Tag 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: 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

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-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.

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

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-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!

Don't Worry Be Healthy: Spring Has Sprung – Contracting Spring Fever

IMG_5240

-Marissa Tomko

Someone just gave me a really weird look at a stoplight because I was screaming Luke Bryan at the top of my lungs in the car. Alone. It was the greatest moment of my life because it was sunny, warm, and beautiful, and I just wanted the whole world to share in that with me. I can’t help it though because I have come down with a severe case of spring fever!

Here in the rainy northwest, even the smallest bit of sunshine is a game changer. It takes over social media sites and brings students outdoors to bask in its rays. Classes are suddenly less full because everyone is out taking a “mental health day,” also known as a “lets go ride our bikes by the river” day. Fun in the sun takes priority, and no one seems to have an issue with their procrastinated assignments or unkempt houses. Everything is happy!

Even though the sun might be considered a novelty around here, there might be more to the fact that it makes us feel happy. According to the Huffington Post, a severe case of spring fever might be scientifically explicable. Unlike in the wintertime when we produce more melatonin and therefore sleep more, spring sunshine means less melatonin, causing you to feel more awake.

The rays don’t only mean less melatonin but also more serotonin, the chemical your body produces to put you in a better mood. I don’t know about you, but for me, being in a better mood means I’m more restless and more prone to celebrating the good weather as opposed to working in spite of it.

Word to all you fellow spring-fever-prone people out there though: just because the rain is gone does not mean that your responsibilities are too! Even though the memories you make on a beautiful day are important, so are your grades. Playing hard doesn’t come without working hard. Happy spring!

Don't Worry Be Healthy: Superfoods

-Marissa Tomko

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s superfood!

Alright, alright, that was a bad joke. But come on, you wouldn’t have been able to resist either! The Oxford English Dictionary defines superfood as “a food considered especially nutritious or otherwise beneficial to health and well-being.” Basically, these foods are really high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and polyphenols. These are all things that keep us feeling good in the short run, and reduce our risk of chronic disease in the long run.

I’ve already told you about five foods that aren’t so good for you, so in the spirit of keeping things balanced, here are five foods that you should be keeping around!

Blueberries

Blueberries have numerous health benefits, all of which blow my mind! I mean really, how can those tiny little morsels pack so much power? Blueberries are high in the antioxidants by the name of anthocyanidins. These help fight oxidation in your body that cause heart diseases, cancers, and macular degeneration.

Salmon

If you don’t like fish, then I don’t understand you. The best meal I ever had was this past summer, when my parents grilled the tastiest salmon I have ever laid my tongue on. Not only were they pleasing my taste buds by providing me with such a meal, but they were also helping me be healthy; sneaky move, mom and dad! In addition to providing your body with omega-3 fatty acids, salmon can give you 58 percent of your daily protein intake. Salmon is heart healthy, and high in vitamins and minerals!

Avocado

Word on the street is that people avoid avocados because they think they are too high in fat. To the people on those streets, I urge you to turn down a different one! These fats are heart healthy, and come along with the benefits of antioxidants and vitamins (especially vitamin K). You know what I always say: an avocado a day provides you with your vitamin K!

Tea

Tea is great for when you’re sick or you want to appear classier. Especially of the green variety, this beverage is chock-full of antioxidants. Additionally, it boosts your metabolism with EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate), an antioxidant that reduces risk of cancer and other diseases. It can even benefit your bone density by way of your body absorbing catechins.

Oranges

In my research, this is the superfood that surprised me the most. Yes, I have always been aware that oranges are healthy; whenever I get sick, my mom blames it on low OJ intake. Oranges are most well known for having a lot of vitamin C, but they have also been credited with prevention of cancer, diabetes, and enhancing a healthy heart. By bringing some orange slices in a snack bag to school or work, you can revisit your grammar school days and enhance your health! One thing you won’t be able to do? Find a word that rhymes with this superfood. Sorry.

Don't Worry Be Healthy: Cracked Out

 

-Marissa Tomko

There is some freaky stuff on the internet.

For instance, I think that most of you can relate to the moment in my early adolescence when I conducted an innocent Internet search, only to have something completely inappropriate come up. Yes, I may have become scarred for life. But since then, I’m not really surprised by all of the insane stuff the Internet has to offer. That is, until I found Jointcrackers, an online forum for people to tell the tales of their best joint cracks and to vent about their compulsive needs to perform them.

Joint cracking, specifically that of the knuckle variety, has been a habit of mine since I was twelve. I do it during tests, I do it when I go out, I even do it in my sleep. I live to crack and crack to live. I can’t explain it, it just feels right. The sound of it makes some of my friends cringe, but I don’t even notice it anymore. It’s like chirping birds or the sound of the ocean; just part of the fabric of my life!

I realize that I sound like an insane person. Such a realization leads me to wonder: why do some of us become so obsessed with releasing carbon dioxide from the synovial fluid in our joints, and what is it doing to us? And am I crazed enough that I should sign up for this nutty forum?

There are different reasons that people find joint manipulations to be so satisfying, but the most common theory lies in the idea that it offers a physical release of stress. Our friends over at Jointcrackers point to this reason, as well as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and pain relief. Some say that they feel a pressure in their joints that can only be relieved by cracking, a sensation that some users feel may be purely psychological. Some Jointcrackers love the need to crack, while others are on the forum to find ways to ditch the habit.

Whether you are trying to quit or not, chances are you catch some flack when you crack. I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve heard “That’s going to give you arthritis!” when I absentmindedly indulge in a pop or two. But good news for me, and possibly you! Studies cited in articles like this one at Discovery all say that there is no correlation between knuckle cracking and arthritis. However, the Washington Post says avid crackers should be wary of damaging ligaments and weakening their grips over time. These effects are far and few between, and can be helped by cutting back on the crack—if you can.

The Chronicles of Zipfizz: One Woman’s Story

-Marissa Tomko

Zipfizz did me dirty.

This self-proclaimed “healthy energy mix” comes in powder form with the intent that the user mixes it with water to his or her desired dilution. It does not boast that its energy comes from caffeine—one serving only contains 100 mg, which is less than one-third of the caffeine found in a grande sized Starbucks blend. Instead, Zipfizz is proud of its all-natural mixture of vitamins, particularly the 41,667 percent recommended daily intake of B-12. Yes, you read that right: 41,667 percent. The mix is only ten calories (which I love) and is artificially sweetened (which I hate). Now that you’ve learned a little bit about this beverage, back to my story . . .

In the name of research, I decided to replace my habitual cup of afternoon coffee with this strange-sounding energy drink. After knocking back my grape-flavored concoction, I awaited the natural burst of energy that I was promised. While I was waiting, I fell asleep.

I rolled over, looked at my phone, and shot up into the air like a cat that just got hosed; I had exactly five minutes to make the quarter-of-an-hour journey to my meeting for this very publication. I pulled on some boots, swished around some mouthwash, and muzzily wandered to campus.

When I arrived, I gave an exasperated hello to my fellow Pulse writers, and collapsed into my seat. I was sad that Zipfizz hadn’t affected me; I wanted it to be my new thing because carrying around the vile that the powder came in made me feel really cool! If I could go back to that moment, I’d look myself in the eye and say “Oh my dear, sweet Marissa. You don’t know what you’re in for.”

The time came to meet with my fellow writers and our editor, so I stood up—that’s when it hit me. For lack of a better medical term, I felt high. My mind was airy, my arms were jittery, and every time I spoke I wanted to face-palm myself. As I giggled my way through my meeting, I pondered if this was a normal reaction to be having. After all, I’m not exactly the poster child for having an average amount of energy. Or sleep. Or caffeine. With these variables in mind, I did a little bit of research when I got home. After perusing the internet and texting some friends, I came to a conclusion that Zipfizz has about a thousand different effects, and no two people that I talked to had identical experiences.

Maybe I’m just crazy and my Zipfizz episode was all in my head. Or maybe I’m crazy for a different reason in that it makes me feel like I’m on pain killers—I don’t know. In any case, all I can say is if you want to know if this product works, try it! As for me, I’ll continue to run some Zipfizz experiments to see if the life of excessive B-12 is the life for me.

Don't Worry Be Healthy: 1,3,7-Trimethylxanthine – Part I

-Marissa Tomko

The list of things that I love more than caffeine consists of one item: my mom. If you aren’t her, then I’m sorry if that was harsh and unexpected. I guess I’m just at a point in my life where I’m honest about my priorities.

Unlike my mom, whom I’ve relied on since, well, forever, I’ve had a dependency on caffeine since I was 17 years old. Most of my sweatshirts are dribbled with coffee stains, and you can usually bet that the straggling Red Bull cans around my house after a night out are mine. In the past four years, I think I’ve gone a total of five days without caffeine, and when I think about them, all I can recall are screaming headaches, hostile moods, and a life of reclusion under my duvet.

I’ve always been aware that my addiction is unhealthy, but even the most disapproving conversation or accidental overdose during a long day at work hasn’t even slightly swayed me into thinking that I need to change. I have a healthy diet, I exercise regularly, and I don’t smoke. What more do you want from me?!

But even after hundreds upon hundreds of daily pick-me-ups, I still don’t really know how caffeine works or what it’s actually doing to me. That’s why I’ve decided to write a short series on the caffeinated beverages in my life. I want to know where they come from, what they consist of, and the different effects they cause. Will any alarming discoveries deter me from my ritualistic drinking? Probably not, but at least I’ll be an informed citizen.

In this introductory post, I’m just going to give a quick rundown on how caffeine works: Our bodies produce energy because of a chemical called adenosine. By connecting to phosphates in the body, it creates adenosine troposphere (ATP). When that molecular bond is broken, energy is released. When adenosine connects to its receptors in the brain, there aren’t any available to create ATP, and we get tired. When we ingest caffeine (the molecule shown above), it bonds with the receptors, thus forcing adenosine to hang around with phosphates, which boosts the energy in our bodies!

That’s not all though! Caffeine also effects the pituitary gland by telling it to emit the hormones that create adrenaline. This quickens your heart beat and causes you to feel kind of crazy and energized. The pituitary gland also produces dopamine when it senses caffeine, which is the chemical that makes us feel good and happy—I’ll drink to that!

Don’t be latte for my next installment on—you guessed it—coffee!

Don't Worry Be Healthy: Finding the Light in Seasonal Affective Disorder

-Marissa Tomko

They say that April showers bring May flowers, but what do January showers bring? For residents of the northwestern corner of the country, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may be the answer. This is a disorder that seriously affects about 6 percent of Americans ages 20-40, and this does not include the 20 percent who experience less severe symptoms. Of these percentages, 75 percent are said to be women.

It is a pretty common opinion, at least among my peers, that summertime is preferable over the winter months, and it makes sense—it’s less stressful, more fun, and the weather allows us to enjoy outdoor activities without freezing or getting soaked. Even given the financial benefits, the number of Southern California kids that decide to come to school in Eugene always throws me. Even though the majority of them love this school and the experiences they have, there is no shortage of complaints about the cold and constant rain.

This makes for a less active student population in the fall and winter months. Students become more tired, less productive, and have tendencies to veg out and and smile less. Oregon is ranked the fourteenth most depression-affected state in the nation. But why? After looking into it, I realized that it is not the cold or rain that makes us all want to snuggle up and avoid homework—it’s the darkness.

During the fall and winter, the Northwest is under pretty constant cloud cover. It’s an event when the sun decides to shine down for an hour or two in the middle of January. But the sunshine does more than spark excited small talk about the weather—it gives us the chance to soak up some precious vitamin D, which helps us feel more awake and healthy. Melatonin, the hormone that helps us sleep, is produced in amounts inversely related to how much vitamin D we absorb. This causes us to experience a dramatic energy low, which serves as a basis for other SAD symptoms including feelings of depression, cravings for sweet and carb-loaded foods, anxiety, and a less-positive feeling about life in general.

Methods to avoid these symptoms are different for everyone who is affected by them. Spending as much time in the sunlight as possible is crucial. When you cannot do so, light therapy is an alternative option often prescribed. This involves a special lamp that burns ten times brighter than normal indoor lighting and has the ability to simulate a sunrise by increasing in brightness throughout your morning.

Another way to combat symptoms is to create a healthy lifestyle. This includes keeping an eye on your diet and exercise routines, cutting back on time in front of the computer, and trying to maintain a positive mental outlook. These notions may be easier said than done, but they are the main components to beating winter blues and living a sustainable and healthy life overall. If you have a hard time doing these things on your own, talk to a counselor or a friend face-to-face.

Feeling the effects of darkness is more common than you might think, especially in the stressed-out lives of university students. Just don’t forget to take a step back sometimes and focus on what makes you smile.