I went to my first yoga class at Penn State this week. I have taken a few hot yoga classes with friends but I have never seen myself as someone who would enjoy yoga: I am very fast paced, I always have to be doing something, and I generally take on stressful tasks. All of these traits make it seem like maybe I should be taking some time to slow down and reflect, which is something yoga can offer. I think there is a stigma that only certain types of people can do yoga, but in reality it is kind of a group work out/destressing class. I don’t know too much about the types but here are a few that I know of from the yogis I have stalked on Instagram: Hatha (the class I took) is focused on slow and gentle movements and is a good class to take if you are also a beginner like me. Vinyasa is more focused around poses and can be varying levels of difficulty depending on the types of poses incorporated into the class. Ashtanga is a faster version of vinyasa, where you move from pose to pose quickly. For now, I think I’ll stick with vinyasa but maybe eventually I’ll try to branch out. I really liked the group setting because it seemed like everyone was trying it out but that may not be for everyone. For some people meditation is much more personal and they would prefer to practice alone. For me this is more of a social workout experience than a deep, soul searching reflection, which is probably more of an independent activity. I didn’t see yoga as a full workout, for me a workout needs to make you sweat and breathe really hard and I didn’t think yoga would make me feel this way. However, I got more of a workout from it than I thought I would. During the class I was sweating and after I felt sore. I was using muscles that I wouldn’t use in my everyday workout routine. We did a lot of stretching which I usually forget when I’m at the gym. While I do not think yoga will be the only form of exercise I do, I think incorporating it in for my overall physical and mental health will benefit my workouts.

The Epidemic of Obesity

Our country’s greatest health epidemic is our levels of obesity. Today, about 35.6%, that’s over one third, of the adult population in the United States is considered obese. In addition about 75% of adults are considered overweight. The definition of obesity when it comes to body mass index (BMI) which takes into account height and weight to come up with a number, is above 30. Not only is being obese make everyday life more difficult but there are many health consequences that come with it as well. Problems like developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, some types of cancer, and many others. Overall obese individuals tend to live about 6.5 years shorter than the average person, but this can rise or fall depending on the individual’s level of obesity. It is clear that this is a national health issue. When problems like this occur where people need to be given more incentives to get healthy the government will step in with legislation.

One of the most noticeable actions the government has taken is making fast food restaurants put the calorie amount next to food items. The idea behind this is that it persuades people to buy food that is lower in calories (generally healthier when it comes to fast food) or not purchase anything at all. When people are forced to face what they are eating it can be eye opening and even disgusting leading to different choices in the future. This has lead fast food chains such as McDonald’s to add some healthier items to their menu so people have options.

In my school, they stopped selling junk food at our school store and cafeteria. They still sold products such as baked chips and popcorn but all mainstream junk food like candy, chips, ice cream, and soda was not sold on campus. Products made with bread were made with wheat or whole grains. I do not know how much influence this had because if your family has junk food around the house, you can just eat it when you get home. Although it could have an impact when creating health habits and not craving junk food as much.

Another thing the government does is subsidize healthy foods in programs for poor people. This means that the government will financially support these programs having healthy foods available. People who do not have as much money can become obese or overweight easily because food with poor nutrition is usually cheaper and more available. It is hard to find healthy fresh items sold cheaply or in bulk.

The final way the government has stepped in that is a little different is through the former first lady. Michelle Obama’s campaign for healthier eating and exercising habits were a huge focus of her work over the last eight years. She someone that was exemplary at leading a practical but healthy life and therefore average American families could look to her for inspiration in their own lives.

The easiest way to make a change is through governmental policy. When something is passed through Congress and everyone has to enact it, that is the one true way to make lasting change.

Mental Health

I want to take a break from talking about physical health and talk about something that is just as important: mental health. Although we are getting better as a society about openly discussing mental health and everything that comes with it, there is still a stigma surrounding it and people who suffer from it.


It is staggering to me that ⅕ adults suffer from mental illness at some point and those numbers are only increasing. According to Mental Health America, it is not only adults but also children. The number of youth cases of depression was 8% in 2011, but by 2014 it had risen 3% to 11%. Both of these numbers are not taking into account that around 56% of people suffering from mental illness’ are not seeking help. Hopefully the 3% increase is based on the fact more people are open and willing to seek help, and not that depression and mental illness are becoming more of an epidemic.


It can be very difficult to see and hear how people speak about individuals suffering from mental illness. A mental illness is the same as a physical handicap and it is important to see it that way. When we as a nation begin to understand this I think a lot of those statistics will begin to change. People who do not have health care also do not have insurance to cover mental health treatments which can be extremely pricey. Recently, more insurance providers have put mental health benefits into their plans but most families still are not covered. Without this change in our health care system people will continue to go untreated. Under Obama we made some good steps but the new administration threatens to reverse this work.


Not only is this important for individuals, but it has a domino effect. It is not a coincidence that the states with the least coverage and support for the mentally ill are also the states with the highest incarceration rates. When people are not getting the help they need they can become dangerous. Mental health and criminology often go hand in hand. It is not unusual to have mentally ill prisoners. This is a flaw in our system because had those individuals had the access to help they may not have committed that crime. Putting someone who cannot comprehend what they did wrong or that it was against the law in prison is not going to reform them. These are the people that will stay in the system for their whole lives because they are not given the resources to get better. Instead, working to evaluate those who may need to be institutionalized rather than locked up would benefit us as a whole.


Overall, mental illness with never be eradicated, but by offering help we can at least hope to make a change.



The deliberation that I took part in was on a similar topic to what my group presented on. Their topic was sexual safety on campus and ours was more of a look into rape culture at Penn State. It was interesting to compare and contrast these two deliberations because while they did have similar attributes and a similar topic the conversation went in very different directions.

They went more into the ways Penn State addresses this problem in a more physical way: Safe Walk, Blue Lights, Stand for State. It was interesting to hear some of the statistics they had on these programs. While Penn State is implementing them, we are not implementing them well at all. For instance they found the average wait time for Safe Walk is about 30-40 minutes. At that point you should just walk by yourself because it is going to take the Safe Walk personnel too long to get there anyway. This was very unexpected for me because they tell you about the program in New Student Orientation and it seems like if they were encouraging you to use it, it should be more effective.

I was also disheartened when I found that there are much fewer Blue Lights then there should be on campus. Blue Lights should be one of the easiest ways for our campus to be safe. While we were discussing the issue of Blue Lights, the issue of real lights came up. At night our campus is very poorly lit. There are sections of campus that are almost pitch black. This could make it easier for someone to be attacked while they were walking. I know I would feel more comfortable walking at night if we had more lights.

The last major topic we discussed was Stand for State. This is Penn State’s version of a bystander awareness program. Although it is good we have this, there is not enough attendance to make it as effective as it could be. This is also a topic we touched on during my group’s deliberation. We discussed how if Penn State implemented a mandatory program that we would be more likely to see results. The people going to Stand for State are people who already care about the issue of sexual violence on campus and are willing to step in. The people we should be targeting are those who are not as educated about rape culture and could use the training.

Overall, I liked both discussions. I found it very interesting how they overlapped but also had very different discussions.


Portland, Oregon: known for its coffee, beer, and beautiful scenery. But more than that Portland is also the most environmentally friendly city in the United State. There are two factors I believe are the most important in creating  an environmentally friendly city: the government and the people.


To become environmentally sustainable there needs to be progressive legislation and governmental figures who are willing to use their power to positively impact the city. They have multiple projects and programs in place to help the city stay clean. The first is called “grey to green” and it is a five-year initiative to boost green infrastructure within the city. Green infrastructure means building more green streets, ecoroofs, and rain gardens. Green streets are streets built with vegetation on the sides. This is environmentally friendly because it rains a lot in Oregon and having these green streets means all that runoff is being used to grow plants instead of going to waste. Green streets have many positive effects other than creating a more beautiful city. They also divert rainwater from flooding people’s homes, keep streets safe for bikers, and reduce the possibly polluted runoff from entering any streams. It is a small and inexpensive change that can create a huge difference in a city.


The second part of the “grey to green” project is placing ecoroofs on more buildings. Ecoroofs are much more interesting than they sound. When I began my research I thought it was the same as a sunroof, it is similar but even more eco-friendly. Ecoroofs are basically gardens on the roofs of buildings. Many apartment buildings in the Portland area are starting to use them. It is a normal roof with a waterproof membrane covered in soil and vegetation. It perform many of the  same functions as green streets as well as some others like absorbing CO2 from the air. They also provide a habitat for birds and insects that don’t have too many options in urban areas.


The final function of  the “green to grey” project is  creating rain gardens. Rain gardens are one of the most inexpensive and simple ways to create a greener landscape and successfully utilize stormwater. Rain gardens create a self-irrigating landscape by directing stormwater into a depression in the ground where a garden is built. It is an easy way for everyday people to make a difference. What other ways are the people of Portland doing their part in helping to keep their city number one.


Portland attracts a certain demographic of people; people interested in keeping their environment clean and green. The city has created lots of bike lanes and paths to make it more convenient for its residents to use their bikes instead of cars for transportation. As I said earlier the infrastructure of the roads in the city are built to drain the roads and keep them dry. This makes it easy for those who choose bikes as their main form of transportation to always use them. Bikes are an all around better way to travel then cars. They are less expensive especially when you factor in gas money and insurance. As long as you aren’t travelling too far a distance they are typically faster in a city because you don’t have to wait in traffic. And most importantly they do not emit all of the toxic fumes that cars do. Cars are one of the biggest contributors to the environmental crisis so the littlest changes when it comes to them helps.

Citizens are also widely focused on sustainable eating. They have huge farmer’s markets that encourage residents not only to eat locally but to eat more naturally. There are more than 160 farmers markets with venders from all over the greater Portland area. Not only is this good for the environment but it also incentivizes small farms and businesses to continue growing. Overall, the people in the Portland area are focused on keeping their city green and it is paying off.


What do you think of when you think of vegans? If it’s a hippy trying to preach about the dangers and immorality of eating meat you are not alone. However as more and more people are turning to vegan diets it is becoming more accepted (Ben and Jerry’s even has a vegan ice cream flavor, highly recommend). I used to be a vegan for a short time after doing some research and watching documentaries that persuaded me to give it a shot. It is important to realize that every day people can be and are vegans.


The first reason that I decided to try being a vegan was because I watched the documentary “Forks over Knives”. I highly recommend it to anyone but if you are thinking about becoming a vegan it is a must see (it’s on Netflix). Not only does it document the mistreatment of animals, which is beyond disgusting, but also the health benefits of cutting animal products out of your diet. There are studies that have proven a vegan diet leads to increased energy, healthier skin, and even decreased rates of heart disease. Cancer rates are 34% lower in vegans than meat eaters, and even lower when it comes to breast cancer in women. People who adopt a vegan diet live an average of 4 years longer than meat-eaters. It seems to make you healthier in just about every way so why isn’t everyone a vegan?


First off, it is not easy to do. So much of Americans diets revolve around meat. If you think about meals that you eat the central part of that meal is generally meat (steak with…, chicken with…,salmon with…). You can see why that seems like a major thing to cut out of your diet. It isn’t easy, but it’s very possible.


The most important thing is to try new foods. At the beginning of my experience I practically lived off peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. That gets boring really fast. As a started reading blogs written by vegans and watching vegans on youtube, I learned there is a whole different world of food to experience. I tried recipes that ended up being better than meals I had ever had (vegan pizza can be A1 if done right). My favorite Thai restaurant makes pad thai vegan and I went to vegan restaurants I had never been to. I shopped for vegan substitutes and found some that I liked (vegan bacon is not good don’t go near it).


One thing that people always asked me while I was vegan was: where is your protein coming from. Vegetables actually have a lot of natural protein the trick is in getting enough calories. Because vegetables and fruits are less dense in calories, your body needs more to be nourished. As long as you are eating the right amount of calories on a vegan diet, you will never not have enough protein.


Maybe I’ll try to be vegan again one day, but for now I’m going to enjoy the creamery.



I have always found marathon runners to be some of the most impressive athletes in the world. There is so much determination and willpower not only in running the 26.2 miles, but in the months of training required to run that distance. I am not a distance runner by any means, I hate running, but I have always dreamed of the feeling of saying “I ran a marathon”. Being from Boston, marathons have recently taken on a new meaning. To run the Boston Marathon is to take a stand for your city and your country. It is making a statement that you will not let those who invoke fear effect you. For this blog I am going to look into the months and months of preparation these runners go through to make it the distance.

Beginners are advised not to jump right into long mileage because of risk of injury or not being capable of that distance yet. Most of my sources ballparked training at about 6 months for those not accustomed to running a lot. Starting with about four to five running days a week for a weekly goal of 15-20 miles and building on that. My roommate’s mom, April,  ran a marathon and told me she trained by joining a running group. In their group they worked together during months of training to build up their mileage while keeping each other motivated. Not only did they run together but they supplemented running days with cross training. Cross training is doing something other than running: swimming, biking, weight training. These activities are all ways to get your body used to all around cardio endurance and muscle strength so when it comes to race day your body can be fully prepared for the obstacles you may encounter. Eventually working your way up to 35-40 miles a week as you get closer to race day. Runners will also do what they call “dress rehearsals” where they run a half or close to full marathon as race pace to test how close their body so they won’t be surprised at the race.

Another very important piece in training is diet. Your body needs the correct fuel if it is going to run properly. This means eating a meal high in carbs before a run to sustain energy during the run and following up your run with a meal of carbs and protein to recover. An example of a pre-run meal would be something like a bagel with honey, something high in carbs with sugar to give you energy during your run. A post run meal would be something like chocolate milk with whole grain pasta and meat sauce; high in protein and carbs. The chocolate milk aids in muscle recovery. April told me that although she never restricted to certain food groups, the better she ate the better she ran. It is difficult to run well if your body is not properly fueled.

Running a marathon is a long term goal. It’s something that takes a lot of self motivation and willpower. But if you are one of the few people that can say you ran 26.2 miles, I imagine it would all be worth it.

Cardio or Weights

In a world of skinny models and big muscles, how can you choose how to work out. I for one am always short on time, especially when it comes to the gym. So how can you get the most out of that precious 45 minutes in the gym?

I’m going to be focusing on cardio versus weight lifting. A disclaimer: everyone is an individual and has different body types. Certain workouts will work better for some than others and in the end it is completely up to you and what makes your body feel its best. It also depends what you want to get out of your workout. Are you trying to lose weight? Tone an already fit body? Get more muscle mass? Or just to get the endorphins pumping and feeling good?

Cardio has always been “in” it seems. I remember always being under the impression from the media and influences around me that doing all cardio all the time was the key to a fit body. Not so true as it turns out. Cardio is not as much the key to a strong, healthy body as it is to a strong, healthy mind. Cardio improves mood and is one of the best ways to prevent and treat depression. However, doing 30 minutes on the elliptical everyday will not necessarily get you spring break ready. Another pro for cardio is that it keeps your heart and lungs healthy. Any sort of exe
rcise will do this, but the quicker movement and slight stress cardio puts on your body will train your heart and lungs to work more efficiently. The final pro is sleep. I know I have problems falling asleep before 2 am but that’s probably the Netflix. Doing cardio at some point in the day makes you tired and this will translate into better sleep at night. Natural nightquil!

Weight training seems to get a bad wrap. People think it will make you bulky and look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. This is not true. In reality weight training is actually considered more effective for weight loss for a number of reasons. First, it’s a shock to your body. What I mean by this is instead of going at the same pace for your whole workout, like with cardio, you are constantly changing it up. This type of movement makes your body continue to burn calories for hours after your workout. Also that soreness you feel for days aft
er a good workout is your muscles recovering from micro trauma, elevating your metabolism for an average of three days. You don’t even need to be lifting super heavy weights to get these effects!

So if you are like me and are really busy stick to weight training. It’s possible to get your cardio in while weight training if you are working hard enough. If you come across a day with some extra time, do both, both is always better than one! 


Ditch Day

Today, January 17th, is national ditch day. It is the day that the majority of people give up on their New Year’s resolutions. A lot of people make New Year’s resolutions in the hopes they will be able to reach a goal they felt they lacked in during the past year. But too often we find the resolution we made is too hard or ultimately something you will not be able to follow through with. I decided to do a little research into New Year’s resolutions, specifically ones that had to do with health and fitness, to try to give some tips on how to not “ditch” your resolution this year.

According to Google, this year 62,776,640 people made a New Year’s resolution that somehow involved attaining a healthier lifestyle. Whether this means more time in the gym or giving up your beloved junk food, most people give their resolutions up. So why are these people failing?

First off, people often make a resolution that is too difficult for them to maintain. Say you decide you’re going to start going to the gym everyday for an hour. This doesn’t seem unrealistic but people’s lives are busy and sometimes there isn’t the time to get to the gym every single day. If you haven’t been going to the gym and all of a sudden try to go everyday it will be a drastic change for your schedule and body. Instead a resolution of trying to get to the gym four days a week and working yourself up to seven days would make you more likely to stick with your goals. Secondly, people try to dive into their resolution too fast. Getting healthy and fit takes time, usually more time and effort than a lot of people realize. If you make your resolution becoming a vegan, first try being a vegetarian or simply cutting meat out for breakfast and lunch but still incorporating it into dinner. This way you will give your body a window during which to transition. When people start cheating on their resolutions because they jumped into a new lifestyle to quickly it makes them want to quit. Lastly, when people don’t see a change they don’t see a reason to continue. As I said before, fitness takes more time and energy than people are willing to spend on it. After seventeen days, people may not be seeing the results they expected and decide the sacrifices they are making for their resolution are not worth it.

When you make a New Year’s resolution it isn’t a commitment to anyone but yourself. Unless you made your resolution with someone else you are going to be the sole motivator when it comes to completing the goals you set out. This means when you decide on your resolution make sure it is something that you are truly passionate about. The more you are invested in reaching that end goal, whatever it is, the more likely you will follow through and make it past “ditch day”.

This I Belive Draft

I believe in middle child syndrome. Middle child syndrome is the feeling of inadequacy and lack of attention middle children feel. Parents often bond with the oldest and youngest child more than the middle, leading that child to make themselves known through high achievement or being a troublemaker.

I’m a middle child with an older sister and a younger sister. My sisters are incredibly talented when it comes to grades and school. My older sister Adrienne graduated high school with a 4.2 gpa and a 2200 on the SATs, she chose University of Maryland even though she had better academic options. She graduated this year, a semester early, with a 3.98 and a 99% on her MCATs, she’s looking at Ivy League med schools. My younger sister has a 4.4 gpa and is looking at incredible schools. I had a 3.7 and an 1920 on my SATs. My parents are incredible people and they love me and I love them so much, but they have never had high expectations of me. They never expected me to achieve as much as my sisters. I remember the day I took my SATs and my mom told me good luck and to try to get an 1800. It wasn’t supposed to hurt but it did. I knew I could do better than that, but she didn’t.

My whole family has graduated from school interested in science. But I love politics and reading, that is my passion. Because I felt left out and unnoticed I became a cliche. Middle children are more often troublemakers because they seek attention. I believe this was why I rebelled. I started staying out late, drinking and smoking weed, and not coming home. It was something I enjoyed to an extent but it was more because I wanted to see if my parents noticed. Eventually it got to the point where I convinced them it was okay to leave me home alone for a weekend and they caught me having a party. They grounded me for a month. It ended up being one of the best nights of my life. I had started to feel this pressure among my friends to go out and party all weekend when that wasn’t something I genuinely liked. Instead I had an excuse to spend my nights reading and watching documentaries…something I would chose over a night out anytime.

Throughout my grounding my relationship with my parents got a lot better. I started reading books my mom recommended and being able to bond over them. One day she told me she really wanted to be a history major in college and that is what she really loved. Her dad was old fashioned and would only paid for her education if she majored in something he said “was a true career”. That made me reevaluate a lot of things. My parents are amazing and open-minded and have always bent over backwards to allow me to achieve my dreams. My mom deserved to follow her passions and create her own path but her parents didn’t allow her to. I plan to major in political science and criminology and follow my dreams for her.

I believe in middle child syndrome, but I also believe in not conforming. I was able to see that my rebellion was making me someone that I wasn’t and accept who I really am. I love reading and writing and watching the news and reading the newspaper. I like spending time with my friends but I would rather stay home and read and book and hang out with my family. I don’t need to be a stereotype, I can just be myself.