Category Archives: Lifestyles

Healthy Eating Doesn’t Have To Be Difficult

by Christie Stelly

Having a well-planned and organized grocery list allows you to spend less time inside the store, and prevents you from walking out with junk foods.

As the saying goes, “fail to plan, plan to fail.” This saying is especially true when creating healthy eating habits. Healthy eating habits begin with what you eat daily and what you buy at the grocery store.

The best way to create a grocery list is to separate it into three macro sections: fats, carbohydrates, and protein.

Fats are a crucial nutrient that the human body needs in order to function. Our bodies require ‘good fats’ in order to function optimally. Women, specifically, need to make sure they are getting enough fat in their diet because that is what helps regulate hormones.

Healthy sources of fat that you can purchase from the grocery store include avocados, peanut butter, eggs, oils, nuts and seeds.  Try to avoid saturated fats, as they are linked to a higher risk of heart disease and high blood cholesterol.

Next up on the list are carbohydrates. These are another macronutrient that are essential to our bodies because they provide fuel and energy to muscles and nervous system.

Some women are under the false impression that carbs are bad and that they should avoid them when dieting.  On the contrary, good sources of carbohydrates have many great effects on the body, including being a form of energy.

Healthy forms of carbohydrates that you can buy are potatoes, vegetables, fruits, beans, rice, quinoa and oatmeal.

It is fairly easy to distinguish which carbs are healthy and which are not.  For example, which carb do you think would benefit your body more: an apple or a doughnut?  The apple would obviously be healthier because it has healthy sugars, fiber, and is lower in calories.

The last food group on your grocery list should be sources of protein. Protein is essential when it comes to building muscle mass.  Protein is specifically essential to the weight loss process because it keeps you from losing a mass amount of muscle. Protein also helps keep you full throughout the day, which is helpful when you are eating a limited amount of calories.

Some healthy sources of protein include chicken, turkey, lean ground beef, tofu, beans, fish, egg whites and Greek yogurt.

When it comes to the planning portion of the grocery list, if you are someone that is on a budget, try going to the stores’ website and taking a look at their circular before you go. You can browse through the sale items and find the healthiest options. If you know what you need ahead of time, you can look for coupons. Make a list according to each “macro” section before you go.

Once you arrive at the grocery store, try doing most of your shopping on the “outside” of the aisles to avoid processed foods.  Most of the middle aisles contain boxed foods that are heavily processed and high in sodium.

Stick to what you have on your list and try your best to not succumb to buying the pint of ice cream that is tempting you. If you do not keep unhealthy foods in the house, you are less likely to make poor food choices. This all starts with your grocery list and planning ahead.

It’s also helpful to follow your favorite grocery stores on social media. “Trader Joe’s List,” Trader Joe’s Official Instagram page, and “Whole Foods Greater Hartford” are great pages to get creative with healthy eating. Many local markets including Price Chopper and Stop n’ Shop have social media accounts that provide specials and featured items.


Eat Guilt Free While Traveling

by Christie Stelly

Undoubtedly, one of the best parts about going on vacation or traveling is trying new restaurants and foods. While on a trip to Dallas, Texas last week, I wanted to try restaurants that I had never eaten at before, specifically In-N-Out and Whataburger.

However, I found myself feeling nervous about falling off track and eating things that I knew I “shouldn’t” be.  It can be difficult not to feel guilty for treating yourself while traveling. Here is why you can eat guilt free.

  1. Do not fear the dreaded “vacation weight gain.”

Did you know that an individual would have to eat 3,500 calories (extra… this means on top of your maintenance calories) to gain one pound?

Some people might step on the scale after a vacation and see a number that could be upwards of 5-15 pounds more than they weighed before they left.  This significantly higher number is due to water retention, not weight gain. Especially if you are flying on an airplane.  According to Men’s Health, “the lower pressure causes the gases in your gut to expand, resulting in bloating and gassiness.”

It is important not to weigh yourself until at least a week or more after your vacation, in order to let your body re-stabilize and return to normal.

  1. Having the mindset of “I can’t eat that” can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food.

Let yourself indulge a bit while traveling. Extreme food restrictions may lead to an unhealthy relationship with food. In many cases, this is how body image issues and illnesses such as anorexia and bulimia happen.  It is perfectly fine to take a few days away from your normal schedule of healthy eating, as long as you get back on track when you get home.

  1. You deserve to eat that cheeseburger.

If you have been making an effort to change the habits in your life to healthier ones, then do not feel guilty about eating that cheeseburger. Food is supposed to be enjoyed and is not the enemy.  Unhealthy foods, such as cheeseburgers, only become a problem when you are eating them in excess; multiple times a week.  Going on vacation or traveling is not something most people do very frequently, so it should not be an issue.

Once your trip has ended, making a plan on how to get back on track will benefit you tremendously.  There are things that you can do to make getting back on track easier and to keep weight gain to a minimum.

Instead of saying, “how can I burn off all these calories I ate from this food?” instead say, “how can I utilize this delicious food I am eating?”

One benefit of eating a surplus of calories is that you will perform better in the gym. Using the extra carbohydrates as a source of energy will benefit your body.  Do not use exercise as punishment, but rather as a helpful resource.

4. One of the easiest and most proactive things you can do is drink more water.

Drink plenty of water to keep the vacation weight gain to a minimum. It can be easy to forget to consume enough water. Especially when you have a busy schedule while traveling.  Drinking more water will keep bloating down, keep your metabolism running smoothly and keep you hydrated.

As you become more dehydrated, your body will begin to retain fluid. If you start to feel like you may be retaining water, it’s a hint that you need to start consuming more fluids.

If you find you have trouble drinking all that water during the day, there are small things you can do to help get those ounces in. For example, if you are going out to eat a restaurant, you can simply order water instead of a soda. Add lemon, cucumber or mint for flavor. These small changes add up and do make a significant difference.

Traveling should be fun. Don’t let the fear of breaking your diet keep you from enjoying new foods. Indulge in moderation without feeling guilty. You can eat healthier during certain meals and treat yourself once or twice a day. Eat that juicy cheeseburger you have been craving, stop for frozen yogurt or have a big breakfast out. You won’t regret it and you do deserve it!

Join ‘No Scale November’

by Christie Stelly

People continue to allow a number on the scale to determine their self-worth and how they feel about their body. Join the “No Scale November” movement and enjoy feeling less stressed about your fitness journey.

“No Scale November” is an unofficial campaign started by women on social media sites, such as Instagram. The goal of the campaign is to empower men and women to ignore the scale and focus on overall health.

Rebecca Bosley, an Instagram advocate of ‘No Scale November,’ explains her struggle with the scale.

“A soft spot for me is the scale…I go through periods where I weigh myself regularly and periods where I don’t at all.  What I’ve learned over the course of my recovery is that the number on the scale means nothing in the grand scheme of your happiness,” said Bosley.

A scale can be a tool to measure progress, but when it is being used daily it can become a source of discouragement. When you weigh yourself and don’t see a number you like, it can be distressing.

Many people experience the confusion of their clothes fitting looser but a higher number on the scale. One of the reasons for this is that the scale cannot account for muscle mass. Muscle is more dense than fat. One pound of fat takes up more room than one pound of muscle.

Sodium is another factor that can affect what you see on the scale. If you have consumed a higher than normal amount of sodium, your body will retain water and as a result produce a higher number on the scale. It’s what is known as “water weight”.

Stress is also a  factor that can lead to increased numbers on the scale. Increased cortisol levels in your body caused by stress can also cause weight gain.

During menstruation, women may also experience temporary weight gain. A woman’s weight tends to fluctuate due to changes in hormones.

“Females, in particular, are prone to daily weight fluctuations due to ovulation and periods, often causing fluid retention and therefore weight gain…this constant rise and fall on the scales are not indicative of true weight,” said nutritionist, Pip Reed, in an interview with Huffington Post, Australia.

There are better ways in which you can measure your progress including taking progress photos, measuring yourself and going by how you feel/how your clothes fit.

The scale can still be a useful tool. Here are some helpful tips you can use to minimize the fluctuation of the number.

1. Always weigh yourself first thing in the morning, after you’ve used the bathroom.

2. Make sure you are wearing minimal to no clothing.

3. Weigh yourself once a day because the number will increase after eating and drinking throughout the day.

Weigh yourself once a week or weigh yourself every morning and average it out weekly. If you find yourself getting anxious over the thought of what your weight will be, do not weigh yourself.

It is much more important to listen to your body and recognize how you are feeling physically. Weight loss does not always have to be the goal. People that feel insecure about their weight, size or appearance should try to focus on positives and feeling healthy and strong. Eating healthy and exercising will give you strength and energy. Enjoy the benefits no matter what the scale reads.

Ditch the scale! Join the “No Scale November” movement and see how it makes you feel. Search the hashtag “#noscalenovember” to find posts related to the challenge or share your own

Greenebaum Speaks at ‘How to Be a Boss Without Being Bossy’ Event

by Samantha Bender

Sociology professor Jessica Greenebaum, provided advice to female student leaders aspiring to be trailblazers in their field, at a forum this past Thursday. The “How to Be a Boss Without Being Bossy” event was hosted by Central Connecticut State University’s organization, Leadership Experiences Aimed at Developing Students.

“Speak your truth. Be authentic. Be you. You’re great,” Greenebaum said.

CCSU L.E.A.D.S. is an organization formed by the division of student affairs. The forum was conducted in the Philbrick Room of the Student Center.

According to Professor Greenebaum’s “about me” page on the CCSU’s website, her interests lie in the fields of Human-Animal interaction, Critical Animal Studies, Sociology of Food, Veganism  and Gender and Feminism. Greenebaum teaches courses including: Sociology of Gender, Animals & Society, the Culture and Politics of Food, Feminist Theory and the Social Construction of Sexuality.

Greenebaum addressed several aspects of being in charge. While it is important to possess confidence, she recognized that often times exuding too much confidence can come across as “bossy” because “we’re [society] not used to women being confident.” The forum addressed the difficulties of being in charge.

To be a boss one must have good self-care. Some self-care strategies that were suggested included developing a fitness regimen and a strong support system, not only in the workplace, but at home as well.

“Women absolutely must mentor other women”, Greenebaum said. It is important to support female leaders and hopefully receive mutual support in return. Greenebaum continued to discuss how women must build each other up and help each other perform the best that they can.

Students were given the chance to express the internal and external barriers they feel make it difficult to take on leadership roles. Many in the room agreed that one of their biggest internal barriers is always whether or not they are making the right decision.

“Sometimes you’re going to make the wrong decision, that’s okay,” Greenebaum said. She assured those sitting in on the forum that no one is perfect and that they will fail. Failing is normal and acceptable. No one is expected to get it right the first time.

As for the external barriers associated with taking on leadership roles, it’s crucial how one shows their confidence. Greenebaum encouraged listeners that it’s all about putting your shoulders back and faking it.

“Confidence takes time for women leaders, built over a period of time”, Greenebaum said.

Junior Megan Nelson, was among those who sat in on the forum. At the end of the forum, she expressed her biggest takeaways from it. Nelson communicated how important it is to be confident.

“Always apply being assertive rather than aggressive,” Nelson said.

Greenebaum’s biggest hope for the forum was that people would “feel like they deserve to be leaders” and “for women to understand that their fears are gendered and they’re not alone.”

Navigating leadership roles successfully can be difficult. It was conveyed that young leaders should acknowledge their value and have confidence.

CCSU L.E.A.D.S. meets every Thursday at 12:15 p.m. in the Philbrick Room inside the Student Center.


Lift Like A Girl: A Women’s Guide to Weightlifting

by Christie Stelly

“Women shouldn’t lift weights.”

“Lifting weights makes women look manly.”

“Lifting weights will make a woman look bulky and unattractive.”

These statements are all completely false and borderline offensive. The common belief that women do not have a place in the world of weightlifting is one that has been disproven again and again.

“When I began to lift in the weight room I was more focused and more motivated to watch my form and concentrate more on my self-growth,” said CCSU student, Mary Sumislaski. No matter what a woman’s fitness goal may be, lifting weights can be a part of her regular routine. Surprisingly, according to Women’s Health Magazine, only about one out five females strength train two or more times a week.

“The first time I started lifting in the weight room, I was about 18. I was honestly tired of doing just cardio and wanted to actually work on my body all around,” Sumislaski said.

“I remember I would grab weights from the rack then move them to another area of the gym because I was intimidated that I wasn’t doing the correct form or how light the weights were, but it honestly didn’t push me to do better when I hid in the corner,” Sumislaski continued.

Due to insecurities, an unwelcoming feeling and a lack of support, women tend to stick to the cardio machines to get physical results.  Studies have proven that strength training is more beneficial for weight loss than cardio.

According to a study by Penn State researchers, weightlifters lost the most weight out of any other group. The study separated three groups of dieters; no exercise, aerobic exercise only, or aerobic exercise and weight training.

One of the reasons why weight training is preferred to cardio, is because you will actually burn more calories. When you lift weights, you are tearing apart your muscle fibers. Well, your muscles need energy in order to replace those fibers. Therefore, your metabolism will spike and you will burn more calories as a result.

All of the groups lost approximately 21 pounds, but the lifters shed six more pounds of fat than non-weightlifters. The other groups were found to have had not only fat loss but muscle loss as well. The group of lifters lost almost purely fat.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends weightlifting for all adults at least twice a week.

Some argue that weightlifting is especially important to a woman’s health because they naturally have less muscle than men to begin with. With that information, we can debunk the following common statement.

“Women can become too manly from lifting.”  Women do not have the amount of testosterone that men have, which is why it is nearly impossible for them to achieve that “bulky manly” look through weightlifting alone. “I think as girls, we’re conditioned from a young age to think that woman is equivalent to weak,” NASM certified personal trainer, Sam Branum said.  “So many girls I talk to are scared to be strong because strength is masculine.  Strength isn’t just for men, it’s for whoever is willing to work for it,” she said.

“I think as girls, we’re conditioned from a young age to think that woman is equivalent to weak,” said Sam Branum, a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Trainer.  “So many girls I talk to are scared to be strong because strength is masculine.  Strength isn’t just for men, it’s for whoever is willing to work for it.

A large majority of women are unhappy and uncomfortable with their bodies. Many want to “spot reduce” parts of their body with extra fat; usually on their abdomen or the inside of their thighs.

It’s vital to overall health and fitness for women to realize that there is no such thing as “spot reducing.” Cardio alone isn’t the answer to weight loss goals. Weight training allows individuals to work on specific areas of the body.

Women will be excited to hear that the more you strength train, the more muscle you build and the more you can eat. When you have more muscle mass on your body, your metabolism and body will overall run more efficiently.

“I learned so many new exercises and became fascinated with how I was able to change my body shape, that it became even more of a push to see what else I could do. Eventually, my form was getting better and my weights were getting heavier. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’m getting closer every day,” said Sumislaski.

Women should remember that they don’t need the validation of others in the weight room. Go outside your comfort zone, consult with a trainer to develop a weight lifting routine and enjoy the health benefits.

Be aware, symptoms of weight lifting include weight loss, a positive attitude, a healthy mindset, and a sense of confidence and self-worth.

Three ways you can be more confident in the weights section:

  • Make a plan. Plan your workout ahead of time so that you know exactly what you are doing before you walk in. Online video tutorials may be helpful in planning a regimen. If you have a written plan, you will be less likely to aimlessly walk around and feel self-conscious.
  • Go with a friend. You will be less likely to feel uncomfortable if you have someone by your side. Do partner style workouts. It will be more fun and the company will motivate you to work harder.
  • Be consistent. Nobody feels strong and confident the first time they enter a weight room. If you continue to show up, day after day you will see that you become more comfortable. You will feel and see results sooner.