Category Archives: Environmental

Environmental wellness is an awareness of the state of the earth and the effects of your daily habits on the physical environment. It consists of maintaining a way of life that maximizes harmony with the earth and minimizes harm to the environment. It includes being involved in socially responsible activities to protect the environment. Although you may feel a bit overwhelmed with the numerous environmental issues, every little change you make does count. If everyone made individual adjustments in their life, the impact on the environment would be great.

Is THAT what You call Commitment?

Throughout your day, if you really think about it you commit to a lot. You commit to the outfit you’re wearing. You commit to wearing your seatbelt on the way to school/work. You commit to riding your bike or walking to work. You commit to your responsibilities at work. You commit to cooking supper or maybe choosing where to pick up something to eat. You commit to taking the dog for a walk or going to the gym. You commit to sleeping at night.

Do you think of it that way? Do you see your life as a series of choices to commitments you make?

Maybe I’m off… maybe your car is broken so you HAVE to ride your bike or walk. Maybe your favorite shirt is dirty so you HAVE to wear the other shirt. Maybe it’s raining out so you HAVE to find a different way of exercising. But really, don’t you still have a choice in committing to these things at a certain level?
I mean, you could call for a ride, you could pick your 2nd favorite shirt, you could embrace your exercising alternative… do you see what I mean?

I’m not saying that you need to walk around and high five everyone you pass on the street because you were “tasked” with picking up all of the dog poop at a recent volunteer event… but you could at the very least remain a pleasant human being. I think most people would agree that isn’t the best job in the world, but you are greatly appreciated for doing it. Pull up your big kid pants and put a smile on your face- after all, it’s only temporary!

There are other times when you choose to do things- like attend an after work event with coworkers. It’s up to you to be mindful and respectful of all of the others present with your conversation… meaning, you aren’t bashing those who chose not to come. And you aren’t negatively simmering over the fact that you showed up. You are simply there and enjoying whatever unfolds. Choosing to see the bright side of your choice and only worrying about yourself.

Commitment… what does it look like? In my mind, it looks strong. It looks reassuring. It looks positive. It looks attractive.

What does your commitment look like?

example

You are Allowed.

Dear Self,

Sometimes you push too hard. You forget to take a break for fear of failure. You let those silly voices tell you that ‘you are not worthy of rejuvenation because the person next to you must be working harder. You have to keep going. Even allowing one hour or one evening of rest will undo all of your efforts. Get up. Get going. Keep going’.

Do you ever find yourself feeling this way? It might be at work, or at the gym, or at your place of residence… this overwhelming sense of guilt for daring to listen to your body and take care of yourself by breaking for a nap to to watch your favorite show or read a chapter in your book. I do- like, all the time. I found myself in this predicament last week. The previous week at work had been pretty crazy and I don’t think I ever did recover. You know, because there’s always a house to clean, a dog to walk, clothes and dishes to wash… the list never ends. Every time I thought about sitting down I would feel like I was just wasting time.

I could feel my body telling me I better slow down “or else” on Monday, but once again ignored it; I had stuff to do!

And then it hit me. HARD. By mid-afternoon Tuesday I felt physically and emotionally exhausted. It hurt to sit. And think. And function. By the time I got home I was going back and forth from tearing up to yawning. All I thought about was taking the dog for a walk and picking up the house and finishing the dishes and cleaning off the counters and all of the other little things that I felt like I HAD to get done that night or risk total failure as a human. (I know, I know… totally ridiculous, right?!) But … my body had officially had enough.

So I stopped. I allowed myself permission and space to just sit, and then just sleep. After a 2 hour “dead sleep” nap plus a full nights’ sleep, I woke up the next day feeling human again.

In a go-go-go world, it’s easy to get caught up in a rough cycle that will eventually lead to breakdown. It’s important that we remember that the majority of people feel this way- that we are all “competing” for that “I’m the busiest person” trophy… and yet, you don’t win a prize for that.

Slow down.

Allow yourself to sit and enjoy life- whether it’s through a hobby, a phone call to a friend/family member, or even taking a little bit of time to catch up on your favorite TV show. From my experience, the police won’t show up on your doorstep because you chose to take care of yourself… and the dishes/clothes/messes will be there tomorrow.

How will you slow down this week?

slowdown

North Dakota is boring

I moved to Grand Forks, North Dakota a few years back from Wisconsin to take a job at the University of North Dakota and the one thing that I heard from many people (not everyone, but quite a few) is that North Dakota is boring.  Its flat prairie and there is not much to do in terms of outdoor adventures and at first glance that is true.  North Dakota is the Northern Great Plains, and yes it is flat for much of the state, however, I soon learned that North Dakota is home to Theodore Roosevelt National Park (TRNP).  Wisconsin doesn’t even have a national park (its got national forests, rivers, and state parks out the wazoo, but no National Parks)!  So over Memorial Day weekend i decided to take a road trip to the North Unit of TRNP and see what it is all about.

I left early in the morning to beat the “traffic” on Hwy 2 and after a very doable 6hr drive (I drive slow) I was entering Watford City.  Now up until that point I will say that all I saw was prairie, a few lakes, and the Bakken oil fields, but as I made my way 15 miles south of Watford City…BAM!!!  I was in the middle of North Dakota Badlands!  They literally came out of nowhere.

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Now the North Unit of TRNP is much smaller than the South Unit which is located 68 miles south and closer to Medora, ND, but I have to say the North Unit is underrated.  The first thing you see upon entering the park are the badlands formations and the layers of sediments.  The pictures do not do it justice, as there were numerous colors from blue-grey, orange, red, brown, black, and green.  There were also buffalo just hanging out in the campground.  I actually had 2 walk right through my campsite while i was putting some equipment away in my car.

The other great thing about the park is that even though it is smaller than the South Unit or Badlands National Park in South Dakota, it is also very intimate.  When hike the 36+ miles of trail you are scrambling over rocks and badlands formations, you are following in the footsteps of buffalo herds, you are climbing up hill through a juniper and ash forest, you are truly a part of TRNP, not just getting scenic overlooks.  It’s also nice that the North Unit is not crowded.  When I arrived on Thursday before Memorial Day there were 4 other groups in the campground and by the Sunday there was still 20 sites available.

The trails were very rugged which was a lot of fun and exhausting at the same time.. I hiked for almost 4 hours each day I was there and still did not see everything.  I also learned a lot from the Nature Trail leaflets on the Little Mo Trail and Caprock Coulee Trail (in my opinion the best representation of the entire park and it was only 4.4 miles round trip).  Did you know that there are 3 different varieties of sagebrush in the park and each has a unique fragrance?  I was only able to find 2 of them (Silver Sage and Big Sage), but sure enough they both had a different smell!

Another great thing about TRNP is that it is within spitting distance of the Maah Daah Hey Trail.  A 97 mile trail that one can hike, bike, or horseback ride on through the North Dakota badlands and rolling prairie.

North Dakota is boring?!?!? There is almost too much to do!  And for those that live in Grand Forks and a 6 hr drive is too long, Turtle River State Park is just down the road and Devil’s Lake just little bit farther.  Get outside and explore the wonders of North Dakota and the surrounding areas and if someone tells you that North Dakota is boring just tell them that they are just not looking hard enough.

Restoring Meaning

There seems to be a struggle between perceived expectations and reality in the wake of social media.

America just celebrated Memorial Day, and people seem to have different interpretations of what it means: a sign of summer, the perfect time to fire up the grill, invite your friends over, and hopefully bask in the sun vs. a time to remember our Fallen Soldiers and honor all those who gave and give so we could enjoy all of the freedoms we have today.  I see the same thing happening to Thanksgiving (overeating, parades, and football vs. being Thankful for life’s blessings), Christmas (presents, shopping, Elf on the Shelf, Santa, parties, decorations vs. Jesus being the Reason for the Season), Weddings (the “perfect dress,” over-the-top decorations, showers and parties before the party, invitations, flowers, pictures, food, music, attendants, schedules, presents, registries and favors vs. Celebrating the Love that has brought 2 people together into a Lasting Union), Easter (dressing up, Easter Bunny, candy, egg hunts, and more presents vs. Jesus dying for our sins to Save us)* and even Birthdays (pinterest-worthy recipes, decorations, and presents vs. Celebrating Life with loved ones).

Too many people are competing for the “biggest and best _(insert celebration here)_,” but seriously- what is it all for?

When I was in 3rd grade, we loaded up our family suburban with a bunch of friends and went to the Winnepeg waterslides and Old Spaghetti Factory to celebrate my Birthday. Do you know what I remember about that day? I remember the Border Patrol ripping the heads off of my brand new Troll dolls, probably checking for drugs. (If you don’t know what Troll dolls were- Google it. They were AWESOME!)

I can’t even tell you what I got for Christmas last year… but I do remember all of the awesome family gatherings- just sitting around and sharing stories and memories.

OK fine, I guess I’ll admit that there are times I remember a recipe or food from a holiday- like the almost-entire delicious popcorn cake I consumed at Easter this year; but to be fair, I’m kind of obsessed with food sometimes. 

Popcorn cake aside, my point is this: I think we can all do a better job of restoring- maybe even discovering- meaning in our celebrations. Stripping away the expectations to out-do the neighbors next door, to spend all of the money (or even more) than you have, to win the perceived invisible trophy among human beings for throwing the best celebration. Sometimes it stresses me out just thinking about all of the thought, time, and planning that went into some of the celebrations I’ve attended.

I’m challenging you in the next year: strive more for meaning than the perceived societal expectations. Take note of the warm fuzzies that come of just being with loved ones. Cut yourself enough slack to enjoy a celebration rather than stress over a timeline or making sure “the perfect memory” was made. Know that you’ve done a wonderful job. You’re doing a wonderful job.

I recently heard a story from a mom who had pulled out all the stops to give her daughter the BEST birthday party imaginable. A few months later she asked her daughter what the best part of the day was, to which the girl replied “shopping for last-minute supplies with you in the morning. I liked the ‘us’ time.”

simplify2What kind of memories are you making?

Will you join me in Just… Being?

*Full disclosure: I’m a Christian and believe in God and Jesus, so you may have other beliefs or celebrate other holidays. This is just my story. 

You still have a Choice.

When it rains, it pours… you know what I mean? raincloud

Like, when the clouds fill the skies for more than a day, people accidentally grab their grumpy pants when they get dressed in the morning. Without knowing it, they are claiming victims right and left- simply by forgetting to be kind. Or forgetting to be thoughtful. Or forgetting that we are all human and we all make mistakes.
You know what I mean?

It can be rough to survive one of those days. But then sometimes it happens for 2 days. Or 5 days. Or an entire week.
And at the end of each day you start to look forward to shutting out the world and hiding under the covers… and sometimes when your alarm goes off the next morning you plead with God that it’s actually Saturday and you forgot to shut your alarm off.

I’ve been there. Have you?

It’s really easy in those moments to slip into pity party mode and pass the negativity on to others… BUT… do you really want to do that?

You still have a Choice.

Just like so many other things in your day, you get to choose the path you’re going to take when the dust settles from the raincloud people. You can become one, or you can be the Sunshine- perhaps it’s what that person needs to flip the switch in their own world.

We’d be lying to ourselves if we said that we’ve never been raincloud people. I speak from experience when I say there have been days when I couldn’t stand myself. Sometimes I figure it out by myself, usually in the moment when I’m freaking out over a very minor thing- like having a total meltdown because my hairspray didn’t set correctly and I now look like I have bedhead. (Don’t lie- you’ve been there.) Sometimes I figure it out because other people let me in on the reality of my attitude. There’s a general rule in my house that my husband isn’t allowed to ask me if I’m crabby or call me crabby, because in all honesty that makes everything worse. But there are key phrases and words that alert me to the fact that I might just be a little hard to handle- like “are you tired?” “do you need to eat?” or simply “how was your day?”

Whether you figure it out on your own or find it out in the reactions or statements of others… You still have a Choice.

Upon hearing/figuring it out, you get to decide whether you’re going to sink into a deeper funk, making the world even more miserable, or you’re going to reset your attitude in that moment. I get it- it’s not always easy to “snap out of it.”. Try one of the following:

  • go for a walk/run, or do your own favorite exercise
  • deep breaths… remember that You still have a Choice
  • write down 3 things you are thankful for, and then spend a few moments thinking about those things
  • SMILE. at yourself in the mirror. at the strangers on the street. for no reason in particular- just fix your face
  • if possible, hug someone. the power of human touch is incredible
  • take a bath, read a book, meditate… something relaxing and enjoyable

I cannot promise you that these things are the magical cure, because remember: You still have a Choice. If you go for a walk but stew on all the crappy things your friend said to you that day, it might not be so effective. If you make your thankful list but follow up each thing with “BUT,” you missed the point.
Channel your mind into knowing that you are working towards the goal of happiness and contentment.

Of being Sunshine for others.

you are my sunshine colored

 

 

You still have a Choice today.
Make it a good one!

Team(at)Work

I’ve been out in the “Real World” now for almost 5 years (holy COW, how did that happen?!), and I’ve worked in a few different settings. I like to think that although I still have a lot to learn, I’ve figured out a thing or 2 about making a job something I look forward to doing. One reoccurring theme is Teamwork. As a self-proclaimed “NON-athlete,” the opportunity to be a part of a team makes me excited and interested.

How does someone “Join the Team” at work?

  • be reliable- deliver on the things you promise, show up on time, and be prepared
  • get to know your neighbor- I don’t just mean introducing yourself to your coworkers or sharing your tape dispenser on occasion; I’m talking about genuinely getting to know the people that you work with. Chances are, you will be spending a lot of time with your coworkers, especially when you get your “big kid job” You might as well enjoy them, right? Have lunch in the break room and talk about hobbies and interests. Perhaps you’ll find a new fishing buddy! and also along those lines…
  • take it outside- if your coworkers occasionally get together for fun activities, join them! Whether it’s a rec league sports team or trying out a new restaurant, getting together for fun can continue to help build camaraderie and trust in the workplace.
  • be flexible- especially if it makes a difference in a group project. Be willing to go the extra mile on occasion and step out of your norm for the benefit of all.
  • participate- you get paid to do a job, so be sure you’re doing that and more.
  • be committed- if you truly cannot be even remotely interested in the work you do or the place you work, it might be time to find something new. I got to fulfill my dream of being a “lunch lady” in college, and I learned so much just by being open-minded and committed to the work I was doing. I couldn’t believe how passionate those women were about each child that came through the line and each fruit cup served- truly inspiring and heart-warming.
  • R-E-S-P-E-C-T- if you want it, have it. simple as that.
  • use your ears AND your voice- be an active listener, meaning that you are just listening rather than thinking about all of the things you want to say. Speak up appropriately and contribute to the idea or conversation.
  • there’s only one trophy- remember that you all succeed or fail as a TEAM. Give credit where credit is due, and stay humble.
  • have their backs- Support is a biggie. And just like respect, it goes both ways.

Now I realize there will likely be aspects of any job that you find a bit more challenging and off-putting… but you can choose to make your way through those things with a positive attitude.

So…is your name on the Workplace Roster?

Writing21

Let It Go without Letting It Go

psst… Did you get the title? I guess I had to be a part of the cool kids and reference the latest craze. Truthfully- I haven’t seen the movie yet. I only heard John T butchered Idina’s name. (And to be fair, I would’ve probably said something similar. Wouldn’t you?)

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. Mostly about weight loss, self image, and the journey that I’ve been on for a dozen years (WOW- it’s been that long?! I feel old). When I was 16, I tipped the scales at over 300 pounds. I didn’t see a “big person,” and it was honestly confusing to me to hold up my clothes and accept the fact that I not only filled them, but I challenged many of the seams’ thread power.

As I said, those days are long gone. A lot of hard work and much better lifestyle choices have helped me maintain my 100+ pound weight loss. I’d be lying if I told you that it has been easy. I think at some point it did get easier, but I.still.struggle.every.day. If I’m not finding it hard to say no to a pound of peanut M&Ms, I’m daunted with the task of looking in the mirror and not only accepting, but loving my loose skin and remnants of stretch marks.

Did you know that we all have bad days? Mine might look different than yours, but even the most successful people run into challenging moments that sometimes end in defeat.

The age of social media has somewhat muted our ability to accept that it’s OK to be anything less than perfect. There’s a funny picture I recently saw that has a couple happily posing while on a hike; underneath was a picture of them fighting with the title “3 seconds earlier.” Social Media allows us to share our highlight reel with the world… and if you’re anything like me, it also creates an unnecessary perception of pressure to continue “one upping” yourself or those around you.

A few weeks ago, I sat and at a pound of peanut M&Ms. Yes, an ENTIRE POUND. By myself. Just watching tv, relaxing (OK- well maybe it was a combination of stress and emotional eating a little bit, too). Anyway. When my hand hit the bottom of the bag, I was MORTIFIED at what I had done. I couldn’t believe that “I was so weak”…  in my head there were much harsher adjectives I was using in reference to my moment of weakness. Let’s just say- I was not being a nice person, and I went from a moment of pure bliss and enjoyment in the form of sweet and salty crunchiness to complete defeat and horror.

The next day I woke up still mad at myself and began plotting the things I would HAVE to do to make sure that pound of peanut M&Ms didn’t end in a 100 pound weight gain. I would HAVE to spend at least 5 hours at the gym. I would HAVE to eat one meal and nothing else. I would HAVE to not see anyone because they would surely smell the chocolate and peanuts seeping out of my pores…

HOLD UP. STOP THE BUS. 

Do you hear how ridiculous that all sounds? Reflecting back on it, I do! At the time it seemed very rational though. (And for the record- I did my normal time at the gym and ate my normal 2 meals and 14 snacks, and I saw several friends/family members. haha!)

Here’s the thing. Sometimes you’re going to have a moment of weakness. A bad day. A tough decision. And sometimes the best option won’t be the one that you choose to make. But that’s OK. Just as important as it can be to make a good choice, it is equally as important to forgive yourself for being human. As I read in a book the other day,

“Don’t let a Lapse become a Relapse.”

As both an emotional and stress eater, I know all-too-well how easy it is to fall off the tracks. One “bad” bite can lead to a “bad” meal can lead to a “bad” day can lead to a “bad” week… and pretty soon I’ve given up the gym and my 10 heads of lettuce a week.

Now I’m working on a different mindset. For too many years following my weight loss, I had a “good or bad” mentality. Everything was black and white.
Good= lots of exercise, fruits, vegetables, no fat, smaller clothing sizes…
Bad= ice cream, peanut M&Ms, not exercising, a plateau or increase in clothing sizes, marshmallows…

I was missing out on SO.MUCH. and it finally got to the point that I felt deprived and was ready to rebel by eating every “Bad” thing in sight. I’ve since learned to Let it Go once in a while… to enjoy a nice treat. I put in a lot of effort into eating healthy and exercise.  And now I’m working on loving what I see in the mirror. After all, I’ve worked really hard for the body I have for a really long time, and considering what I’ve put it through, it DESERVES love!

Think about your own life. Do you allow yourself to fail lovingly? Are you willing to forgive yourself, learn from the situation, and move on when things don’t happen according to plan?

Spring into Seasonal Fruit and Vegetables

It is hard to believe that spring is here (literally). With the start of a new season means different fruits and vegetables are in season as well. As far as fruits and vegetables go, spring is considered to be March, April and May. When a fruit or vegetable is in season it means is at its peak of flavor or harvest. Not only will the flavor be optimal the price will be the cheapest. Next time you head out to the grocery store be sure to try some of the following items that are in season right now!

strawberriessnow peasmango

Remember, you can enjoy the taste of any fruit or vegetable year-round by using fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and 100% juice – it all counts!

Apricots 
Artichokes 
Asparagus 
Barbados Cherries
Belgian Endive
Bitter Melon
Broccoli
Butter Lettuce
Cactus
Chayote Squash 
Cherimoya
Chives
Collard Greens
Corn
Fava Beans
Fennel
Fiddlehead Ferns
Green Beans
Honeydew
Jackfruit
Limes
Lychee 
Mango
Manoa Lettuce
Morel Mushrooms
Mustard Greens
Oranges 
Pea Pods
Peas
Pineapple
Purple Asparagus
Radicchio
Ramps
Red Leaf Lettuce
Rhubarb 
Snow Peas
Sorrel
Spinach
Spring Baby Lettuce
Strawberries
Swiss Chard
Vidalia Onions
Watercress
White Asparagus
 
limesartichokeswiss chardpineapple

Reference: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.com

 

Kick the Butts’ Butt

On Wednesday, March 19th, anti-tobacco activists everywhere will be acknowledging the annual “Kick Butts Day.” Kick Butts Day is a day focused on standing up and speaking out against both tobacco use and the tobacco industry. All across the world, people will be holding all kinds of different anti-tobacco related events.  The primary goal of most of these events is to encourage current tobacco users to quit using tobacco for good. whatisincig

The benefits of quitting tobacco use are numerous, and it is important to investigate the options out there for helping you quit if you choose. Here at UND, there are plenty of resources. At the Health and Wellness Hub, located in the Memorial Union, users will find “Quit Kits” available.  Users can also check out Student Health Services to discuss the process of quitting tobacco, and perhaps get a check up to see how at risk you might be for tobacco induced health problems. Across North Dakota, the Department of Health has also established the “ND Quits” campaign.  Users interested in quitting can check out the campaign’s website or dial the toll free number to get access to free resources available for quitting.

The good news is that all across the U.S., tobacco use is decreasing. Compared to 42% of the population reporting regular tobacco use in 1965, in 2012, the percentage was reported to be 10%. (kickbuttsday.org) So, if you’re interested in quitting, please do your lungs a favor and check out these fabulous resources!

www.kickbuttsday.org (the official website for “Kick Butts Day”)

http://www.ndhealth.gov/ndquits/  (the official website for the ND Quits campaign)

1.800.784.8669 (ND Quits hotline)

701-777-2605 (UND Student Health Services)

Lettuce Eat Green

As I drove to work, I realized I had no visible green on so I quickly thought about what I could do to avoid being pinched all day (stick a green post-it note on my shirt? tell people they just can’t see my green? take a green sharpie to my skin? convince people my eyes are green?) . So far, I’ve successfully dodged each playful reminder of St. Patty’s Day.

Truthfully though? Seeing all of this green makes me hungry.
(Well, a lot of things have that same effect on me… but green really gets me.)

You see, I.Love.Vegetables.

If you opened my fridge on a Sunday night (the day I usually grocery shop), you might find an average of 10 heads of lettuce. Yes, TEN. (Please pick your jaw off the keyboard.) I bet I’m one of the few people that gets asked “Are you having a party?” every time I go through the checkout with all of my green goodness. Sometimes I’ll come up with different tall tales that I could tell the cashier to avoid telling them that they are actually just for me. Other times, I could not care less!

When I was 16 and 300 pounds, I could finish off a large Pizza Corner pizza by myself. A bag of Doritos or container of Oreos was about an hour’s worth of a TV show…. I guess my point is that my appetite has always been rather large.

I tell people that even though I’ve lost 100 pounds, my stomach hasn’t shrunk. Sometimes I tell myself that I’m going to work harder at portion control, but that usually ends by lunch time when I’m chowing down on my head of lettuce. My husband jokes that I can make anything into a salad.
And he’s right.

If you aren’t the most fond of vegetables, I speak from experience when I tell you that lettuce can be a great way to ease into this colorful, nutritious world of goodness. It is refreshing, crispy, and most kinds don’t carry too much flavor- a great way to “bulk up” a meal.

LETTUCE have some Fun:

  • Lettuce is a member of the sunflower family and was discovered as a weed growing around the Mediterranean.
  • Christopher Columbus introduced lettuce to the Americas.
  • In the United States, lettuce is the second most popular fresh vegetable. Americans eat about 30 pounds of lettuce every year. That’s about five times more than what we ate in the early 1900′s.

LETTUCE eat More!

  • Lettuce provides fiber and vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, potassium, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and copper.
  • The most abundant nutrient in iceberg lettuce is water (over 90%), so it can help to keep you hydrated as the temperatures go up (I mean, it’s bound to get warmer eventually).
  • The darker the green color is, the more nutrition the salad greens contain.
  • A head of Iceberg lettuce will last longer if you wrap it in a paper towel and place it in a plastic bag in your fridge.

To me, the best part about working with lettuce as an ingredient is the creativity involved. I have yet to find something that I do not enjoy on a bed of greens (I even invented a little dish I like to call “soup IN a salad,” and it is exactly what it sounds like- 100% delish!). While dressings can be a delicious addition, be sure to read your nutrition label, as the calories and fat add up quickly (thus defeating the purpose).

The weather is starting to improve and I think it’s all giving us a brighter outlook; a great time to start taking steps to feel better- inside and out. And as with all things, even baby steps add up! Have a Healthy, Happy GREEN St. Patty’s Day!

 Baby Steps

Source: http://www.extension.umn.edu

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