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Hooked on hooking up: the damages of hookup culture

Hooked on hooking up: the damages of hookup culture

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Red solo cups litter the ground as young hormonal-infused 20-year-olds shuffle into a house with strobe lights filling every dark corner of the bigger rooms. Students attempt to avoid the spills of sticky unknown substances as they make their way past groups of party goers.

Hazy conversations and nameless interactions fill the air from the front door to the bathroom line, where dozens of kids look to relieve themselves for the third time of the night. But none of this late night conversing compares to the kind of physical foreplay going on in the basement.

A man dressed in a flannel and khakis, eager for the night to go somewhere exciting, spots a girl wearing high wasted shorts and a crop top. She is alone and clearly not dancing with anyone… this is his opportunity. He inches behind her and slowly moves his hips with hers. It takes just one ambitious sway from the man against his female counterpart’s waist before they are in sync, linked together for the next couple of songs.

“Casual hookups are such a big part of the social part of college,” said sophomore Will Reider.

Well known to incoming freshmen, hookup culture holds heavy weight in the social pressures that accompany students enrolled at universities.

“It’s an inevitable part of college as well as our generation,” Rieder said. “People go out, knowing they aren’t going to find a boyfriend or girlfriend, just have some fun.”

The concept of dating changes from high school to college—suddenly relationships are stressful, taking up time and keeping people from the “college experience.” Hooking up can provide an opportunity to fill the void for physical pleasure while rooting out the issue of emotional commitment.

“There is a lot more dishonesty when it comes to hooking up,” Rieder said. “People will say or do anything to get with someone. If you want to go out with someone, you need to be honest and some people don’t want that.”

So why does the mentality of sexual freedom change so much when welcome week rolls around? Stephanie Amada, a faculty member in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures at Michigan State University, has conducted extensive research on hookup culture and its enablers and consequences.

“Alcohol is the obvious one, [hookup culture] wouldn’t exist without it,” Amada said. “I believe a vast majority of hooking up takes place when it’s present.”

This liquid courage is a common trend among late-teen and early 20 year olds.

Amada said she believes alcohol provides people with the bravery to approach someone they think is cute.

“Some drink it intentionally so when they find themselves in the process, it’s okay,” said Amada. “They feel less inhibited and use it as an excuse.”

In addition to alcohol, Amada believes there to be a much bigger less obvious influence surrounding the lives of sexually active students.

“The media is the biggest one,” said Amada. “A lot of TV shows give the message that [hookup culture] is the norm and expected kind of behavior.”

Amada also finds the availability of tools such as plan B and condoms seem to be emphasizing what the media and alcohol already say is okay. Universities may not want to promote the culture, but they still retain a responsibility to reiterate practicing safe sex. It’s almost like posting on every dorm room: “Don’t do it, but if you do, use these.”

“They’re everywhere, ever-present,” said Amada. “They are being given the message it’s okay because of how readily available.”

A common theme that trails many random sexual crusades students embark upon is the promise of anonymity. When two kids meet up on the dance floor, this is very likely a spontaneous meeting between two unknown parties.

“Remaining anonymous is important for people hooking up,” said sophomore Alicia Geniac. “No one has to know. People can get drunk at parties, hook up then go home without ever knowing the person.”

Geniac also noted a darker side to a students attempt to remain unknown in their endeavors.

“Risk is created with people meeting on Tinder,” she said.

The smartphone application has been a contributing factor for anonymous hookups. After making an account featuring only their first name and five of their favorite self-flattering photos, users can swipe right or left on profiles of the preferred gender they are interested in meeting.

There aren’t many assumptions that can be drawn from ones profile besides their looks and the short bio they have the option of writing. If two people both show a mutual interest in one another, they can become “matched” and a message thread opens where they can get to know each other further.

“A barrier is created that I don’t think people mind having,” said Geniac. “It makes it easier and there are fewer pressures for it to go anywhere. But it’s still very dangerous.”

This barrier has led to ample opportunity for anyone seeking out an exclusively physical relationship. For some, the consequences are minor after a hook up.

“One of my frat brothers had been with a girl the night before when we saw him walking around the house,” said Rieder. “He looked like he had been attacked by a vampire just be looking at the purple bruise on the side of his neck.”

Facing the uglier side of this culture, there are plenty of chances for these kinds of engagements to make a student regret everything they had done in the recent past.

“There was a first year student who got pregnant by the first two weeks of college,” said Amada. “She had been with three different guys and therefore didn’t know who the father was.”

In truth, many don’t consider a potential pregnancy or colorful hickey being the result of the night. Students in the heat of passion, wrapped up in each other with alcohol buzzing in their brains and promiscuous thoughts traveling their minds, there isn’t much else teenagers are going to consider.

“We have become a more openly sexualized generation,” said Geniac. “Now people are more shy about asking people on dates, less about physical activity. It’s coming first, the physical activity is more common, less get to knowing.”

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Mono — What is it and how to identify it

Mono — What is it and how to identify it

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Mononucleosis is commonly nicknamed the “kissing disease” on college campuses. As it turns out, the name isn’t that far from the truth.

“I always hear about people who say they got mono in college,” said human development and family studies freshman Claire Lynch.

The seemingly elusive illness is transmitted through the exchanging of saliva – which includes sharing drinks, eating utensils, lipstick or lip gloss—and yes, even kissing. Its symptoms vary in commonality from person-to-person, making it difficult to identify.

“Typical symptoms of infectious Mononucleosis include fever, sore throat, swollen lymph glands in neck and fatigue,” said Dr. Suman Kashyap, Associate Director of Clinical Affairs from Olin Health Center at Michigan State University.

Kashyap said mono is most common in young adults starting at age fifteen. The illness can be erratic on a college campus where the average age group ranges from 17 to early twenties.

The earliest indicators include fever, nausea or loss of appetite and headaches. The appearance of these symptoms ranges from four to six weeks after initial exposure, according to a brochure from the American College Health Association, which is given to students at Olin Health Center following a diagnosis of mono.

Michigan State senior Lauren Starr has been experiencing symptoms of mono for about five weeks. She described the illness in one word—exhausting.

“My worst symptoms have been my extreme exhaustion and fatigue as well as the symptoms I experienced just after getting diagnosed, which included a persistent fever, sore throat, and swollen glands in my neck and spleen,” said Starr.

Starr said that mono has kept her from carrying out her normal routine. Her biggest battle—not being able to be physically active.

“I have not been able to work out which is something that I am used to doing every day,” Starr said. “There is potential for the spleen to rupture if it is hit or aggravated when someone has mono, which can be life threatening if it were to rupture.”

Dr. Kashyap reinforced Starr’s statement, saying it is a physician’s recommendation to wait at least four to six weeks after initial diagnosis before continuing with normal physical activity.

When it comes to a full recovery, not many medications are able to combat the illness—it takes more than a simple prescription to recover.

“Maintenance of adequate fluids and nutrition is important,” Dr. Kashyap said. “It is advised to get extra rest, but bed rest is unnecessary. Some medications may be required only if complications develop.”

Olin Health Center sees an average of 180 to 200 cases of mono in a year. It doesn’t occur more frequently in one season over another, so transmission of the illness can occur year-round.

According to the American College Health Association, if you have symptoms that are similar to those stated above, it might not mean you have mono, but it is encouraged to see a health care professional to be evaluated.

“Mono has affected every aspect of my life and I can’t wait until I am back to normal health,” said Starr.

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Stay healthier during this winter’s cold months

Stay healthier during this winter’s cold months

You probably already know you should get a flu shot, stay home when you’re sick and bundle in layers for your long trek to class in the snow. But here’s a few more things you could be doing to fight off winter’s nasty side effects and make you healthier during the cold.

Limit hot showers

Sorry folks–we know cooler temperatures can make long showers in the hottest water you can get sound extra appealing, but the short-term comfort can lead to long-term dry skin. Extremely hot water can strip away your skin’s natural oils, making it feel dry and flakey. Dry skin leads to cracked skin. That being said…

Moisturize!

Dry skin is one of the biggest pet peeves for many people during the winter months (those days with a 20 degree wind chill don’t exactly bode well for healthy skin). If you feel like your skin is taking a beating every time you step outside, it’s time to moisturize. The two places most likely to become a hassle are your hands and face, but consider getting separate lotions. Some body lotions are too heavy for the delicate skin on your face, which can lead to breakouts. And if you’re not a fan of cracked, bleeding lips, it’s time for you to make lip balm your best friend.

Wash your hands. Please.

Stocking up on hand sanitizer to stay healthy? Then you’ll really want to add a hand lotion to the mix. Antibacterials are great for fighting cold and flu germs, but it can dry out your hands like crazy. Good old soap and water is sometimes more effective when it comes to staying healthy.

Speaking of cold and flu…

At the risk of sounding like a nagging mother, you should really be drinking water. And yes, we’re talking a few glasses a day. You may not be as thirsty as you are in the warmer months, but staying hydrated helps you ward off illness and makes you look better physically (it helps you look less tired and have better skin). You may already know that alcohol dehydrates you, but coffee and tea (anything with caffeine, really) have the same effect, so try to have a glass of water with every glass of your favorite pick-me-up.

Use a humidifier.

The cold air outside wreaks havoc on your skin, but the heat indoors can make waking up with a dry, sore throat a common occurrence even when you aren’t sick. Solution? Consider using a humidifier. It adds moisture back into the air, which keeps you feeling hydrated and more alert. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to use, and quiet enough that you’ll hardly notice them when you’re sleeping.

Static, shmatic.

Good news – your skin isn’t the only part of your appearance that can take a hit during the winter. Hair has a tendency to dry out, frizz and face more static than a balloon in a science experiment. Much like your skin, the way you take care of your hair can make a huge difference. If you can manage, try to cut back on heat-treating your hair with straighteners and blow dryers (they’re bad for your hair year round anyway). In the colder months hair gets weaker, meaning brittle hair is more likely to split or break. Consider using a deep conditioning treatment to restore natural oils and moisture, and try to cover hair with a hat or scarf out in chilly temperatures.

Don’t let the weather overwhelm you.

Stress levels, along with anxiety and depression, skyrocket in the winter months. Mental health is just as important as physical health, so if you find constant snow and grey skies seeming to drain you of energy or you feel like you’re suffering form cabin fever, make time to exercise. Whether in a gym, with friends, or in a class, staying active gives you more energy and can significantly improve your mood. Similarly, making an effort to not go overboard on comfort foods is wise – they’ll make you tired and can result in weight gain, neither of which do much for stress.

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An exploration of online dating

An exploration of online dating

The Internet cracks me up.

The same piece of technology that drove us to seclusion has us desperately begging on our hands and knees to help aid our search for companionship. There are nearly 54,250,000 single people in the U.S. and 41,250,000 of those singles have attempted online dating, and only 20% of online daters wind up in relationships. Even more astonishingly, the online dating industry annually rakes in a whopping $1,249,000,000.

Yeah, that’s right—online dating corporations have found a way to capitalize on our fear of loneliness. Genius.

Over the past month I signed up for several online dating apps popular among young adults to see what all the hype was about. Could a computer really match me with my potential “soul mate”?

It actually made me feel a more disconnected from myself, and in turn, disinterested in the women that I had been matched with. Now, I don’t want to lead you to believe that I’m too “good” for online dating, or that it is not a useful tool, because Lord knows I need as much help as I can get in the dating department. The whole thing just made me feel a little phony.

The girls on the receiving end cannot smell the overflowing garbage in my apartment, or witness the mound of dishes in the sink accompanied by the dozens of empty beer cans scattered around. But, I can tell you what they do see: a carefully constructed collage of my most flattering pictures conjoined with a calculated description of my best qualities, all in order to prostitute an idealistic version of myself via the internet.

Tinder, one of the most popular dating platforms for college students, allows users to flip through pictures of singles in the area for potential hookups.

Tinder on an iPhone

Based on the persons looks, mutual friends, and shared likes on Facebook you rate them in a “hot or not” fashion with the click of a “like” or “nope” button. When someone also finds you attractive, Tinder alerts you of your new match where the two of you can start a conversation; mind you, both parties have the same goal in mind—sex.

A wise man by the name of Jack Kerouac once said, “Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk.”

Kerouac might as well have just been talking about Tinder. The hookup app is essentially a way to window shop for sexual partners with little indication of the individual’s true character or personality. On the other hand, if you are just looking for a quick roll in the hay, Tinder is the app for you.

Some of the more serious dating sites like OK Cupid are pretty good as long as you are honest and you know what you want out of the people you are matched with.

Ok Cupid asks you a series of personal questions, and based on your responses you are matched with people on a friend vs. enemy percentage. If you find someone interesting, message him or her and see what comes of it. They might be someone worth spending some time with.

The most absurd dating app on the market right now is called Carrot Dating. It is basically a sugar daddy/momma dating app. When a user stumbles across someone that is attractive, he or she may bribe that person with material objects. The more expensive the bribe the more likely he or she will go on a date with you.

Simple enough, right? Check out founder Brandon Wade’s explain of his app in more detail. It is offensive and unsettlingly hilarious. He compares women to dogs…

Don’t let my cynicisms get you down about online dating. It might actually be the future—just look at the movie “Her”. We might all end up dating our computers for a while. I just hope that online dating evolves to include more personality and less accepting bribes.

So if you’re into it, give it a shot—if it works for you, great. I sincerely wish you the best of luck on your cyber dating endeavors, but for now, I’m going to stay in the real world.

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Q & A with Personal Trainer Britani Birchmeier

Q & A with Personal Trainer Britani Birchmeier

Britani Birchmeier
Personal Trainer at Powerhouse Gym, East Lansing
Age 24
Lives in Lansing, MI

Britani Birchmeier

Photo courtesy of Britani Birchmeier

Britani has been working on her “better living” lifestyle for about 2 years. Before she became a personal trainer, she didn’t have as much dedication to eating healthy and working out. Now, she hasn’t skipped many days at the gym and has remained dedicated to her new ways of eating. Plus, she’s gained between 8 and 10 pounds of muscle. When Britani craves sweets, she chugs water to stay on track.

TBG did a quick Q&A with Britani to learn some of her secrets and see what helps her stay on track.

Q: What is your inspiration for the lifestyle change you made?

A: I was inspired by the need to live a long and healthy life, I have always played sports, so fitness has always been a passion of mine

Q: What’s the breakdown of your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack routine?

A: Breakfast: egg whites and oats. Lunch: fish, sweet potato and a vegetable. Dinner: spinach salad with grilled chicken, Snacks: apple with peanut butter

Q: What does your basic workout consist of?

A: About 45 minutes of cardio in the AM followed by weight lifting in the day

Q: How long did it take you to achieve your goal and what other goals have you set as you continue to work out and live a healthier lifestyle?

A: I am now training to compete in my first NPC competition (National Physique Committee, the largest amateur bodybuilding organization in the U.S.) so that is my first goal and my next goal will be to make it to nationals and so on. Always getting better, never settling!

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Two months later, are you sticking to your resolutions?

Two months later, are you sticking to your resolutions?

It’s not difficult to imagine the great results you could get from making an ambitious New Year’s Resolution.  As we approach springtime, many of us may end up changing those initial resolutions or straying from them altogether.

Photo credit: Julia Grippe

Whether you’re looking to drop a few pounds, save more of your money, or finally change up your unhealthy eating habits, it’s bound to be a challenging feat.  New Year’s resolutions may not typically be long-term for everyone, but there are a few tips and tricks to remember when trying to stick to a new and possibly drastic lifestyle change.

Start Small

More often than not, our New Year’s resolutions can seem so appealing that we jump into them headfirst without much planning.  If you’re truly serious about wanting a change, you should assess your own situation and be honest about what little choices have to be made along the way.

University of Michigan graduate Karie Whitman said she struggled less after college when trying to make lifestyle changes.

“After college, I started eating healthier and drinking less alcohol.  Out of that environment, it was much easier to get away from takeout, bar food, and going out with friends ‘for just a few drinks,’” Whitman said.

Whitman offers a piece of advice to “pick small goals you can deal with.” Being able to set small goals to reach and celebrate will keep you motivated and able to continue with your big change.

“I’ve learned that if you drastically change your fitness and health with some giant goal, it’s not going to be a lasting change.  You’re going to end up reverting,” she said.

Know The Difference between Healthy and Skinny

For those of us trying to fit into those skintight jeans and thin tank tops this spring, it won’t always be an easy transition—there is a difference between trying to get healthier and simply trying to get skinnier.  Crash diets, cleanses, and severely reducing calories won’t help in the long run.  If you’re looking to be a better version of yourself, be sure you’re aware of the distinction between the goals of healthy versus skinny.

MSU student Kate Bailey has struggled with that distinction in the past.

“I was so focused on ‘being skinny’—whatever that was—that I lost sight of what was most important: being healthy,” Bailey said.

She recently started working out last fall at the Spartan CrossFit gym and instantly fell in love.

“After spending a few weeks at CrossFit and being forced to set goals for myself, my mindset began to change,” she said.  “I eat foods that support my health and avoid those that don’t. I no longer focus on the superficial things, such as weight.”

Over her journey, she found that the best combination for success with a healthy lifestyle change is “pairing fitness that you really love with eating to better your health.”  These changes take time to become permanent, and you have the mental capacity to make them happen.

Willpower is a Muscle

Your willpower will get stronger with time as you learn to exercise it just like any other muscle in your body.  When you’re focused on a goal, remind yourself of it daily in order to make appropriate decisions.  Once you’ve learned to say “no” to that unnecessary purchase or double cheeseburger, you’ll feel stronger and less prone to those dreaded spending or eating binges.

At a certain point, we all feel powerless in our own lives when we go through those inevitable setbacks.  A study by Vanessa M. Patrick of the University of Houston and Henrik Hagtvedt of Boston College suggests that the way you talk to yourself or others about your goals will influence your ability to stay on course.

By using terms like “I don’t” rather than “I can’t,” you let yourself regain the power.  Saying “I don’t eat pizza” is different than “I can’t eat pizza.”  When you reinforce your choices like this, you’ll be more likely to stay determined and encouraged.

Change is a Present Activity, Not a Future Destination

You’re making choices with every single action in every second of the day.  Do you have homework to be doing right now? Are you on Facebook when you should be going to the gym? Not making that call is a choice.  You are the only person who can change yourself, and you are much stronger than you may give yourself credit for.

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How to get fit and stay fit in college

How to get fit and stay fit in college

You have three exams, two quizzes and four excruciatingly long work shifts before the weekend.  Your friends want to hang out, your parents are nagging you to come visit them and you’re trying to figure out just when you’re going to have time to work off all those quesadillas you scarfed down during “Mexican Day” at the cafeteria.

Getting fit is easier with the facilities provided at MSU, like IM West. Photo credit: Cayden Royce

Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.  Being a student and juggling multiple responsibilities sometimes leaves little time to dedicate to maintaining that ideal healthy lifestyle.  The good news is, no matter how little time you have to commit to working out, the effort you’re able to put in each day will help you reach all of your fitness and academic goals in the future.

Fitness experts agree that even 10 minutes a day can lead to a better tomorrow for your physical and mental wellbeing.  And let’s face it—we all have at least 10 minutes to dedicate to some vigorous exercise in order to get healthier.

The first step of any good fitness routine is to decide that you’re willing to work toward progress, not perfection. MSU kinesiology instructor Keri Morrison is a Certified Personal Trainer and has many years of experience dealing with the various struggles people face when trying to fit fitness into a busy schedule. Her advice is to plan ahead as much as possible.

Get Fit

“Let’s face it, life doesn’t always go as planned. Have a plan A and a plan B,” Morrison said. “If you planned on going for a walk and it is raining out, then stay inside and do a body workout of squats, lunges, push-ups and planks.”

Another struggle college students face is trying to find space to workout in our ridiculously small dorm rooms or tiny, off-campus, shared apartments.

Morrison suggests using body weight, tubing, air balls and dumbbells for those frigid Michigan days when you just can’t bear to be outside for anything other than commuting to classes.

But when the weather is tolerable and you could use a breath of fresh air to get your head out of the books and your roommate’s nose out of your business, it may be a good time to go for a walk or ride around campus. That bike ride, walk or jog around campus is much more enjoyable when you’re not focused on how late you’re going to show up to that 8 a.m. class from hell.

Eat Healthy

Another thing to remember while trying to get fit is that nutrition is important, too.  Even if you’re committed to an intense workout routine, if you’re doing keg stands and eating pizza every Thursday through Sunday, you’re not going to see great results.  Consider eating healthier and you will easily see improvements in your fitness progress and exercise endurance.

For many of us busy students with classes, jobs, and social lives, it may be hard to plan meals.  Instead of giving into vending machine temptation, certified yoga instructor Katie Clark recommends bringing healthy snacks for the long days away from home.

“Snacks such as dried fruit, nuts, apples, bananas, low fat popcorn, protein or fruit bars, breakfast bars, oatmeal packets, slices of green pepper–these are all quick and easy foods to eat on the go and they’re not too heavy to carry around,” Clark explains.

Make a Schedule

Clark also mentions that getting into a fitness routine is easiest when you can be consistent and avoid skipping days just because the timing doesn’t seem totally feasible.  For example, Clark points out “a half hour would be ideal, but I’ve learned not to skip it, even if you just have a few minutes.” She especially encourages students to try yoga in our small apartments or dorms.

“[Yoga] works awesome in small spaces. You only need the size of a yoga mat,” Clark said.

If you’re like me and have a pretty limited knowledge base of yoga poses and techniques, Clark recommends checking out a website called Yoga Tune Up. 

“Some poses can be done on a wall, so even a hallway works.  Also, seriously, some yoga poses can be done before you roll out of bed in the morning,” Clark added.

Exercising in bed? Why not! If you’re looking for some new positions to try (ahem…I’m still talking about yoga), Clark recommends ‘child’s pose,’ a lying down spinal twist, or a bound angle pose.  Luckily, all of these can be found online at the Yoga Tune Up website or at YogaJournal.com, in case you’re not familiar.

If you’re more concerned with using exercise as a form of stress relief or as a tool for maintaining your sanity during the semester, yoga with meditation is also beneficial.  Including meditation into your workout routine can be awesome for your mental health.

Clark explains that even if it’s only 2-5 minutes before walking out the door to sit in silence and focus on breath, meditation can really help calm you down and prepare for the day.  You may also be interested to know that regular exercise can improve your grades.

So we can get in shape AND get a 4.0! That’s the dream. A study by Saginaw Valley State University in 2010 reported that students who exercised vigorously seven days a week had G.P.A.’s that were, on average, 0.4 points higher than those who didn’t exercise.  That’s quite the incentive to change up your routine, right?

Living a healthy lifestyle can help you look fab in those party dresses and help you land on the Dean’s list.  Of course, it won’t happen overnight, but we’re all capable of positive change. Every single one of us has the drive to make a positive change in the world and with themselves. After all, we are Spartans.

But if you’re too focused on the lack of time you can dedicate to working out, Morrison reminds us: “If you only have 10 minutes per day, that is better than nothing! It all adds up to a healthier you!”

 

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The Quest for Gluten Understanding

The Quest for Gluten Understanding

As I sat in a dining hall picking at my blueberry muffin, I was staring directly at the gluten-free pastries located not far from where I was seated. Out of curiosity, I ditched my poor little muffin and tried one of that pastries, I had heard, could help with weight loss. While I was chewing the sugary dough, I thought about all the ways I’ve attempted to eat healthier, and maybe even lost some weight, when it occurred to me: I’ve never really understood the diet fads that come and go.

Photo credit: Julia Grippe

Why did I decide I wanted to try the gluten-free diet now?  My obsession with the next, best, healthiest diet is something I haven’t exactly pursued with total commitment. I slammed that little ball of carbs and sugar into the closest trashcan and decided I needed to do some research.

Why the hell am I already trying to rid my diet of gluten when I barely know why it’s supposed to be so bad for us?

First things first, what is gluten? According to Olin Health Center’s nutritional specialist Ronda Bokram, gluten really isn’t all that bad for people who are not allergic.  Bokram described gluten as a type of protein found in products such as wheat, rye, barley and common grains that we eat every day.  That doesn’t sound so scary now, does it? I was also reassured that there’s no reason to eliminate it.

“There is no health benefit from eliminating gluten if you don’t have a gluten intolerance,” she said. “The only disadvantage of having gluten in your diet would be if you had Celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity—you wouldn’t feel very good if you consumed it!”

Now, just because there’s a logical explanation for a gluten-free lifestyle doesn’t mean that the uninformed will stop following the trends of celebrity dieting.  Surely I wasn’t the only impressionable college-aged girl to see those photos of Miley Cyrus’ new bod and exclaim an audible “Daa-aa-amn!” After finding out she had given up gluten, there was no need to find out why—I was following this trend even if I didn’t know why.

MSU cafeterias offer gluten-free products. Photo credit: Andrea Raby

Many experts agree with the senselessness of this diet. In fact, back in April when this trend was brought to my attention, USA Today reported about the message this diet was sending to teens.

Registered dietitian Heather Mangieri said, “Though Cyrus did not explicitly say the gluten-free diet helped her lose weight, that is the message fans are likely to take away—and it’s bogus…We actually see people gaining weight on gluten-free diets.”

Why is that? Mangieri went on to explain that to make up for loss of taste, many gluten-free cookies and breads add more fat and sugar. Gaining weight certainly wasn’t my plan, but I fell right into the trap when I traded my blueberry muffin for a gluten-free one.

But giving up gluten may not be the real reason this diet works so well for some.  It may be the addition of fruits, veggies and lean proteins into their diet to compensate for the lack of wheat products they’re replacing. Janice Harte from the MSU’s department of Food Science and Human Nutrition agrees.

“If you avoid gluten, you might decrease your consumption of some foods that are carbohydrate-based and may contain a lot of sugar and/or fat. So that may be a secondary benefit,” she said.  “However, these products […] do not taste as good and are usually more expensive.”

So, my feeble attempt to switch one brand of junk for another was not going to get me very far with any of my health goals. In fact, it may have even set me back!

Fad diets have come and gone, and I’ll be the first to admit I’ve tried my fair share.  I’ve tried many, even the ridiculously unenjoyable lemonade cleanses that promote body detoxification and weight loss (a.k.a. starvation).

But one thing that is starting to become clearer to me is that you’ll never truly gain any health benefits from “dieting” a certain way for a short period of time.  These changes have to be permanent and truly reflective of a healthy, balanced and nutritional diet.

So instead of thinking about gluten as an unknown unhealthy substance, maybe those of us without a gluten intolerance should simply be happy we can eat it without getting sick.

As Bokram put it, “Those who truly are celiac, for example, would probably love to have the option to eat regular pasta.”

So if you don’t need to eliminate gluten, instead pursue the classic nutrition plan we’ve been taught since we were little: moderation, balance and FINISH YOUR VEGETABLES!

 

 

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PDA: How Much is too Much?

PDA: How Much is too Much?

By Lauren Walsh

As I was sitting on the CATA bus the other day, a couple sitting next to me decided that it was the appropriate time to have a make-out session. Considering that I had just finished taking a terrible exam and felt somewhat under the weather, watching them exchange saliva made me feel as if I was going to regurgitate lunch. It’s understandable that Valentine’s Day has passed months ago, which may have an influence on all this public display of affection, but I also believe that there is a perfect time and place for everything. Whether it is, thanking your girlfriend for that amazing dinner, or showing your boyfriend how grateful you are for that obnoxious red hearted bear, this display of gratitude should have some kind of physical limit in public areas.

This is hard for me to say because I have always been a fan of PDA. I still believe that life is too short to not show somebody your love or affection, but I think that out of respect to the rest of us, there should be some ground rules. It’s as if the person you were sitting next to in class decided to let out flatulence without any warning or remorse; they decided to do it because they felt that it was important to them despite the olfactory damage inflicted. They’re ultimately the kind of person that will do that at a wedding or funeral, and while to some this may be disrespectful and shameful, others take pride in their public display of gas; similar to how others take pride in their PDA.

Although passing gas in public may be considered a funny quality, it exceeds the limit of proper social behavior, like PDA. People should take into consideration that when they’re in public, they can still act like themselves while respecting others. Otherwise we would live in a vulgar society, where people wouldn’t care about their fellow human beings; PDA should still exist, but with boundaries. Such as, how people view food superstitions like the five- second rule, where if their food drops on the floor, they have five seconds to pick it up before it gets contaminated with bacteria. This principle should be applied to PDA in the sense that, people should have a “ten-second rule” of having a make-out session. If I am on a thirty minute bus ride, I sure as hell do not want to see a reenactment of a love scene from the movie The Notebook, on my way home.

“PDA should be displayed appropriately, as if you were a parent in front of your children. Making-out for a long period of time in front of your children is as unsuitable as if you were to do it in front of others,” stated political science student, Leiana Monkman.

If you’re a passionate person, it’s easier to say that you’ll limit your practice of PDA rather than to actually do it. It’s not as if every time you go to kiss your boyfriend or girlfriend you’re going to time that kiss, its more about being aware of where you are at the moment and taking it into consideration. Personally, being passionate is one the best qualities somebody could have, but knowing where and how to display it makes it more admirable. When researching what others thought about PDA, I came across the public display of affection quiz at Gagirl.com and found it to be pretty accurate and amusing; here are some of the questions:

Is it ever okay to PDA in church or synagogue?

  • Never
  • Maybe
  • Every time you go.

At the movies, you sit:

  • In the middle row, in the center to get the best view.
  • Anywhere you can sit together and not get a neck cramp.
  • In the back row, nice and private!

And my favorite…

At a party Saturday night, you two spend how much time “upstairs” together?

  • There was an upstairs?
  • Maybe twenty minutes.
  • There was a party downstairs?

If you answered C to every question, Gagirl.com states, “Think twice before groping each other. You may be making everyone around you feel uncomfortable. Be especially careful in such public spaces as church or businesses, where it is taboo for intense PDA. We suggest you tone it down a few notches.”

So next time you’re in a class or on the bus with your girlfriend or boyfriend and they’re looking especially good that day, try to restrain yourself. Show them a preview and let your partner see the movie in a private place. Like I’ve stated in my previous article, “Patience is a virtue.”

The longer you wait to you let out your passionate side to your loved one, the more exhilarating it will feel when you finally have the right moment.

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Rough Saturday Night? The Day-After Solutions

Rough Saturday Night? The Day-After Solutions

By Lauren Walsh

It seems like you’ve been asleep for days. Waking up on a Sunday morning in your own bed is an admirable achievement and waking up somewhere else is well, surprisingly standard. Although waking up in a foreign place such as your sister’s front yard or best friend’s bed may be typical, it’s foremost unfortunate. Waking up not remembering or regretting what happened the night before leaves an aching feeling of discomfort along with a throbbing headache which acts as a constant reminder of “wtf did I do last night?” In these circumstances, vitamins and fluids may cure the physical aspects of a hangover, but the emotional damage is left untreated and therefore requires immediate remedies.  The following five solutions may help relieve that lingering doubt:

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1. Phone a friend, find out what happened. When waking up the next morning having no recollection of the night before, the best way to actually get over it is to first find out what happened. Hopefully those questions will be directed towards friends rather than parents, because there are just some things parents shouldn’t know. Getting the facts of what happened the night before alleviates that sense of anxiety and allows you to learn things about yourself that you thought you were incapable of. Such as taking ten shots of tequila or doing a headstand on the kitchen table. Among these remarkable breakthroughs, you might also discover some downsides of last night such as your wallet being missing or that you broke up with your partner after two years of dating. Regardless if the news is bad, any news at all is good news, and that’s why it’s crucial to find out what happened.

2. Check your inventory; make sure you even have a phone to be able to call that friend. When the events of last night unfold, it’s vital to check every pocket, purse, room, and car to make sure that you have your three essentials: wallet, keys, and phone. These items will not only alleviate that hangover stress but will provide a sense of truth to that feeling of uncertainty. Such as you may wonder why you only have two dollars in your wallet after a fifty withdrawal from the bank. Well, my friend, you may have been very friendly last night and bought your friends (or even strangers) several rounds of drinks. Even though you are now broke, look at the plus side, you have random new numbers in your phone and are ultimately a very giving person, so I applaud you. Also, among those new numbers, you may find those seven digits from that girl or guy that you chatted up to last night. This may be a complete exaggeration but calling strangers never hurt anyone. Nevertheless, having those belongings will help cure that emotional damage of a hangover.

3. Apologize, if necessary. After finding your phone, or commendably having it all along, use it to call anyone that you may have injured or insulted last night. Whether you drunk dialed or ran into your ex-boyfriend and called him an asshole or punched someone in the face because you felt like it, an apology is obligatory. For many people, saying “I am sorry” is like facing the death penalty, but if you know or find that you did wrong to others, be that honest Spartan I know you can be and man up to your mistakes. Not only will this help resolve any issues between you and that person, but will help clear that guilty conscious from last night’s calamities.

4. Do penance. If the apology to your friend didn’t suffice then taking them out to lunch or doing their laundry may get you one step closer to forgiveness. You know this always worked when you got into trouble with your parents, so make up for those mistakes by spoiling your friend a little. If a self-directed apology is necessary because you feel so ashamed of your actions or abuse of alcohol, then go do something for yourself. For example, if you drank too much and decided to shave only part of your head because it was hot outside (unlikely in this Michigan weather), go get a real haircut and maybe a massage while you’re at it. If you drunkenly decided to buy the taco twelve pack from Taco Bell at three AM and felt guilty about it in the morning then go for a run or lift some weights. These resolutions will offer a sense of comfort from the emotional damage of that Saturday night.

5. Get over it, and pretend it didn’t happen. So you worked really hard in trying to remember and find out what happened last night, now try and forget it. After making sure you have your entire inventory, apologized to yourself and others for being a complete waste of existence, and making up for it, now try to forget everything that happened. Don’t confuse forgetting those events from not learning from your mistakes. If you portray yourself as that obnoxious drunk, not only will you continue to have these regrettable hangovers and sense of insecurity, but no one will want to hang out with you.  Even though these five steps along with fluids and vitamins may cure that Saturday night disaster, be honest with yourself and recognize that it’s probably going to happen again. So, if none of these five steps work, slap yourself a little and grab a cocktail.

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