Sex + Relationships

Long Distance Relationships: Love vs. Miles

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By: Molly Velaquez-Brown

Being away from your significant other for an extended period of time is one of the most difficult things you can put your heart through. When you find a person you want to be in a relationship with, they are generally your partner, best friend, and lover, which makes the distance in long distance relationships difficult handle.

Luckily, with facetiming, snapchatting, instagraming, and other ways to stay in touch, the miles can feel a little smaller. But nothing quite compares to being able to hug, kiss, and cuddle the one you love. As someone who is currently in a long distance relationship, I can personally attest to how hard it is. The miles between you and your partner can leave you feeling lonely, sad, and worrying if your relationship will last. But if your love is real, it will prevail one way or another. Here are some tips to help keep your relationship happy, healthy, and loving even if you and your partner are a plane ride away!


Set Specific Dates!

Make sure you both set aside time to watch a movie, have a meal, or do something together via skype, facetime, or phone call. Having dates, even if they cannot be in person, is important! There is no replacement for quality time with the person you love. Movie dates can be especially fun for long term long distance couples. Get on facetime, pick a movie you both like on Netflix, start it at the same time, and cuddle up in bed. You might be surprised how much closer it makes you feel to your partner even from miles away.

Say Good Morning and Good Night!

A simple “good morning” or “good night” text or call can mean the world. Reminding your partner that they are on your mind when you wake up and before you go to sleep is very impactful. Plus, who doesn’t love waking up in the morning to a sweet “good morning” text? Best way to start the day! This one is especially important for couples who are long distance with a time difference. When you’re on very different schedule,s being reminded that your partner thinks of you at the beginning and end of their day can make you feel more confident and secure in your relationship.

Random Acts of Love

An unexpected cute text, sending flowers, a sweet card, or even just an Instagram post can really brighten up your partner’s day and remind them how important they are to you. It really is the little things that matter most. Big gifts and gestures of affection are great, but they can’t happen every day and you shouldn’t have to wait for holidays or birthdays to show your partner how much you care!

Just Be in Each Other’s Presence

Even if you are busy writing papers, studying for a test, or making dinner,  just having your partner quietly around can be impactful. You can both do your own thing, but just having them on facetime or a phone call can make you feel closer. We take for granted the time we spend just hanging out, which is something that is generally lacking in long distance relationships. Honestly, while writing this article I’m facetiming with my boyfriend! We aren’t really talking, (he’s binge watching BuzzFeed videos) but just having him around and hearing his laugh while I work makes us feel closer.

Sex + Relationships

LGBT Blogger of the Week: 5 LGBT Friendly Netflix Movies: Watched, Rated and Critiqued!

 

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By: Megan Bloomfield

Though we are all in the midst of finals preparation, semester break is just on the horizon. It’s so close you can almost taste it. Whether you are looking for something to watch during your study breaks (because let’s face it, you can’t always have your head in a book!) or looking ahead on that much needed “down time” that you will have during winter break, these movies, as good or as bad as they may be, are some fun ways to past the time. They are even a great distraction from the annoying drunk conversations your family is bound to have during the holiday season about politics, world peace, and (of course), your sexuality. We all know it’s true, so you’re going to want a way to relax and unwind after hearing your mom drunkenly tell her girlfriends that “ohh, dontt even worryyr. Its inlyy a phase!!!” So here are some movies to make this weekend just a little bit more entertaining!

  1. Another Gay Movie

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 61%

My Rating: 40%

Summary: This movie is so stupid that it can almost pass for entertaining. Basically, it is the gay version of “American Pie.” It is about four boys who want to lose their “gay” virginity before they graduate, but are miserably failing. The movie is vulgar, disgusting, and borderline illegal. However, it is slightly romantic, and if you have a glass of wine with you, I have a fun game you can play! For every time they copy “American Pie,” you have to take a sip😉

  1. GBF (Gay Best Friend)

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 82%

My Rating: 64%

Summary: Alright. So, this movie isn’t that great, but it’s extremely entertaining. It is about this boy who ends up getting “outed” in high school by his best friend, and instead of it ruining his life like he thought it would, he ended up becoming the most popular kid, having everyone try to claim him as their token “Gay Best Friend.” There’s much more to it, as any high school related movie has, but you’re going to have to watch to find out!

  1. Jenny’s Wedding

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 14% (Ouch)

My Rating: 65%

Summary: Okay, Rotten Tomatoes, relax. The acting may not be that great, but they had good intentions! Plus, Katherine Heigl as a lesbian?! Are you kidding?! That’s an automatic +50 points in my book. She’s such a sensitive actress and you can see how much she feels in her work. Having said that, not her best movie. The story is that Jenny (Katherine Heigl) is getting married to a woman, but her family does not know that she is marrying a woman. It’s filled with emotion and passion, just very blasé in my opinion. But, nonetheless, I am biased because of Katherine Heigl.

  1. Elena Undone

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 65%

My Rating: 70%

Summary: What can I say? I’m a sucker for a straight-girl gay-girl love story. Having said that, this one wasn’t good enough to break the top 2. It is a story of a straight married woman who finds her soulmate… but it isn’t her husband! (If you can’t tell yet, I’m trying my best not to spoil any of these movies for you. I know. I’m pretty great.)

  1. All About E

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 29%

My rating: 72%

Summary: I don’t know what it is, but something about this movie just really plays with my heart strings. It’s such an abstract story, about a girl who ruined her one true love in her life because she doesn’t know what she’s doing with her life, and in an attempt to make something of herself, she ends up in trouble and has to fix it.

  1. Blue is the Warmest Color

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 85%

My Rating: 89%

Summary: I have one thing to say about this movie: Wow. This movie is absolutely beautiful. And though critics may disagree, my favorite part is the ending (Go find out why!). It is just so different from every other movie, and the emotion in it is so powerful. It is the story of a young high school girl who falls in love with someone a little bit outside of what she’s used to, but their journey is absolutely unbelievable.

I hope you find the time to watch at least one of these, and let me know what you think of my ratings! Good luck with the next few weeks, and don’t forget your glass (bottle) of wine! It makes any movie better!

DIY + Tips and Tricks

‘Tis the Season: Keep Your Waistline Trim with Some Tasty “Holiday-Flavored” Recipes!

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Blogger Abby Snelling (pictured) testing out the Coffee Pumpkin Paleo Bread!  It’s a winner!

Happy Holidays, everyone! Now until January of 2017 (and probably past then), it is officially the holiday season, and we couldn’t be more excited! Tis the season of family get togethers and holiday parties with friends and coworkers, which also means t’s also the season of indulging in really good homemade recipes and baked goods. The thing about the holidays is that it is a time of gift giving, a time of celebrating, and certainly a time of temptations. It’s the best time of the year, and it’s easy to give into the cookies, candies, and high calorie foods that our parents love to shower us with when we are home for the Holidays.

Whether you are watching your weight or simply trying not to consume too many sweets (if there is such a thing!), it’s easy to indulge in the yummy flavors of the holiday seasons, like pumpkin spiced treats and sweet and savory snacks.Temptations are extremely hard to ignore, and giving in is not always a bad thing if the portion sizes are under control. It is the holidays after all, and you should be able to celebrate with some sweet snacks, but sometimes it’s hard to quit!

I have a list of recipe’s that are healthy and yummy alternatives to some of the fattening sugary temptations that plague our waistlines. This holiday season, opt for these yummy recipes to place on your table during big family dinners! Start off this holiday season with some of our favorite new recipes full of “holiday” flavors that will keep your waistline thin and your spirits high!


Autumn Salad

Ingredients:

– 3 Cups Roasted Brussels Sprouts (Ingredients and Instructions on Roasting Below)

  1. 3 cups Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, yellow leaves removed
  2. 3 tablespoons olive oil.
  3. Prep and baking: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and grease a foil lined baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Make sure all of the Brussels sprouts have their ends trimmed and yellow leaves removed, then being slicing them in half. Combine all of the halves into a bowl with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss the Brussel sprouts with the olive oil. Place onto the baking sheet and bake for around 20-25 minutes. During the last 5-10 minutes, flip them for even browning.

-Roasted Butternut Squash (Ingredients and Instructions Below)

  • 1 ½ lbs. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed into 1-inch cubes (so       around 4 cups of uncooked cubes)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Prep and baking: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and grease a foil-lined baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Peel, seed and chop the butternut squash into cubes and then combined in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, maple syrup, and cinnamon, and toss to mix. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Fun fact, you can roast the Brussel sprouts and butternut squash together. How cool?!?!

– ½ cup pumpkin seeds

– 1 cup dried cranberries

– 2 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)

Instructions:

Let’s put it all together now!

  • In a large bowl, combine the squash, Brussel sprouts, pumpkin seeds, and cranberries and mix! If you want this recipe to be more on the sweet side, you can add more maple syrup when combining ingredients. This recipe serves 6.

Crispy Roasted Green Beans

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. green beans, trimmed
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon chili flakes
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and put a baking sheet in the oven for 10 minutes. In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients listed above and mix well! Next, put all of the green beans on the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until crispy, so around 8 minutes.

Paleo Pumpkin Coffee Cake (Gluten Free)

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Crumb topping:

  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line a 9×9 pan with parchment paper.
  • First, start by making the crumb topping:
  • Combine all of the ingredients listed under the crumb topping heading and mix well. It should look kind of like wet sand.
  • Next focus on the cake part. Combine the coconut oil, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and pumpkin from the ingredients listed under the ingredient heading. Add the eggs next, stir, and then add in the almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, pumpkin spics, cinnamon, and salt.
  • Now pour into the 9×9 pan and cover with crumb topping and bake for 45-50 minutes.

Cranberry Blueberry Crisp

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups frozen blueberries
  • 1 ½ cups fresh cranberries
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ¾ cups light brown sugar
  • 7 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • ½ cup gluten free flour blend or almond flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Rinse and drain the blueberries and cranberries and place them in a square baking dish. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of sugar.
  • Next, in a large bowl, combine the oats, gluten free flour, cinnamon, and brown sugar and mix. Now add the melted coconut oil and mix together with a pastry cutter so that it resembles a crumb topping. Spread the crumbly topping over the berries and bake for 35 minutes or until the crumb topping is lightly brown and the berries are bubbly.

 

By: Abby Snelling

DIY + Tips and Tricks

Tips and Tricks!:Easy Ways to Torch Some Extra Calories When You Can’t Hit the Gym!

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The end of a semester typically coincides with stress, and lots of it. Our days are slammed with preparing for finals, writing long papers, and often consuming too much coffee with too little sleep. It’s hard to find time to workout during the end of the semester, and it’s easy to put on some pounds as the holiday season comes upon us when we aren’t properly exercising our bodies. 

This temporary loss of a daily workout leaves you feeling mentally drained physically lethargic. Exercising, even for only 30 minutes, can boast your mood and give you a ton of energy, so when we fail to slip on some sneakers and get going, our body can take a toll. Never fear! We have come up with some of our favorite tips and tricks to help you not only feel invigorated and energized this test taking season, but will also help you burn off some of those extra calories you might be consuming!

Push off all negative thoughts and take a look at these tips to ensure you’re at the top of your game in every aspect of your life!

Drink Green Tea

You most likely already have a steady stream of caffeine from your daily coffee(s) but to mix things up, consider swapping it for green tea instead.  Three cups of black coffee or green tea can increase your metabolic burn by 4%! Steer clear of sugary energy drinks like Redbull or Monster, and even sugary Starbucks concoctions, which might give you a little bit of a buzz, but will have you crashing within a couple of hours!

Hydrate!Hydrate!Hydrate!

It super important to stay hydrated, but *rather than lug around a big water bottle all day, opt for a smaller one.* This way, you’re more likely to get up and move around  morewhen you find yourself filling it up more often.

Keep It Cool

Crack your window open and let some of that crisp (note: freezing!) Syracuse air in your room to boost your caloric burn.  Studies show that when your body has to work harder to keep you warm, you burn up to 40% more calories. Sleeping in colder temperatures also actually helps you sleep longer and deeper, which is so important to keeping you brain up to speed!

Make it Spicy

Spice up your life and add some sriracha to your next meal. Not only will you feel fuller in a shorter amount of time, but it also helps give a slight jump start to your metabolism.  Capsaicin, ginger, and black pepper will also do the trick by raising your body temperature.  Any of these will complement any type of food you might happen to be craving, so dig in-that is, if you can handle the heat.

Get some Gum

Whatever flavor gets you going, pop some gum in your mouth between classes. Research shows gum chewers burn anywhere from 5-8% more calories than those who don’t chew gum, so pop in a piece to hold you over until your next meal.

Take the Long Way Home

Your live in Watson and your first class is in Maxwell.  Rather than take the most direct route, take an extra 3-5 minutes by walking past Life Sciences and heading through the quad.  Simply adding a few extra tenths of a mile to get from place to place will eventually add up so you can at least meet that recommended 10,000 steps a day quota. Take in the mild weather while you can before the brutal winter hits us here at Cuse!

With these minor adjustments, you’ll be able to not only crush finals season but also crush some calories, too so that this holiday season, you still look fabulous while getting those A’s. 

By: Helena Starrs

"Tone It Up" Tuesday

“HIIT It!”: Everything You Need to Known About High Intensity Interval Training

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Let’s face it—no matter how many new workout songs we’ve downloaded—cardio is boring.  Do you ever find yourself staring at the clock? Counting down the seconds until you can get off the treadmill or elliptical and just go do something else? Yeah, same. It’s clear there has got to be a more efficient way to get your daily, weekly, or even monthly cardio in and still do something that you enjoy, and the good news is, there is!

What is It?

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a form of cardio that alternates between spurts of high intensity exercise and periods of rest.  Because of the intensity, you can cut your cardio time in half while still killing your workouts.   Instead of 30 minutes spent jogging, you can spend 15 minutes doing HIIT.

The key to a successful session is intensity. In order to get the most out of HIIT, your “work” periods must be done to the best of your ability (think maximum heart rate).  Pushing your body to its limits is what makes the intensity periods “intense”. Your “rest” periods can be lightly active, such as a slow walk, or passive, such as stopping altogether.

Intervals

Thirty-second intervals are most common.  For example, sprint as fast as you can for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds.  If it’s your first time experimenting with HIIT, try to aim for 10 minutes total, then work your way up.

Why is this Better?

Steady-state cardio may burn a fair amount of calories, but when you’re done, you’re done.  You step off the treadmill and that’s it.  Contrastingly, HIIT signals your body’s repair cycle to go into “hyper drive.” This means you burn more calories up to 24 hours after your workout.

Another benefit? there’s no equipment necessary! All you have to do is get your heart rate up and focus on intervals. This could be done through burpees, jumping jacks, plyometrics, etc. Get creative! There are endless possibilities. Find what works for you and own it.  Once you try HIIT, you’ll never look at your boring workouts the same way!

Some of Our Favorite HIIT Workouts!

7 Minute HIIT Workout!

  • Jumping Jacks
  • Wall Shit
  • Push-Ups
  • Crunches
  • Chair Step-Ups
  • Squats
  • Tricep Dips
  • Plank
  • High Knees/Running in Place
  • Lunges
  • Push-Up Rotations
  • Side Plank

Do each exercise at a high intensity  for 30 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest if needed. Repeat circuit 3x!

Fat Shredder HIIT!

  • Jumping Jacks
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Skipping Rope
  • Burpees
  • Fast Squats
  • Butt Kicks
  • Squat Jumps

Do each exercise for 45 seconds with 15 seconds of rest in between. Repeat circuit 4x!

20-Minute Beginner HIIT Workout

  • Pushups
  • Squats
  • Butt Kicks
  • Tricep Dips
  • Side Lunges

Do each exercise for 45 seconds with 15 seconds of rest in between. Complete 3 circuits with 1 min rest in between each circuit!

If you don’t like any of these, there are still hundreds of combinations. Simply turn to Google or Youtube to find videos and more HIIT workouts that will have you jumping at the chance to get a good workout in!

By: Alanna Sadler

"Mental Health" Monday

Mental Health Days: They’re the Real Deal!

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Sometimes, life can be overwhelming. Pile on the exams and  the extra long papers while trying to get enough sleep and maintain a social life, like can get super stressful, super fast. And sometimes, we need a break, even if it’s for a day. Enter mental health days.

Ah…Mental health days!  An increasingly  popular “excuse” to take a day off and get some “R and R”, this phenomenon has actually been starting to show major benefits.  Why should taking a day to rest your mind make you feel guilty? Why can’t it be the same as taking a sick day? Our brain is just as important as our body, so we should be taking care of it the same way, right?

While taking sick days to recover from a stomach bug or a bad migraine is rather common and acceptable, you should also consider taking a mental health day to balance your emotional state when necessary. If we don’t take these days when they’re most needed, the stress and emotional imbalance will build up to such a point that we could end up breaking down at the worst possible moment (also known as that moment when you hit a “mental breakdown”).

The amazing thing about embracing a day like this is that once you are able to recharge, you can come back to your work and your studies and be more productive than you would’ve been without the break.

 

Know the Difference

We all know people (or maybe it’s even been you) who skip class because they’d rather watch Parks and Rec or Bob’s Burgers on Netflix. This is not the same as needing a mental health day, and it’s important to make the difference between those kinds of days and the actual need to take a mental health day.

Clear signs are feeling exceptionally stressed and physically exhausted to the point where you feel like you are about to “snap”. This can occur due to an unexpected life event that you need to process, or just because of the sheer overwhelming feelings that often come with being an adolescent college student.

It is important to not abuse these days, but also to be aware that if you feel the need to take several of these during the semester, that there may be a more serious underlying problem that you’ll want to give proper attention.

 

Get the most out of a Mental Health Day

Although it’s tempting to sleep all day or spend your afternoon in bed watching Netflix, it’s important to get out of your dorm, apartment, or house and do something physically or mentally stimulating. Find what will recharge you and bring back that positive energy. It could be seeing a friend, listening to music, catching up on some reading, or even meditating—basically anything that allows your body and mind to rest and reenergize.

 

It’s Okay to Skip that Class!

We know it’s common for students to get sick and send an email to a professor that reads “I haven’t been feeling well recently so I won’t be in class this afternoon,” is perfectly acceptable.  If they trust that you are truly sick, they may assume you have the flu—even if it’s really your stress that’s making you feel so unwell. It makes no difference how you word it—either way, you are not at your 100 percent and it’s up to your own discretion how much you would like to share. Most teachers are actually really understanding when it comes down to it. 

The most important thing about taking a mental health day, if you choose to do so, is to not make yourself feel guilty. There is no need to apologize to anyone because this is your personal, mindful decision and you should embrace it. Sometimes we all need a break, so make sure you pay attention to your body, and know when it needs one!

By: Laurie Thompson

"Love Your Body, Love Yourself"

It’s True!: Happiness IS Contagious!

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The word “contagious” has a terribly tainted rap. Understandably so, considering many associate it with the flu and Zika. However,….n outbreak of happiness is far less likely to make us prisoners of our own bodies.

Scientific research suggests that somebody’s happiness is so contagious and will make you crave it (Jazze made it). Happiness can refer to a way of thinking, such as being optimistic, a feeling joy, pleasure, relief, or gratitude, or simply a way of being.

Professor Nicholas Christakis teaches medical sociology and medicine at Harvard Medical School. He researched the contagion of emotions within social networks (no, not on Facebook, groups of people). His studies suggest that “…having a happy friend who lives within a mile of you…appears to increase the probability that you will be happy as well”.

His findings support the common claim that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. So, think of your social circle on campus, and ask yourself:

  • Do I have fun with these people?
  • Does being with them make me feel optimistic about life?
  • Do they laugh with me instead of at me?
  • Do I feel light and free or bogged down after being with them?

Rather than wondering how we can become happier, “we should be asking how we can increase happiness all around us. When you make positive changes in your own life, those effects ripple out from you and you can find yourself surrounded by the very thing you fostered”.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Optimist and WTH Blogger,

Mary Mik

"Love Your Body, Love Yourself"

LGBT: Everything You Need to Succeed in the Gay Dating Game!

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Congratulations! You have successfully accepted that you like the same sex! Bravo! You are comfortable with your sexuality, you are happy with who you are, and now you’re ready to start dating… Oh. Crap. I don’t know how to do that! Who am I looking for? Why can’t I find anyone? How do I ask someone out? Do they ask me out? HELP ME!!!!

Okay. First of all, take a breath. This is not something scary! There is no reason to fear finally embracing who you are, and I can guarantee that you will meet people just like you. Having said that, finding other LGBT people isn’t that easy, because unfortunately, there aren’t many people walking around with a name tag saying “Hi, my name is ____, and my sexual orientation is ____. I couldn’t agree more that assuming everyone is straight is an annoying stereotype, however that’s the reality of our world. BUT there’s someone out there for you, so let’s go find them!

Figure Out What You Like

First, establish your “type.” Do you like a certain eye color? Hair color? Body type? Age? Religion? What kind of personality? Set a standard for yourself before you search. Don’t settle for someone you aren’t attracted to just because they are gay like you! Dating isn’t fun if you are with a great person you aren’t attracted to, or with the most beautiful human ever with the personality of a lampshade. This goes for everybody looking to date out there, both gay and straight, because how are you going to be with someone you don’t actually enjoy being around?

Invest in the Dating Apps

It is the 21st century. If you do not have a dating app on your phone, you are doing something wrong! They are the BEST way to meet the LGBT community around you, because you can set specific preferences for who you are looking for on them. For ladies, we have HER. For men, they have Grindr. But what about Tinder and Bumble? You can actually set your sexual orientation to only have men and/or women pop up, depending on what you want! I understand if you still get weirded out by “online dating,” but would it really hurt to try? In this day in age, almost all college students—and all people for that matter— use electronics for communication; why not use it to find the love of your life?!

Don’t Feel You Have to Fit a Stereotype!

There is no specific “role” you have to play in your community. You do not have to be “pitcher or catcher” or “bitch or butch.” If you like someone, ask them out. If someone likes you and maybe you failed to see it or just got nervous, they will ask you out. The worst they/you could say is “no.” And that’s perfectly okay! Rejection is an important and necessary process of dating in general, because it is a way for you to find yourself and the love of your life. Yeah, sure, it hurts, but it is just giving you the opportunity to find somebody who DOES want to date you later on in life.  If you are someone who is more comfortable being a follower instead of a leader, just make it a fair game. If you like someone, flirt with them. You don’t have to jump the gun and ask them to marry you, but at least give them a chance to see you’re interested. That way, you won’t be disappointed and they won’t be having constant migraines trying to figure your brain out.

Embrace It!

Wow! You’re on your first “Gay Date!” No, this is where I am going to let you go. Only YOU can decide who is right for you. My job was to simply guide you to the “Rainbow Brick Road.” However, remember this: you have your standard set, you have your confidence up, and you know what you are looking for, so accomplish your goal! Ask the right questions, be charming, and just know that if you get rejected, there is someone else. There could always be someone else. And at the end of the day, dating is dating. It is terrifying for every sex, but it is also possible for every sex to find their true love. I wish you the best of luck. Fly free, my little Unicorn!

By: Megan Bloomfield

DIY + Tips and Tricks

Tea Time: Our Favorite Homemade Brews

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Syracuse is getting colder, and that means one thing to me: tea season is here! Whether you enjoy your cup on the way to class, before bed, or somewhere in between, tea is always a positive addition to the day. There’s something so cozy about waking up with a fresh cup, or winding down and relaxing with a sweet sip.  There’s also a science behind this, too – studies show tea improves mood, attention and alertness.

Instead of picking up a pre-made box of tea from the shelf of any grocery store, why not try homemade? Making your own tea is super easy, inexpensive, and completely customizable. And for those looking ahead this holiday season, a homemade tea mix even makes a great holiday gift You get exactly what you want in each unique brewed cup. Here’s what you need:

  • A tea infuser or empty tea bags
  • A teapot and teacup
  • Boiling water
  • And most importantly, your ingredients of choice!

What I love about making your own tea is that it’s truly an art – you can customize it and make endless combinations. Picking the right ingredients is important, but essentially foolproof. Here are some general guidelines per 8oz cup of tea:

  • If you want a sweeter cup, add more sweet flavors  (about 1 tbsp) and less spicy or earthy flavors (keep it to 1 tsp or each, one, or none at all). Also, consider adding a sweet “finishing touch” (I refer to below.)
  • If you want a spicier cup, add more spice (about 2-3 tsp) and a touch of earthy (about 1 tsp).
  • If you want a earthier cup, add more earthy (about 1 tbsp) and optional sweetness or spice (less than 1 tsp).

In general, the more ingredients you add, the stronger your flavor of tea will be. These are of course just guidelines in case you have no clue where to begin – you can use whatever combinations you want. Here is a master-list of ingredients to add to your home-brew that won’t disappoint:

Sweet and Fresh Flavors

  • Dried berries (it is recommended to chop these into small pieces so more flavor is absorbed by the boiling water)
  • Honey
  • Natural Sugars (found in the organic isles of grocery stores)

Spicy and Warm Flavors

  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon
  • Coriander
  • Cardamom
  • Ginger (can be chopped fresh and added to the infuser, but dried works as well)

 

Earthy and Cool Flavors

Each of these ingredients can be grown fresh, chopped, and added to your infuser of choice. You can also buy dried versions in bulk at your local grocery store. Either option will ensure you a satisfying cup of tea.

  • Mint
  • Basil
  • Chamomile
  • Lemongrass
  • Thyme
  • Anise
  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Sage

Some delicious finishing touches to add after the tea has steeped:

  • Honey drizzle
  • Fresh juiced citrus or citrus zest (lemon, orange, lime, grapefruit)

Depending on what flavor tea you’re craving, you can mix and match ingredients from each of these groupings or follow the guidelines I provided. Once you’ve created your desired mix of ingredients, add them into your infuser and let brew in boiling water for 3-5 minutes. The longer you brew, the stronger the flavor your tea will be. It might take some time to figure out what flavors work best for you, but that’s the fun in customizing it and making your own. Good luck and happy brewing!

By: Allie Urso

DIY + Tips and Tricks

Mug Cakes: Happiness in a Cup!

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Are you craving cake but too lazy to actually make a full sized cake? Or maybe you don’t have a full kitchen at your disposal like me! Here are some easy mug cake recipes that will satisfy your sweet tooth from the comfort of your microwave.

3 Ingredient Chocolate Cake  

This cake is actually made of only three ingredients! It’s super delicious, simple to make, and so much healthier than boxed cake mix. Crazy, right?

 

screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-12-26-52-pmIngredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 2-3 Tbsp. of natural unsweetened cocoa powder

I make this recipe a lot because I don’t eat dairy, and natural cocoa powder doesn’t contain diary. This chocolate mug cake satisfies my chocolate cravings and will satisfy yours too! Just mash the banana really well (emphasis on really well!) in your mug, mix in the egg and cocoa, and cook in the microwave for about 1:30-2:30 minutes (until it’s cooked). Voila, you have a chocolate mug cake! I put almond butter on mine and sometimes strawberries or raspberries. There are so many toppings to choose from to make yours unique and delicious!


Cinnamon Roll Mug Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • ½ Tsp. baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut flour
  • ½ Tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup milk or almond milk
  • ¼ Tsp. vanilla extract

This recipe includes more ingredients but is still easy and produces the perfect portion size for one! Mix the dry ingredients together first, and then add in the wet ingredients; if the mixture is crumbly, keep adding milk/almond milk until the batter is thick. Microwave for 1-2 minutes and before you know it, you have yourself a cinnamon roll mug cake! You can add maple syrup, honey or another sweetener of your choice on top with some added cinnamon for some extra sweetness and flavor, and it’s certainly more healthy than a cinnamon bun from the store!


Peanut Butter Mug Cake

The next recipe is for all of my peanut butter lovers out there!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. of peanut butter (3 Tbsp. if you really love peanut butter)
  • I egg
  • 1 Tbsp. of maple syrup or honey
  • 1 very ripe banana

This is another easy recipe that consists of very few ingredients that you could probably find around your dorm room or kitchen. Again, mash the banana super well, combine the egg, peanut butter, and maple syrup or honey in your mug, and then put it in the microwave for around 2 minutes. Perhaps sprinkle some chocolate chips on top to sweeten it up a bit!

 


Honey Almond Oatmeal Mug Cake

This is a recipe I haven’t gotten to try but definitely want to over Thanksgiving break!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. almond flour
  • 2 Tbsp. quick oats
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp. unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 Tbsp. almond butter

Again, more ingredients but still a really easy recipe that takes only five minutes or less to whip up! Mix all of the dry ingredients and then mix in the wet ingredients. Microwave for 2-3 minutes (make sure it is cooked all the way through!). Drizzle with some honey and get ready to snuggle up with your cake in a mug during a chilly Syracuse day! Enjoy!

***Caution: Mug’s retain heat REALLY well! For any mug cake recipe, wait a couple minutes before devouring your cake unless you want your mouth to get burned.***  

By: Abby Snelling

"Tone It Up" Tuesday

Moves to Get Your Best Butt for Legging Season!

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The average high for November in Syracuse is a brisk 49 degrees, which means it’s definitely time to break out the oversized sweatshirts and leggings if you haven’t already.  To make sure you still look prime when you’re sporting a more casual look, check out these leg exercises to tone up your toasty warm legs.

# 1 – Squats

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You can never go wrong with classic squats! They strengthen your quads, hamstrings, and calves in addition to giving your butt that extra lift. These can be performed virtually anywhere, with or without weights.  Proper form is key though! Be cognisant that your back is straight and your knees remain centered over your feet the entire time. Do three sets of 15-20 reps three to five times a week for best results!

# 2 – Lunges

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Lunges are another great exercise to work your quads, hamstrings, and backside.  Use dumbbells for an extra calorie-burning boost or challenge your endurance by performing them as jumping lunges.  Complete three sets of 12 reps each day before you put on your leggings so your butt looks extra perky the rest of the day!

# 3 – Farmer’s Walk

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Tone up your calves by grabbing a set of dumbbells and walking around on your toes for a minute at a time.  If you still aren’t feeling the burn, increase the weight of the dumbbells.  Repeat these calf raises 5 times each time you work out.

# 4 – Inner Thigh Leg Lifts

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The inner thigh is a tough area to tackle, but this exercise is vital to toning this potential area of concern.  Start by lying on your side, with your bottom leg straightened and top leg crossed over the bottom. You can prop your head up on your hand or lie on top of your arm.  Next, exhale, slowly lifting the bottom leg up, inhaling as your lower it back to the ground.  Do this ten times and then switch sides. Do three sets for maximum results!

Armed with these four exercises, you legs will look (and feel!) firmer in no time. Grab a pair of weights, a pair of leggings and get right down to incorporating these into your workout routine!  You’ll be looking fab in no time!

By: Helena Starrs

"Tone It Up" Tuesday

You are More Than Your Weight: Why Your Health Is Not Determined By the Number on the Scale

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Raise your hand if you’ve ever been personally victimized by the number on the scale.

Probably most of us. That’s the crazy thing. We let ourselves feel good or bad based off of what number comes up on that scale. And while it’s important to make sure you are healthy, and to keep your body in shape, the number on the scale isn’t necessarily a good reflection of you health. And here’s why the number on the scale is truly just that—a number.

It’s Sunday morning. We’ve had a great week; our nutrition has been on point, we’ve managed to squeeze in some intense workouts, and we’re ready to see the scale illustrate our hard work.You feel great. You feel a little slimmer. You are thinking, “Man, I probably lost like three pounds. I just know it.” Until….

Wait, what? Up a pound? Are you kidding me!?

I get it. It’s frustrating. It’s easy to just want to cry, and give up on all the hard work you’ve been putting in, because clearly the results aren’t there. But, the number on the scale doesn’t mean nearly as much as you think. There are endless factors that affect your weight that are out of your control and it’s time to recognize that!

Muscle vs. Fat

I’m sure you’ve heard this before: “Muscle weighs more than fat!” That’s false.  A pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat… hint: they both weigh a  pound BUT, a the key thing to remember is that a pound of muscle looks very different than a pound of fat. Muscle takes up much less space than fat, so don’t worry if the scale doesn’t budge (or even moves upward).  It might just mean you’re gaining muscle!

Fluctuations

You know how you weigh much less in the morning than at night? That’s because as human beings, our weight fluctuates.  So many factors alter our weight throughout the day: water retention, the types of clothes we’re wearing, menstrual cycles, etc. Our weight can change on an hourly basis—don’t get too caught up on it.  Instead, try weighing yourself once every few weeks.

It Doesn’t Tell Us What We Really Want to Know

So this part is kind of important. The scale doesn’t actually tell us what we want to know. For example, let’s say you’re trying to lose weight. I think it’s safe to assume you want most of your weight loss to come from excess body fat, rather than muscle. The scale cannot tell us body fat percentage and that’s the information that really counts in terms of weight loss!

Bottom line, don’t be so hard on yourself. Praise yourself when you notice positive changes when you look in the mirror, even if the scale doesn’t reflect it. Work hard, and don’t give up just because the scale shows a number you don’t like. It is just a number, and that number doesnt’ encompass your self worth. You are so much more than whatever comes up, so believe that, and don’t let it control your life. Need some more convincing? Check out an article about this girl’s Instagram and why the number on the scale matters way less than you think!

By: Alanna Sadler

"Mental Health" Monday

Let’s Talk About It: The Unfortunate Portrayal of Mental Illness During the Halloween Season!

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Though Halloween is long gone by now, the holiday season is still upon us, which means that fun activities like hayrides, pumpkin picking, and haunted houses are still activities we all love to enjoy as the weather gets chillier.

Halloween is an exciting day—weekend, if you’re a college student—to dress-up in colorful and elaborate costumes and drink the night away. Some people dress-up as bunnies and cats, others as Waldo, Popeye, or the Scooby Doo gang. Unfortunately, sometimes when we dress-up as certain characters, we may run into the issue of offending people. Halloween costumes can straddle that fine line between playful and creative, to downright cruel, but a lot of times people do not outwardly realize this.

This is especially true when considering costumes that may intentionally or unintentionally mock mental health disorders or conditions. Fortunately, I didn’t see any outstanding examples of these in Syracuse this Halloween. But what immediately comes to my mind is asylum-themed amusement parks or attractions based around psychiatric wards that display actors in straight jackets, nurses covered in blood, or patients with tousled hair and a butcher’s knife.

This Halloween, an attraction at an amusement park in California at Knott’s Berry Farm’s—“FearVR: 5150”—received national attention. It was criticized for their insensitive portrayal of mental illness, encouraging them, as well as other fright-night like fairs, to eventually close the attraction.

 

Let’s Talk About It!

This controversial attraction first came to light when a man, whose mentally ill son was beaten to death by police officers several years ago, came to the park and heard that visitors were being strapped to wheelchairs in a psychiatric institute in the midst of being chased by a so-called terrifying patient named Katie. I cannot imagine the trauma this would cause a father who has lost his son to a mental disease, let alone the trauma it would cause any individual.

With the fear this kind of attraction induces, it’s no wonder that mental illness is so stigmatized. Based off of experiences like these and the way that television and movies often depict the mentally ill, people may go on to think that mentally disordered individuals are fearful and harmful, which are not fair descriptions to be applied so freely. When mental health is stigmatized in these manners, it makes it even more difficult for sufferers to reach out for the help that they need.

Besides these themed attractions, there are costumes sold in stores for all ages such as straight jackets, t-shirts that read “PSYCH WARD: OUT PATIENT,” the Joker from Batman who is described as a “schizophrenic clown,” or most shocking to me, ‘suicide scar’ makeup kits.  Although some have been pulled from the shelves, others will still pop up next Halloween and be chosen by people who may not consider the impact of their decisions.

It is entirely possible that some of those that struggle with mental health disorders would not be offended by these costumes or Halloween depictions, but it is definitely true that there are people who do find them very unsettling. To be safe, next year I suggest sticking with dressing-up as Wednesday Addams, a Dr. Seuss character, or even Chewbacca. Protest attractions that stereotype mental illness and portray those with mental illness in a negative light.  That way, mental health stays out of the Halloween culture and we can all continue to dance and party in our silly costumes!

       By: Laurie Thompson

"Love Your Body, Love Yourself"

Dear Diary: Why Writing In a Journal Shouldn’t Just Be A Thing You Do In Class

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Dear You: Why You Should Be Writing Letters to Yourself!

You write for class, and you write to your friends (mainly through iMessage and Snapchat messenger), but when was the last time you wrote to and for yourself? When was the last time you opened your mind and put your thoughts and emotions into words? And no, writing a Facebook status that starts,“I usually don’t talk about politics on social media, but…” doesn’t count. Writing your thoughts down is one of the most intimate and intense ways you can connect with yourself. 

When was the last time you physically wrote?

Anybody can choose Helvetica, Times New Roman, or even Comic Sans (please limit your usage of Comic Sans) to “write,” but nobody can write a letter exactly how you do. To see your thoughts in your writing will encourage you more to push onward towards goals you set and resonate with emotions you feel. Writing on paper turns intangible thoughts, goals, and thoughts into physical artifacts from moments in time that are unable to be relieved. Handwriting does this better than any generic typeface ever could.

Why should you write?

Writing to and for yourself provides a way to relieve your feelings and outer stresses free of criticism. It also enables you to organize the ambiguity that may swirl inside your head. This alone time allows you to write and not worry about proper grammar, correct spelling, or even if your sentences and thoughts make sense. In other words, you can pour your heart out under no constraints that you would otherwise experience in group settings (e.g. having to sift out words deemed inappropriate, off-putting, or strange in order to be accepted by others). This safe space alone will provide relief for you to express your true self. Organizing your thoughts and goals will decompress any exasperating mental tension too.

It’s Never Too Late to Begin!

Start today. Tomorrow. Even a week from now. You deserve this. Give yourself this space and this time, but don’t let it be a one time experience. Habitual handwriting will allow you to reflect on the progression of your physical, mental, and emotional wellness.

Today, challenge yourself to:

  • close your laptop.
  • switch on the “Do Not Disturb” setting on your phone or completely power it down.
  • find a space where you can focus all your energy on listening to your thoughts
  • disconnect with the world to reconnect with yourself.

You hold the potential to be your greatest support system. It’s right in the palm of your hand.

By: Mary Mik

LGBT

LGBT Column of the Week: Tackling the Stereotypical “Lesbian” Questions with Our Favorite Responses!

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Being a lesbian who is comfortable in her own skin has introduced me to many interesting people. But I have to say, my favorite interactions have to be with those who do not know what it’s like to be a lesbian. Many of these are based off movie scenes and pop culture, which clearly isn’t always accurate, or simply the stereotypical questions that pop into people’s heads. So you can imagine how “fun” it is to answer these questions that come with being gay.  Over the years, I have received an array of questions about my sexuality, and here are some of the best/most common ones I have answered.


Question: So how long have you been a lesbian?

Answer I want to give: About the same amount of time that you’ve been a moron.

Answer I actually give: Well, I was born gay, but I started to experiment and understand more in high school.


Question: Wait, so do you like being gay?

Answer I want to give: About as much as I like this conversation…

Answer I actually give: Yes!  I love who I am, who I represent, and who I have become.  Being a lesbian does not define me, however it has shaped me into the person I am today, and I know I would be a completely different person if I did not embrace who I was.


Question: How do you have sex?  Do you just scissor?  Do you use a strap-on?

Answer I want to give: I’m gonna use scissors to cut up your face if you don’t shut up…

Answer I actually give: In my opinion, having sex is reaching climax via oral or other stimulation.  Scissoring can be enjoyable, but it is not the most common way two women have sex.  I personally have never used a strap-on, and again it is not the most common way lesbians have sex, however people do use strap-ons and other toys.


Question: Do you prefer breasts or butt?

Answer I want to give: Both

Answer I actually give: Her smile… 


Question: How do you not find yourself attracted to men?

Answer I want to give: Because penis frightens me.

Answer I actually give: I am physically attracted to men the same way straight women are attracted to other women.  I acknowledge that there are attractive men in the world, and I understand that other people see them sexually.  However, I do not see myself being intimate with a man, the same way a straight woman would not be intimate with another woman.


Question: Wait, why don’t you look like a lesbian?

Answer I want to give: How about I tattoo a rainbow on my forehead?  

Answer I actually give: Well, all lesbians have different looks.  Though stereotypically, when someone hears the word “lesbian,” they think of short hair, tattoos, and men’s clothing, not all gay women look like that.  I happen to enjoy looking feminine and am attracted to other women who are feminine.


 Question: So, are you a pescatarian?

Answer I want to give: Because I’m gay I have to like fish?  Really?

Answer I actually give: Nope! I eat all meat except fish, actually.  I do not like fish at all.


Question: Do you want to have a threesome?

Answer I want to give: Does it include Mila Kunis and Olivia Wilde? If so, then yes.

Answer I actually give: No, but thank you for the offer.


Question: How long did you play softball for?

Answer I want to give: Are you serious…

Answer I actually give: 6 years!


Question: So… do you think I’m attractive?

Answer I want to give: I am not a horny college boy.  I do not want every girl that passes by me. #chill

Answer I actually give: Well, you are very pretty, but I do not see you in that way!

 

By: Megan Bloomfield

Sex + Relationships

7 Reasons You Should Be Having More Sex

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We’ve all heard the excuses. “I’m too busy”, “Sorry I’m too stressed”, or “I just feel like cuddling with [insert name of pet here]” are only some of the excuses that are used to avoid sex. It is perfectly okay to utilize these every once in a while. However, if you are actively trying to put sex aside, here are 7 reasons that might make you reconsider before you slip into your PJ’s tonight by yourself! With these reasons, you’ll practically be jumping at the chance to jump into bed.

The Orgasm 

Having the big O releases the bonding hormone oxytocin, which promotes a feeling of well-being and happiness.

Lessens the risk of certain diseases 

Frequent sex is great for men and women. Studies show that having sex leads to a lower risk of hypertension in women which is a common precursor to heart disease. A study conducted by the American Urological Association showed that men over 18 years who ejaculate at least monthly may be less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer later in life.

No gym, no problem 

It is okay if you skipped on going to the gym today because sex is practically a mini workout! Studies have shown that sex helps burn about 150 calories an hour.

“Natural” Advil

Sex is shown to lessen pain even if you are too tired to climax. Studies have found that stimulation without an orgasm can help reduce menstrual cramps, chronic back and leg pain, and migraines.

Less forgetful in your fifties 

If you are planning to have great memory for the rest of your life, then having more sex can help you achieve that goal. According to a study published by Oxford University, older men and women who had more sex were better at word recall than those who had less sex.

Better Sleep

Sex helps improve sleep quality if you are too restless to sleep at night. After an orgasm, the hormones prolactin and serotonin are released which help in making you feel relaxed.

Improved mental health 

Studies have shown men and women who have intercourse with their partners have greater satisfaction with their mental health. Sex can lower stress and anxiety by releasing different kinds of hormones that can help with depression.

By: Nicole Pal

DIY + Tips and Tricks

Granola Bars:The Good,The Bad, and The Ugly

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The Disappointing Reality of Granola Bars

        It saddens me to say this but… granola bars are not that great for us. I know, I know. Those deliciously chewy, often chocolatey conceptions are doing more bad for our bodies than good. For so long I thought they were a healthy alternative to candy bars, and in some aspects they are, but in truth, a lot of them contain the same amount of sugar as a candy bar. I compared the nutrition facts on one of my Larabar’s to a KitKat bar and it was quite alarming. The Larabar had 23 grams of sugar while the KitKat had 21 grams of sugar. False advertising has made us think that it’s automatically healthier for us because granola brands advertise with words like “oats and natural granola” or “only 100 calories”, but the fact’s don’t lie. It’s saddening and upsetting that sugar plagues all of our food, but that is another rant…for another day.

        Here at What the Health, we want you to still be able to enjoy your favorite foods, even if they aren’t always the healthiest. And the best way to do that is to make your own DIY versions of your favorite snacks. This can cut your sugar and processed ingredients intake in half!  Here are some healthy alternatives to avoid all of the processed and sugary junk in nutrition bars.

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Make your own Granola Bars!

Chia, Quinoa and Banana Granola Bars

  • 1 cup gluten free rolled oats
  • ½ cup uncooked pre-rinsed quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons chis seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped almonds
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, etc.)
  • ¼ cup creamy almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey or pure maple syrup

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper. Combine the oats, uncooked quinoa, chia seeds, salt and cinnamon. Stir in mashed banana and vanilla and then fold in the almonds, pecans and dried fruit.

Next, use a small sauce pan on low heat to warm the almond butter and honey or maple syrup until melted. Combine with granola bar mixture and pour into the baking pan. Press down with your hands to make sure all of the ingredients are spread evenly throughout the pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Let them cool completely before cutting them into 10 bars.

1 bar is 200 calories, but only contains around 10 grams of sugar, which means you’ll get more nutrients and energies with almost half the sugar of store brand granola bars! It’s not processed and has a bunch of ingredients you can feel good about! Yay!

 

Make your own trail mix!

If you don’t have a kitchen at your disposal (like me), then you can make your own trail mix! I buy different types of nuts, dried fruit, seeds and sometimes sweets (dark chocolate) in bulk and then create my own based on what I’m feeling that week or day.

Here is a list of different trail mix combo’s:

      Almond’s, dried cherries, dark chocolate

      Almond’s, peanuts, banana chips, chocolate and peanut butter chips

      Pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds

The important thing about trail mix, and with any food, is portion size. Personally, I do not take more than two handfuls of trail mix when I’m portioning it out into different bags for myself and even then I don’t finish all of the trail mix when I’m eating it with lunch or for a snack. Limit yourself to the amount of chocolate you add in it, but if you need a sweet snack, opt for dark chocolate over milk!

Get creative and enjoy your healthy alternative to granola bars! Just because the store bought brands are bad, doesn’t mean you have to go “cold-turkey” completely!

By: Abigail Snelling

"Tone It Up" Tuesday

Just “Smoke” It! : Why More Athletes Are Turning to Weed

*Disclaimer: We at What the Health are in no way promoting the use and consumption of marijuana or any cannabis based products*

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Yes, you read correctly. Weed.

Cannabis, also known as Marijuana or Weed, among other names, is a psychoactive drug used for both recreational and medicinal purposes. Cannabis both mentally and physically affects your state of being, including giving a “high” or “stoned” feeling of relaxation, euphoria (heightened mood), visual illusions, increased awareness of sensation, distortions in the perception of time & space, and an increase in appetite. The use of Cannabis around the world has only grown over the years, currently making it the most commonly used illegal drug in both the United States and the world.

Now you’re probably wondering, how does this have anything to do with athletes? For one thing, runners are among the many athletes liting up, both pre and post workout.  Most runners’ post-run routine consists of a cool down, a stretch, drinking water, and maybe eating a post-workout snack, but now some are smoking pot to recover from runs, and also before runs to relax their bodies.

You may be surprised to find that combining cannabis and sport has become a trend in the long-distance running community. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal, “The Debate Over Running While High”, discusses the enormous benefits marijuana has on runners. This may seem crazy, but consider the common obstacles runners face. Runners endure stomach cramps, intense pain in their muscles & joints, loss of motivation, and the boredom of repetitive running. This is especially true for runners of the recently-popular and grueling endurance sport: Ultramarathon. The sport consists of running in races anywhere from 30 to 200 miles long, both in rocky terrain and through mountainous trails.

In The Wall Street Journal article, veteran runner Jenn Shelton explains, “The person who is going to win an ultra is someone who can [1] manage their pain, [2] not puke, and [3] stay calm. Pot does all three of those things”. Makes sense. But wait, there’s more! Not only does running while high help runners keep their cool, it also help them stay preoccupied. Runners who have experienced running while high claim that if they don’t smoke before a run, they’re more likely to think about the miles and how much further they have to go, rather than just enjoying themselves. It has the power to not only preoccupy them, but is said to make their run more enjoyable by making the sky blues bluer and the grass greens greener.


The Science Behind It

Still don’t believe it? Let’s break it down further. Basically, Cannabis is made up of two chemical compounds, called cannaboids: Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). These compounds combine to regulate pain, emotions, appetite, and memory. CBD is non-psychoactive, bringing out the calm and relaxing feelings Cannabis provides, whereas THC is psychoactive and generates feelings of euphoria and lack of focus.

How does this science lecture relate to athletes turning towards weed? As it turns out, our bodies produce very similar compounds after exercising as that which makes up the chemicals in cannabis. In a study done by Gregory Gerdeman, an assistant professor of biology at Eckerd College, he states that ingesting cannabis mimics the very natural process of increasing exercise-induced cannabinoids. His research has shown high levels of cannabinoids, naturally produced in the body, in the bloodstream of people after exercise. He states, “That runner’s high – whether natural or marijuana induced – can minimize distractions and help exercise to be not just a means to an end, but an enjoyment”


The “non-runners high”

Runners aren’t the only ones experimenting with weed. With science behind the idea that cannabis blocks the physical input of pain, it’s ideal for not only runners, but various other athletes who suffer from pain, post-workout fatigue, and pre-workout inhibition. From Bodybuilders to Crossfitters, athletes may hit the bong to prevent soreness and sleep better, acting as a substitute for ice baths and sleeping pills.

A trend among Bodybuilders is bulking – which marijuana can help them do by heightening their appetite. Additionally, athletes from sports ranging from Snowboarding to Martial Arts to Mountain Biking use marijuana for its relaxing agent, which calms them down and loosens them up pre-performance, allowing them to perform without letting their nerves get in the way. The use of pot in this scenario induces impulsive responses, and thus heightens risk-taking behavior without affecting decision-making, which can be beneficial in competitions.

The Cons?

This isn’t to say you should try this at home, or that the effects of cannabis on the athlete’s body are always positive. What are the cons to all of these pros you may ask? Well first, let’s not forget that we’re talking about an illegal drug, which is only legal for recreational use in 4 out 50 states in the US. In the short-term, cannabis decreases alertness, accelerates muscle fatigue, and increases the heart rate, which could cause athletes to reach their limits more quickly. Additionally, an extremely common side effect of cannabis consumption is experiencing paranoia or extreme anxiety while high. In the long-term, it can impair your memory, cause cardiovascular disease, increase the likelihood of chronic bronchitis, and even lower your IQ. Additionally, the effects of CBD and THC are very different per person, thus creating very different effects on different individuals.

We can only wonder, what will the effects on this cannabis and sports trend have in the world of athletics? Will there come a day when Olympic athletes will be allowed to hold their gold medals upon the podium, while marijuana runs through their system? Will there come a day when marijuana will be considered a performance-enhancing drug? Is using marijuana even ethical? We can only wonder if athletes will continue turning towards weed in the future, and unfortunately only time can tell.

By: Renne Schiavone

 

 

"Tone It Up" Tuesday

Everything You Need to Know About Meal Prep!

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Fitness and nutrition go hand-in-hand, and it’s safe to say we are all familiar with that concept.  But as college students, keeping up with nutrition goals is often easier said than done.  From a busy class schedule to an undeniable urge to use your down time to binge watch One Tree Hill, eat peanut butter cups and cozy up for a nap, consistently eating healthy becomes seemingly more and more unrealistic, and downright tiring.  Fear not, college students.  There’s an easy way to ensure healthy eating and once you start, you’ll be able to stay on track with your fitness goals!

We give you: meal prep! Ah, the dreaded “meal prep.”  It sounds daunting, I know, and often becomes too overwhelming to even begin. But planning out your meals makes your weeks way less stressful when it comes to dinner time, and helps you be more in control of what you are eating! With the following tips, you’ll be a meal prep pro in no time!

Start Out Small

Don’t expect to prepare 21 meals at once.  You don’t need to prepare three meals a day, nor prepare enough for the entire week.  Instead, try to prepare one meal for three days.  For example, prepare lunch for the next three days and store in sealable containers!  That doesn’t sound too bad, right? Don’t make meal prep more difficult than it has to be by putting too much on your plate (no pun intended).

Plan It Out

Plan it out before you start cooking.  Throwing a few chicken breasts in the oven probably won’t be satisfying.  Brainstorm a meal idea that you’ll look forward to eating and make sure it has a balanced amount of protein, carbs, and fats.  You might even want to run to the grocery store to pick up some items, but the cheaper, the better.  Get a to-go box from the dining hall with some ingredients from the salad bar if you are on a budget! See what you have to work with first!

Don’t Make it Complicated

When you first begin meal prepping, keep your recipes fairly simple.  The whole point of meal prep is to make your life easier, so there is no need for elaborate recipes.  Try a lean protein, such as chicken, fish or turkey, with quinoa and a side of veggies.  Once you get used to meal prep, you can play around a little more with complex recipes.

Different things will work for different people, but using these tips will lead you in the right direction.  Meal prep saves time and money (and sanity) so try it out!

By: Alanna Sadler

"Mental Health" Monday

The Dangers of Calorie Counting

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It can start with the simple idea of reconstructing your diet. You look in the mirror one day and you’re startled by what you see. You think, “when did these pants get so tight?” or “Have I let myself go that much?” It’s frightening when you realize you’ve gotten so caught up in everything else going on in your life, that you’ve become too busy for the more important things, like your health. You realize that the “quick slice of pizza” you grab for dinner every now and then and the lack of time spent in the gym as opposed to the library does eventually catch up with you. When your jeans start to feel a little tight, you realize that maybe it’s time to change. 

So you decide it’s time to try something different. No more pizza for dinner. No more late night snacking. No more post-Frat party trips to Kimmel. I know, I know. It’s hard, but you realize that the easiness of fast food isn’t worth it anymore. You start out by deciding to make healthier choices. So you swap out the pizza for an apple and peanut butter instead ,and a salad here and there, but still, those pants aren’t getting any looser. What’s the problem? Yes, you’re eating healthier, but the work isn’t equalling the results you want, and you get frustrated. It’s disheartening to be putting in the work and seeing no change on the scale. So you decide to try something else. You’ve heard of calorie counting and how it’s worked for others, so why not try it. That way, you are aware of every little thing that goes in your body, and out.

You download the best rated app you can find on the App Store. You enter your height, current weight, age, and the amount of weight you wish to lose in a certain amount of time. “This is great!”,  you think to yourself. I can eat whatever I want as long as it’s under the 1,200 calorie limit. Little do you know that this is only enough to just get by. In reality, a normal diet, with proper exercise, for someone trying to maintain their weight is 2,000 calories.

Regardless, you start to notice those results you’ve been after starting to show. But what’s the cost? You’re constantly tired, you lack energy, you are moody and irritable, and eating has become a chore you dread every day, yet you’re waiting for every meal because the uncomfortableness in your stomach reminds you all day that there’s barely enough in there to keep you going.All you can think about is how many calories you are putting in and out of your body. It’s become an obsession. You are starving. 

When It Becomes A Problem

All those symptoms are signs from your body telling you that it’s hungry, and ignoring them not only halts weight loss, but also is detrimental to your health. Calorie counting, while not always a negative thing, can often times lead to eating disorders and unhealthy obsessions. So in the end is it really worth it? Do the results outweigh the stress you’ve been putting your body under in order to see those precious results? The answer is always no.

If your method of dieting takes away the pleasure of enjoying a meal with family or friends because of the guilt that follows, something is most definitely wrong. Sometimes referred to as orthorexia nervosa, meaning “fixation on righteous eating,” the obsessive behavior of calorie counting has not been classified by the DSM-IV as a clinical disorder, but the notion of hitting the “perfect number” of daily calorie intake has become an increasingly common issue among many avid dieters.

This idea that restriction is synonymous with results has become skewed enough for people to believe that their dietary success is dependent on an intake of the bare minimum of a balanced diet. However, results are dependent on the exact opposite of what these extreme dieters strive to attain. The fixation on numbers can leave extreme dieters bodies extremely malnourished and over-worked.

Look, we aren’t discrediting the idea that calorie intake is irrelevant.  Calories do count, and it’s important to watch what you eat, focusing on putting healthy foods, fruits, and veggies in your body one processed sugars and carbs. But they don’t make up the entire equation of weight loss. Sometimes, you put on a few pounds, and guess what? It is not the end of the world! You are still your beautiful, amazing self, and you will lose the extra weight in time. If you’re unsure as to where to start when it comes to reconstructing a healthy diet for yourself, recognize that the healthiest way to lose those few extra pounds is a way in which your mental health and happiness come first. Take care of your body and the results will soon follow! Because eating shouldn’t feel like a burden. It should simply be a tasty part of life. 

By: Nadine Ghantous

"Mental Health" Monday

Pick Up The PaintBrush: Why You Should Challenge Your Brain Through Artistic Expression!

F_2014_10_Art.jpgJust like we may strive to eat healthy and exercise to keep up our physical fitness, it’s equally important to exercise our brains. It’s not as hard as it sounds, and it’s definitely not as grueling as the stair-master at Archbold!

In fact, all you have to do is find your individually suited, creative outlet to work those brain cells. Everyone has their own preferences for artistic expression, but the most important thing to note is that you do not have to be Mozart or Picasso to benefit from the following activities:

  • Expressive writing: poetry, journaling, story writing, etc.
  • Visual arts: painting, drawing, coloring, etc.
  • Movement: all forms of dance!
  • Music: playing an instrument, singing, rapping, etc.
  • Miscellaneous: knitting, cooking or baking, gardening—you name it.

Besides the obvious appeal to this variety of artistic expressions (that they’re a lot of fun!) they can provide amazing benefits for our mental wellbeing that are associated primarily with the process of the activity and not necessarily the finished product!


It Helps With Stress relief

You know how yoga can relax your muscles and allow you to concentrate on your breathing? Think of writing, or painting, or even dancing as yoga for the brain. Both acts encourage a sense of mindfulness, which is being consciously aware of oneself in the present moment.

This state of mind gives us a distraction from the thousands of thoughts that usually run through our minds during the school day. Taking the time to stretch the mind allows us to concentrate, relax, and become enveloped in the natural high it produces. It will also help improve memory later!

 

It Increases in Brain Connectivity

Every time we engage in these creative acts, our brain creates new connections between brain cells. In turn, communication between different parts of the brain becomes enhanced, keeping our brains sharp and more efficient at problem solving. How amazing is it that doing things we love can keep our brain healthy? We just have to make sure to make the time for it!

 

It Improves Your Mood

This one is mainly common sense: the more we do the things that we love, especially partaking in our favorite creative hobbies, the happier we feel. Artistic expression can even act as a sort of therapy when we’re having relationship issues, stressing over academics, or even when we are simply trying to understand the inconsistencies of Syracuse weather. When in doubt, start creating!

 

It Boosts Self-Esteem

Whether you decide to submit a piece of writing or art to one of SU’s student magazines, share home-made cupcakes with friends, knit a hat for your Mom, or simply keep your art to yourself, be proud of what you’ve created. Expressing oneself helps to maintain positive identity, which makes us— and our brain—happy and healthy.!

 

These artistic acts are enjoyable and relaxing for so many individuals, because they allow us to express our emotional states in different forms that may otherwise be emotionally or physically difficult to convey.  As Pablo Picasso once said “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life,” and life can get pretty stressful and “dusty” as the semester picks up before finals! So on your off-day from the gym (or if every day is an off-day…no shame!), take a moment to explore your artistic side and give your brain a good workout!

By: Laurie Thompson

 

 

 

"Tone It Up" Tuesday

Motivation Nation!: How to Stay Motivated During “Burnout” Season

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With the first day of November, we say goodbye to Halloween and hello to the Holiday Season! It’s the eve of Thanksgiving holidays, which means we’re in the midst of the mayhem that is midterms season.  While pumpkin spice lattes, fall foliage, and sweater weather is running rampant, so does an unmistakable decrease in motivation.  According to the 2015 National College Health Assessment, 85% of college students felt overwhelmed by the responsibilities they had to do in the past year. This time of the year, students hit the “metaphorical wall”, where exhaustion and stress take a tool on our bodies and our motivation. And even though we have less than three weeks to go before the long awaited Thanksgiving break, we need to be making sure our bodies are keeping up. Whether it be in your studies, workout schedule, relationships, or a combination of the three, the change in weather should not correlate to a change in your effort. Here’s the low-down on how to stay focused, stay fit, and overall stay healthy and happy!

 

Stay on Task

When the tasks pile up, it’s easy to feel run down and overwhelmed.  It’s not unusual to suddenly feel lethargic at the thought of studying for yet another biology test or writing english paper, but putting off these responsibilities does nothing to alleviate your stress.  

An easy way to tackle all the assignments is to make a list and prioritize.  First, check off the most difficult tasks and go from there.  By writing out a physical list, your workload will seem that much more manageable.  Another trick is to study in blocks of time.  Set a timer for 50 minutes to study and then designate 10 minutes to take a mental break.  

Most importantly, move sleep higher onto your list of priorities.  It’s unrealistic to expect 8 hours of sleep each night, however, you will notice a significant change if you structure your day to get an extra hour or two in.  When you’re well rested, you’ll work more efficiently and your memory will improve. Cramming for exams and writing papers right before they are due will only stress you out more.  Low motivation has been proven to coincide with a lack of sleep– plan ahead now to avoid the urge to nap later.

 

Eat Well and Exercise

Understandably, your busy schedule doesn’t allow for much down time, and your down time is never quite spent as ideally as you might prefer.  For many, stress is a key culprit in an improper diet.  To avoid wolfing down leftover Halloween candy in an attempt to distract from another take-home lab, limit snacking after dinner.  This can be especially difficult if you’re prone to all-nighters, in which case have a few pieces of fruit or cheese and crackers to hold you over until your next meal.  In the heat of the moment– the temptation to order an entire “consolation pizza” for yourself– drink a full glass of water and re-think your idea. Chew gum or even suck on low-cal hard candy if you need you put something in your mouth.

As for that daily workout, get it over with by working out first thing in the morning.  Not only will you feel invigorated and accomplished,but  when surprise tasks pop-up throughout the da,y you won’t feel guilty that you missed another date with an Ernie treadmill because you already got your scheduled workout in!

 

Maintain Relationships

Just like you, your friends are also panicked about the next upcoming deadline.  While you may not have time for happy hour anymore, don’t forget to check in on them from time to time.  A simple text (during your study break, of course) will not only brighten your friend’s day but will provide you with a little boost, too.  When it comes to maintenance, be certain to include yourself.  Your health, both mental and physical, should always remain of utmost importance.  

 

 

‘Tis the season to hit the books, but keep a steady pace so as to not burn out before the semester comes to a close.  Find some middle ground between cramming for every class at once and binge-watching Stranger Things for days.  Planning is key to get that degree.  You are so close to that week long Thanksgiving break you can almost taste it! Keep pushing! Happy studies!

By: Helena Starrs

"Love Your Body, Love Yourself"

YOU are the “Dancing Queen”: Our Favorite Songs to Get You Feeling Good!

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Have you seen those people on campus with earbuds in, who bounce their legs and bob their heads to music nobody else can hear? Yep. I’m that girl.

Music and dance are universal languages that connect people beyond everyday speech. Parties, raves, and concerts wouldn’t be what we know them as today without these two crucial elements. Even if we don’t have the time or cash to spend on these outings, that shouldn’t stop us from celebrating each day with music. Music is the solution for all those emotions you are feeling. It’s also the thing that can boost you up, and keep you going, which is something we all need to keep partying this “Hallo-weekend!”

Here are our five favorite music videos that not only have catchy songs, but will inspire you to just breakout and dance. Because honestly, it’s amazing what dancing around and singing in your underwear can do for your mood. 

 


1.) Bruno Mars—“24K Magic”

Shining moment: 1:23

I think they just became smoother than a smoothie.

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URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqyT8IEBkvY

 

2.) The B-52’s—“Love Shack”

Shining moment: 1:44

I’ve never seen so much fringe shake so vigorously. Props, Ms. Pierson.

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URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SOryJvTAGs

 

3.) Kiesza—“Hideaway”

Shining moment: 3:04

If you ever see me dance in my room, this is what I imagine I look like, though I’m probably far from it.

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URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vnoz5uBEWOA

 

4.) Sara Bareilles—“Brave”

Shining moment: 3:45

Yes. Yes, he is, sir.

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URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUQsqBqxoR4

 

5.) OutKast—“Hey Ya!””

Shining moment: 4:07

This was probably the first moment Polaroid’s stocks skyrocketed in the 21st century.

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URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWgvGjAhvIw

 

Your Friendly Neighborhood Leg Bouncer, Head Bobber, and What the Health Blogger,

Mary Mik

DIY + Tips and Tricks

Crazy for Quinoa: DIY Quinoa Bowls

Screen Shot 2016-10-28 at 5.41.08 PM.pngMany days I aimlessly walk in circles around the dining hall, trying to find something that will taste good, make me feel good, and overall be good for my body and health. Over the summer, I would constantly feel the struggle of wanting something nutritious that satisfied my taste buds but was easy to make.

Then I stumbled upon quinoa bowls! Food bowls are becoming the biggest health trend recently. Yogurt and acai bowls have become quite popular, as are some more unusual conceptions, like quinoa!  Quinoa is an extremely versatile food, much like rice, except, it is a complete protein, and contains many vitamins and minerals! Quinoa is a feel good food and I’m very excited to introduce recipes that can spice up your quinoa experience and are also super duper easy. They are so simple that anyone can make them, even my college students out there whose only access to a kitchen is the dining hall!

Fruity Quinoa Bowl

  • Strawberry
  • Walnuts
  • Kale
  • Kalamata Olive
  • Cucumber
  • Feta Cheese
  • Dressing:
  • 2 Tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar

This first bowl is one my own creations. It’s a great combination of sweet and salty. I’m a big fan of putting nuts on salads and quinoa bowls, and have tried this specific recipe with almonds as a substitute for the walnuts and it was also delicious!

 

Chicken Quinoa Burrito Bowl

  • Quinoa 
  • Chicken
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Red Onion
  • Yellow Corn
  • 2 Tablespoons Cilantro
  • 1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
  • Guacamole or just plain avocado

This concoction calls for the red bell peppers and onion to be sautéed, BUT if you’re lazy like me, the recipe works both with them and without them, and will taste good either way.

 

Greek Quinoa Bowl

  • Quinoa
  • Green Bell Pepper
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Crumbled Feta Cheese
  • Fresh Cherry Tomato
  • Lemon Wedge
  • Chopped Red Onion
  • Black or Kalamata Olive   
  • Dressing:
  • ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2-3 TBSP of Apple Cider Vinegar or Red Wine Vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper

The Greek Quinoa Bowl is one of my favorites because it is super easy to make in the dining hall since all of the ingredients are already there! Yay! At home, this recipe will take all of 15 minutes just because you have to make the quinoa.


Those are just three of my favorite quinoa bowl recipes but the possibilities are endless. All of these recipes are subject to change based on your preferences and food restrictions! It is also really easy to make your own creations as well! Quinoa is extremely versatile, and is a great base food for whatever mood you’re in. Here are lists of ingredients that you can try different combinations of in your custom quinoa bowls.

Vegetables:

-Broccoli

-Kale

-Spinach

-Romaine Lettuce

-Pepper (any type)

-Olives

-Cucumbers

-Tomatoes

-Onions

-Carrots

-Avocados


Fruits:

-Strawberries

-Blackberries

-Blueberries

-Raspberries

-Pineapple


Toppings:

– Cashews

-Almonds

-Walnuts

-Feta Cheese

-Sesame Seeds

-Sunflower seeds


Dressings:

-Extra Virgin Olive oil mixed with

Apple cider vinegar

 Red wine vinegar

-Vinaigrette

-Hot sauce if you’re feeling frisky

By: Abby Snelling

Sex + Relationships

Swipe Right for Romance: How College Kids Feel About Tinder

shutterstock_371573932In today’s digital age, face-to-face interaction has become a rarity. From Facebooking friends, emailing coworkers, or simply scrolling through Buzzfeed to find out which Starbucks drink we are, we are constantly connected online. So,where else would we look for a casual hookup buddy, friend with benefit, or even potential relationship?

Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, and other online dating apps have swept the nation over the last four years as their popularity has increased, especially among young adults and college kids. The front runner for these apps is by far Tinder, with an estimated 50 million users on the app. If you are looking to find the love of your life anywhere online, there is a good chance they’re “swiping right” right now. On average ,  Tinder user spend about 35 minutes on the app a day.

With this in mind, that means that when your profile pops up, your potential prospectives aren’t spending much time debating whether to “yay” or “nay” you. which gives you probably all of a few seconds to impress and entice others to swipe right on you. We interviewed some Syracuse students about Tinder dating and have some experiences, opinions, and advice on Tinder from users just like yourself trying to find love (or maybe just some late night fun) online.


What are students looking for on Tinder?

Females:

  • “I go on tinder with the intention of using it for dating and never for a random hookup, but sometimes it becomes that.”
  • “Honestly, sometimes I just go on when I’m drunk to hookup. It’s usually not the best idea.”
  • “ I have used it just to get free food or coffee on a date before, sometimes you have to do what you have to do when you’re hungry and on a college budget.”

Males:

  • “Main use is a personal thing, to see how well I can do based on my own personal standards. Only once I’ve used it to actually hook up with someone.”
  • “I have used Tinder to invite people to parties but that is infrequent.”
  • “Really only use Tinder when I’m drunk as f***, usually nothing comes out of it but sometimes I hookup with a girl.”

 


How many matches are you making?

Females: On average roughly between 600-1,500 matches.

Males: On average roughly between 100-300 matches


What does an ideal Tinder profile look like?

Females:

  • Not too many pictures ,and the pictures need to be clear about whose profile it is, at least 2 solo shots and 1 group shot.
  • Nothing weird, try not to be naked or in compromising positions.
  • Don’t try too hard. Don’t be holding a puppy shirtless with all your muscles out.
  • Be your best self but don’t lie.

Males:

  • Have multiple photos.
  • Individual photos are better so you know who it is, but a few group photos are alright.
  • A funny or witty bio is a must. It makes it easier to start a conversation if there is something to go off.
  • Multiple mutual friends make difference, much more likely to swipe right if it seems like this is someone they may know.

What pictures are a turn on?

Females:

  • Guys who look good in suits is always a nice thing to see.
  • A nice headshot is a great thing to see. Showcase the smile and eyes.
  • Full body picture that shows off how you dress on a day to day basis.

Males:

  • A good smile goes a long way.
  • Anything America themed, especially an American flag bikini.
  • Having a picture of how you dress when you’re going out with your friends.

What is a turn-off?

Females:

  • Refrain from posing with dead fish or animals; save those “interesting” pictures for a few dates in if the other person is interested.
  • Blurry or distorted pictures, don’t make yourself look sketchy!
  • Keep it PG. Don’t use any headless body shots on your profile. As much as you think we want to see “everything god gave you”, we don’t.

Males:

  • Any photos of holding a fish or dead animals, not appealing (seems to be a common theme?)
  • Nothing “trashy” (i.e. overly nude, explicit or rude), because it makes us wonder why that is what you want to show off when you are on a semi-anonymous, very public platform.
  • Only having super close up pictures or selfies.

How do you communicate what you’re looking for with a Tinder match?

Females:

  • “We talk first on tinder and when it moves to text, ask “What are you looking for?” If they want the same thing, we’ll go on a date, if not, I stop talking to them and move on.”
  • “Hint to them in a flirty way what I’m looking for while we Tinder message and hope they pick up on it.”
  • “Start the conversation on Tinder with what I’m looking for; why waste either of our time.”

Males:

  • “If conversation is going well I will ask to meet in a social setting where we can meet in person, maybe a party so we can see how we get along, and also there’s no pressure of a 1 on 1 situation.”
  • “Just ask if they’re trying to hookup. It’s pretty clear what I’m looking for after that.”
  • “Let them lead the conversation and see if they drop any hints about what they want so I don’t have to bring it up and be awkward.”

 

So there’s a little insight into what guys and girls are thinking while they’re swiping on Tinder. Go ahead and check out your own profile and make sure you are keeping up with Tinder etiquette so you can get the maximum right swipes possible. Who knows, your next match could be your soulmate or best one night stand so far. Be safe, be happy, and be kind and keep on swiping Cuse.

By: Molly Velázquez

 

 

tips and tricks

Migraine Mania: Natural Remedies to Hinder Your Headaches!

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With midterms on the brain, “Hallo-weekend” part two fast approaching, and all the hard work you’ve been putting in this semester finally catching up to you, it’s easy to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and frankly, burnout. And with this stress and exhaustion, headaches are more likely have found a “fun” new place in your life,  becoming more frequent and more severe.

While it’s tempting to reach for that Aleve bottle in your backpack and pop a couple pills, new studies have shown that ibuprofen’s like Advil and Aleve and other pain relievers might be doing your body more harm than good.

Did you know that regular use of pain relievers can actually cause more headaches? One dose may have initially been enough to rid your head pain, but soon it may take two, maybe even three times the suggested dosage to get the same relief that one used to provide you relief. Just like caffeine or alcohol, it is easy to build a  tolerance towards these common pain-relievers. This is dangerous because of the adverse effects seen in regular to heavy use of pain relievers, due to their chemical ingredients.

Advil, for example is an Ibuprofen, also known as an anti-inflammatory drug. Regular, long-term use of it can increase your risk of heart disease, kidney problems, and cause ulcers and/or gastrointestinal bleeding. On the other hand, Tylenol is an Acetaminophen, also known as an analgesic (pain and fever reducer). This drug can cause damage to the liver, especially if used with alcohol. Both drugs can cause small increases in blood pressure.

Reducing your use of these common headache-commbatters can only be beneficial towards your health. Below are some common, natural headache remedies that can be found in most kitchens that can hinder your awful headaches!

Ginger

Ginger is an Asian spice that has been used since the 1500’s as a natural remedy for head pain. Some of it’s uses are for treatment of:

  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Indigestion
  • Inflammation
  • Nausea

Headaches often occur alongside nausea or upset stomaches.  In severe cases, these are called migraines. Because ginger is anti-inflammatory and soothes the stomach, it is a perfect natural remedy for a headache or migraine. I recommend brewing a hot cup of ginger tea in bed to fight an incoming headache.

Caffeine (Black or Green Tea)

Caffeine is a controversial subject when it comes headaches; some people find it helps treat headaches, while others find it to be a trigger. When consumed in small amounts (less than 200mg, or a 12oz cup of coffee), caffeine can actually relieve headaches by reducing inflammation in the brain. When consumed on a daily basis or in amounts >200mg, however, caffeine can lead to withdrawal symptoms like nausea, stomach pain, dizziness, and of course headaches.

The science behind this is that when a headache comes on, our blood vessels begin to enlarge. Caffeine constricts your blood vessels; therefore in small amounts (in order to avoid withdrawal headaches) caffeine can reverse an oncoming headache or migraine.

Green and black teas are a good choice instead of coffee, since they have small amounts of caffeine while being full of antioxidants. They also help  boost your metabolism and are beneficial towards your cardiovascular system!

Peppermint

Peppermint leaves contain essential oils that can be beneficial medicinally. One of these oils is menthol, which a study from 2010 shows  is a migraine-fighter when applied in a solution to the forehead and temples. In addition to headaches, peppermint can help treat:

  • Toothaches
  • Nausea
  • Gastrointestinal upset

If you have any of these symptoms in addition to your headache, a cup of peppermint tea is the perfect  healthy qne natural cure.

Preventing Headaches

If you are interested in preventing future headaches, here are some common triggers of headaches and migraines. Reducing your exposure to these products may prevent future headaches:

  1. Alcohol (red wine)
  2. Caffeinated beverages (in excess)
  3. Aged cheeses (Gorgonzola, Camembert, cheddar, etc.)
  4. Cured/processed meats (hot dogs, sausages, lunch meats, etc.)
  5. MSG (common in processed foods)
  6. Aspartame (an artificial sweetener common in chewing gum and other candies)

Lastly, here are some general tips to reduce your risk of headache:

  1. Maintain a sleep schedule
  2. Eat at regular intervals each day
  3. Stay hydrated
  4. Avoid hangover situations
  5. Avoid strong fragrances
  6. Avoid bright lights when possible. Turn your phone and computer brightness down!
  7. Set aside time for yourself to relax, stress-free

Next time you go to grab some Advil or Tylenol, think twice! Some of these natural remedies may supply the same effects without harming your health. It’s a win-win!

By: Allie Urso

"Tone It Up" Tuesday

IIFYM Beginners Guide: What It Means, Where to Begin

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Paleo Diet, Atkins Diet, Mediterranean Diet, Military Diet…The list goes on and on.  Fad diets are a huge part of our society, whether we like it or not.  We quickly become overwhelmed and unsure of what to believe.  You’re not alone in your trust issues with fad diets.  And with valid reason, too.

So our favorite celebrity swears by this new grapefruit diet, or credits her body to “drinking” her meals,  but our (college-educated) brains remain skeptical. I’m no dietitian, but I really doubt eating 12 grapefruits per day or drinking all liquids satisfies our bodies’ nutritional requirements, or is even somewhat enjoyable.  Fad diets are highly unsustainable, and often unhealthy.  Sure, we may be able to eat 12 grapefruits for a day or two, but it won’t last. We just end up… “hangry” i.e. hungry+angry. It’s never a good combination. And then we’re back to square one.

You may have seen “IIFYM” on Twitter or Instagram and dismissed it as yet another fad diet.  If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) is not so much a diet, rather, it’s a lifestyle.  While fad diets focus on restricting certain foods and usually only benefit you for a short period of time, IIFYM focuses on doing the opposite: no restrictions, no limitations.  IIFYM allows you to eat what you want, when you want, as long as it fits with your daily nutritional goals.  Yes. It’s possible to eat your favorite foods without sacrificing your fitness and nutritional goals (I’m looking at you, Oreos.)

 

Okay, so NOW I’ve got your attention. But what exactly is a macro?  The term macro is slang for macronutrients: proteins, carbs, and fats, which are all essential for our bodies to function.  The number of macronutrients our bodies need depends greatly on the individual and the number of macronutrients we should be eating will vary from person to person. And the best part? There are tons of IIFYM online calculators.  You literally don’t need to do any thinking, and you don’t need to spend any money! Just type in your information and let the calculators, well, calculate. Keep in mind, though, these calculators serve as a ballpark for IIFYM and may need to be slightly altered.

Once you’re given your macronutrient numbers, IIFYM allows you to reach those numbers however you please. For example, if you need ~300g of carbs, it doesn’t have to come from oatmeal or brown rice, rather, it can come from a Poptart. As long as you reach your macros, eat what you want, enjoy what you eat, and stay on track.

Dieting is a short term solution. IIFYM is a great way to live the long term healthy lifestyle. Whoever said you can’t have your cake and eat it too simply didn’t know about IIFYM. Nonetheless, calculating our macros can start us off on our body-loving, Oreo-indulging, goal-achieving journey.

Find an IIFYM Online Calculator here

By: Alanna Sadler

"Tone It Up" Tuesday

Fitness is Our Cardio: The Best Ways to Work Out!

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If you’re like most people, “hitting the gym” generally consists of doing some basic cardio, maybe some core, and then calling it quits. And while that’s totally okay, we want you to get the most out of your workout! Cardio, short for Cardiovascular Exercise, is anything that raises your heart rate and blood circulation, and if that’s all you do at the gym, that’s perfectly fine!

It’s an important part of any fitness program, with benefits including reduced stress, better sleep, temporary relief from anxiety & depression, stronger heart & lungs, and weight loss. There are many forms of cardio training, although we often associate cardio with the basics: walking, running, swimming, bicycling. A common misconception is that running is the only way we can burn the calories we desire for weight loss or weight management.

Well, I’m happy to tell that it is more than possible to get a great cardio workout without running miles and miles on the treadmill. As an athlete who experienced years of repetitive sprinting and running drills on sports teams, as well as competed in several half-marathons, I know for certain that running can get old, and is not always fun. Luckily, there are ways to spice up your cardio routine AND burn even more calories than you would on a run. So before you flock to the treadmill, consider some of the under-rated and most effective forms of cardio out there.



HIIT

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. With endurance-style cardio, you burn fat 50% more effectively than low-intensity exercise. HIIT training increases fat loss by building muscle, thus increasing your total net calories burned every day. While accelerating fat loss and improving endurance, HIIT training comes in many forms, including an unlimited combination of cardio exercises, a few of which are listed below.

For a cardio routine to be classified as HIIT, it must be a short training session (usually 15 minutes), with a number of high intensity exercises for short periods of time, and equal amounts of rest time throughout the workout that are about 30 sec to a minute. As crazy as it sounds, the mental benefits of this form of cardio are just as great as the physical ones.

 

Interval Sprints

Anyone who has played on an organized sports team at some time in their life has felt the fear, pain, and anxiety of the phrase “Get on the line”. Often used as a punishment or reprimand, we tend to give sprinting a negative connotation.

However, the benefits of interval sprints as a cardio routine are far greater than simply running on the treadmill or outside. For one thing, they’re far less boring! Interval sprints require several high intensity, short periods of exertion. Sprints increase protein synthesis pathways by more than 230 percent, increasing the size and strength of powerful, fast-twitch fibers. Try a sprinting routine such as sprinting for 1 minute, resting for 30 seconds, and repeating this sequence for 15 minutes.

 

Jumping Rope

In the world of fitness, jumping rope means far more than Double Dutch and Helicopter. It is actually a highly effective form of cardio, burning up to 1,000 calories per hour. Jumping rope, as a form of cardio, is used for short periods at a time, given its high impact on the body. Grab a rope and play around with it. I suggest jumping for 1 minute, resting for 15 seconds, and repeating this sequence 15 times. Your calves will be on fire!

 

Incline Walk

I know what you’re thinking… This sounds way too easy to be one of the most effective forms of cardio! But it’s true. Adding the element of the incline is both a very effective form of both cardio and helps with toning the body. As a form of LISS cardio, or Low Intensity Steady State, we must perform this exercise for an extended period of time. The incline acts as a mimic to uphill climbing or hiking.

Strengthen your calves and increase the number of calories burned during your workouts by 60%, just by adding an incline of 15% (the highest incline on modern treadmills) to your treadmill. To really get the full effect of this form of cardio, don’t hold on. Let your arms swing free and spend the next 45 minutes imagining you’re climbing a beautiful mountain!

 

Rowing

Debatably considered the “perfect exercise” for your body, rowing works all of the main muscles at a high intensity. Rowing on the rowing machine is a total-body aerobic exercise, which burns over 800 calories per hour. Its low impact makes it a great way to strip body fat, if done properly. Work time depends heavily on intensity of the workout, but is suggested to go without rest.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I still incorporate simple long run days into my workout regimen. However, I make sure I don’t miss out on other, more effective forms of cardio as well. With so many options to choose from, it’s easier to get excited about your next cardio workout, and get out of your bored slump. Staying active is essential to mental and physical health and wellbeing, so we can’t forget to exercise our bodies in order to receive a healthy dose of insulin. When in doubt, just work out!

By: Renee Schiavone

"Tone It Up" Tuesday

“An App A Day Keeps The Doctor Away”: 6 Health Apps To Keep You Fit!

 

Health apps are the latest craze, allowing users to record virtually every aspect of their daily lives.  They’re more convenient than keeping track of a Fit Bit or Nike watch, and they’re much easier on the bank account.  With winter quickly approaching, stay on track with these helpful and free health-conscious apps that can help you lose weight, count calories, or event monitor your sleep patterns!

Fooducate

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Fooducate is an app that tracks calories, offers recipes, and has an active online user community.  Enter the food you eat each day and it will generate a letter grade for the healthiness of each item as well as break down the percentage of carbs, fats, and proteins you’re consuming per day.  Though you do have to pay to unlock certain features of the app, the free version still allows you to log water intake, hunger level, weight, mood, and hours of sleep.  Fooducate is basically a mobile diary for all of your health-related needs and as an added plus, the app’s logo is a sporty orange-Go Cuse! *Available on Android and iOS*

 

Seasonal and Simple

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Unsure how long asparagus will last in your fridge?  Don’t know the expiration date on the produce you just bought? Seasonal and Simple can tell you.  Ever wondered how to choose a perfectly ripe avocado? Seasonal and Simple is just the app for you. It boasts a variety of quick recipes, finds local organic and farmer’s markets near you, and shows which produce is currently in season. *Available on Android and iOS*

 

 

Map My Run

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Map My Run does exactly as it sounds and more: it’ll map your run, walk, or hike as well as track calories burned and help you maintain pace.  There’s even a challenge
tab where you can set goals and earn awards based on the distance and speed you complete activities in. *Available on Android and iOS*

 

Blogilates App

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You may already be familiar with her upbeat Youtube workout videos, but now there’s an app to access all of Cassey Ho’s workout videos.  Besides fun workout plans like the “30 Days Flat Abs challenge,” you’ll get to map out your workouts an entire month in advance and receive support from the online forum. *Available on Android and iOS*

 

Spotify Running

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No longer will you have to slow down to get into the groove of the slower songs on your gym playlist: this app will keep your pace by coordinating each song’s beats per minute (BPM) with your running speed. Just select a certain genre or feeling (i.e. “GO!” or “Lock the Flow”) and your treadmill workout will go by in a flash.*Available on Android and iOS*

 

 

Yonder

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Upstate New York has so much to offer, particularly when it comes to fall foliage and hiking trails.  Take advantage of Yonder to find the best places to get in a nature walk or run.  After you’re done, write a review of the hike  so other users can get that perfect photo-op, too. *Available on Android and iOS*

 

By: Helena Starrs

"Mental Health" Monday

You Are What You Eat: The Link Between Diet and Mental Health

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It’s a known stereotype that college students don’t always eat the healthiest. This is especially true in the first couple years of college, when us college kids are tossed into tiny dorm rooms, and have to make due with the dining halls, prepackaged snacks stored in our rooms, and the occasional microwave meals. It becomes the norm to keep snack-y foods that won’t spoil in our rooms for late night studying or for when friends come over to hang out. It’s this constant access to “on-the-go” junk food snacks and meals, and a lack of access to fresh produce and sources of protein that can make us gain weight, have low energy levels, and overall just have us feeling “blech”.

But these foods don’t just affect our body physically. They affect our emotional and mental health as well.  Aside from the physical effects of eating unhealthy, our brain suffers too. Without the proper nutrients, the brain can’t do its job and in turn, our mental health can take a toll. To get to the root of the connection between our mental health and diet, let’s take a look at some popular snack choices made among college students.


Coffee

A lot of college students drink a lot of coffee. It’s what keeps us going when we are writing papers, studying for exams, or simply just trying to get through that 8 a.m. lecture.  In fact, our generation has been credited with spending too much coffee on this caffeine infused concoction. This caffeinated beverage becomes especially accessible if we own that magical machine called a Keurig that becomes the first thing we interact with in the morning. After that first brew, though, there’s still Starbucks and Dunkin to get us through the rest of the day. And afternoon. And evening. Which begs the question, “Can you ever have too much coffee?”

Oreos

A staple American snack, this black and white cookie is a favorite among hungry college students looking for a sugary fix. It’s hard to find a college kid who doesn’t enjoy this tasty treat. It’s a yummy fix for when you want something sweet and on the go, but while you may enjoy it, your brain might be suggesting otherwise. 

Ramen

The most stereotypical and famous college snack choice. It’s an easy and quick dinner when it’s too late to go to the dining hall, and all it requires is a microwave, water,  and a plastic fork. How much easier could a meal get?

Goldfish/Cracker-like Foods

They may not be everyone’s favorite go-to processed food (maybe you like Cheez-itz or Cool Ranch Doritos) but it’s that easy “chip” food that you throw into your mouth while watching Netflix or writing up an essay for an 8am. It’s easy to mindlessly eat these types of foods when you are occupied while doing homework or studying, but how is it affecting your brain?

Alcohol

While there are college kids that pass on alcohol, a research has shown that a majority of kids “work hard, play harder” when it comes to downing booze. Whatever your drink of choice is, alcohol can certainly be a staple of the college kids diet, and already has been known to affect you both physically, and mentally.


So how does ingesting these kinds of foods impact our mental health?

  1. Frequent consumers of coffee use it as a cognitive enhancer to keep awake and alert throughout the day, and has shown benefits associated with a reduction in cognitive decline and memory disorders. But as we begin to depend on it, so much so that we’re drinking more than 4 cups of coffee a day, we may start to experience awful symptoms such as insomnia, restlessness, and even anxiety.   
  2. Foods high in sugar, like Oreos,  get absorbed very rapidly into the bloodstream which often causes a surge of energy that later wears off and has us feeling a “sugar crash”, leaving us feeling drowsy and low.
  3. As college students, our brains are still developing, and a developing brain needs nourishing food to support proteins and tissues that help to transfer information between brain and body. A diet consisting of only processed foods, like goldfish, and microwavable foam cups, a.k.a. ramen, isn’t enough to provide these important nutrients, which can cause poor communication in the body leading to mental health problems such as anxiety or depression.
  4. Beverages like alcohol can actually increase anxiety and depression, because it inhibits neurotransmitters in the brain which makes us more likely perceive outside forces as threats and thus makes us “on edge” or stressed.

 

The moral of the story is, if you want a happy stress-free brain it’s important to think about a balanced diet that involves limited sugary and high-fat, processed foods, and instead a greater amount of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and healthy fats—like avocado! Without these nutrients, the brain may become overworked, depressed, or anxious and we all know that when we hit these points, it’s nearly impossible to function as a student in school, let alone as a human being. So take some time to focus on what you are actually putting in your body, because the key to stress relief and a happier you starts with what you put on your plate!

 

By: Laurie Thompson

"Mental Health" Monday

Let’s Talk About It: Exercise Addiction

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We’ve all probably heard the saying “too much of anything is a bad thing,” but does that really apply to everything? Can something like exercise fit into such a category? With the United States ranked as the most obese country in North America  it seems hard to believe that anyone goes to such extremes to exercise and workout, to the point where it is an addiction, when many of us can’t even motivate ourselves to get to the gym regularly. However, exercise addiction is a prevalent issue among avid gym-goers.

Although not classified as a DSM-5 disorder, exercise addiction goes hand-in-hand with many common classified disorders. The comfort in the habit can have the ability to transition to compulsive behavior when the desire for results outweighs the enjoyment of the actual activity.


Let’s Talk About It

I don’t mean to say that anyone who goes to the gym on a regular basis has a problem – really the opposite – more power to you if you’ve gotten into a routine of living a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Then again, there is a fine line where the balance may fall more heavily to one side of the scale and the negative effects that come with it, especially if one is trying to achieve weight loss through exercising. Living a balanced life doesn’t necessarily mean there should be an overcompensation in one area when there’s a lack in another. Just as much as exercise is an important factor in keeping this balance, proper nutrition and adequate amounts of rest also aid in achieving the results you want to see in a healthy and regulated way. Which means that sometimes, it IS better to take a nap, or even lay in your bed and watch netflix instead of trying to squeeze a workout in when your body is telling you not to.

Know When It’s Too Much

If you find yourself prioritizing your workouts over your downtime and even over your school work,  recognize that it may be time to re-prioritize. If you find yourself feeling fatigued, overly agitated, or more tense because you didn’t get to the gym, you may be experiencing a degree of withdrawal. It’s true working out is an excellent way to combat stress in your daily life because working out releases endorphins, that help you relax.  However, without the “high” many experience after completing a workout, leaving a sense of refreshment and rejuvenation, irritability can quickly replace what was once a good mood. If you define your happiness on the physical results you strive to attain, stop. There’s a lot more to who you are than how you look to other people. Workout for yourself, because it makes you feel good, not because it’ll make you look better to someone else.

Find Your Balance, and Listen to Your Instincts

Listen to your body. If it’s telling you to take a break, do it. Scheduling regular rest days not only aids in the repair of the muscles you’re working hard,  but will also help you reach your goals faster than pushing yourself beyond realistic limits. Be good to yourself! Eat the chocolate and get fries on the side because you do deserve it every once in awhile, find balance in learning to treat yourself while working towards realistic goals you set for yourself. Yes, having a plan for exactly how you want to achieve such goals is a good way of keeping on track and staying organized, but nothing in life is certain. Learn how to adjust to the challenges you may face along the way and know that one day, you’ll get there.

By: Nadine Ghantous

 

Feel Great

Charcoal-The Beauty Must-Have to Surviving the Semester

Screen Shot 2016-10-23 at 9.58.36 AM.pngAs midterm week, or weeks, as we like to call it, is winding down, you might find yourself overly tired and stressed out–and it shows, whether it be in the five pounds you gained from stress eating, the bags under your eyes from lack of sleep, or  the overnight breakout that seems to have “magically” erupted on your face. And while we might not be able to help with the exhaustion, we know the trick to make you look, and even feel, a whole lot better. Charcoal.

You heard us right. Charcoal is not longer just for those summer BBQs. It’s the newest and hottest thing in all your beauty and skincare, whether you realize it or not. Activated charcoal, which is essentially treated carbon, has been added to face washes and face masks — even toothbrushes and toothpaste!

The secret to its success? In skincare products, charcoal acts as a magnet to draw out dirt and oil. The longer the product sits on your skin, the more effective it will be in drawing out toxins, because it cleans skin more deeply than the basic “soap and water” combo by minimizing your pores. Need any more convincing? It can also improve overall surface texture by acting as an intense moisturizer for dry patches of skin. In oral hygiene products, activated charcoal can remove plaque and be used to whiten teeth. It’s a win-win x 10.

We’ve picked some of the best charcoal beauty products, according to reviews, that will help you look your best, even when you don’t feel it. With these high quality but cheap finds, these products are the best of the best! Try a few out and let us know how you like them!

Bioré Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser

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Biore is a drugstore brand that has definitely jumped on the charcoal bandwagon. The brand offers numerous products featuring the activated charcoal ingredient for a great value. It’s perfect for anyone on a college budget. The Deep Clean Charcoal Cleanser, which sells for $6.00, is great for acne prone skin. The product claims to get rid of pore clogging dirt and also detoxifies pores by drawing out and binding bacteria.

 

Bier Self-Heating 1 Minute Mask

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Need something quick and effective?  Biore also ventures into a charcoal Self Heating One Minute Mask. This mask, only $6, is the perfect product for the busy college girl on the go, and purifies skin in just one minute.

 

Freemans Charcoal & Black Sugar Mask

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To reap the benefits of a longer mask application, try Freemans Charcoal & Black Sugar Mask, which costs only $3.00 a tube. This mask moisturizes as well as softens skin, and the activated charcoal locks out oil and toxins. This mask is more suited for normal and combination skin types, and can also double as a face scrub.

 

Garnier Blackhead Eliminating Scrub

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If blackheads are your main concern, Garnier’s Blackhead Eliminating Scrub fights off blackheads and keeps dirt from building up in your pores. According to Garnier, it claims to unclog pores in just one use! ($7.00 a tube)

 

Yes to Tomatoes Clear Skin Charcoal Bar Soapscreen-shot-2016-10-22-at-10-42-27-pm

To detoxify the whole body, try a bar soap like Yes to Tomatoes Clear Skin Activated Charcoal Bar Soap, which sells for only $3.00 and is  great for cleansing the body after a tough and sweaty workout when pores are full of sweat, grime, and dirt.

 

inVitamin All Natural Activated Charcoal Tooth and Gum Powder

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Though a little on the pricer side, inVitamin All Natural Activated Charcoal Tooth and Gum powder is perfect for those brave enough to venture further into the “charcoal trend”. The brand inVitamin offers tooth and gum powder, which acts as a natural stain and teeth whitening agent. It comes in three flavors: orange, peppermint, and spearmint!

By: Melissa Lee

"Love Your Body, Love Yourself"

Why You Should be Your OWN Best Friend!

2015-12-28-1451345696-3530707-464e1e54d65ce275_10520150_920802287946427_620205038_n.xxxlarge.jpgUnless he suggests chillin’ by the fire while eating fondue, it’s unlikely Justin Bieber is the first person you think of when it comes to giving any legitimate advice. Surprisingly, however, the pop singer created a breakthrough ballad, “Love Yourself,” that provides some noteworthy guidance: “…if you like the way you look that much, then baby, you should go and love  yourself.”

Loving the way you look is a major part in constructing a powerful foundation for self-confidence. Here are some tips to become your absolute favorite person, your greatest cheerleader, and your best friend:

1.) Find more positive social media.

Do you gawk over Kylie’s lips, Casey Neistat’s lifestyle, or Michelle Phan’s makeup skills? Are you motivated by those you watch and follow, or do you find yourself envious and disheartened when you look at other girls on Instagram and compare yourself? If you chose the latter, clean out your social media. Turn your eyes from those who drain you to those who drive you to be the best possible version of yourself.

2.) Find your greatest qualities.

What about YOU makes YOU feel on top of the world? Jot down one physical and one personality characteristic you adore about yourself. Though you shouldn’t struggle to discover two remarkable traits about yourself, reach out to someone who knows you well if you do. Ask them to list and explain, in writing, one physical and one personality trait that makes you unique and incredible. Resist doubting their words! Put this paper where you look frequently (e.g. on your mirror, inside your laptop case) to remind yourself that you are worth it and truly one of a kind.

3.) Find what makes you feel alive.

Have you experienced someone who is both confident and sad at the same time? Nope! That’s because happiness and self-confidence are strongly related. Head to an a cappella show on campus, FaceTime a family member (and your dog) from home, or dance in your room before your roommates come back from class. They’ll never even know! Each day, engage in something that resonates with your soul. Write down what you did and how it made you feel. Reflect on these activities to bring you both gratitude and happiness and ultimately will help generate a stronger confidence and motivation to get out there and participate in the world with no fear!

By: Mary Mik

LGBT

Coming Out of the Closet

 

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What is your biggest fear in life?  Is it death?  Failure?  The Syracuse Clowns?  What if I told you that at one point, mine was simply being myself?

The thing is, I’m not alone. There are so many people in this world who are terrified of being comfortable with their sexual identity, whether it be out of fear of rejection, lack of acceptance by family and friends, or fear of doubt that what you feel for others isn’t actually real.

I have been there, and I’m here to tell you why your reason for staying in the closet does not, and should not,  take precedence over being who you want to be, and who you truly are.



Society, for lack of a better word, sucks. I understand how judgmental society is.  Everyone has their own thoughts and opinions on everything, and is less than skeptical to share them, and unfortunately, it is impossible to avoid people like that in this world.But not everyone is as cynical and judgmental as you may think. It may sound cliché, but the people that love you and understand your beautiful, unique self–those are the ones that will be there for you, even if you don’t realize it.  Nowadays, people have so many opinions about who you should be, how you should identify yourself, and even who you should love but the thing is, those who have different opinions shouldn’t matter to you. Those are the people who are so insecure with their own lives that they think its okay to tell others how to feel, and ultimately, how to live–because anybody naïve enough to create more oppression and more hate in this world are the people that are not happy with themselves.

The people in your life now, they ultimately are always going to be there for you. They are in your lives because they love and want to protect you.  And although they may want the best for you, you may feel like when it comes to coming out of the closet, they may not be that supportive.  And honestly, that’s okay.  Our parents grew up hearing about so many tragedies caused by homophobic bigots, and though expressed in a different context, moms and dads get concerned about our “choices” because of the horrible people our world is filled with. When you really think about it, everyone just gets scared or worried because they are afraid of what others will think. It’s the downfall of living in such a judgmental  world.

The best way to show them how ready you are to live with the negatives of the world, the readier they’ll be to support you in all of your decisions, including this one. Show them how proud you are to be you. Whether you like girls, guys, or both, it’s okay to be who you are. We shouldn’t live in fear of what others think, because at the end of the day, what should matter to you and what matters to your family members is your happiness. At the end of the day, your parents and your friends just want you to ultimately be you, and have you okay with being YOU!

When I first had curiosities about girls, I was absolutely terrified.  I grew up in a strict Jewish-Republican household, in a very prim and proper town, and everyone was always looking for something to talk about.  I convinced myself it was just a phase, because boys are what I was “supposed” to like.  If anyone ever found out, I would be the subject of discussion everywhere I went.

 In the end though, I did tell the world.  I left the closet, and I left all of the fear and cowardice with it.  And now, I am the happiest I can be.  I love who I am.  And I love who I surround myself with.  At the time, my family had difficulty adjusting to my feelings and thoughts on love and relationships. They didn’t quite understand, and honestly, I don’t blame them– but because of this, I felt like an outcast.  I felt unloved and unwanted, but that did not stop me from becoming the person I am today.  And I wouldn’t trade my decision for anything in the world.

Though society continues to tell us otherwise, we need to celebrate our differences, because they are truly what make us beautiful and unique. So much time is spent worrying about if we are too weird, too girly, too fat, too skinny, too tall, too short, too quirky,too awkward, too gay, too straight,  too smart, too loud, to masculine,  too “anything”–and we have to stop this, because it’s no way to live. Our differences, and our sexual preferences and our identities are what make us US, and we simply have to stop apologizing for being who we are. Stop living in fear of yourself and of others, and simply start being you. Because the YOU that YOU are is enough!

By: Allison Epstein

Feel Great

Sexually Frustrated: A Guide to Handling A Partner that is NOT Good in Bed

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You’re lying in bed with your partner, making out before things start to get really steamy, the anticipation is building, and then nope—nope, not good. They’re just bad. You wonder what they are doing, why they think this is a good technique, and how they think this will make you orgasm.

You don’t want to hurt their feelings, because they are your lover and friend, so you fake your way through some awkward foreplay, and then some lackluster sex that leaves you feeling dissatisfied, depraved, and wanting more. How do you address this if you want to keep sleeping with them? You can’t just go on like this, because let’s be real– being teased with the idea of climaxing and not reaching it is just painful. It can be literally painful. “Blueballs” might seem like an experience that is only had by those with, well, balls… but we ladies get “blueballed” too.

No one wants to hear (and most people don’t want to tell someone) that they suck in bed, so here are some tips to getting your sex life back on track and ensuring that both of you get the satisfaction you crave.

 

Playfully Challenge Them

When you finish and they are lying next to you and inevitably ask how it was for you,  give them a challenge like, “It was good babe, but I bet you can make me feel even better.” Giving this kind of challenge lets your partner know that you want more, but also doesn’t shatter their confidence completely. It makes the challenge a sexy game between the two of you. It will encourage the two of you to give each other more elicit, more physical responses, and open channels of communication that may have not been there before.

Show Them What You Think is Sexy

Watch porn together, bring props or toys into the mix, and dress up for each other. Actually showing each other what you like can improve a lackluster sex life. Porn especially is a great way to do this. Finding a video you love that shows your partner exactly what gets you going not only gives them a visual, but can also be great foreplay. You can watch a video together, turn to your partner, and simply say, after you both are hot and bothered, “Want to try that?”

 

Tell Them What You Want in the Moment

Some people are loud in bed, while others are quiet. Your volume in bed is your choice, but communicating with your partner in the moment can really improve your intimate experience without have to deal with it in more detail later. Some people use comments like, “Right there!” “Harder!”, “Faster!”, or “Just like that!” as sexy talk in bed, but adding these phrases can also allow your partner to make mental notes about what you especially like or don’t like. When they realize what you like and how you like it because of your exclamations, there is a higher chance they will change their technique to match what makes you vocal.

 

Tell the Truth

When all else fails, complete honesty is always the best policy. Any good relationship is built off of honesty between partners. There is no need to rip apart their emotions and tell them every little thing they do wrong in bed, but having an honest conversation about how you have not quite been reaching your ideal orgasm is good. It is important to remind your partner that you care for them and that they are the only person you want to be intimate with when you have this conversation, because you don’t want to shatter their confidence. It should be noted that this might be a better tactic to take for those in relationships. If you have this conversation with your casual hookup or friends with benefits, things could get weird—and not in the fun way.

Sex, regardless of who it’s with should be fun, exciting, and most importantly, should feel good–for BOTH of you. So stop suffering through the “vanilla” sex life by applying these tips in the bedroom. Trust me, you’ll be thanking us later!

By: Molly Velazquez-Brown

DIY · Feel Great · tips and tricks

Pumpkin: The Must Have Addition to Your SkinCare Routine

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The semester is halfway over, and I know that I am not the only one with homework up to my ears. Blinded by my endless to-do lists and textbook pages, I’ve barely realized that fall has arrived to our beautiful campus here in Syracuse; there’s a crisp breeze in the air, with blankets of leaves covering the grass, and everyone is  starting to bundle in sweaters and scarves. It’s time to take a breather from the books, embrace the season and relax… what better way to do so than to have  a fall-themed spa night?

The welcoming of fall also brings fall vegetables, many of which are  a great in homemade beauty products that are amazing for your skin – brussels sprouts, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, squashes; the list goes on. They do wonders for your body, both on the inside and outside. They provide so many benefits when used directly on your skin in the form of a skin treatment.

The most quintessential fall vegetable is pumpkin, of course! Pumpkin packs vitamin A and vitamin C that together soothe, hydrate, and repair damaged skin. Pumpkin also fights acne due to high levels of vitamins E and T. Along with these beneficial vitamins, pumpkin also promotes new cell production, fights inflammation, and controls oil production by your skin. It’s also very inexpensive (a can of organic pumpkin at Trader Joe’s is just $1.99!), making it accessible for college students on a budget.

Pumpkin is the perfect ingredient to use as a skin product base that will leave you with acne-free and hydrated skin. Here I’ve put together two homemade pumpkin beauty recipes, a face mask and a face scrub, that use simple, cruelty-free ingredients that any college student can get their hands on (or may already have on hand). Neither recipe requires animal products like yogurt or eggs that are common in many face mask recipes. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Face Mask

What you’ll need:

  • 2 tbsp pureed pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp honey or agave nectar
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon (optional, but recommended)

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Once combined, gently apply a thin coat to face (with fingers or a brush). Let the mask sit for 10-15 minutes, then rinse with warm water to reveal your glowing complexion!

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Pumpkin Face Scrub (for exfoliation!)

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp honey or agave nectar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg (optional)

Directions: Combine brown sugar and spices until well mixed. Next, mix in the pumpkin and honey/agave nectar. Store away or apply to the face/body to revitalize your skin. Rinse with warm water once finished.

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These treatments are perfect for a weekend spa night with your friends, and will stay fresh for several days if refrigerated. So whip up these face treatments and spend the night in watching movies and eating Ben and Jerry’s with your gal pals! We all deserve some down time, and now is the perfect time to treat both yourself and your skin! Enjoy!

By: Allie Urso

 

Feel Great

Detox Drinks Are Your New Best Friends

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Whether you’re seeking help for weight loss, or are just looking to feel refreshed, detox drinks are the perfect way to help you achieve your goals. With simple and natural ingredients that can be found in most kitchens, these three recipes are perfect for when you hit that “burnout” period that seems to be plaguing all us college kids lately. By being low-cal, nutrient rich, and yummy to sip, these drinks are sure to become your new best friends!

 

Apple Cider Detox Drink

My personal favorite is perfect for the chilly fall weather that seems to be, sporadically, upon us. This drink aids in digestion, boosts the immune system, cleanses the toxins out of your body, and helps you lose weight. Another bonus? It also tastes like hot apple cider! I personally like to drink this in the morning as a nice “wake-up”  before class or work, or at night during some late night study sessions!

Recipe:

  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.

 

Lemon “Spritzer” Detox Drink

The next detox drink is lemon, mint and cucumber infused water! Infusion recipes have become super popular lately, because they are super quick and easy. Combine in a water bottle with icy cold water, and you have an energizing, tasty drink to sip early in the morning to wake yourself up, late in the afternoon when you need a pick me up, or post workout. This drink provides relief for indigestion, inflammation, and contains natural electrolytes and antioxidants. Fun fact: lemon also rejuvenates the skin!  

Recipe:

  • 5 slices of cucumber
  • 1/2 a lemon
  • Couple of mint leaves

Water

As simple, and as silly, as it sounds, drinking proper amounts of water every day is extremely important for overall body health and function. Drinking water improves your mood, promotes healthy skin, prevents headaches and migraines, relieves fatigue and aids in weight loss! The best part is that this recipe takes no work! Water is one of the 6 essential nutrients that your body needs, and doctors recommend you should drink around eight 8 oz. glasses, which is around 2 liters or a half a gallon of water, a day.  Basically, water is the OG detox drink that is super underrated!

 

***Please note that it is not recommended to strictly live off detox drinks. They simply aide weight loss when used appropriately with exercise and healthy eating. Simply drinking detox drinks, without proper food, is dangerous, ineffective, and ill-advised.***

By: Abby Snelling

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Feel Great

On Guard: The Go-to Guide to Self Defense

It’s a chilly Wednesday evening, and you just finished studying for your finals in Bird. You’re walking down Euclid, when you suddenly feel uneasy.  There’s someone across the street, loitering.  Something is not quite right.  Have you considered what you would do if a stranger were to approach you?

The sad thing is, this is a harsh reality for people when they find themselves having to walk home in the dark after finishing homework in Newhouse, studying in Bird, or even just walking home from a fraternity party. We’ve been taught to be on the lookout, always alert, and always wondering if that weird looking guy across the road is going to try and attack us.

Because this is a reality nowadays, it’s important to keep yourself aware and well-protected in case you find yourself in a situation like those mentioned above. With these helpful tips, you can be more aware, increase your safety, and be ready in case someone does try to approach you.

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Use the Buddy System

The best step to keeping yourself safe is to avoid compromising situations in the first place.  As DPS recommends, stay with at least one other person and stick to well-lit areas.  Unfortunately, this is not always possible, in which case it’s crucial to know how to respond if you find yourself alone. If you get that uneasy feeling in your gut, listen to your instincts, and call a friend or even DPS to escort you back home.

 

Confidence is Key

Always walk with a purpose. Always, especially at night, limit distractions such as texting while you’re en route to your destination.  Consider turning down the music you’re listening to so you can be extra vigilant.  If you live off-campus or find yourself frequenting places late at night and unaccompanied, look into purchasing mace or pepper spray (Amazon!).  In New York, it’s legal to purchase mace from a pharmacy or licensed firearms dealer. All you need to do is show ID and sign a form stating you’ve never committed a felony.

 

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Be aware of where you are and who is around you.  If you see someone suspicious, don’t be afraid to stare them down. Switch sidewalks if you see someone ahead who makes you uncomfortable.  If someone gets too close for your liking, get loud. You may risk appearing as a crazy person, but it will prove that you aren’t afraid to cause a scene and they’ll most likely back off.

 

Always Be Ready To Protect Yourself!

As a last resort, attack. Attack fully-committed, in order to render the perpetrator slow to react and give you a chance to get away.  The go-to areas to aim for are the eyes, nose, ears, neck, groin, and knees. If you have keys, hold them in your fist with the key pointing outwards in case you must strike a perpetrator with them. The assailant is likely larger than you, so your best bet would be to use your open palm and hit their chin or nose in an upwards direction.  To hit their neck, use the side of your hand as if it were a blade. Remember that joints cannot bend in certain directions (i.e. fingers, wrists, arms).  Use this to your advantage as you twist the attacker’s joints in unnatural positions to cause them to release their grip on you.

 

We aren’t trying to scare you with this article, but we ARE trying to make you aware of the harsh realities that many people, especially girls, face. Next time you’re strolling through campus at night, whether you’re with a group or all alone, notify someone of your destination so they can make sure you get there safely.  Apps like Live Safe are super easy to use and you can always phone a friend on your way home from late nights at the library.  In the unlikely event that you do get caught in an unsafe situation, always to go with your instincts.

 

By: Helena Starrs

 

Feel Great

“Abs-olutely” Fit: Three Go-to Ab Circuits to Boost Your Core!

 

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Abs. They’re a love/hate relationship. Every aspect of our day involves the use of our abdomen, whether it be sitting, standing, or going for a run. On top of the physical need for a strong abdomen to improve quality of life, ab strength is a mental need for many as well.

You’d be lying if you said you never thought about how your stomach looked in a bathing suit. These thoughts are only natural, especially in a society that so sadly heavily depends on image to designate status. Whether you exercise your abs for personal pleasure, or for a killer beach bod, you know the love/hate relationship with that comes when strengthening your core. It’s a slow, hard process, but you know how great the results can be if you only hang in there.

Because of this, it can sometimes feel like we’re just doing the same thing over & over! I love a new ab workout, but I keep a few close to the core! Here I give you my 3 go-to ab circuits based on fitness level and ab strength.

 

BEGINNER

 

Equipment Needed:

  • None

Circuit (Repeat 2-3x):

  1. 10x Raised-leg crunches

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2.  10x Alternating, cross, side-touch sit-ups

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3. 10x Extended arm V sit-ups

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4. 10x Alternating side heel-touches

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5. 10x Hip raises

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6. 10x Straight leg sit-ups

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INTERMEDIATE

 

Equipment Needed:

  • One 5-10lb weight or medicine ball
  • Phone or watch to keep time

 

Circuit (Repeat 2-3x):

  1. 20x Leg lifts

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2. 20x Straight leg jack-knives

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3. 40x Ab Bikes (20x each side)

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4. 20x Weighted bent-leg jack-knives

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5. 20x Weighted straight-leg situps

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6. One Minute Plank

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ADVANCED

 

Equipment Needed:

  • Bench or equivalent elevated surface
  • One large yoga ball

 

Circuit (Repeat 1-3x):

  1. 20x Leg raises with hip lift

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2. 20x 90 degree toe touches

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3. 20x Elevated leg cross-body toe touches

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4. 20x Straight Leg Jack-knives

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5. 20x Bent leg V-Ups

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6. 20x Reverse crunches on yoga ball

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I encourage you to try all three and push yourself to complete the max round of circuits for each! However, don’t forget, abs aren’t only made in the gym. They are also made in the kitchen, so try to incorporate healthy eating along with exercise into your daily schedule to get the full effect! If you do, you are sure to look “abs-olutely fabulous.”

By: Renee Schiavone

 

 

 

"Mental Health" Monday

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay: Breaking the Mental Health Stigma

 

screen-shot-2016-10-17-at-2-58-56-pmEveryone gets stressed. The reality of college is that work is stressful, relationships are stressful, and finding a balance between it all has the tendency to be, well… stressful. When it comes to how we handle the challenges of our day to day, everyone’s different. The only right way to handle the ever-changing “status-quo” of our lives is to take it as it comes. And when it all gets to be just a little too much, and you feel like it’s one thing after another stacking up against you, those limits of exactly how much we can handle are pushed.  

More likely than not, everyone reaches a breaking point. For the majority of college students however, how to handle that breaking point is just as big a problem as the stressors they’re facing.

Facing the Facts
According to a study done by Penn State, anxiety has surpassed depression as the most frequent mental health issue college students deal with. However the majority of those who express their anxiety do not seek help in regards to coping with it. So when do you stop and realize when the anxiety you experience has reached a point when help is necessary? And why is it so hard for those who do experience a degree of anxiety that interferes with their academic and social lives to actually get the help they need?

When did your Mental Health Become a Bad Thing?

The stigma behind therapy has always been slightly negative because usually admitting to needing outside  help means admitting that you are unable to help yourself. It seems everyone is always striving to keep up that image of “having it all”, and it usually seems more appealing than being “crazy enough to see a psychologist.”

Think about it like this, why if people are so adamant about seeing a physician for a simple stomach ache or back pain, are they so afraid to talk to someone about days on end of unexplainable sleepless nights, or stress levels that leave them incapacitated, exhausted, and depressed? Just as much as the flu can leave you lying in bed wishing for congestive relief, shouldn’t the stress that comes with our day to day lives that overwhelms us to the point of shutting down be enough to seek help?

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You Are Not Alone
Although I sit here and write to you about how the stigma surrounding therapy has inadvertently hindered many from receiving potentially helpful treatment, during a portion of my college career, something I’m not usually eager to share is that I  myself sought out the assistance of a therapist. Although I’ve used the adjective “melodramatic” to describe myself more than a handful of times, I recognized the when it came to my happiness and well-being, I wasn’t overly emotional or irrational about the fact that I was unhappy.

Like a lot of people my age, especially college students,  for too long I had convinced myself that I was making a bigger deal out of the constant feeling of anxiety in the pit of my stomach. “It will pass,” I would think. “One day I’ll wake up and I’ll just ‘get over it’.”

 I mean what could I really complain about. I was a healthy twenty year old having the time of my life at an amazing university, with a good support system of family and friends.

Don’t get me wrong though, I didn’t have this epiphany overnight. It took months of coping in unhealthy ways to recognize that ignoring the problem wasn’t going to make it go away and I needed outside help. It wasn’t until a friend confided in me with her concerns about her own unhappiness that I realized maybe I wasn’t crazy for thinking it was crazy to not be happy. It took listening to a complete stranger, someone totally unbiased, who knew nothing but my name, to tell me that I was far from alone when it came to the anxiousness I felt every day.

Break the Stigma
Listen to your Instincts. You know yourself. You know exactly how much your body can physically and mentally handle. And I get it, there will be those weeks when you have to push those limits in order to succeed, but be able to recognize when to pull back. If the stress is daunting enough to have you running and hiding from it in any possible way, you’re not alone. Know when to ask for help, whether it’s from a family member, a friend, or even the on campus counseling center,  and recognize that at times, it’s perfectly ok to not be ok.

Syracuse University Counseling Center Contact Information: 315.443.4715

By: Nadine Ghantous

Feel Great

Step Away from the Cell Phone :The Unspoken Link Between Depression and Social Media

Screen Shot 2016-10-17 at 12.01.59 PM.pngWe all have those FOMO moments (fear of missing out) when we see someone’s snapchat story of a party we didn’t attend, scroll past an instagram of friends posing without us, or see statuses about events we couldn’t make it to. It becomes addicting to watch the stories, like the instagram photos, and scroll through the various social media feeds that seem to be embedded within our lives. It can be so addicting that, depending on our personal backgrounds, it can become harmful to our mental health if used excessively.

Although social media sites like Facebook have their benefits in small doses, the constant checking of apps like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram have the potential to create extremely negative internal thoughts and depressing feelings. This is especially common in young adults, and increasingly so in individuals with pre-existing depressive thoughts or social anxiety. The big question is: WHY?

Why is this the case?

  • This constant access to social media sites makes us more likely to compare ourselves to people on Facebook, whether they are a close friend, someone that we may have met once in our lives, or even someone we knew years ago. We end up formulating idealized images of people that may or may not match up with reality.
  • We get caught in a cycle of “liking” photos, being bothered by getting “unfriended,” and posting photos when we’re the happiest even if that’s not how we always feel. It’s a constant game of “How can I look like I’m always ‘thriving’?”
  • Long periods of time spent on social media sites can take away from in-person social interactions, physical exercise, and other activities. They have the potential to decrease social bonding and increase feelings of loneliness and isolation in those most vulnerable.

The Science Behind It

The nearly competitive act of counting how many likes we get one week compared to the next, and comparing ourselves to our “online”  friends becomes a threat to our mental health, especially our self-confidence, which in turn can make us feel sad. What’s more, aspects of physical social interactions such as eye contact, hugging, and laughing are as amazing in theory as they are in persson because they physically make us feel good due to chemicals like dopamine–a natural substance that plays an important role in pleasure and reward–that fires away in the brain when we’re in good company.

As you may have guessed, we aren’t getting as much of this through a screen, especially if the constant cycle of content on social media isn’t something particularly welcoming.

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How can we prevent it?

Moderation

There’s a saying that all things can be good in moderation, and that’s certainly applicable to social media! It’s not ultimately necessary to delete your social media accounts, but if you start to have negative or depressive feelings when spending time on these accounts, it may be time to consider cutting back the hours you spend logged-in and evaluate the reasons why you get on to begin with.

Learn the Difference between Reality and Fantasy

We tend to glamorize the lives of our peers. It seems that nowadays everybody is “so happy” and “#thriving”, but just because we see pictures or statuses about our friends’ so-called ‘fantastic” lives doesn’t mean they are always true. We  have to realize that their lives aren’t perfect all the time, and that what we see isn’t always the truth. A picture is worth a thousand words, but it doesn’t always tell the whole story. Remember that.

Embrace the Non-Social Media World

The ability to be constantly connected at the touch of a screen isn’t always a blessing. Sometimes, it can be downright annoying.  Instead, embrace the beauty of in-person interactions in real time. Sometimes a few physical friends are much better than the hundreds of online friends and “likes” that social media platforms offer.

Remember, social media isn’t evil.  In fact, it can be an awesome networking tool that allows you to create opportunities, and it offers quick access to important news.

It only becomes a problem when too much of our time is inundated with social media that our mental health becomes compromised. It is important to notice if and when this happens and to give your health the attention it deserves. Social media will always be there for you, but real life people necessarily won’t. So take a break from the screens, turn off the tweets, and try to experience the world in a non-digital way.

By: Laurel Thompson

Feel Great · Get Well

The Genetics of Peer Pressure and Alcohol

A team of six researchers, three of which are from Syracuse University, published a study this semester exploring nature versus nurture as causes of adolescent alcohol use.

According to Michelle Zaso, a SU clinical psychology graduate student involved in the study, says the study explores genetic differences in people’s vulnerability to drinking based on their peers and tendencies to seek out peers with similar levels of drinking.

The study focused on one gene, DRD4, and whether people with the DRD4 gene were more likely to be influenced by their peers.

The study was a follow-up from Syracuse University Professor Dr. Aesoon Park’s abnormal psychology dissertation project from 2011. The study was about how people who have the DRD4 gene are especially vulnerable and influenced by their environment when compared to people who don’t have the DRD4 gene. They feel like everyone’s drinking around them. “Your friends think that drinking heavily is an okay thing to do, or sometimes you even feel like it’s an awesome thing to do,” said Park. “By perceiving that, that cognition is actually causing them to engage in more drinking.”

Prior studies indicate that peer drinking norms are arguably one of the strongest correlates of adolescent drinking.

Afton Kapuscinski, director of the psychological services center at SU, has noticed that college students underestimate the dangers of alcohol and substance abuse.

“Normative doesn’t mean not dangerous,” said Kapuscinski. “Research also indicates that college students tend to overestimate how much other people drink, and they underestimate the amount of students who don’t drink at all.”

Kapuscinski claims that 20 percent of SU students are completely abstinent from alcohol, which she says is higher than most students think.

Eventually Park wants to see some kind of way to predict which people are at a high risk of drinking, by considering an individual’s genes and environment. “So we can prevent it or observe it so we can intervene earlier rather than too late,” said Park.

Park said that she hopes that someday screening for alcohol abuse risk will become like cancer screening. The goal is that when people go to their primary care doctors, they can screen the genetic risk of alcohol problems and provide symptoms and resources for prevention and treatment.

“Genetic counseling is already happening,” said Park. “It’s a long way to go for the drinking problem, but that’s potentially the future. That’s why we’re doing this.”

Dr. Stephen Glatt is an associate professor at SUNY Upstate and one of the authors of the study. “There’s a few different ways that drinking behaviors become entrenched. Some people drink to self medicate,” said Glatt. “Some people just drink because other people are drinking; that’s what this study is about.”

Glatt said that they were interested in seeing if the amount of alcohol taken in by college students is influenced by how much the people around them are drinking, especially because college is a particularly influential period for peer relationships on drinking.

Glatt explained that students drink more if the people around them are drinking more. “People tended to conform to the norms around them,” said Glatt. “This particular study focused on seeing if that, in part, was related to specific genes.”

People with the DRD4 genotype were more likely to drink more when their peers had more positivity towards drinking and alcohol abuse, according to Glatt. People with that genotype tend to hang out with people who are more in favor of drinking.

“It’s not a causal relationship – who you hang out with and what your attitude towards drinking is determined by a lot of factors, it’s not just genetic factors – it’s just probabilistic,” said Glatt.

Though the team feels that these are important public health problems to study, there isn’t a follow-up study coming soon because of a lack of support, according to Glatt. “At this point, we published the paper, we hope that that will be influential in swaying public policy and swaying other scientists to take a look at this so we can come to a consensus that we need more research on this and it’ll be easier to get the funding.”

“What we came away from this study understanding is that this one particular genotype is a small piece of the puzzle in determining who you hang out with,” said Glatt.

Glatt said that the most important takeaway from the study is that genes and environments are both important for determining drinking behavior. “We know that for complex behaviors like drinking, it’s not nature or nurture, it’s both,” said Glatt. “So our job is to figure out what part nature, what part nurture, and how those interact and influence drinking behavior.”

The study was published by Park, Glatt, SU Clinical Psychology Graduate Students Jueun Kim and Zaso, University of Missouri Faculty Kenneth Sher and Brown University Associate Professor Lori Scott-Sheldon.

 

By Abby Rose Sugnet