5 Nutrition Hacks for Acing Your Finals

Thea Boatswain, ’18, University Health Center Nutrition Peer Educator

5 Nutrition Hacks for Finals Week

Finals is that stressful time during the semester where nothing else matters but studying and getting the grade. Unfortunately, that also means our diets may suffer.

Here are 5 nutrition hacks to eating healthy during finals week.

  1. Eat breakfast – I know, you hear this all the time. But breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.  Eating a well balanced breakfast can help you focus more and give you energy as well as vital nutrients to get through your day!
  2. Find ways to study without food – Although tempting, try not to study while eating. Mindless snacking is the easiest way to over eat.  Have you ever gone through an entire bag of chips and not even realized it? Instead try one of these:
    • Eat before studying
    • Take a planned study break to eat
    • Listen to music instead
    • Go to the library to be away from your dorm or kitchen
  3. Make snacks purposeful snacks – You’ll still need to continue to fuel your body so having snacks available to keep you from making impulsive food choices is important. Here in the nutrition coaching office we call them purposeful snacks. This means that you can pair a carbohydrate source (like grains or fruits) with a protein source (such as nuts, soy, meat, or dairy) when eating those snacks. This will help you be satisfied longer and provide you with beneficial nutrients to fuel your day. Examples include:
    • Whole grain crackers and cheese
    • Banana and peanut butter
    • Granola and yogurt
    • Whole grain pita chips and turkey slices
  4. Make peace with your food – Don’t beat yourself up because you have an order of French fries late night one day. “Fun foods” wont derail all the the wonderful progress you’ve made with your healthy eating plan. These fun foods can still be enjoyed but in moderation. The fries were good, weren’t they? Then why feel bad about eating it? Instead, you can tell yourself that although you had a great time eating them, then maybe this time you can try to have something less greasy and more nutritious. Its all about balance.  Now, can you think of something you like to eat that’s not greasy as a fries or chips?  Mine is a quick turkey sandwich with fruit! Yum!
  5. Water is key – Keeping well hydrated is extremely important to keep focused. Water helps you with basic body functions such as alertness. One sign of dehydration is drowsiness and memory fog. See why drinking enough water is so important?  For example: a 120 pound person should be drinking at least 60 ounces (7.5 cups) of water. Buy or bring a water bottle with you and fill it up often.

BONUS

Sign up for nutrition coaching.  Make an appointment with a Nutrition Coach  here in the Health Center. We are here to help you make and work toward your nutrition goals. You can make an appointment by calling 301-314-5664 or emailing nutritioncoach@umd.edu.

 

Posted in Nutrition, Physical Wellness, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

More Than Just a Game

By: Avi (Joseph) Kozlowski

The other day, a friend approached me and asked me why I play so many sports. (Over the course of my eight semesters in college, I’ve developed the reputation of being the “Intramural King,” as they like to put it).

Without thinking, I responded with my typical answer, “Because it’s fun.” I could tell he didn’t find the answer sufficient, so I continued, “It’s one of the few things I do that, while I’m doing it, there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.” He still didn’t seem satisfied and asked a follow up question: “But what is it about sports that you love, like why are you so happy playing them?” At first I responded with the classics: the competition, the exercise, the feeling of accomplishment, the confidence boost, the clarity of mind.

But as I gave those responses, I realized there was something else, something I had never realized, about the way I intertwine sports into my life — the people.

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Growing up, I played as many sports as I could. From Wheaton Boys and Girls Club to my primary education sports teams to rec leagues and even camp leagues, I just couldn’t stay away. I was always excited for every game and team practice, and would regularly play pick-up games with friends whenever possible.

However, when thinking about the countless hours I spent playing/practicing the various sports, it hit me that I almost never played or practiced by myself.

Sports is more than a personal activity for me. I use sports to enhance my social life.

I regularly organize sports games and bring as many of my friends as possible together to enjoy the activity. While in college, I’ve had the privilege of playing in over 65 Intramural sports teams, with hundreds of different students at UMD, all of whom I can confidently say are true friends of mine.

Sharing the bond of being someone’s teammate, and having his or her back on the field, creates an equal bond off the field that lasts forever.

That is why I love sports so much.

Beyond the beauty of them and the friendly competitiveness and the confidence booster they provide, sports create long-lasting relationships with people who are worth knowing.

I highly encourage everyone reading this to take advantage of the myriad of intramural sports and athletic facilities that UMD has to offer. Trust me, you’ll miss them when you’re gone.

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3 Ways Terps Can Be #RelationshipGoals

By: Gerald DeLeon, ’17, University Health Center Sexual Health Intern

Scrolling through social media keeps us updated on the latest news, trends, and let’s not forget – the UMD Campus Snapchat story! Social media has kept me connected to my friends and family back home with the simple touch of a button. Social media is also home to #RelationshipGoals.

What is #RelationshipGoals?

Relationship goals is a hashtag used by couples to express the things that they do together or want to do together and is used by single folks who long to do those things one day with their future partners. You know, the super cute picture on the beach or perfectly coordinated Halloween costumes. Even though I am in a relationship, #RelationshipGoals made me question my own relationship’s worth because I wasn’t doing any of those things with my partner. Does this mean I am #RelationshipOK or worse, #RelationshipFail? Over time, I realized that I was allowing social media to shape my expectations and standards of what a healthy relationship should look like, and it wasn’t necessarily rooted in reality!

Why #RelationshipGoals doesn’t work for me

While some #RelationshipGoals may be relatable and realistic, others can be impractical and it gave me a serious case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)! I was comparing my own relationship with that of the Internet and it took a toll on my emotional wellness. Whether you are in a relationship or riding solo, FOMO is totally normal and we all suffer from it at some point in time. But sometimes, if we are constantly plugged into social media, it can be hard to sit back, relax, and reflect on our own relationship needs and desires. What if I don’t even like dressing up for Halloween? So I’m not even missing out on an epically coordinated costume!

#MyOwnRelationshipGoals

In order to get grounded and get some perspective, this was my 3-step process to shape #MyOwnRelationshipGoals.

  1. Take a break from social media.
    It’s important to practice self-care and one way I know how to do that is to take a break from social media. The trick is to do it gradually. First, I deactivated my Twitter account – but before completely retiring from Twitter, I deleted the app from my phone and checked it occasionally on my laptop. Then I moved on to other social media platforms. Taking a break made me appreciate the people I care about even more and allowed me to interact with the people around me. You don’t have to entirely axe out social media but consider unplugging yourself for a couple of weeks to appreciate your surroundings, to connect with yourself and your friends or partners, and get to know more of your fellow Terps!
  2. Get in touch with your love language. 
    Your love language is essentially how you express and like to receive love. I know this may sound really cheesy but discovering my love language actually helped me to better understand what I want and desire in a relationship. According to Dr. Gary Chapman, there are 5 universal love languages and when you are finished reading this post you should take this quiz to discover your love language! The 5 love languages are: 
    1) Words of affirmation 

    2) Acts of service 

    3) Receiving gifts 

    4) Quality time 

    5) Physical touch
  3. Communicate your love language and put it into action. 
    Once you discover your love language, it’s time that you communicate this with your current or future partner and put it into practice! My love language is quality time and it’s all about giving the other person my undivided attention and spending time with them no matter what we do. So me putting my partner first and getting good time with them is more my style of expressing love than let’s say, buying them gifts (which would be receiving gifts) or telling them how much I love them (which would be words of affirmation). Talking about this with my partner took the mystery out of what I really expected out of them. There are ways we show our love and like to receive our love, is quality time both of these for you? If so, say that and describe what that looks like. Also, did your partner take this quiz? What is their love language? Simply knowing how someone shows and likes to receive love will help you create a healthier and stronger bond with that person.

#BestieLove

Knowing and sharing our love languages can also be super helpful in your friendships and maintaining those relationships! You and your bestie(s) can get in touch with your love language so you know how you can better support each other and show love for each other. For example, my bestie likes to receive words of affirmation, so I know that I am being the best friend I can be to them when I give them verbal compliments like, “Wow! That outfit looks great on you!” or words of appreciation like, “I really like how you’re always the first person to check in with me after a rough day.” While it’s a bit different with a romantic or sexual partner, our friendships require similar investment and thought, especially our close ones!

#FollowYourBliss

Recognizing your wants and needs in a relationship can sometimes be a difficult process and while these steps were helpful for me it can certainly be different for everyone. Relationships are complex – you don’t have to have it all figured out! But don’t let social media define your relationship or set the standard. You get to set your own standards and expectations and desires. Remember Terps – shape your own relationship goals and #FollowYourBliss.

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Why Group Fitness is Going to Be Your Next Workout Game Changer

By: Jordan Metzman, University Recreation & Wellness Group Fitness Instructor

Some people are lucky and have an innate love for exercise. For others, it takes a little more to get them to the gym. Personally, I felt a shift in my workout habits around my junior year of high school, when being active became less of a chore and more of a challenge I couldn’t wait to conquer. One specific thing pointed me down that path, and it was, without a doubt, group fitness.

The hardest thing about finding a love for lunges is that some workouts are just not your workouts. It’s all about finding the perfect routines that keep you sweating, but more importantly, smiling. A lot of people get lost in the idea that there are limited choices in the gym; I call this the treadmill rut, when people think the only valuable source of cardio is running. Good news, there’s countless ways to feel the burn, and some of those ways may click better than laps around the track.

Here’s my main point: group fitness classes are a really good outlet to learn, experiment, and make gains.

If you’re someone that likes options on options, then check out some group fitness classes. Besides having different types of workouts to choose from (think Zumba to kettlebells to indoor cycling), each class offers options for every skill level. So whether you’re on your third triathlon or you’ve never held a dumbbell, everyone is welcome and able to complete any class with a little hard work and a water bottle.

Here are some points to get you off that machine and into a class:

  1. People are focused on their workout, not yours.

It’s completely normal to be nervous for your first fitness class. Even as an instructor, when I walk into a new type of workout I break a sweat thinking about all the participants who have already mastered every move. But here’s the truth, most people are more focused on their own performance than yours. Plus, if people do look your way, it’s probably because you’re totally killing it. So if you pick up all those Bodycombat™ moves and are throwing punches with confidence, then people that maybe aren’t so confident will look to you as their #goals.

  1. Instructors are there to be your number one fan and coach.

It can be intimidating to get corrections from an instructor during class, but this in no way means you’re failing. A lot of workouts, especially Bodypump™ (weight training) and Bootcamp, require good form to prevent injury. Your instructor is just looking out for you. And if you have questions, never hesitate to ask, it makes us feel needed and loved. We want to know you and help you, so ask us questions or just say hi. We’re rooting for you with foam fingers and megaphones.

  1. If you don’t like a class, you don’t have to come back.

It’s all about finding what works for you and your body. I would encourage everyone to keep trying classes until they find something that works for them. Not every exercise endeavor will make it to the final rose ceremony, so don’t feel bad if you keep searching for the one. It’s also important to remember, a difficult class is sometimes a good thing — think of it as your weekly challenge to make yourself stronger. I know it’s hard to find that motivation to really push, but those workouts end up being the ones you’re proudest of.

Adding group fitness classes to your routine is like building the fitness family everyone needs to be inspired and empowered. Each class is its own little community and we make ourselves, and each other, stronger with every rep, pedal stroke, interval, and booty shake. So, whenever you’re ready for a complete workout game changer, group fitness will be waiting.

View the current RecWell group fitness schedule and make a plan to check out a class!

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5 Alternatives to Stress Eating

By: Selena Shanahan, ’18, University Health Center Nutrition Peer Educator

Stress Eating

We’ve all been there before, you’re up late studying for a big exam you have coming up soon. Before you finally go to bed, you peer across your desk at the wreckage of empty bags and containers of everything you ate over the past few hours. Then come the thoughts, “That can’t be from just me! Did I really mindlessly eat all of that? I wasn’t even hungry, and I definitely didn’t know I even had (fill in the blank) in the house!”

Research shows that identifying and reducing non-hunger eating is key for maintaining a healthy body weight. Non-hunger eating is exactly what it sounds like- it’s eating food for any reason other than hunger. This can include, but is not limited to, eating out of boredom, to procrastinate doing work, avoiding thoughts or feelings, or to relieve stress.

Eating is a perfectly normal response to stress. After all, how many of us were actually taught how to manage stress before coming to college? For many of us, this is the most stressful time we have experienced. And even though eating out of stress isn’t always a bad thing, using food as the only way of coping with stress could lead to some unwanted weight gain.

Next time you feel like diving into the Ben & Jerry’s after a stressful day, try these five tips instead.

  1. Determine whether you are really hungry or not. Often times we can confuse thirst signals with hunger signals. Try drinking some water, and waiting a while to see if that helps.
  2. Go for a walk. Exercise has been proven to improve mood, help relax, and improve sleep.
  3. Call a friend or family member. Venting or just catching up with a friend can improve your mood or maybe even give you the confidence to face your problem head on.
  4. Try meditating. Meditation can help you relax during this stressful period of your life. Free individual and group meditation sessions are offered at the University Health Center (UHC) for students interested in trying it out!
  5. Make an appointment for relaxation training & stress management. Relaxation training, an appointment that uses biofeedback technology while practicing deep breathing, is another great, FREE service at the UHC!

If you find you are truly hungry, don’t deprive yourself! This will only make the urges stronger until you have eaten everything that is not nailed down. Instead try eating a purposeful snack. These snacks will give you the fuel you need to get through the late night of studying and keep you fuller longer.

If you would like more information about ways to manage non-hunger eating, reserve your FREE session with a Nutrition Coach today by calling 301-314-5664 or emailing nutritioncoach@umd.edu.

Posted in Nutrition, Physical Wellness, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Eating at Night—the Shocking Truth

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

The Lilypad (4)

 

One of the most common eating adages out there is “don’t eat at night” or “don’t eat after dinner” or “don’t eat after 8 o’clock”. How much truth is there to this, you may ask?

And like anything, IT DEPENDS.

If you ate dinner at 6 p.m. and go to bed at 9 p.m., then maybe it would be a good idea not to eat after 8 p.m. so you aren’t uncomfortable when lying down with a full stomach. But, if you are a college student, and you go to bed at midnight, 1 a.m., 2 a.m., or later, you should…wait for it….ABSOLUTELY eat at night.

Now let me tell you why.

There are three main reasons that eating at night is not only appropriate, but recommended for college students, young adults, and anyone going to sleep late.

  1. Meet energy needs. Our bodies are like cars. We need to fuel them if we want them to keep running. And food is our fuel. If there is a paper that takes until 3 a.m. to finish, but we don’t eat after our dinner at 7:30, how could we expect our body to keep on driving us to the 3 a.m. deadline? That’s almost 8 hours with no fuel, when we really shouldn’t go longer than 4-5! Anybody would have trouble not sputtering to a stop at that point.
  2. Reach nutrient requirements. Many college students do not eat enough throughout the day to meet their nutrient requirements. We might skip breakfast (although not recommended), or just be too busy to eat purposefully every 4-5 hours. This is another reason eating at night is absolutely a good idea. Had dinner at 8:30? Staying up til 2 a.m.? Have another meal at 12:30! Have some veggies, whole grains, lean protein, etc, and you will find you have renewed energy, plus, you got in some food groups that you may have missed during the day.
  3. Include fun, purposeful late night snacks. Learn to incorporate fun foods into an overall balanced diet. College is stressful. So is living in general. So, it is not a surprise that many of us occasionally turn to food to manage our stress. Especially at night. The good news is we can use this tendency to our advantage. Stock your room/apartment/house with things you want to choose at night. Make them purposeful and make them something you enjoy. For example, keep yogurt around to have an easy, sweet, but calcium-rich choice right at your finger-tips. But, if your stress always results in turning to food, there are more effective ways to manage stress. To learn how, consider taking advantage of the free stress management services at the University Health Center.

To sum up, eating at night is a GOOD thing for people whose “night” is really still part of their “day”. Just watch out for the easy trap of using food to procrastinate at night. “If I finish one more page I can have X”, or “I’m just going to find something to eat and then work on my project”, and on and on. Food is important to fuel our bodies, and sometimes just for taste, but we have to be careful not to use it as a reward for everything.

In the comments section below, share what you fuel up with at night, or what you will try now.

To learn more about eating purposefully at night, reserve your session with a Nutrition Coach today by calling 301-314-5664 or emailing NutritionCoach@umd.edu.

 

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4 Chill Musical Outlets Around Campus

By Talia Klein, ’19, University Health Center, HEALTH Works Peer Educator

Leaving my home in Texas to come to UMD was tough and stressful. No, not as a result of the social changes, the challenging academics, or the anticipated homesickness. Rather, for me, it was due to a lost sense of musical freedom and accessibility.

I played violin in lower school, took guitar lessons in high school, and within the last year, taught myself some piano basics. Evidently, I alternate between instruments with little consistency. I am no professional musician; instead, I am one who thrives through singing and making music. So coming to college restricted and stifled my ability to pursue music… or so I had thought at the time.

Having discovered these four informal outlets around campus, I had found exactly what I needed. Get out there and try the following for yourself:

  1. Play piano in Anne Arundel Hall.   This piano, located in the basement of Anne Arundel Hall, is comfortably situated in the corner of the room. If you are a shy musician, you may find this the perfect location to play without much of an audience or visibility. I personally find this location convenient and naturally comforting with its cozy basement vibes. Try working in McKeldin for a few hours, then head about three minutes to Anne Arundel Hall to reward yourself and re-energize by playing, perhaps accompanied by singing.
  2. Sing on the top level of Mowatt Lane Garage. Ever wish you could belt out in song without restriction? Free your voice on the top level of Mowatt Lane Garage. Bring a friend or sing alone to experience this freeing, fulfilling opportunity. For those not seeking an audience, it is a wonderful place to sing without being heard, or at least without being identified or watched. For others, audiences and friends may be welcome too to experience the beautiful music and view together.
  3. Play piano in Stamp’s Baltimore Room. For the more daring musicians, check out the piano in the Baltimore Room in Stamp. Other students and faculty members will enjoy the background music as they work, eat, and pass by. Some may even come up to join you. This piano really possesses the potential to bring different people together to form a collaborative musical experience. Connections abound and await you.
  4. Attend or perform in Stamp’s Friday Showcase in front of the Co-Op. Every Friday during the school year from 12-1 pm, student performers and bands perform in front of the Co-Op in Stamp. These free weekly performances feature both solo and group performances, singers, instrumentals, and bands, and also welcome all other types of musical performances. While this outlet is more structured than the others suggested, you could even just stop by, listen, and enjoy the show.

Taking advantage of these musical outlets around campus enhances my overall well-being, rejuvenates my spirit, and nurtures my ability to focus in school. Music physically and mentally heals, making my body feel stronger and my mind feel calmer and more composed. Perhaps you, too, can designate these musical moments during your day as relaxing adventures and purposeful study breaks. Will your next musical performance be the key to enhancing your academic performance? Only time will tell…

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