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Teatime
Written By Mary Beth Tierney

Leaves and temperatures are falling!  The Fall season is a great time to warm up with a cup of tea!  Tea is a way to have a small but satisfying moment within an otherwise hectic schedule.  When I worked with Pat Wasyliw, Senior Associate Director of Admissions in the College of Arts and Sciences, my nutritionist eye noticed Pat carrying a pot of tea from the staff kitchen to her office.  Recently, I reached out to Pat to chat about her practice of enjoying tea at her workplace.  “Comforting” and “soothing” were words Pat used to describe her enjoyment of drinking tea.  Tea not only warms and soothes us, but also creates spaces to welcome connections with colleagues.  Pat has been known to provide visitors to her office with a warm cup of tea.  Pat keeps in her office a selection of fine teas from her travels across the globe as one of Cornell’s experts in international admissions.  During my visit, she prepared a pot of tea made with a blend specifically for Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth.  Pat prepared our tea in an elegant teapot - surely another exquisite find from her global travels, I suspected.  But no.  Pat purchased the teapot at a deep-discount chain store in Ithaca.  Pat also offered me a selection of fine chocolates from Ecuador.  My visit with Pat was fun and memorable!  

Recognized by cultures around the world for its capacity to soothe, restore and refresh, tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world, after water.  Teas may also provide health benefits.  For example, both caffeinated and herbal teas provide powerful antioxidants which help reduce inflammation and prevent chronic disease.  Both caffeinated and herbal teas may provide small amounts of minerals such as potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, copper and zinc.  Without added creamers or sugars, teas have no calories.  The amount of caffeine in a tea varies according to the type of tea and the brewing strength.  Caffeinated teas include black, green, yerba mate, and oolong, all from the same plant Camellia sinensis.  Whereas black tea has the highest amount of caffeine among teas, the amount is half that of coffee.  Most herbal teas are caffeine free and a great way to hydrate tastefully while also sneaking in some nutrients.  During storage, avoid exposing teas to light, heat, moisture, odors, and air to maintain flavors and freshness. NOTE:  As with other foods, teas also lose beneficial nutrients during any processing.  As a result, products such as tea powders, decaffeinated teas and bottled tea drinks may not offer the same health benefits.

Here are general instructions for preparing herbal teas:  
For both preparations below, use at least one teaspoon of dried or two tablespoons of fresh herb or herb mixture (or more to taste) per cup of water.  Experiment a little and come up with variations to call your own—you can create specialty blends for different purposes and give them away as personal gifts.  Some herbs that are especially nutritious and strengthening include oatstraw, red clover, nettle, dandelion, chickweed, bladderwrack, burdock root, peppermint, lemon balm, and chamomile.
Some nourishing herbs, like oatstraw and red clover, can be used in much larger amounts.  A few delicate roots are prepared like leaves, such as valerian, ginger, goldenseal, and slippery elm bark.  

  • Herbal teas from leaves, stalks, flowers, seeds, and fruits: Put herbs in a non-aluminum pot.  Pour just-boiled water over herbs.  Cover and steep for twenty minutes.  Strain into cups.  
  • Herbal teas from most roots:  Put herbs in a non-aluminum pot.  Bring water to boil.  Add herbs, lower heat.  Simmer covered for twenty minutes.  Strain into cups.

Natural does not mean safe for everyone:
Most medicinal herbs are safe and without dangerous side effects.  However, teas do not have to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before being sold to the public.  Also, a prescription isn't needed to buy them.  Therefore, it's up to you to decide what's best for you. Here are some tips to keep in mind:  

  • Herbal supplements, including teas, may be harmful when taken in large doses, by individuals with specific medical conditions, or with certain medications.
  • Tell your doctor if you're taking any dietary supplements, including the consumption of any teas in large volumes, no matter how safe you think they are.  

Cornell Resources:
For inspiration, visit the Robison Herb Garden:
https://events.cornell.edu/robison_herb_garden
Other Resources:
The National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health’s HerbList App provides fast, free access to science-based summaries on more than 50 popular herbs:  
https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/herblist-app
References:
https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/preventing-illness/the-health-b...
https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/tea/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6512146/

Celebrate A World Of Flavors At Cornell Dining
Written by Daniella Pena '22, Cornell Dining Nutrition Student, Health Care Policy Major

March is annually recognized as National Nutrition Month by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and this year’s theme expands the celebration globally by encouraging us to “Celebrate a World of Flavors!” For Cornell students and staff, these globally-inspired flavors are offered year-round in our own little world of Cornell Dining eateries. 

Cornell Dining’s newest North Campus residential dining hall, Morrison Dining, features dedicated flavor destinations with rotating selections including build your own stir fry, pizza and personalized homemade pasta stations, Kosher and Halal dedicated sites, and flat top grill and wok centers. Visiting Morrison allows you to take a quick world tour during your lunch break, with offerings of Tom Yum soup, Thai yellow curry chicken, quinoa stuffed peppers, Israeli salad, mushroom alfredo, mussels, and much more! 

Central Campus encompasses most retail locations which cater to busy schedules, while providing specialized flavors for any craving! Bus Stop Bagels is a student favorite with bagel selections including Sesame, Long Island, Spicy Italian, Cheddar, and Salt Rosemary. To top off these already delicious bagels, Bus Stop Bagels offers a wide array of signature toppings featuring apple butter, Cornell honey-roasted peanut butter, basil pesto, cinnamon sugar, hummus, and pickled fennel and cucumber! Cream cheese fans will be delighted to sample the mixed berry, bacon scallion, honey walnut, and sundried tomato whipped cream cheese offerings that are abundant at Bus Stop Bagels. 

If ever you find yourself on the opposite side of campus, West Campus has six residential dining locations, and many countries of flavor to be found within them! 104West! is Cornell’s Kosher inspired dining hall, where you can find entrees including baja-style fish tacos, vegetable fajitas, grilled mushroom lentil beef burgers, Matzoh ball soup with chicken, Challah rolls, sliced Nova Lox, and countless other selections that put the 104% of scrumptious flavor in 104West! Near the center of West Campus, lies Becker Dining, with its offerings of pasta primavera, wilted rainbow chard, thai lemongrass shrimp soup, Singapore Mai Fun Noodles, Green Curry Broth, Japanese Miso Stew, Tempura Orange Chicken & Broccoli, and Chicken Pot Stickers amongst other flavor-full dishes!

For anyone craving a quick Asian-inspired meal during one of those 30 minute lunch breaks, Franny’s is a lunch time hero dressed as a food truck! Located behind Milstein Hall, Franny’s features daily offerings of Chicken Tikka bowls which are served on a delicious naan bread wrap filled with curried peas and potatoes, and include a slide of cilantro-mint and tamarind chutney. Ramen fans can enjoy Ramen Pork Bowls, served with bean sprouts, fresh cilantro, scallions, fried shiitake mushrooms, a fried egg, and the star of the show: seasoned pork belly with lime! If ever indecisive between Asian or American cuisine on any given day, you don’t have to decide at Franny’s! The pineapple burger blend combines a beef burger with mushrooms, and is topped with carrot daikon slaw, sliced pineapple, Hoisin sauce for a kick, all atop a delightful brioche bun! So while some schedules may only accommodate a 30 minute lunch, Franny’s food is so scrumptious you may even find yourself with a few minutes to spare after devouring any of these Asian-inspired selections!

Snow or shine, rain or dry, prelim season or prelim season, Cornell Dining has all savory, sweet, nostalgic and worldly cravings covered! 

What Happened?!? Sneaky Pandemic Weight Gain
Written By Kerry Howell

Do you find yourself having gained weight since the pandemic started? How did that happen and what can you do about it?
A mini-series from Cornell Wellness

Part 1: The Loss Of Unintentional Activity
All of a sudden, poof, it was gone. The daily walk from the parking lot into work and then back each day. The walks across campus to take care of banking during a lunch break. The walk to another building for a work meeting. We took these things for granted as simply part of our days and weeks, and then for many of us, they altogether stopped abruptly. These bouts of physical activity are called “unintentional activity” since they occur purely as a byproduct of getting somewhere, and so they differ in nature from our 30-60 minute elliptical, basketball, and weight training “intentional activity” sessions. Unintentional activity makes up a very important and often under-recognized part of total daily activity, frequently it’s the type that actually burns more calories on a daily basis than intentional activity does. This unintentional activity was drastically reduced to waking up and taking a few steps to a destination somewhere inside our houses to start our work days, banking exclusively online or getting into a car to sit in a line at a drive through teller, and holding meetings while sitting in a chair and Zooming. Personally, since I’ve started working back on-campus again, I have had the eye opening experience of just how much unintentional activity I was missing when I was working from home. Since I wear a step tracker, I can tell you that walking to and from A lot for me is 3,000 steps (1.5 miles), walking to the bank on Ho Plaza and back is also 3,000 steps (1.5 miles), and walking round trip to and from meetings is 2,000-4,000 steps (1-2 miles). These footsteps, when not taken, add up to weight gain over time. How much you might ask? Every mile burns approximately 100 calories. If I stop walking that mile every day for one year it will add up to about a 10 pound weight gain. If you find yourself in this position, you’re not alone.

Below are Pro Tips on how to start adding unintentional activity back into your day, whether you’re continuing to work remotely or are back on one of the campuses.

Working Remotely - Tips For Adding Unintentional Activity Back Into Your Day

  • If you are meeting with individuals, ask if they are okay having a remote walking meeting with you. Invest in a pair of Bluetooth headphones and either walk around your house or walk outside while you meet
  • At the end of every Zoom meeting walk around your house or up and down the stairs for 5 minutes
  • Faux-commute to and from your work location at home. Fifteen minutes before starting your work day and 15 minutes after ending your work day, take a walk outside in your neighborhood or hop on a treadmill if you have one

Working On Campus – Tips For Adding Unintentional Activity Back Into Your Day

  • If individuals you are meeting with are also on campus, ask if the meeting can be a walking meeting instead of a Zoom meeting
  • Re-establish patterns of walking during break periods to take care of errands like banking and mailing packages
  • If you pay for a parking permit, consider parking in a lot that is further away and is free, and then walking the extra distance

A Few Quick Wellness Techniques For Times Of Acute Stress
Written By Ruth Merle-Doyle

Our mind-body connection can become vividly apparently in times of acute stress. In my own lived experience during suddenly stressful moments, I find my mind races, my chest feels buzzy, my emotions boomerang and I have trouble connecting with the supportive people in my life. You might not experience stress the same way, but instead have your own flavor of stress reaction such as feeling your heart race, your stomach hurt, your volume of anger go up, and/or coping in ways that may not be as helpful as you’d like them to be or as healthy. Whatever your reaction, there are quick Wellness relaxation and mindfulness techniques that can be supportive when stress sneaks up on you.

  • Reboot your brain with 5 Finger Breathing, which is a short multi-sensory activity you can do in any situation. 
    • In a nutshell, you start with your index finger at the base of your opposite pinky. As you inhale, you trace up your pinky, and when your exhale, trace down your pinky. Then, you repeat for all your fingers until you end with your thumb. If you have time, go back the other way.
  • Be led through the guided imagery of a Waterfall Meditation
    • On your own, you can start in stillness and let your mind focus on a scene or scape that makes you feel relaxed. Consider visualizing a warm, sandy beach, being near a cool, mountain stream or sitting cozy next to a fireplace on a cold day. What do you see in your scene of choice? What do you smell? Can you hear certain sounds? Spend 3-4 minutes intentionally focusing on your scene.
  • Try a Listening Meditation where you intentionally listen to sound to create a sense of focus. 
    • You might prefer to head outside and take a moment to let your senses heighten. Find a natural area where you feel safe and comfortable. This can be any location as long as it is away from a built environment. For just 1-2 minutes, focus on each of your senses: What do you see? What do you hear? Do you notice certain smells? What can you feel with places that connect to the ground? Can you taste something? 
  • Need to move?
    • Try a gentle Chair-Based Yoga routine. This link provides a short video as well as poses that you can try on your own while in a chair.

If our wellness staff can be helpful as you navigate a stressful time, please reach out to us through email. We can start a conversation with you to help you clarify what matters most and how to take steps forward. In addition as Cornell employees, you also have access to fantastic Cornell counselors at the Faculty Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) or connect with a tele-counselor through eni Confidential Counseling Services

#Fitspo Got You Down? Fitness Imagery, Social Media, and our Wellness
Written By Cathryn Lucas 

If you’ve ever searched online for workout routines or exercise ideas, you’ve most likely come across fitspiration. Sometimes called fitspo for short, fitspiration is a type of social media post that purports to provide motivation for people to exercise – hence the portmanteau of “fitness” and “inspiration.” Fitspo generally includes an image overlaid with a quippy phrase, a combination that is perfectly suited for circulation on social media platforms. Indeed, fitspo has become ubiquitous in our digital world, with millions of posts, shares, and likes each year.  
 
Fitspo began as a response to media representations of uber-thin celebrities and other “thinspiriational” posts that circulated on the early internet. The burgeoning phenomenon had the potential to disrupt cultural norms and beauty ideals. However, as fitspo grew, the bodies featured in its images narrowed to a small set of white, thin-yet-toned, cis women’s bodies. Researchers have found fitspo to be harmful to young women who interact with its imagery (Tiggemann & Zaccardo, 2015). As with other phenomena that have such broad cultural reach, it is important to ask critical questions about fitspo and its circulation to understand the power of its messaging.  
 
The same strategic composition of fitspo posts that drives circulation also reinforces the cultural norms and beauty ideals it originally set out to combat (Lucas & Hodler, 2018). This is partially due to the composition of the images themselves. Not only is there a narrow range of bodies depicted, but the bodies that are featured are almost always presented in such a way that only her torso is visible – characterized by a flat stomach and thin thighs framed by form-fitting, name-brand sports bra and shorts. This compositional technique is called compartmentalization and is widely used in pop culture and advertising. Compartmentalizing the body dehumanizes the woman pictured, and her body becomes an object to be desired. Generally, pop culture representations target straight men; therefore, the compartmentalized woman’s body is on display for men’s sexual or romantic desire. In fitspo, the presumed audience is straight women; therefore, the compartmentalized woman’s body is on display for other women’s desire to have that body. Posting, sharing, and liking these images helps to reinforce the thin-yet-toned, white body as the universally ideal body.  
 
Just as fitpso images reinforce the idealization of a particular kind of body, the quippy phrases reinforce particular ideas about exercise and self-worth. Fitspo phrases frame the body/mind as an enemy to be conquered through compulsory high intensity exercise. They also often promote restrictive eating practices and depict exercise as solely about “burning off” food you’ve eaten. According to fitspo, exercise should be your top priority and you should overexert yourself during every workout. These kinds of phrases tap into existing cultural ideas that connect fatness to laziness and thinness to hard-work & moral superiority. Therefore, your body size and unhappiness your fault, and you are a bad person if you do not exercise.  
 
Taken together, the images and quippy phrases work to frame the body as a trophy to be earned, it is a body done-to rather than done-in (Lucas & Hodler, 2018). Further, they frame exercise as solely about achievement of that ideal body, leaving out the multitude of other reasons we might engage in and enjoy physical activity. Surely, there is a need for motivational content that people can connect with. It is important for content creators to think critically about how that content is constructed and the kinds of messages it sends. And, we all engage with content on our own social media feeds, we can acknowledge what we see and how we feel about it. We might take a moment to reflect and ask ourselves what we want when it comes to being fit/healthy/well, where that desire comes from, and how our engagement with social media content is affecting our well-being.  

If you’d like to learn more about the history and cultural ramifications of fitspo or see some the fitspirational images, please watch the recording of Cathryn’s Lunch & Learn.  

Works Cited:  

  • Lucas, C. & Hodler, M. (2018). #TakeBackFitspo: Building Queer Futures in/Through Social Media. In Toffoletti, K., H. Thorpe, and J. Francombe-Webb (Eds.), New Sporting Femininities: Embodied Politics in Postfeminist Times, pp. 231-251. London: Palgrave Macmillan  
  • Tiggemann, M., & Zaccardo, M. (2015) Exercise to be Fit, not Skinny: The Effect of Fitspiration Imagery on Women’s Body Image. Body Image: An International Journal of Research, 15, 61–67. 

Becoming A Cold-Weather Bicyclist
Written by Cathryn Lucas
#MoveMore

Like other cities in the US, Ithaca saw an increase in bicycling this summer as the pandemic shut-down indoor recreation opportunities. Lots of people have continued to spin their wheels during our lovely autumn weather, but the daylight is dwindling, the leaves are falling, and we know that the cold and snow are just around the corner. But the inevitable winter weather doesn’t have to keep you off your bike. 

Through trial & error, I’ve found a few things that work to keep me warm & dry even on the coldest of snowy days. Maybe they’ll work for you too! 

I came to be a cold-weather bicyclist quite by accident. Sure, I had a “nice bike” that I rode for exercise and even used to train for a triathlon. But I’d been a fair-weather cyclist, only taking it out during the warm summer months. Then my car suddenly quit working one November, and with the repairs costing more than it was worth (not to mention more than I could afford), I scrapped it for $200. With that fateful windfall I bought an “around-town bike” and began my transformation into cold-weather cyclist. 

I can’t say that I know everything there is to know or that I have all the answers. I can share what I’ve learned about myself over the past decade of winter riding. 

What (not) to wear. On my first cold, cold day, I thought I’d wear my warmest sweatpants. Surely that would be good, right? Big mistake! The wind cut right through them and they kept getting caught in the chain. Turns out warmth and comfort on the couch do not equate to warmth and comfort on the bike. Luckily, I had done some cold-weather running, so I re-assessed and borrowed from my running clothes. 

But running & bicycling pose different coldness problems. It took a while to get used to the problem of over-heating in the bitter cold. I needed something that protected against the wind but also allowed for breathability. I gradually found that layering and zippers worked for me on top. I can un-zip the collar to let some heat out for a while and then re-zip. For pants, I’ve found that on the coldest days I do need to layer, but for most wintery days my running tights provide enough warmth.

I know some people like wool, but I just don’t like the way it feels. So, I use a “cold-gear” under armour shirt with additional quarter or half zip shirts under a fairly light-weight windproof jacket. Now, I know cycling can be quite expensive, and that goes for the clothing too. But you don’t need to spend a lot of money. I was able to find gear second-hand or on clearance. You might find something at the annual Cornell Outdoor Education Gear Sale (the 2020 sale was cancelled because of COVID, but look for details about the next sale). 

Warm hands & feet make for a happy rider. Like with finding what worked for clothing, I had to try different glove options to find what worked. Unlike running, cycling demands the hands to shift and brake and steer. Plus, your hands are out on the handlebars in the wind. I first used my running gloves, and they worked well to about 30-40 degrees. After that, it was just too cold. Now, I am privileged to have family members get me warm gloves for my birthday. They are a “lobster-style” where the fingers are grouped together for warmth. It took a while to get used to riding with them, so I’d suggest doing some slow practicing in an empty parking lot or quiet street before taking them on your regular route(s). 

I have not used them, but I know some folks who love their “bar-mitts” (neoprene attachments that go on your handlebars to provide a pocket of warmth). They say that they can wear thinner gloves and feel more secure shifting & braking without the bulk of lobster-style gloves. 

The one neoprene accessory I do use are toe covers. They are small and slip on over your toes inside your shoes. I like wearing them over my socks, but they can be worn under or over. Again here, I generally don’t like the feel, but many people will wear wool socks, as wool provides warmth and wind-breaking properties. 

Protect your head. On all my rides, I wear a helmet and glasses. In the winter, I’ve found that I need to adjust them because I also wear a hat and a balaclava that covers my nose, mouth, and neck. Down to about 30 degrees, I find that one hat suffices. But, once it gets colder, I want to get my face covered up too. The problem with the balaclava is that then my glasses fog! There are some anti-fog sprays you can use, but I’ve found that ski goggles don’t get foggy and (bonus) keep me a bit warmer. Some people think they look a little silly, but I like to think that they make me look cool!  

Be seen. Since the daylight is getting shorter, it might be impossible to completely avoid riding in the dark. For me, headlights and taillights are a must. I even have blinking lights on my jacket and/or backpack. Good lights are becoming more affordable, and they are now usb rechargeable, so no more running through AAA batteries. 

Dashing through the snow. Cold temperatures, of course, aren’t the only thing we have to deal with in the winter. Riding in the snow takes some getting used to, but with practice you can feel confident. For several winters, I rode with the mountain bike tires that the bike came with, and they did well giving me traction and helping me feel in control. When I finally retired that first bike, I got studded snow tires for the new bike. I generally put them on around the time of the first snow and keep them on all winter. That said, I don’t think you need them to enjoy snow riding. If you aren’t feeling confident riding in the snow, it might be another good time to go to an empty parking lot or quiet street to do some slow practice. The bike might want to slide, and that can be okay. A friend told me once, “ride with the slide.” You want to feel loose but in control, keeping your weight over the back tire and don’t lock-up the brakes! 

My new bike came with fenders, but if it didn’t, they would be the first thing I’d get. They keep the grimy wet road gunk off, so you stay clean and dry. Also, be sure to rinse and wipe down your bike after going out in the slush & snow. Road salt and grime can gunk-up the gears and chain. A bit of maintenance and prevention will keep the bike happily rolling for many years to come.  

Find community. We might ride our bikes on our own, but we are in community with other folks across Ithaca. Having people to ask questions and gear recommendations has been super useful as I’ve become a cold-weather cyclist. Bike Walk Tompkins, Recycle Ithaca’s Bicycles (RIBs), Finger Lakes Cycling Club, and Cornell Outdoor Education are all good places to get connected. 

Sleep, Exercise And The Fall Back Of “Changing the Clocks"
Written by Ruth Merle-Doyle
#SleepHygiene #MoveMore

We all know how imperative sleep is to our functioning hours, especially when we have not had enough of it. When looking at sleep tips, you’ll see “regular exercise” mentioned as a piece of the good-night-sleep puzzle. Exercise has a positive relationship with getting “quality sleep,” often defined as a shorter to-sleep time frame, less waking in the middle of sleep and longer total sleep time. Evidence suggests changes to neurochemicals and hormones might be a factor, as well as the exercise related decrease in symptoms of anxiety and depression. But how much exercise? What kind? When?  Let me shed a little light on those variables.

How much? The beauty is that you do not need to train for a marathon or triathlon to reap the benefits of exercise on your sleep quality. Shooting for 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise throughout a week’s time is your best bet. That can be the equivalent of intentionally moving 30 minutes, 5 days per week. And often, your 30 minute walk will translate into better sleep the next time you lay down for your sleep time which can be immediate positive feedback. 
Take home message: Spread your 150 minutes out throughout your week and plan to move 30 minutes most days. That routine can offer consistently positive effects on sleep. Keep it simple and choose activity and exercise you enjoy and that makes you feel successful when completed.

What kind? There does not seem to be one perfect exercise that helps sleep. I often tell my wellness clients that diversity of exercise types creates the best outcomes. For example, when you are planning your week’s exercise and hoping to glean better sleep from it, consider adding elements of cardio (walking, biking, Zumba, etc.) most days of the week, and some strength training (strength based group fitness classes, HIIT, body weight movements, etc.) 2-3 workouts per week. It is suggested to add flexibility and balance work for 1-2 workouts per week, but I have a pro-tip to share. Consider options like virtual yoga classes that can blend elements of strength, flexibility and balance. This challenges your body in multiple ways and saves you time by reducing the number of workouts on your list every week. 
Take home message: Variety is key! Taking time both outdoors and indoors, moving some on your own and participating in virtual group fitness classes, adding light, moderate and vigorous intensities...all this variety will only amplify your sleep results.

When? The timing of exercise is the one element to keep in mind when trying to improve your sleep. There has been some debate over exercise timing before sleep, and how exercising too close to bedtime can interfere with time to sleep. Suggestions range from avoiding exercise 1-3 hours before bed to finding no ill effects of exercise right up until bedtime. There may be a distinct relationship between timing of intense/vigorous exercise, such as HIIT training, and sleep quality. The finding showed that participating in high intensity interval training less than one hour before bed caused a longer to sleep time frame and an overall lower quality of sleep. 
Take home message: Avoid highly intense exercise within the hour before bedtime. Otherwise, low to moderate, diverse exercise, when done some time before bed, can be helpful in improving your quality of sleep.

Mark your calendars for changing the clocks back one hour, and consider these tips to preserve your sleep quality.

  • Plan ahead and adjust your bed time subtly. In the days before we change the clock, go to bed 20-30 minutes earlier to bolster your total sleep time.
  • Maintain your pre-sleep routine, keeping eating, exercise and bed times consistent.
  • Try winding down at bedtime in relaxing ways like a meditation for sleep from Insight Timer or Headspace. And ban electronic devices before bedtime or use the sleep mode feature. The blue light inhibits melatonin, making it difficult to fall asleep.
  • Once the changing of the clocks are upon us, don’t double up on the caffeine or naps. Both can negatively affect sleep.

Sources:
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/exercising-for-better-sleep 
https://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/fulltext/2013/09000/exercise_and_sleep.4.aspx
https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/does-exercising-at-night-affect-sleep 
https://www.acsm.org/read-research/trending-topics-resource-pages/physical-activity-guidelines

Steps Towards Better Sleep
Written by Kerry Howell
#SleepHygiene

Sleep is one of those things that affects all aspects of our lives. If you find yourself not sleeping well, one thing you can do is to try tracking your sleep using a phone App. Read this article on the best sleep tracking apps to learn more. Once you have some data on your sleep, certain patterns may be revealed that help you to understand more about what's causing you to not feel well rested and what to do about it. Below are a few things you might relate to and find useful in getting you started on the road to better sleep.

Does the data reveal that you're having trouble falling asleep? Establishing a positive pre-sleep wind down routine could be just what you need. Pre-sleep routines can be long or short in duration and can be as simple as doing one thing before bed or doing several. If you haven't tried establishing a pre-sleep routine before, or haven't found one that works for you just yet, try starting with this. Do one thing that you find relaxing 30 minutes before you want to fall asleep. You could try reading a book, following along to a guided meditation, listening to music, or something else. If you're using your phone for one of these options, consider switching your phone to night mode for less sleep disruption from the blue light it emits. Whatever it is, intentionally choose something that is calming and soothing. Being consistent is important, so whatever you choose, try it for more than just one night to see if it makes a difference for you.  

Or, maybe the data shows that you're waking up repeatedly throughout your sleep cycles. If this is true, do you drink non-alcoholic or alcoholic beverages close to your desired sleep time? Water, coffee, and alcohol can all have negative effects on our sleep depending on when they are consumed. You may be able to fall asleep just fine if you consume water right before you go to bed, but chances are, your sleep will be disturbed by the need to visit the bathroom. And then there's coffee. For many, drinking a cup of joe before bed will not only make it difficult to fall asleep due to the caffeine, but will also lead to waking up during the night having to pee. Caffeine's affect is felt in as little as 15 minutes and still is in your system hours later. And then there's alcohol. Although some swear that alcohol calms their nerves allowing them to fall asleep, a person's quality of sleep is negatively affected by increased alcohol consumption, specifically the important restorative REM cycle. Bottom line, if you're waking up repeatedly, take notice of what, when, and how much you're consuming before wanting to fall asleep. See if there's room to try something different if what you're doing now isn't working well for you. 

How To Stay Hydrated
Written by Kerry Howell
#StayHydrated

Staying hydrated is important. Just how important is it? Much more important than I personally thought it was. In fact, taking in enough fluids is critical for our bodies to perform many of their essential tasks that keep us healthy, well, and even alive. Okay, so it’s sinking in now for me that my casual approach to taking in fluids throughout the day may not be setting up my body for success. According to this Harvard school of public health article, “drinking enough water each day is crucial to regulate body temperature, keep joints lubricated, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, and keep organs functioning properly”. If you are dehydrated, it can have an immediate effect on your mood, energy level, cognitive ability, sport performance and more. On the flip side, in a journal review article written by Popkin et.al. (2010), if you’re well hydrated, this is associated, at differing levels, with a reduced risk of constipation, formation of stones in your urinary tract, exercise induced asthma, hyperglycemia in diabetic ketoacidosis, hypertension, and more. 

Our bodies are made up of about 60% water. So how do you stay adequately hydrated you might ask? You get fluids from water and things that contain high levels of water such as tea, coffee, milk, juice, broth-based soups, fruits and vegetables. About 20% of your daily water intake typically comes solely from the fruits and vegetables you consume. Many of these, such as watermelon and cucumbers are almost 100% water. But, what about tea and coffee, you might ask? These have caffeine that make them not great sources for hydration, right? Although straight up water is your best source of hydration, drinks like tea and coffee that contain caffeine are only mild diuretics, therefore they still provide a net positive on the hydration scale. Tea contains less caffeine (zero if it’s herbal) than coffee, so it’s even more hydrating than its bean-based counterpart.

On a daily basis, how much fluid should you take in? The National Academies of Medicine recommends a little over 11 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids per day for women and almost 16 cups (3.7 liters) of fluid for men. This is a general recommendation only and many things can have an effect on how much fluid is the right amount specifically for you. Things like, what is your body size, are you in a hot dry climate, are you exercising, are you taking medications that effect your hydration level, are you sick with a fever, and more. If you are a person who learns from images like I do, there’s a great one of a fluid pitcher in this CNN health article that can help you to wrap your head around ways to meet the daily fluid intake guidelines. According to the pitcher image, which Dr. Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School Of Public Health helped to inform, if you’re an individual on a 2,200 calorie diet, you could obtain your daily fluids through drinking about 50 fluid ounces (~6 cups or 1.4 liters) of water, 28 fluid ounces (3.5 cups or ~800 milliliters) from tea or coffee, 16 fluid ounces (2 cups or ~500 milliliters) from low fat/no fat milk or a milk substitute such as almond milk, 16 fluid ounces (2 cups or ~500 milliliters) from beverages sweetened with natural sweetener such as stevia or artificial sweeteners, 4 fluid ounces (1/2 cup or ~100 milliliters) of fruit or vegetable juice, sports drinks, or vitamin enhanced water. There are strong arguments on both sides that still abound over artificially sweetened beverages, with evidence that they may help with weight loss but also evidence that they may have negative metabolic effects, so I would personally recommend decreasing the quantity of these in exchange for just straight up water. This New York Times article does a nice job of summarizing the continuing controversy if you’re interested in learning more about it. You may have also noticed the low fluid ounces amount above for fruit and vegetable juices, sports drinks, etc. This is due to the calories they contain, which can add to weight gain. If you love your daily V8 that’s over 4 ounces, keep your physical activity level up to counter balance the calories. 

Ultimately, though, how can you tell if you’re taking in enough fluids daily? The answer is simple. Check the color of your urine. If it looks like apple juice, you need more fluids. If it’s a pale yellow or lighter, you’re good. 

Here are some additional tips to help you with your hydration success story:

  • Easy ways to jazz up your plain water. Are you like me in that you don’t like plain water? Try jazzing it up healthfully by adding slices of lemon, lime, or strawberries to your water. Want more flavor enhancing ideas, check out these 10 water flavor infusion combinations from the VA.
  • Some water bottles are better than others. Plastic, glass, stainless steel, what to buy? Storage and transportation devices for water come in many forms. When selecting one for yourself, make sure most importantly that it’s something you like and will use frequently. A few additional things to consider when it comes to the material the water bottle or container is made of include: 1) Plastic is the least expensive. Just check to see that it is BPA-free 2) Glass is chemical free. Just make sure to transport it in a way that it won’t break 3) Steel is very durable. Just make sure that you’re okay with the taste of water when it comes out of a metal bottle.
  • Tap into solid foods for their water content. Many fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of hydration. Some of the most water-packed include tomatoes, spinach, bok-choy, peppers, mushrooms, celery, cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, grapefruit, oranges, and more.
  • Changing behavior patterns takes time. Be patient with yourself if you are wanting to change your current hydration patterns to create new healthy habits. New habits take time to establish and typically have ups and downs. Hit the re-start button as often as needed. You may also have recently been forced to make sudden changes to how you acquire water throughout your day if you switched from working on-campus to working from home. Maybe that reliable water fountain isn’t available to you anymore. Or, maybe you have well water with a high sulfur content and need to purchase water at a store or fill up water jugs at a local spring? Be kind to yourself as you adapt and adopt new ways of doing things, some because you wanted to make a change and others because of a change that was out of your control.

Sources:
Harvard school of public health. The Importance Of Hydration. 2017. 
CNN health. Benefits Of Water: Are you getting enough fluids to stay healthy? Sandee LaMotte. 2017.
Mayo Clinic. Healthy Lifestyle. Nutrition and healthy eating. Water: How Much Should You Drink Every Day? Mayo Clinic staff. Sept, 2017. 
CDC. Healthy Weight, Nutrition, and Physical Activity. Rethink Your Drink. Sept, 2015. 
Veterans Affairs. Why Try Flavor Infused Water? May 2017. 
NCBI. NLM. NIH. Water, Hydration, and Health. Popkin et. al. 2010. 
The New York Times. Can Artificial Sweeteners Keep Us From Gaining Weight? Anahad O’Connor. Aug, 2020.