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Crossing the start line

Crossing the start line

This past Sunday, I joined over 7,000 women in the More Magazine | Fitness Magazine Half-Marathon. While elbowing my way to a comfortable spot at the starting line, I recognized several other currently-enrolled SBBW (strong,

Lewy Boulet crossing the finish line in just over 1 hour and 18 minutes.

Lewy Boulet crossing the finish line in just over 1 hour and 18 minutes.

beautiful Barnard women) warming up and getting their minds ready.

More and Fitness magazines host an annual marathon for women over 40 and a half-marathon for women of all ages. Unfortunately, due to the extreme heat, the marathon had to be canceled. Many of the marathon runners entered the half-marathon, which was turned into a “fun run,” meaning no times were posted on the course in order to encourage the runners to slow down and pace themselves.

Most participants, including the top finishers, supported the decision to make the event noncompetitive. All finishers received fluorescent yellow and silver medals and celebrated their successes in a big misting section near the final water tables. Whether the finishing times were what we had all trained to achieve, everyone seemed proud to have completed 13.1 miles in the unexpected sunny, 80 degree weather.

I was surprised at how exhausted I was after the race. I have run longer distances than the half-marathon, but up until this point, my runs were in the cold or inside. After crossing the finish line and gathering my bags, I hobbled to the subway and could barely stand after sitting on the train on the ride home. Once inside, I passed out on my bed for a two hour nap. Even after eating well, drinking plenty of fluids, and training as well as could be expected, sunshine and humidity are no joke.

To prevent heat-related illnesses or injuries, New York Road Runners provided a solid list of instructions for how to exercise safely during this sudden heat wave. Please follow these tips if you exercise outside this week (as it looks like it will continue to be hot and humid) and as the weather changes from spring to summer. Click on the link above for more detailed explanations.

Respect your limits. Do not aim for a personal best on a warm, sticky day, particularly if you are not used to such conditions.
Acclimate. It takes 10 days to two weeks for the body to acclimate to keeping cool at higher temperatures.
Know the signs of heat problems. If you feel faint, dizzy, disoriented, or your skin is clammy and abnormally hot or cold, slow down or stop exercising. If symptoms continue, sit or lie down in the shade and seek medical help.
Drink enough. Drink throughout the day, so that your urine remains plentiful and pale yellow. In the heat, sports drinks are even better than water because the sugar and salt they contain form an “active pump” that transports fluid to cells more quickly than water alone.
Don’t drink too much. Over-hydrating before and during exercise can cause a dangerous condition known as hyponatremia (water intoxication). Do not over-drink; include pretzels, sports gels, or a salted bagel in your pre-run meal, and use a sports drink that contains sodium. During exercise, drink no more than a cup of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes.
Eat a good pre-race meal a few hours before the run. Try a bagel with peanut butter and a banana—the protein and carbs will fuel your effort and aid in recovery.
Consume salt. Eat salted foods like a salt bagel, salted pretzels, or salted nuts. If you’re planning to race, eat salted foods all week prior to the event.
Protect yourself from the sun. Wear a cap or visor to shield your head, face, and eyes from the sun’s burning rays, and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. Use sunscreen on exposed skin, even on overcast days.
Check your meds. Do not consume products like cold medicines, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, or anti-diarrhea medicines with dehydrating agents in them. They may increase your risk for heat illness.
Wear synthetic fabrics. Unlike cotton, synthetics wick moisture from your skin so cooling evaporation can occur. Synthetics also decrease chafing and don’t cling and cause a chill.
Use water along the course (cups, spray stations) to cool yourself during races. If you are overheating, a cool spray will cool you down quickly and have a lasting effect as the water evaporates from your skin.

Above all, know your body, take it slow, and stay in the shade as much as possible. Take care during the weather change and hold back on any training that you may be planning.

Photos of event day courtesy of Brightroom Photography.

 

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Nothing makes me happier than trading in the elliptical and stationary bike for my real bicycle. However, every year p1010240I need a refresher on how to best take advantage of my workouts in the great outdoors. Cycling is a great way to stay in shape because it is low-impact, high-fun, and requires a high level of physical fitness. On an average bike ride, I can easily burn 600 calories, depending on the number of hills and intervals in my bike ride. Contrary to popular belief, I find that cycling tones my legs rather than bulks them up, which I love. In order to refresh my mind on the rules of the road and the best way to gear up for a new bike season, I asked my friend, Scott, a cyclist on the MetLife pro-am team, to help me out.

CLOTHING: As a recreational cyclist, don’t feel like you have to go out and buy the fanciest gear. As long as you follow a few simple, common sense rules, you should be fine. For bottoms, choose something that fits snugly to your ankles or shorts. Spandex works well. I have a pair of padded shorts that I like to wear because I find them much more comfortable on a bumpy, long ride. On top, regular tee-shirts or long-sleeve shirts are fine, as long they’re breathable. Tank tops are less preferable because they provide less protection in case of a crash!

GEAR: This is always my question: what do I bring with me? I find that I always need a zillion things before going out on a ride, but I don’t want to weigh myself down. Stick with the essentials. You will definitely need a water bottle, and depending on the length of the ride, a light snack. I have a bike with clip-in pedals, so I wear cycling-specific shoes in order to get the most out of each rotation. Always bring your cell phone, a multitool, and maybe a portable bike pump in case of emergencies. If you’re cycling at night, wear reflective clothing and you might want to invest in front and rear blinking lights (red in the rear, white in the front).

ROAD SAFETY: Read this part carefully in order to avoid angry gestures – or worse! Cyclists should basically follow the same rules as drivers. You bike with traffic and must obey traffic signs and signals. Be sure to assert your space, especially around cabs, because you have just as much a right to be on the road as they do. Act confidently, even if you’re feeling nervous, and make eye contact with other riders and drivers to make sure they’re aware of you. Be aware that the bike lane isn’t always reserved to bicycles (although it should be). Also important: don’t ride too close to parked cars, lest you get “doored” (which is just as painful as it sounds). For more information, check out the Bicycle Habitat website.

HAND SIGNALS: Important for riding in traffic. Remember to always use your left arm.

                                   LEFT                 RIGHT                 STOP

bikesignals2

MY MOST IMPORTANT TIP: Remember how far you’ve ridden away from your starting point; you’re going to have to bike back!

For more information on biking in New York City, check out the New York Cycling Club and Bike New York!

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“Mama Mia!” Those were the words uttered by my friend as we perused the menu of a fine eatery on the Upper West Side, and no, she is not Italian. She was merely stunned by the overwhelming quantity of calories found in a seemingly innocent bran muffin. Reactions like this have become more frequent ever since New York City implemented a law requiring restaurants to post calorie listings.

This law not only applies to fast food joints, but to some upscale eateries as well. Le Pain Quotidien, a Belgian restaurant/bakery that has various locations throughout the city, for example, has been forced to place the numbers on their menus. I myself was surprised to see that the Organic Grilled Tofu Salad contained a whopping 530 calories. Even as someone who does not count calories, I found myself scrutinizing my food choices more closely. A side of guacamole for 200 extra calories? A slice of dark chocolate mousse cake for 500 calories? Well dark chocolate does contain antioxidants. . .

 

The supposedly pleasurable act of dining out suddenly turned into a mathematical disaster. I felt guilty for indulging when I should have been enjoying the culinary experience. This got me thinking, is it really worth it to post calorie listings? Sure, we live in a state where 25 percent of people are obese, but can posting numbers truly solve the problem? Rather then simply provide numerical information shouldn’t our city take greater efforts to promote exercise and healthy cooking? Or perhaps posting numbers will prove effective and prompt consumers to make healthier choices. Could we be decreasing the staggering rate of obesity or merely creating a society overly obsessed with weight? I leave this question up to you, but as for me, I simply could not resist that velvety piece of chocolate cake heaven.

starbuckscalories

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I feel better on days that I exercise—spend an hour in the gym, go for a jog in Riverside Park, indulge in a yoga flow class—than on days that I don’t. This is no surprise. I bet you share in my sentiment. And we all know why we respond well to a little physical labor: when we exercise, our body releases endorphins, our muscles stretch and release tension, our energy level increases. But, I’m convinced that my psyche—not just my body—plays a role in the freshness and fulfillment I feel on days when I take the time out of my day to exercise.

I know that exercise is good for me; I know that I’m supposed to exercise often. Thus, when I go for that late afternoon jog, I reap not only the physical benefits of my workout, but also the mental gratification of knowing I did something good for myself. Unfortunately, the converse is also true. On days when I spend more time exercising the speed and agility of my gchat-ing skills than my sun salutations, I go to bed with stiff limbs and a mild sense of disappointment in myself.

So, whats the solution? I could, of course commit to exercising everyday for at least an hour. But, the truth is, for me (and maybe for some of you), it’s not that easy. As busy Barnard students with avenue-long to-do lists, an hour at the gym is not always the top priority, even when we know how good it makes our minds and bodies feel. So, how is it possible to go to bed with loose limbs and a sense of self-worth when you did not have the time in your hectic day to practice 60 minutes of flow yoga?

An idea struck me as I was impatiently waiting for the elevator in my dorm the other evening. I was thinking about everything I had to before bed and how I just wasn’t going to make it to yoga at 8PM, when inspiration hit. I dropped my purse, bent at the hips, sunk my back towards the ground, and touched my toes. Ahhh. As I stretched, I forgot about my annoyance with the elevator and annoyance with myself for skipping yoga while also loosening my hamstrings and calf muscles. For the rest of the evening, I stretched every time I had to wait for the elevator.

Below, you’ll find Elevator Stretching, and 4 other 5 minute (or less) wellness exercises that you can insert into even the busiest of Barnard days. If you don’t have time for that hour-long jog, see how many of these you can work into your schedule, so that you can end your day with peace of both body and mind.

Elevator Stretching

You probably get the gist already, but this one is for any time you find yourself waiting for the elevator. Pick a standing stretch that you can easily slide into and hold it for the entire time you’re waiting for the lift. My favorite is a toe touch—described above—but you can also stretch your upper body with a shoulder stretch or simple neck circles. You could also go up to the wall beside the elevator, prop a foot up, and stretch your calf. If you live on a high floor in your dorm like I do, by the end of the day, you should have some really loose limbs!

Elevator Strength training

Now that your muscles are stretched, give them a good workout once inside the elevator. Elevators are great places for stationary lunges or wall sits, because they provide a set time interval. So walk in, take your position, feel the burn, walk out, and continue on your day!

*This one is best if you’re alone in the elevator (for both modesty and courtesy’s sake), but if you’ve got no shame and aren’t infringing on anyone’s personal space, strength train away!

Forget the elevator—take the stairs!

As a psych major, I have tons of classes on the third and fourth floors of Milbank. Some days, I’ll commit to taking the stairs to my classes and appointments in Milbank all day long. Try picking one building on campus where you frequent the higher floors, and walk to and fro all day long. (You can save the elevator wellness activities for your dorm). Who knows, you may just go to bed with a pleasantly sore bum!

Be One With Your Breath

Wellness is not just about working your muscles. Sometimes you need to relax them. Try this breathing meditation activity to release anxiety, recommended by Yoga Journal writer Richard Rosen, in his article, “Inhale, Exhale, Relax.” Lie down on the floor with your legs straight out and your arms by your sides, a few inches from your body. Concentrate on your breathing. Inhale and exhale at your normal rate, counting, in your head, the number of seconds in each breath in and out. To reduce stress, Rosen recommends “gradually and deliberately” lengthening each exhale. So, if your normal exhale lasts 5 seconds, lengthen it to 6 for a few breath cycles, then 7, until you find a comfortable length.

5-Minute Dance Party

This one is my favorite. Reward yourself every time you finish a page of a paper, a problem on a problem set, a chapter in your text book with a 5 minute dance party in your room. Put togther or short playlist, or just pick a ballad you can boogie down to. My favorite? “Gin and Juice,” by The Gourds.

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Delayed gratification is one of my favorite things. I suppose that helps to make sense of why one of my favorite foods is the almighty artichoke. I love it passionately. The delay of gratification comes from the very arduous and difficult preparation required to eat the vegetable.
In order to assist you in getting to the heart of the artichoke and the bountiful multitude of flavor that lies just beneath its exterior, I will assist you in How to Cook and Eat an Artichoke.

How to Cook an Artichoke
1. Cut off the thorns on the end of the leaves, by taking your kitchen scissors and cutting off the tips.
2. With a knife, slice about ¾ inch to an inch off the tip of the artichoke.
3. Pull of any smaller leaves towards the base of the artichoke.
4. Cut off any excess stem, you want only an inch of stem on the artichoke. The stems are a lot more bitter than the rest of the artichoke, so if you like that flavor, keep it on before cooking and then enjoy!
5. You want to rinse the artichokes in running cold water. A little trick is to use some cold water and then add some lemon juice, which will help to preserve the aesthetically-pleasing  green color.
6. In a large pot, put a couple inches of water, a clove of garlic, a slice of lemon and a bay leaf. You want to insert a steaming basket, and then add the artichokes. Cover the pot, and then cook for 25 to 45 minutes or until the outer leaves can easily be pulled off. If you have a pressure cooker, you can cook them in that for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Now you have cooked your artichoke!

How to Eat an Artichoke

1.    Pull off the outer petals, one at a time.
2.    Dip the fleshy, white-colored end in melted butter or a sauce of your choice. You then want to tightly grip the other end of the petal. Then, place the leaf in your mouth, dip side down, and pull through teeth to remove the pulpy flavorful portion of the petal. Discard the remaining petal.
3.    Continue to eat in this way until all the petals are removed.
4.    With a spoon or knife, scrape out and throw away the inedible fuzzy part, which is called the choke, and covers the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom part of the artichoke is the heart. Cut into pieces and dip into the sauce to eat.
5.    Enjoy!

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Fiber Your Diet!

Whenever I turn on the TV I see a new commercial about eating more fiber.  It seems as though fiber is in everything now: cereal, yogurt, protein bars.  Fiber is a very important part of a balanced diet.  It can serve to help to keep you regular, and help you to manage your weight.  Eating foods filled with fiber helps you to feel full faster, and can even help diabetics manage their blood sugar!  But, lets face it sometimes eating fiber feels like you really are eating cardboard.  So, I have got a great solution for you- healthy and yummy fiber packed cookies!

You’re going to need:

1 box of Fudge Brownie Mix (I would use the ‘No Pudge’ mix- it’s fat free!)

2 cups of original Fiber One bran cereal

2 tablespoons of miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup of water

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 egg

Now that you have all your ingredients together:

1. Heat the oven to 350 °F.  Spray cookie sheets with cooking spray. In large bowl, mix ingredients with spoon.  Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.

2. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until set. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. Cool completely. Store in tightly covered container. These cookies can be frozen for up to two months.

The cookies end up having about 2 grams of fiber per serving, which isn’t bad considering many physicians suggest between 20-25 grams daily.  Not only are these cookies a great and yummy way to squeeze some fiber into your diet but they are low-calorie too.  Only 70 calories per serving and 1 gram of fat!  So go ahead, indulge a little, and enjoy your fiber!

Adapted from: Fiber One Crunch Fudge Cookies

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Stop by our healthy bake sale today where we will be selling tasty and satisfying treats so you can start your day right! We will have homemade granola, trail mix, and bran muffins along with other healthy delights. We will be located in front of Barnard Hall from 11:30 am -1:00 pm, but if it rains we will be inside the Barnard Hall lobby.

I found a great recipe for Bran muffins at epicurious.com. We will be selling these muffins at our bake sale.


Bran Muffins with Dried Apples

2 cups all-bran cereal

1 cup nonfat milk

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 large egg

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup chopped dried apples (about 3 ounces)

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix cereal, milk, applesauce, oil and egg in large bowl. Let stand 10 minutes to soften bran.

Stir flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in medium bowl to blend. Mix in chopped dried apples. Add dry ingredients to bran mixture and stir just until moistened.

Spray twelve 1/3-cup muffin cups with vegetable oil spray. Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake until muffins are light golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer muffins to rack; cool completely. Enjoy!

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