Monday, April 16, 2007

The Blogging Experience

My first blogging experience was very different than any other writing I have done in my journalism classes. This assignment was much more open because you had to find your own voice and take a stand on the topics you discussed. There isn't a specific formula for blog writing, you have to figure it out as you progress. I think reading other blogs from my classmates and on the web served as a guide to me as a first time writer.

I decided to write about health and fitness in relation to college life and more specifically Northeastern University. I picked this subject because it is interesting to me, but I initially had a hard time coming up with four or five topics to write about each week. The last month I was more successful at thinking up original and creative ideas. At first I only covered posts directly related to working out, physical fitness, or eating well. In the beginning, I narrowed the spectrum of what I could discuss too closely and there wasn't enough to post several times a week.

I also was sick on and off since January, so this made classes more challenging in general. At one point I considered taking a leave of absence because I was getting so behind on my academics. Fortunately, I have a week left and I'm glad I stuck it out, but it definitely was a long semester. It was ironic I decided to write about health because I struggled health wise the past couple of months. I definitely learned some cool, random facts and I'm glad I stuck with this topic. I think that the more I blogged, the better my topics and writing were. I see a big difference from January to April. I think this is mostly because I found a natural way to express my views and opinions in combination with valuable information from outside sources.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

"Attitude Adjustment"

"Optimistic thinking leads to a longer, healthier, and happier life."
-Allure Magazine

"It's not like, put on a smiley face button and live forever. Optimistic people act differently. They do things that public health experts say are associated with good health. They eat sensibly, they don't drink senselessly, they exercise, and they get their sleep. They even tend to look better as they age because they take better care of themselves. Optimists believe good things will happen in the future because they have some sort of control over them."

The people around you influence whether you have a positive or negative outlook on life. Surround yourself with friends who will elevate your state of mind, not bring you down. Nobody likes a downer. You know that one person who constantly finds something wrong no matter what the situation. Optimists categorize things differently than pessimists. The way you view the world and your experiences significantly effects your mental health.

And don't be too modest or attribute your successes to luck. Research shows that rejoicing in your successes leads to a more optimistic outlook on life. It will keep you feeling younger, too. Positivity and happiness are linked to youthfulness, so being this way simply makes you seem younger.

I think these points are important to consider because not many individuals consider their mental or emotional health. It is just as vital to your overall health as staying in shape physically and eating right. Most people think of the physical aspect when it comes to health. When we are stressed with school and work, it is easy to overlook the way we feel. It's important to take a few minutes each day to relax by doing something you enjoy doing and want to do, not something you have to or should do. Read a book or magazine, write in a journal, go for a walk, play basketball, paint, or draw. Find a hobby that you like because it can a have a big impact on the quality of your life. When we're expected to accomplish a certain amount of tasks each day, taking time to focus on yourself isn't usually included. My point is that it should be on your priorities list.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

"Short White Coat"

There is a new blog called "White Coat Notes" and it's written by a Harvard University medical student named Ishani Ganguli. It was started on Tuesday, so it's in the very early stages. I found it under the Health & Fitness section of the Boston Globe. The Globe is promoting the blog on its website.

"Short White Coat is our new blog, written by first-year Harvard medical student Ishani Ganguli. A short white coat is the hip-length garment worn by medical students to signify their place in the medical hierarchy. Ishani's posts will appear here, as part of White Coat Notes. E-mail Ishani at"

Have Great Posture!

I found a really informative health blog at It discusses a wide range of topics from fighting stress to rebuilding your immune system.

A post about posture caught my eye. There are 8 important reasons to have great posture:

1. Portrays a better, more confident image
2. Breathing becomes easier and deeper
3. Improves circulation and digestion
4. Makes you look slimmer and younger
5. Your voice will sound better
6. Help your muscles and joints
7. Change your frame of mind
8. Healthy Spine

As I was reading the article I became very aware of my posture and tried to sit up straight. Many of us naturally have great posture, but if you're tall like me you may tend to slump over a little. After reading this post, I will definitely be more conscious of it and remind myself to sit up straight and tall.

According to 8 Reasons to Have Great Posture : "People are often asked to sit up straight. This rarely has permanent effect because by the time someone needs to be reminded to do so, their body has adapted to be more comfortable in the slouching position. When they attempt to sit up “straight” they actually tighten the already over-shortened frontal muscles and tendons and this causes restrictions in the ease of breathing volume; tightening these muscles even slightly to make oneself more erect causes tightness in the entire upper body and reduces the ease of deeper breathing."

Clearly, it doesn't look right if you're hunched over your computer or plate at the dinner table. I never considered the effect your posture has on breathing or the muscles in your body. Not slouching also promotes maintaining a healthy spine and back. This makes sense, but I guess I never considered this when someone says sit up straight or don't slouch. The most obvious reason to have good posture is because it looks better and portrays confidence. Sitting up straight can change your frame of mind as well. When we're happy we tend to sit up very tall. Next time you're feeling stressed or unhappy remind yourself to sit up straight.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

NEU Health Survey Results

Here are the questions and results from my health survey:

1. How many times a week do you go to the gym?

2. For how long do you work out?

3. How would you rate your level of fitness on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best)?

4. How long is the cardio portion of your workout?

5. Do you lift weights? How often?

6. Is it harder to workout during the winter months? Are you less motivated or does the cold weather stop you from going to the Marino Center? Why or why not?

7. Are you happy with your physical appearance? Do you think your body reflects your level of health?

8. Do you consider yourself to be in shape?

Four out of five students said they think they are in shape, but aren't completely satisfied with their physical appearance. The majority of students said they workout about three times a week, four or five times a week being above average. Most peoples' workout routines combined cardio and lifting weights. Average workout times ranged from thirty minutes to an hour and a half. Cardio was a dominating component in peoples' routines, but lifting weights was combined in some way.

Students said it is easier to be lazy in the winter because you don't have to worry about how you look in a bathing suit. We wear alot of clothes in the winter, especially here in Boston where it's cold! Others mentioned the location of the Marino Center as a determining factor in their gym habits or lack their of. Location and weather combined have a great influence in how often we force ourselves to walk to the gym. A ten minute walk in 20 degree weather isn't very appealing, but you just have to suck it up. We're only young once and so we might as well take advantage of being healthy and having alot of energy.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Negative Cultural Obsession

"Skinny 911"! The April 2, 2007 Life and Style cover is titled "Skinny 911." Pictured are very thin celebrities, once again harping on our society's obsession with weight and image. Carrie Underwood, Mary-Kate Olsen, Star Jones, and Nicole Richie are just a few examples. According to an article about Carrie Underwood, she was a size 14 in 2005 and now is a size 2 in 2007. Apparently people are questioning if she is becoming too thin. In my opinion, she looks healthy. Someone like Nicole Richie looks anorexic. She is 5-foot-1 and weighs 90 pounds. There is nothing wrong with being thin if you're naturally built that way, but when your bones are popping out there's something wrong.

On the other hand, whose to say what weight is healthy for her. My problem is the affect female celebrities have as role models on young girls and women in general. Every time you flip through a magazine the image of a perfect body is thrown in your face. Advertisements with flawless models are abundant. I don't think the public considers the fact that pictures can be edited and air-brushed. They can be misleading and portray an image that isn't real.

It is important to be healthy and be at a weight and fitness level that is right for your body. Just because you weigh 100 pounds doesn't mean you're healthy. When you're 11 or 12 years old you look at a picture of your favorite actress and think "I want to be like them." Today we hear stories about girls who are 9 or 10 years old and suffer from severe eating disorders. It's terrible. We live in a culture completely focused on looks and physical appearance. Realistically, looks will never be completely dismissed, but the issues women have with their bodies aren't improving. How are we telling girls to feel about their bodies? It isn't okay to starve yourself and their is more to life than how you look. You want to promote inner confidence and inner beauty. Kids are very impressionable and these skinny trends due influence the way girls view themselves.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

"Buried Alive"

"Those who hoard bear the weight of their mess plus a mental disorder only now being understood. Treatment programs are just beginning."
-Carey Goldberg, Globe Staff

Go to: for the full article.

The article "Buried Alive" was published in the Boston Globe on April 2, 2007 and touches upon a weird issue. I say that it's weird because I have never heard of such a condition before. The story profiles a man who refuses to throw anything anyway and has junk piled up in his bedroom. We're not talking about a messy person here. We're talking about someone who has to save everything. It is now believed this condition is a form of obsessive compulsive disorder which affect 1 % to 2% of the population. Not much is known about this mental condition, but mental health experts have labeled it as a legitimate disorder. People who suffer from this disorder are often seen as slobs or lazy, when their intent is genuine. They don't want to be wasteful. I have never heard of such a condition, but I would think that if you're entire bedroom has a two-foot high pile of garbage and junk that there is a bigger problem then a lacking desire to clean.