OK, What the Heck is Gluten?

Other than a hot topic among nutritionists and “health-conscious” members of the general public, what exactly is this thing called gluten than everyone seems to be so concerned about lately? Two years ago I had never even heard of gluten, but now I know multiple people with Celiac disease, plenty of people who claim gluten sensitivity, and plenty more people who choose to maintain a gluten-free diet for various other personal reasons.  I recently came across this video where Jimmy Kimmel goes to a popular outdoor exercising location and found people who claimed to maintain a gluten-free diet, and then asked them to answer the simple question about their diets: what is gluten? Their answers may surprise you, and if not they’ll at least make you laugh. It seems that people don’t know as much as they think they do about this elusive gluten, so don’t be one of these people in the video and read on to solve the glutenous mystery once and for all.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a general name for two proteins, gliadin and glutenin, found in the endosperm of wheat. It seems that plenty of people were aware of the presence of gluten in wheat, but they didn’t know much more than that. I learned from the Celiac Disease Foundation website that there are several other words that refer to different types of wheat, such as farina, faro, spelt, durum, emmer, and einkorn, and it is important to note that these all contain gluten. Gluten is also found in rye and barley and the gluten proteins are what give pizza dough and bread dough the stretchiness and elasticity to which we are accustomed. Gluten is, of course, contained in all products made with wheat, rye, and barley, which includes a surprising number of salad dressings, sauces, food coloring, malt, and beer. Some food that you might not think of as containing gluten are Ramen noodles, couscous, gnocchi, and potato bread (even though gnocchi and potato bread are potato-based, they still usually have wheat added to them to improve texture). Contrary to what one of the people in the video thought, rice and potatoes do not naturally contain gluten.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease, which means that it is not a virus or bacterium that can be spread between people, but rather it is an attack by the body’s immune system on the small intestine. The small intestine is where most nutrients from our food are absorbed after the food is digested, and the small intestinal tract is lined with millions of tiny little “fingerlike” projections called villi. These villi help to dramatically increase the surface area and absorptive ability of the small intestine, but in people with Celiac Disease, ingesting gluten triggers an immune response that attacks the villi and can shorten them to small nubs over time. The reduction of the villi in turn reduces the small intestine surface area, which will decrease the ability of the body to absorb necessary nutrients from food in the future. The only current effective treatment for Celiac Disease is for patients to maintain a strict, gluten-free diet throughout their lives. Failure to diagnose and treat Celiac Disease at an early age can increase the chance of developing other autoimmune disorders and serious conditions in Celiac patients, such as Type I Diabetes, multiple sclerosis, infertility, and intestinal cancers. As you can see, for people who have Celiac Disease, a gluten-free diet is not just a lifestyle choice; it is an essential and difficult commitment that they must make to maintain good health throughout their lives.

What is gluten sensitivity?

Not everyone who has gastrointestinal discomfort after eating gluten has Celiac Disease. Just as eating cauliflower gives some individuals digestive discomfort and doesn’t affect others at all, gluten can have a similar effect on people without Celiac Disease. However, even if people do experience discomfort after eating gluten, if they do not have Celiac Disease they will not have the intestinal damage symptoms from eating gluten and they will text negative for the Celiac Disease antibodies used for diagnosis. It is not medically necessary for individuals with gluten sensitivity to adopt a gluten-free diet.

Why are so many people going gluten-free?

We’ve established that the gluten-free lifestyle is essential for people with Celiac Disease, but why are the gluten-free products flying off of grocery store shelves at such a rapid pace if only 1% of the US population is estimated to have the disease? The simple answer is that most people who buy gluten-free products are not gluten-sensitive and do not have Celiac Disease. Instead, recent media has created a popular misconception that removing gluten from the diet is a healthier lifestyle choice. Some sources even falsely claim that eating gluten makes you more likely to gain weight, although this claim is not supported by research. The truth is that gluten doesn’t really have any specific nutritional benefits or detriments at all for the average person, but the foods that commonly contain gluten certainly do. For the average person, the current dietary intake recommendations suggest that at least half of all grains that we eat should be whole grains, and cutting out gluten unnecessarily from our diets can reduce our consumption of necessary vitamins, minerals, and other nutrient s, commonly including B vitamins and fiber. Gluten-free pastas and breads are also up to twice as expensive as their wheat-containing counterparts, so going gluten-free is a serious financial commitment as well.

If you do have Celiac Disease, I’m sure you already knew all of this, and even though it may be frustrating for you to see people going gluten free because of a trend when you don’t have the choice, the good news for you is that it’s creating a market and encouraging companies to make more delicious and plentiful gluten free alternatives for you to enjoy! If you don’t have Celiac Disease, don’t be afraid to eat gluten and make sure to maintain a balanced diet full of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. So if anyone comes up to you while you’re out jogging and asks you the question “What is gluten?,” make sure that you show them who’s boss and let them know that gluten is a combination of two proteins found in the endosperm of wheat, rye, and barley to impress them with your nutritional knowledge.

Sources:

Celiac Disease Foundation http://celiac.org/live-gluten-free/glutenfreediet/what-is-gluten/

Web MD The Truth About Gluten http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthy-kitchen-11/truth-about-gluten

YOUR WORKOUT: Cardio Before Weights, or Weights Before Cardio?

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Treadmills, weight machines, ellipticals… gyms offer a multitude of options to get in your recommended weekly exercise. But with so many choices, it can be confusing to decipher the best order in which to workout.

Bro science is one place to look for answers, but peer reviewed scientific journals are probably (just maybe) a better source of accurate information. Researchers at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland studied 200 individuals from 2011 to 2013 with differing workout regimens. One group performed cardiovascular exercise followed immediately by strength training, and the other group did the opposite. In total, the participants did their specified workout 2-3 times per week for 24 weeks.

The results are a little counterintuitive. Firstly, the researchers found that cardio before weights caused a decrease in performance- but ONLY for the first workout. For the remaining of the 24 weeks, the two groups exhibited equal levels of performance and muscle gains. The takeaway? The order in which you do your workout may matter for short-term performance, but it appears your body adapts to whichever system you elect over the long-term. We suggest you cautiously experiment with both options to determine which feels best for you!

We want to note a few things about the study: first of all, the workouts in question were 90-120 minutes in length. So it may be inaccurate to extrapolate the results to longer or shorter workout. One thing is for certain- combining resistance training with cardiovascular training in some combination has been shown to be healthy and effective.

Wellness Wednesday: National Recovery Month

Recovery Month

 

http://www.recoverymonth.gov/

 

Who Do You Know?

We all know someone whose life has been touched by problems with alcohol or drugs. It is estimated that over 23 million people in the U.S. are now living in recovery from substance use disorders. In recent years, drug overdose has overtaken car accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in this country.

Maybe you’ve lost someone close to you. Maybe you have a friend you think might need help. Maybe someone close to you has found recovery and you have had the opportunity to see what a difference it can make. You may know someone in recovery and not even realize it. That’s why it is so important to understand addiction and recovery and how they affect our community.

“The Anonymous People,” a recent documentary, chronicles the growth of a new recovery movement, which aims to advance the way addiction is in medical, public health, and political venues. It highlights the exciting efforts of groups advocating for more recognition of recovery as a transformative process not just for those struggling with addiction, but also the people and communities around them. The full documentary is now available to stream on Netflix and the official trailer is available here.

What is The Problem?

Even though decades of medical research have informed us that addiction is a chronic brain disease, it is often still viewed as a moral failing or weakness. People who live with addiction are more likely to be punished by the legal system than treated by the medical system. Even people who have found recovery have problems getting insurance coverage for their ongoing recovery needs, support in their communities, and fair treatment under the law and by employers.

How to Help

You can be a support in advocacy efforts to increase public and political awareness about the benefits of recovery whether you are in recovery yourself or you want to act as an ally.

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Recovery Communities of North Carolina (RCNC) will be hosting their 3rd annual Recovery Rally at Moore’s Square in Raleigh on Saturday September 6th.  The event will include a recovery walk, a raffle, several bands, a training on communicating about recovery, and two screenings of “The Anonymous People,” hosted by Greg Williams, the director/producer.

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Picture from the 2013 Rally (www.rcnc.org)

Recovery at UNC Chapel Hill

The Carolina Recovery Community (CRC) is an officially recognized student-run organization that supports recovery efforts at UNC. Currently housed in Student Wellness, this group provides support for UNC students recovering from substance use disorders, allowing them to maintain recovery and academic achievement in a challenging environment. This organization offers enrichment opportunities such as recovery related trainings and conference attendance, as well asocial and service events for students in recovery like cookouts, bowling, a Habitat for Humanity build, watching UNC sports events, etc. More information on this organization is available on the Student Wellness site.

Students can use this site to link with local AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meeting schedules, find out more about local treatment options for themselves or a friend, or even reach out to other recovering UNC students. The site also has resources specific to collegiate recovery including research findings and articles on the subject. The CRC also hosts a weekly campus recovery meeting, which will start back up this semester. Students or faculty can also contact the CRC confidentially via email at carolinarecovery@unc.edu.

Remember… If you or someone you know is struggling with a drinking or drug problem, there are resources for help, there is a way out, and RECOVERY CHANGES EVERYTHING!!!

 

“Wellness Wednesday blog posts are written by Student Wellness or Campus Health Services staff members. Wednesday blog posts can be found both here and on healthyheels.wordpress.com.”

Campus Recreation Specialty and Group Fitness Programs

Even if you’re new, by now you’ve probably realized that Campus Rec has a lot more to offer than buildings with some gym equipment inside. However, we want to make sure that all campus rec members, whether new or quite seasoned, know about the opportunities available through the group and specialty fitness programs this semester!

Group Fitness

Group fitness programs are free to any student, staff, or employee with a current campus recreation membership, which includes all full-time undergraduate students automatically. They are taught by certified fitness instructors and fill on a first-come, first-served basis at the scheduled time of the class, which can be found here, on our website. All you have to do is pick the class that you want to attend and show up at the class location, which will be at the Student Recreation Center (SRC), Ram’s Head Recreation Center (RHRC), or occasionally at Bowman Gray pool about 10-15 minutes before the start time of the class to get a good spot and set up any necessary equipment. All exercise equipment will be provided for you during the classes; you just need to come dressed appropriately. For example, you’d want to wear tennis shoes to a Zumba class, but it wouldn’t matter what type of shoes you wore to a yoga class because you won’t be wearing shoes during the actual workout.

The classes last either 45 minutes or an hour long, with the exception of Absolution, which is an intense 20 minute class specifically focused on working out your abs the entire time! Twenty minutes sounds short until you try it and start to feel the burn during the warm-up… but up-beat music and an enthusiastic instructor will get you through it! Add the class to a short independent cardio workout and you’ve got a great combo of strength training and your cardio for the day all in one! Other group fitness class offerings include:

  • 3-2-1, a combo of cardio, strength, and core interval training
  • Water aerobics—it’s for young people, too!
  • Cardio blast
  • Cycle classes (still free, but sign-up at the SRC required!)
  • Hip-hop dance
  • Kick’n sculpt
  • Step’n sculpt
  • Zumba
  • Z2 (Zumba taught by not just 1, but 2 fabulous instructors!)
  • Absolution
  • Ballet sculpt
  • Lower body conditioning
  • Upper body conditioning
  • Muscle cut/ barbells (where you’ll learn great form with the weights!)
  • Pilates
  • Yoga (in a range of intensities)
  • Mindful yoga (more relaxed and meditative yoga)
  • Yogalates (= yoga + pilates)

To learn more about any of these classes, check out the more detailed class descriptions and try one out this week! We’re also excited to announce three Cycle Cinema Sundays this semester, where you can sign up in advance for free and come on select Sundays from 5:30- 7:30pm to cycle with friends at your own pace as you enjoy a movie! There will also be two new weekend programs called the “Weekend Warrior Series” and “BOSU Blast!” The Weekend Warrior series will be a Saturday class that includes a high-intensity cycle portion at the beginning of the class and a relaxing and stretching yoga portion for the second half! BOSU Blast will improve balance, stability, core, cardio, and toning with the BOSU ball, which is basically like half of an exercise ball adhered to a base on the floor (perfect for jumping on)! Both of these series require prior sign-up at the SRC and you can get more information about them here!

Specialty Fitness

Specialty fitness classes are different because they require prior registration and a fee to participate. These classes have significantly smaller size limits and are therefore more personalized to each individual who signs up and participates, which can be extremely beneficial for participant learning and can make some people feel more comfortable in a smaller environment. Although they do require a small fee, each class still costs less than $6 per session (a great deal when compared to other specialty fitness programs in the area; yoga studios average $12/class in Chapel Hill) and each class meets for 10 sessions, or five weeks. This semester, the following specialty fitness classes are being offered:

  • Tar Heel Tabata: You’ll certainly improve your cardiovascular endurance in this class that uses high intensity interval training in a pattern of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off on repeat for 4 minutes per set! You’ll be exhausted and feel like you’ve gotten a fantastic workout in only 30 minutes!
  • TRX Suspension Training: The extra challenge of the TRX bands will add a whole new element to your workout and the extra small class size will be sure that you get the attention you need to do each exercise with the correct form! Try this class format for free to see if you’re interested on Thursday, September 4th in Ram’s Head Rec. No registration is required and more specific information will be coming soon!

  • Boot Camp: Our fitness instructors take on the role of your coach in this hour- long athletic workout available in indoor and outdoor sessions. You’ll improve your cardiovascular fitness and increase your strength after just ten dedicated sessions to this program! Try it for free on Wednesday, September 3rd before you buy!
  • Women on Weights: This class will teach you how to maintain impeccable form as you learn and practice various weight-lifting exercises in a fully-equipped weight room reserved only for your class and your instructor! You’ll be able to hit the SRC or Ram’s weight room without fear after completion of this course!

For more information about registration dates and prices of any of our specialty fitness programs, please check out our website! There you can also find information about personal training available to students and faculty at great prices through Campus Recreation!

Specialty and group fitness is a great way to not only work out, but to meet new people and socialize on campus as well. After having the opportunity to take two full specialty fitness courses, I still see and talk to people on campus that I met through the courses; we even end up beside each other at group fitness classes without planning it every now and then. The instructors and employees at Campus Rec really put a lot of effort into maintaining these programs for the health and enjoyment of all members on campus, and the spaces fill up quickly because they do such a good job! I encourage you to get more involved on campus and step out of your comfort zone to try something new with us at Campus Rec by signing up for a group fitness or specialty fitness class this semester. You’ll have a great time, meet new people, do great things for your personal health, and actively fight the harmful effects of stress that are so easily triggered by the pressure of our time in school. Your health is so important and the choices that you make on a daily basis have a HUGE lifetime impact, so don’t wait to make a great choice and join us at Ram’s Head Rec or the SRC this week!

The Most Effective Abdominal Exercises

Reduced back pain, a stabilized torso, and a look that will turn heads… What could possibly accomplish all 3 of these? According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, look no further than your own abdominal muscles. These vital muscles can be trained to make your life easier, or neglected- leading to possible injury.

On the quest to achieving a strong midsection, it can be confusing as to what works and what doesn’t. Late night infomercials, a vast number of pills, and extreme surgeries aside, there are several exercises you can do to strengthen your abdominal muscles over time. Let’s take a look at the research for no-nonsense solutions.

A study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) compared 13 popular ab exercises, ranking them on muscle stimulation of the rectus abdominus and the obliques. 30 men and women of ages ranging from 20-45 were recruited for the study.

Here are the top 3 isolation exercises for strengthening the rectus abdominus:

  1. Bicycle maneuver
  2. Captain’s chair 
  3. Crunches on exercise ball

And the obliques:

  1. Captain’s chair
  2. Bicycle maneuver
  3. Reverse crunch 

Try adding a few of these to your next workout! The UNC SRC is open from 9am-10pm today, so be sure to stop by.

Getting Involved in Intramural Sports at UNC: What To Do and How To Do It

Earlier this week before classes started, I had the opportunity to work at the campus recreation information tent at FallFest! I was able to talk to many first year students to tell them about Campus Recreation, and I quickly found out that the most frequently asked questions seemed to pertain to a common category: intramural sports. Whether you’re new to UNC or you’ve been here for a while but you’re new to intramural sports, getting started can seem more difficult than it actually is. Lucky for you, I’m about to tell and show you exactly how to get signed up and ready to play in no time!

First, I found that a lot of people wanted to know the difference between club sports and intramural sports at UNC. Club sports are for people who are interested in focusing their time and energy on a single sport and some sports club teams have tryouts, weekly mandatory practice times, and club dues ranging anywhere from $0 to $1000 or more depending on what you choose to participate in. Club sports teams also travel and compete on a regular basis against other college club teams. Intramural sports, on the other hand, are casual and last only a few weeks. You can choose your own team or ask to join teams that are already formed and no former experience is required—games range from competitive to just for fun depending on the teams playing. Participating in intramural sports is also free with a current Campus Recreation membership and fees are only charged in the case of last-minute forfeit or no-show, in the form of a $20 team fine.

Registering to create or join an IM sports team is simple! Just start at the campus recreation website, campusrec.unc.edu and check out the links under “Intramural Sports to find information, rules, and schedules for all of the IM sports, as well as how to register for them. Since this is an instructional post, I find that it’s easier to just show how to register rather than trying to explain it through writing. I have created a short tutorial video that will show how to get information about intramural sports and how to create a team, join a team, and register as a free agent. Free agents are people who are interested in participating in a sport but do not have their own team. Registering as a free agent can allow you to join already-formed teams or connect with other free agents to form a new team that way. I hope that you find it helpful and if you have any questions, feel free to type them into the comments or suggestion bar on the side of the screen and we will get back to you with answers! Happy first Friday of the semester! :)

Wellness Wednesday: What is Food Justice?

Author: Jani Radhakrishnan

 

What is food justice?

“Food Justice views hunger as a result of unjust social dynamics including racism, sexism, homophobia, and classism. Food justice advocates for policies which rebalance food systems in terms of social inequalities, such as government support for farmers of color, marginalized communities of color with poor food access, and exploited workers.” – The Louisville Fellowship of Reconciliation

In other words….food justice addresses the inequality between who gets to eat a variety of healthier and culturally-competent food options and who does not.

 

What does food justice have to do with health and wellness?

Here at Student Wellness, we like to think of wellness in terms of dimensions. Wellness is not just about being physically healthy and free of sickness or disease; it also means nurturing all the dimensions of wellness, including social, emotional, cultural, intellectual, spiritual, financial, physical, and environmental. Food justice relates to wellness in a number of these dimensions.

 

Food justice and environmental wellness

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Food justice is related to the environment in many ways. Access to food options may be limited due to the location of people’s homes or means of transportation. There may be an absence of fresh food or there could be a limited choice of affordable food items. People’s social environments may stigmatize people who are hungry, which is another aspect of food justice.

 

Food justice and financial wellness

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Food injustice perpetuates the unequal class structure in the United States. Without educating ourselves, we could unintentionally support stigmas and misconceptions around poverty and hunger. One common misconception is that only the poorest of poor people are hungry, but we want everyone to know that hunger can exist outside of poverty.

 

 

Food justice and social wellness

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By reducing the stigma associated with poverty and hunger, we can create a safer space for people to access free or low cost food without harassment, judgment, or condescension. We can do this by normalizing the usage of places like food pantries or food justice community gardens.

We should avoid falling into the trap of “I’m helping you. I’m serving you. (I’m better than you),” also known as the “savior complex.” We can avoid this by transforming traditional “community service” or “volunteering” opportunities into those that create a social culture where ALL people work together to support each other.

By working together we can strengthen interpersonal relationships. This is the groundwork for community empowerment.

 

What does food justice have to do with UNC?

Student Wellness and other campus and community partners are very proud to support a wonderful student initiative! Starting October 3, 2014, we will welcome UNC’s very first on-campus food pantry: The Carolina Cupboard. This pantry will be located in the Avery Residence Hall Basement, Room #BC and will be open to UNC students. Stay tuned for more information on how you can qualify!

By bringing a pantry to campus we are increasing access to food and promoting food justice. We hope you will work with us, the Residence Hall Association, the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life and Community Involvement, and other advisory board representatives to join this group of motivated and passionate undergraduate students to reduce stigma!

 

What does it have to do with us (students)?

This is a unique opportunity at Carolina for all of us to educate ourselves about the issues affecting our Tar Heel community. It’s up to ALL of us to make sure we all feel safe, supported, and included on this campus. Soon, the campus will be flooded with donation bins in various locations. Once the donation bins are up and running, we encourage you to fill them up!

Here’s what you can do NOW: ‘Like’ the Tar Heel Wellness Challenge Facebook page. For the next 14 days, we have a social media challenge about “Environmental Wellness,” one of the dimensions we talked about above. Comment on this blog post below or write a post on the Facebook page with #THWC. You can write about food justice, environmental wellness, or another relevant topic that is important to you. By participating in an activity (such as a writing exercise) related to environmental wellness, you get entered into a raffle to win $20.00 to the UNC Student Stores!

Stay tuned for more information, including the Carolina Cupboard’s new website! In the meantime, participate in the #THWC challenge and mark your calendars from September 29 through October 3 for a UNC Food Pantry kick-off week!

 

“Wellness Wednesday blog posts are written by Student Wellness or Campus Health Services staff members. Wednesday blog posts can be found both here and on healthyheels.wordpress.com.”

Don’t Miss Out on Campus Rec’s Week of Welcome – Kickball, Yoga, and More!

WOW_Digital Ad Union

This week only- UNC Campus Rec is offering a sampling of our most popular programs FREE! Take advantage of this opportunity to bond with your fellow Tar Heels and discover which fitness activity is perfect for you. With a variety of indoor and outdoor choices, the Week of Welcome at Campus Rec is arguably the most exciting way to kick off your Fall 2014 semester.

 Like the idea of outdoor kickball? Come join the Intramural Staff Tuesday August 19th at 6:00 pm, and relive your days in elementary school for a good old fashioned game of playground-style kickball!

 Searching for a way to stretch, unwind, and find inner peace? Join us for yoga Wednesday August 20th at 5:15pm in the SRC to increase your Zen. Designed to develop physical and mental discipline, yoga explores and connects poses for a unique strength and flexibility workout.

Maybe the adrenaline rush of rock climbing is your thing? Come out on Thursday August 21st at the Ram’s Head Rec Center for open climb. Experience 2,400 square feet of new, exciting climbing terrain at the Rams Head Climbing Wall. Never climbed before? No problem. We’ll show you the Ropes!

 Or do you want to end your week with a butt-kicking fitness class? This Friday August 22nd 4:30pm-5:30pm, Cardio & Pump fitness class will be offered at the SRC. This is a great chance to mix it up and try something new with your cardio workout. Designed with interval training, cardio circuit, and body sculpting elements, this class is great for all levels and especially for those who enjoy a non-choreographed, easy-to-follow cardio and toning class.

 See the full jam-packed schedule here. Campus Rec is one campus experience you do not want to miss!

10 Reasons to Be There for FallFest 2014

Can you believe the day is nearly here again!? I’m not talking about the first day of class… there is another important event that has to take place before that madness begins. I’m talking about FallFest 2014! Everyone from the Carolina Union, Campus Rec, and the plethora of student associations all over campus and beyond have been working hard to prepare for the best FallFest yet, and they all want you to be there to join the fun! So in case you need convincing for some reason, here are ten reasons that you need to be there for FallFest 2014 inspired by the awesome media format known as Buzzfeed. If you’re already convinced, here are ten reminders of why you absolutely need to be there for FallFest 2014, so read on fellow Tar Heels and I will join you all there on Sunday night, August 17th, from 9pm to 2am!

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1. Free food.

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We all know it’s basically the first priority of the night. Come nom on practically endless pizza, the perfection known as the Panera Bread cinnamon crunch bagel, and who knows what else. The point is that it’s always delicious and there is always plenty of it.

2. Free stuff.

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The college student’s second best friend after free food. If you need some additions to your UNC paraphernalia hoard, you’ll want to be at FallFest. They even give away re-usable bags to help you tote around your 4 new water bottles, 15 new witty and ironic stickers to put on your computer, and 3 t-shirts with things you’ve never even heard of on the front. But hey, they’re shirts, and that’s 3 more days you can go without doing laundry.

3. Get involved.

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If you’re new around campus, you need to find a place to feel included and at home here in Chapel Hill. Joining a student association can help you find your niche with categories such as athletics, faith and religion, media, service, performance, Greek life, and international.

4. Meet people and see people you know.

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If you’ve been away all summer, you need to dive back in and see all of the people you’ve met and befriended during your time at Carolina! If you’re new, let’s face it, you and your roommate(s)/suitemates probably still don’t know each other that well. Avoid the awkwardness of sitting in your dorm and not knowing the people you live with and form a group! You can brave the crowds and seek the food together and enjoy some roomie-bonding time while you’re at it.

5. Games and competitions.

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Everyone loves a little corn-hole and sumo wrestling right? Ok so I basically just like to watch people I know look ridiculous while sumo wrestling, but both are entirely possible at FallFest. Race your friends through inflatable obstacle courses and see who can make it to the top of the rock wall. Campus rec will work your workout into all of the fun! ;)

6. Everyone is going to be there.

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I’m not just using the classic bandwagon tactic right now. Seriously, I actually don’t know any Carolina student who doesn’t go to FallFest. Unless they’re studying abroad and even they probably realized that they should have planned that better. The sponsors this year have been told to expect a crowd of 25,000 people, and I think we’ll top it. Be there or be square/sad because you’re missing out on the fun that 25,000 of your classmates are enjoying.

7. It’s tradition.

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Getting ready for a new semester to start always feels weird! Going to FallFest makes it feel like a reality and brings you back into the UNC community of current Tar Heels. Fall Semester without FallFest is like taking a shower with your clothes on; you skipped a step and it just feels wrong.

8. Join the social media fun.

The Carolina Union is encouraging participants and campus partners to “promote their presence at FallFest on social media by using #UNCFallFest. The @UNC_FallFest Twitter account will retweet your tagged message for our followers! There will be screens along South Road and at the stage showing a social media feed of anything tagged with #UNCFallFest (including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). Just tag your content, and it’ll appear on screen.”

9. Campus Rec will be there, and you know we’re awesome!

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We’ll be on the Carmichael side of Hooker Fields with a big tent that you can’t miss! Come play basketball, volleyball, table tennis, a climbing wall, Sports Clubs representatives, giveaways, and get all sorts of free swag (stickers, chapstick, pens, etc.) at the tent!

10. A surprise announcement at midnight!?

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Per tradition, the Union website reminds us that there will be a welcome from Chancellor Folt, Vice Chancellor Crisp, and student leaders on stage at the beginning of FallFest. However, this year they’ve added a nonchalant note to “stick around until midnight for a big announcement!” I don’t know about you, but I kind of want to know what it is.

This is the 18th FallFest and they only get better every year, so I hope you’ll be at FallFest 2014 this Sunday night, August 17th, from 9pm- 2am! Come hungry and excited and enjoy a fun evening with your fellow Tar Heels, and also find one of the 600 recognized student associations that will help you “leave your Heelprint!” I like to wander around aimlessly, but if that’s not your thing, click here and here to see a map of organizations that will be at FallFest! You even get a day to recover afterward before classes start, but we won’t talk about that just yet.

UNC Week of Welcome

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New classes, new friends, and – new healthy habits! If you’re new to UNC, this is your golden opportunity to discover the UNC Campus Rec community. Believe me – we’re an extremely positive, accepting, and fun group of people. We would love for you to join us and to take the first steps towards a healthier lifestyle. Fitness, wellness, and the Campus Rec community are right on campus, so it’s easy to get involved.

The “Week of Welcome” runs from August 19th - 22nd. It’s a series of events that take place during the first week of classes, designed to help new students get adjusted to UNC and try some of the many full-time experiences. Connect with us on social media as well – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  Here is the full list of events, and those below are just a sample of next week. I hope to see many of you there!

Tuesday, August 19th: 5:15-6:15pm: Zumba @ Student Rec Center

After classes finish for the day, take a stroll over the Student Rec Center (the headquarters of UNC Campus Rec) and sample the ever-popular Zumba class. Tone and sculpt your body with aerobic/fitness interval training and easy-to-follow dance steps in this dynamic fitness system based on international music and dance!

Wednesday, August 20th: 5:15-6:15pm: Yoga @ Student Rec Center

If classes are already beginning to cause you stress and panic – stay calm! Try out a yoga class at the Rec Center to find your center and focus on wellness. Designed to develop physical and mental discipline, yoga explores and connects poses for a unique strength and flexibility workout. Join Campus Recreation for a total mind and body workout that will leave you feeling invigorated.

Thursday, August 21st: 11:00am-2:00pm: Outdoor Education CenterMeet & Greet @ SRC 

Make this lunch hour the best you’ll have all week. Stop by the SRC to meet the highly-trained OEC staff and learn about the many outdoor adventure opportunities the Carolina Outdoor Education Center offers! Meet someone new, get yourself signed up for an Expedition, or register your group for a day on the Challenge Course!

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions, or just want someone to talk to about fitness. There is a wealth of information on the Campus Rec website too. This is your chance to bring something new and amazing into your college life; like a seed planted at the beginning of a new season, your early investments in health and wellness will grow and provide benefits beyond your expectations. On behalf of UNC Campus Rec, I would like to welcome you into the UNC Campus Rec family!

-Ben Smart

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