Your Guide to Surviving the Winter

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The winter can be brutal; it’s hard to stay healthy when there is comfort foods inside and two feet of snow outside. Your health is basically thrown out the window. Whether it’s over eating, under exercising, or simply letting the winter cold take advantage of your body, it’s safe to say that health is the last thing we think about. Here is some advice on how to survive through to warmer weather.

Exercise:

Most people gain 10 to 15 pounds in the winter, yikes! The reason for this is because our bodies store fat more easily as the temperature drops. Unless you’re an avid skier, or hockey player, it can be especially hard to get cardio exercises in during the colder months. The only option is the gym, but there are some ways that you can trick your body and make the most out of your winter workout.

Food:

Lack of exercise is one thing, but warm comfort foods are especially appealing in the winter. Lack of sunlight in the winter actually causes us to crave carbs and sweets. When the days are shorter, serotonin on the brain is less active. This absence makes you tired and hungry. The reason you crave carbs is because carbs actually make your serotonin levels rise.

Dry Skin:

One of the main areas that suffers in the winter is our skin! We spend less time outdoors and more time blasting the heat and taking scorchingly hot showers, which severely dries out our skin. Cold air has much less moisture than warm air. The result of this is painfully dry skin. An easy solution is to apply a moisturizer daily to fend off winter air. Moisturizers work by trapping water under your skin, or by restoring water on the top layer of your skin if the skin is already dried out. Dry skin can be painful and is easily irritated. When deciding on a product, using moisturizers that are anti-inflammatory, or hydrating are best. Vaseline, Nivea, Jergens or Aveeno are affordable brand options that can be found at a local drug store.

Aside from the weather, actions out of the cold air contribute to drying out your skin. There is no better feeling than taking a hot shower on a cold winter night, but showers with scalding temperatures can be harsh on your skin.  Hot showers actually remove the natural oils from your skin, which dry it out. The easiest (but also hardest) solution is to take lukewarm showers. A ten minute, lukewarm shower will help your body keep its natural oils. You can also use body oil, which can be applied while showering. Applying a moisturizer in the minutes following a shower will help trap moisture under your skin.

It can be tempting to crank the heat up to 80 degrees after a cold day outside. Keeping the thermostat between 68 and 72 when home is the ideal temperature. If the temperature is any warmer than that, your skin will start to crack. Most homes use forced air, which can be drying. The best solution is to use a humidifier unit, especially while sleeping, and sleep with the door closed to keep the moisture trapped inside.

Taking care of your body in the winter is extremely important. It’s the hardest time of year to be health conscious, but now that you know the facts and have some advice, it’s up to you to be your best self – especially in the winter!

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How to Maximize your Run

Stretching. A word usually associated with dancers, gymnasts and yogis is also arguably the most important regimen to any running workout. It’s important for your body to be prepared, mentally and physically, for whatever workout is ahead. Instead of looking at warming up as something you have to do before a run, look at it as part of the run. Hockey has three periods, and so does your run: dynamic stretching, running and static stretching. Each part is important, and without one, your workout is not complete.

The difference between dancers and runners is that the former only performs static stretching, which are stretch exercises that are held for a length of time to extend muscles and increase flexibility. This kind of stretching can actually cause injury when used incorrectly. For runners, dynamic stretching is proven to increase performance. It is proven that runners who perform dynamic stretching before a run, versus those who don’t stretch at all can run for up to three minutes longer.

It’s most important to get your muscles warm before a rigorous run. Pre-running stretching gets blood flowing and lubricates joints and muscles, which help to avoid injury. Taking 5-10 minutes before a run to perform dynamic stretching exercises can help you maximize your run. Some dynamic stretching moves to try include: high knees, butt kicks, and swinging one leg back and forth while holding onto a sturdy object for stabilization.

Static stretching should be done for 5-10 minutes directly following your run. This helps remove the lactic acid that builds up in muscles during a workout. Some tips for static stretching include: hold each stretch for 15-20 seconds, remember to stretch both sides equally, and remember to breath; your muscles need oxygen! You should stretch your muscles so there is slight discomfort, but never to the point of pain.

Muscles, ligaments and tendons are the tissues that our bodies use to move. Over a period of time, these muscles become short and tight, which reduce your range of motion and put you at a higher risk for injury. Stretching should be an exercise performed on a regular basis. It increases overall flexibility, athletic performance, and reduces the chance of injury. By knowing when to use dynamic stretching exercises, and when to uses static stretching exercises, your body will be ready for any run!

Click HERE to watch the video!

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The College Diet

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Every time I come home from college, my family asks me roughly the same four questions: Do you have a boyfriend? What are your plans after college? How are your classes? What are you eating? The last question is usually the easiest: food. But what kind of food are college students really eating? Yes, schools claims to have “healthy” dining options, but college students love late night snacking, and who really wants to eat from the salad bar after a rigorous library session?

Ramen noodles and frozen dinners are the quintessential food groups for broke and busy college students. They are quick to make, only require a microwave, and are extremely cheap. The problem with the college diet is that these foods are unhealthy because they don’t give us the nutrients we need in a given day.  Let’s look at ramen noodles for example.

Ramen noodles extremely high in fat and sodium, which can lead to kidney issues, high blood pressure and increases the risk of strokes and heart failure. A brick of noodles contains eight grams of fat, half of which are saturated fat. Saturated fat is the bad fat that is known to clog arteries and raise cholesterol. Ramen noodles contain about half of the suggested daily value for saturated fat. If that isn’t enough to scare you, maybe the 1,560 grams of sodium in each ramen cup will. For reference, the FDA recommends 2,300 grams per day, which means a cup of ramen contains over half the suggested amount.

The chemical tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ) is a preservative used to keep the noodles fresh in their package. This chemical is not easily digestible and has little nutritional value. It takes your stomach a long time to process ramen noodles, which can also lead to the health problems listed above.

Speaking of chemicals, some frozen dinners are packed full of chemicals so that when you microwave them, something that smells and looks appetizing results. Yes, there are healthy microwavable dinner options, but the ones that are sold in Dutch Treats are not on the list.The best way to pick a frozen dinner out of the freezer section is to read the label. Stouffer’s Mac and Cheese is one of the worst microwavable options and brands such as Marie Calendar, Banquet, DiGirono and Jimmy Dean offer some of the unhealthiest options that are high in calories, fat and sodium.

Reading labels carefully is the best way to determine which are good for you, and which are packed full of chemicals – if you can’t understand the ingredients list, don’t eat it. Also, make sure you know have many servings are in each dinner. (Stouffer’s Mac and Cheese has two). As far as ramen noodles go, avoid eating them as much as possible and you will be two steps closer to improving your college diet.

Click here to hear my commentary on Hofstra University’s dining options!

The Little State with the Big Voice

New Hampshire: AKA the small state in the northeast corner of the United States that only receives recognition during presidential elections. I am a proud resident of the 603. I will say that the past four years I have lived in New York have somewhat dulled my pride but New Hampshire has been a buzz word this election cycle, and I am happy that the rest of the country can finally see our worth again.

NH only has 4 votes in the Electoral College. We are not Florida (29) or Pennsylvania (20), but nonetheless, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have spent time and money trying to sway New Hampshire voters in their favor. NH has voted democratically in five the past six presidential elections, but in those elections the democrats only won by about 4%. NH is surrounded by blue states, although the majority of voters in NH are registered as republicans.

Trump took the ticket in NH during the primary elections – NH is the first state to vote, but Bernie won over the democrats. It is possible that the Vermont Bernie supporters bled into the Granite State. It will be interesting to see how NH Bernie fans will vote – and if they’ll turn up to vote at all.

As a college student in New York my vote counts more in New Hampshire. A vote is a vote, and yes, it is important to partake in democracy, but a vote is a whole lot more meaningful when your desired candidate wins in a swing state. New York is blue state and NH (as of November 7, 2016 at 3:00 PM) is a yellow state, which Fox News has declared a “toss-up.” My prediction is that Hillary will win New Hampshire, and she will win by more than 4%.

It is important to vote, we’ve heard it time and time again. As a college student who lives in New York most of the year, I will take advantage of the NH address on my license until my parents kick me out. I know that New Hampshire may not be the biggest or most important swing state, but thank you for indulging my New Hampshire pride filled post.

Step 1. Find the Fitness Center

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It took me two weeks into my freshman year to realize that I needed to find the fitness center. Utilizing the campus gym is a great way to look good and feel good. Colleges and universities across the country use their facilities to set themselves apart, and look more attractive to perspective students. Find your school’s fitness center and get to work. Here are some healthy habits that all college students should try.

Change up your workout. Muscle memory can be a great thing, and a not so great thing. In order to see results while working out, one must “shock” their muscles. Your body will hit a plateau if you do the same workout overtime you go to the gym. Mixing up your gym sessions not only gives your body the change needed to build stamina, but it also makes working out a little more exciting. Work out a different area of your body each time you go to the gym; Mondays, try working out your abs, and Tuesdays strengthen your legs.

Stretch before and after you exercise. This is perhaps the most important step in any gym trip and should be done for about 5 minutes on either side of a workout. The older we get, the more important, otherwise, our muscles are too tight and are subject to injury.

Utilize a rest day. It’s not healthy to go to the gym seven days a week; you should aim to have a rigorous workout three to four days each week. Muscles need rest in order to get bigger and stronger. After a workout, the body works to replace and repair damaged muscle tissues. These replacement fibers increase thickness, which is what makes them bigger. The tearing of muscles is also why we feel that ache in the days following a good workout.

Choose to be around people who care, and are also interested in improving their health. Sometimes the hardest part about going to the gym is getting there. It’s easy to blowoff, but it’s easy to be motivated when you have a group of friends to workout with. Make it a part of your day. Try to find an hour in your day, and coordinate a time to take a trip to the gym, that way, you have an obligation to yourself and your friend.

Working out is a great way to stay in shape, blow off some steam and take a break from college life. If it’s too difficult to go to the gym and workout on your own, the Hofstra gym also offers a variety of group exercise classes five days per week!