The Knock Down Diabetes campaign has been taking over Brockton this month in order to raise awareness and knowledge about the disease. The campaign was put on by Harbor One Credit Union and Signature Healthcare, along with over 50 community co-sponsors. The campaign started June 9 and featured free interactive events in many locations that offered health screenings, free fitness classes at the YMCA, cooking demonstrations, clinical information sessions, and even discounted bowling opportunities.

Leo McNeil, the director of community relations at Harbor One Credit Union and one of the creators of the event, said he was recently challenged to find an annual event for the community.

“We wanted to extend it to more than one day,” he said. “There is quite a lot of evidence that Brockton has a higher amount of diabetes than other towns in Mass. I thought that I could get a lot of support from people in the community and my intuition was correct.”

Mcneil said it was easy to find enthusiastic people who were excited to get the campaign going. One of the first he approached was Julie Lom, the diabetes education manager for the Brockton Visiting Nurse Association.

“He approached numerous people about the event and I was one of the lucky ones,” Lom said. “I absolutely wanted to get involved.”

Brockton has a percent of residents with diabetes above that at the state level, and the series of events was received as a unifying force in the community that rallied constituents.

Lom said the campaign pertained specifically to Brockton due to the socioeconomic base there with many people living in poverty.

“We also have a wide proportion of minorities and we know that Type 2 diabetes really does target, disproportionately, our minority community,” Lom said.

McNeil said he was pleased with the overall response and popularity of the events, though was concerned about the lower turnouts at the events during the week.

“People are registering for the events but aren’t coming to them,” McNeil said. “It is puzzling and indeed disappointing.”

However, McNeil said the weekend events tended to drew larger crowds of 400 to 500 people.

Albert Whitaker, the director of mission delivery at the American Diabetes Association New England, distributed information at two of the health fairs during the campaign. He said he thought the event was very successful.

“I think it isn’t about quantity as opposed to quality,” Whitaker said. “We have gotten some really good questions and people are willing to take the information and apply it.”

Whitaker said he is happy to see how proactive and reactive the Brockton community has been during this event.

“What I am pleased about in Brockton is the whole community is coming together to try and knock out diabetes and say ‘look, this is an epidemic in our community and we are going to do something about it’,” he said.

Brockton mayor Linda Balzotti attended one of the events at Brockton High School and highlighted the importance of these educational events in her speech.

Lom said the event also targeted obesity and health and wellness in general. Many of the events featured opportunities for attendees to speak with certified diabetes educators, nutritionists, fitness experts, local outreach, and health enrollment specialists, among others. Chef Dana Herbert, winner of TLC’s “Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker” was brought in to give cooking demonstrations on healthy eating.

On most event days prizes and giveaways were gifted to attendees to encourage participation. Among the many screenings available were blood pressure, cholesterol, vascular health, vision and kidney screenings.

“We want to raise awareness so people get tested and know what the signs and symptoms are and that they know that this is a disease which affects everyone,” Dorothy Slack, the aging initiative advisor at Old Colony Elder Services, said. “It doesn’t look at age, it doesn’t look at race, it doesn’t look at sex.”

Posted by: barbaraplatts | June 18, 2012

J. M. Smith Community Center awarded major grant

The abandoned plot on Soldiers Field Road in Allston is deserted save for a few rusty construction vehicles, some old car parts, and a sand lot. To a passerby there is little of interest to see here but to the Joseph M. Smith Community Center’s employees and patients alike, the vacated land is where their next venture begins.

At the start of May, the Joseph M. Smith Community Center that straddles Allston and Brighton was gifted five million dollars by the federal government. The money came from a $33.7m federal grant that was allocated to 11 different health care centers in Massachusetts. The community center was one of only two facilities in the state to be awarded the maximum amount within the grant.

The money these centers received is part of the $728m awarded nationwide under the Affordable Care Act, according the US department of Health and Human Services. Joseph M. Smith Community Health Center was a recipient of one of the largest grants awarded in the state of Massachusetts.

The Director of Grants and Development for the Joseph M. Smith Community Center, Paola Ferrer, explained that their center was chosen by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for their work in a proposal called Project SUN or Serving the Underserved Now. The project includes a three-year plan to construct a new 45,000 square-foot health center only blocks from one of the community center’s prime current locations.

Ferrer said the new building will help connect and reshape the health center’s existing operations, which are currently spread out in three buildings.

“We are a very disjointed right now,” Ferrer said. “This would help to unify the operations and generate cost efficiencies.”

The new facilities will also help serve more patients with 700 additional appointments per week which would yield about 27,000 additional appointments per year. Ferrer explained this is very significant for a population that is currently 94 percent low income and 49 percent uninsured.

“A lot of the people, when push comes to shove, end up foregoing their health to make sure they have a roof over their head,” Ferrer said. “The new building will help us reach a broader audience and that is important to us.”

The funding will be dispersed in increments as the facility is being built. However generous, the initial $5m is not enough to cover the total costs of completion thusly the center is looking into other grants and possible fundraisers or community support programs in the coming months.

Fenway Health was another community health center to receive generous funding through the health care grant program. They were gifted $3.7m to grow their medical and dental departments, according to President and CEO, Dr. Stephen Boswell.

“We have seen a steady increase in the demand for those services over the last few years, so this money couldn’t come at a better time as we look to expand access to care for those who need it most,” Boswell said.

Fenway Health plans to start expansion on the departments in the next month, according to Communications Director Chris Viveiros.

Other facilities near Boston that received funding from the federal government are Fenway Community Health Center, Harbor Health Services of Mattapan, Manet Community Health Center in Quincy, and Dimock Community Health Center in Roxbury, according to HRSA.

Posted by: barbaraplatts | April 6, 2012

Mindfulness at the Blue Cliff Monastery

Mindfulness: the state of awareness that comes from being fully immersed in the present moment.                                                                   

-Thich Nhat Hanh

Silence filled the room. No one said a word, nor did they have any intention to. The lack of chatter did not provoke awkwardness. The silence was supposed to be there to leave everyone alone with their thoughts for the night. The practice is called noble silence, and the location was a dorm-style room of the Blue Cliff Monastery near Pine Brush, New York.

Located about two hours north of New York City, the Vietnamese monastery currently houses 12 monks and 19 nuns. They welcome visitors to come and stay for extended trips or just afternoon visits.

I arrived at 9:10 on Saturday night to three girls laughing and enjoying each other’s company. They were very welcoming to a new face as I tried to get a grasp on my latest surroundings after a long drive from Boston. I got to know my roommates for 20 minutes before noble silence began at 9:30.

“You get used to silence, to being with your own thoughts. Things begin to feel much clearer,” said Phap Khoi, a monk who has been at the monastery almost since its opening five years ago.

The silence continued into the morning when we awoke at 5:00 to get to the first meditation of the day. We walked across the street to the Great Togetherness Meditation Hall. Square mats were set up on opposite sides of the room for mediation, women on the right and men on the left. Everyone sunk into their cushions and entered a different mode of consciousness quickly and effortlessly, it seemed. I struggled to find focus as I got used to the new environment. The only meditation I had ever done was in yoga, and being around so many people that appeared to be experts at it was intimidating. But I tried my best to follow one of the main guidelines in this practice: breathing. I listened to my breath, focused on it, and the 45-minute meditation flew by.

Exercise came next. All of the willing participants grabbed white hollow sticks and followed the routine of the monk at the front of the group. The movement helped induce flexibility and strength, with particular attention given to inhaling and exhaling.

Strive for energy of awareness, harmony, and happiness.

-A statement on a leaflet in one of the dining rooms

At Buddhists monasteries the men and the women eat separately. In the kitchen, they typically prepare the food while maintaining noble silence; focusing on every vegetable they cut and every spice they incorporate. At Blue Cliff, a large portion of the food they make is grown in their gardens. The rest of the products they use are organic and free trade. The cooks put a lot of work into the food they prepare. Making it and enjoying it is never rushed; it is treasured. At Blue Cliff, breakfast is at 7:45.

Even while having a meal one strives for harmony and awareness. The practice is called mindful eating. I had heard about it and read up on it, but I still did not know what to expect when we were beckoned into the kitchen by the nuns to get breakfast. There was an assortment of items to choose from, all vegan, of course. Portions were small but adequate.

I soon learned that the practice is essentially meditating with food. When one eats, they expand their consciousness by realizing the purpose of each piece of food that enters their mouth and nourishes their body. No one stuffed their face or tried to rush. They sat calmly and paid attention to the food; breathing in the scents from the spices, feeling the texture of the food as it hit their mouths, letting every taste bud be satiated with the flavors of the dish in front of them.

“There are so many things happening when I put food in my mouth: temperature, texture, taste, just the actual sensation of eating,” said Phap Dong, a monk at the monastery. “I do my best to bring my full attention to the table.”

The present moment is all that one focuses on during a meal. The slow eating pace helps everyone to realize how much they are eating and how much their body actually needs. Most people, myself included, did not even eat all of the food they put on their plates. No one went back for seconds.  Noble silence ends once you have washed your plate after finishing breakfast.

The rest of the day was filled with different kinds of meditation, from walking to lying down. As the day progressed, I noticed how quiet my mind became. The worries from the day before felt like they had occurred years ago. I was able to truly enjoy the moment I was in, without concerns about the past or future. I felt like I had unlocked the door to a whole new world, to a place where anxieties about school were not welcome.

As college students, our minds rarely cease to be filled with worries of the past, present, and future. We are constantly thinking about an assignment that is due, a party or function we must attend, or a looming deadline for an extra curricular activity. These thoughts disappear easily at the Blue Cliff Monastery, or just through meditation on your own. One has the ability to clear their head of the day or week’s concerns and to embrace awareness, harmony, and mindfulness in the present moment.

“Happiness can be very simple,” said Sister Dee, one of the nuns at Blue Cliff. “Sometimes we forget and always think it is ahead of us. But that deep peace is something that we can realize in the moment, in our daily lives. We can make a commitment to take good care of ourselves.”

Posted by: barbaraplatts | March 28, 2012

Yoga in Neon

Last Friday, I attended a neon yoga dance party at Copley Square in Boston. Lululemon Athletica put on the event, which hosted hundreds of people with their colorful clothing and yoga mats rocking out to hip-hop and dubstep mixes.

Practicing yoga is something I have done on and off for five years now. I have phases where I go frequently and make progress, and then I find some other workout and leave it for a while. But I always come back because I think it is one of the best kinds of workout: one that focuses on the whole body and mind. Yoga is a rather quiet and relaxed activity, which emphasizes focus and concentration. So when I heard about a free yoga class that wanted to incorporate hundreds of people and loud music in a square in the city, and they were giving out free glow sticks…well, I was completely sold.

Events like this are proof that yoga has become more popular in the United States in the past decade. Americans spend about $5.7 billion on yoga a year, through merchandise and classes. This number has almost doubled since 2004. About 15.8 million people currently practice yoga in the United States, and about 40% of that population is between the ages of 18 and 35.

Going to a yoga class, or even doing it on your own, provides a break in the day, a time when all thoughts can be pushed aside and you get the chance to reconnect with your body and your breath.

For college students, the practice is incredibly beneficial for an assortment of reasons. Exercise and meditation during yoga can help to relieve stress. It often enhances your mood by decreasing anxiety. Even when you aren’t in a class, coming back to some of the basic techniques, like breathing exercises, that can calm you down in certain situations. Practicing yoga also improves concentration because during a practice you try to push all distractions aside and focus on the present. This can be helpful for studying and paying attention in class.

Concentrating was a bit more difficult on Friday night due to the voices of amused onlookers with their flashing cameras. But even with distractions all around, the atmosphere was fun and welcoming. After the practice, many got together and danced for another hour.

Yoga is often a solitary practice. Even if you attend a class with a friend, the focus remains on the individual and what you need in that day and in that moment. But Friday night in Copley Square showed me, and many others, that the practice doesn’t have to be done alone. Sometimes the best way to approach a physical challenge is in unison…and while sporting bright pink pants or a glowing orange polo.

If you live near Boston and are looking for yoga classes, make sure to check out Back Bay Yoga. If not, Lululemon Athletica stores are located all over the US and often host events such as these.


Posted by: barbaraplatts | March 12, 2012

Why “later” always sounds so appealing

The scene is all too familiar to most. A college student sits, staring at an empty document on their computer with a desk full of coffee and Red Bull. Their assignment is due tomorrow and distractions cannot help put it off any longer. It has to get done.

Procrastination is a common practice for many people attending college today. Studies have shown that about 70 percent of students do it and 50 percent admit that it is a real problem. Putting things off until the last minute can cause stress and exhaustion, so why do we procrastinate?

According to Tracy McLaughlin-Volpe, a psychology professor at Emerson College, there are different reasons that people choose to procrastinate.

Some people enjoy the excitement of waiting until the last minute and truly believe that their work is better if they don’t prepare ahead of time. If they have a good experience where they put off writing a huge paper until the night before and they receive an adequate grade on it, they may assume this will happen every time.

Others are nervous about the assignment they have to finish. They don’t know how to approach the topic so they avoid it for as long as possible until they have to do it.

And still, others dodge their work because they have an even deeper anxiety. They are truly afraid to do badly on something, so avoiding it seems like the most valid option.

There isn’t a quick fix for procrastination because every person’s study habits are different. But there are general techniques worth trying that may help you avoid an all-nighter right before an assignment is due.

First, recognize that procrastination is a problem that needs to be fixed. Like with most things in life, recognition is the first step. Once a person realizes that they are constantly putting things off until the last minute, they can work to find strategies to stop.

Second, make a plan. Drawing out a schedule for a couple of weeks to a month can help you to see all you of your obligations. We often think we have a lot more time than we actually do. Being able to see a schedule can stop us from overbooking and over committing to things that we just don’t have the time to get done.

Breaking things into small and manageable steps is another way to overcome procrastination. Often times, a project or paper is much more approachable and achievable if you don’t try to spew the whole thing out at once. Take things slow. Make those first few steps easily achievable so you don’t lose confidence in your ability to complete the assignment.

Make sure to always have goals when getting things done. Your goals should be public so you are not the only one expecting yourself to accomplish them. And reward yourself for accomplishing your goals. If you finish something that you wanted to achieve, then allow yourself to take a break and get on Facebook or watch a TV show for a bit.

These are just some strategies that have helped students conquer procrastination. However, there are more options. Check out this article for a more in depth view from some experts at Emerson College.

Many college drinkers know the scene well. You wake up in the morning after one too many drinks the night before, cursing yourself for those irresistible good times that led to your horrific hangover several hours after. But often, the blistering headache doesn’t compare to the confusion from the hazy or even non-existent memories you have of the night before. You attempt to scan your memory for a concrete timeline of events, but to your dismay, clarity is far off and will probably never be reached. This is because you experienced a form of alcohol-induced amnesia, or a blackout.

Endless stories are known about people who have reached an alcohol-induced blackout. The issue arises in sexual assault cases, vandalism crimes, and bar fights. Since the intoxicated period can last for a couple hours to several days, there is no telling what one cannot remember.

Even after one or two drinks, one’s memories can be affected by alcohol. But there are varying degrees of a blackout, depending on what a person drinks, how quickly it’s consumed, and how their body and brain processes it.

When someone looks back on a night of drinking, they may remember certain events but not be able to recall others. This is called a fragmental blackout, where neurons in the brain are affected by alcohol but still flicker and communicate from time to time, attempting to turn short term memories into long term ones. A total blackout, also called an en bloc, is a more intense experience because people who get to that point are not able to recall any memories. This is because alcohol has affected the hippocampus in the brain so extensively that it has shut off. The hippocampus helps with the formation of memories. When one drinks to the point of en bloc, they will never be able to remember what they did from that time period because the brain wasn’t even able to record the events in the first place.

Studies have shown a rise in binge drinking at colleges around the US, which means that there has most likely been an increase in blackout drinking as well. More studies have recently come out about binge drinking, but information about getting blackout drunk is still relatively limited. Researchers didn’t start looking into the phenomenon until the 1940s. The initial theory was that only alcoholics or future alcoholics could achieve alcohol-induced amnesia, but more recent studies have shown that anyone, including a college student, is susceptible to a blackout. There is still a great deal of mystery about the long-term effects of consistently getting blackout drunk. A lack of knowledge also exists about why certain people are more susceptible to blackouts than others.

The drinking scene in college is often hard to avoid. Weekends are typically a time for many college students to experiment with varying amounts of alcohol consumption. But, as many drinkers know, the loss of memory can be troublesome and often scary. To avoid it, try to drink at a slow pace with water in between servings of libations. And always make sure to eat a big meal before you hit up that house party with all of your friends. Life is too short to not remember it the next morning.

Posted by: barbaraplatts | November 22, 2011

The Chemistry of Attraction and Love

Perhaps one of the most ambiguous forms of expression in our society today is love. We tend to intertwine it into many aspects of our life, from the media we indulge in to the people we interact with. Movies have often made love out to be the magical conclusion to anyone’s life. The years we spend in college tend to be a time for experimentation, to see what we like and what we don’t like in people. However, what many don’t know is that lust is just what our subconscious isn’t telling us and love comes down to a simple hormonal equation.

As research has progressed over the years, it has become clear that the need to reproduce is what typically guides our attraction to others. Very few college students have interest in having children any time soon, but that doesn’t stop our subconscious from making decisions about possible mates, in hopes of conceiving the best possible offspring.

When looking for possible love interests, men seek out women who have a large amount of estrogen and progesterone, two hormones that promote fertility and health. Feminine facial characteristics, glowing skin, the proper amount of curves, high voices, and even how a woman walks are all signs of fertility.

Women are also looking for certain characteristics when they first meet a man. They look for signs of testosterone. This can be exemplified by certain body scents, lower voices, and even hormonally charged saliva. However, nice conversation and wet kisses are not all that a woman needs to become attracted to a male counterpart. Since the ladies have to carry on the baby, they subconsciously, and sometimes consciously, look for signs of stability in men. Money, fancy cars, and reliability tend to be big factors.

Once we have sorted through all of the components that help us decide if we are attracted to someone or not, the next stage in the interaction tends to ensue: we flirt and we go out on a date. Going out and participating in a bit of seductive banter can have many positive effects on one’s mood. It releases dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin in the brain. To give you some perspective, cocaine, ecstasy, nicotine, and alcohol release these hormones into the brain as well. So when flirting progresses to something more, don’t be surprised if you think about and crave the other person constantly. Love, even just lust, can be the hardest of drugs to kick.

But once one gets past the initial thrill from the start of a relationship, they’re still not in the clear. Enter oxytocin and vasopressin, quite possibly two of the most enjoyable and addictive hormones our bodies have to offer. Oxytocin is released during many intimate activities such as hugging, touching, orgasms, and childbirth. The release of this hormone can be an explanation for our attachment to the person that helped us to release it. Once the high from the oxytocin takes place, one experiences an increase in sexual arousal, bonding, and trust. Oxytocin provides the bonding, and vasopressin helps to encourage the longevity of a relationship.

Studies conducted on voles have shown that the release of oxytocin and vasopressin directly affected the animals’ monogamous tendencies. Without these hormones, the voles chose to play the field. But when these hormones were injected and no sexual activity occurred, the voles chose to be monogamous. These studies seem to suggest the hormones we naturally release hold more power over our emotions than we would like to believe. There is still much research to be done about how the effects of vasopressin and oxytocin affect humans and their relationships. But we do know that the act of cheating and the practice of monogamy are already programmed into our brains.

As research continues, more answers will arise about why it is that love is such an addictive and popular emotion. But even today, we can narrow it down to a simple chemical equation. Love may not be able to move mountains, but it can certainly create a large hormonal imbalance in your brain…. making you think that that and anything else is possible.

Posted by: barbaraplatts | September 5, 2011

The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep

In the midst of exhaustion this week, my thoughts began to wander from my homework to an issue that all college students seem to deal with on a daily basis: lack of sleep. Some have called college students the most sleep-deprived group, with 75% of us not getting enough sleep. This percentage seems high, but I notice the sleep deprivation all throughout my college campus. I see my fellow peers drooling on desks, falling asleep sitting up, complaining about their lack of sleep, and (probably the most impressive) dozing off with their eyes wide open. The funny thing about this is a large portion of the time you see these acts of sleepiness on display, the student has a cup of coffee sitting not too far away from them. Due to this problem that we all can relate to at some point or another, this post is dedicated to the activity we all know and love, but rarely indulge in: sleeping.

The study of sleep is relatively new. The information we have found out about it we have acquired in the last 25 years. According to the National Sleep Foundation, Americans average 6.9 hours of sleep on weeknights, which is technically not enough since the recommended amount of sleep for adults is 7-8 hours and 9 hours for teenagers.

But why is sleep so important? Well, it gives your brain time to recharge from the day and your body time to repair cells and strengthen your immune system. Without enough sleep, one is more susceptible to illness, their pain tolerance is lower, they can become easily confused, and alcohol affects them much more. Being awake for 24 hours or more is the “cognitive equivalent” to being drunk.

With all of the available stimulants in our world today, it is often hard to tell if you are sleep deprived or not. A telltale sign is how long it takes you to fall asleep at night. It should typically take somewhere between 10-15 minutes. If you are snoozing within five minutes it means you haven’t been getting a sufficient amount of rest.

Often times, I like to judge the amount of sleep I get by how many REM cycles I enter in one night. REM is short for Rapid Eye Movement, because during this deep sleep the eyes tend to move quickly in different directions. When a person is in REM they are in an intense dream-like state because brain activity is increased. These cycles usually start after at least an hour of sleep and range from 10 minutes to an hour. Completing a full cycle takes 3-4 hours.

Adenosine is the chemical in your body that brings on sleepiness. When you miss those few extra hours of sleep at night, that sleepiness you feel during the day is due to adenosine still affecting your brain.

If you need a quick fix for the overload of adenosine in your system, a short power nap may do the trick. During a 30-minute nap, your body breaks down Adenosine, making you feel less sleepy. This short amount of time also gives your adrenal glands time to build up some cortisol so you can start using your adrenaline when you need it after the nap.

Photo by Isaac Mitchell

Short naps also help get your immune system back on track, which is particularly important if you have been sleep deprived for a while. Though be aware that the half an hour nap can’t solve all of your problems; it does not give adequate time to even enter a REM cycle and sometimes it will just make you drowsier for the rest of the day because you gave your body a taste of something it liked.

With so much going on in college, it is no wonder why students are known for getting the least amount of sleep. But this relaxing activity should not fall by the wayside. Try to keep track of how often you are getting enough sleep and make up for it when you fall behind. Even if you think you are at the top of your game, not resting enough for several days in a row will affect brain activity and could make you more susceptible to illness, so get the z’s you need to stay at your best.

Posted by: barbaraplatts | June 9, 2011

This is your Workout on Alcohol

In light of my recent 21st birthday, I thought it important to look at some of the effects of that notorious refreshment that has made its way into the hearts and minds of many college students: alcohol.I realize I have written posts on alcohol before, but this time I have decided to go a different direction with it, and talk about what happens to your body if you drink after or the night before a hard workout.

I began pondering about this topic after an intense Crossfit workout a couple of weeks ago. People were getting ready to leave the gym, each expressing what they desired to help ease the pain their sore muscles, and many talked about getting a refreshing, cold beer. It was only 11 o’clock in the morning and even I found myself thinking about how great a beer sounded.

But is drinking alcoholic beverage a good idea after or even before an intense workout? Many say that it depends on the amount one is planning on consuming. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest one alcoholic beverage per day for a woman and two for a man. If you go over that amount after a big workout, it makes it much more difficult for your muscles to heal because the ethanol in the alcohol blocks protein storage. The body will have a tougher time storing any vitamins as well and it can also dehydrate you at a time when your body needs hydration the most.

But the night before a big workout, such as a hike or a race, people can get nervous and a drink helps them relax. After a workout, a libation can be a refreshing award, which many look forward to. So don’t put away the booze too quickly, some drinks can be good for you. Beers, especially lagers, have a lot of B vitamins in them and red wine has loads of antioxidants. But try to stay away from hard liquor. Even though it often has fewer calories than beer or wine (see “Calories in Alcohol” post), it is straight ethanol and has no real health benefits. So try to resist taking a shot or two after or before a workout.

Often times it is difficult to stick with the recommended daily dosage for alcohol consumption, but try your best to pay attention to your drink count if you have just put your body through a lot of physical stress or if you plan to soon after drinking.

Posted by: barbaraplatts | May 27, 2011

Pushing it too far

I started my summer internship at Trail Runner Magazine in Carbondale, Colorado a couple of weeks ago. The atmosphere and the people are great. I am constantly encouraged to go on a run or work out during my lunch break. My co-workers all enjoy the outdoors and love staying active, and as much as both of those values have always been important to me, I have never before found a job that allows me to incorporate them into my day to day tasks.

I have started Crossfit training, which is a combination weightlifting, aerobic exercise, and gymnastics (more detailed post about Crossfit to come). The starting foundations course I took for this type of workout was three times a week for two weeks, leaving me sore to the point where walking down stairs and putting on jackets was challenging. On the days I wasn’t at Crossfit, I was hiking, biking, or running, trying my best to stay in aerobic shape for my next trail race.

Needless to say, I have been pushing my body to and past its limit in the last 14 days, which has landed me in hot tubs, baths full of ice, and even in the back of my car for quick naps midday. My muscles were so exhausted after one Crossfit session that my whole body couldn’t stop shaking for about an hour. And now, in two days, I have my longest race yet, 13.1 miles. With my quadriceps (and just about every other muscle in my body) in a fair amount of pain, I am worried about how I will do in this trail race. However, one thing is for sure, I will spend the better half of next week sleeping and avoiding the gym…or at least that it the plan.

I wrote this post for a few reasons, number one, because sometimes it is just nice to be able to vent in a somewhat public setting. Another reason is because it brings up a topic that I think many in our country forget about: exercise addiction. We always see exercise as such a good activity, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Though this topic is for another post at another time.

And the other reason I chose to bring up this topic is to offer a bit of advice: treat your body the way it deserves to be treated. Resting and eating well are vitally important in order to maintain health and reduce chances of injury or illness. As college students, we tend to have idealistic thoughts of what we can accomplish. We almost live outside of our body, thinking of it as an afterthought, something that will just follow in suit for as long as we want/need it to. Our bodies tend to be good sports, putting up with the large doses of caffeine, junk food, and whatever else we put into it on a daily basis, but these habits do catch up with you eventually and often land you in bed, wasting several days in exchange for those all nighters. So just listen to your body, it will tell you what it needs…and yes, I am aware that I should start taking my own advice…

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