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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Breat Cancer Awareness!

breastcanceroctoberOctober is breast cancer awareness month, so what better time than to share some important information with you?!According to the Centers for Disease Control, in  2009 (the most recent year numbers are available)—211,731 women and 2,001 men in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer and 40,676 women and 400 men in the United States died from breast cancer.

All men and women are vulnerable to breast cancer, but some are more at risk than others. Risk factors include:

  • A family history of breast cancer
  • Menstruation before the age of 12
  • Menopause after age 55
  • Inherited gene mutations (most commonly BRCA1 and BRCA2)
  • Pregnancy with first child after the age of 35
  • Being overweight or obese

Don’t panic! Having certain risk factors doesn’t make cancer inevitable, and research has found that eating smarter can make a difference. Evidence suggests foods high in dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients can protect against some cancers:

  • Cruciferous and dark, leafy green vegetables: spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, kale
  • Fruits: citrus, berries, cherries
  • Whole-grains: oats, barley, bulgur, whole-grain pastas, breads, cereals, crackers
  • Legumes: dried beans and peas, lentils

Because weight is closely connected with breast cancer, engaging in regular physical activity can help reduce your risk and allow you to maintain a healthy weight. Try adding simple exercises to your work day like hand-delivering a message or going for a walk during lunch. For optimal health, aim for 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.

What are the symptoms of breast cancer?

When breast cancer starts out, it is too small to feel and does not cause signs and symptoms. As it grows, breast cancer can cause changes in how the breast looks or feels. Symptoms may include—

  • New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit).
  • Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.
  • Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
  • Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.
  • Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.
  • Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.
  • Pain in any area of the breast.

breastcancer

Johns Hopkins Medical center states, “Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.”  While mammograms can help you to detect cancer before you can feel a lump, breast self-exams help you to be familiar with how your breasts look and feel so you can alert your healthcare professional if there are any changes.

How should a breast self-exam be performed?

1) In the Shower

Using the pads of your fingers, move around your entire breast in a circular pattern moving from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, or hardened knot. Notice any changes and get lumps evaluated by your healthcare provider.

2) In Front of a Mirror

Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead.

Look for any changes in the contour, any swelling, or dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match—few women’s breasts do, so look for any dimpling, puckering, or changes, particularly on one side.

3) Lying Down

When lying down, the breast tissue spreads out evenly along the chest wall. Place a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, move the pads of your fingers around your right breast gently in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit.

Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.

Additionally, if you are 50 to 74 years old, be sure to have a screening mammogram every 2-3 years. If you are 40 to 49 years old with a high risk for breast cancer, talk to your doctor about when and how often you should have a screening mammogram.

For more information, here are some great websites:

http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/resources/features/BreastCancerAwareness/

http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-self-exam