Why I Started Weightlifting

So long as I have had a relationship with the gym I have always believed that the best way to improve my fitness and get my dream body was by hopping on the treadmill, stair master, or elliptical and not getting off until I was drenched with sweat about an hour later.

Over the past few years I have dedicated many morning sweat sessions to those cardio machines.And don’t get me wrong, while I still love to run, I have found a new way to spend my time there; with the weights.

This past summer I met with a nutritionist and trainer who suggested I stop with all of the cardio and pick up some weights to see some real changes in my body and build muscle.  And man, oh man, was she right.

My new workout regime now has me lifting weights about three times a week, and doing as much cardio as my little heart desires on the other three days. While the progress has been slow and steady, I have seen some major changes to the formation of my body, and my booty (thank you squats).

There is something so soothing about heading into the gym and walking right up the squat rack instead of the treadmill, knowing that by doing so I am doing so much more for my body than just burning calories.

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What you need to know about Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil has recently become of one the biggest crazes in the health and fitness industry. Nutrition experts are hailing this superfood as one of the best products on the market to use while cooking, baking, and even as a beauty product.

Though you may have heard of this newest addition to the list of superfoods, are you actually familiar will all of the health benefits and multiple purposes of this ingredient? If not, this post will clue you in on some of that missing information.

Coconut Oil is essentially 100% fat. Don’t panic yet, however, because the structure of the fat found in coconut oil is different from the saturated fat found in animal products. The fat in coconut oil is referred to as medium-chain fatty acids or triglycerides, which are easier for our bodies to burn off. Typically with animal fat, or long-chain fatty acids, our body will convert it into stored fat, making it harder to burn off.

Additionally, almost 50% of the fat found in coconut oil is a type of lauric acid. When consumed your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin which has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.

Some of the other profound health benefits linked to the consumption of coconut oil are improvements in heart health, thyroid boosting, promoting a lean body and weight loss, an increase in metabolism, and supporting the immune system.

Not only does Coconut oil provide extreme health benefits for your body, it is also one of the best natural nutrients for hair and skin.

Acting as an excellent conditioner coconut oil helps with the re-growth process of damaged hair. Coconut oil can also be used as a massage oil for the skin. It helps to reduce wrinkles, and to prevent dryness and flaking of skin. For more beauty tips and tricks using coconut oil, check out this beauty post.

There are about six different types of coconut oil, all with different functioning purposes. These are pure coconut oil, refined coconut oil, virgin coconut oil, organic coconut oil, organic virgin coconut oil, and extra virgin coconut oil. To learn more about the different types, and which is best suited for you and your needs check out Organic Facts.

Now that you are more familiar with the different health benefits and types of coconut oil, you probably want to start cooking and baking with it!

Typically coconut oil is used as a substitute for butter, or added into the cooking process of vegetables or a protein to give it that extra sweet flavor and added nutrients.

For more information and some great recipes using coconut oil, head over to Whole Foods Market’s website, or simply Google search a few easy recipes to get started!

How working out helps to reduce the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder

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For Miami native Laura Telischi the snow, gray skies, and below freezing temperatures that have become so familiar to local Ithacans offer a slight difference to Florida weather.

Telischi, an outdoor athlete, experienced an onset of slight depression and a decrease in energy levels when she came to Ithaca for her freshman year in 2012.

“Coming to Ithaca I really had to adjust to not being able to run outside as much as I would like to. I had to learn how to keep myself energized and motivated throughout the day, said Telischi. “I was born and raised in Miami so spending the past three years here in upstate New York has really taken a toll on my motivation levels and my want to go outside when it is cold.”

Telischi like many others living in Ithaca during the winter season, often find themselves experiencing a lull in lifestyle, fatigue, and sometimes depression. These symptoms, when serious, are categorized as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.

According to Ithaca College psychiatrist, Dr. Paul Mikowski, SAD is triggered by a decrease in sunlight, which may disrupt your body’s circadian rhythm, leading to feelings of depression.

Other causes of SAD are attributed to the drop in serotonin levels in the body, which are neurotransmitters that affect ones mood. Reduced sunlight spikes the dip in serotonin, which may trigger an overwhelming feeling of sadness.

Typically Seasonal Affective Disorder can be treated with phototherapy, such as the light box located in the Office of Counseling and Wellness, or medication.

Mikowski, however, believes that there is now reason to consider regular exercise as a means to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder.

“Regular exercise has many psychological and emotional benefits. It helps one to gain confidence by releasing feel-good brain chemicals, it reduces immune system chemicals that can worsen depression, and it increases ones body temperature, which may have calming effects,” said Mikowski.

South Hill Elementary Health and Physical Education student teacher, Ben Capeless, also attributes the positive effects of working out to helping young students cope with any mood changes or depression triggered by the onset of winter.

“Physical activity provides many different health benefits for the kids in our school. It improves their mood, cognition, and other progressing domains. In this school I see many kids who absolutely need physical activity in order to be able to focus, stay out of trouble, and keep their energy up,” said Capeless.

“As a teacher we learned first that the benefits of physical activity for these children and others are infinite, and absolutely necessary to keep them alert and calmed. This is especially relevant when the weather dips and they are not able to get outside as often as we would like.”

Physical activity has long been credited with its great mental and physical health benefits, and now it is even being used to combat mental health disorders, such as SAD.

For Telischi, her everyday regime of waking up at 7 am and heading for the gym has helped to control her levels of fatigue and restlessness that increase as the temperatures decrease.

“Miami has absolutely no seasons, it is all sun. The seasons of Ithaca has really affected me because I am not used to all of this snow and darkness,” said Telischi.

“On the days I am unable to workout in the morning I most likely will not be as productive and my energy levels are definitely not as high. Exercise really just jumpstarts my day and gets my positive vibes going.”



How Social Media is Impacting Journalism

Society is apt to change. It will expand, we will grow, and nothing ever stays constant.

Journalism works in the same way. The basic journalistic values have already been re-made, re-worded, and re-worked to fit with the growing field of technology and new waves of reporting.

As Dan Gillmor states in his book, We The Media, “ Technology: it’s relentless and unstoppable.” And he is right, social and mass media has consumed our every move.

The ability to immediately photograph, tweet and share the news is now so quick and effective that an entire news story can be captured, written, and produced to the masses within minutes.

Just let that sink in. We’ve come a long way since Guttenberg.

But what does this ability to rapidly produce breaking news mean for the future of journalists and the way in which news is reported?

Gillmor says that the sphere of journalistic reporting will be open to everyone with access to a cellphone, computer, and the Internet.

So that basically includes everyone, everywhere, ever.

Blogs, twitter accounts, and homemade websites will display the same headlines as the nightly news. While this is an exciting new cultural shift, there are still some concerns in the way in which news is delivered.

Journalistic moral standards are set high. Non-biases, factually correct information, and translucent reporting are important factors of basic reporting.

In social media reporting citizen journalists are more likely to insert their own opinion, alter the scene or facts regarding the events, or choose to remain anonymous in their reporting.

Gillmor suggests using an already established reliable system, such as Google, to verify the validity of the person conducting the reporting.

The method of reporting and sharing news are shifting but the standards to which the process is held should not.

Social media and technology will grow, but should the news and its consumers suffer from the quality of that information in that process?

To hear more of what Dan Gillmor thinks about social media and the world of journalism, follow him on twitter, @dangillmor or check out his blog.

4 Essential Tips For Workout Recovery

Your body is constantly working hard to perform at its peak level during the tough workouts you push through. While working out is some of the best form of medicine that you can give your body, what you do for it while you are not working out can be just as, if not more, important.

High intensity and lengthy workouts tear down muscles and exhaust your body’s fluids, making recovery time essential. Here are four beneficial tips and tricks that you can practice to recover quickly and to ensure that you don’t lose any progress you worked so hard to gain in the gym.

  1. Drink up! Many people may underestimate the importance of proper hydration. And no, Gatorade or PowerAde does not count as appropriate hydration. Your body is 98% water, and is critical to the balance of all of the body’s systems. Not only does hydration prevents soreness but it is also a way of replacing all fluid lost during the workout. Most nutrition experts recommend drinking 9oz of water for every half an hour of exercise.
  2. Nutrition, obviously. Nutrition is a huge part of a healthy lifestyle, but what you eat immediately after working out can elevate your overall performance and the rate at which your muscles recover. The best after snack workout is a light, healthy combination of protein and carbs. A protein smoothie or a piece of fruit with some type of nut butter should do the trick.
  3. Stretching and active recovery. A simple and fast way to loosen up is to stretch both before and after a workout. Too often people forego stretching before a workout, which leads to tightening of muscles during the actual workout. Try foam rolling after your workout to improve circulation and break down tissue. Active recovery is also beneficial as it promotes a low-intensity workout to get your blood flowing and muscles moving without increase in tearing or tiring of your body.
  4. Get your sleep and avoid overtraining. Sleep really does do amazing things for your body. During sleep your body produces a Growth Hormone, which aids in tissue growth and repair. Another common mistakes athletes make is overtraining. Your body can only perform at top level for so long before over excessive exercise will limit your fitness gains and undermine your recovery efforts. The most important thing you can do is to listen to your body. So if you are feeling tired or begin to notice decreased performance, take a break. Your body and your mind will thank you for it.

 For more essential tips and tricks for a speedy recovery, check out these sites.

IC Alum Aaron Edwards’ Advice on Post-Graduation life

On Friday my Mobile and Social Media Journalism class was given the opportunity to Skype in with successful Ithaca ’12 Alum, Aaron Edwards. Aaron majored in journalism at Ithaca College and began his career after graduation working at the New York Times. He is now in the process of transitioning jobs to Buzzfeed to write and work on the new online and mobile social media features that the company is debuting.

Having the opportunity to Skype with Aaron was extremely beneficial as he provided our class with some relevant and true advice for starting off at a new job, breaking into the journalism industry, and even how to handle the stress of not having a clear answer as to where you are headed post graduation.

Aaron clearly is doing very well for himself so soon after graduating, and it was reassuring to see a Park student putting to use some of his talents and skills developed here at IC. While Aaron gave plenty of useful tips for entering into the work force, one piece of advice that truly resonated with me was emphasis on the importance of putting your head down and getting your work done when beginning a new job. Aaron said that too often the expectations had for networking and advancing quickly are set extremely high. Often, those who are more dedicated to the even seemingly mundane work in the beginning are noticed more than those attempting to make immediate connections when they have yet to earn their place.

Aaron also mentioned that though he did not see himself ever not working as a reporter he was intrigued by the job offer, kept an open mind, and now loves what he is doing. I completely agree with Aaron, intrigue and open mindedness will ultimately always bring more opportunities than being close off.

Aaron also mentioned to stay confident in your own abilities, after all there is a reason that you were hired in the first place.

It is no secret that entering into the field of professional employment without the safety bubble of college is slightly terrifying. But being able to chat with an IC grad who is effectively paving his own path is inspiring and extremely comforting. Just remember to trust your own instinct, keep an open mind, and there is no way you will not succeed.

“Give people a reason to come to you, and don’t give them a reason to ignore you.”-Aaron Edwards

Connect with Aaron on twitter @aaronmedwards

The Negative Effects of Juicing

It is no secret that by eating the right foods, exercising often, and getting enough sleep can do wonders for one’s body, mind, and overall improvement in lifestyle and happiness. But just like most things in life; moderation in any form of diet or exercise is key.

Juicing has largely become known as a quick fix for slimming down while still consuming essential nutrients found in fruits and vegetables. The juicing trend originally popped up in the hills of Hollywood as celebrities credited it with their secret for staying thin. The fad has now trickled down into the masses and acts as a common diet for many. This expensive diet is known for it’s easy on the go method, and for more directly providing your body with the nutrients found in fruit and vegetables.

Many dietitians, however, are now straying away from recommending juicing. Citing the lack of scientific evidence that drinking a fruit is any better than simply consuming it the good old-fashioned way, by chewing it. Nutrition expert Joy Bauer says that while juicing can help one slash some calories and even drop a few pounds, the effects will not last.

The problem with juicing is that by consuming only fruits and vegetables means one is only consuming carbs and natural sugars. Juicing plans almost always wholly neglect any source of protein, which will leave you feeling hungry while doing serious damage to your metabolism. Juicing basically is a high carb, low protein, and low fiber diet. This will ultimately leave one with headaches, the inability to fully perform in their workouts, and an overall lack of energy. Furthermore, whole fruit and vegetables carry much fiber and nutrients in their skin, which is left out in the juicing process. Bauer says that if one wants to detox their body all they have to do is simply eat wisely and cleanly, and the body will take care of the rest. If you still want to try juicing, you instead could skip the full liquid diet and replace one meal a day with a juice or shake. This ensures that you still reap the benefits of the produce while being able to get your fill of protein packed foods.

If you are considering a juicing cleanse be sure to do some research beforehand. Check out fitday for some pros and cons of the fad. And for more information check out Joy’s article, and this first hand juicing experience of a fitness blogger.