Revolutionize Your New Year’s Resolution: Tips for Weight Loss, Exercise, and Healthier Eating

Are you considering a New Year’s resolution of weight loss? Or eating healthier? Or changing your exercise routine? Revolutionize your body – and your resolution – using the tips below.

Start with the right perspective

Image “Hold the Sun” by Alexander Redmon at
  • Think of your body as an instrument instead of as an ornament. Be thankful every day for all of the wonderful things you can do such as dance, play, run, enjoy good food, and give hugs. Your body will continue helping you be healthy even if you don’t change a thing in 2018.
  • Love yourself. You and your body work hard, every day, to move through life. Acknowledge and be grateful for all of that goodness. Studies show that people who hold their bodies in high regard are much more likely to take good care of their bodies.
  • Change the messages you say to yourself. Identify the negative ways that you speak to yourself and make a decision to replace that self-talk with more realistic, loving, and positive statements. Tell yourself you are handsome, beautiful or strong, and mean it!

Fuel yourself, mindfully

  • When you eat, be mindful. Focus on your food. Pick one place to sit down and eat (ideally, at home). Eating while doing other things like watching TV or reading can lead us to miss our body cues such as being satisfied or feeling actual hunger (rather than a craving). Use the principles of intuitive eating to help with this – many are included in this article.
  • Listen to your body. Eat when you are hungry. Rest when you are tired. It takes some time to re-learn the ability to hear your body cues. You can pause in the middle of eating to ask yourself how the food tastes and how full you are feeling. Same goes with a workout or an end-of-the-day activity – give yourself permission to stop when you need a rest.
  • Choose foods that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel well. Incorporate nutrient-dense foods, foods that satisfy your hunger and foods that bring you pleasure. There is no forbidden food!
  • Balance your plate with the right proportions of food. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends the following:
    • Half of your plate should be filled with low-starch vegetables (like broccoli, asparagus or Brussels sprouts)
    • One fourth of your plate should have a high-protein food (like lean meat, poultry, fish, peanut butter, eggs or tofu)
    • One fourth of your plate should have grains (like rice or bread) or starchy veggies (like potatoes or plantains).
    • To round out your meal, add a glass of water or milk and a serving of fruit for dessert.
  • Consider using smaller portions. Keeping tabs on your portion sizes helps you eat a diverse array of foods because you won’t fill up on a plate-sized anything. Try using your hands! Like a handful of potato chips or blueberries or a fist-sized portion of pasta or mashed potatoes.

Move your body more!

  • Exercise to feel good and be healthy, not to lose weight or “make up for something you ate earlier.” Find fun ways to add more physical activity in your life, such as going for a walk with a friend or playing basketball with your roommate. Moving your body should be something you look forward to doing.
  • Move with your head held high. If you act like someone with positive body image and high self-confidence, the act will eventually become reality.
  • Rest. Sleep helps our body in a myriad of ways, like balancing your mood, appetite and energy levels (to name a few). If you struggle to sleep, check out some tips and info to help you sleep better.

Feel good.

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    Image “Self-Hug” by Evan Long, Flickr Creative Commons

    Focus on how you feel instead of how much you weigh. How much a person weighs depends on all kinds of factors, many of which are outside our locus of control such as genetics and the environment around us. Instead of focusing on whatever that scale says, focus on how amazing it makes your body feel when you eat nourishing food and move your body.

  • Surround yourself with people who are supportive of you and your body. These folks love you no matter what you look like or how much you weigh.

Doing the above in 2018 just might make you feel better about yourself and feel better overall.

Revolutionize your resolution! LOVE YOURSELF.

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: What fears are holding you back?

This post was originally written by Sara Stahlman.

Each of us has a “Hall of Fears,” things that limit us, that keep us from living our fullest lives.

  • For three minutes, write a list of things you are afraid of – mine begins like this, “I’m afraid of heights, of stumbling when walking in front of people, of death, of success, of not living my life fully, of snakes, of tight spaces, of getting cancer, or being sucked out of an airplane at 20,000 feet…”
  • Read over your list.  Some fears keep us safe.  Some just keep us small.  Which fears keep you from doing things you really want to do?  Circle those.
  • Fear is a learned behavior: For each of those circled fears, spend three minutes trying to describe where and how you learned it.
  • Then pick one and spend four minutes writing a short children’s story about unlearning that fear: How would you teach a child to not have that fear?

There is a powerful momentum that comes from anger, though it can be destructive as well.  For the next month, walk into your anger by recognizing what fear it represents.  When you feel angry – the meeting is starting late, the babysitter canceled at the last minute, your partner left dirty dishes in the sink – acknowledge the anger and challenge yourself to uncover the fear underneath it (I’m not taken seriously; I don’t know how to assert myself and people feel they can walk all over me; I haven’t made my needs well known and am afraid I’ll look selfish if I do).  Patterns will emerge that will help you identify the fears underlying your anger.  In that process, you may learn how to recognize the fears that underlie the anger of others too.

*Adapted from “Life is a Verb” by Patti Digh

Do I need to go to the doctor? Problem solved.

Less may not be more: I can never decide when and if I should go to a doctor. I tend towards a “less is more” approach with western medicine, hoping my body can fight away illnesses and muscle aches on its own. But after a few weeks of struggling against a health issue, I always wonder – “Am I a few days away from being better? Or is this a battle my body will only win with some medical intervention?” I have found the question of whether or not to seek medical care to be the most challenging part of health care.

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Workout Wednesdays: Prep for Your Workout

Do you ever get to the gym and feel somewhat clueless?  Working out isn’t as simple as just showing up and getting into your routine.  Whether you are new to the gym or a veteran, follow this plan to prepare for a workout.  It’ll help you avoid injury, perform your best and see results.

  1. Plan – What will you do at the gym?  Weights, cardio or a combination of both?  Come to your workout with a specific plan.  If you do, you’ll be less tempted to skip out the hard stuff.  If I wait to do my abs after my workout, sometimes I’ll just skip and go back to my dorm a tad early.  Know exactly what you will do and for how long at the gym.  If you’re like me, do your abs before your cardio.  Know which arm exercises and which leg exercises you’ll perform.  Know how many miles you will run on the treadmill or how long your set of sprints will be.  Be prepared!
  2. Fuel – As I’ve stated before, it is incredibly important to have a pre-workout meal.  Maybe “meal” isn’t the right word, but a snack with some carbohydrates is a great way to get your body ready for intense exercise.  Try some fruit, a granola bar or even some toast with peanut butter.  Carbs will fuel your body with the energy it needs to get through any sweat session.
  3. Warm Up – If you’re short on time, it can be tempting to skip the warm up.  Do not, I repeat, DO NOT skip this 5-10 minutes.  If you casually walk into the SRC and go straight into doing heavy squats or extreme sprinting, you can easily hurt yourself.  Skipping these few minutes could force you to skip the gym for months to recover from a major injury like a pulled hamstring or a torn ACL.  Seriously, it happens.  So just save yourself from injury and warm up your muscles prior to an intense workout.
  4. Stretch – You can either do dynamic stretches (like these fromRunner’s World – which help warm up your muscles while stretching them) or stretch after warming up your muscles with an easy walk on the treadmill or any light cardio.  Skipping your stretch session could lead to injury.  And, believe it or not, simply holding a stretch for 30 seconds prior to warming up could also damage a muscle.  It is important to warm up while stretching, like through dynamic stretches, or warm up slowly and then stretch after.
  5. Get Rest – Sometimes the best way to prepare for a workout is to skip one.  If you’ve been doing intense workouts everyday for a week, you should take a day of rest.  Your body needs to recover and rebuild.  You’ll come back to your workout the next day feeling better than ever.

Workout Wednesday blog posts are written by UNC Campus Recreation staff members. Each Wednesday we’ll be swapping blog posts with the Tarheel Tone Up blog so that our readers can view more diverse post topics that will benefit their health and wellness. Wednesday blog posts can be found both here and on

Workout Wednesdays: Get Your Yoga On!

Men, don’t let the title deter you—this is for you and the ladies alike.

I’m sure I’m not that much different from many of you when I say that when I came to school last year, I had never done yoga and I was pretty skeptical. I never really thought of it as a workout, and the picture of a woman sitting crisscross-applesauce style with her thumb and forefingers pinched together humming “Owmmmmm” was stuck in my mind. Why should I, or anyone for that matter, do yoga?

Image by Wikimedia Commons

I was walking across the lower quad on a Friday afternoon, finally done with class for the day and ready to be back in my dorm. I usually try to go to the gym for an hour every day, but as I walked, the weight of a long week and a heavy backpack pulling on my stiff shoulders were convincing me that I didn’t want to do anything except nap until dinner time. Back in my dorm room, I realized that I somehow couldn’t sleep and I flipped through the group fitness schedule just to see if there was any class that I considered “easy” going on that day. At 4pm, I found myself barefoot, sitting on a mat, about to put my yoga pants to their proper use for the first time. An hour later, I walked back to my room smiling, no longer feeling so exhausted and with my shoulders feeling better than they had for days, and suddenly I understood yoga.

Today I went to the Week of Welcome yoga class at the SRC because my stomach was bothering me yesterday and I didn’t quite feel up to fitness machines and fast music. I just wanted to stretch and give my body a chance to move, and I must say it worked like a charm! Each yoga instructor has their own technique, style, and approach to yoga: some are closer to the “owmmmming” meditation end of the spectrum and some are closer to pilates, which is more intense in its movements and purposes for toning and sculpting the body. I personally prefer somewhere in the middle, and today at the SRC, that is exactly what I got. There were over a hundred people, non-distracting but peppy music played in the background, and an enthusiastic instructor, winding her way through the rows of downward dogs, tall planks, and shaky first-time stances (including my own.) The stances were traditional, but the transitions were quick and fluid, forcing concentration and continued effort from the body and mind simultaneously. For me the time went by quickly, and as I put away my mat I was pleased to see the number of guys there who had come to participate. Yoga doesn’t discriminate against age or gender.

Two of the many great benefits of yoga are that it gives you the chance to use your body in a way that challenges and stretches, but it does not constantly push you to that pain point of intense cardio where your mind is tied up in the fight for endurance and the pride of finishing that last mile. Even as I concentrate on the motions and on my balance, the pace is enough to allow my mind to wander to other things and just think about my day and confront things that have been running through my mind.

Another great benefit that I enjoy is that yoga helps me to release the tension that tends to build up in my muscles over time, and if I come sore or achy, I leave feeling looser—much like the feeling you get after foam rolling muscle knots, if anyone has ever had that experience. One of the stances that I particularly liked today was called Chatush Padasana, and yes, I had to look that up. It is basically a variation on the typical back-bridge stretch, and it really helped to loosen up my shoulder and back muscles and offered a great stretch to sore abs, hamstrings, and hips.

This “Power Yoga” that I experienced today will be taught on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 8am at Ram’s Head Rec, and there are plenty of other yoga instructors with other times at Ram’s Head Recreation Center:

  • Mindful Yoga: Tuesday 5:15-6:30pm (RHRC)
  • Social Justice Yoga: Thursday 12:15-1pm (RHRC)
  • Yoga: Monday 5-6pm (RHRC), Wednesday 8-9pm (RHRC), Thursday and Friday 4-5pm (RHRC)
  • Yogalates: Monday 12:15-1pm (RHRC)

I’d encourage you to take the chance to experience the change of pace and the benefits of yoga for your own body, whether in a class or in your dorm room with the help of a YouTube video, because you might find that your expectations were far too low or simply different from reality. Everyone needs to take a little extra time now and then to breathe, stretch, and relax.

So, as you always finish in yoga: Namaste.

Workout Wednesday blog posts are written by UNC Campus Recreation staff members. Each Wednesday we’ll be swapping blog posts with the Tarheel Tone Up blog so that our readers can view more diverse post topics that will benefit their health and wellness. Wednesday blog posts can be found both here and on This post was written by Emily Wheeler.

Those Shoes Were Made For Running

“Workout Wednesday blog posts are written by UNC Campus Recreation staff members. Each Wednesday we’ll be swapping blog posts with the Tarheel Tone Up blog so that our readers can view more diverse post topics that will benefit their health and wellness. Wednesday blog posts can be found both here and on”

Tar Heel Tone Up

I’m pretty sure that no one reading this blog will be shocked when I say that running is good for you, or at least I hope not.  Wherever and whenever I walk on this campus, I can always count on seeing more than one person running within any ten minute time period, even if it’s drizzling or the middle of January.  It’s just one minor detail that I really love about our campus: seeing people getting outside in their spare time, jamming to a workout playlist on their iPod or just listening to their own breath as they go for a jog and release some of that pent up stress and energy from a long day or an intense week.  To all of those regular runners out there, including my roommate, I don’t care how fast or how slow you go—you have my respect.  

I, myself, am not one of…

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Announcing Workout Wednesdays

We are thrilled to announce that during 2013-2014, we’ll be partnering with UNC Campus Recreation’s amazing blog, “Tarheel Tone Up.” Each Wednesday, we’ll swap blog posts – Tarheel Tone Up will offer a post about wellness, and Healthy Heels will offer a post about workouts. If you like what you’re reading on Wednesdays, consider following Tarheel Tone Up – they provide up-to-date and relevant information about fitness at UNC.

Let us know what you think about our partnership and the Workout Wednesday blog posts!

Medication Label Literacy

Reading the label on your medications – both prescription medications and those available without a prescription (over-the-counter or OTC medication) – is critical for your health.

What’s On the Label

How to Read Over the Counter Medicine Labels

All non-prescription, over-the-counter (OTC) medicine labels have detailed information about the proper use of the medication as well as pertinent precautions to help you choose which treatment is best for you.  It is important to remember that just because a medication is available “OTC” or is “all natural” does not necessarily mean it is safe and effective for every person who may use it, or that it does not have any potential interactions with other medications, foods, or health conditions.

Below is an example of what an OTC medicine label looks like as well as how to read it.

OTC Label

Image courtesy of

How to Read Prescription Medication Labels

All prescription medication labels include information about use and precautions. They are also dispensed with a sheet of printed material with more detailed information about the drug. We encourage you to ask your health care provider questions before getting a prescription, and then request an educational consult with your pharmacist when filling the prescription. By both hearing and viewing important information about your medication, you are more likely to avoid misusing it and get the most benefit from it.

Below is an example of what a prescription medicine label looks like as well as how to read it. All pharmacy labels will look slightly different and may have the information organized slightly differently, although the included information should be the same.  Please note that most prescriptions expire 1 year after the date that the prescriber writes it, but the expiration date of the medication itself is often different and always listed on the prescription label.

Image courtesy of

The Campus Health Services Pharmacy offers consultations with pharmacists who are well-versed in the needs and issues of college students. Please utilize this service! Common questions you may consider asking include:

  1. How should I take this medication?
  2. How much should I take?
  3. Is this ok to take after drinking/smoking/using other drugs?
  4. I sometimes take (insert herbal medication, OTC medication, other prescriptions). Are there any interactions?
  5. Will this impact my life in any way (driving, sleeping, mood, etc.)?
  6. Are there other options if I don’t want the effects you’ve described?
  7. Do you have any tips on how I can remember to take this at the right time?
  8. What do I do if I forget to take a dose?
  9. How long should I take this medication?

Many of these questions can also be answered with critical reading of the medication bottle and the patient information that comes with it, but some may be more specific to you and your needs. Ask your pharmacist or health care provider your questions. If you forget to ask an important question or have one arise after you’ve left, please contact your pharmacy. The Campus Health Pharmacy phone number is 919-966-6554.

FDA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration 1-888-INFO-FDA (1-888-463-6332)

Consumer Reports Health,