Freshman 15: Fact or Myth?

We have all heard of the freshman fifteen. Some of us have even heard of the sophomore twenty. It isn’t hard to believe, given the amount of free pizza, popcorn, and candy on campus; the all-you-can-eat style cafeterias that serve many delicious desserts. Despite this, gaining weight and eating ice cream for the rest of your life is not your only option, however tempting it might be. With some background information and quick tips you can take after Buffy the Vampire Slayer and tell the next person who asks you about the freshmen fifteen that they are, “mythtaken!”

Photo from Pinterest

Photo from Pinterest

College is a time of freedom, expressing yourself, and finding yourself. If, on the way, you find the line for free tacos, it isn’t really anybody’s business. As college students we sometimes feel it’s our right to eat ramen for every meal five days in a row and then a piece of lettuce to be “healthy” when we feel guilty. (To be clear, when I use the term “healthy,” I mean foods that are as natural and unprocessed as possible. Some examples are oranges instead of orange juice, brown rice instead of white rice, steamed vegetables instead of fried.) The range of diets is extensive and sometimes leaves a lot to be desired. There is a lot of literature out there on health and nutrition, so I encourage you to do your own research and find out what is the best for you!

We say we are too poor, lazy, tired, and so on to validate our diets. The first step is to realize and accept that those are all excuses. You chose paying rent over groceries? That’s totally fine! But that is still a choice you made. Chose sleeping an extra half hour over eating breakfast? It happens, but accept that you are the one that decided to do it. Every day we make the choice on what, when, where, and if we eat. Just like Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility. You have the power to choose your diet which will affect your mood and health and in turn, your entire life! Your life is your responsibility, so what are you going to do about it? Well, here are some great campus and outside resources!

1. Campus Harvest Food Pantry: This September a campus food pantry opened up exclusively for students! Campus Harvest is a much-needed and awaited resource and is located in Schofield Hall 4. The pantry is available to help students one-on-one if the hours below do not work. Just email them at foodpantry@uwec.edu to set up a time. The regular schedule is as follows:
a. Mondays, 12:00pm-2pm
b. Tuesdays, 2:00pm-4:00pm
c. Thursdays, 5:00pm-7:00pm
As stated above, some students have to decide between paying rent (or tuition, or other bills) and buying healthy groceries. Although it is unfortunate that they have to make this choice it is still a reality. Campus Harvest provides these students solutions and help that they need. For more information on donations, volunteer opportunities, and more, check out their website: http://www.uwec.edu/Studentaffairs/initiatives/campus-harvest.htm
2. Blugold Dining: The Blugold Dining website (http://www.uwec.edu/dining/) has more than the schedules for your favorite eateries. They host a wonderful array of resources, too! They connect students to My Fitness Pal, an app that helps people track their nutrition and exercise to make healthier choices and goals. They have information for those with food allergies and restrictions as well as the general nutritional information for their food.
Curious about what is really in that meal you just had? You can use Sodexo’s nutrition calculator (http://www.tomorrowstarts2day.com/calculator.html) to help your mindful eating. Spend a few minutes on the website and see what new things you can learn.
3. Farmers Market: The Eau Claire Farmers Market is a great place to go for fresh, cheap eats! Vendors sell anything in season from vegetables, fruits, pastries and flowers. They are open until October 30th with the following hours:
a. Wednesdays, 7:30am-1:00pm
b. Thursdays, 12:00pm-5:00pm
c. Saturdays, 7:30am-1:00pm

Photo from Tripadvisor

Photo from Tripadvisor

The summer location for the Farmers Market is downtown in Phoenix Park. For information about winter hours and location, harvest schedule, events, and more check out their website:
http://www.ecdowntownfarmersmarket.com/

Hopefully these resources will help you conscientious decisions about your health and diet! I’d just like to leave you with a couple tips:

• Eat breakfast
• Drink water
• Sleep regularly
• Exercise
• Ignore the scale

Did you gain the dreaded “freshman fifteen”? Twenty? Ten? Thirteen? Who cares! The scale tells you a number. Your mood, immunity to illness, and energy levels are better measures of your overall health. So feel free to take any/all/none of these resources and tips on your wellness journey. Good luck!

Photo from revolutionprep

Photo from revolutionprep

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How do I find credible health information?

“How to lose 7lbs in 7 days!” “The 10 healthiest foods!” “Blast 500 calories in 20 minutes with this move!”

Sound familiar? If you have access to internet, magazines, or watch any television, this information is all over. Do you ever read/hear one thing, and then several weeks later hear something totally contraindicating? I sure do! Well in this blog post I am going to help you learn how to find and evaluate credible health information.

DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ– regardless of where you find the information. Obviously, there are more credible sources (peer-reviewed medical journals) than others (Wikipedia or other websites). However, learning to read information with critical thinking skills and an inquiring mind set is a very valuable skill to have! In other words, every time you read something health or wellness related, ask yourself these questions:

“Who wrote this information?” Look for the authors name and credentials. If the credentials are missing, consider this a red flag!

“Can I find who sponsored the website or information?” Sponsorship is important because it helps establish the site as respected and dependable. Is it a government agency, educational institution, or other professional organization?

“How current is the information?” The information or website should be updated frequently. You can usually find the “last updated” date at the bottom of the page.

“Is this factual information or someone’s opinion?” Factual information should be supported with the primary information source such as professional literature and research. You don’t necessarily need to go back and read all of the support research, but just know where it is coming from.

“Are they just trying to sell their products?”
Another red flag! Even if nothing is being sold directly on the web site, ask yourself if the site host has an interest in promoting a particular product or service.

Finding credible health information can seem a bit overwhelming at times, even for a health professional. But again- it is such an important skill to have! Whether you are searching for information for yourself, your family members, friends, etc., I encourage everyone to dive in and learn! Ask questions. Educate yourself. Ask more questions. Seek out the experts. Don’t be afraid to do your own research and take that information and additional questions to your healthcare provider, college health professionals, librarians, or just begin by chatting about it with your friends and family. Knowledge is so powerful and your health and wellness depends on it!

Lastly, to get you started, here is a list of some credible health information websites:
•Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
•familydoctor.org
•Healthfinder®, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
•Kidshealth®
•Mayo Clinic
•MEDEM: an information partnership of medical societies
•MedlinePlus or PubMed: health related research articles
•NOAH: New York Online Access to Health

GOOD LUCK!!
P.S. I included my name and credentials for you! I know you were searching for them 😉
Brittany K, RN, DNP-s
SWATeam Peer Educator
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

February is Heart. Healthy. Month.

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When Cindy DeMarco had a heart attack, she was a fit 30-year-old training for the Marine Corps Marathon who had just received a perfect score on her military fitness test. Now 35, the FBI lawyer urges all women to recognize what statistically is their greatest health risk.

Heart disease is often a silent threat. Two-thirds of women and one-half of men who die of heart disease had no prior symptoms, according to Judelson. “It’s not something you can feel or see in a mirror.”

So being proactive is important. Know your risks and discuss them with your doctor. “You need to go to the doctor. You need to know what’s going on inside your body,” says Judelson (Weisenberger, 2013).

Some Risk factors include:
•Family history: A family history of early heart disease (under 55 for male relatives and especially female relatives under 65) is a strong predictor of your risk.
•Age. Your risk increases each year.
•Race. African-American women are at highest risk
•Diabetes. Diabetics are three to seven times more likely to die from heart disease. The number of people diagnosed with diabetes increases by 10 percent a year.
•Hypertension. High blood pressure doubles the risk of heart disease and heart failure.
•Elevated cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides. These three lipids act as a triple threat to your heart.

Thats all fine and dandy…but what does it matter to me? I’m a young adult, in college, and not very concerned about heart disease. Well…as it says above…being proactive is key! In 10, 20, or 30 years, you don’t want to be thinking, “I wish I would have taken better care of myself back then…”

Preventing heart disease begins with maintaining a healthy lifestyle and habits. Eating a well balanced diet mostly consisting of whole and natural foods, as well as exercising is a given. We all know that part. So what else can I do at this age?

*Control your cholesterol and triglyceride levels
Elevated cholesterol levels are associated with inflammation (which can lead to heart disease). So, if you haven’t had a fasting lipid profile done recently, ask you health care provider. I recommend having it checked at least once in your mid 20’s and monitored according to your risk factors.

*Control your blood pressure
normal blood pressure is 120/80. Even slightly elevated blood pressure increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. Exercising, nutrition, and stress management are all key to controlling your blood pressure.

*Eat right and if needed, take supplements
Without getting in to deep here, I’ll just say that a well balanced diet consists of whole natural foods such as meat, veggies, fruit, and dairy (if you tolerate it), while avoiding processed grains, sugars, and packaged foods. A high quality fish oil and multivitamin may also be important if your diet is lacking in nutrient dense foods.

*Exercise
At the very minimum get up a move! ANY activity is better than none. I know you’re all great at walking across campus! Short on time? Strength training will give you the most bang for your buck! It gets your heart rate up while building muscle and burning fat.

*DON’T SMOKE!
Just don’t do it. You know why. It’s terrible in so many ways.

For more information and details, check out http://www.active.com/nutrition/articles/celebrate-heart-health-month