Category Archives: Health

For Those on the Go: Create Your Own Day Spa on Long Trips

-Emily Fraysse

When constantly on the go, it is hard to fit beauty time and sleep into your schedule. I’ve done a great deal of traveling and have found that taking the time to stop and pamper myself has been a plus. Whether you are catching a plane or going on a long car ride, this routine get you feeling refreshed when you reach your destination.

Important things to bring along:

– Snag tea or some type of green drink (Superfood from Odwalla is awesome) from the airport or a coffee shop to keep hydrated.

– Pick up a healthy salad with minimal dressing (or hold the dressing on the side) with different vegetables. Also, grab a piece of fruit, like an orange or pieces of cantaloupe, for later if you feel like the salad will not be filling enough. If you feel that you are getting a craving, drink a tall glass of water or tea. This can be difficult at an airport, but do the best that you can to find a different healthy alternative to snack food.

– Make sure you have all your tools to improve yourself before your flight! Remember: according to TSA regulations, each passenger is allowed one 3.4 ounce (or less) bottle of liquid or gel,  and one quart-sized, clear plastic zip-lock bag holding 3.4 ounces or less of containers.

– Print out a stretching guide if you will be in a cramped position before the trip begins!

The on-the-go beauty routine:

#1 The Tools: Before you head out on your trip, make sure that you have all the products and utensils ready. First thing’s first: establish what area you would like to work on, and then get the right products (or create your own product!) to maximize your spa experience.

Face: A gentle facial cleanser, two good moisturizers (one with sunscreen for the day and another to wear at night), an exfoliant, and under eye patches.

Hands: A thick hand crème and possibly gloves so that you let the crème soak into your skin. Dry hands are the worst.

Feet: Tea-tree oil is really good for feet!

Hair: Hair mask and heat protectant.

Body: Sleep (at least eight hours no matter what age), deep breathing, and water. These are all key to feeling refreshed, relaxed, and cleansed.

#2 Breathing comes first: Whether you are in a boat, a car, or a plane, the important thing to do is relax and breathe. It seems simple, but deep breathing calms and relaxes the body. Reading a book, drawing, or writing can also help you unwind.

#3 Think Positively: Remember, this is time that you are taking for yourself. Either write down or make a list in your head of all the things you are grateful for, write a letter to a friend or family member, or list three good things that happened to you that day.

#4 Remember to stretch: If, at any point during the trip you feel that your muscles are getting tight, feel free to stretch. Check out these poses for inspiration.

#5 Apply! Apply your face mask, under eye patches, or whatever else you would like to work on. Remember to make sure you have enough time to really let things soak in.

#6 Take a nap: Even a short 20-minute nap can make a huge difference. So pop off your shoes, shut the blinds, get comfy, and recline (if you can).

#7 Other things to remember: Bring gum to pop your ears if you are flying! And a nice head rest blow-up pillow will do you wonders for your neck.

Enjoy your trip!

Don’t Worry Be Healthy: Five Ways to Make Working Out More Fun

-Marissa Tomko

Running on a treadmill reminds me of hamsters, running and running on their little hamster wheels, going no where, getting no closer to a destination. Talk about boring.

I don’t know about you, but my attention span on one of those mechanisms is about five minutes. I start getting antsy about my music, eyeing the clock, and redoing my ponytail fifty times in a row. I just can’t take the repetition!

Unlike a hamster though, I am able to break out of my cage and make a more exciting workout routine for myself. And with that in mind, I present to you my top five favorite ways to work out without being bored to tears!

Zumba

Call me crazy, but this Latin-inspired workout is probably the best I’ve ever partaken in. Zumba is basically just a big dance party, and at the end of it, you’re sweating your face off and you can kiss the gym goodbye for the day! My personal favorite thing about Zumba is how it can turn even the most uncoordinated person into a superstar. All you have to do is check your inhibitions at the door, and I promise you’ll have the best, most fun workout of your life.

Hiking

If you live in Eugene, you probably have some sort of affinity for the outdoors. Instead of a repetitive hour on the elliptical where you just awkwardly stare out the same window, why not take your talents outside so you can enjoy some ever-changing scenery and become one with nature?

Workout videos

Hear me out: I realize you would probably feel silly in your house or apartment taking orders from some random person on your television. However, it can actually be the best time of your life. Grab a few friends and pop in an amusing workout DVD. My personal favorite is Brazil Butt Lift. The guy on the video cracks me up, and even if I end up not working out for the whole time, I get some nice abs from laughing so hard.

Water fights

Pardon my theatrics, but these days it is so hot, I feel like I am super-glued to the sun and I can’t escape the heat. That makes going on a run pretty difficult because heat stroke is not something I am trying to get out of my workout. So I enjoy the occasional impromptu water fight complete with Super Soakers and water balloons! It entails a lot of running around, and you can finally cool down from the Eugene summer weather.

Rollerblading

My roommate and I have big plans for the summer that involve buying overalls and rollerblading all over Eugene. This activity is a surprisingly good calorie burner, as well as a nice blast from the past! So strap on those wheels and get going!

Climbing Mt. Shasta: A Journey After Spinal Fusion Surgery

-Emily Fraysse

My eyes opened at the sound.

The nurses dressed in all white with hairnets and facemasks were clinking the industrial set of tools around on a steel patter to my right. I drifted off again as I felt a sting of the IV slide into my right arm.

My eyes opened at another sound.

My father’s alarm had gone off. It was three o’clock in the morning and I had just been dreaming a flashback to the spinal fusion surgery I had undergone around two years before.

Sliding on my down coat and slipping on my booties, I heaved myself out of the comfort of my royal blue tent and out into the cold, deserted ice. I could see my father had already begun boiling the water for tea and my younger sister, Madeline, still fast asleep in her sheltered cocoon.

With a full moon over head, the view was stupendous. It was still the dark hours of the morning, but with the full moon, the shadows of the luscious pines and the sparkle of the snow was clearly visible. Looking up at the slope of Mt. Shasta, a lit ant trail of climbers were already making their way up to the looming ridge above.

A bowl of oatmeal later and I was snapping my crampons onto my boots and heaving my thirty-pound pack on my semi-sore back. My back has been an issue for many years due to a duel with scoliosis. I spent the winter break of my senior year of high school getting a spinal fusion (two titanium rods fused to my spine to prevent the curve from gaining distance). The surgery, thankfully, worked, and a mere two years later I was climbing again. I had climbed before my surgery, but just a few times here and there with my father and sister.

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One step. Stop. Breathe. Another step. Stop. Breathe.

And that’s how it went for the next eight hours uphill. Any faster and the climber would find themselves exhausted after only three hours, unable to scale the 14,179 foot California mountain.

This was my battle. Battling my body, my mind, my mountain.

One step. Stop. Breathe. Another step. Stop. Breathe.

I couldn’t necessarily feel the rods, but I knew they were there. It had taken me about six months after the surgery until I was fully healed, and even then I was still not allowed to go on rollercoasters or partake in any other potentially dangerous activities for an entire year. Luckily, a mountaineering backpack sits on your hips, thus lessening the pressure on your spine.

I pushed my body and my mind, step by step. It wasn’t enough to cause injury, but I wanted to push myself to see how far I really could go. The first doctor I went to when I had first found out that I had scoliosis said that there was nothing I could do for it—not even surgery would help. But I took the plunge: a scarily deep plunge that has left me with a giant scar going all the way down my back. I wanted to prove to myself and to him that I could do it.

And I did.

Don't Worry Be Healthy: The 24/7 Calorie Burn

-Marissa Tomko

Squeak squeak. Squeak squeak. Squeak squeak. Rustle. Scratch. Squeak.

We’ve all sat next to that person in lecture who just can’t seem to stop moving. I mean seriously, is that straight espresso in your water bottle?

Or maybe, like me, you haven’t sat next to that person because you are that person. If that’s the case, then you know what it’s like to have someone slap your leg to stop you from shaking the whole table. And yes, that is straight espresso in my water bottle.

Being fidgety can be distracting for everyone involved. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing. In fact, us fidgeters all have something in common: we are way neater than everybody else!

NEAT, or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, is the energy used to perform tasks that are not identified as exercise. NEAT encompasses things like walking to class, taking in your groceries, chewing gum, doing yard work, and—surprise—fidgeting in your seat. Gold’s Gym estimates that the twitchy population can burn up to 350 calories in a day by moving around in their chairs at work or school. But don’t just count on sitting around to rack up your NEAT points. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator, pacing while you are on the phone, or dancing while you dust your house will turn an average activity into the NEATest experience of your day!

I know this all sounds silly. If you’re thinking that you’re going to be leg shaking your way to a six pack, then okay, you are pretty silly. But avoiding idle days is so important to our health. A study done by the Institute for Medicine and Public Health published in Women’s Health showed that it’s normal to spend 56 hours a week sitting still at a desk or on your couch—thank you, Internet age. But as convenient as technology has made work and play, sitting for so long has some pretty scary effects: it slows down your circulation, and ups your risk for diabetes and heart disease. That’s enough to make me want to fidget more than usual!

Not everyone is hard-wired to rustle around nervously 24/7. In many respects, that is a lucky thing. You’ll never have to explain to people that no, you aren’t anxious about anything, you just can’t sit still for the life of you. If you are one of those people who naturally play it cool, try working in some movement to your daily idle activities. It’ll do your body good!

Image by Ludovic Bertron.

Don't Worry Be Healthy: Squeaky Clean

clean hands

-Marissa Tomko

Scrub-a-dub-dub, triclosan in the tub! But maybe not for much longer…

Triclosan is a chemical used in antibacterial products. In the US, it is estimated that about 75 percent of liquid soaps and washes contain triclosan. It is also found in toothpaste, kitchen cleaners, and detergents—it’s everywhere. That must mean we’re all pretty safe because all of the bacteria in our lives are being killed, right? Some would say otherwise.

In 1978, triclosan was deemed not especially safe or effective by the FDA, but there was no research to make a strong case for its danger. What danger, you ask? Studies done using animals lead to the conclusion that it could be a danger to human fertility, and cause early puberty. However, according to the FDA, trends in animal testing do not always show up equally in humans. Currently, the FDA is working to decide if the risks are enough to shut down the $1 billion industry.

After learning about these risks, I was curious if antibacterial soap containing triclosan was at least making my grubby little paws cleaner. As it turns out, studies have shown that antibacterial cleansers are no more effective than your run of the mill civilian soap. Soap cleans by breaking up the oil and dirt on your hands, suspending them in water droplets that get washed down the drain. Using antibacterials give you no benefit, according to various studies.

It’s up to you to decide how you feel about the triclosan controversy. But until then, and after, just keep washing your hands people—the common cold never sleeps!

Image by Arlington County.

Don't Worry Be Healthy: Scaling the Workout Blues

Scale and feeties

-Marissa Tomko

“You are beautiful!”

When I hopped onto the scale at the gym the other day before my workout, those words were scrawled across it in orange marker. It made me smile. Shout out to UO for being the nicest!

As I began my scenic run on the treadmill, I realized that I was so busy appreciating the fact that someone defaced the scale with positivity that I had forgotten to even notice what my weight read, which didn’t bother me because, since I began my current workout routine, I have been feeling so great that my weight hasn’t been much of a factor. But this all led me to wonder how often I should be stepping on a scale when I’m trying to get in shape, or just in general.

First, let me just say that in my research and self-reflection, I came up with one overarching trend that now seems obvious: everyone is different. Everyone is looking to attain different goals, everyone looks to health and fitness for different reasons, and it all means something different to everyone.

According to The Huffington Post, one reason that the scale might not be the best idea is that it does not tell you your body composition. For instance, you might have lost a pound of fat and replaced it with a pound of muscle, but the scale won’t know the difference, leading you to be all frustrated-like and throw your sweatband at someone. If you’re a person who’s in it for the body image, focus on how you feel and notice how your body is changing positively as your workout plan continues. Don’t just rely on the scale to tell you what’s up with your body.

Another reason that the scale life isn’t for everyone is that the results might stir up some angry or defeated feelings. I don’t know about you, but one of my coping mechanisms for that kind of feeling is to eat bad things until I go to sleep. If you’re trying to live a sustainable and healthy lifestyle, this might just set you back. If you want to see guaranteed-positive results every time you step on the weighing machine, do it less. If you’re working hard and being honest with yourself, you will never be anything but happy with the results.

If you are looking to lose weight, the scale can serve as a motivator. It’s only bad if you make it bad. But don’t work out just to see those numbers drop, work out to feel better and live better. Yeah, losing weight is part of that sometimes, but don’t obsess over it.

Don't Worry Be Healthy: Five Ways I Get Myself To Workout

photo

-Marissa Tomko

I don’t really know how to admit this. I’ll just say it.

I haven’t been going to the gym as much this term. WOW, that feels amazing to get off my chest!

Yes, I feel like a complete hypocrite because I write this health and fitness column. And I love you all so much and I just don’t understand how it got to this point. Will you ever be able to forgive me?!

But I think this happens to everyone. We get into the habit of working out, and then decide to take just one innocent day off. This turns into a bunch of innocent days off, which turns into literally all days off, none of which are innocent. But never fear, Pulse readers! I have a plan of action. Even though it’s hard to get back into a workout routine, it is possible. Here is a list of the things I have done in the past (and am currently doing) to get my sorry butt into shape again.

I play mind games with myself

I once tried to date this guy, and I say “try” because we really sucked at being a couple—we could not get it together enough to map out a couple hours in the middle of our crazy lives to just exist in the same room. But sometimes, we’d map out fifteen minutes, which would always turn into a couple of hours. I can’t speak for him, but I always knew this would happen. I do the same thing when I go to the gym. I think, “I love you, treadmill, but I don’t have that much time for you.” And before I know it, I’ve been running for forty-five minutes because I realize how much more joy the treadmill brings me relative to the rest of my commitments. See? The gym is like dating: as long as you ignore the dishonesty, it can be fun!

Speaking of making time, I learned what it actually is

I’m a college student, so it’s super easy for me to use homework as an excuse to avoid the gym. But if I take a second to analyze what exactly happens when I do homework, I realize that it’s a bunch of B.S. and that I’m just a lazy weirdo because when I hit the books, I’m really hitting the books, the Internet, Netflix, my fridge, my roommates’ bedrooms, the convenience store I live next to . . . you get the picture. Basically, if I cut out all of the procrastinating I do when I’m trying to get my academic tasks done, it gives me an extra ninety minutes at least. That is more than enough time to make it to the gym. Why do I make my life so difficult?!

I got cool shoes

Yeah, I know it sounds really dumb. But I’m a big believer in dressing for success. If I’m having a bad day, I try to look nice. If I’m having a hyper day, I try to wear stretchy pants so I can high-kick at everything. If I am headed to work out, I put on the sick Nikes my dad got me for Christmas so I am forced to look like I belong. Fake it till you make it, right?

I make new playlists…

. . . like this one! And then I pretend I’m in a music video for all of the songs. Shut up, it works.

I become the poster child for inspiration

You might not know this, but I am big into confidence, so I don’t think comparing myself to other people is the way to get myself into shape. I know a lot of people practice “thinspiration,” which as I understand it is when you post pictures of impossible six-packs on your fridge to remind yourself of the body you want. To that, I say stop the madness! Don’t work out for someone else; work out for yourself. You will resent it less because it will turn into something you want to do for your own health, not for any other motive.

The Smiley Guide to Positivity

happy

-Marissa Tomko

I feel like there are fifteen extra pink energizer bunny batteries in my battery case at all times! It’s just a great feeling, it really is. Even though it sends me into overdrive in the positivity area of life, I don’t care too much because I enjoy being optimistic and happy. And I enjoy it because once upon a time in my teenage years, I was a pessimist. No one believes me. But, if we’re being fair, who wasn’t a pessimist in high school? I mean, it’s high school.

But I digress. This isn’t about being an adolescent. This is about the super cool ways that I went from being annoying because I was so negative to being annoying because I’m positive. Plus, now that you’re all caffeinated up, I’m sure you’re looking for ways to turn all of that energy into a positive life change! Woo!

Don’t kid yourself

Even though I’m an outgoing person, I love to be alone. I used to think that was making me negative, so I forced myself to be social all the time. The result was not a super happy Marissa, but rather a Marissa that resented herself. I learned to listen to what made the little Jiminy Cricket inside of me happy. If I picture myself dressing up and going out, I do it. If I picture myself eating ice cream in bed and watching Netflix all day, I do that. At the end of the day, when I want to put myself out there, I am recharged and a happier person to be around. Which leads me to wonder if maybe I should start calling myself an introvert.

Journal

Writing down everything that you’re thinking is the best way to figure out what’s making you think positively, and what’s making you think negatively. I went through a phase once where I would only write down the good things that happened to me because I wanted future me to have something happy to read. But in that moment, all of the things that were stressing me out were still in my head. Being able to record all facets of my day in a place just for me helped me to recognize the good, and have an outlet for the bad.

Daydream

I constantly find myself zoning out and coming to in the middle of ridiculous daydreams of my best friend and I having adventures in foreign countries, or hanging out with the band One Direction (sue me, they’re adorable).  Every time I realize I’m daydreaming, I realize I’m also smiling. Thinking about wonderful things makes you feel wonderful.

Spread the love!

Telling the people I love that I love them until they want to punch me in the face is one of my favorite activities. Nothing makes me happier than embarrassing someone by singing them a love ballad on campus, or giving a hug that turns into a tackle. The rush you get from making someone laugh will slap a smile on your face for the rest of the day.

Image by seanbjack.

Phobia Here, Phobia There; Phobias Phobias Everywhere!

 afraid

-Marissa Tomko

I have coccinellidaephobia.

It’s so bad, especially during the beautiful spring months. I’m so afraid. The reason I am skeptical to tell you what this phobia means is because looking at the word that coccinellidaephobia is associated with gives me the biggest chills.

Okay, I think I can tell you now. It’s not like I have logophobia. If I did, I’d have to reroute my career goals.

Ladybugs. THERE. I said it. Coccinellidaephobia is the fear of ladybugs and I have only ever heard of two other people who have it. So please, if you do, feel free to comment below. I could really use you right now.

There are a lot of wacky fears out there, and I have complied a list of what I find to be the top ten most interesting. (Note: If you suffer from phobophobia, I suggest you leave now.

Geliophobia: The fear of laughter

Why did the chicken cross the road? I’m not going to tell you, just in case you suffer from this phobia.

Dextrophobia: Fear of objects at the right side of the body

As a left handed member of society, I respect this fear.

Nomophobia: The fear of being out of mobile contact

Let’s be honest, we all have this to some degree.

Barophobia: The fear of gravity

Well, meet you on the moon, I guess.

Arachibutyrophobia: The fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth

If you suffer from this, my advice is to avoid elementary school cafeterias.

Bibliophobia: The fear of books

Hey! I think I developed this during finals week last quarter!

Syngenesophobia: The fear of relatives

There are a couple of people in my family that cause this fear in me. And no, I’m not going to name any names.

Ablutophobia: The fear of washing or bathing

I think my little brother suffers from this. But it’s fine, he still smells good . . . somehow.

Ephebiphobia: The fear of teenagers

Okay, okay. This is fair. Teenagers are pretty sketchy characters.

Koumpounophobia: The fear of buttons

Zippers are way easier to work anyway.

Don't Worry Be Healthy: Is Laughter Really The Best Medicine?

laughing

-Marissa Tomko

I’m 21 years old. I am not naïve, nor am I wise. I just have the ability to buy a bottle of wine if I want to. And while I’m no sociologist either, I think it’s fair to say that your teens and your twenties are the most dramatic times of your life. Even though I haven’t had the life experience of my parents and grandparents, I feel like I’ve been around long enough to experience most of the feelings life has to offer. I’ve cried from joy, I’ve been floored by heartbreak, I’ve lashed out in extreme anger, and I’ve made myself sick with sadness. No matter what, though, I’ve always used a single coping mechanism: laughter.

We’ve all heard the saying “laughter is the best medicine,” and if we’re being all lovey-dovey-wishy-washy, then yeah, it’s easy to agree with that. Generally speaking, I have found that people who laugh more are happier. They are the optimists who don’t take anything too seriously, and the people who move on from bad things faster than those who dwell on them. But I’ve always wondered, in addition to giving you a brighter disposition, does laughter actually provide you with health benefits? Apparently, it does.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the physical benefits of laughter stem from its general power to relieve stress in our lives. When we laugh, we take in more oxygen than when we exhibit normal breathing patterns. This stimulates our organs, bringing oxygen to our heart and other muscles, and makes us feel happy due to the rush of endorphins to our brains. A faster heart rate and higher blood pressure make us feel relaxed, which is often translated into the physical relaxation of our muscles that get tense when we are stressed out.

Over time, chronic laughers receive the benefit of a better immune system due to the release of neuropeptides, which are molecules that aid in stress relief and other bodily imbalances. Laughter can relieve pain, regulate blood sugar levels, and save us fifteen minutes on an exercise bike! Now I don’t feel so bad for choosing to have a Friends marathon instead of going for a run last weekend.

It’s possible you think I’m just some weirdo with access to the internet trying to justify ditching the gym. And I wouldn’t blame you for that—I am pretty weird, I love the internet, and fine, I avoid the gym sometimes. But I can honestly say that the times in my life when I am laughing have been the ones where I have felt my best. I have more drive to get moving, be productive, and better myself and my relationships. If you’ve been dragging due to these rainy months, it might not be a bad idea to crack a smile, tell some jokes, and see if your overall health improves!