Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July is UV Safety Month

Here in Texas we are well into the heart of summer and most of us will take part in some type of outdoor activity. So, it's a good time to keep UV (ultraviolet) safety in mind. Ultraviolet radiation is the primary cause for skin damage, including skin cancer. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that while everyone is at risk, those with the highest risks of skin cancer are individuals with:
They additionally caution that we should avoid being outside in the sun between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., when the UV rays are the strongest. Sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher should be used every day, and if you do have to be out in the sun for long periods, cover up with long sleeves or a hat to help block UV rays. Additionally, be sure to check your skin regularly for any signs of changes that could signal problems. 

For a great visual on sunscreen, SPF, and sun exposure check out this page at Information is Beautiful: For more information on UV resistant clothing, check out these retailers:
And, for information on what skin changes you should be aware of, WebMD has a good, basic overview with images:

Remember, though, that while we need to be cautious about over exposure to sunlight, some sunlight is actually good for us. Some of the sun's rays help our bodies manufacture vitamin D, a resource that can be important in protecting against bone deterioration (osteoporosis), heart disease, and some cancers. However, the amount of sunshine needed for vitamin D purposes is very minimal. The National Institute of Health's Medline Plus website advises that "15 minutes of sunshine three times weekly is enough to produce the body's requirement of vitamin D" ( 

So, just be sure that you use reasonable precautions while you enjoy the sun this summer! Do any of you have ideas to share on UV protection? 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Stay Hydrated This Summer!

Summer is a wonderful time of the year - swimming pools, 4th of July fireworks, cookouts, there are tons of fun things to do outside! However, it's also one of the times of year during which we should be the most concerned about staying hydrated. Whether you're sitting in the shade or playing in the heat, you need to be sure that your body is getting enough fluids to keep you healthy. Up to 60% of the human body is water with the percentage rising in young children and babies. The water in our bodies is what allows cells, tissues, and organs to work properly, and it's what moderates our temperature. While we lose water through a variety of ways each day, during the summer, as we all know, we often sweat much more than usual, causing body water loss to rise.  Losing too much water can cause dehydration, a situation that can have serious consequences, such as the need for hospitalization, organ failure, and even death. outlines the symptoms of dehydration as:
It is important not to let dehydration sneak up on you and to be sure that you are drinking enough water. Most of us have heard that 8 glasses (eight 8 oz. glasses) of water per day are what is required to keep us hydrated. However, everyone is different, so this number may be lower or higher. 

While water is the best and most effective way to help yourself stay hydrated, there are other things that you can add to your diet that will help. Fresh fruits and vegetables, along with their juices contain water in a way that is easy for your body to access. Other drinks, such as coffee, tea, and soda, can help you add water to your body, but they often have other ingredients, such as caffeine and sugar, that can be counterproductive. Sports drinks can be helpful if you are sweating excessively, for example when you are exercising at a high intensity for a length of time, and they can help provide electrolytes, which will help balance out your body's nutritional needs.  

For more tips on how to stay hydrated, check out these sites:
Do you have any tips to share on how you stay hydrated during these hot summer months? We would love to hear your ideas!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Health Eating Short Story Contest Rules

Healthy Eating Short Story 

TWU Health Studies is sponsoring a Healthy Eating Short Story Contest. Why? Because we want to encourage people to use fiction and humor as a way to share health information. Also, we just like to have fun.


1. You must write a fiction story that addresses and promotes the topic of healthy eating
2. Your story must be at least 1,000 words long and no longer than 5,000 words.
3. You must include a leprechaun and a monkey in your story. (You didn't think we could be completely serious, did you?)
4. Make it lighthearted or humorous, if you can, but in good taste.
5. The contest is open to anyone 18 or older.
6. Entries and contest form must be submitted to HSWritingContest @ gmail com
7. Entries must be typed, double-spaced in Microsoft Word. The contest form may be saved as a PDF or JPG.
8. Judges will select the top four stories and post them for voting on the HS blog
9. Entries will be accepted starting 8:00 am CST on August 1, 2012 till 5:00 pm CST on August 17, 2012 or until 25 entries are received, whichever comes first.

You can download these rules and the entry form here:

Prizes - We are feverishly working to secure prizes. Who knows what they might be? A writing book? A health promotion book? A dancing monkey? Probably not the last one, but maybe a stuffed monkey.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Guest Post: I'd rather be me NOT you

I'd rather be me NOT is the only way I can own my success

I recently offered to help out a colleague by “becoming her” for two hours of my work day.  What a ride that experience was!  I began this new “job” somewhat reluctantly; all I had going for me was my desire to help my colleague.  I knew going in that I was probably not going to enjoy this.  So, I pasted a determined smile on my face, quelled the nagging fear that I will fail miserably and reminded myself that it is only for two hours.

The funny thing is that I was to do only a miniscule piece of her job: answer the phones professionally, take messages, transfer calls and direct visitors who might show up in the office.  I was NOT asked to do any of the highly complicated things Liza does on a daily basis.  So why this tension?  Let me describe to you my initial minutes of sitting at her desk, which Liza and I laughed about later.

First, I tried to make sense of the written instructions, get comfortable behind the desk and generally look very capable. My heart was pounding and I was already looking at the clock! It strikes me that when we are unsure of our skills and have trusted someone else to do what we typically don’t enjoy doing, we respond with fear and unease when put in a situation such as this.  The phone rang and I felt my throat tighten up.  I got through that moment only to be told, “You are not Liza.”  Hello, don’t I know that? Then it strikes me that when we are faced with uncertain situations we can dig into what is familiar about our personality and use it to save that moment and in doing so, make it easier for ourselves.  So, I said back, “you are right…I am trying very hard to fill her big shoes and will try my best to help you.”  The caller laughed, I joined in and took care of her request. 

The minute hand seemed to move S-L-O-W-L-Y.  I was surprised at how many times I peek at the clock.  I recognize instantly that when you are NOT having fun, each task is a chore and I feel blessed to know that when I go back to doing what I truly enjoy doing, happiness will return with a bounce. Productivity and engagement are terms used frequently in our work world.  These business terms make best sense when we identify why we enjoy certain things more than others and create opportunities to have “more of” those tasks in our work. Can you clearly identify your burn-out skills?


  • Identify what you do well and find opportunities to use those skills.  Motivated skills lead to increased enjoyment and career happiness.
  • Ask people to give you feedback with examples on what you do well.  Keep these endorsements and stories in a portfolio—use them on your career documents and interview.
At 4 pm, I begin to feel somewhat comfortable.  I made one mistake so far and survived.  I am reminded that mistakes are a way for us to learn, try something different and add to our portfolio. It also reminds me that I can reach out for help because people are willing to help—you must know how to ask the inquiry question.  My body started to relax and I finally started to attend to some work I brought in to do with me WHEN people who pass Liza’s desk, stopped to talk to me and to each other.

The number of conversations that happen around Liza’s workspace began to overwhelm me.  I wanted to go into a burrow and stay there for a while and just breathe.  And, that day was not even a super busy day at the office! I quickly realize that the environment in which we do our best and happy work matters.  Both, the overall culture fit as it resonates with your values, interests, skills and personality traits as well as the “micro-environment” we create within that larger culture matters. How does your work culture and work space support your best and superior work? 


  • Where do you get your energy from? Do you get it from engaging with the outer world, being around and with people OR do you prefer being in a space of inner thoughts, ideas and reflection? Remember, we are talking about preferences here, NOT skills.
  • How do you create and organize your learning/working space? Be a detective and observe when and how you contribute in the most upbeat, joyful and creative manner.  Maybe you like lists, order and schedules.  Maybe you like “going with the flow,” variety and setting deadlines on the go? There isn’t a right or wrong answer. The more self-aware we are, the easier it is to create opportunities for success and growth.
The clock finally says 5 pm!  In my head, I am already driving down I-71.  Even the fact that I will get stuck in traffic doesn’t bother me.  So, would I sub for Liza again? Absolutely! One, I know that moving out of my comfort zone is good for me.  Second, it confirms for me what I’d like to do “less of.”  Sometimes it opens a new window of opportunity. How about you? Are there aspects of your work that you wish to do “more of” or “less of?” Do you wonder whether you can move toward doing “more of” what you are truly passionate about?


  • Look at your current job/role and identify what you like/dislike in this role.  If you are in transition, make sure that you are aware of this list before you say yes to an offer.  A recent Gallup poll suggests only 45% of us are happy in our jobs! I think we need to change that number.
  • Continue to reflect on what might be non-negotiable as you plan your career path – John Pepper, former CEO of Procter and Gamble talks about finding your North Star to define your life.  What might your North Star be as you define your career happiness?
Take ownership for your career happiness.  What are you waiting for?  And, welcome back, Liza!

Sunitha Narayanan is a certified career coach with a passion for connecting people and their talents to life and work opportunities. She is a co-active coach, empowering her clients to believe in their dreams, set actionable goals and actively create joy in their work lives. Her niche is working with clients on exploring and researching career ideas, writing proactive job search plans and identifying strategies for transition, work-life balance and career management issues. Sunitha enjoys writing articles on career management topics and is published in Mobility Magazine, H&R Relocation News and Career Convergence. She is with OI Partners Promark Company, a firm that offers executive coaching, leadership development and outplacement services. She has recently discovered an interest in blogging and plans to continue that journey as well.  She can be reached at

This article was originally posted on The Undercover Recruiter.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Guest Post: The State of Health of Student Veterans

As a health educator at an urban institution of higher education that currently serves approximately 350 GI Bill benefit students, I have recognized a need for those of us working in college health to better understand our student veterans. I am also a U.S. Army veteran that served a tour of duty in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. When I attended university during the mid-to-late 1990's, there were no campus veteran support services available, nor was there a student veteran organization. The transition for me was difficult and involved a lot of self medication. I, as many servicemembers before and after me, was trained to take care of myself and my buddies - to show weakness in any way is not what a soldier does. The world has evolved since - the reduced stigma of mental health and the many support organizations that are available to meet the needs of all veterans is amazing. However, we still have a long way to go to completely eliminate the stigma of mental illness in the military.

Military servicemembers and veterans are attending college in record numbers. In part, this is the result of the implementation of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The Post 9/11 GI Bill is a robust education benefit that makes the pursuit of a degree in higher education available to our nation's next Greatest Generation at virtually no cost to them. The number of student veterans is expected to continue to increase as more servicemembers transition out of the military. Many of these veterans are first generation students who also require additional support to successfully navigate the hurdles of pursuing a degree in higher education. This is not to say that institutions of higher education must create new programs to support student veterans, but they must evaluate and enhance existing services to meet the specific needs that student veterans bring to campus.

Student veterans often are not comparable to traditional students in their motivation to achieve higher education. Many look at this as their next mission that they must complete. They are often older than traditional students and have a more global life experience. Many have families they must support that necessitate the need for them to work a full-time job while they are also a full time student. Most have served in an area of hazardous duty where their life, or the lives of their comrades, has been threatened or tragically lost. The impacts of combat are not always visible and may not manifest themselves immediately. The transition from military to civilian and from boots to books may be a significant challenge for many student veterans. The visible wounds of war are easy to recognize, treat and accommodate. It is the invisible wounds of war - post traumatic stress (PTS), anxiety, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), or military sexual trauma (MST) to name a few - that present a challenge not only for the veteran, but also for those around them - family, other students, faculty and staff.

As professionals in college health, we are in a position to gain a better understanding of what the impacts of not only combat but also military service in general may have on student veterans. How do we accomplish this? By doing what we do best. Assess, assess, assess. Again this does not mean that we have to create new assessment tools, but rather that we augment existing tools in order to pull out veteran specific data. This is what was done by the Missouri Partners In Prevention (PIP) in 2009. Each spring PIP conducts the Missouri College Health Behavior Survey (MCHBS) on 17 campuses both public and private. This survey looks specifically at college students behaviors around alcohol and drugs, mental health, gambling, sexual assault, suicide, distracted driving, etc. In 2009, the MCHBS was augmented with approximately 40 veteran specific questions related to PTS, MST, TBI, engagement, alcohol and drug behaviors, and suicidality. Participants who indicated military service were directed to these additional questions in addition to the general MCHBS survey. In 2011, PIP received an additional SAMHSA grant to develop a stand alone Veterans Behavior Survey that will be piloted in fall 2012  by PIP schools who choose to participate.

The American College Health Association (ACHA) - National College Health Assessment (NCHA) began asking veteran status  in 2011. Campuses that participate in the ACHA-NCHA now have a mechanism to reference veteran responses to this comprehensive college health assessment tool.  ACHA also has a Coalition for the Wellness Needs of Military Veteran Students.The Coalition is open to all members of ACHA who are interested in working with, advocating for, and supporting veterans in higher education.
The challenge now for campuses is to move beyond being veteran friendly to being genuinely veteran supportive. This can only happen when higher education professionals gain an understanding of student veterans and work to positively support and impact their lives. After all they have given of themselves to support and defend our freedoms; it is now up to us to support and advocate for them so that they may be successful college students.

This post contributed by Bill Smith.

Bill Smith currently lives in Kansas City, Missouri and is the Health Educator with Student Health & Wellness at the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC). He holds a Bachelors of Social Work from Washburn University (2000) and a Master of Science in Management from Baker University (2003).

He has worked in college health for nearly twelve years with a special emphasis on sexual health, alcohol and other drug use, and stress management. Prior experience includes six and a half years as a health educator at the University of Kansas and ­five years working in a community mental health center and with a community based HIV/AIDS service organization in Topeka, Kansas.

Bill has been asked to speak on the topic of student Veterans success by various organizations including:
  • The National Science Foundation
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  • Missouri Partners In Prevention
  • Metropolitan Community College – Longview Campus
  • The Community College of Philadelphia
  • The Illinois Higher Education Center
  • Region 10 Association of College Unions International

He is a former soldier having served in the Army both on active duty and in the reserves. You can reach Bill at