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Workout Wednesday: Exercise your brain

Aerobics, strength training and stretching are good ways to maintain a healthy body. Meditation, yoga and surrounding yourself with good vibes are ways to maintain a peaceful soul.

Many people stop at this point. They have reached physical and spirit strength, but tend to forget about their mental health.

Mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in people ages 15 to 44 in America. Although some of the population are born with disorders, another large part of the population develops mental health issues during their late teens to mid-twenties.

Mental health is critical to our overall well-being and becomes very important once we reach adulthood.

Our brain may be an organ, but it can be shaped and reshaped through exercise just like a muscle. Exercising your brain is key to learning to cope with existing mental health issues as well as preventing new ones from forming.

Below, you will discover exercises for your mind as well as what the particular exercise does to transform yours brain.

Picturing Success

The Exercise: Close your eyes and picture yourself doing something that you commonly struggle with. For some people this could be a calculus test, for others it could be weight loss. Now, imagine that you are successful with it. You have overcome the challenge and passed that test with an A+ or dropped 20 pounds. Visualize every moment of the glory.

The Results: Visualizing success is an anti-depressant tool because it wards off negative, demeaning thoughts we can have throughout the day. If we practice putting as much effort into picturing the positive things that can happen as we do the negative, then our anxiety can be cut in half.

Memory Building

The Exercise: Find a song on the radio or YouTube that you have never heard before. Without reading the lyrics, try to learn and remember the lyrics within 30 minutes.

The Results: Memory is an awesome brain function that can deteriorate over time with the proper maintenance. Learning the lyrics to a new song helps to push that part of your brain that is responsible for memory to be better and stronger. Practicing this exercise once or twice a week can dramatically improve your reasoning and ability to do mental math.

Visual Memory

The Exercise: The next time you walk into a new room or store then leave, try to recall five items that your saw. Recount characteristics such as color, size, number and position. This exercise can also work by looking at an ISpy page for 30 seconds.

The Results: Paying closer attention to your surroundings works the visual-spatial as well as the memory part of your brain. You will want this part of your brain to be strong and alert during times of sudden crisis/decision making. Also, studies have shown that people who exercise their brains in such manners during adulthood, have a less likely chance to develop Alzheimer’s or Dementia into later life.

Motivation Monday: procrastination, an unhealthy habit

Motivation Mondays are about more than just fitness and eating well. This column is about improving your mental health as well.

As college students, we are more vulnerable to stress than the rest of the 18 to 25 year old population. The leading causes of stress for college students revolves around the overwhelming amount of academic work, finding a good job and paying personal bills. However, a common theme in dorm rooms throughout the country is procrastination.

Procrastination is an overall unhealthy habit that can have more negative effects than meets the eye.

If you have ever had an all-night cram session before a big test, then you have probably suffered from some of the physical effects of procrastination.

Lack of sleep leads to irritability, inability to focus, drowsiness and mental fatigue. Just one or two nights like this a week can have profound effects on your mental health, not to mention your academic standing too.

Surprisingly, creating a habit of all-nighters can make you sick more often. This is because reoccurring stress will weaken the immune system overtime.

Putting things off until the last minute, rather it be basic homework, an appointment with your advisor or submitting paperwork for financial aid can create a mental fog.

This means you have so many thoughts running through your head throughout the day that your brain feels bogged down. You may struggle to recall information, experience labored thinking about simple problems or tension headaches and migraines.

To put the dangers of procrastination into prospective, it is important to know that those that face constant anxiety and stress share common symptoms with those that cigarette smokers. Hypertension, frequent colds, shortness of breath and shorter lifespans are just a few similarities.

Below are some tips and advice on how to organize your time so procrastination will be a thing of the past.

Use an Agenda

Incorporating a planner into your life will immediately take your stress level down. Instead of having your academic assignments, bill due dates and meeting times floating in your head, you will have them physically written down. At a quick glance, you can see what is due today, next week and next month.

Set a Timer

With phones, tablets and computers continually distracting us, an assignment that should take 30 minutes, ends up taking us two hours. Using an alarm system can fix that problems. As you sit down to work on an assignment set an alarm on your phone for 50 minutes in the future. Work diligently. When the alarm sounds, take a ten minute break. If you are still not finished with your work, repeat the process until you are.

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Rank the Importance

Generally, an online quiz that ends in an hour is more important than a season premiere that will re-air in an hour. You must rank the importance of everything you planned and complete the most important activities or assignments first.

Break Down the Assignment

Many students will view a big project with many requirements and immediately put it off, simply due to the size being overwhelming. Projects like this should be read over and broken down into mini assignments as soon as possible. Instead of trying to complete everything in one night, complete one small part every day for a week or two. When everyone else is cramming, you will be finalizing and relaxing.

Make a To-Do List

After writing in your agenda, you may realize some days are just busier than others. During a really busy day, it may be easier to procrastinate than to tackle every activity. The key is to make daily to-do lists. Write down everything that you need to get done along with time limits to get it done. This will provide a structured challenge for your day and you will be constantly reminded of what still needs to get done.

Workout Wednesday: switch up your tredmill workout

Let’s face it; out of all the dull and boring pieces of equipment in the gym, the treadmill sits near the top of the list. A treadmill can be great for walking or running indoors during foul weather and warming up before you hit the weight room. Yet, many people still despise stepping foot this machine.

Derricka Rolle, senior at UNC Charlotte, picks walking outside over walking on the treadmill. She says she enjoys “the scenery and sunshine” that you cannot find in a gym atmosphere.

Allen Bryant, also a senior, would rather ignore the stats on the monitor and set his own pace outdoors.

Both students agreed that, overall, treadmills are boring.

For those of you that also think treadmills are drab, here is some ways to spice up your treadmill workout.

The key is to embrace every feature on the treadmill, not just the obvious ones.

Incline

Every modern treadmill has an incline feature. You can press a button or flip a switch and the base of the treadmill will begin to take the form of a hill. The steepness of the hill depends on the incline setting.

Any incline will add a challenge to your normal routine because you will be working a different set of muscles. According to Livestrong.org, walking at an incline of 15 percent will increase fat burn by 70 percent. It will provide strength training benefits to the glutes, calves and hamstrings that you would not be able to reach at a zero percent incline.

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Side Shuffles

Who said you can only walk forward on a treadmill?

One way to revive your treadmill workout is to incorporate side shuffles. To start, begin with your machine off or with a low speed of one mph or lower.

Instead of facing forward, turn your body to the side, facing right. Your hands should rest on the safety bars of the machine. Slowly step your left foot out, then meet your right foot to your left. Continue this movement as you gradually increase the speed of the treadmill to no more than 3 mph. Repeat on the other side.

Side shuffles are a great way to rise the heartrate and work the outer thighs.

Backwards Stroll

If you can walk sideways on the treadmill, then of course you can walk backwards too.

The trick to this exercise is keeping the speed low, the incline high and your hands on the safety bars.

With a steep incline, the focus will be on the backs of your legs. An additional tip is to attempt to walk on your tip-toes. This will engage your calf muscles even more.

Walking Lunge

This exercise can be used to lower your heart rate after a run while still toning muscles. Set your treadmill’s speed to between one and a half to two and a half mph. For this exercise, the slower you go, the more efficient you will work. While walking forward, step your right foot backwards into a lunge, creating a 90 degree angle with your left leg. Then step your foot back up to walking. Repeat with the left side.

It is very important to maintain proper form during a walking lunge in order to avoid serious injury to the joints.

Standing Donkeys

Similar to the walking lunges, keep your treadmill at a slow pace for these donkey kicks.

Take two steps, then kick your right leg backwards. Make sure you are squeezing your glutes as you kick. Return your leg back to walking, Take two more steps, and then kick back the left leg.

Donkey kicks work the booty, as well as the lower back.

Walking Knee Raises

These knee raises are performed just like the standing donkey kicks, but instead of kicking the leg back, you will lift the knee anywhere from belly button to chest height, then return to walking. Take two steps in between and lift the opposite knee.

Manual Run

Although they are outdated, some gyms still have manual treadmills. These machines work only on the power of the user. If you cannot find a manual treadmill, just simply keep an electrical treadmill in the OFF position.

Step on to the treadmill. Hold on to the safety bar in front of the monitor. It is helpful to lean into the hold just a bit. Begin walking. The initial few steps are the toughest while you are getting the conveyer belt started.

A manual run or walk forces you to keep a pace fast enough to keep the conveyer belt moving. This is also perfect if you want a high intensity power walk or run. Your calves will be begging for mercy.

With these tools and tips, you can now spruce up your typical, yawn-inducing treadmill. Perform each of these exercises for five minutes and you a highly efficient, challenging and unexpected workout. You will also have a shirt full of sweat.

Motivation Monday: five habits to form before summer

Forming a habit can take anywhere from 21 to 36 days. A lot of people dive into the season of skin by trying to abruptly change their lifestyle. However, a sudden change can set your body up for disaster and your for failure. The following are tips on how to slowly form healthy habits that will benefit you when the warm months arrive.

1. Exercising in the morning

In North Carolina, summer temperatures can easily reach more than 90 degrees. Even sitting outside during the afternoon can cause heat exhaustion if you are not aware. Therefore, the best time to get an outdoor workout in is early in the morning when temperatures are still relatively cool.

Today, you can practice waking up an hour before you usually wake up for class or work. Even if you do not decide to exercise at that time right now, your mind and body will become accustomed to awaking earlier by the time June rolls by.

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2. Eating fresh foods

Something about summer just screams “fresh food.” Whether you are munching a seafood salad by the ocean, eating cool fruit salad at a BBQ or chowing a grilled corn cob at the state fair, fresh food is the theme of the season.

In order to break the habit of prepackaged, fried or fast foods that we make our comfort foods during the winter months, begin adding fresh produce back to your diet. Try to aim for one raw meal a day. This could be a colorful salad, yummy green shake or homemade blended soup.

3. Drinking lots of water

Rather you noticed or not, humans sweat all day. However, during the warm months, the amount of sweat that we produce doubles. This is why doctors suggest adding two or three servings of water a day during spring and summer.

This being said, many people are not receiving the adequate amount of liquids in their diet in the first place. In order to prepare for summer, you need to set up a drinking schedule. An easy way to remember to drink enough water is drink eight ounces upon waking and going to sleep along with eight ounces with every meal you eat.

4. Getting a full night’s rest

Nights are longer and days are shorter during the warm months, which sets up the perfect scenario to log in your eight to ten hours of sleep a night. However, if your sleep pattern is still disturbed by your hectic school or work schedule, then you may lose the precious sleep hours you need.

Although school has yet to let out for the summer, it is smart to practice good sleeping skills as soon as possible. A good way to get enough sleep is to write your sleep time in your planner and follow by it strictly. Also avoid electronics including televisions, phones and computers an hour before bed because the glowing light disrupts our natural day/night sleep rhythm.

5. Dodging allergens

Spring and summer is time to be carefree and enjoy the outdoors. Yet, it is the outdoors that can put damper on your vacation days. Ragweed, blooming flowers and loose flying dust can cause Hay Fever and other allergic reactions.

While completely avoiding a sniffle or two during the season may be appear to be a challenge, there are activities that you can begin to include into your day that will ward off many of the allergic reactions.

The Neti Pot uses a salt water mixture to flush the dust and pollen from the sinuses and also keep the mucus membranes moist. Set an alarm on your phone for the Neti Pot. Using it once in the morning and once at night can save you from a prescription of Clarityn.

Workout Wednesday: what is wrong with your workout?

As a part of a healthy lifestyle, we all exercise to stay fit. Some of us enjoy a runners high, while some of us prefer to pump some iron. Others practice more peaceful activities such as yoga or tai chi. When it comes to any physical activity, most all of it is beneficial. However, too much any one thing can be bad news.

Below are descriptions of five types of exercisers commonly seen in gyms across the world and the positive and negative consequences facing them.

Cardio bunny

We have all witnessed that one gym-goer that can always be found on a treadmill or elliptical. It seems as if they spend hours jogging and panting to the beat of their headphones. You may think that this person survives only off of water and cardio.

The good: Cardiovascular activity is essential to your overall health and well-being. Any activity that requires heavy use of your lungs and elevates your heart rate for an extended period of time will strength the muscles of those two organs. Cardio is also one of the most obvious ways to burn calories and fat from your body.

The bad: Too much cardio can be bad news for the joints in your lower body. The repeated pounding of your foot on a hard surface such as concrete or a treadmill puts serious stress on the bones of the foot, ankles, knees and hip bones. While cardio does initially burn calories, doing the same type of exercise every day will cause your muscles to adapt, therefore you will begin to burn less and less calories over time.

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Upper body aficionado

You know that person at the gym that immediately walks over to the free weights. This person does set after set of bicep curls, chest presses, tricep dips and push-ups. Their upper body is sculpted and defined, however, their lower body appears to struggle.

The good: Having a good amount of muscle mass is as important as cardio for your body. It is important to have strong arms for everyday activities such as shoveling or lifting boxes. A strong back and chest helps with posture and mobility.

The bad: Besides being aesthetically unpleasing, ignoring the lower body can be detrimental for your health. The muscles of our lower bodies (glutes, quadriceps, calves and hamstrings) all work together to allow us the ability to walk, run, jump and climb. If you do not strengthen these muscles, completing simple task such as climbing stairs will be hard, no matter how big your arms are.

Peaceful warrior

A yoga instructor is a pro at what he or she does. He or she can bend into a pretzel, hold their body weight on one leg for five minutes and complete effortless headstands.

The good: Flexibility is a physical trait that helps way beyond the ability to do the Viswamitra pose. Everything from taking a shower to tying our shoes requires flexibility. As we age, our joints and muscles will stiffen, making every day activities feel like chores. Yogis and yoginis, however, greatly delay the onset of such stiffness.

The bad: While yoga does have many health benefits such as strength conditioning and meditation practice, you should not take a yoga class if you are looking to burn a sizeable amount of calories. In an hour-long session, a 155 pound woman can expect to burn less than 300 calories. For a person looking to loose body fat, the mat may not be the best place.

The athlete

The speedy soccer player, quick-moving quarterback, powerful batter, dolphin-esque swimmer and leaping basketball player. Athletes are glorified for their physical talents. The really good ones seem to train every waking moment.

The good: Athletes, whether big, small, thin or tall, are some of the most agile people on earth. Agility is key to moving at top speeds, switching directions suddenly and still avoiding injury. Athletes are phenoms when it comes to their particular sports as well.

The bad: Training everyday takes a toll on the athlete, especially when they train the same muscle groups repeatedly. Athletes are prone to stress fractures and tendonitis; two conditions caused by over use. These conditions are so common that many are, in fact, named after sports-related injuries such as tennis elbow, jumper’s knee and swimmer’s shoulder.

The obsessed

There is a fine line between dedicated and obsessed. There are those people that hit the gym, hard, for an hour a day. Then, there are those people that hit the gym for an hour, three times a day.

The good: Spending so much time exercising does show how determined you are to reach your goals.

The bad: Compulsive over exercising is a real mental disorder characterized by high levels of anxiety if one is not allow to finish a workout or workout at all. Excessive exercise damages the body more than it helps it. Joint pain, strained muscles, extreme soreness and a compromised immune system are all consequences of becoming obsessed.

The benefits of exercise are beyond measure. However, too much of a certain type of exercise can backfire. The key is to take advice from each one of the exercisers described above and develop a balanced workout plan that will incorporate an adequate amount of cardio, weight training and mind and body.

Motivation Monday: meditate yourself healthy

The title of this article may sound like the name of an Oprah’s Book Club reject. However the results of numerous studies suggest that you can actually lose pounds and inches from your body with the help of meditation.

To under how this claim could possibly hold truth, you must first understand what meditation is and how it affects the brain.

FreeMeditation.com describes meditation as “a state of profound, deep peace that occurs when the mind is calm and silent, yet completely alert.”

It is commonly believed that in order to achieve a meditative state, one must be seated in a quiet environment, chanting a mantra. While these are definitely options, the website goes on to explain that meditation can be completed anywhere, at any time, even while working. The true importance is the mind, specifically the brain, is at ease.

During a session of meditation, our brains are actually changing.

The medial prefrontal cortex is part of the brain that processes personal experiences and perspectives. The lateral prefrontal cortex is part of the brain that processes emotional responses like fear. Naturally, to keep us safe, these two parts of our brains work closely together in order to avoid dangerous situations.

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For example, looking up and noticing a gray-green sky is something that happened to you previously before a large tornado struck. Therefore, the next time you see a gray-green sky, you will feel fear.

This close-knit relationship was once key to human survival. However, in a modern time like today, the relationship can cause overwhelming stress and anxiety about things that will not cause physical harm, such as work, school, and money.

Meditation works to loosen the bonds between the medial and lateral prefrontal lobes. This makes daily situations, such as missing the bus to class or missing a deadline, less likely to cause stress or anxiety because your brain can identify the true nature of the situation rather than automatically going into flight or fight mode.

So how does this science deal with becoming healthier?

Much of the reason why dieters overeat or make unhealthy food choices is due to some form of stress. With meditation, you are slowly and intentionally letting go of much of your stress. Therefore, with a daily dose of meditation, you will be less likely to cheat yourself on your diet.

It may sound like a simple solution, but the key is achieve tranquility, which can prove to be tough in such a fast-pace environment.

One method is to meditate in the morning. Your mind is the clearest when you first wake up. It also tends to be quieter in the morning before the world starts to stir around.

Another trick is to meditate during a time when you have the most cravings. For a lot of people, that time is late at night. During meditation, your mind will be clear enough to determine if you are physically hungry or stressed about something.

By adding meditation to your daily routine, not only could you see a reduction in your waistline, but also a reduction of stress, anxiety, and agitation.

Thirsty Thursday: EAS Protein shake

It is nearing spring time again, when there is more sun and less clothing. Hoards of people are flocking to the gym in order to sculpt their muscles and slim their frame just in time for the season of tank tops and sun dresses.

A great way to feed your muscles and maintain the hard work you put in at the gym is having a protein shake after your workout.

For those of you that have never purchased protein powder, it can be overwhelming. Brands can range in amount of protein per serving, flavors and prices. However, if you want a delicious, nutritious and cheap protein drink, look to EAS.

EAS offers a range of products. If you are looking to maintain your toned figure, you should reach for EAS Lean Protein powder. It packs 15 grams of protein and five grams of fiber in only a hundred calorie shake.

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If you are looking to gain weight in muscle, pick up EAS 100% Whey Protein powder, which contains a whopping 26 grams of protein as well as muscle building nutrients like BCAAs. The brand also offers soy protein and snack bars.

Although this brand only offers two flavors of its protein powder, chocolate and vanilla are perfect standard flavors for enhancing with other ingredients such as peanut butter or berries.

Waun Megget, a junior at UNCC and avid gym goer, gives his favorite method of making his post-workout shakes.

“I like to mix the vanilla powder, with whole milk instead of water. It gives it a creamier taste and adds a few more grams of protein. Sometimes, when I’m feeling fancy, I add a few frozen strawberries and half a frozen banana in the blender along with the powder and milk. It tastes like I’m cheating but I’m really not.”

You can find a 27.2 ounce container of EAS in your local Target for $18.99, which is a steal compared to other high priced protein powders.

Whether you are a beginner at protein shakes or want to save a little money in your college budget, EAS is the way to go.

Workout Wednesday: Shaun T’s ‘Hip-Hop Abs’

Are you a fan of dance fitness? Do you enjoy working up a good sweat to high energy, bass-filled songs? Are you in need of new moves for the club this weekend?

If you answered yes to any of the questions, then Shaun T’s Hip-Hop Abs would be a great fit for you.

Shaun T is a globally recognized fitness instructor who became well-known for his intense, results-producing Insanity workout DVDs.

He has gone on to release further best-selling fitness DVDs such as Rockin’ Body, Insanity: Asylum, T25 and Insanity: Max 30. However, the exercise video series that first won T success is Hip-Hop Abs.

Shaun T’s mission while creating Hip-Hop Abs was to combine traditional hip-hop, funk and African dance moves with a fitness focus in order to sculpt your legs, arms and of course, your abs.

Unlike many fitness video series before it, you will not find yourself doing a single crunch in this DVD series. Shaun T prides himself on creating a workout that can chisel your core without the need to lay on the floor and strain your neck.

You will learn the tilt, tuck, tighten method, in which you tilt your shoulders forward, tuck your hips under the abdominals and tighten the core. Following this method throughout the workout will allow you to engage every part of your core including your side obliques and back muscles.

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The great part of this workout, which can be done in the privacy of your own home or with a group of friends, is the fun you are going to experience. With dance moves such as the uprock, party bounce and the freak, you will laugh, smile and boogie before you even realize you are dripping with sweat.

The standard DVD set can be ordered from BeachBody.com. The DVD set comes with four different hip-hop fitness routines with sweat times from 30 minutes to a little over an hour. Just like in all the DVD sets that he offers, Shaun T makes sure to throw in nutritional advice and a meal plan back by Beach Body in order to ensure weight loss results.

There are bonus features that are also added such as a choreography session, in which T and his back up dancers teach you a fun but funky dance routine.

Shaun T’s fierce attitude on the dance floor and heart-to-heart motivation is more valuable than the $19.95 price tag on this DVD set. Although not as intense as Insanity, Hip-Hops Abs has all the right flavor and fitness to tone your body.

Motivation Monday: six small meals

If you have ever tried to drop a few pounds, gain some muscle or have lived in the health and fitness world for any length of time, then you have probably heard this before: you should eat six small meals a day rather three larger meals.

However, have you ever wondered why nutritionists, fitness coaches and doctors push this idea of freqent eating?

When you look into the science of the human body and how it gains and loses weight, you will understand the importance of eating every few hours.

Metabolism is also a term you hear about frequently. In general, metabolism is the speed at which your body burns calories and loses weight. Eating frequently is beneficial to jumpstarting a slow metabolism.

The reason stems from human’s coping mechanism during the caveman era.

During this time, food was not as readily available as it is today. Cavemen could not simply walk to a grocery store. They were forced to hunt. When fruits, vegetables or meat were in short supply, the caveman’s metabolism would slow almost to a halt, in order to conserve fat and energy to sustain life until the next hunt.

To this day, humans still have this starvation mode encoded in their DNA. When you spend more than eight hours without food, you body starts to go back to its roots. This is why starving yourself is counterproductive. You body holds on to its fat instead of using it.

Eating six meals a day, every two or three hours, will cause your body to burn more calories because the fear of impending starvation is diminished.

If you are a person with a big appetite or a seemingly bottomless stomach, a diet with six meals a day will be your best bet.

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For example, say you are on a 2,100 calories diet plan. Instead of eating three meals that are 700 calories each, you are having six meals that are 350 calories. Although you are eating the exact same amount of calories, you are eating more often, which tricks your brain into thinking you are eating more.

You are also more likely to stay satiated if you are eating more often, especially if you drinking an adequate amount of water with your meals throughout the day.

Six small meals may be helpful to those of us that live very busy lives. Commuters, parents, and students with part-time jobs, may not have the time to sit down and eat a large meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Because your meals will be significantly smaller on this diet plan, you can easily store a few of them in a lunch box and enjoy them on a car ride or at work.

What many dieters enjoy about this method is the constant energy they experience. If you are eating the healthy kind of meals and snacks, your blood sugar wil have very little opportunity or time to drop when you eat so frequently. This leads to the same feeling of energy you recieve after the first couple bites of any meal, yet this lasts all day.

Now you can understand the reason why six small meals may be more beneficial to your health and fitness goals then eating the traditional three meals a day.

Try this method out! Although setting your eating schedule may prove to be a bit difficult initially, you should notice a difference within the first couple of days.

Thirsty Thursday: hot totty

It has been said that this drink can loosen up even the tightest chest congestion. It has also been said that doctors once prescribed this drink in place of traditional cough medicine. Some people believe that this drink is over 500 years old.

No matter what you have heard, after trying out this simple recipe, the hot totty will surely become your favorite winter drink.

While most alcoholic drinks are served chilled or “on the rocks,” a hot totty is served steaming hot.

A reoccuring debate seems to revolve around what the exact recipe consists. You must remember that this drink is ancient.

The recipe has traveled around the world and has taken on different adaptations according to different countries. However, it is a common consensus that a hot toddy features some type of brown liquor, hot tea and a sweetener.

A common American concoction features whiskey, black tea, honey and lemon.

Although the medicinal benefits of alcohol is unclear, when it comes to treating the flu or an upper respiratory infection, alcohol can help to lull you to sleep and distraction you from your sickness. It is recommended to avoid depending on this drink while trying to recover from illness, due to alcohol’s dehydrating properties.

A hot totty is an overall great drink for relaxing during these cold, classless, snow days.

 

Workout Wednesday: gfit profile, Virtuous Harris

Name: Virtuous Harris

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Class Status: Senior

Major: Exercise Science

What class/classes do you teach: Time to Change Program

What makes your classes stand out from all the rest that UNCC offers? This class is geared toward helping the overweight and obese population do a lifestyle change through exercise and diet.

What made you want to do group fitness as a job? I have always been very interested in health and fitness. I can recall coming to UNC Charlotte and I struggled to walk up the many hills and steps around campus. During my first two years at Charlotte I, attended numerous of group fitness and one of my favorite was water aerobics. Group fitness helped me on my weight loss journey. I aspire to help others reach their fitness goals.

What class do you aspire to teach? I aspire to teach a step class as well as cardio hiphop dance class

What is the hardest thing about being a GFit instructor? The hardest thing will have to be adding new songs into my workouts. As an instructor you tend to have a certain set of tunes you really like to do and stick with just those tunes.

What is the biggest misconception about GFit instructors or group fitness in general? There are many misconceptions however there are two that stick out to me. One is being female you, aren’t taken as seriously about teaching others how to lift weights. The second would be that many people believe GFit instructors are in the best shape of their lives.

What advice would you give to anybody who wants to become a GFIT instructor? Be confident, fierce, inspiring and have fun.

Motivation Monday: proper posture

In today’s electronic culture, proper posture is often ignored. We are constantly hunched over computers, tablets and phones. With hours spent in the same position, our fragile spines suffer greatly.

The human spine consists of several interlocking bones called vertabrae. These vertabrae allign your body properly for sitting, standing and walking. In order to keep the vertabrae working, the muscles surrounding them must be storng enough to support the bones.

This is where many people face problems.

When slouching, hunching or otherwise practicing poor posture, you are ignoring important muscles groups such as the erectus spinae. Over years of neglect, these muscles weaken, which can cause  significant health problems such as hyperkyphosis, aslo know as a humpback.

It is extremely importamt to take control ofyour posture at a young age, in order to prevent spinal problems when you age.

Good posture has many other benefits, including appearence of a slimmer waist.

Correcting your posture does not require years of medical braces or surgery. You can follow these convient tips everyday to help protect your vunerable spine.

1)An app

Posture Man Pat for iOS and Posture Trainer for Android are two phone applications that constantly remind you to sit up straight. These apps use your phone’s camera to analyze your head and neck position and will alert you with a vibrating message when you begin to slouch.

2)Belly button to back

Unsure that you are sitting or standing correctly? Try this exercise. Take a deep breath while lifting the top of your chest to the ceiling. Then contract your belly button as if you are pushing it back towards your spine. Let out your breath but remain in this postition. This is proper posture.

3)Lumbar support

Look for ways to support your lower back, which may have become weak due to improper posture. Wearable and comfortable back braces can be commonly be boughtat your local Walmart, Walgreens or Target. If you do not want to wear a lumbar supporter, you can also place a portable in your desk chair, driver’s seat, or couch. The Lumbar Seat by Medical Products is a good otption.

Remember that we only get one body. We must take time to  care for it throughout our lives. Practicing proper posture is one way to keep our muscles strong and our bones in order.

 

Workout Wednesday: gfit profile, cardio dance

Name: Quan Siler

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Photo by Quan Siler

 

Class Status: Senior

Major: Marketing

What class/classes do I teach: Cardio Dance

What makes this class stand out from all the rest of classes UNCC offers? My class is more hip-hop based than other dance classes offered here at the school. Not only will you will learn the latest dance crazes and how to shake your booty, but you will get your heart pumping during the process. You can definitely use the moves that you learn in my class in the club.

What made me want to do group fitness as a job? I started my health and fitness journey in 2012, but always preferred exercising alone. I was introduced to group fitness in 2013 by Urban Strip Tease. Then in the summer of 2014, I started taking Zumba and Hip-Hop Express at the YMCA in my hometown. I loved getting lost in the music. I loved the energy and passion of my instructor and her ability to uplift my spirit every time I went to class. It her that ultimately inspired me to become a GFIT instructor.

What class do I aspire to teach? I am currently licensed to teach Zumba, so I would like to get better at that. I also want to teach a fun dance class like Urban Strip Tease.

What is the hardest thing about being a GFit instructor? Setting a good example for your students. Even the days I am tired or upset and I really don’t want to teach, I still come in with energy and a smile on my face. My students are looking to me for a good and positive workout and my job is to be there to motivate them.

What is the biggest misconception about GFit instructors or group fitness in general? All GFIT instructors are in perfect shape. The truth is that many of us teach group fitness as a way to continue on our health and fitness goals. Although it looks like I’m breezing the dance routines, I am out of breath and pouring sweat just like my students.

What advice would I give to anybody who wants to become a GFIT instructor? First, you want to take some time to work on your physical fitness. Remember you will be teaching one, two, even three hours a day, multiple days of the week. Secondly, you want to take a preparation course. UNCC offers one with a student discount. Lastly, you want to take a certification test. These tests can be very expensive, so you should make sure group fitness is your passion.

Motivation Monday: four ways to get more water

For a long time, the “8 x 8” rule was the standard for the amount of water we should be drinking daily. This rule, enforced by doctors around the nation, claims that Americans should drink eight glasses of eight ounces of water a day. While this rule is easy to remember for children and adults alike, it may not be the best advice to take.

According to the American Institute of Medicine, water consumption depends on sex and body composition.

They encourage men to consume at least 104 ounces of water a day and for females, the standard is 72 ounces a day. Keep in mind that these are just basic numbers. A larger person will require more water than a smaller person and an athlete will require water than someone who is mostly sedentary.

With all this being said, getting enough water in your body on a daily basis can still pose as a challenge.

Live Strong reveals that “the average daily amount of total water Americans consume is about 3.18 liters, or 13.4 cups, but 48 percent of that comes from beverages other than plain drinking water.”

The convenience of soda machines, coffee shops and packaged juice could be responsible for our lack of plain water consumption, as well as other problems such as obesity, diabetes, and sleeping problems.

If you want to clear your skin, slim your waistline, eat less and enjoy the other benefits of an increased water intake, then follow these four tips on how to drink more water.

Fruit Infusion

One of the biggest complaints of those who are avid soda or juice drinkers is the taste of water is too plain.

A way to spice up your water is to try fruit infusion. Before going to bed, slice up some of your favorite fruits and herbs, and add to a water bottle or pitcher. Then fill the rest of the bottle with fresh water.

In the morning you will have a slightly sweeten, flavorful drink that will hydrate your body and keep you reaching for your water bottle.

water bottle
Photo by Quan Siler

 

Gallon Jug Method

Sometimes, in order to be reminded how much water you should be drinking, you need to physically see it.

One way to be conscious of your intake is to carry a gallon water jug with you all day. Since there are 128 ounces in a gallon, this is a good measurement to go by. A gallon jug is more noticeable than a typical water bottle, therefore it should be a constant reminded to keep drinking throughout the day.

Set a routine

It is scientifically proven that creating a routine will help you reach a goal faster. Apply this to your water intake.

An easy routine to follow is having an eight ounce glass of water upon waking up and before going to bed. Making drinking water part of your already established morning and night routines will make it easier to remember.

Also try to drink eight ounces of water before a meal, then an additional eight ounces during the meal. Not only will your water intake begin to rise, you will feel fuller much faster, which will cut down on overeating.

Use an app

There is an app for everything these days, including drinking water.

Water Your Body, Water Logged and Daily Water are just three of many apps that track your water intake, send hourly reminders to drink and even alert you of nearby water fountains.

There are also electronic water bottles that have their own tracking systems built right in. Hydra Coach bottle will cost you about $22 but you will never have to worry about forgetting to sip again.

While getting enough water may seem tough, there are many ways to get your proper amount of water.