August 26, 2014

Health in College Part 3: Nutrition

Good morning! It has been a while, but last semester I started a mini-series called Health in College. I had completed two posts, one on body image and one on sleep, before I realized that it was almost the end of the school year and that the things I had to share wouldn't be as applicable! So to make things come out in a more timely manner, I put the mini-series on hold. Since we are on the verge of the end of summer and a lot of people are starting to make plans about moving back to school, it is time to reopen the series! So I bring you the third part, which will be all about nutrition!

Before we dive into today's post, I just wanted to throw in a quick recommendation for you to add something to your browser: Tab for a Cause. One of my Facebook friends suggested me to add it to Chrome, and basically it donates a cent to a charity every time you open a tab. These charities help supply education, water, and medical help to third-world countries, promote human rights, and help the environment. One cent doesn't sound like much, but I personally open up a lot of tabs throughout the day, and if everybody added this app it could make a big difference! If you are interested in adding Tab for a Cause to your browser or just learning more about it, please follow this link.

I am so excited for this part of the series because today we get to talk about one of my favorite topics in the whole wide world: FOOD!!!
School can be stressful, and when things get stressful, it is easy to fall into the habit of some sort of unhealthy eating habit--whether you tend to over-eat or under-eat. I personally tend to stress eat, so it can be a pretty rough day when I'm studying a ton and have my hand in a bag of chips the entire time. Do any of you guys have any bad habits too? If so, this is the post for you!

Nutrition is another thing that interests me (although not nearly as much as sleep does!). Your body is a complex system full of different chemicals, and what you eat affects the balance of chemicals. The balance of these chemicals in turn affect your metabolism, your energy levels, your cognitive abilities, and overall health. Kind of weird to think about it that way, no?

Anyhow, it's pretty easy to get caught up in unhealthy eating habits during college. There's unlimited food, there are a lot of dining options, and it is kind of like going to a buffet every day. Furthermore, it is tempting to eat more food during the year because, for a lot of people, eating is a social event. (To be honest, I don't think that the infamous "Freshman Fifteen" comes from living around so much food--it comes from those few occasions when you go home on holidays and splurge on delicious home cooking.)

Although it is easy to get into bad habits, why don't we start believing that it is also easy to get into good habits?

There has been a multitude of research on nutrition, but two of the best models for maintaining a balanced diet are the Healthy Eating Pyramid and the Healthy Eating Plate, which are shown below (click on the links in the captions to enlarge):
Both models are great, and each has their pros and cons, but for me the Healthy Eating Plate is especially easy to follow in the dining halls. 

I usually try to limit myself to one plate, dedicating half of it to a salad of sorts. Then on the other half, I'll get a bit of pasta or brown rice, and then a piece of chicken or fish. If there is already protein mixed in with the pasta or rice, then I just get a little more of that. I usually try to limit myself to one plate, but if I'm still feeling hungry after my meal, I'll drink some fat free milk or add some cottage cheese to the side.

My nutritional philosophy (if that's a thing) is that it is okay to eat a lot so long as you are putting good things into your body. Eating a giant salad with fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and limited amount of dressing can be satisfying, and your body is able to process these things much more efficiently. But I also admit that I have a weakness for particular junk foods--namely ice cream and pizza. Giving up your favorite foods entirely sounds kind of extreme (and depressing) to me, so eating pizza once or twice a month during study sessions or friend times and getting some cake to treat yourself after a hard test is encouraged by me, too!

My nutritional plan has a couple holes, but I've found it pretty useful for staying in shape and getting everything I need in order to exercise daily and conduct all my activities with two meals a day. Reflecting on my health from last year, I would say that eating healthier definitely helped my body do everything I needed it to during the busy year despite the in general lack of sleep college students will get. 

Overall, it is also pretty easy--I came into college used to eating a plate that was not so balanced, but the transition was simple for me. So if you're looking for a quick, painless method for eating healthy, I definitely recommend splitting your plate between the main components.

Pacing oneself while eating also helps control portion size. It's best to eat slowly so that you can tell when you're full. I would start out with a plate of food, and if that isn't enough, go back for a little bit more at a time. Obviously, a football player weighing at least 200 pounds who exercises three or more hours a day will need a whole lot more food than me, a 115-pound taekwondo player. Even those seemingly minor characteristics, such as whether you are male or female, will affect how much food your body needs. Portion size really depends on your body and its needs, so listen to it! 

I must also emphasize the value of water. You may have already heard this, but a lot of times when we feel hungry, we are actually thirsty. Water is important for circulation, regulating the biochemistry occurring in your body, and getting rid of toxins. I personally drank about two liters of water a day and that was plenty for me. I would enjoy have a cup of tea every morning (contrary to what experts said, I skipped breakfast last year), and if I brought a water bottle along with me to class it was enough to sustain me until lunchtime.
Now, this post was pretty informal and was based mostly on personal experience in the dining halls, so for more factual information and advice on general nutrition, please take a look at Harvard's article on what you should really eat.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful day! To close, I just wanted to share this video--it's just some good food for thought:

Smile on,
-Riley XO

August 22, 2014

The TMI Award

Hello, hello! It feels like it has been ages since I last wrote you guys, but what can I say--packing and moving is time-consuming, and I've been enjoying precious time with family and friends. Since a lot of my energy has been spent focusing on preparing for school and a whole new crazy schedule, I just wanted to do a fun little post to get back into blogging mode early this morning. I was nominated for the TMI Award by Whimsical Youngster, and some of these questions looked like a lot of fun to answer. I also like doing these award/tag posts so that you guys can get a better idea of who I am, how I think...that sort of deal. I hope you enjoy!

  1. What are you wearing? I am wearing a teal T-shirt, a college-themed sports jacket, and pajama bottoms. Keeping it classy as ever this late night! 
  2. Ever been in love? Yes. I fell head-over-heels for my first boyfriend. It was naive but beautiful at the same time.
  3. Ever had a terrible breakup? Yes. We had a bad falling out and I don't want to talk about it online because I think his perspective may be different from mine. 
  4. How tall are you? About 5'4".
  5. How much do you weigh? I average 115 pounds during the school year when I'm working out, but last time I weighed myself I was 110! The little muscle mass I'd had disappeared this summer!
  6. Any tattoos? No, but I think that if I did have one, it would be my Confirmation verse (1 Corinthians 6:20) written around my ankle or on the bottom of my foot. It would be a painful process, but for some reason I just think it would be so cool to have a foot tattoo.
  7. Any earrings? My jewelry has sentimental value, and the earrings I wear are little flowers (silver filaments and golden petals) that I received from my aunt the last time I visited my family overseas. I also sometimes wear an ear cuff that has a golden feather dangling from it.
  8. OTP? Oh my goodness, I feel so behind the times because I had to look up what "OTP" means! I would have to say Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from my favorite Disney movie, Tangled.
  9. Favorite shows? I enjoy watching anime and am particularly fond of Rurouni Kenshin. Out of American shows, I was hooked on How I Met You Mother and had the craziest Netflix binge for that show.
  10. Favorite bands? Guys, I like K-Pop. Judge me all you want! But lately I've been a big fan of G.NA, Trouble Maker, and B1A4. Spotify suggested this song to me and it's so beautiful that I could listen to it on repeat for hours:

  11. Something you miss? I'm a transfer student and although I'm loving my new school, I really miss this one feature of my previous school called "Late Night," where you could get food starting at 10:00pm - 1:00am. It was so much fun getting giant cookies for study breaks in the middle of the night! I miss those giant cookies.
  12. Favorite song? I'm into the main theme from the Miyazaki film Howl's Moving Castle. It has this mystical, romantic tone. And when the strings come in--I am such a sucker for great string features.
  13. When is your birthday? June 16.
  14. Zodiac sign? Gemini.
  15. Quality you look for in a partner? The main thing is his heart. Pure intentions, and genuine love for life and God. There are also other standards, like the existence of a good sense of humor and preferably above-basic competence, but the most important thing is his heart.
  16. Favorite quote? "Life is more than just how many breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away."
  17. Favorite actor? I like the roles that Logan Lerman has played. He's not as well known, but I think his work is precious.
  18. Favorite color? It changes on a daily basis, but right now I am fond of maroon.
  19. Loud music or soft? I like soft music because I usually use music as background noise to write or work. When it comes to road trips, on the other hand, loud music in the car is fun too--as long as people are belting the songs out on the top of their lungs too. Yep, my friends and I are "those people."
  20. Where do you go when you're sad? Somewhere private. Either my bed or the bathroom where I can hide for a bit and cry.
  21. How long does it take you to shower? About 15-20 minutes. 
  22. How long does it take you to get ready in the morning? An hour. My morning routine during the school year consists of some exercises, reading, tea, and bathroom/girl stuff. On lazy days, though, I have been known to get ready in five minutes. 
  23. Ever been in a physical fight? Well, I have practiced martial arts... 
  24. Turn on? Genuine acts of kindness. Seeing a guy go out of his way to help people who need it is so inspiring and makes me want to get to know him better. I am also a romantic at heart, so I like well-thought-out gifts and adventures as well.
  25. Turn off? Arrogance and self-righteousness. 
  26. The reason you joined Blogger? To be honest, I was in middle school when I joined Blogger. I discovered it while logging into Gmail and started a blog before truly knowing what I wanted to blog about. These days, I blog with the hope that something I write will inspire someone, out there in the world.
  27. Fears? I'm afraid of losing the people I love. 
  28. Last thing that made you cry? So I re-watched Tangled the other day... The climax gets me every time!
  29. Last time you said you loved someone? About half an hour ago to my mom.
  30. Meaning behind your Blogger name? I write under this pseudonym, Riley Sinclair, so that I would focus more on the blog posts themselves as opposed to myself. It helps remind me to focus on being here for you  guys, really, because this blog doesn't bring any glory to my own name. And to be honest, I chose Riley because it's a name that could be for any gender, and it rhymes with "smiley." Sinclair was just a random surname that I thought sounded good with Riley. 
  31. Last book you read? The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. 
  32. The book you're currently reading? I'm reading The Bible this year, but I am not reading anything for leisure right now.
  33. The last show you watched? I watched an episode of Big Bang Theory with my dad before moving out of the house.
  34. The last person you talked to? I'm working the graveyard shift at a residence hall desk right now (nothing of interest has happened for the past two hours!), so the last person I talked to was a resident. 
  35. The relationship between you and the last person you texted? My mom woke up in the middle of the night, remembered me, and then texted me. It was sweet of her and I hope she's sound asleep now.
  36. Favorite food? I like a lot of food. I typically say my mom's adobo is my favorite, but I recently ate some salt and pepper squid from a Chinese restaurant and that is another dish that is up there.
  37. Place you want to visit? Bali seems absolutely gorgeous.
  38. Last place you were? In bed. And I can't wait to go back after my shift, hehe. The last "exciting" place I was, however, was hanging out by the Taekwondo booth that was recruiting new members.
  39. Do you have a crush? Yep :)
  40. Last time you kissed someone? A while ago?
  41. Last time you were insulted? I can't really remember. I think I'm pretty good at shooting insults down or ignoring them..or maybe I just don't realize when I'm being insulted.
  42. Favorite flavor of sweet? Ice cream! Probably classic vanilla with some sort of chocolate sauce.
  43. What instruments do you play? I play the violin. I used to play piano when I was a little tot, but when I started learning violin, I quit piano lessons to focus more on Shamrock (yes, that is the name of my violin).
  44. Favorite piece of jewelry? Like I said, all of my jewelry has some sort of sentimental value. But I really like the ring I wear on my right forefinger. It was a high school ring that was customized and has a violin and a martial artist engraved into the sides. 2013, my graduating class, also came out to be a significant year of my life when it comes to changes and personal growth.
  45. Last sport you played? Yoga. 
  46. Last song you sang? I was singing along to Taylor Swift the other day and I've been humming "The Story of Us" a lot for some reason.
  47. Favorite chat up? "Did you fart? Because you just blew me away."
  48. Have you ever used it? No, and I'm still waiting for someone to use it on me too.
  49. Last time you hung out with anyone? I spent some time with the Taekwondo team at the booth earlier. I also met my new roommate for this year and we had fun walking around campus, too!
  50. Who should answer these questions next? The person who's reading this, of course! 
I am tagging all of you guys who read this post. If you decide to take on these fifty questions, please post the URLs of your responses to the TMI Award in the comments below so that I can read them all! 

I hope to have a new blog post up on Tuesday to get back into the regular posting schedule. In the meantime, please have a wonderful weekend and smile on!
-Riley XO

August 14, 2014

How to Commit to a New Habit

Good morning, all! How are you today? I apologize for missing last week's post. I had wanted to write about the things I'd learned while working in food service, but unfortunately I was having trouble finding the right words. So I'm going to think that post over a little more before publishing it.

Today, I want to talk about taking chances--stepping out of your comfort zone. I don't know if it's just that I've had a lot of spare time this summer that I've been inspired to try all sorts of new things or if I'm inspired because the new school year is about to begin. Maybe part of it is that since this summer's series was more reflective side, it's time for a bit of a change to take up a challenge to do something spontaneous!

Sometimes, when I tell people, "Yeah, I do [insert whatever hobby here]," they say "I've always wanted to do that." I don't know if that's another way of saying that [whatever hobby] is super cool, but when I hear those words, I just want to ask: "Well, why don't you?"

There are also times when I think of something that I've always wanted to do but then have to ask myself, "Well, what's been holding you back?"

Some of these things for me include reading the Bible consistently and vlogging. For me, it usually isn't that hard to step out of my comfort zone and try learning something new. Starting things is pretty simple, as is outlined in a previous post "Take This Summer to Learn Something New." But sticking to those things would be the greater part of the challenge.

Did you guys know that I have a vlog channel? Last week, I posted a vlog briefly describing the 365-Day Bible Reading Plan that I've started, and I thought that my experiences trying to get into reading the Bible would be applicable to today's discussion.

(Here is a link to the reading plan that I've been using, and it's been absolutely great: Bible Reading Plan for Shirkers and Slackers.)

I'm on my 19th day so far and I've found that every time is still fresh and interesting; this reading plan is certainly a helpful guide for getting into a good habit of exploring the Bible.

But, here's a question I had to ask myself: Why is this time around going so much better than all the previous times I'd attempted? Surely it isn't just the simple reading guide--as great as it may be--that's doing all the work!

So immediately, my thoughts went to something that I'd changed this time around. What helps the most is that I've been journaling with a special friend through Google Docs. On it, we write down our comments, highlights, and questions, and respond to each other's notes. It's been a great way to hold ourselves accountable--plus, sharing insights with each other makes the experience more exciting. We also gain each other's insights, which is very valuable to me.

And then, that made me realize that journaling and collaborating on a resolution with friends or family is a great way to stick to forming a new habit. Journaling if valuable because it holds you accountable to yourself. Writing will often make an abstract idea more concrete, so it will help organize thoughts and remind you of how much progress you've made.

Working with others is also beneficial because of reasons listed above--fresh perspectives, another level of accountability, and external sources of inspiration. Why not combine these two effective ways of sticking to a new habit?

The nice thing is that with Internet access, it's so easy to work with others to form healthy habits and try new things together that you don't even have to communicate face-to-face!

There are several methods for journaling collaboratively. I think that the easiest and neatest method would be sharing a Google Doc. Another good way would be to start a blog or vlog if you would like to share your progress with more people.

So next time you want to establish a new, healthy habit or rid yourself of a destructive old one, start by getting a couple friends involved and remember to write things down!

Good luck, and smile on,
-Riley XO
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