Training Like A Pro

Sports were never really my thing. Of course I love to cheer on the Red Sox and yell at the referees through the TV during hockey season, but I never got involved with school athletics. I did theatre and dance never stepping foot into my high school’s locker room.

Fast forward three years later and running has become a huge part of my life. If you told high school Hannah that she would be training for a half marathon this summer, she would snicker in your face. My athletic ability is truly being put to the test but I am welcoming the challenge with open arms and fast feet.

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Credit: giphy.com

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Facial Mask for Every Skin Type

Like every human being, I had to go through the horrible years of middle school and high school. Those years were hard enough to go through with puberty, friend drama, boy/girl drama, and school. But, I was lucky enough to also have the added problem of acne to add onto my list of teenage torment. When it first hit I had no idea how to handle it and went through countless different routines. Eventually, I went to the dermatologist and they set me up with a routine to follow and calm down my skin. Part of this routine involved using facemask on the regular. I started with store bought masks, but with the rise of organic and whole foods fad I turned to DIY. The weird household objects that I have placed on my face is a bit concerning, but anything for beautiful glowing skin, right?

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My Struggle With Unhealthy Eating

In the words of Elizabeth Gilbert from Eat, Pray, Love:

credit: WiffleGif

“I’m in love. I’m having a relationship with my pizza.”

For almost all aspects in my life, those words ring true. Not only am I perpetually single, I have almost always had a strong relationship with the foods I eat. It is very important for me to enjoy the food I eat and to have an experience while I eat. In my family, every meal we eat is made with a lot of love and is surrounded by a happy conversation — it is a tradition that makes me value meal-time. However, the bad part about this relationship is that a lot of the food I eat are horrible for my body.

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Great Running Routes in Boston

Running. It is something we are all familiar with, whether we were track stars in our high school days or the slowest kid on the playground, we all have an opinion on it. Personally, I love it. It pushes me to be my best self and I find my mind at its calmest when I’m on a run. For those of you on the same page or for those of who want to just try it here are some running routes near campus for you to try out!

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You Guide to Holiday Workouts: Fitness for after the Food!

Thanksgiving break is one of the most wonderful times of year! No classes for a couple of days, the opportunity to spend time with loved ones, and most importantly a refrigerator filled with delicious Thanksgiving leftovers (thank you mom!) If you’re anything like me and struggle to stay active during the holiday season fear not! I share with you, my loyal readers, my favorite full body circuit workout that you can do in the comfort and privacy of your bedroom in just about ten minutes. Most importantly there’s no need to jostle those mashed potatoes or pumpkin pie around, because this workout involves no running!

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What It’s Like To Have Anxiety

It’s like a shiver, growing in strength as it climbs from the tips of your fingers to the top of your shoulders. A fizzing of carbonated drinks rumbling right under the surface, with every pop follows a shiver. All you can do is imagine your bed and comfortable blanket and sweatshirt waiting for you at home, mere miles and hours in your future. “You can get through this,” you tell yourself. “Just keep going,” you say as you move through your necessary operations. You look at everyone else, envy building within your bones that they seem to be at ease. Maybe they’re nervous about an impending job interview or national test their future relies on, but their skin hasn’t broken out in cold telltale hives of your anxieties.

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America’s Secret Sugar Problem

I first began to pay attention to sugar consumption a few years ago, after flipping over a CLIF bar on a whim to read the label advertising its nutritional content. The bar contained 22 grams of sugar, which after some Googling on my own part was revealed to be more than 80% of my recommended daily intake. CLIF bars are marketed as meal replacements for hikers and athletes, but I knew plenty of people who ate them as snacks. I thought of them as a “health food”.

Over the last several years, evidence has been mounting that too much sugar consumption leads to an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It also contributes to tooth decay, obesity, and a whole array of other maladies. The American Heart Association currently recommends that adult women consume no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day, and that adult men consume no more than 37.5 grams. This is in line with the recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the 2016 US Dietary Guidelines, which advise that no more than 10 percent of our daily calories (and ideally less than five percent) come from sugar. Despite these warnings, however, studies continue to show the average American consumes as much as 82 grams of sugar every day.

After the CLIF bar incident I started thinking, where else is sugar where I don’t expect it? How easy is it to exceed the daily recommended intake without even realizing it? I started looking for sugar on Nutrition Facts labels, and the results were shocking. Sugar was in all the places I expected it to be—desserts, breakfast cereals, soft drinks—but it was astounding how much sugar I found in unexpected places. Foods I would categorize as “healthy” or “savory” before calling them sweet, items like pasta sauce and whole wheat bagels, all contained added sugar. Even my favorite brand of yogurt, long touted as a health item, contained a whopping 33 grams of sugar per one cup serving.

By adding sugar to foods we don’t expect to be sweet, the food industry plays an active role in engineering sugar cravings. They control both the demand and the supply of sweet, sugar-laced food and beverages.

The soft drink industry is perhaps the most culpable—products like bread and yogurt, even if they’re fortified with sugar, still contain other nutrients like vitamins, minerals and fiber. And fruits, although high in sugar, are still an important part of a balanced diet. They are less harmful than other sweet foods (though they should still be consumed in moderation) because their sugars occur naturally. Soft drinks, on the other hand, have sugar that is added in during processing and contain almost no nutrients.

The first step in finding a solution to America’s sugar problem is simply having a heightened awareness of sugar consumption and its prevalence in our diets. Reading nutrition labels helps, but there are also a few public initiatives on the horizon which show that concern and awareness about sugar consumption is growing on a national level as well. For example, in May the FDA finalized a new Nutrition Facts label design for packaged foods. In addition to updating serving sizes and making information about calories and servings per container more prominent, the new label will go into more detail about sugar content. It will differentiate between “added sugar” and the sugar which occurs naturally in the ingredients, and it will give sugars a percent Daily Value. So for a 20-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola, which contains 65 grams of sugar, the nutrition label will now have to list that the added sugar represents 130 percent of the recommended daily intake.

The other initiative pointing towards a change in how America thinks about sugar comes from Philadelphia. On June 16, Philadelphia became the first major U.S. city to institute a tax on sugary beverages. The 1.5 cents-per-ounce surcharge is expected to act as a deterrent for consumers and may set a precedent for other cities to implement similar measures (New York and San Francisco have both tried to pass soda taxes in the past).

As research confirming the detrimental effects of sugar on long-term health continues, I expect more measures like these will be put in place to police its role in what we eat. It will become more difficult for the food industry to hide added sugar where it doesn’t belong. As we move forward into the future, I hope we can come together as a nation and commit to a healthier, more transparent standard for how we produce and market our food.

Aisling Organics: A Clean Beauty Movement

Aisling Organics is a cosmetics company that started with the simple mission to create make-up products made from natural ingredients instead of chemicals and toxins. “Aisling” means vision in Irish and it is founder and CEO, Krysta Lewis’ vision that everyone is using the cleanest products possible. After finding out that most major makeup brands rely on chemicals and other harmful toxins to create their product, Lewis was inspired to create a brand that uses natural ingredients.

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On Aisling Organic’s website you can find each product’s ingredients outlined for the potential customer so they know exactly what they will be putting on their body. Instead of harsh chemicals, Aisling Organic products contain ingredients such as aloe, cinnamon and coffee powder. Lewis is a huge advocate of the philosophy of if you wouldn’t put it in your body you shouldn’t put it on your body.The products contain vitamins and minerals that don’t just enhance your face, but also heal. Aisling Organics is striving to be a part of the larger Clean Beauty movement, which encourages consumers to be more aware of what they put on their skin, and to buy products that not only help them look good, but are good for them too.

Lewis was inspired to create a line of organic products after dealing with some stomach issues herself. “I was eating organic foods, but still using makeup and skincare filled with horrible chemicals,” says Lewis. “I was horrified to learn that chemicals are completely legal to us in makeup in the United States, and not regulated by the FDA.” According to Lewis, the FDA is only responsible for regulating food or products that we ingest into our body, but not anything we put on our skin. This is especially problematic because the toxins from products we put on our skin can seep into our pores, and even products specifically designed to be used near places such as mouths and eyes are not held to any national health standards.

In order to eliminate her stomach issues, Lewis immediately changed her makeup routine to only include organic products. For this self-described beauty addict it was particularly hard, as she could not find an organic makeup brand that performs as well as her previous products. Seeing a gap in the marketplace for natural and health conscious beauty products that perform as well the chemically enhanced counter products, the idea for Aisling Organics was formed.

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Even more importantly than the success of the company, founder Krysta Lewis hopes to raise consumer awareness about the ingredients and chemicals we put on our body. Makeup is one of the hidden environmental factors, that increases people’s risk for numerous diseases and disorders, such as breast cancer, infertility and ADHD. She encourages all makeup lovers to be as diligent about what they put on their face, as they would be about the food they eat. A lot of makeup products have hidden toxins and chemicals that are made for your health. Lewis recommends checking out the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics online to raise personal awareness on the toxins that could be lurking in your everyday makeup products.

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An alumni of University of Southern New Hampshire, Lewis decided to start Aisling Organics, after graduating two and half years early with a degree in communications. Now she finds herself as the CEO of her own company, where she oversees everything from the social media and marketing to the financial aspects of Aisling Organics. Right now she’s the sole driving force behind her company, but soon she’s hoping to expand the Aisling Organics team to include sales representatives and potentially even interns. Her latest project is creating a PR video featuring herself, and her inspiration to why she started her company, and to raise awareness about clean beauty.

As a young woman and entrepreneur, Lewis has faced challenges, such as the need to be taken seriously by older colleagues and receiving unsolicited advice from third parties. However, she encourages all other young women aspiring to create a business to stand their ground and be aggressive because at the end of the day only you know what is best for your business.

Pouring all her time and resources into creating Aisling Organics, she wants to see it succeed and grow over time. Lewis says, “I want it to be as big as it can be. I want to be in major stores and maybe even have Aisling Organic stores, but most importantly I want to be a company that people can trust to provide only the best and safest products.” The desire to expand has not taken away from Lewis’s strong belief in customer service and she wants customers to be completely satisfied with each purchase. To make each order feel special, Lewis’s hand packages each order with care and style and sends it out with a personal note attached.Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 11.24.08 AM

Currently Aisling Organics cosmetics line includes liquid foundation, eyeliner, mascara, cheek tint, concealer and lipstick. However, the company has plans to expand into other products and additional shades. In addition to being organic all of the Aisling Organic products are cruelty free, vegan/gluten free and made in the United States. While they come at a higher cost than drugstore makeup brands, these are products you as a consumer can feel good about buying.

Lewis believes people should make it a priority to spend money on makeup that isn’t harmful for one’s body and urges parents who let their teenage daughters use makeup to make sure they are buying products free from toxins even if they come a higher cost. “My biggest mission as CEO and founder is to educate people. I think there aren’t a lot of people seeking organic cosmetics, because they don’t know what the benefit is. But if one person can become a little more educated by my work to what they are putting on their skin, then I feel I’ve made an impact,” says Lewis. Someday Lewis hopes to see drugstore aisles lined with safe and natural cosmetics at every price point. She says, “This is more a movement towards clean beauty that I’m trying to start, not just a business.” But she understands in order for that type of change to take place, consumers need to be aware what is in their makeup and demand that the FDA and the government start regulating it.

Aisling Organics is an expaScreen Shot 2016-06-17 at 11.23.27 AMnding company with an important mission to offer women and all makeup users safe cosmetics options. If you are looking to purchase makeup that you can be sure are natural, organic and cruelty free, as well as support female entrepreneurs, Aisling Organics is a company you need to be watching.

Aisling Organics is currently available online or at CM Wellness in Goffstown, NH and the SoWa Open Market in Boston. They are also starting to host makeup parties in the Greater Boston Area. Parties include an informational session, salon makeovers and the opportunity to buy the products. For brand and product updates, you can find Aisling Organics on Facebook and Instagram.

Images courtesy of Aisling Cosmetics.

Healthy Eating Within Reach

Hello again, my fellow dorm dwellers. It’s almost the end of the semester, and I don’t know about you, but I’m getting real tired of dining hall food right about now. For us Piano Row residents, the Max was fun for the first few weeks of freshman year. Now it’s reached the point where I’m actually starting to turn down mozzarella sticks. The PCaf, The Max and the Dining Hall have a lot of tempting, unhealthy options, but believe it or not, there are healthy ones too. It’s safe to say that the main reason for going to Emerson is not the dining hall. But rather than focusing on the bad, we can try to find the good! So, in order to tide you over until the summer when you can once again experience real, actual food, I’m going to give you a little lesson in how to find the healthiest options around campus.

Alright, so let’s go over our choices. We have the dining hall, the Max, the PCaf, and Einstein’s at which to spend our Board Bucks. And when those run out, we have twenty off campus eateries that take EC Cash, including Boloco, Panera Bread, Subway and Sal’s Pizza (the full list can be found here).

Now, I know as well as anyone how hard it is to eat healthy on a college campus, especially ours. We’re all guilty of it–those pizza bagels from Einstein’s will probably be the death of me. But there are always healthy options (thanks Michelle Obama) if you just take the time to look.

The most important meal of the day is breakfast, and I usually go to Einstein’s. Here are some healthy choices you might not have noticed before.

  • Egg-white Asparagus Mushroom Swiss on Thin Wheat Bagel (390 cal)
  • Bacon Tomato Avocado Egg White on Thin Wheat Bagel (410 cal)
  • Thintastic Asparagus and Mushroom, Whole Egg, on Thintasic Whole Wheat (430 cal)
  • Hummus Veg Out on Sesame (410 cal)

Nutrition Info

Menus and nutritional information is not available online for the Max and Pcaf, but I would recommend switching out the usual cheeseburger or grilled cheese for stir fry, taco salad or a grilled chicken sandwich. At the DH, it’s possible to get creative. I like to ask the grill to cut up some chicken to put on my salad to give it some protein. The vegan station is always a healthy choice as well, and the vegan desserts. I cannot get enough of the vegan desserts! Especially that banana bread! So moist and delicious. That’s one area where the DH really outdoes itself. I’ve also recently discovered a way to spice up a plain ol’ grilled cheese–ask for pesto and tomatoes, and put it on wheat bread. Now you can enjoy comfort food without feeling like you might die after!

Now this may not be an option for everyone, but grocery shopping can really make eating on campus a lot less bleak. I was recently informed that our local CVS on Washington St takes EC Cash! How wild! You can stock up on some bananas, yogurt, protein bars, cereal and whatever else your little heart desires. Just do your best to steer clear of the sodas and other sugary snacks. Roche Bros is also a great option for fresh produce and other healthy snacks, though it is more expensive. If you’re like me and miss having strawberries at your disposal like you did at home, Roche Bros is your go-to. With your new bounty, you can head over to the Colonial kitchens (open to everyone, not just residents) and have a dinner party with your friends! It’s not quite the same as home, but summer is just around the corner. It’s so close, I can almost taste it.

What is Orthorexia Nervosa?

Recently there has been a big healthy eating craze with a shift from traditional fast-food to more “fast-casual” dining with much healthier options, and many pushes toward eating organic, vegetarian or vegan diets. This is a great thing, however, for some people it can also become an obsession called orthorexia nervosa. Similar to other eating disorders, it starts as a simple desire to eat healthier, which then grows into an unhealthy obsession on food quality and purity. At its severest it can consume one with constant thoughts of what, when, and how much to eat; prevent them from eating out with friends because restaurants don’t have things they believe they can eat; and cause them to spiral and self-punish if they eat something not “healthy” enough. This leads an orthorexic’s diet to eventually become so restricted that it deprives them of nutrients they need, and not only impairs their life and relationships, but, ironically, their physical health.

Though orthorexia is similar to other eating disorders, like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, it is not officially recognized by the DSM-5, the fifth Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The term was first used by Steven Bratman, MD in 1996, to help explain to his patients the idea that what they deemed as “healthy” eating may not always be what is best for them. The term has recently gained popularity with an increase in patients with similar symptoms.

Another reason for it’s recent popularity growth is a popular health blogger who found herself with the same condition. In an article with the New York Daily News Jordan Younger, originally known as “The Blonde Vegan” said she began to notice that her attempt to eat healthy was becoming an obsession that was effecting her daily life. It started effecting her health, including her menstruation, and eventually she decided that  something had to change. She told the Daily News, “I just didn’t want food to control me anymore. I saw the people around me who I loved very much just able to enjoy their food in a way that I wasn’t doing anymore.” After that she became devoted to recovery and even changed her blog’s name to The Balanced Blond.

Orthorexia is similar to anorexia and bulimia because it actually becomes much less about the food and much more about control. The NEDA, National Eating Disorder Association, says there are many “underlying motivations, which can include safety from poor health, compulsion for complete control, escape from fears, wanting to be thin, improving self-esteem, searching for spirituality through food, and using food to create an identity,” for why eating healthy may become a compulsion for some people and not others. A lot of these pressures can come from personal problems, or societies constant pressure to look a very certain way, and a newer pressure to eat a certain way.

It is important to remember that just because you strive to have a healthy diet does not mean you are orthorexic. However, if you or someone you know match these guidelines from the NEDA it may be a good idea to talk to a doctor:

“1) It [eating clean] is taking up an inordinate amount of time and attention in your life. 

2) Deviating from that diet is met with guilt and self-loathing.

3) It is used to avoid life issues and leaves you separate and alone.”

Food Renegade also has a quiz to help those who think they might be orthorexic. 

While orthorexia is not a condition that a doctor can diagnose, they can often help with recovery, or refer you to someone who can. Many clinics, such as Futures Palm Beach can help those affected discover the roots of their condition such as low self-esteem, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder with extensive therapy and give them a safe and comforting place to detox.