Farmers’ Market Notes from Sarah D

Okay, it’s always a great time of year to go to the Farmers’ Market…but, y’all.  THIS is a GREAT time of year to go to the Farmers’ Market.

I’ll admit; I’m actually only an occasional market goer. Let’s be real.  Even the best of us can fall into food ruts–especially if funds are tight.   And Farmers’ Markets can seem fleeting and ephemeral–especially if you’re not an early riser on Saturday mornings or have problems remembering what day it is…ahem, not that I’d know anything about that.

Getting to a Farmers’ Market can be a great way to reconnect with the food you put into your body, though.  The food is fresh, in season, and grown by people who care.  Going to the market inspires me to eat new, healthy things that I may not have thought of before.  And sometimes I find GREAT deal$$$.

A SUMMER SHOPPING SUGGESTION TO WHET YOUR APPETITE:

basil

Basil.  Basil is in season right now, and a bunch will cost $1 – $2.50.

Take it home, trim the ends of the stems, and put the bunch in a jar of water.  No need to refrigerate!  It should last a while on your counter this way.

Add leaves to your sandwiches, smoothies, teas, salads, or noodle dishes and feel like a winner.  Or!  Make a simple basil pesto…

HOW TO MAKE A SIMPLE BASIL PESTO:

(You’ll need fresh basil, fresh garlic, a blender or a sharp knife, olive oil, some parmesan-esque cheese, optional walnuts, and a sense of adventure because I don’t measure this precisely)

Pinch the basil leaves from their stems – I aim for about a packed cup, but you can do with more or less.

Smash 3 cloves of garlic with the flat side of a knife for easy peeling.

Either chop up the basil and garlic really fine, or throw it into a blender with a little olive oil.  (Tip: add some spinach or kale if you want extra nutrients) Add some chopped walnuts if you’re into that.  Add about 1/3 cup of grated cheese and stir it all up while drizzling with olive oil.  Add more of any ingredient according to your taste.  You really can’t screw up too bad.  It can be chunky or saucy.  It will taste good.

Toss this mix onto some noodles or grill some chicken in it or spread it on a sandwich.  Feed it to a friend and impress them.

CONVINCED YET?  Here are MARKET DETAILS for you LOCALS  (this post assumes that you live on or close to UNC’s campus.)

The Carrboro Farmer’s Market (http://www.carrborofarmersmarket.com/)

  • Saturday 7:00am – 12:00pm  (All year)
  • Wednesday  3:00pm – 6:00pm (During the growing season, April – October)

Located at 301 W Main Street, Carrboro

Don’t have a car?  On Saturdays, take the CM or CW bus from South Columbia Street and Rosemary to Carrboro Town Hall, then keep walking down W. Main Street until you’re at the Carrboro Town Commons.  Check google maps’ public transit or http://www.townofchapelhill.org/index.aspx?page=706 for route updates.

The Chapel Hill Farmer’s Market (http://www.thechapelhillfarmersmarket.com/)

  • Saturday 8:00am – 12:00pm
  • Tuesday 3:00pm – 6:00pm

Located at 201 SOUTH Estes Drive, Chapel Hill (Right in front of University Mall)

Don’t have a car?  On Saturdays, you can take the FG bus from Carolina Coffee Shop on Franklin to University Mall.  Check google maps’ public transit or http://www.townofchapelhill.org/index.aspx?page=706 for route updates.

PRO TIPS FOR GOING TO MARKET

  • Bring a bag (many vendors have them, but some may not)
  • Bring cash (though many vendors accept cards, it’s just easier)
  • If you’re gong to Carrboro on a Saturday, don’t bother eating breakfast.  At the Carrboro Farmer’s Market, you can buy delicious pastries and coffee
  • Don’t be afraid to chat!  I’ve had great luck asking farmers and fellow shoppers how they prepare the various food items on sale.

Smiles or Tears? How to Beat Summertime Sadness With Optimism

optimism

Welcome to a new week! I hope you jumped out of bed with a purpose in mind, ready to live exactly how you want. If not, that’s ok too – maybe it’s more sleep you need! I hope that the summer has given you time to focus on your overall wellness. Maybe you’ve been working hard to eat more healthfully, be more active, or quit smoking.  Along the way, you may have hit some unavoidable roadblocks stopping you from reaching your goal. When bad things happen – do you recognize them as a passing storm cloud, or do you believe that the universe is wholly aligned against you? The answer matters – a lot! We’re going to begin this morning with a look into optimism, and why it’s an essential aspect of a well-balanced life.

First, let’s take a closer look at what it means to have an optimistic world view. Let’s be clear- there are several things that optimism is not. Optimism is not happiness, as happiness is an indefinable and subjective emotion. Optimism is not forcing a smile, mentally chanting “cheer up buttercup,” or prancing through a field of daisies. These behaviors could be a natural byproduct of experiencing optimism in your life, but they likely will not bring you a sense of inner peace in of themselves. Optimism is hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something. By extension, optimism allows you to believe that your life is worth living.

Sounds great, huh? Here are a few behaviors you can use in your life to achieve a greater sense of optimism:

  1. Create and purse your own goals: This is the foundation of a meaningful life. People who get things done and laugh along the way don’t have access to some secret elixir – rather, they know what they want from their life and they work hard to make it happen. Do you want to lose weight and feel better about your body? The drive must come from within – not a nagging parent or a concerned counselor. You’re much more likely to cultivate personal inspiration if you are invested in the achievement of your goal. Start small – drinking more water, being active 30 minutes a day, and adding more vegetables to your plate. This is a simple example of a goal that an optimist might create! Optimists are also persistent; they don’t let setbacks define them or their life.
  2. Solve problems proactively: It’s easy to run on autopilot in life and react to challenges with indecision and disengagement. Optimists, however, do things differently. When a storm strikes and a problem arises – take action immediately. Grab a pen and paper and write the problem at the top, followed by a list of possible solutions with pros and cons for each. Then, weight the options and take action. It’s easier to lay in bed and watch House of Cards all day, but taking small steps to fix a problem will actually make you feel a lot better. Take the optimistic route!
  1. Think of the worst possible outcome: That’s right, a healthy dose of realism could actually make you more optimistic. Anticipating failure, THEN making changes to ensure that these outcomes don’t happen will help set you up for success! You may have heard the trite phrase – “stop worrying, everything will be ok.” Instead of forcibly blocking thoughts, brainstorming practical solutions to possible problems will help pessimists achieve a more optimistic mindset.

How optimistic are you? If you’re still unsure after reading through these behaviors, take the optimism quiz to find out once and for all.

 

Credit Cards – Friend, Enemy, or Frenemy?

Credit Cards – Friend, Enemy, or Frenemy? 

 

Do me a favor – take a minute and open up your wallet.  If it’s anything like mine, it’ll have various IDs (OneCard, license, etc.), debit card, business cards, maybe some type of rewards card. In any case, your wallet is probably filled with all types of plastic cards.  One of the most prominent pieces of plastic in my wallet, though, is that sleek, transparent credit card. It beckons to me. It yells out “SWIPE ME! GO ONLINE AND BUY STUFF WITH ME!” Occasionally the card wins, but for the majority of the time, I’m able to turn down the volume to a whisper.

creditcard

The ability, nowadays, to spend on a credit card is easier than it has ever been. Credit is widely available (although, admittedly, not as widely available since the Great Recession) there is no shortage of methods to spend it: swiping a physical card, making online purchases, or using smartphone apps.  It’s no surprise that college graduates, on average, have up to $3,000 in credit card debt.  Though that may pale in comparison to the tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt that many students carry, when you consider that most credit cards have an interest rate that hovers around 14% things can get ugly fast! That’s right, every time the monthly balance is not paid down in full, another 14% is tacked on, exponentially increasing your debt to the credit card company. If numbers are your thing, or you’re just interested in the way that interest rates work, check out this more in-depth, but easy to read article about credit card interest rates.

 

Why am I sweating this credit card stuff?  The reason is simple: having a stellar credit history and score will be a vital tool once you’re out there in the “real world.”  Virtually every large purchase you make—a car, home, or even if you’re renting a place—will require that you have strong credit. Having a squeaky-clean credit history can actually save you money, because you’ll be in a great position to get the best rate on your loan as possible.

 

Credit history can also be important when you are job searching.  Although there is almost no evidence linking credit history with job performance, in a study released just last year, nearly half of all employers check a potential job candidate’s credit history as part of a background check, and many have been denied employment based on a poor credit history alone! So not only does your money depend on good credit, your job might too!

 

You might be saying to yourself, “OK. I get it. Credit is really important and I should have a good credit history, but where do I begin?” Great question!  Here are a few simple things you can do right now:

 

  1. Here’s an obvious, but important step.  The best way to ensure a rock star credit history is to pay any and all bills on time – all the time! Life happens and there may come a time when you’re not able to pay a bill on time. If this happens, be sure to call your credit card company and notify them.

 

  1. Check out UNC’s online financial literacy program, CashCourse. It’s free to register and has plenty of useful information about credit cards and other financial topics.

 

  1. Monitor your credit report! By federal law, you are entitled to a credit report free of charge every year. Check the report for an inaccuracies or errors.

 

If you’re interested in other ways that you can improve your credit history and score, check out this great resource.

 

While a strong credit history is just one piece of the puzzle for optimal financial wellness, getting a head start now is a huge step in the right direction.  One that will literally pay off for the rest of your life!
This blog was written by Dennis Carmody. Dennis is an MPH candidate in the Health Behavior department at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. He is currently enjoying his summer practicum with the great folks at UNC Student Wellness.

 

 

 

WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: Treadmill or Elliptical – Which is Better?

Quick – which machine burns more calories, the treadmill or the elliptical? And what are the dangers of using each? And which is better overall? Most gyms contain rows of different cardio machines and it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. We’re going to focus on the two most common machines here, the treadmill and the elliptical. Each one has it pros and cons, and the bottom line is that is depends on your body and your fitness goals.

Let’s talk about the treadmill first. Basically, this machine emulates walking and running on a flat surface. The treadmill is very versatile and can be adjusted to different inclines and speeds. When you use a treadmill, you are using familiar body movements rather than having to deal with awkward machines. Above all, walking and running strengthens muscles and bones over time. However, overuse of the treadmill without stretching before can really do a number on your joints if you aren’t careful. Running is hard and intense – you need to be ready and in adequate shape before using a treadmill for too long.

On to the elliptical! The elliptical is low-impact (good for your joints) and allows for cross-training with the arm handles. Not to mention – you can use the elliptical backwards to work different muscle groups. It’s a great choice if you are recovering from an injury or if you want to do a long cardio session. However, this machine can be awkward to use at first as it’s unlike walking or running. The elliptical much less dynamic than the treadmill in terms of speed and intensity. Its also deceiving how hard you are working out, as its easy to use only the momentum at low intensities.

What about calories? If you’re trying to maintain a health weight, this could be important to you. A study by the Medical College of Wisconsin showed that the average number of calories burned per hour on the treadmill was about 800, while the elliptical was 770.This difference is almost negligible, so read on for more distinctions.

All in all, the elliptical is a great choice for you if you want to improve cardiovascular health with low impact (safer on the joints!). High interval training (there is usually a button on the machine) will give you the best workout on the elliptical. On the other hand, a treadmill will make you work harder and is a better choice for more experienced exercisers. For the best workout regimen, try to include both machines to reap all the benefits without overbearing your body. Not to mention – variety can really spice up your workout!

This post was written by Ben Smart at Tar Heel Toneup

Ben is a sophomore at UNC Chapel Hill, majoring in Public Health Nutrition with minors in Broadcast & Electronic Journalism, and Spanish for the Medical Professions. From kettle bell workouts to green tea, Ben is a huge health nerd with aspirations to attend medical school. He also plans to use his multimedia journalism skills to advance public health. His mission is to help other college students maximize their health and fitness, even when they are busy.

What Causes Dark Circles Under Your Eyes?

I feel like no matter what I do, I perpetually have dark circles under my eyes. I don’t remember having these when I was younger, so I spent some time reading about common causes and solutions. Read below to find out Continue reading

Workout Wednesday – Fitness Designed for YOUR Personality

Originally posted on Tar Heel Tone Up:

Walk into any college career guidance center, and you’ll quickly be directed to take a personality test. The line of thinking is that each person behaves in a different way with “The Big 5” – openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism – and therefore are matched better to certain careers. But why stop there? With the huge variety of ways to exercise, there’s bound to be a certain type that corresponds best with who YOU are. Be it group Zumba, solo marathons, or team sports, the perfect workout for your personality is within reach. If you enjoy an exercise regimen, you are much more likely to stick with it and reach your fitness goals!

In addition to considering your innate personality when selecting an exercise regimen, consider your other personal preferences. For example, are you a night owl or a morning dove? If you prefer to…

View original 156 more words

Giving your mind a break: the benefits of mindfulness and how to start a meditation practice.

Just about 10 years ago, I was fresh out of undergrad, and, like many of you, trying to figure out my place in the world. I was working for a cytogenetics company, but I knew that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life working in that field. While it had its interesting moments, it quickly became boring and uninspired.

 

I started to ask myself those age old questions: What would be my career path? What are my values? What’s important to me? Because I didn’t have a great way to answer that, I turned, once again, to higher education, and applied to graduate school. Well, little did I know at the time, I’d leave the program to which I was accepted during the first semester after realizing that it just wasn’t for me. Dropping out of grad school was literally, without a doubt, one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make.

stressedface

Frustrated, confused, and STRESSED OUT, I needed to figure what my next move was going to be. In the midst of scrambling to apply for any job I could get, I came upon an advertisement for the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program at Duke Integrative Medicine. The words “stress reduction” jumped off the page. I had almost no knowledge of mindfulness or meditation, but I did have curiosity and time on my hands. I was skeptical that it would do anything to help me, but I was willing to at least give it a shot. So, I registered for their 8-week foundations program. It required a lot of time and effort, but it is still one of the single greatest set of skills that I’ve learned in my 32 years on this Earth. I still practice every single day. I’m not one to use these words lightly, but it changed my life in ways that I could not imagine at that time. Since that time, I have given a talk about mindfulness and its benefits to the Spina Bifida Association of the Carolinas, created a Youtube video, was a research coordinator for a study examining the biological, physiological, and psychological benefits of mindfulness meditation, and am even developing a mindfulness workshop for UNC undergraduate students over the summer in collaboration with Student Wellness.

 

You might be wondering at this point, “Mindfulness? What is this dude talking about?” Well, I’m glad you asked! Mindfulness is simply paying attention to the present moment with intention, without judgment, and with an attitude of acceptance of present moment experience. It could be something as simple as focusing on how your breath feels, noticing that you’re feeling tired, noticing how the warm sun feels on your skin. You don’t need to do anything about your experience, you just need notice it and then simply turn your attention to whatever comes next.

 

Even if it’s not a life altering experience for you, there is mounting evidence to suggest that mindfulness can be beneficial to physical health, like reducing blood pressure and enhancing our immune system. There are also mental health benefits like reducing anxiety, depression, and stress, and an increase in overall wellbeing. Here are just a few articles on the subject:

 

Brown University Health Education:

http://www.brown.edu/Student_Services/Health_Services/Health_Education/common_college_health_issues/mindfulness.php

 

Helpguide.org (in collaboration with Harvard Medical School):

http://www.helpguide.org/harvard/mindfulness.htm

 

Greater Good – The Science of a Meaningful Life at UC Berkeley

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness/definition#why_practice

 

So, you really want to increase your mindfulness and start enjoying all of these health benefits, but aren’t really sure about how to do that? Well, I’ll give you a hint, it starts with an “m” and ends with “-editation”. That’s right, meditation! You might be saying to yourself, “but I thought meditation were just for people who wear dreadlocks and play in drum circles or for monks?” The good news is that you do not have to be part of a special group to start a meditation practice. You can practice alone or with a group of friends. Here are a couple of simple meditation practices to get you started:

 

mindfulness

Credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=12572&picture=meditation-by-the-lake&large=1

Despite what this picture might suggest, you don’t have to be near a lake or even have your legs in lotus position! Here are some simple steps to begin:

 

  1. Find a comfortable place to sit, whether it’s in a chair, on a mat, on the floor, just wherever works best for you.
  2. Make sure not to have your back too rigid and straight, but not so relaxed that you’re slouching. You should sit in a dignified manner.

 

  1. You can keep your eyes open or even half open. You can also close them if that’s comfortable, but this may encourage you to fall asleep.

 

  1. Now, bring your attention to the sensation of your breath. Notice how the cool air feels as it enters through your nostrils.

 

  1. Now move your attention down to your chest and belly. Notice how the chest and belly expand out with each inhalation, and contracts or flattens out on the exhalation. See if you can count at least 5 exhalations.

 

  1. If you notice that your focus starts to drift away from your breath and to your thoughts, for example, just notice that this has happened and slowly, without any judgment, bring your full attention and awareness back to the sensation of the breath. Just be sure that you don’t beat yourself because your mind wandered.

 

  1. Try and keep your attention on the breath for just 10 minutes. It’s not easy, but keep at it!

 

Another simple exercise that you can do is a walking meditation. You can do this as you’re walking between classes, or anywhere on campus, and no one has to know that you’re doing it (unless you want them to know):

 

  1. Bring your attention to your feet, and notice what it feels like to have them firmly on the ground. You may notice how your shoes and socks feel on your feet.
  2. While lifting each foot and leg off the ground, try to notice how it feels to lift your foot and leg into the air.

 

  1. While alternating each foot and leg, notice the experience of your weight shifting as you move forward.

 

  1. Bring your awareness to your upper body and pay attention to your arms as they swing and any other motion you feel in your upper body as you walk.

 

Use a wheelchair? No problem! You can do this too!

 

  1. Bring your attention to your arms and hands as they move back and you get ready to push your wheels.

 

  1. You may notice how the muscles in your back squeeze together or how your shoulder muscles stretch.

 

  1. Notice what your hands feel as they grip your wheels.

 

  1. Finally, see what you experience as you start to push your wheels. You may feel the muscles in your biceps and triceps flexing and stretching. Don’t worry if you don’t notice this. Just bring your full attention to what you do feel.

 

You’re now on your way to having your own mindfulness practice. Now, go out there and start giving your attention to each moment! You never know what you might discover.

 

Dennis Carmody is an MPH candidate in the Health Behavior department at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. He is currently enjoying his summer practicum with the great folks at UNC Student Wellness.