Count Ingredients, Not Calories

Cound Ingredients, Not CaloriesHello fellow Warhawks. Something that I have grown pretty passionate about is eating clean. I started to get into it this past summer after watching a documentary on Netflix (Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead).  Of course in Netflix fashion, one documentary lead to two, which lead to three, so on and so on, and now here I am.

Eating clean isn’t about washing your food before each meal, but more so knowing EXACTLY what you are eating. For example, foods such as fresh fruits and veggies, homemade breads, and locally raised meats are the best choices you can make for yourself.  When it comes to ingredients of a single product – the less, the better. When you choose foods with long ingredient lists with names of things you don’t even know how to pronounce, you are choosing unhealthy fats, additives, refined carbohydrates, and other junk your body doesn’t need.  Eating clean allows the opportunity for you to control and know exactly what is going into your body!

The benefits to eating clean are amazing and universal for everyone. Here is a way to lose weight, feel ENERGIEZED (something every college student needs), and have better-looking skin, stronger immune system, better sleep, and increased mental awareness. Now eating clean may seem like more work than simply a frozen dinner, but with benefits like those I think the extra time is worth it!!

An easy way to get started is to pick a meal. Lets say that you decided on spaghetti. Head to the store, and buy ingredients to make the sauce (ie: tomatoes, spices, veggies, meat) then pick up some wheat noodles. A true clean eater would make the noodles from scratch, but beginners should take it one step at a time. Now you have a sauce that you can know exactly what goes into it verses the canned spaghetti sauce with an ingredient list of about 50 things. If you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t eat it. (Unless it is some foreign food, and that’s a different story!)

Taking this lifestyle of eating clean one very small step at a time will help you adjust and transition. You don’t have to make huge changes right off the bat; in fact, it is better to focus on building off of small changes. However, if you are a binge drinker who is worried about all of the ingredients that go into your spaghetti sauce, I think you should probably focus on diminishing that habit, first. Soon enough, you’ll be questioning how you ever settled for frozen dinners and overly processed foods!

There are a bunch of farmers that locally sell their produce, and you can also look for signs in the produce section on certain fruits and veggies that say “locally grown.” But remember, it is not necessarily about eating local…it is about being more conscious about what is in those ingredient lists and what you are putting into your body. Just think…you only have one body to live with for the rest of your life…treat it right!

Stay healthy, Stay Strong,
Mary Marren

The PERKS of Coffee

Coffee photoAre you one of those people that can’t go a day without their morning “cup of Joe?” Well I sure am! Coffee keeps me normal and allows me to function. Am I addicted? Possibly. There are the myths out there that “coffee will stunt your growth” or “it causes heart disease and cancer.” With these risks at hand, I thought maybe I should quit drinking it and find a new morning pick-me-up. Then I researched the health benefits of coffee and thought again. Here is what I found:

  • Coffee helps protect your brain. Coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  Studies show that even just the smell of coffee can stimulate the brain and reduce stress caused from lack of sleep.
  • Coffee helps your skin glow. It also helps your skin from developing skin cancer. Coffee gives you energy, which makes your body more rejuvenated causing you to look more fresh and ready for your day.
  • Coffee helps clean out your body. Those that drink coffee have a lower risk of prostate cancer because the caffeine in coffee is a stimulant that forces the toxins and stool out of your system. The antioxidants in coffee also help prevent liver disease.
  • Coffee helps keeps you slim. The caffeine in coffee is known to speed up your metabolism and allow the process of fat burning to quicken. This allows a person to lower their risk of type 2 diabetes and also obesity. If you stay away from all the creamer, sugar, sweeteners, and flavorings, then coffee is one of the lowest-calorie drinks around.

Now that you read all of the positive facts when it comes to consuming coffee, here are some not so pleasant things to remember.

  • Those people that drink four or more cups of coffee per day could start to become restless, irritable, and can cause great anxiety when it comes to daily life tasks. High consumption of unfiltered coffee is associated with elevations in individuals’ cholesterol levels.
  • Keep your coffee drinking to 1-4 cups per day and you may experience some positive benefits. Anything beyond that can cause you to become addicted and dependent, making those days without caffeine absolutely miserable! Remember, “1” cup of coffee means 8 oz. So filling up your thermos four times is definitely more than you should be consuming, so be mindful!

Keep in mind the motto “everything is good for you in moderation” and you will have no problems. So whether you drink coffee now, or you have thought about giving it a try, do it! The benefits are great and the TASTE is even better.

“Always remember that it doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you keep on going”
~Kenzi Weidman

Sources: EatingWell Coffee Benefits Coffee and Health Big Perks of Coffee

The ugly truth: Carbohydrates

Carbs PhotoBy: Abbey Bowen

I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard someone say they cut carbs out of their diet to get healthier, but I’ve also heard people talk about how good they are for you.  So, this got me thinking. Which one is it? Are carbohydrates good or bad?

According to WebMD.com, the answer is both! Similar to the tiny angel and devil we see on cartoons shoulders, carbs are separated by the “good” and the “bad.”

Here are some examples:

  • Good carbs include whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruit.
    • Carbs are usually considered good when they are coupled with high fiber content
  • Bad carbs are the product of refinement and processing, which take the majority of the good nutrients out of the grain. This includes foods like white rice and white bread

Another difference to note is between simple and complex carbohydrates:

  • Simple carbohydrates are single, also known as monosaccharides, and double-chained sugars, also known as disaccharides.
    • They are recognizable because they usually end with “-ose.” Fructose, glucose, sucrose and lactose are the primary examples.
    • These sugars are usually added to low-fat foods to give them flavor. (They are also usually void of nutrition)
  • Complex carbohydrates are many chains of simple sugars joined together, known as oligosaccharides and polysaccharides.
    • They include starch and fiber. Foods that contain complex carbs include grains, bread, pasta, beans, potatoes, corn and other vegetables.

To sum all this up, carbohydrates are BOTH good and bad. Good carbs contain complex sugars that can be found in fruits, veggies, grains and legumes. Bad carbs contain a simpler composition of sugars and are found in the words ending in “-ose” that we are usually told to stay away from.

I hope this clears up the whole “good vs. bad carbs” debate that I know has been eating away at your soul for years. I know I feel a WHOLE lot better about the WHOLE thing, and I am going to continue enjoying the good carbohydrates I know and love, like those WHOLE grains :)

~Remember, you have to learn to love yourself before you can truly love someone else~
Abbey :]

The Chakras of Yoga

Chakra Photo 1By: Abbey Bowen

Yoga has become a big part of my life recently. Throughout my college career, I have found myself getting more and more stressed. It got so bad that it started affecting my health! My acid reflux disease started flaring up and I developed acne.

After suffering with all of this over a year, I decided I needed to do something about it. This is when I fell in love with yoga.

I should mention I have done yoga several times throughout my life, but I only recently started practicing almost every single day. My recent trip to India also helped deepen my affection (If you didn’t read my last blog about the trip, you can find it here!

Due to my increased interest, I am trying to learn more and more about this beautiful practice. I’m especially intrigued by the idea of the seven chakras* (or energy centers).

According to yogajournal.com, the Indian people originally developed the chakra system so individuals could theoretically personalize their yoga practice.

The chakras are arranged vertically on the body, starting at the top of the head and ending at the bottom of the spine. Besides being located at a particular site on the body, each area is also designed to correspond with a name, color, element, human challenge and gift, soul desire and primal relationship, among other things.

Chakra Photo 2Let’s start with the “Third Eye” or “Ajana” chakra. It is located between the brows in the center of the forehead.

  • Association to body: Pituitary gland, eyes and brain
  • Color: Indigo and purple
  • Element: Light
  • Human challenge and gift: To move from dualistic mind to intuitive neutral mind
  • Soul Desire: To focus the mind, where one-pointed clarity and peace automatically occur
  • Primal relationship: With inner and cosmic knowledge

Chakra Photo 3Second is the “throat” or “Vissuda” chakra. It is located on the throat, at the base of the neck between the collar bone and the shoulders.

  • Association to body: throat, ears, thyroid and parathyroid
  • Color: Royal blue
  • Element: Ether
  • Human challenge and gift: To fearlessly express our truth and hear the sound of the universe
  • Soul Desire: To be heard and understood, to transmit and receive the truth
  • Primal relationship: With our vibrational connection with all existence

Chakra Photo 4Third is the “heart” or the “Anahatha” chakra. It is located in the heart.

  • Association to body: Heart, hands, arms and thymus gland
  • Colors: Green, pink and rose
  • Element: Air
  • Human challenge and gift: to open our hearts to the nonjudgmental, detached vibration of universal love
  • Soul Desire: To experience unity, devotion, reverence for life and unattached bonding
  • Primal relationship: With higher spiritual power, our own heart and the hearts of others, and the pulse that unites us with the universe

Chakra Photo 5Fourth is the “Solar Plexus” chakra. It is located between the navel and the heart.

  • Association to body: Stomach
  • Colors: Deep gold
  • Element: Fire and water
  • Human challenge and gift: To transmute the energy of the emotions into soulful passion for life i.e. fear into love, anger into action, sadness into surrender and bliss
  • Soul Desire: To experience the depth of emotions and transmute them into passion and devotion and to activate our soul.
  • Primal relationship: With our soul and emotional body

Chakra Photo 6Fifth is the “navel” or “Manipuraka” chakra. It is located two to three inches below the navel.

  • Association to body: The small intestine, kidneys, adrenals, pancreas, gallbladder and liver
  • Color: Yellow
  • Element: Fire
  • Human challenge and gift: To connect with our internal source power and energy
  • Soul Desire: To ignite, connect with and focus physical energy
  • Primal relationship: With internal source of power, identity, status

Chakra Photo 7Sixth is the “sex” or “Swadisthana” chakra. It is located at the sacrum-the pelvic area between the pubis and navel.

  • Association to body: Genitals, reproductive organs and bladder
  • Color: Orange
  • Element: Water
  • Human challenge and gift: To bond and connect with others without losing our identity
  • Soul Desire: To freely expand and effortlessly create
  • Primal relationship: With other human beings, emotions and emotional body, inner child, wild man or wild woman.

Chakra Photo 8Seventh is the “Root” or “Muladhara” chakra. It is located at the bottom of the spine.

  • Association to body: Large intestine, feet and legs
  • Color: Red
  • Element: Earth
  • Human challenge and gift: To feel safe and secure in the physical plane and to manifest to meet our basic needs
  • Soul Desire: To feel nurtured and nourished and to experience belonging to the whole
  • Primal relationship: With physical reality, the Earth, natural forces, body and feeling sensations

I hope this helps you understand the seven chakras of yoga a little better! If you have any further questions, feel free to e-mail me at BowenAK15@uww.edu.

~Remember, you have to learn to love yourself before you can truly love someone else~

Abbey :]