Bikini Body Here I Come

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           The new semester is under way, and spring break seems to be inching closer and closer. Now is the time that people begin to get crazy about working out and eating healthy, trying to ensure they get a “beach bod.” Other people are preparing for summer, getting a head start for a long vacation where bathing suits and swimming pools are plentiful. Whatever your situation, here’s a straight forward, simple guide to get a confident body.

            First, before you dive into getting in shape for vacation, know that you should not try any crash diet, liquid cleanse, or mumbo jumbo crazy fad diet. Diets or meal plans that claim huge weight loss in a short time can be very harmful to your body, and will not give you long term results. To get in good shape, and maintain that shape, it takes lots of effort and work on a personal level.

            Second, make cardio and the gym your best friend. I know that working out and exercising isn’t the only aspect factored into losing weight, but it will give you a jump start. The Wellness Center here at Murray State University has a lot to offer someone looking to better their body. There are weight machines, free weights, ellipticals, treadmills, bike machines, stair masters, etc. They also offer fitness classes such as: cycling class, toning class, ab classes, yoga classes, and many more. You can find a workout class schedule at the front office and figure out which class best works for you. So, find a buddy that will go to the gym with you and encourage each other to go to the gym regularly.

            Next, you have to realize working out is not the main aspect of shedding pounds, your food choices are. If you are eating salads loaded with dressings and toppings, grilled chicken dunked in ranch, or steamed vegetables covered in cheese or salt, then you are most likely not making the progress you desire. To drop weight at a faster rate you need to double the amount of organic, fresh vegetables and fruits, have a good protein source, like grilled chicken or fish, and cut down on your carbohydrates, sugars, and processed foods. Fruits, vegetables, and lean protein can be prepared in a way that is tasty and healthy. For example, grilled chicken stir-fry fixed with a small amount of oil, grilled chicken sandwich with whole wheat bread, spinach salad with tomatoes, celery, cucumbers, carrots, tuna (no mayo) and a light dressing.

            There are small steps and bigger steps you can take to ensure a healthy body for spring break and summer. It is a lot of work, and some cheating is permitted (only occasionally). The main things are to get active, watch your portions, be smart about your food choices, and get motivated to become the best version of yourself!

            

Relieve Your Stress by Eating!!

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As we start off 2014 and a new semester, everyone is focused on making a good start to the year with classes, grades, their health, and their social lives. As we get into our routine, things will start to get busier, and we can start to get overwhelmed. There are different techniques people use in order to lower their stress levels, but there are actually certain foods that you can eat that can help naturally lower your stress levels as you dive into a tough semester or busy time.

The first food that can help lower your stress levels are oranges. In a German study oranges, which are rich in vitamin C, were found to reduce stress levels and return blood pressure to normal levels. Vitamin C is also known for boosting your immune system, and helps keep it running at a healthy level.

Sweet Potatoes is another food that can help calm you down. Sweet potatoes can satisfy the urges and cravings for carbohydrates and sweets when you are under stress. They are also packed full of vitamins, such as beta-carotene.

Beef is said to be a stress relieving food as well. Beef contains high levels of zinc, iron, and B vitamins which help stabilize your mood.  Beef gets a bad rap sometimes, but when eaten in moderation and the appropriate servings it can be beneficial to your overall mood.

Another food that can reduce stress levels is milk. Milk is high antioxidants, vitamins B2 and B12, protein, and calcium. Starting your day off with a bowl of whole-grain cereal and low-fat milk with help you fight stress throughout your day.

Blueberries have been found to help stress too. They are very rich in antioxidants. They also are high in fiber, but low in calories, and are rich in vitamin C. Blueberries can be a good snack with cottage cheese or yogurt.

These are five foods that can easily be put in your pantry when you think you are going through a rough patch, or foresee a busy time approaching. These foods won’t completely take away your stress, but taking the time to eat them and fuel your body will make you feel unstoppable when trouble comes your way!!

http://www.marieclaire.com/health-fitness/advice/reduce-stress-foods

http://www.bhg.com/health-family/mind-body-spirit/natural-remedies/superfoods-for-stress-relief/ 

Curb Your Stuffing: Healthy Techniques for Turkey Day

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Thanksgiving is the kick-off to the holiday season that everyone looks forward to all year. It is where you can sit around with your friends and family and enjoy some turkey and football. Thanksgiving is only once a year, so why not splurge? Gaining weight is expected during the holiday season. But Thanksgiving does not have to totally ruin your weight and make the scale shoot up. With a little conscious effort, you can satisfy your Thanksgiving cravings while leaving the table feeling guilt-free.

First, start out by producing a calorie deficit by getting up and getting active. If you can make the time to burn off some extra calories in the weeks before Thanksgiving, and especially the day of, it will benefit greatly when you indulge in your favorite treats.

Another technique is eating breakfast. While it may sound smarter to skip breakfast to save calories for the rest of the day, eating a small meal in the morning can give you more control over your appetite and what you eat. A good example of a pre-Thanksgiving breakfast would be an egg and a piece of whole wheat toast, or a small bowl of whole-grain cereal. This small little meal is the perfect thing to keep you from being overly hungry before the huge meal, and over filling your plate.

Portion control is another critical component when you are trying to manage the amount of food you are consuming. Thanksgiving tables are overflowing with family favorites, but before you dive in to fill up your plate, survey the table and then make your decision of what you are going to choose. Taking this small, critical step in deciding what to eat can save you mega calories. This also gives you the conscious mind to select reasonable portion sizes. Even though you are trying to manage your food, don’t skip out on the traditional holiday favorites that come once a year, just eat smaller portions of them. Seconds can be deadly for the calorie count, so instead of rushing back to the table, take your time eating, and maybe have a delectable dessert instead of a full second plate.

The holiday season is my favorite time of the year, but I also dread it because I know that the weight can come as well, but it doesn’t have to!!!! Keep a rational head on your shoulders this holiday season and make smarter, healthier decisions instead of throwing the scale out the window. The holidays don’t have to ruin your diet or healthy lifestyle.

Breakfast 101

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Breakfast 101
Want to know a simple solution to help you focus during those tedious morning classes and give an extra energy boost? Eating breakfast is the key. Just a little meal in the morning can benefit you tremendously as you’re hustling and bustling on campus.
Not only can breakfast boost your energy to keep you awake, but it can also help your body maintain energy and prevent over-eating throughout the day. Making sure you eat breakfast, though, can be difficult. No one has the time to get up every morning and make a five-star breakfast, but here are the top fifteen quick and easy breakfast foods that can be eaten in minutes or on the go.
1. Muffins. These delicious pastries can either be bought or made, and are rare to go stale for a while.
2. Toasted English muffin/bread and peanut butter. This choice is not only cheap, but it’s a good source of protein to give you some extra energy, and keep you fuller, longer.
3. Peanut butter and jelly. This is a college classic that everyone has learned to love.
4. Fresh fruit. Fruit is easy to grab on the go, and good to eat too.
5. Granola bars. These are relatively cheap to buy, and they are a great hand-held breakfast/snack.
6. Vegetables. This may seem weird, but you are allowed to have vegetables at breakfast. A bag of baby carrots would be great breakfast munchies.
7. Yogurt. This is a great, healthy way to eat breakfast. Not only is it good for you, but it also tastes great too. I like to freeze my Greek yogurt so it tastes more like ice cream.
8. Cereal with milk. This is a classic image of breakfast, and “Will keep you full and focused,” as Frosted Mini Wheat’s likes to say.
9. Dry Cereal. Sometimes time is of the essence and packing your favorite cereal is the perfect way to make sure you get breakfast and don’t get to class late.
10. Trail mix. One of my personal favorites, and is a great way to power up for your busy day and give you a good source of protein.
11. Breakfast burrito. These can be bought for super cheap and popped in the microwave or homemade if you have some extra time. They also can be a healthy breakfast if you are constrictive of what goes on it – whole wheat tortilla, scrambles eggs, veggies, etc.
12. Frozen waffles. “Leggo my eggo” can really come in handy when you need something super quick and easy, and not a good source of carbohydrates to fuel your energy. There are multi-grain waffles or reduced fat available to make this tasty breakfast even better.
13. Pop Tarts. Pop Tarts are good source to just pop in the toaster or take right into the classroom. It’s a breakfast classic that will keep you full until lunch.
14. Crackers. With peanut butter or cheese, slapping these on some whole wheat crackers can take all of a minute before you have to get across campus.
15. Dried fruit. Dried bananas, apple chips, raisins, cranberries, etc. are a good breakfast source that is healthy and fruit-based. Look for the generic kind to take some pressure off your wallet as well.
Breakfast can be easy, quick, and efficient if you can just take 1 minute out of your morning to prepare some of these delicious options. One meal can make a huge difference in our day and our health.

Article source: http://collegelife.about.com/od/fooddining/a/College-Breakfast-Ideas.htm

What’s So Great About Water?

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Most people know that you are supposed to drink a lot of water and that it is good for you. We’ve been told to drink 8 glasses a day. But why do we really need it? What does it do for our bodies?

The 8 glasses a day is more of a guideline, rather than a rule for everyone. Some people may need more; some people may need less. Once you are hydrated, over hydrating doesn’t really do you any good. On the other hand, by the time your thirst mechanism kicks in, your body is already starting to become dehydrated. This is why it is important to continually drink something throughout the day. Your body needs fluid. It is constantly losing it through evaporation from your skin, breathing, and loss of water in your urine or stool. And our body uses water for other things as well.

Our body is about two thirds water. Maintaining the correct amount of fluids in our body keeps it in balance. Bodily fluids help in the functions of digestion, absorption, circulation, production of saliva, transport of nutrients, and maintaining a stable body temperature. All of these things are important for our bodies, obviously. For these reasons alone, we should do our best to stay hydrated. While all fluids that you drink (except alcohol) keep our body hydrated, drinking water helps cut unnecessary calories from our diet. If you are trying to lose weight, drinking water rather than a sugary drink like soda or juice can definitely help. Another weight loss strategy is to drink a glass of water before each meal. This causes you to feel full and eat less.

Another benefit of drinking water is that it helps our skin to look its best. If we become dehydrated, our skin can become dry and wrinkled.  Water also helps keep your muscles from getting fatigued. That is why it is so important to stay hydrated during and before exercise. If your cells in your muscle don’t have enough water, they shrink up and cause the fatigue in your muscle.

Water also helps maintain kidney and bowel function. Our kidneys rid our body of toxins and waste, as long as we have an adequate fluid intake. This is very important, so that we don’t get a buildup of toxins in our body. If we don’t drink enough, we can also be more at risk for kidney stones. Fluid keeps things moving through our gastrointestinal (GI) tract. If we don’t stay hydrated, we can become constipated.

Now that you know why it is important to drink enough, here are some ways to get the fluid you need. Make sure you drink something with every meal or snack. Eat more fruits and vegetables. These have a high water content and can contribute to about 20% of our fluids. Drink beverages you enjoy. A cup of tea or coffee or fruit juice all count towards our daily intake of fluid.  Keep a bottle of water with you wherever you go- at your desk, in your purse, or in your car. If it is with you, you are more likely to drink it.

Antioxidants vs. Free Radicals

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There is a constant battle going on in our body between antioxidants and free radicals. This may mean nothing to you, except you might have heard about antioxidants in a magazine article or somewhere else. But what are they? Why do we need them?

First, let’s talk about free radicals and what they do. When we are exposed to oxygen, this also causes oxidation. Oxidation can cause your body to produce free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that can damage cells and may play a role in many diseases including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and some eye diseases. This is why we need ANTI-oxidants.

Antioxidants can be either man-made or natural substances that prevent or at least delay some types of cell damage. They have been shown to help prevent and sometimes reverse damage done by free radicals. Some examples of antioxidants are vitamins A, C and E, beta-carotene, and other carotenoids. The best sources of antioxidants are in fruits and vegetables. I wouldn’t suggest taking an antioxidant supplement unless you talk to your doctor first. A lot of these have not been shown to help your body, and some cases have been more harmful than helpful. This doesn’t mean that you’re in danger if you take a vitamin C tablet or something like that. But if something is labeled as an antioxidant supplement, I would be cautious.

So what should you eat to get antioxidants? Red, orange, dark yellow and dark green vegetables and fruits are very high in carotenoids. This is one reason that nutrition professionals always emphasize making your plate colorful! Not only do these foods have a lot of antioxidants, but they are good sources of other essential nutrients as well. Some foods that are good sources of carotenoids are tomatoes, carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, mangos, and broccoli. Good sources of vitamin A include colorful fruits and vegetables, whole milk, salmon, and fortified cereals. Vitamin E is found in vegetable oils, salad dressings, margarine, whole-grain products, seeds, nuts and peanut butter. It is important to get enough vitamin E, but you should be careful about what sources you get it from because a lot of them tend to be high in fat also. Vitamin C has a wide variety of health benefits and can be found in citrus fruits, strawberries, sweet peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, and potatoes.

There are many different foods to choose from, so everyone should be able to find enough foods they like to eat! It is recommended to eat at least 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables every day. This may seem like a lot, but it can be done! I would suggest snacking on an orange or some strawberries instead of eating chips between meals. Try to eat a fruit with breakfast and more than one vegetable with your dinner. These are simple ways to get antioxidants and other nutrients into your diet. And they are usually low in calories!

Caffeine: It’s What’s Keeping You up at Night

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So Finals Week is coming soon, and that means stocking up on the Red Bull, coffee, and 5 hour energies, right? Caffeine seems to be what runs the campus for most students this week. Pulling all nighters, studying at crazy hours of the day, and getting barely any sleep are all pretty common. So is all this caffeine we’re “surviving” on okay for us to consume?

There are many myths with regards to caffeine that have been studied in depth. Some of these are caffeine reduces fertility, causes Fibrocystic Breast Disease, causes osteoporosis, causes cardiovascular disease or stroke, causes cancer, and that it dehydrates you. All of these have been proven wrong in studies done with moderate intakes of caffeine. Overall, there is nothing wrong with having a moderate intake of caffeine and it even has some benefits.

Caffeine can be consumed safely. It has even been shown to improve both physical and mental performance. But it is recommended that people only get up to 300 mg per day. Each person is different, so this number may vary, but most experts agree that 600 mg a day is too much. One cup of coffee has about 100 mg, depending on the type, and soft drinks usually have about 40 mg. Energy drinks usually range from 50-160 mg. Some products contain more than one serving though, so always check the label for serving size. If you are taking caffeine pills, be careful not to overdose, because the effects can be very dangerous.

Excessive intakes of caffeine can lead to calcium and magnesium loss, which can affect bone health. Another sign of too much caffeine is if you are restless, anxious, and irritable. It may also cause headaches, abnormal heart rhythms, or other problems. Some people are more affected than others by caffeine. You will learn how much caffeine will affect your own body as you experiment with it.

Watch out for added sugar and fats in drinks that contain caffeine. Most caffeinated drinks come loaded with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial food colorings and preservatives, or other substances that you should be careful of. For example, Red Bull has 11 grams of sugar for every 100 ml you consume. Even coffee and tea can become not so good for you when you add sugar and creamer. But there are also sugar free options and low fat products that can help you stay healthy as you enjoy your drinks.

Like most foods, moderation is the key for caffeine. So go ahead and enjoy your coffee!