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The Smart Way to Fast Food

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There are 50,000 fast food chains across the United States and over 500,000 different fast-food restaurants. No wonder why most of the Americans succumb to the convenient and inexpensive food option of having a burger and fries on the go!

Most Americans crave for convenience and quality, so the initial go-to option remains fast food. Here are quick tips on how to limit your fast-food consumption and lead a healthier lifestyle. With consistency and mindfulness on your eating habits, you will definitely feel stronger by incorporating the following changes:

The Healthy Way to “Fasting”

  • Order smaller portions! Have you ever seen the sign “All drink sizes for $1”? Don’t fall for the trick! You don’t need those extra calories, so try to stick to the smaller size. You can still be satisfied with the same food, but with a smaller portion.
  • Soda swap.  Soda increases thirst, which craves you to drink more. However, it is full of empty calories and sugar and does not fill you up. If you are buying an entire meal, try to substitute soda with fruit juice, lemonade, diet soda, or milk.
  • Avoid extra sauce. Most of the sandwiches that you order come with the whole package of spreads or sauce, but next time just have that separately.! Fast-food contains loads of extra fat and calories that you don’t need in your diet, so give the option to serve by yourself.
  • Kid’s menu. Save money and calories?! The kid’s sizes are usually cheaper and smaller! It has the perfect amount you need to satisfy your fast-food craving. Substitution. Fried foods are high in fat, calories and salt and can raise the chances of getting heart disease. But don’t worry there is an alternative option of getting a grilled or a baked one, so just try to sacrifice that extra crunch for a healthier you!  

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Music for Health

How Music is Beneficial for Pregnancy

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Pregnancy can be one of the most joyful times in a woman’s life. During this time, the expectant mother is ensuring that she and her baby are healthy, and this means being on top of diet, physical exercise, and sleep. But did you know that another small contribution a mother could attribute to her health and mindfulness is by incorporating music?

According to multiple studies conducted overtime, “Unborn babies who were exposed to music while in the womb showed a significant improvement in their overall mental, cognizant, behavioral, sensory, psychological and emotional development.” Therefore, listening to music can not only improve the baby’s health but also helps the soon-to-be mother relax by alleviating anxiety and stress. It also helps mother and child develop a close bond.

Science Behind Music and Neonatal Health

In order to fully understand how music affects the brain, we must dive deep into understanding how different hormones and receptors impact our body. Music can influence the transmission of dopamine in the brain and can affect growth factors important for our bodies such as tyrosine kinase receptors and brain-derived neurotrophic factors. In addition, music affects our endocrine system, specifically altering our adrenal and gonad steroids, which contribute to increased neonatal cognitive performance.

Scientists Ravindra Arya, Maya Chansoria, Ramesh Konaki, and Dileep K. Tiwari conducted a study in 2012 to further validate these scientific facts. Mothers who were in their 20 weeks period before gestation had to play a pre-recorded piece of Indian classical music. They followed this routine every night for 4 months for 50 minutes prior to sleeping with a normal volume, and the results of the study demonstrated the efficacy of music and infant health. The infants had a heightened response to social interactions, meaning that they responded better to “animate and inanimate, auditory, and visual stimuli presented separately or together.” In addition, newborn babies showed a higher performance rate for “range and regulation of behavioral states and autonomic stability.

Common Opinion Regarding Music and Neonatal Health

Those who work outside the scientific community also concur with the fact that music enhances a baby’s health. The current information circulating within these realms is that music improves a baby’s reflexes, auditory senses, and overall personality. For specific song recommendations, below are the Top 5 songs for pregnancy on Spotify.

  1. Fur Elise (spotify:track:3ro1fjNvFzdwZDMIvzlFKL)
  2. Piano Sonata No. 2 in C Major, D: 279 I. Allegro Moderato (https://open.spotify.com/album/4FXJTRZIgy1EEXL9eSGvMF)
  3. Chopin Nocturne (spotify:track:00jD9Ynyo2971OMmksorbu)
  4. Greensleeves (spotify:track:7KGD9CCTZxFo13eE5eS3Lj)
  5. Moonlight Sonata (spotify:track:3lDgg5Ua6KKhrhUGr4CY5J)

Pregnancy is one of the biggest life-changing moments for a woman, and it is important that she keeps in good emotional health for herself and the baby. These songs can help women feel happy, relaxed, and calm throughout the stages of their pregnancy. Overall, music, especially soft-classical music, can stimulate a sense of happiness within the mother and also ensures that her baby is in good health as well.

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Music for Health

The Benefits and Detriments of Music to Overall Health

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Music is used to connect people culturally, express strongly held opinions, or get through the grind of the day. As you can see, music is an integral aspect of our daily lives. But did you know that volume, genre, and frequency of music can affect our health? There is widespread contention from the scientific community in regards to the efficacy of music. While some scholars believe that certain types of music correlate with increased intelligence, others cite that it stimulates distraction and inattention.

Pro: Classical Music Bolsters Spatial Intelligence

Photo by Providence Doucet on Unsplash

Music has the power to evoke emotion, empowerment, and equanimity; however, certain music has been scientifically proven to increase intelligence. Scientist Gordon L. Shaw co-founded the theory of the Mozart Effect at the University of California, Irvine; this theory demonstrated that listening to classical music for long periods of time can increase one’s capacity for spatial reasoning. Spatial reasoning is defined as “the ability to mentally move objects in space and time to solve multi-step problems”. Shaw and his graduate student created a brain model and used musical notes to correlate to brain activity, and eventually realized that the sounds picked up in the brain represented classical music.

Many subsequent experiments confirmed the relationship between classical music and increased spatial intelligence. One of Shaw’s personal studies resulted in college students increasing their IQs by nine points upon listening to Mozart’s “Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major.” In another study, a group of three to four-year-olds were given keyboard lessons for four to six months, and their spatial and temporal reasoning was measured to be 34% better compared to those who did not receive piano lessons.

With the rise in advanced technology, scientists are currently studying neural circuits from infancy to childhood and hope to draw stronger correlations between classical music and intelligence. In the meantime, it’s safe to say that expanding our repertoire of classical music in our daily lives may, in fact, improve our overall intelligence quotient.

Con: Music Hinders Attention Span

Photo by Tobias Tullius on Unsplash

In this day and age, millennials are buried under their headphones in their ears while carrying out day to day tasks such as driving or studying. Despite the ubiquity of the scene, the type of music and its noise level limits a person’s attention span and can be detrimental to overall health.

One study conducted by the University of Wales discovered that listening to music can impede performance. For this study, there were 25 test subjects between the ages of 18 and 30; they had to memorize and later recollect a specific list of letters given to them under quiet conditions, with favorable or unfavorable music, and with audio reciting numbers. The study concluded that students“performed the worst while listening to music, regardless of whether they liked that music, and to the speech of random numbers,” thus proving that music hinders the process of learning.

This idea that music decreases attention span is further demonstrated through the dangers of distracted driving. Participants have a slower reaction time when exposed to loud music. Another study noted that their driving performance worsened with one’s preferred music, including more traffic violations and errors and aggression in driving. Additionally, the volume of the music is important to consider. A study conducted in Canada demonstrated that reaction times decreased up to 20 percent upon being exposed to loud volume, thus increasing motorists accidents.

While music does bring about certain health benefits, it can be detrimental if the projection is not used in moderation. Since music can deter our concentration during cognitively challenging tasks, perhaps it is best to keep the volume at a normal tempo and listen only for a few hours. Moderation of music, when exercised with caution, has the power to make us more alert, aware, and cognizant of our actions and our surroundings.


Regardless of the varied perspectives, the purpose of this pro and con article is to shed some perspective on music and health and help formulate your own opinions. Comment below if you resonate with any of these views or if you have experienced some of the same health effects through music!

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Fitness/ Diet

My 26.21 Mile Accomplishment

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I never expected to run a complete marathon. Running a marathon may sound like something only elite athletes or future Olympians would do. It just didn’t seem plausible for me to run for hours straight, especially since I grew up like anyone else. I was involved in cross country in high school, went to class, work, and lived my daily routine normally.  But this year on March 18, 2018, I ran my first ever marathon. After I graduated college, I wanted to take on a new challenge and decided to get back into running. I thought to myself that I might as well “go-big or go-home.” Next thing I knew, I signed myself up for the LA Marathon.

While I did run cross-country in my senior year of high school in 2011, long-distance running was still new to me. Cross-country races are 5 kilometers, or about 3.1 miles, while a marathon is 26.2 miles long. Not only that, but I didn’t keep up with running after high school since I got into weightlifting. As some may know, weightlifting builds muscle, which contradicts the effects that long distance cardio has to break down muscle and build endurance.

Photo by Go to Ann Kathrin Bopp on Unsplash

Signing Up- May 12, 2017

The first thing I did to prepare for the marathon was to give myself ample time between when I signed up for the marathon and when it actually took place. I signed up for the LA Marathon on May 12, 2017. That gave me a little over 10 months to prepare. Yes, I could have just started my training early and signed up later on, but by signing up early, there was an added motivation because actually doing the marathon became “real”. It also helped that once you sign up and pay for the LA Marathon, there are no refunds, which means there was no backing out now!

When I signed up for the LA Marathon, I signed up for two other races as well: The Santa Monica Classic 10k (6.2 miles) on September 10th, 2017 and the Pasadena Half Marathon (13.1 miles) on January 21, 2018. This three-race series was known as the “Conqur La Challenge” that gave me a bundle deal and helped me pace my progress throughout my training cycle.

Photo by Braden Collum on Unsplash

The First Milestone- September 10, 2017

Now, I was almost ready for a 6.1-mile race by September.  As time passed, these smaller run checkpoints ensured that my mileage was going up. I felt stronger and better with each practice run I made and noticed my time was improving, a critical factor when training for a race this long.

Besides my mileage going up over time, my running frequency also went up over time. I was still going to the gym and lifting weights in addition to my running as part of an experiment I was doing. I wanted to see if I could maintain my strength and minimize muscle loss while still building running endurance. Most people focus on bodybuilding or stamina, but balancing both at the same time was a challenge I wanted to overcome.

Photo by Chanan Greenblatt on Unsplash

The Second Milestone- January 21, 2018

Next came the half-marathon in January. I prepared for this by signing up with one of my closest friends. While we may not have trained together very often, we did go to all three races together. Knowing I was going through this marathon experience with a friend helped out a lot. I had someone to talk about training with and had support during the actual races. This was another great source of motivation and was very important to my training.

As the official marathon date approached closer and closer, I cut back the number of times I went to the gym to lift weights and increased the number of times I ran. Before beginning my marathon training, I was going to the gym 4-5 times a week and only running once a week. I slowly changed that to going to the gym 3-4 times a week and running two to three times a week.

Photo by Pietro Rampazzo on Unsplash

Marathon Day- March 18, 2018

As the marathon approached, I, unfortunately, had a minor setback. I hurt my knee after running some very steep hills a few weeks before the marathon. I realized I had neglected incline training but overcorrected by running too steep of an incline. While it was a tough decision, I decided to take some time off before the marathon to let my knee heal. Looking back, this was the right decision because I had already prepared a substantial amount up to this point. One extra week of running was not going to make a difference, but if I had chosen not to take some time off, I could have hurt my knee worse.

When the big day finally approached my knee had gotten better, but I was still a bit nervous about the grueling run I was about to partake in. However, I just remembered to have fun with it and before I knew it, I crossed the finish line and conquered the 26.2 miles!

“I crossed the finish line and conquered the 26.2 miles!”

Training for the LA Marathon and then actually running it were such great experiences and I hope to run another marathon sometime again in the future. I will take what worked from training for this marathon as well as what I learned (such as preventing injuries) to have a better experience next time around. Finishing a marathon helped me feel like I can accomplish whatever I set my mind to and it is a challenge I would want to conquer again. I hope that by sharing my experience in how I prepared for my first marathon, others can take something away or be inspired to run their first marathon soon.

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