all of these tips. You will never know what works best for you until you give it a chance!

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The Power of Positive Fitspo

By: Alicia McElhaney ’17, Campus Recreation Services Group Fitness Instructor
positive fitspo

Body positive fitspiration exists! I keep a collection of my favorites on a Pinterest board.


Let’s talk fitspo.

For those of you who do not know, fitspo (short for fitness inspiration) is a form of motivation used online to get people to work out and to go to the gym.

Lately, fitspo has come under fire, and for good reason. While there are a ton of reasons fitspo can be negative, the biggest problem with it is that it equates having a thin, toned body with being physically fit.

While viewing fitspo images on Instagram or Tumblr can be inspiring for some, it can have some seriously disparaging effects on those susceptible to restricting their diets and overexercising. As Beauty Redefined puts it, “fitspo may be thinspo in a sports bra.”

Don’t give up on following motivational Instagram posts or following fitness Pinterests board just yet, though. There are a ton of accounts and pages that post positive motivation – you just have to know how to find it.

Before you go searching though, let’s talk about why positive fitspo can be good for you.

Research shows that getting positive feedback from a fitness instructor or even just social media during a workout can keep you coming back to the gym.

Think about it – if you’re constantly being told that you’ll never live up to a certain body type, a perfect gym routine or a spotless diet, does that really make you want to continue? Or would you rather say screw it and forget about making healthy choices because “you’ll never live up?”

In addition, research shows that positive memories associated with fitness keep you coming back to the gym. So, if you look at an inspiring quote during a workout that really resonates with you, you’ll be way more likely to hit up the gym again.

So what kind of images should you be viewing?

Let’s start with what to avoid. Images that include only one specific body type (aka, a bikini-clad, washboard abs fitness model or super muscled body-builder) can be harmful.

Instead, look for a variety of body types – some can be fitness models, some can be overweight, others in between, but all should be working out hard.

Remember, weight does not determine a person’s fitness level.

Also avoid images or messages that tell you can either have fitness or something else, like an enjoyable food or a negative feeling. Here’s an example: jealous

Sometimes strong people are jealous. And sometimes weak people aren’t. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, which is something to keep in mind when looking for motivation or inspiration.

Finally, avoid images and messages that tell you to not listen to your body.

Something that says “don’t stop when you’re tired, stop when you’re finished” is telling you to ignore some of your body’s most important signals.

So where do we find positive fitspiration? Some of my favorite websites include Greatist and the American Council Exercise. Both are great resources for fun workout ideas, fitness news and discussions of different types of workout programs.

Another favorite fitspo of mine is the This Girl Can video series on Youtube. Talk about sweat motivation!

It’s also important to think about what kind of fitness you enjoy. If you’re into fitness of all kinds, check out @umdcrs or @chaarg on Instagram.

Are you a yogi who loves to get into nature? Follow accounts like @eugene_yogi and @yoga_girl for a taste of positive fitness in pretty locales.

Are you all about lifting heavy? You definitely need to be careful because you can run into a lot of bikini competitors, but it is possible to find those who love to lift for a different purpose. Check out @jillfit or LIFTmeupFitness.

Need a taste of body positivity that isn’t solely focused on fitness? Follow @healthyisthenewskinny, @effyourbeautystandards or @honorcurves.

What about healthy, pretty food? My favorites are @tallulahalexandra (a D.C. native!), @jaimeoliver and @nomyourself.

Some of your own fitness instructors and trainers have awesome accounts online that share both fitness and UMD pride. Kylie blogs about fitness and health foods. Dris, Catalina and Brandi have great Facebook accounts that are certainly worth a follow! And yoga instructor Cynthia shares information about yoga, traveling and health on her Instagram.

I personally share tons of fitness information on Pinterest. Check out my Body Positive Fitness Board!

What are some of your favorite places to find positive inspiration? Share in the comments below!

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Self-Motivation Techniques for the Solo Go-Getter

By: Brandi Rosser ’15, Campus Recreation Services Personal Trainer and  Group Fitness Instructor

Showing my strength on McKeldin Mall!


It’s 8:20am. Once again, your gym partner is late. You could have been done with your warm-up and starting your workout by now. Text messages and phone calls aren’t being answered. All you get is a lousy text at 11am explaining how she stayed up all night studying for an exam and forgot to set her alarm.

Sound familiar? If you find yourself wasting time waiting on others to get serious about their fitness goals, then maybe its time you decide to be a self-motivator and accomplish these goals on your own! Here are some tips on how to self-motivate when your friends are slacking off and making excuses:

  1. Happiness comes first. Make sure that whatever you are doing towards accomplishing your fitness goals is something that brings a smile to your face and makes you excited to sweat! Do your own research and see what your community has to offer. Join fitness classes that not only allow you to work towards your goal but keep you enthusiastic about your journey and what you are working towards. Keep your eyes open for fun ways to stay fit, and don’t be afraid to try something new!
  2. Hold yourself accountable. Whether your goal is to run a mile every day or weight train three times a week, you need to keep track of your progress. Buy a calendar or keep one on your phone to record your progress week by week. Indicate when daily, weekly, and/or monthly goals are and are not accomplished. When a goal is not completed, record why the goal was not completed. This will allow you to visually see your reasons in words, which will help you evaluate the significance of your reason. You should take the time to reflect on your reason and determine if there is something you can change to avoid that from happening again or if the circumstance was just completely out of your control. Be honest with yourself and don’t punish yourself for any setbacks; instead let them empower you to make improvements in order to do better.
  3. The power of the post-it note– Constantly remind yourself what you are working towards and WHY. Your “why?” is personal and needs to illustrate your reasons for staying committed towards your goals. Therefore your “why statement” can be anything; I want to be strong and healthy for this summer’s hiking trip; I want to be flexible enough to touch my toes; or I want to build up enough endurance to run a 10k in the fall. Write these “why statements” on post-it notes/sticky notes and then hang them in common areas that you will view each day. You can even post your own motivational quotes to keep your spirits high. You can hang them on the closet door, fridge, mirrors, desk, or dresser- the list goes on. Just make it visible so you can stay on track everyday.

Follow Brandi’s fitness page on Facebook for more tips to stay motivated!

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