Attitude of Gratitude

Being Grateful and Feeling Content

Every year during the season of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, we all focus a little extra on feeling grateful.  Throughout the holidays we get into the spirit of giving, loving one another, and feel thankful for all of the blessings in our life.  This time of year, blessings may come in waves or a Chrsitmas miracle may find its way into your life. However, once the fun ends or the day has passed, we may not all feel the overwhelming presence of gratitude.  Maybe this time of year you’re not exactly where you want to be in life or perhaps things aren’t really going your way as this season can bring different hardships. 

 In this week’s blog, I’ll be discussing gratitude and contentment and what those two words realistically look like in our daily lives.

If a friend were to ask me to list specific things I’m grateful for, it would be an easy list to come up with.  I would say…

  • I’m grateful for shelter and the home I get to live in.
  • I’m grateful for the endless amounts of food I have at my disposal.
  • I’m grateful for the higher education I am currently receiving. 
  • I’m grateful for the multiple jobs I have to make a living. 
  • I’m grateful for having a healthy and able body.
  • I’m grateful for my freedoms and the protection my country provides. 
  • I’m grateful for friends and family. 

… Just to name a few as the list could go on and on.

Now if the same friend asked why I’m grateful for those things, that would be an easy question to answer as well.  I would say… 

  • I’m grateful for shelter and the home I get to live in because I know so many people are homeless and don’t have a warm or safe place to stay. 
  • I’m grateful for the endless amounts of food I have at my disposal because not everyone has access to any amount of clean and nutritious food or even food at all. 
  • I’m grateful for the higher education I am currently receiving because so many people don’t get the opportunity to learn or get an education. 
  • I’m grateful for the multiple jobs I have to make a living because I know so many others struggle to make ends meet or are unable to get a job to provide for themselves or their family.
  • I’m grateful for having a healthy and able body because so many others are sick or disabled. 
  • I’m grateful for my freedoms and the protection my country provides because I know others live in a hostile, dangerous, or war stricken country with no place to feel safe.  
  • I’m grateful for friends and family because I know many others have had a loved one pass away or are currently lacking a loving support system.

Now what if that same friend asked me how long my gratitude lasts or how often the feeling of gratefulness washes over me?

Well, there lies the problem.  All of those times of gratitude are short lived or based upon something or someone else’s condition.  I don’t think anyone has a problem of feeling grateful when you compare yourself or your life circumstances to people at war, or others who are homeless, or those who go with eating only one meal a day, or someone who’s suffering from a serious life threatening health condition.  It’s an easy assumption to make that we all feel appreciative or thankful for what we have, looking at those different situations

The challenge however, is feeling grateful for what we have when we compare ourselves to others who have more.  It’s funny how our gratitude and full hearts slowly begin to disappear when you step into someone’s brand new glamorous home, or when you walk through the mall and see all of the “must haves” in trending winter fashion.

If we were to add a “dot, dot, dot” after each thing we are grateful for, it might go a little like this:

  • I’m grateful for the higher education I am currently receiving because so many people don’t get the opportunity to learn or get an education…but I wish I was smarter and could get A’s in all my classes to pass with honors and guarantee a job after graduation.  
  • I’m grateful for the multiple jobs I have to make a living because I know so many others struggle to make ends meet or are unable to get a job to provide for themselves or their family…but I wish I was manager of my team so I could have a higher paying job and afford a wealthy lifestyle.  
  • I’m grateful for having a healthy and able body because so many others are sick or disabled…but I wish I looked like that super fit girl/guy I see in the gym all the time and had a better body.

This is where change needs to happen to live a truly and continuously grateful life.  I think we all need to work on finding contentment with gratitude rather than just little bursts of gratitude here and there. 

If we can work towards being grateful despite who or what we’re comparing ourselves to, then we can develop a more deep and real sense of gratitude that lasts instead of the short lived gratefulness that comes when we make a comparison to others with less  or the feeling we get when we reflect on our life/accomplishments each year. 

I think it’s also beneficial to point out that contentment doesn’t mean you don’t have goals or things you’re striving to change in your life.  It simply means not allowing your “wants” to take over and not letting your “dot, dot, dots” keep you from your sense of gratitude. 

As we all focus on gratitude this holiday season, it’s important to also focus on contentment too.  It’s not just about being grateful for what you have that others don’t. It’s more about being grateful for what you have in spite of what others have that you don’t. 

Gratitude and contentment challenge: Pay attention to what steals your gratitude in each moment and make an effort to feel grateful and content with you and you alone when it’s the most difficult. 

I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog and have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

As always, stay fit, stay healthy, stay beautiful Warhawks.

Talk soon,

Ashley Borowski

Fitness, Friends and Family

Warhawk Fitness and Aquatics is more than just rec sports, intramural sports, spirit programs, working out and club sports. It is about building a family and making memories in each department and program. When participating in Warhawk Fitness and Aquatics in any program, individuals can feel more a part of the program and feel more like a family with their program and individuals in it. Many individuals who just work for Warhawk Fitness and Aquatics have made so many friends, memories, and moments that they will remember with people who mean a lot to them.

            Kate Mislivecek, the Group Fitness Student Manager and Instructor for Yoga, Core, Below the Belt, Cycling, Triple Threat, PiYo, and Anything Goes says in a video interview for group fitness that “coming to group fitness classes or programs is a super fun way to work out and meet new people to build relations and make awesome memories.” Kate has worked for Warhawk Fitness for 9 semesters and has met a ton of individuals who have become lifelong friends of hers and people she has built great connections with. Along with Kate, there are many other students and facility who consider their sport, workout team or coworkers more than individuals or friends, but as family.

            Many programs at UW-Whitewater that are not even a part of Warhawk Fitness consider their close contacts to be more like family. In an article called “Friends Are Like Family”, the author states “Just as literal families, friends who are like family can bring not only happiness but also the family we choose. They are there for us when we need them and not only like us but love us.” It is important to surround yourself with friends who are more like family in any program, living arrangement, organization or work because of the love, support and comfort they bring in both good and bad times.

            I am lucky enough to be a part of many programs and organizations such as Warhawk Fitness that brings me close friends that are more like family. It is important to feel closeness to both friends and family because it can help individuals have a better and healthier well-being and mental state. My best piece of advice is to join jobs, organizations or programs to meet people who love and support you because they see you as family!

Start Strong, Finish Stronger

Emma O’Connor

You Are What You Eat!

Food! Everyone loves food.  It not only tastes good but it’s also good for our body as it is the driver of your day.  Food provides you with carbohydrates, nutrients, and many more things so your body can turn it into fuel to help you successfully get through the day.  However, your biggest pleasure in food may also be your greatest weakness.  

The term “you are what you eat” has been a classic saying for years on end.  It’s something parents would tell their kids to indirectly convince them to eat better and/or choose healthier food choices.  And like most parents, still to this day, they are right.

Food and nutrition is so important for keeping your body young, active and healthy.  In today’s world where every food choice seems to be processed, deep fried, covered in sugar, or battered with bread or cheese (especially living in Wisconsin), it’s hard to differ good from bad and right from wrong.  It’s especially difficult to flip or change your eating habits after so many years of doing the same thing or even trying to choose healthy food options while on a budget (because it’s so fun being a broke college student).  

Many people are caught up in these dieting programs or are just completely lost on where to start when looking to begin a healthier lifestyle.  Well, here’s how to make it super simple: eat less calories than you burn on a daily basis. That simple. Less in, more out. I know what you’re probably thinking… okay Ashley, but how do I do that successfully?  Here’s how:

  1. Work out at best for an average of an hour/day or at least a few times a week.  Make half the workout high intensity or low intensity cardio to somehow break a sweat to burn calories faster and the other half strength based.  Like Shawn-T always says, “time to sweat, people!”
  2. When grocery shopping for food for the week, plan out your meals in advance so 1) You don’t waste food.  2) You don’t waste money and buy more than you need. And 3) This way you are already making healthy decisions for food so you’re not aimlessly wandering in the store, tempted by all the good looking snacks. 
  3. KEY point: Fill your grocery cart AND your meal plate with at least half fruits and vegetables.  Raw, perishable food is always going to be the freshest and best for you. The more packaged or long lasting it is, generally the worse it is for you.  It is also extremely important to check nutrition facts/labels to see what percentages of nutrients are in the food and what type of ingredients they are using.  
  4. Always start with fresh fruit and vegetables at the beginning of every meal so you fill up on the most natural and nutritious foods for you.  If you don’t like raw vegetables, cook them in a certain way so you do. If you only like salads with fruit and/or veggies, then make a salad before every meal.  Make options that work in your favor!
  5. Eat smaller portions by starting with smaller bowls and plates.  This prevents you from overeating and tricks your brain into thinking you’re getting a lot of food since the plate is full but in reality, it’s just a smaller portion size.  If you feel like you need more, you really don’t. It’s all about mind power and training your brain to be satisfied with what you already have.

Throughout the week, I will be sharing some other helpful tips and information about food and nutrition so stay tuned for more.

Suggested links to read:

As always, stay fit, stay healthy, stay beautiful Warhakws!

Talk soon, 

Ashley Borowski

No Nicotine November

            Looking for some motivation and reasons to help you quit smoking or vaping? This blog contains a variety of reasons why individuals like yourself should put the cigarettes out and throw the JUUL in the junk! Many individuals use vaping products such JUUL, dab-pen, pods, E-cigarettes and more because they believe it is safer and healthier than actual cigarettes. However, those products contain both nicotine or THC with chemicals which can do the exact same amount of harm or far worse to your body and lungs. Every November is national Lung cancer awareness month and this November, I am encouraging and helping students and individuals who need that little push to get all the nicotine products out of their life for good. Below, you will find some interesting facts from John Hopkins Medicine article about the ugly truth regarding vaping and smoking.

  1. Vaping is still bad for your health- its primary agent is nicotine that is used in both regular cigarettes and e-cigarettes. It is very addictive and can cause a huge withdrawal.
  2. Vaping has unknown chemicals in it- E-cigarettes heat the nicotine and the flavoring to create the vapor you inhale. Regular tobacco cigarettes have around 7,000 chemicals, which many of are highly toxic, so who knows how many are in e-cigarettes.
  3.  Electronic Cigarettes Are Just as Addictive as Traditional Ones. Both the e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes contain nicotine, which researchers are gathering and suggest that it  may be as addictive as heroin and cocaine usage. Many e-cigarette users get even more nicotine than they would from a tobacco product because you can buy extra-strength cartridges that have a higher concentration of nicotine. In addition, users can increase the e-cigarette’s voltage to get a greater hit of the substance cause them to have a higher intake of nicotine.
  4. Smoking leads to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. If you are looking to quit cigarettes, don’t use any vaping products to stop the usage. It will only make things harder, more addictive and cause more health problems.
  5. A New Generation Is Getting Hooked on Nicotine at such a young age. Among youth, e-cigarettes are more popular than any traditional tobacco product. E-cigarette use among high school students had increased by 900%, and 40% of young e-cigarette users had never smoked regular tobacco. There are three possible reasons why e-cigarettes may be particularly enticing to young people. The first, many teens believe that vaping is less harmful than smoking. Second, e-cigarettes have a lower per-use cost than traditional cigarettes. And third, vape cartridges are often formulated with flavorings that appeal to younger users.

Everyone has some sort of addiction, this one just happens to be more serious. Vaping and smoking can cause serious health problems because the users don’t know exactly what they are putting into their body. It may look fun and cool to vape especially if you are around people who do it. This November, I encourage and challenge all of you to take a stance and reduce your smoking intake to help make an impactful decision of never lighting up or “takin a hit” again! Your lungs and health will thank you one day!

Emma O’Connor

Start Strong, Finish Stronger