Monthly Archives: February 2017

Which Foods Can Help You Sleep Better?

A good night’s sleep is like a Golden Ticket to college students. Whether it’s noisy neighbors, a lab report that’s due in the morning or too much coffee in the evening, it can be hard to fall and stay asleep. The amount and quality of sleep you get can have a significant impact on your everyday health and what you eat during the day can impact your sleeping patterns. Let’s take a look at the various foods that may help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer and really catch those Z’s.

Studies have shown that high-glycemic foods (those that release glucose rapidly) can significantly shorten the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep. Foods that are high on the glycemic index include rice, potatoes and bread. Over 100 foods have been ranked on the glycemic index here. The same study showed that high-glycemic foods were most effective in shortening the time it takes to fall asleep when consumed four hours before bedtime. 

While high-glycemic foods can shorten the time it takes to fall asleep, there are other foods that may take a more direct route to prompting sleep. The hormone that induces sleep is melatonin. According to some studies, foods high in Vitamin B6 and/or foods high in tryptophan have been found to aid in the “biosynthesis and secretion” of melatonin, which then, in turn, induces sleep. Vitamin B6 is required to make melatonin and tryptophan, the chemical responsible for maintaining a proper sleep cycle, is the same amino acid found in turkey that leads to the inevitable midday nap on Thanksgiving Day.

High-calorie foods, however, were shown to decrease the amount of melatonin found in blood. So, switching out ice cream for bananas, a food high in Vitamin B6, might be the best option if you’re trying to get to bed unless, of course, you get creative and make yourself some one-ingredient banana ice cream for the best of both worlds. 

Other foods rich in Vitamin B6 include certain types of fish like salmon, halibut or tuna, along with pistachios, prunes and sunflower seeds. As for tryptophan, foods like poultry, nuts, seeds and cheese are good sources.   

Whether you’re looking for a full meal or a small snack before bed, be aware of how the foods you eat may impact your sleeping patterns and, hopefully, your roommate lets you stay asleep! 

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Practicing Mindfulness and Meditation

As the semester kicks into full swing, it is important to stay on top of your mental health as well as your physical health because both go hand in hand in contributing to personal well-being and even academic success. One simple way to address mental health is to spend some time in quiet thought, aka meditate. While there are various forms of meditation to choose from, we took a look at one, in particular, that may not only help you relax after a busy day, but also may provide additional benefits.

One of the more popular types of meditation is called focused attention (FA) meditation where you, quite simply, focus on one thing. This “thing” could be a sound, an image, an object, your breath, or a sensation. Some examples are the sound of a metronome (there are apps for that), scented candles or a picturesque view of nature. Whatever you feel is captivating can work. Once you’ve picked your sound/image/object/etc., sit with good posture, close your eyes, relax your body and focus on that thing. The goal isn’t to think about the thing, but to experience it. Focus on the sensation it provides and be fully present in the moment. If you are just starting out, this may be difficult, but if you continue to work at it, meditation can be very rewarding.

According to scientific studies, repeated practice of FA meditation may help you sustain attention longer and more easily, which is pretty helpful for a two-hour lecture. Like any other skill, attention takes training. To start increasing your skill level in this area, try practicing focused attention meditation in five-minute sessions and work your way up to 30-minute sessions. As you improve, you may start to reap the benefits of a higher attention span in and outside the classroom!

Evidence from UCLA suggests that the number of years of meditation practice has a positive correlation to increased ability to process information at higher speeds, make decisions, form memories and more. A variety of meditation types were tested, all with similar results, so pick your favorite and get to it. Other possible benefits include increased emotional control, self-regulation and awareness. 

A healthy diet can also go a long way in helping you focus on focusing rather than how hungry you are. Recent scientific findings indicate that brassica vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and kohlrabi, containing isothiocyanate, could work to prevent and treat neurodegenerative diseases and improve brain function. Another healthy option is switching out simple carbohydrates with complex ones like whole grain. This switch will keep you full longer and sustain your energy levels throughout your meditative practice.

Practicing meditation and improving your diet can be positive lifestyle choices for people from all walks of life. Particularly as this semester continues on, don’t be afraid to take some time to for yourself and meditate!

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Staff Spotlight: Karen Bolser

Karen Bolser and her husband were living in Sunman, Indiana when a farm became available for sale just 50 minutes north in the town of Liberty. They visited the farm, bought it, moved in and have been happily living there since 1995.

“Both my husband and I grew up on a farm, so it wasn’t like it was a new thing to either one of us,” said Bolser. “Doing it ourselves was new. It was a lot of trial and error, but we managed.”

The farm has seen its fair share of changes over the past 21 years or so. Bolser is now a mother of three kids, and the farm is home to a wide range of animals including 25 heads of cattle, cows, four dogs, several cats, chickens, a horse and a goose. Between the animals and just over 80 acres of land devoted to corn and hay, Bolser and her family enjoy the busy farm lifestyle.

“We like spending time with the animals. We have all of our cows named. We call them and they come to eat,” said Bolser. “I like spending time with the kids and my husband and doing things as a family that way. Our farm is really a family affair. It’s just what we’ve done. We’ve taught the kids that it takes everybody to make it work, just like it does here.”

Bolser serves as the general manager of Harris Dining Center for Miami University dining services where she is responsible for various duties including monitoring food costs, staffing and other tasks to ensure the operation runs smoothly. Much like how teamwork is so important on the farm, Bolser emphasizes teamwork with the Harris dining staff.

“It takes everyone in this building to make this work. There isn’t one person who’s any more important than anyone else, and I make sure I convey that to them,” said Bolser. “I really believe you can’t run any operation without recognizing that every person is important.”

While Bolser has always sought opportunities to help others, she hasn’t always worked in food. Bolser grew up in southeast Indiana and attended Indiana State University, earning a degree in nutrition while minoring in chemistry. After college, Bolser worked in healthcare outside of Cincinnati before taking a managerial role with Miami’s dining services in 1998. Since then, Bolser has worked across campus at Harris, Alexander, Western, Armstrong and Maplestreet, before returning to Harris in her current position.

Even before getting a job at Miami, Bolser enjoyed working with food. As a child, she would watch her mom bake and cook at home, which helped cultivate an interest in food preparation. Bolser also was involved in 4-H growing up where she made different foods and performed related demonstrations.

“When I graduated high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I got involved in nutrition. If I had to do it over, I would probably do things differently, but I know I would still be in food service,” said Bolser. “I’ve always enjoyed cooking and being around people. I just enjoy it.”

Now, Bolser works with a full-time manager, a part-time manager, her full-time staff and her student employees to provide top-notch food service to guests at Harris Dining Center. She enjoys building relationships with them and doing her part to set them up for success. The real reward for Bolser is when all the hard work pays off.

“The most exciting part of the job is when the students we’re serving are happy and pleased with what we’ve done, and when the staff is pleased with the outcome of their work,” said Bolser. “I think it’s all very exciting. When the staff feels accomplished, that makes me feel accomplished.”

Teamwork is essential to Bolser. Whether it’s getting through chores on the farm, or preparing for meal service at Harris, Bolser preaches the value of working together and leaning on one another to be successful.

“I enjoy sharing positive feedback with all the staff because they’re the ones who do it,” said Bolser. “I would rather be the person who is behind everyone else because I’m not the one who makes this work. My staff is, and it makes me proud when they do well and get recognized.”

The Hard Questions

Favorite dish to prepare? To eat?

Prepare – The portobello asparagus penne pasta with the herbed cream cheese in it. That’s one of my favorites and the kids love it. I also enjoy baking. I like to bake from scratch, particularly cakes. I’m not a great pie baker, but that’s because of the crust. Me and the crust, we just don’t get along. We never have.

Eat – I’d have to go with the portobello asparagus penne pasta because the whole family really likes it. When you go through all that work, you want your kids to eat it, so that makes me happy.

What’s something that’s on your bucket list?

I want to go to Alaska and go on a cruise there. I’ve always wanted to visit Alaska. I don’t know why, but I think that would be interesting to do.

What is the most important thing you have learned in the last five years?

The most important thing I’ve learned in the last five years is not to take things for granted and make sure you spend time with people who matter to you. I’d also say to always try to do the right thing and stand up for what you believe in.

What would you want to be famous for?

I don’t want to be famous. I want the people around me to succeed and for me to help them get there. I would want my kids to succeed and for me to play a part in helping them get where they want to be and do what they want to do with their lives. I’d love to be a part of all that.

When are you happiest?

I’m happy at work and enjoy being at work. I’m happy at home when everyone’s together. I’m happy when I’m alone at home and when I’m just doing stuff at home.

What kitchen appliance are you and why?

I guess I would have to say a Kitchen Aid mixer because it’s sturdy, it’s strong and it gets the job done.

If you were stuck on an island, what three things would you bring?

Well, I’d have to bring a good book to read, otherwise I might get a little bored. I guess I’d have to bring a fishing pole and some way to start a fire, so maybe matches or some flint.

Cat or dog? I’m going to have to say cats. I think that’s because they’re more independent and don’t need as much attention as a dog needs.

Cake or pie? Cake.

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What Kind of Exercise is Right for You?

A couple weeks ago, we asked our friends at the Miami University Recreation Center what dining tips they had for students who were starting new workout regimens. This time, we asked Shannon Posey (Assistant Director of Fitness, Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor), to breakdown the different types of exercise out there and how you can get the most out of your workouts at the Rec Center.

Cardiovascular Exercise vs. Weight Training

There are a variety of ways to participate in activities that challenge cardiovascular health. Things such as golfing, yard-work, and bowling are all technically forms of cardiovascular exercise. It is recommended to participate in cardiovascular activity 3-5 times per week at a moderate to vigorous intensity, for about 30 minutes. In total, you should be getting 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week, but how you break it up is really up to the individual. For some people golfing may be vigorous enough to serve as an appropriate form of exercise. However, it’s more likely that college students will need to engage in activities like running, biking, basketball, or climbing stairs.

Weight training is also an important component of exercise. It is recommended to weight train 2-3 times per week, making sure to take rests between weight training days. The Recreation Center has a multitude of weight training machines, in addition to free weights. If you are just beginning with a weight training regimen, it can be daunting and the first few days may be a struggle, but it’s well worth it.

Each have their own benefits. Cardiovascular exercise can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, improves cardiovascular and respiratory function, and decreases anxiety. Weight training is known to improve bone density, decrease the risk for injury, and increase fat-free mass. Many people will choose to participate in either cardiovascular exercise or weight training, but the reality is that they are both most effective when combined. Both improve overall quality of life and contribute to enhanced feelings of well-being and self-confidence.

Group Fitness vs. Personal Training

This is a long standing battle for some as Group Fitness and Personal Training are complete opposites. Group Fitness in is a group setting of anywhere from 2 to 50 people and offers a variety of modes of exercise. For example, at the Recreation Center our offerings include: Pilates, Vinyasa Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Yoga Pilates, Barre, Spinning, Toning, Bootcamp, Tabata, Zumba®, Indo-Row®, Shockwave®, TRX®, SilverSneakers®, Kettlebell, Baby & Me Yoga, Kickboxing, Abs classes, Cardio classes, and a variety of classes with different combinations of those options. The downside is that Group Fitness isn’t as personalized. There are many instructors that cater toward regular participants, but there are no fitness assessments performed to monitor progress, and sometimes your favorite class is only available once a week.

Personal Training is personalized. A health assessment and profile is typically completed beforehand to gauge where to begin in the fitness program. You also have the capability of meeting with the trainer more than once per week. The downside is that you may not have the support of a group, and personal training may not be as entertaining for those that like the music and interaction with others. In some cases there is a happy medium, and we do offer this option at the Rec Center.

Small Group Training isn’t a new form of fitness, but it’s not something that many people know about. In this setting of 2-5 people you have the best of both worlds: a social network, and individualized attention. If you’re considering beginning a Group Fitness or Personal Training program, you should make sure you’re aware of all of your options so you can choose what’s best for you.

Informal vs Formal Recreation

Most people don’t understand the difference between these two forms of recreation because “formal” is often associated with staunch or uptight. However, the real difference is really whether or not you are participating in something organized or unorganized. Informal recreation is anything from going to the fitness center to run on the treadmill, to playing a pick up basketball game, or climbing at the rock wall during open climbing hours.

Formal recreation, on the other hand, includes activities like participating in an intramural soccer game, training with a personal trainer, or going on an organized adventure trip. More often, formal recreation is performed with friends or a social network whereas informal recreation may be on your own. That said, both are forms of recreation and, as long as you are getting exercise, are great options.

Most of the time your choice between informal and formal recreation is based on a personal preference. Do you prefer to exercise on your own or do you prefer to exercise with others? Or maybe you’d rather do both? There’s nothing that says you can’t participate in both an intramural soccer game, and run on the treadmill in the fitness center on your own.

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Student Employee Spotlight: Nikki Grundy

Nikki Grundy is a sophomore zoology major from Northbrook, Illinois. She is a member of the Wildlife Club and is a member of Chi Omega Women’s Fraternity. As a student employee for Miami University Dining, she spends a few hours a week serving Bell Tower’s delicious meals to the student body.

We know all about Miami dining, so we sat down with Nikki to ask a few questions and to learn a little more about her.

Q: If you could be any kitchen utensil, which kitchen utensil would you be?

A: Garbage disposal because I don’t have one at my house and I think they’re really cool.

Q: If your personality was a texture, which texture would it be?

A: Rough.

Q: What is the coolest place you’ve been?

A: Big Sur in California.

Q: What is the best gift you’ve ever received?

A: Roger Waters tickets! I cried.

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?

A: I want to work in wildlife rehabilitation.

Q: What is your favorite place to eat on campus?

A: La Mia Cucina.

Q: What would you want to be famous for?

A: Singing. I would love to be a singer.

Q: If your life was a book, what would be the title?

A: “What Am I Doing?”

Q: Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?

A: Emma Watson; don’t even have to think about it.

Q: What is your go-to fun fact?

A: I have a motorcycle.

Q: What is your go-to joke?

A: What’s black and white and red all over?

… A sunburnt penguin!

Q: To where do you most want to travel?

A: South Africa.

Q: What one meal would you eat for the rest of your life?

A: Steak.

Q: When are you happiest?

A: Oh, we’re getting deep. Probably just when I’m staying at home and hanging out with
my family.

Q: What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?

A: That I appear very confident.

Q: If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life what song would it be?

A: “Can’t You See” by The Marshall Tucker Band.

Q: What is your spirit animal?

A: A lion.

Q: What are you currently binge-watching?

A: 30 Rock.

Q: If you could be anyone dead or alive for one day who would you be?

A: Nikki Minaj … I just feel like I would feel so good about myself for the whole day.

Q: What would your band be named?

A: Bad Girls Only

Bonus joke from Nikki:

What did one lawyer say to the other lawyer?

… We’re both lawyers.

Interested in joining our team? Apply for a job in dining services today at! We have a number of exciting opportunities available across campus!

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Why Do We Give Chocolate on Valentine’s Day?

Since our classroom parties in elementary school, we’ve been receiving chocolate and other sweets from classmates, friends, parents and significant others. If you’re anything like me you’ve probably wondered why we even do this. Was it always this way? Why do we even celebrate Valentine’s Day anyway? If you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions, or if you are now, you’re in luck because I did the research.

According to, the first mention of Valentine’s Day as a romantic holiday appears in Geoffrey Chaucer’s 1382 poem, Parlement of Foules. While the holiday’s origins track a ways back, it wasn’t always linked with sweets. By the time chocolate became commonplace in the English-speaking world in the 1840’s, Valentine’s Day celebrations included showering one’s romantic interest with cards, gifts, poems, songs and even locks of hair.

In 1861, Richard Cadbury changed the game. Cadbury, a popular British chocolatier, had recently invented a new process for making a more palatable drinking chocolate, which resulted in leftover pure cocoa butter that had been extracted through the process. Cue eating chocolate. Once they put the solidified chocolate into molds, they had to create an appealing way to package this new confection.

Cadbury was inspired by the cupid-covered cards and gifts lovers were gifting each other on Valentine’s Day. So, in 1861, he created the ubiquitous heart-shaped boxes we know today in a stroke of marketing genius. Advertised as a gift that kept on giving, allowing individuals to store trinkets or love letters in these elaborately decorated boxes post-chocolate consumption, these boxes became extremely popular and are still treasured today.

While other confectioners have outsold the Cadbury’s in the American market (Milton Hershey and Russell Stover, for example) the British chocolatiers are still credited with starting the Valentine’s Day chocolate frenzy.

So the box of chocolate tradition clearly has staying power and fortunately (or unfortunately for my wallet) won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Unlike the chocolates inside the box.

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New This Semester: Grilled Chicken Salad, Loyalty Deals & Limited Time Offers

In the final post of our three-part blog series, we breakdown three more of the new additions in dining services for this spring semester. Last week we took a look at the extended hours at Dividends, the new sushi on campus and Me to You baskets for Valentine’s Day. The week before, we introduced new breakfast combos and Red Brick Roast, a new coffee bar on campus.

This week, we introduce a new healthy dining option at Pulley Diner, February’s loyalty deals across campus and more limited time offers than ever before!

Grilled Chicken Salad at Pulley Diner

Pulley Diner is a staple of the Miami University campus, known for it’s diner-style menu offerings like burgers, milkshakes, spicy chicken sandwiches and much more.

Starting this semester, Pulley Diner is adding a new addition to the menu. The grilled chicken salad! This fresh, and tasty, new option is a great choice for any hungry guest, particularly if you’re looking for a healthier choice. Swing by Pulley Diner today and give it a try for yourself!


Loyalty Deals

Who doesn’t love a free meal? With our new loyalty deals, you will have the opportunity to earn a free meal at many of your favorite locations across campus.

The way it works, is if you purchase a meal at a participating location, you will receive a loyalty deal card and earn a “punch” on the card. When you buy 5 meals (and get your card “punched” each time), you will receive your 6th meal for FREE!

For the month of February, Americas, The Q, Bell Tower Market and King Cafe are our participating locations, so start earning towards a free meal today before the deal expires on February 28!


Limited Time Offers

Limited time offers aren’t new to this semester with day/week/month-long specials being a part of our services prior to this spring, however, the scale of our limited time offers is new.

This semester, we have more limited time offers scheduled than ever before! Between specialty pizzas at La Mia Cucina to mini corn dogs on campus, we have an expansive list of special, limited time menu additions that you will not want to miss!

If you don’t want to miss out on any of the Oreo flavored items in March, the #Amerifried hot dog or any of our other tasty offers, you’ll want to follow us @MiamiUDining on TwitterFacebook and Instagram to keep up with the most current specials!

The chicken caesar wrap, briefly available at Americas, was a limited time offer over the first week of February.

The chicken caesar wrap, briefly available at Americas, was a limited time offer over the first week of February.

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Staff Spotlight: Whitney Claypool

Miami University dining services has been so much more than an employer for first-year assistant manager, and Miami alumna, Whitney Claypool.

“When I first came to Miami as a student, I was really intimidated because I was coming from a small town,” said Claypool. “I kind of felt like a fish out of water, but that heightened my experience, because it pushed me to try to find people who might be more similar than different to me, and I found them in dining.”

Claypool first arrived on the Oxford campus as a junior in high school to participate in the Junior Scholars Program. She knew at that point Miami was her school of choice. Claypool began her academic career as a RedHawk in fall 2012 as a first-year student from the small town of Lucasville, Ohio.

“Lucasville is a tiny town, kind of on that little awkward tail at the bottom of Ohio. Most people don’t really know where it is,” said Claypool. “There are two stop lights in it and if they’re both green, you can get through the town in under a minute. The culture shock coming up here was insane.”

While Claypool, a first-generation college student, adjusted to Miami University, she relied heavily on her work ethic and got involved on campus.

“I was grown to be a hard worker,” said Claypool. “That’s my background. My mom always said that if you help others, they’ll help you. I am constantly working for my best.”

Claypool started working as a tutor during her freshman year. By the spring, she had caught on in dining services, working at 1809 in Shriver before working at the newly opened Maplestreet Station the following year where she earned the title of student manager. She would work in dining through the remainder of her undergraduate studies.

“I just loved the people there,” said Claypool. “That’s where I found the people most like me. Other students who were experiencing, firsthand, the difficult balance of trying to pay for their own school and the pressures that come with that on top of your regular school work. I just loved the experience.”

As Claypool bonded with her coworkers and managers, she learned what she could about the food operation, particularly as it related to students like her.

“There were a lot of hard-working managers who I know wanted to give us the best experience they could,” said Claypool. “I took notes from them and then tried to come up with my own unique ways to work with students, while recognizing that they are students first, before anything.”

Claypool found that perspective invaluable when she began working full-time at Garden Commons in August. As an assistant manager, Claypool has various responsibilities like ensuring guests have everything they need and pitching in elsewhere when needed. Claypool is also tasked with managing the student managers.

Early in the fall, she reached out to her student managers, looking for ideas and ways to help them, particularly as they dealt with the stresses of a new school year. One such idea has since been implemented by Claypool at Garden Commons in the form of a House Cup, inspired by the merit system used at Hogwarts in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

“I wanted to bond with them on that level and help them develop professionally. I’m a big nerd, so I thought Harry Potter was obviously the best option,” said Claypool with a smile. “I’m so close in age to a lot of them, and we all understand what’s needed.”

Claypool’s House Cup is a perk-point system, rewarding different teams with points for completing job tasks like taking attendance, signing up students, hosting orientation sessions and more. Rewards, like pieing the managers in the face, laser tagging, gift cards and first pick on fall shifts are set aside for the winners.

“It encourages them to work with people they haven’t really worked with before,” said Claypool. “They’re on different shifts, so they really have to communicate. They really like it so far. They’re really, really competitive.”

While she’s no longer a student-employee herself, Claypool has settled into her role as a resource for her student managers.

“As the fall semester went on, I started to realize that even though I’m in this management position, I can still relate to them,” said Claypool. “That’s been my strong point, because then they rely on me. They can come to me and know that because I have that background as a student, that I’m going to understand those concerns.”

Once a little fish in a big pond, Claypool found dining services to be a place where she could connect with people like her and grow individually. While she still finds herself learning and developing professionally in her new full-time role, she now uses that firsthand experience to help the next round of students do the same.

“When this job opened up, I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to really grow,” said Claypool. “I thought it would help me a lot and that the things I would learn here would carry with me. I’ve only been here since August full-time and I’ve learned a lot. It hasn’t always been easy, but that fresh perspective of just graduating has really helped me.”

The Hard Questions

Favorite dish to prepare? To eat?

Prepare – I would say it’s a tie between sour cream enchiladas and this garlic lemon tilapia. They’re very different, but I just love cooking. It’s fun. Chef Scott and I get along really well, so he’s always throwing different recipes at me. Yeah, it’s a tie between those two.

Eat – Oh, that’s so easy. My mom makes the best biscuits and gravy in Ohio. It’s her biscuits and gravy. I’ll say it. I’ll put it down there. So, so good.

What’s something that’s on your bucket list?

I definitely want to see more of the world. I’m really into doing different service projects and helping people out. So, there’s one that I was involved in a couple years ago that sent people out to help build houses in Nicaragua. I wasn’t able to go because I was sick, but they’re doing it again, so I’m trying to get involved in it. I just want to help out as much as I can and, even here in the states, we did some work in Arizona and things like that. I’d really like to do that, help out more places. I’d definitely like to get published and hopefully become a professor one day.

What is the most important thing you have learned in the last five years?

When I changed my major from pre-med to english, that was a really big stepping point for me. People always say, “What are you going to do with an English major?” My thing was that I’d rather be happy and struggling than struggling to be happy. That was my big lesson, and it’s definitely held up to this point in it’s value.

What would you want to be famous for?

I think being a voice to doing what’s right and helping those who might not have a voice. We’re in a lot of strife and things, especially in our country right now. I always want to be that voice that always tries to unite people for the greater good and be an ally for those who need it.

When are you happiest?

When it’s raining, and I’m curled up by the window with a book. Definitely.

If you were an animal, which would you be?

Hedgehog. Totally. Totally a hedgehog. I’m a little obsessed. Not going to lie.  

What’s the title and genre of a book about your life?

It’d probably have to be Graceful: An Ironic Tale, because I’m not … I always find myself falling and slipping.

Cat or dog? Hedgehog really, but I’ll take dogs.

Cake or pie? Pie. Always pie.

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Best Practices for Your Diet When Beginning an Exercise Program

It should be no surprise that a healthy diet is an essential part of any exercise program. Whether you are just beginning a new program, or have been working out for a while, eating enough food and eating the right food can go a long way in maximizing your workout efforts.

So, we asked our friends at the Miami University Recreation Center for the best practices, in terms of your diet, when beginning an exercise program. Shannon Posey (Assistant Director of Fitness, Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor) and Jeff Molter (Assistant Director of Fitness and Certified Personal Trainer) offered their valuable insight.

1. Always Drink Water!

Maintaining adequate hydration levels is crucial prior to, during and post workout.

  • Individuals should drink 2-4 Liters of water throughout the day, depending on their size.
  • Emphasis should be placed on drinking water during and immediately following exercise.

2. Get Your Protein

Supplying the body with adequate levels of protein will be crucial for assisting in muscle repair (MyPlate recommends 5.5 ounces).

  • Include a healthy source of protein with each meal consumed.
  • Examples include: lean meat (turkey, chicken), fish (salmon, white water fish), legumes, eggs, peanut butter, nuts/seeds, and tofu.

3. Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

Incorporate the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet (MyPlate recommends 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables).

4. Macronutrient Ratios

Understand and balance macronutrient ratios (Protein, Fat, Carbohydrates) for desired goals.

  • Make ‘healthy’ choices from each macro when building meals.
  • Do not avoid fat, but instead choose from healthy options.
  • Examples of healthy fats include: fish rich in Omega 3 fatty acids (salmon, halibut, albacore tuna, and whitefish), canola and vegetable oils, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, and eggs).

5. Real Over Processed

Eat real food, and avoid processed foods.

  • Processed foods hide unwanted additives like unhealthy oils through hydrogenation, plus excess amounts of sodium and sugar.

6. Plan Ahead

Plan out your meals ahead of time. Most people choose to eat out, or eat unhealthy from a lack of planning. Take some time on the weekends to plan where you will eat and what you will eat for the week ahead.

  • Minimize ‘added sugars’ as much as you can.
  • Instead of putting sugar in your coffee or tea, try some honey or pure maple syrup.
  • Fruit provides plenty of natural sugars to satisfy a sweet tooth.

7. Nutrition Labels

Read nutrition labels for information regarding ingredients and total fat from calories. This will help better guide your choices.

  • Foods marketed as being healthy are NOT always healthy.

8. Moderation is Key

Eat everything in moderation and don’t necessarily go cold turkey.

  • Removing sugar and caffeine from the diet abruptly can result in detoxification side effects. If you consume these on a regular basis, work on replacing those things with different foods. Instead of eating a donut for a snack, try a piece of fruit instead.

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Ways to Drink More Water

Numerous studies show that water may help with weight loss, thinking more clearly, improving mood and so much more. With all these crazy good benefits, why is it so hard to keep up our intake? Whether you’re feeling uninspired, you wish water tasted better, or you just can’t keep track of how much you’ve consumed, we’re here to help with some helpful tips and tricks.

If you don’t like the taste, try adding fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs to a large water bottle or pitcher. Not only will these healthy additives surprise your taste buds, but they will also jumpstart your metabolism. Make sure you include ice to really get your metabolism going! Some favorite recipes for this “spa water” include adding cucumber and mint, lemon and lime and grapefruit and basil. You can find more tasty combinations here or you can come up with your own tasty concoction and share with us on any of our social media platforms!

If you’re feeling uninspired, buy a water bottle that you will want to carry around! Whether you’re toting it from class to class, on your commute to work or all around the gym, having a water bottle you are proud of will make you want to have it close by. If you’re tech-focused try one with a filtration system like the Camelbak All Clear Purifier Bottle. If you love to spice things up get a water bottle that lets people know you can handle the heat. If you want a Yeti like your favorite Instagram blogger, but don’t want to commit to a cooler, there’s even a few water bottle options for you! Better yet, get one from the Miami Bookstore that shows off your school spirit. Honestly, there is a water bottle out there for everyone.

If you just can’t keep track of your water consumption, try keeping a journal or getting an app! Drinking water is just one more thing you can keep checking off of your to-do list each day to make you feel accomplished. With all the added health benefits, it might even help you check off other tasks too! It’s important to be able to hold yourself accountable to reach your goals so you stay hydrated. If you stay hydrated your body can function properly and you can continue to succeed in school and life. With today’s technology, keeping track is easier than ever. There are myriad apps available that will help you reach your goals. Check out these eight, or share your favorites with us in the comments below!