How to be More Sustainable in a Dorm

This summer, I became very passionate about living a greener life. With a surplus of resources at home, this was simple to do.  I’m back on campus now and don’t want to drop these new habits I established,, so now, I’m trying to be more sustainable here at Ohio University.

All of us use a toothbrush everyday [hopefully] and dentists recommend we throw away our toothbrushes in exchange for a new one every 6 months. Just think about all of the toothbrushes sitting in landfills. Last spring I made the switch to an EcoFrenzy Bamboo Toothbrush. This toothbrush is 100% biodegradable and the packaging is even zero waste. Add a bit of a review and why bamboo is better.

Another part of my bathroom routine I transitioned to a more environmentally friendly option was the switch from liquid soap to bar soap. Bar soap has little to no packaging compared to the packaging and plastic when it comes to liquid soap. Bar soap also comes in the same variety of scents as liquid soap. This is saving a plastic bottle not only at my kitchen sink but also in the shower. Add a little bit of why else it’s better + link a few. 

Kitchen utensils [forks, knives, spoons,etc.] are also a huge part of our daily lives. My freshman year I got into a very bad habit of using plastic utensils because it was “easier”. I was too lazy to wash a metal fork and reusable plate after a meal in my dorm room. In the long run, buying reusable kitchenware saves money and is way better for the environment because you don’t have to throw away a paper plate, plastic, and spoon or knife after every meal you have in your dorm.

My freshman year, I did not use the recycling bin as it’s purpose instead I used it for extra waste. I’m embarrassed, but I learned, if I need another waste basket, I should go buy a cheap one from Walmart not substitute the recycling bin for waste. Don’t make the same mistake: use the recycling bin for its original purpose of putting less waste into landfills. 

Everyone preaches using reusable bags, but I always seem to forget mine or not have one when I need it. This summer I invested in these foldable reusable grocery bags. They come in packs of 5 and adorable patterns. The best part is that they fold small enough for me to put in my backpack or purse. This way when I make an unexpected trip to the grocery store I will still have my reusable bags. If you still forget your bags: always make sure you get paper over plastic at check out!

Last but not least, when I did my grocery shopping for my dorm I bought compostable garbage bags and reusable paper towels. You can reuse most reusable towels 10 times at least and they are usually machine washable. While you may not think about these, they are simple changes that make a big difference.

Six Tips to Work Well Under Stress

For as long as I can remember, keeping myself busy has always been my preference. I would rather have a full plate to keep my mind occupied than a bunch of downtime. When it came time for college, I was honestly feeling excited for the opportunity to take on a new challenge, and again, keep myself busy. In essence, I believe that’s a good thing — my drive is what allowed me to graduate a year ahead of schedule and have the nerve to apply for law school. Lately, though, I can admit I spread myself too thin while trying to accomplish those goals.

My summer was swept away with summer classes, LSAT prep [Law School Admissions Test], a summer internship and a part-time job. I quickly realized I had hardly any time for myself, my friends and my family. While I originally felt upset realizing what I had done, I now look at it as a lesson not only to myself, but for anyone who also relates to the love of staying busy. Sometimes, it is inevitable to be incredibly busy; for me, it was the only way to achieve my goal of graduating early. I will never advocate for giving up, but instead, I thought I would share some helpful tips that I followed to keep myself in check!  

Set an alarm for anything you actually need to do 

For me, this meant setting an alarm to remember take birth control, do my laundry or make an important call. It may seem a bit extra, but when you’re constantly running around trying to catch up, a loud reminder is typically what it takes to get stuff done! 

Make a realistic to-do list

We all love making to-do lists, but joke about not being able to cross everything off. In my opinion, for school, there needs to be a line. I would set unrealistic goals for myself, and as a result, I didn’t sleep until 4 or 5 in the morning. I also believe that part of finishing a to-do list is the sense of accomplishment, or feeling like you’re doing enough! A major point of these tricks is to feel more empowered! 

Give yourself the appropriate dinner-time setting, and take a break while you eat.

One of the worst mistakes I made was coming straight home from work, grabbing something quick from the fridge and beginning to cram in my homework. We absolutely need time to decompress, and I believe it makes the most sense to be enjoying the food we eat. Instead of trying to multitask something as important as fueling your body, give yourself 20 minutes to enjoy dinner without shoving your face in a screen.

Keep a calendar with only your homework assignments on it

This summer I was taking four classes online, which left me basically on my own to learn. The best way for me to keep track of my assignments were to download printable calendars and only list my school assignments on them. Instead of listing the due dates of assignments, I would put them on my calendar one day earlier than they were due. Not only did I keep myself ahead of schedule, I also kept myself from becoming overwhelmed by looking at each commitment’s due dates individually. 

Don’t neglect your relationships

It is so important to maintain steady relationships with friends and family. At the beginning of my summer, I found myself canceling plans with everybody so that I could sit at home and do homework. Yes, homework is important, but as mentioned earlier, we need a break. Being happy alongside good company reduces stress, which ended up positively impacting my grades when I took my own advice. Having fun every once in awhile is important! 

Don’t be too hard on yourself 

Most importantly, cut yourself some slack. I remember getting a less than fabulous grade on an assignment this summer and hating myself for days over it. Because of that, I got less accomplished because I was so consumed with my mistakes. Instead, take a step back and breathe. Remind yourself that what you’re doing can be intense and you’re bound to make mistakes — we’re only human, after all. 

Why Detox Teas Shouldn’t Be Capitalizing on Girls’ Insecurities

Last month, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal called for a federal investigation into the companies that produce detox teas. News of the demand went viral on Twitter, and even gained attention from actress Jameela Jamil [a well-known advocate against such products]. 

Detox teas and other weight-loss supplements [like appetite suppressant lollipops] are promoted online by celebrities and social media influencers. The problem with this marketing strategy? Very few [if any] of these products are regulated by the U.S Food and Drug Administration [FDA]. 

LVNG Limitless contributor and soon-to-be Registered Dietician, Leah Maxey, explains the importance of our food and supplements being approved by the FDA in a previous blog post. She adds, “They’re not regulated and no one knows what’s actually in them half the time.”

Though it may be obvious to many people that unregulated weight-loss products are nothing more than a capitalistic scam, a lot of impressionable young women still fall victim to these companies’ false promises. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve tried detox teas in the past and neither are Jess Deyo [our own copy editor] and Alicia Heninger [our co-founder]. 

Last semester, Jess bought Zerotea, a detox tea off of Amazon to try to lose water weight before a beach vacation. The tea cleanse was meant to be taken three times a day to suppress hunger. In turn, Jess wasn’t consuming as many calories as her body needed to sustain her very active lifestyle. The flavor of the tea wasn’t even good, Jess says, remembering how she would have to force herself to finish the drink. “I know so many girls who’ve tried it and I’ve never seen anything good come from it,” she says. 

Alicia was one of those many girls when she tried Skinny Tea’s 28-day teatox. “I wanted to lose a substantial amount of weight in an impossible amount of time,” she says. But, after only a week of drinking the tea three times a day [and intense stomach pain], Alicia gave up on the cleanse. Not only was she feeling sick, but, like Jess, Alicia couldn’t stomach the taste of the tea. After deciding the cons of the product outweighed the pros, Alicia discarded the cleanse, feeling immensely disheartened.

When I was in high school, I had a similar mindset to Jess and Alicia. I was very self-conscious of the way I looked, had low self-esteem and thought “I just need to lose a few pounds.” After a celebrity promoting Teami tea, a “natural detox tea” showed up on my Instagram feed, I figured it was worth a try. The two teas [one for the morning, one for the night] were meant to provide energy [i.e. now I could substitute my sugary coffee and creamer] and increase metabolism. I bought the 30-day cleanse and lasted only about a week. Again, the taste of the tea was so bad that I could barely force myself to drink it. 

Though I didn’t finish the cleanse and therefore cannot speak to its effectiveness, I did realize one thing: the ads I saw on my social media feed were playing to my insecurities and I had fallen into the trap. Just like so many other young girls. 

Whether or not the supplements work and whether or not they are FDA regulated, the fact of the matter is this: girls, should not be taught from such a young age to rely on supplements and products to live a healthy lifestyle. Promoting these products only furthers the notion that there’s only one kind of “healthy” for women [the skinny, low-weight kind]. 

Healthy does not have only one look, it looks different on each individual person, which Leah says is sustained by a healthy and balanced diet [with real food] and an exercise regimen. On top of that, “Your body naturally detoxes itself, so products like this aren’t necessary.”

Fortunately, the body positive movement has been growing and proving that healthy is not synonymous with skinny.

Recipes for a Vegan-friendly 4th of July

When the Fourth of July comes to mind, the first thing I think of are all the different foods: burgers, brats, hot dogs, cole slaw, potato salad, apple pie, corn on the cob, etc. However, once I went vegan my food options at family cookouts went from seemingly infinite to roughly two: watermelon and butterless corn. I’ve had to bring my own food to any sort of Fourth party I’ve been to in the past four years. But, last year, I discovered a few recipes that I can make on my own that are delicious and will not be scoffed at by non-vegans. I hope this makes every vegan [and fruit and veggie lover] have a great, healthy and patriotic Fourth of July this year. 

Appetizers

Who says the traditional watermelon snack on Independence Day can’t be made fun? I love watermelon and this spicy and grilled take on the sweet treat is the perfect way to turn a rather boring fruit into the perfect mix of sweet, spicy and a hint of barbeque. Just add some watermelon and cayenne powder to your grill and every guest will be happy. 

Chips and dip is a barbecue classic. However, with dairy filled dips and cheese flavored chips the vegan selection is put to a halt. With these dessert chips and strawberry salsa, I’m able to have all the enjoyment of chips and dip but personalized to my dietary needs [and with a slightly healthier twist]. If you’re not in the mood to make the chips or you’re in a rush, you can always substitute with sugar pita chips. Your friends and family won’t even be able to tell the difference when this dish is plated amongst the rest of the non-vegan dips! 

Entrees

I personally was NEVER a hot dog fan. Once I heard that they found rat feces in a certain hot dog brand, I’ve stayed clear of them. Hamburgers, on the other hand, were always a weakness of mine. Now, I do a variety of things to get my burger fix. My absolute favorite are Beyond Burgers with Daiya vegan cheddar cheese. When I’m feeling a bit more experimental, I make portobello mushroom burgers and a recipe that I just found recently [my host dad made these in Spain] are roasted beet burgers. The burger’s pinkish-red color will add a pop of patriotism to any hamburger bun. 

Side dishes

I know I mentioned above that potato salad and coleslaw are barbecue staples, but  I despised the two for the majority of my childhood. Right before I went vegan, however, I tried my grandpa’s potato salad and was absolutely hooked. Since going vegan, I haven’t been able to eat potato salad. Last year at school, I had a potato salad craving [of all things to crave I haven’t the slightest clue as to why I craved potato salad, but I did] and immediately searched google to find the best vegan potato salad. I made four different kinds that night and this one [with its subtle hint of garlic and creamy texture] was my favorite and is now my go-to party side dish. 

Another thing I love are veggie skewers. However, with most veggie skewers comes various meats [steak, sausage, etc.]. These veggie skewers use tofu instead of meat and are marinated in a barbecue sauce which makes them the perfect Fourth of July dish. Put them on the skewers, marinade and barbecue them with everything else on your menu. 

Desserts

My favorite thing about the Fourth [and summer in general] is all of the desserts! Ice cream, s’mores and literally anything with fruit [we love a good ~natural~ source of sugar]! However, ice cream, cakes, cookies, etc. are all filled with eggs, milk and butter [much to the disappointment of vegans everywhere]. Fortunately, I’ve found two desserts that are a great way to cool off on a hot summer day that are also red, white or blue [one is all three ;)] which will make the perfect Instagram worthy photo [because let’s be honest, what’s a party without a social media post?]. 

These firecracker pops are your traditional take on the classic Rocket Pop popsicle [cue the childhood nostalgia] but are made of fruit and plant-based milk rather than dairy products. Savor every last lick of these sweet pops after you’ve hopped out of the pool or are waiting for the fireworks shows to start!

If you prefer ice cream scoops to popsicles, this sorbet is just what you need. Instead of an ice cream maker, all you need are frozen fruits and their complementary flavors [i.e. strawberry and basil] and a food processor. I love making this with frozen bananas and cocoa powder because it’s got the texture and flavor of ice cream, but it’s all fruit!

When it comes time to gather with friends and family [especially when food is the focal point] it can be nerve-wracking for those of us who choose to live a vegan lifestyle. However, more and more recipes are being created and shared that turn our favorite non-vegan dishes into ones made complete dairy- and meat-free! Share your recipes with us on Instagram. [Tip: even if you’re not vegan, try one of these recipes this Fourth of July. We promise, you won’t regret it and you won’t even be able to tell the difference!]

Building a Garden & Growing Memories

This summer, my family and I thought it would be a fun idea to start a garden in our backyard. We made a list of the produce we use a lot in the summer and decided to do a salsa-themed garden. Fresh salsa is a staple in our fridge throughout the summer [but how can it not be? It pairs perfectly with chips for a quick midday snack or tops off homemade ~vegetarian~ tacos for dinner] so we thought it would be perfect to have a garden full of all the supplies we need!

In addition to me my mom, my dad and my younger sister, our home also houses three fur babies. Our dogs spend a lot of time outside in the backyard, so our first concern was being able to keep them away from our plants. We decided to build a raised bed to ensure the plants wouldn’t be bothered. My father bought a bunch of cedar wood [cedar is the best wood to use when building raised beds because the natural oils keep it from rotting] and screwed and sealed them together.

Once the beds were assembled, we filled the bottom half of the 3-foot-tall  bed with dirt and the top half with gardening soil. Next, we went to Home Depot to purchase the plants and got down to business; we planted roma tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, poblano peppers and some yellow sweet peppers [we don’t put sweet peppers in our salsa, but they are still a go-to snack in the summer, so we added them anyway]. While at Home Depot, we also bought small planters that sit on the side of our deck for herbs. In the four planters, we planted cilantro, parsley, basil, thyme and rosemary. These herbs are all used very often when cooking, so we thought it would be best to have them all closer to the house on the deck.

Starting this garden has been a fun bonding experience with my family. I loved spending a whole day with them putting this all together. Listening to music, talking about the future and planting was a blast. Now, we all work together to water and tend to it everyday.

It’s been a few weeks since we planted the first seeds and we’re already seeing some growth! The peppers are beginning to sprout and the cilantro is growing tall. I loved the process of putting this garden together and I want to add more. This experience made me so excited to own a house with a yard [or maybe even a farm!] to garden one day!

Discover: Montgomery County, Maryland

Growing up in the heart of suburbia, I never appreciated my hometown as much as I do today. But once I looked past the surplus of grocery stores, banks and chain restaurants, I was able to uncover the hidden gems of Montgomery County, Maryland.

It may seem strange to consider my “hometown” a county, but I never allowed the boundaries of the city listed on my address [Brookeville] to confine me. Brookeville is one of many towns included in Montgomery County. It may not have much to offer other than beautiful houses and the fact that it was the capital of the United States for one day during the War of 1812, but it is where my childhood home resides. A piece of my heart will always belong to it.

Like most teenagers, my friends and I were always on the hunt for things to do. The easy answer was to take the metro into Washington D.C., however, some of my favorite memories come from our adventures closer to home. Here are my top four spots in “MoCo.”

Favorite place to eat: Sister’s Sandwiches & Such

Eating healthy, fresh food outside of my own kitchen sometimes seems impossible. That all changed in June 2010 when two local sisters opened Sister’s Sandwiches & Such in a historic building known as Higgens Tavern. The building, located in Olney, Maryland, was once a trading post built in the 1820s. Now, the two-story house that could not look more out of place in front of a modern shopping center, holds mouth watering soups, salads, sandwiches and cookies along with locally-made crafts for sale. The petite yellow house creates a warm, homey environment and allows for seating inside and outside. On a warm, sunny day I take my delicious salad [Vinny’s salad to be specific] overflowing with diced gouda cheese, candied pecans, Granny Smith apples and a scoop of chicken salad onto the porch or front patio. Nothing gives summertime vibes better than enjoying a fresh salad outside with friends or family.

Favorite place to get some fresh air: Great Falls

From first glance, I may not look like the outdoorsy type. Yes, I own hiking boots! Yes, half of my wardrobe is athletic wear [some of it is Lululemon sorry, not sorry]! I may not love bugs, but I am a girl who loves an adventure. I have found that surrounding myself in nature is the best way to clear my head. There are many good hiking trails in Maryland that draw me along with many locals and tourists outside. Great Falls Park is located along the Potomac River and holds my favorite trails, known as the Billy Goat Trails. The views of the rapids and various waterfalls surrounded by greenery never get old. From rock-hopping to tiptoeing through the mud, the well-marked trails hold many exciting twists and turns. No matter the occasion, I always leave with sweat on my brow and a smile on my face.

Favorite sweet spot: Jimmie Cone

I pride myself on enjoying the little things in life, so when my sweet tooth calls I do not ignore it. Most days, I can satisfy it with fruit or a Kind bar, but sometimes it requires the real deal. By this I mean ice cream from my favorite local ice-cream parlor. Located in Damascus and Mt. Airy, Maryland, Jimmie Cone is a highly visited soft serve ice-cream shop. With its outdoor seating, it has become a summer bucket list destination for many Maryland locals since 1962. Every summer I make the trip for a classic vanilla with rainbow jimmies on a cake cone. Their menu holds many other appealing options like snowballs and sundaes that look so tempting to try. The real question is, what will I get this year?

Favorite yoga studio: The Spring Yoga & Natural Health Center

I grew up on sports like gymnastics and dance. While I believe yoga is beneficial for everyone, I can see why it was especially easy for me to incorporate the practice into my life. The Spring Yoga & Natural Health Center is a short five-minute drive from my house and offers endless wellness practices. They have something for everybody, but aerial yoga is what caught my attention. The class size is small and the instructors are so kind and helpful. We went through various poses that included hanging upside down, standing on the hammock, laying in the hammock and using the hammock for support during different stretches. The idea to sign-up started as just a fun thing to do with a friend, but we both left with the intention of going back. If you are ever in town and need to get your body moving, then these classes are a simple online signup away!

Learning to Stay Motivated Over Summer Break

Summer has always been one of the most intimidating times for me in terms of my health and wellness regimen. At school, I have nearly unlimited access to a gym seven days a week. One simple swipe at the front desk and I have all the equipment I need. I mean, working out doesn’t get much easier than that.

At home, though, it’s a bit harder. Despite advocating for people of all genders, ages, sexualities, etc. to have a right to feel comfortable in the gym, I still get gymtimidation from my local Planet Fitness, or any gym that’s not Ohio University Campus Recreation Center, for that matter. I don’t know what it is, but I get so nervous to be in a new place, to not know the gym’s layout, that I psych myself out and forego purchasing a membership summer after summer [not to mention, memberships can be expensive and I’m a college student on a ~tight~ budget]. So, year after year I’ve had to find ways to keep myself motivated to be active.

CHAARG [Changing Health Attitudes + Actions to Recreate Girls] has been instrumental in helping me find my motivation. Though I’m not physically with my #OUCHAARGies, one scroll through my _inchaarg Instagram profile has me feeling connected to hundreds of inspiring women. If I’m having a day where I feel particularly unmotivated, I know one message to our chapter groupchat will leave me with more inspiration than I know what to do with. It’s also comforting to know that National CHAARG has uploaded mini sweat seshes and workouts to the Instagram page [in addition to the annual Summer Bootycamp] and I always have these workouts when I’m in lacking ideas and motivation for workouts of my own.

Last summer was particularly challenging. Not only was I feeling unmotivated, but I was taking all the steps to become motivated and it still wasn’t working. I bought the Summer Bootycamp,  and I only finished less than half of the workouts. I tried to get into running, only lasted a few weeks. I started following new trainers and saving their workouts, but then never looked at them again. By the end of the summer, I felt okay, but definitely not my best.

This summer, after having a particularly stressful semester and having been off my routine for the last few weeks, I knew I wanted to make changes to my summer workout regimen.

For the past few months, my mom and I have been saying we want to run a 5K. For avid runners, this might not seem like a difficult task, but for us [and me, especially as someone who hates cardio] to finish one by the end of the summer would be the most fulfilling accomplishment. It’s helped to watch my mom take this goal seriously and to take her own personal health and wellness into her own hands with her daily workouts. Now, I’m constantly reminding myself that if my mom, who carpools my younger brother around weekly, works a full-time job and takes care of the rest of the house effortlessly can make time for a 30 to 45 minute workout, then so can I.

One of the biggest changes I’ve made so far this summer [and that’s helped keep me accountable so far] is participating in Blogilates’ 28 Day Summer Sculpt Challenge. I started doing Cassey Ho’s pilates-style workouts when I was still in high school and still attribute the initial spark of my passion for fitness to her. However, the past few years I’ve drifted away from pilates and focused more on weight training and cardio with the occasional yoga flow. When she announced the start of her latest series, I knew this was just the thing I needed to keep me motivated this summer [or at least for the month of June]. So far, the 30-minute workouts have been the perfect length to complete before I work in the mornings [yes, I’ve been getting up at 7:30 every morning, but it’s fine. I’m fine] and have had my muscles ~shaking~ by the end. Though I miss lifting and hitting new PRs with weights, it’s honestly nice to take a break and focus on the smaller muscles that have been neglected all year [muscles that I didn’t even know I had are sore as I write this].

My summer health and fitness journey is an imperfect, up and down process, but I’m learning more about myself, my own goals, motivation and capabilities every day. I’ve realized that it’s not about what other people tell you will work [trust me, I’ve asked many people how they keep themselves motivated and tried to copy it, but to no avail] but rather, taking the time to find what works for you. You know your body better than anyone else and as long as you stay patient and allow yourself to experience the process fully, motivation will come naturally.

How To: Switch to Sustainability on a Budget

One of my big intentions for 2019 was to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Over the past few months I’ve been researching and gathering new items to help me become more sustainable in my daily life. I wanted to share some new items that I recommend and some other products I have yet to try but am looking forward to trying in the near future!

Two items I use everyday, that I think everyone should have by now, are  reusable water bottles and coffee cups. There’s no reason to buy single use plastic water bottles anymore when it is so much more cost efficient and environmentally friendly to fill a reusable cup. Many coffee shops now offer a discount if you bring in your own cup, so there is no valid excuse to not have one. I am a big fan of my Hydroflask for water and my Yeti for coffee because they have great temperature control, but it isn’t absolutely necessary to go for the name brands! Anything that isn’t a single-use plastic water bottle is great!

Another go-to of mine are canvas bags and reusable produce bags. These are another item that I believe everyone should have already. These make shopping much more eco-friendly and are given out for free very often. I actually have five canvas bags that I’ve gotten for free. Plastic bags add an unnecessary amount of plastic in the environment and reusable bags are an easy way to cut plastic out of your life. Build up a collection of them and keep them in your car so they are always ready to be used!

When it comes to cooking and meal prepping, using tupperware and beeswax wrap are both great to keep your meals sustainable. Beeswax wrap is the green alternative to plastic wrap, it’s reusable and it keeps food fresh! Another item I am looking forward to adding to my collection are Stasher Bags, a reusable alternative to single use plastic zip bags. I’ve heard so many amazing things about them and I can’t wait to get them!

As far as beauty and skin care items, I’ve focused on a few big switches. In the past two years, I’ve switched to using bamboo toothbrushes in place of plastic ones and started using reusable cotton pads. I haven’t bought a plastic toothbrush in over a year and its easily one of my favorite changes I’ve made. As far as the cotton pads, they’re definitely not as easy as regular cotton pads because they need to be washed frequently, but it’s worth it. Another switch I’ve been working on is making your own skincare products or buying from a small business! I am currently working on switching all of my skin care products to homemade items from a friend who makes them all herself. Cydney [one of our contributors!!] owns a homemade skincare business [@sugareescrubs on insta!] and it’s all based on using all natural and sustainable products!!

In addition to all of these items, I’m also going green in many other aspects of my life! I’ve ditched dryer sheets for wool balls, given up the Keurig for a french press and I am planning to start composting my food scraps!

There are many more ways to be sustainable than replacing your Starbucks straw with a mental one [but still, any small change can make a difference!]. My switch to becoming more sustainable has been a slow process, but I constantly remind myself that any change is a step in the right direction to living a greener life. One thing I really appreciated about this switch is how budget friendly it has been. I’ve been able to comfortably purchase all these products without breaking the bank. As I enter my junior year of college and start grocery shopping and cooking for myself more, I will be working on new ways to stay sustainable such as trying bulk shopping!

The Importance of Love Language

They always say to treat others the way you want to be treated, but is that really the best solution? Early in my high school years I remember learning about love languages. They didn’t mean much to me then but since have become a vital aspect of communication in all of my relationships. There are five main love languages, the first being words of affirmation. This means that an individuals communication and sense of love is rooted in words and compliments. The second, physical touch, is easy to understand. A simple hug, kiss or touch of the hand can speak louder than words. The next language is receiving gifts. A meaningful gift can mean everything to individual if this is their love language. It lets them know you’re thinking about them even when you aren’t around. Quality time is about giving the other person your undivided attention. It’s important to set aside time for one-on-one conversations. Lastly, my personal love language: acts of service. Always having a busy schedule, I respond well when my partner does simple tasks to my life easier, such as the dishes, laundry or running an errand.

In every romantic relationship I’ve ever had, I’ve always strived to understand my partner’s love language. I would work tirelessly at our communication and we were always attempting to develop the best method to understand each other’s emotions. My partner responds to words of affirmation and I’ve always taken to acts of service. Aside from our love languages, we regularly practice open communication. Whenever there is an issue we encourage each other to speak direct and honest. Once we established these guidelines for our communication, our relationship blossomed.

It wasn’t until later in my sophomore year of college that I realized I neglected to work as hard at communication within my friendships. The effort I put into my relationship with my partner should also be applied into all of my friendships. It’s important to regularly check in with your friends, encourage open communications and have a good understanding of each other’s love language.

A dear friend of mine, Hailey, and I have worked on our communication these past few weeks. I can confidently say that I have never felt closer to her. When we finally took the time out of our lives to sit down and talk, really talk, we had so many revelations. Not only did we discover the importance we hold within each other’s lives, but we realized some misunderstandings we both held onto. It was difficult to realize that for years of our lives we miscommunicated in a way that kept us from growing even closer. Hailey didn’t always realize the true intentions behind my decisions, and I wasn’t always speaking her love language. I found myself reacting to her decisions in the way I would want others to react toward me. However, we are not the same person and we perceive the world differently. When Hailey is going through a difficult time, I tend to become a problem-solver when what she really needs is a listening ear and sympathy. It’s not always my job to problem-solve. Instead, it’s my job to listen to what my friend has to say and offer comfort in the way she likes best. Having this newfound understanding of each other’s preferences has allowed our friendship to thrive. I have always felt close to Hailey, but now I feel even more like her family.

Having an understanding of your own love language and the love languages of your friends is such a rewarding experience. It’s important to communicate in a way that your friends and family members feel most valued. Since working on my friendship with Hailey, I’ve made a conscious effort to recognize the love languages of everyone involved in my life and I encourage them to do the same.

The Truth About Dietary Supplements

** Disclaimer: I am NOT a doctor, however I have a degree in food and nutrition sciences so I did learn about supplements throughout undergrad. I recommend consulting with your health care professional before taking any supplements. **

Whether you’re a health and wellness nut, an avid Instagrammer or you’re just up to date on your favorite blogs, you’ve probably heard people talk about supplements. The problem is, not many people actually know what’s in them, what they do or why they should or shouldn’t be taking them.

The U.S Food and Drug Administration [FDA] is responsible for regulating supplements. So, to start, you might be wondering what supplements are. Supplements are anything that contains a “dietary ingredient,” which can be anything from micronutrients [vitamins and minerals], amino acids, herbs or botanicals. People generally take supplements because they feel they may not be consuming an efficient amount of vitamins and minerals from their diet. With a balanced diet full of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, consuming all the essential nutrients should be a breeze. The problem is, many people consuming the Standard American Diet [SAD] do not even consume the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables per day, which is where the best sources of vitamins and minerals come from.

An issue with supplements is how little regulation the FDA actually instills. There are no laws that requires dietary supplements to be proven safe before they are sold. THAT should be enough for people to be hesitant about taking supplements. Additionally, the manufacturer / seller does not have to prove the FDA’s claims to be accurate or true before the product is sold.  What you put into your body is so important, and with little regulation on supplements, it may be best to stay away from supplements unless absolutely necessary because we don’t actually know what is in that supplement that we’re putting into our body.

A supplement some may be familiar with, but may not truly realize what it is, is Herbalife. Herbalife is a company that markets nutritional and weight-loss supplements. This product can be found at a lot of pop-up store fronts in college towns with the word ‘nutrition’ in its name. A few examples being ‘Odyssey Nutrition’ in Athens, Ohio or ‘Greens Goodness Nutrition’ in Greene, Ohio — just outside of Akron, Ohio. Recently, Herbalife was reported to be associated with a case of fatal acute liver failure in a young woman in the Asia-Pacific region. Additionally, Herbalife products have been analyzed to find traces of heavy metals, toxic compounds, traces of psychotropic drugs and highly pathogenic bacteria. While this is just one supplement company, it is not the only one to have evidence against it. Liver failure was also found in a patient after using Hydroxycut, another supplement company. Without regulation of the FDA, there’s no way to stop companies like this from putting these products on the market. It’s best to do plenty of research before taking supplement and as always, consulting with a healthcare professional before taking any new supplements. Even the supplements that people may see as harmless are not regulated by the FDA, so do we really know what we’re taking? This goes for supplements like iron, vitamins [A, B, C, D, E, etc.], multivitamins, melatonin, protein powders, branched chain amino acids [BCAAs], pre-workout, fish oil and so on.

While supplements can seem like they’re helping you achieve fitness or lifestyle goals, they could be doing more harm than good. Vitamins and minerals should be coming from food first, then if you’re finding you’re still deficient in an area after proper blood work is done, consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian and see what you can do from there. Your body is important, and so is what you put into it!

For more information about research supporting diseased states after consuming Herbalife supplements, see below:

1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21173910?dopt=AbstractPlus

2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19157382?dopt=AbstractPlus

3] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11606-014-3153-x