Ten Things Terps Need to Know About Nutrition Labels

By: Rebecca Heming, ’18, University Health Center Nutrition Peer Educator

Nutrition labels can be confusing to understand! There’s a lot of information, but also a lot of words thrown around that may not mean what you think they mean. It’s easy to feel daunted by the amount of information and choose to simply ignore it all. But don’t despair, you can learn to quickly and easily read nutrition labels once you know what to focus on.

  1. Pay attention to the first few ingredients. They’re listed by descending weight and make up the majority of the food.
  2. The calories and amount of each nutrient are listed per serving. If you eat more than one serving you’ll need to multiply accordingly. For example, if you ate a whole can of soup and the label indicates that there are 2 servings per can, you will need to double the amount of calories and each nutrient to get an accurate picture of what you ate. Keep in mind that the serving size listed does not mean that is the amount you “should” eat, it is just used as a unit of measurement so that the manufacturer can quantify the nutrients in their product. Often our portions contain several servings.
  3. Scan the nutrition label. Look for products with more vitamin A, K, & C, calcium, iron and fiber while containing less fat, cholesterol, and sodium. That being said, don’t let fat content necessarily turn you away from an item. Nuts and potato chips both have higher levels of fat, but nuts are a much healthier choice!
  4. Sugar content can be misleading.  The sugar content is not separated into added sugar versus naturally occurring sugar. The US Dietary Guidelines encourage us to reduce added sugar, so look to see how high up on the ingredients list a form of sugar occurs to better judge the sugar content.
  5. Know some common terms. If you see the term “good source of,” this means the food provides 10% or more of the daily value for the nutrient. The term “high in” indicates that it provides at least 20% of the daily value for that nutrient.
  6. Understand what organic means. A food labeled as organic means it must be produced from at least 95% organic ingredients, while foods labeled as 100% organic must consist of only organic ingredients and processing aids. The term “made with organic” means that at least 70% of the ingredients are organic. Organic does not mean the food is any more nutritious, but it does mean there are not antibiotics, growth hormones, pesticides, bioengineering, et cetera present in the food.
  7. Gluten free does not mean healthier. Gluten free items can be highly processed and may put you at risk for nutritional deficiencies.
  8. Sea salt vs. regular salt. Sea salt has just as much sodium as regular salt and may not contain iodine, a critical micronutrient that our bodies cannot make.
  9. Look for 100% whole grain. Multigrain or made with whole grain does not necessarily mean whole grain, and whole grain does not necessarily mean 100% whole grain. So, look for 100% whole grain on the label. If whole grains appear first on the ingredients list, then you know it contains more whole grains than refined grains.
  10. The term “natural” is currently undefined and unregulated by the FDA. Natural generally means nothing artificial or synthetic is present in the food, but does not address pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, genetic modification, preservatives, irradiation, et cetera. A food labeled as natural does not mean it is healthier for you and should not be confused with organic.

If you’re not already, I challenge you to read at least one nutrition label this week!

To learn more about nutrition labels, reserve your session with a Nutrition Coach today by calling 301-314-5664 or emailing nutritioncoach@umd.edu

Posted in Nutrition, Physical Wellness, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Ace Your Finals With Fitness

By Liana Stiegler, University Recreation & Wellness, Communications Assistant


Finals week is here, and exercise is probably the last thing on your mind when you have exams, papers, and presentations screaming for attention. However, a work out deserves a spot on the top of your to-do list this week!

Physical activity increases blood and oxygen flow to the brain, which helps cognitive processing. This means that working out during finals week just might improve your exam performance!

Plus, exercise affects your brain’s chemical levels in a great way: feel-good chemicals such as endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin increase, while cortisol (the chemical that makes you feel stressed out) decreases. With good brain chemical balance, finals week freak outs can be kept to a minimum. Still need convincing? A study from Saginaw Valley State University found that students who exercised vigorously seven days a week had G.P.A.’s that were, on average, 04. points higher than those who didn’t exercise.

Ready to give fitness study breaks a try? Here are a few places where Active Terps can work out during finals week:

1. RecWell is here for you.

RecWell facilities are open during finals so you can sweat away your stress. Brush up on your favorite facility’s hours.

The RecWell fitness program also released an awesome finals week schedule for all your fitness class needs- check out the lineup!


2. .. and we’re at McKeldin, too!

Yoga is a great way to relief stress and calm the mind. RecWell hosts finals week yoga classes in McKeldin Library, so you don’t even have to leave the library to relax and unwind! All you McKeldin hermits, screenshot this schedule now:


3. Workout from your dorm room

If you prefer to do the bulk of finals week studying from your own desk, try doing some simple workout moves right from the comfort of your own room! Here are 8 bodyweight exercises you can do anywhere, no gym equipment needed. You can also find great dorm-friendly workouts by searching YouTube for free workout videos. My personal YouTube fitness favorite is an 80s style 8-minute abs workout.

Whether you choose move at the gym, in McKeldin, or in your residence hall, don’t forget to make time for activity and movement this finals week! Your mind, body, and exam grades will thank you.


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RecWell Intramural Sports Welcomes All Terps

By: Mary Kate Sullivan Crawford, Assistant Director for Intramural Sports, University Recreation & Wellness

In the 90s, Nike unveiled an advertising campaign centered around the slogan, “If you let me play”. The campaign reinforced the notion that sports can empower women and girls beyond the athletic field; that the benefit of sport reaches beyond the sidelines into ‘real life’. In Intramural Sports, we couldn’t agree more that the benefits of sport participation goes far beyond what happens on the playing surface. That’s why we work hard to offer opportunities for all members of the campus community a chance to play.

We offer a wide variety of sports and activities in several different leagues (men’s, women’s, coed, fraternity, and graduate/faculty/staff) and at two levels of competition (a, competitive and b, recreational). Our sports range from traditional team sports such as soccer, basketball, volleyball, football, and softball to non-traditional and individual and dual sports like tennis, badminton, whiffle ball, inner tube water polo, and golf. Offering many different sports invites individuals with different backgrounds to participate in our program. Further, offering two levels of competition invites individuals both with and without previous experience opportunities to be successful and have fun while participating in a sport they’ve played for years, or are trying out for the first time.

In addition to the sports and leagues offered, we have policies in place to further encourage participation from all members of our campus community. For example, our gender identity participation policy states “Individuals may participate in Intramural Sports in accordance with their own gender identity regardless of medical intervention.” Although traditional sport participation has been dictated by rigidly defined gender norms, this policy is in place so individuals who identify as trans*, gender non-conforming, or gender variant can participate in a way that best suits their needs. While we are proud to have this policy in place, we are always open to suggestions for improving strategies to better serve the campus community.

One topic often debated in recreation circles are co-ed sport rules. In many of our sports, co-ed leagues are modified by specific rules. These rules were established in order to encourage (require) teams to incorporate women into games in a meaningful way. The rules often reward women’s involvement in a scoring play by adding additional points (I.e. In flag football 9 points are awarded for a touchdown involving a woman versus 6 points if no woman was involved directly in the play). While some may argue there is no longer a “need” for such rules or the rules are not equal, we firmly believe our modified rules establish equity between men and women in our coed leagues. When modifying our sports with co-ed rules, we feel it is important to differentiate between equality and equity. Equality means that everything is equal, but equity takes into account historical and institutional barriers to participation for certain groups, which in this case is women. Equity is providing everyone with the tools and opportunities to be successful. Our co-ed rules provide just that- an opportunity for all members of the campus community to be successful individually and contribute to their team’s success.

Whether you are involved in lots of activities and only have time to play one hour a week, or are looking to participate in all of our 28 unique sports, we have a place for YOU in Intramural Sports.

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Your First Triathlon: Eight Must-Knows about Daring to Tri

By Samantha Bingaman, University Recreation & Wellness, Group Fitness Instructor


My first triathlon was a by-product of forced family fun. I was 10, and my dad thought it would be a great idea for the family to bond through sport. I was less than thrilled when he chose triathlon, otherwise known to 10-year-old-me as a formidable conglomeration of swimming, biking, and running.

But after that first triathlon, I was hooked. Something about putting the three sports together – plus intermixing transitions of madly ripping off wetsuits and replacing them with helmets or running shoes – is fun. It’s rewarding. It’s addicting. And it should be the next feature on your bucket list.

 It’s not just a select few that enjoy the sport – triathlon is gaining traction nationwide. The NCAA recognizes it the newest Emerging Sport for women; Gwen Jorgenson won the first gold medal for triathlon for the USA in Rio; youth programs throughout the States are growing exponentially. Millions of people are joining in with the triathlon movement.

Ready to join in, but don’t know where to start? Use these 8 tips to help you crush your first race.

1. Start small and build up.

Your first tri doesn’t have to be an Ironman (140.6 miles – eek!). Sprint-distance races abound. Go for these shorter distances first and gradually work your way up.

2. Don’t be overwhelmed by the pizazz.

Whether it involves ogling at the newest Cervelo – a really, really nice bike – or rolling up in a logoed bodysuit, triathletes like to be frilly. But you don’t need fancy equipment to do well in a triathlon. If you have the basics – goggles, a bike, and running shoes – then you’re set.

 3. No bike, no problem.

This is similar to #2. You do not need a bike that costs as much as your tuition to do well in a triathlon. If it has two wheels and you can pedal it from point A to point B, then it counts. If your friend has said vehicle, ask nicely and borrow it.

 4. Get acquainted with open water.

Some races involve open water swimming, which can be a scary experience the first time. If your race involves a lake, ocean, or pond swim, take a few practice swims before race day.

 5. Practice transitions.

The time in between the swim, bike, and run in which you change out your gear is known as a transition. There are two in a triathlon, and they are the most underrated parts of the race. The goal is to put on as little gear in the fastest time possible, which can be overwhelming the first time. Practice a few while you train.

 6. Learn about race nutrition.

One great thing about triathlon is that it is a SPORT in which you can EAT during the race. Proper nutrition prevents a mid-race bonk, which is never fun.

Active.com has great, concise reads on nutrition.

 7. Get to know other triathletes.

Reach out to other athletes – it’s a fun community in which you will find support from some ambitious, silly, and all-around great people. Many places have a neighborhood triathlon team, including here at Maryland (insert shameless plug for the Maryland Triathlon Team here.)

 8. Enjoy yourself.

Have fun. Is it cliché? Yes. But is it true? Yes. Whether you are in the middle of a tough training session or powering through your first race, take a moment to enjoy yourself and truly appreciate what your body and mind do. Smell the roses, smile, high-five someone – do whatever you have to do to make your time worth it.

These tips can help you through your first triathlon, but ultimately, it is your willpower that will get you to take the first step. Triathlons can be difficult, but they are not impossible. The reward of crossing that finish line is worth every ounce of effort, so go for it. Push yourself. Defy your limits.

Do as we say in the triathlon community: dare to tri.

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3 Weightlifting Myths and Why You Shouldn’t Believe Them

By Meghan Noonan, University Recreation & Wellness, Group Fitness Instructor


Have you ever thought about wanting to start weightlifting, but you weren’t sure where to start? Will I become too bulky? What if I do something wrong? Will people make fun of me? Is it even worth it? These are all valid worries when it comes to a topic such as weightlifting that has so many misconceptions and contradictory information. Not to mention, that initial walk into the weight room greets you with the sounds of big plates being moved around with ease and the grunts of experienced lifters who look the part. However, it is important to remember that everyone has to start out somewhere. If you were looking for a sign to start lifting weights, here it is!

Let’s start with the misconceptions about weightlifting and the weight room.

“I’m afraid of getting too bulky.”

This is one of the most common fears girls have about weightlifting, and is so far from the truth. The men and women who participate in bodybuilding and have the “bulky” body type are incredible, dedicated athletes who put extraordinary time and effort into sculpting their bodies to look a certain way. They didn’t just start weightlifting one day and accidentally became shredded. Additionally, women do not have the same level of testosterone and hormones that men naturally have which causes more hypertrophy, or muscle growth. This means that weightlifting is more likely to result in greater lean muscle mass rather than the large, muscular look.

“I don’t know correct form.”

This is a valid and easily fixed concern. No one walked into a weight room, picked up a bar and performed a perfect squat without any research or instruction. Everyone starts somewhere. It  helps to go in with a workout plan or split that you found online.You could  also hire an affordable RecWell personal trainer or go with a friend who knows how to weightlift. RecWell also offers free weight & fitness orientations to learn more about the machines.

“I’m worried someone will judge or make fun of me.”

When people go to the gym, they are typically focused on their workout. Most people are not looking around, scoping to see who looks like they don’t know what they’re doing or how much weight everyone is using. If that were the case, they probably aren’t getting a great workout in either. When you get to the gym, do what you got to do and don’t worry about others. You came to the gym to reward your body, better your health, and improve your lifestyle. It’s about you, not anyone else.

The benefits of weightlifting greatly outweigh the fears or concerns you may have about starting. These positive outcomes include greater lean muscle mass, improved mood, reduced risk of osteoporosis and other diseases, improved self-esteem, and so much more. So now that you’re a little more informed about weightlifting, get out there and see how strong you really are!

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4 Things that Always Seem to Happen on Thanksgiving and What to Do Differently This Year

By: Avital Schwartz, ‘17, University Health Center Peer Educator


1. Eating Way Too Much

You know how it is, we have the best food of the whole entire year, we look forward to it for weeks, and then the night comes, and there is no way we are holding back, right? Somehow we always forget that afterward we can hardly move from the couch, end up feeling stuffed and bloated, and then think, “Why did I do that to myself?”

Well, what if we make this year different? How about starting with a very small portion of every single thing we just gotta have, so that we get a taste of all the yumminess, and then, if we are still hungry (for real), going for another small portion of the things we liked best. If still hungry after that, repeat until satisfied—not stuffed. Eating mindfully (paying attention to how you feel, and eating consciously) will help you to better enjoy the food. In fact, it takes about 20 minutes for our brain to tell our stomach it’s full, so taking a few minutes between servings can help prevent overeating.

2. Traveling

Many UMD students live some distance from our families, or whoever we spend Thanksgiving with, and so traveling, sometimes a LOT of traveling is required.  We all know what happens on a long car ride/plane ride/bus ride/train ride, we munch, snack, and boredom-eat almost the whole time. This usually leaves us fatigued and reaching for coffee after coffee at the rest stops.

This year, what about changing up the snacks you bring with you or buy on the road, and taking a few laps around the rest stops? You can also put the irresistible stuff in the trunk. Try these easy changes and you’ll probably get to Thanksgiving dinner feeling a whole lot better:

  • Popcorn instead of chips
  • Chocolate pudding instead of a chocolate bar
  • Fruit instead of crackers
  • Water instead of soda
  • Gum instead of constant munching

Spending Time With Family

For some people this can be awesome. For others it may come with some amount of stress, and as many of us know, stress can make us eat more than we normally would, or reach for food to cope with emotions. This usually does not make us feel better and often times adds to our stress level.

This year, if feeling stressed when with the family, try taking a calming walk outside, spending a few minutes alone in the bathroom or bedroom, or taking to a corner and writing some thoughts down or reading a book. All of these will give you the space you may be craving, and the time to cope with the emotions without food.

Black Friday Shopping

You may do this every year, or you may have tried it once for the experience. If you get up early in the morning, and stay out shopping for hours, you have very likely forgotten to pack any food. This means you are starving by the time you get home, or find the food court in the mall along with the other throngs of shoppers. And we all know what happens when you are famished and finally get to food. You eat way more than you would normally, and usually eat quickly, scarfing down what you can to get something in your stomach. This means you take zero pleasure in the food, and probably feel pretty stuffed ten minutes later.

This year, plan ahead. Pack some easy-to-carry foods in your bag like trail mix, a banana, carrot sticks, or a sandwich. This way, you can eat in between stores, stop yourself from getting fatigued and hungry, and keep yourself fueled for finding bargains. If you get so busy planning your store stops and forget to pack some food, you can still find something healthful at the mall—but go before you feel super hungry. You could choose a salad bar, a chicken wrap, or a slice of vegetable pizza.

Leave a comment below with what you can do differently this year.

To learn more about staying healthy during the holidays, reserve your session with a Nutrition Coach today by calling 301-314-5664 or emailing NutritionCoach@umd.edu.

Posted in Nutrition, Physical Wellness | 6 Comments

6 Ways to Stay Active During Break

By Kelly Boyle, University Recreation & Wellness, Group Fitness InstructorIMG_1536.JPG

Going home for Thanksgiving break and don’t know what you will do without RecWell? Just because you won’t have access to RecWell’s facilities and programs doesn’t mean you can’t work out! Here are some fun ideas on how to keep up with your workouts and stay active during Thanksgiving (or Winter) break:

1. Watch TV.

Yep; you read that right. Sometimes watching TV/videos can be good for you. Today, there are so many at-home workouts at your fingertips. Youtube, Google, or even look on your TV’s On Demand, as they all all provide hundreds of workout ideas or even group fitness classes of your choosing! There’s yoga, cardio kickboxing, abs and low back, HIIT, Zumba, and just about anything else you could ask for. Just clear some space in your living room, turn on your favorite music, and you can follow the video as if you never left UMD! You could also use TV time to work on mobility and recovery, by stretching, foam rolling, or icing sore muscles.

2. Go outdoors.

Before the winter cold hits, try being active outside! You could go for a run or bike ride, play sports with your neighbors or friends, or simply walk around your town. If you plan on traveling, try feet-first sight seeing and walk around instead of using mass transportation. Getting fresh air does tremendous things for not only your physical well-being but also your mental health! Especially during Thanksgiving, a lot of states/cities have a Turkey Trot, a 5k run or walk the morning of Thanksgiving which is a fun way to get moving!

3. Find a workout buddy.

Two is better than one! Try to enlist a friend or family member as your exercise buddy while you’re home. If you don’t have weights at home, try resistance bands or rope with your partner which can act as your weighted resistance. Encourage each other to stay active, build a social support network, and engage in workouts that you couldn’t do alone!

4. Set a challenge.

Set a goal or challenge yourself to complete something specific this break. Whether it involves trying a new exercise each day, going up in weights, trying out new yoga poses, increase flexibility, or trying to master the body roll in Hip Hop Shake, any challenge is a good one! Setting goals now will help prep you when it comes time for finals when you have to challenge yourself to finish 4 papers, take 5 exams, and somehow sleep, eat, and stay active all during the same time period.

5. Take a pet for a walk.

It’s tough to not love a workout when it involves your favorite pet. Even if you don’t have a pet, your neighbors may take you up on the opportunity to take theirs out for a walk which could score you an extra few dollars in exchange!

6. Exercise while running errands.

Shopping during the holiday break, whether it’s for food, winter holidays, or Black Friday, seems unavoidable. Be an aerobic shopper by taking an extra lap around the store, defensive shuffling around crowds, taking the stairs instead of escalator, or power walking through the mall. Each time you make a purchase, rty getting some extra steps by taking your bags back to the car and then go back inside.

All of these are unexpected ways to get your heart rate up and the extra steps you take can really make a difference! But remember- it is a break after all. Make time for rest too and enjoy your time off. 

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