The “Sitting Disease”

The past few days in Maryland have been FRIGID, which makes it even harder to find motivation to get out of a warm bed and head to the gym in the morning. However, after 4 long days of sitting during recruitment meetings, I was SO antsy to get moving. While I was there, an interesting story was on CNN about the “sitting disease”. Of course, this is not a REAL disease that can contract. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this so called disease is in some sense “contagious” and could have just as many adverse affects as any other disease.

One phrase that comes to mind when I think about this is “move it or lose it”. The more time you spend sitting around, the more your muscles and bones waste away, the weaker you get. Unfortunately for Americans, it is easy to “catch” the sitting disease. So many jobs don’t even require you to leave your desk! When I worked at The NIH I was miserable having to sit for entire 8 hour shifts. I would try to break up the day into 30 minute segments and at the end of each I would do a few lunges, bicep curls, or jog around the building just one time. These things take no more than 5 minutes and make such a difference in the long run. Try to incorporate more exercise into your day, especially you have a job like I did at The NIH. Also, remember to stay active after you come home from work. Go for a walk outside (weather permitting), or clean your house for an hour. Every little bit helps!

As an under 25 dietetics student, my professors have always stressed to me how important it is to build muscle and bone mass early in life. Women reach their peak bone density (in their early 20’s) earlier than most men do. Back to my “move it or lose it” point, if you aren’t performing weight bearing exercise on a regular basis (lifting, running, swimming), your bones will quickly (more quickly for women) deteriorate. While it is possible to build bone density later in life, it is much harder. So get active, stay active, prevent yourself from getting the sitting disease, and protect your muscles, bones, and body!

La Cena di Sette Pesce

Or in other words: The dinner of the seven fish.

This dinner is another one of my favorite family traditions. The traditional Italian feast is held on Christmas Eve to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Just as any other good Italian-American family would do, we go all out for this. My Dad usually makes a run to the Pittsburgh strip district a few days before to stock up on everything that we can’t get at our local grocery store. I don’t think the menu has ever been the same two years in a row, but my favorite dish has been a staple in the feast for as long as I can remember. Any guesses? If you thought ‘fried smelt’, you were right!

The itty bitty fried fish (head and tail in tact) have been my favorite snack for as long as my family has celebrated the feast. Smelt, along with salmon, tuna, and other sea-going fish are so packed with beneficial essential fatty acids. These omega 3’s and 6’s help maintain cell membranes (preventing dry skin!), and aid in eicosanoid formation. These eicosanoids are important in immune function, and preventing atherogenesis and heart attacks. Family gathering, good food and drinks, and bonus health benefits; who wouldn’t want to have a seven fish dinner?

This past year, we made most of the ‘traditional’ dishes, and added a few creations for their first trial run. I was, of course, put in charge of the desserts for the event, which I will soon post about! The menu was as follows:

Antipasti

Eperlani Fritti

(Fried Smelt)

Calamari Fritti con Porri

(Fried Squid with Leeks)

 

Primi

Linguine con Acciughe

(Anchovy Pasta)

Polenta con Ragu di Baccala

(Cod Ragu over Polenta)

Branzino Arrostato con Sale Marino e Odori

(Branzino with Sea Salt and Herbs)

 

Secondi

Tonno Siciliano con Capperi e Olive

(Tuna with Capers and Olives)

Cavolo al Vapore con Cipolla

(Steamed Kale with Onion)

 

Insalate

Insalata di Polpo

(Octopus Salad)

Insalata Caprese

(Tomato and Buffalo Mozzarella)

 

Revolutionize Your Resolutions!

So I just spent 30 minutes writing a post and it was erased when I tried to submit it! Ahh! I will attempt to recreate what I had the first time. Everyone looks forward to the beginning of a new year. I think it is comparable to the start of a new chapter in your life. You can set goals for yourself knowing that you have an entire 365 days to complete them. It is important to make sure your goals are attainable. I am sure so many people go to their kitchen on January 1st and throw out all junk food, buy smaller sized clothes, and vow to exercise everyday. However, it is not that simple to just change your lifestyle in the matter of a day. It is all about gradual changes that will stick in the long run.

For the past few years, my best friend Rock and I have come up with 25 things to do each year. Some are simple, fun things and others are more far-reaching. We figured that if we accomplished at least one of our things to do, we would feel a little bit satisfied. Last year,  a few things I accomplished were: getting straight A’s, being a vegetarian for a month, not eating McDonald’s (with the exception of 1 McFlurry – but it wasn’t too bad!), hiking more, running a half-marathon, and playing more with my dog, Enzo. I am especially happy that I accomplished the last one since Enzo went to doggy heaven on December 27th.

I have not completed my list for 2013, but here are a few things I have come up with:

Blog more

Get an internship

Get a second job for the Spring semester

Graduate with a GPA above 3.5

Go to church more (I’ll admit, I’m a cafeteria christian)

Eat more raw foods

Run 10 miles a week

Read biographies

Travel more

Save more money

Complete a triathlon

These goals are, for the most part, attainable for me. You should consider what is attainable for you. Even if it is just increasing your physical activity to 60 minutes a week instead of 3o, or cleaning the house once a week, starting small will allow you to stick with your resolution in the long run. I hope all of you have a happy and healthy 2013 🙂