It’s NOT All About the Numbers

BodyFat_ImpedenceThe world of fitness is overloaded with numbers. It seems like everywhere you look, there are people on message boards discussing new workout plans, or supplement companies trying to sell you the secret recipe for success: how many sets to be completed, calories to be burned, reps to be done, exercises necessary, grams of protein required, carbohydrates consumed, workouts planned, pounds lifted, kilos converted, miles ran, and the list goes on and on. Crunching the numbers is a workout on its own!

In reality, there’s only one number you should be concerned with at the gym: Zero. That’s the number of cares you should give about all the different advice you are being bombarded with as you walk through those gym doors. Don’t get me wrong, numbers have their place. You can keep track of personal records and progress. But, it has its pitfalls as well.

Research shows that stationary bikes, treadmills, stair climbers, and ellipticals overestimate calories burned by 7%, 13%, 12%, and 42% respectively (UCSF).  42%! This discrepancy, caused by rudimentary formulas and the machines’ incapability to consider each unique individual, represents a far larger concern in the gym: the over-reliance on numbers to motivate your fitness endeavors.

A classic example is the weight scale. If your fitness goals are defined solely by your weight, you may be approaching your workouts the wrong way. The number on the scale is literally just the numerical reflection of your relationship with gravity. A scale can’t measure muscle, body fat, strength, or your enjoyment, which is ultimately going to play a large part in you consistently returning to the gym.

The workout is your opportunity to do what YOU enjoy. You are in charge of your workout; your workout is not in charge of you! The great thing about fitness is there is an infinite number of ways to get in shape, and Aztec Recreation provides just about all of them: Bowling, Tennis, Surfing, Paddle boarding, Kayaking, Aztec Adventures challenges, dance, martial arts, and so much more. You name it, they have it.

So squat because you want to, run because you want to, or take that windsurfing class at the Mission Bay Aquatic Center because YOU want to. Finally, at the end of the day, smile—because you’ll want to.

Good Luck!

By: Jimmy Shiba, Graduate Health Promotion Intern, MPH CandidateJimmy_Shiba

How are you making your workout more enjoyable? Let us know! #LiveWellAztecs


Resources: (All the different programs associated with Aztec Recreation)  (Article outlining study done by University of California, San Francisco Human Performance Center on cardio equipment accuracy) (Why cardio machines miscalculate calories burned) (Research study showing the impact of workout enjoyment) (13 simple tips on how to make your workout more enjoyable)

Tis’ the Season to be Healthy

Be mindful of your portions and to actively listen to your body about how full you are becoming
Be mindful of your portions and actively listen to your body about how full you are becoming

The holidays are back in full force! For most of us that means packed schedules, full plates, and our healthy lifestyle gets put on the back-burner. Here are 4 tips to help you keep up your health habits this season!

1)    Limit your liquid calories!
Holiday cocktails, beer, and non-alcoholic seasonal drinks are usually loaded with tons of sugar, fat, and calories! These drinks have little to no nutritional content to add to your diet, but they will add hundreds of extra calories!

Here’s what you can do: Make drinking water your first priority, and let yourself indulge in your favorite holiday drink occasionally. There is no guilt in indulging in moderation, but don’t over-do it! Try ordering a smaller size, or choosing a smaller cup. Remember to drink a cup of water before and after each drink!

2)    Choose appropriate portions!
Two simple ways to avoid overeating during the holidays are to be mindful of your portions and to actively listen to your body about how full you are becoming. Mindless eating leads to unnecessary calories, sleepiness, and feeling sick.

Here’s what you can do: Use a salad-sized plate instead of a dinner plate during meals. This can give the illusion of a fuller plate and help you manage serving sizes. Wait 10-15 minutes before going back for seconds! During this time, enjoy socializing with friends and allow your body some time to tell your brain that you’re full. Remember: if you decide you’re still hungry, you can always go back for more!

3)    Bring a tasty, healthy dish to potlucks!
During the holidays our nights and weekends are usually packed with friends, family, festivities, and of course food! At your next holiday potluck, opt out of bringing the same old bag of chips and dip. Instead, bring a dish that’s healthy, fresh, and delicious!

Here’s what you can do: Make the focus of your dish fruits and veggies! Find a quick recipe online or on Pinterest that is both within your budget and thematic. Your dish will be a conversation piece and the added nutrition will give everyone extra energy to enjoy the rest of the night!
a.    Dish full of fruit:
b.    Dish with veggies:

4)    Treat yourself to exercise!
If the chaos of the holiday season is interfering with your regular workout routine, that doesn’t mean you have to give it up completely! Exercise is not only great for physical health, but also improves your mental health and puts you in a better mood! Around the holiday season, it is especially important to keep exercising!

Here’s what you can do:
•    Sign up for a holiday themed race such as a local Turkey Trot or Jingle Jog and bring family and friends! Try the San Diego South Bay Turkey Trot & Food Drive this Thanksgiving! Visit for more information.
•    Try a high intensity, short duration workout before a family gathering, and invite a relative to join!
•    Even if you don’t have time to make it to the gym, take a walk around the neighborhood after a holiday meal and include the whole family.

by Sharon Hughes, MPH Candidate, Health Promotion Graduate Assistant and
Katie Nelli, BS Candidate, Health Promotion Undergraduate Assistant


Member Spotlight: Dontae Burnett

“My journey at Aztec Rec is parallel to my life story. I had to try more than once before I won it.”
“My journey at Aztec Rec is parallel to my life story. I had to try more than once before I won it.”

It’s no coincidence that Dontae Burnett won the 3rd Annual Cal Coast Credit Union slam dunk contest. Although it was his first win at the competition, it was his 3rd attempt for the honors. Burnett says, “My journey at Aztec Rec is parallel to my life story. I had to try more than once before I won it.”

For Burnett embracing failure is what sets him apart. Growing up with his four brothers in the Midwest he participated from an early age in football, basketball and baseball. The brothers were fearless and competitive, doing gymnastics from playground structures and pushing their athletic skills to the limit. Burnett was a top athlete his whole youth, but as a high school senior, the basketball coach cut him from the team. Burnett responded by proceeded to get a full college scholarship at Kalamazoo. After one year there, an opportunity in California moved him to San Diego where he now studies marketing at SDSU. But marketing is Burnett’s plan “B” for right now. Plan “A” is to see where basketball can take him.

Dontae not only carries a full course load, he also has an NASM personal training certificate, weight trains four times per week, personal trains others several mornings each week, plays six hours of basketball every week at the ARC, and does several hours of intense basketball cardio drills regularly. That regimen keeps him fit and leaping so he is ready for try-outs for the semi-professional league teams when there is an opportunity. To date, Burnett has played briefly as a point guard for one American Basketball Association (ABA) team, and tried out for two other ABA teams as well as one USBL team.

Burnett didn’t land on marketing from the start of his higher education. He switched over from accounting but says he began dreading the accounting school work and now he finds he loves the marketing coursework. “It’s a perfect fit for my entrepreneurial mind,” he says. Burnett is currently learning more about our SDSU Zahn Entrepreneur Center – a program that helps students bring technology innovations to market. He says he has an idea related to fitness and technology that might be a match for the program.

“Dunking is something that everyone who ever played basketball wants to be able to do,” he says. And Burnett can fly. In the context of a slam dunk competition, it’s more than getting to the rim, it’s about tricks, flexibility and ball handling skills. Burnett says that despite his early youth focus on the traditional sports, tennis was a huge attraction, “Because it’s a finesse game.” Watch this video to see his winning dunk.

Dontae lives by this theme: “Focus on a plan ‘B’ but don’t give up on your dreams.”

by Amy Bekken Schiller

5 Steps to Love Your Body

What’s more amazing than how a body can look, is what it can do.

Society today has portrayed “prefect body” images all over social media. It becomes evident in the number of “likes” that these photos receive, that society admires and fantasizes about one day possibly attaining the same perfect bod. We often find ourselves comparing our bodies to others and saying to ourselves “wish I had her curves” or “wish I was buff like that guy.” These thoughts drown our perception of our own bodies because we are always going to try and measure up to “ideal image.” Here are 5 Steps on how to fully accept and love your body.

Step 1: Mind Over Matter

If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter! It’s evident that everyone is not built the same, from physical structure to hair color or even an individual’s attire. Focusing your energy and thoughts to perceiving your body as something positive and practice replacing negative thoughts or comments about your body with empowering beliefs. Accept what you cannot change and let the negative thoughts go. It can be as simple as smiling at yourself in the mirror and saying something positive about your body. This is enough to alter your mentality and you will be on your way to truly loving your body, if you don’t already!

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Don’t let them define you, always remember: You Define Yourself.

Step 2: Taking Care of Your Body

A car will not run without gas, oil, tire changes and many other essential parts. Neither will your body if you do not take the time to take care of it. Living an active lifestyle and engaging in social and physical activities will fuel the body mentally and physically. It is also important to pay attention to what you feed your body in thought and in nutrition. Your body is your temple, so exercising and participating in a workout regime is important to loving yourself. People of all sizes can be active. Exercise can help you feel better about your body and give you more energy.

Step 3: Support Team

People who have your best interest at heart and constantly provide positive vibes are a great asset! Family, friends, and relationships all play a role in the confidence we find within ourselves. Surround yourself with people who have a healthy perspective about food, weight, and their own bodies.

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You are beautiful. To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to change you is the greatest accomplishment.

Step 4: Be A Team Player – Love others

Once you have learned to love and appreciate yourself, spread the positivity to those around you. Love and treat others the way you would like to be treated. Become an advocate who believes in promoting self-worth over self-judgement of body image. Love is contagious. If others around you are able to see your self confidence and acceptance of your own body, they too will find peace within themselves. This time your role is to be the supportive team member and help others love their bodies.

Step 5: Enjoy your body and Life

This final stage serves more for reinforcement purposes to continue to love your body and those around you. Keep in mind that loving your body is not necessarily easy, it may not come over night. But being persistent and implementing the previous 4 steps in your life will improve self-esteem, self-worth, and you will begin to love your body. Loving and changing your body is not a race, it’s a marathon. Enjoy your process because you only have one life and one body!

by Liki K. Porotesano, MPH Candidate, Health Promotion Graduate Assistant


Getting into the “Spirits” of Halloween

Stay safe and have a happy Halloween!

With Halloween right around the corner, many of us are looking forward to an amazing weekend filled with creative and crazy costumes! Halloween can be celebrated in many ways, such as, a passing Halloween candy to trick or treaters, watching scary movies, or going to a party. No matter what party you choose to attend, whether it’s a small get-together at someone’s house or a big Halloween bash, if you, or your friends, decide to drink, making a plan before and while you drink can help keep an awesome night from turning into a ghastly one! To make sure that you and your friends have fun and stay safe this Halloween, try following these simple safety tips…

Before Your Night Out

  1. Plan a way to arrive and get home safely: Your plan can include getting a ride home by a Taxi, Lyft, or Uber driver, spending the night at a nearby friend’s house, or choosing a member of your group to be the designated driver for the night. The RADD rewards program can provide free rewards to the Designated Driver if you visit participating establishments! You can check out website for more information of the RADD rewards program. (Just remember, the Designated Driver is a non-drinking person and not the least intoxicated person!)
  2. Eat food before and during drinking: Eating a meal before drinking can help slow down the absorption of alcohol and help you avoid a spike in your blood alcohol content (BAC).

During the Celebration

  1. Use the one drink per hour rule: Pacing your drinking is an excellent way to maintain your buzz without over-consuming. It takes your body approximately an hour to absorb and eliminate each standard drink of alcohol. Also, remember that many craft beers, a large glass of wine, or a strong mixed drink are likely more than one standard drink!
  2. Do not mix alcohol and drugs: The mixing of alcohol and drugs can have adverse and unpredictable effects. There is an increased chance of liver problems, difficulty breathing, confusion, and dizziness. There is even an increase chance of overdose and death in some cases. Your best bet is not to mix and to avoid illegal drugs altogether.
  3. Safely intervene to prevent sexual assault: There may be an emergency or problematic situation that can be a precursor to sexual violence where you will want to intervene and stop things from happening. There are a variety of ways to intervene. Here are some examples:
  • Make up an excuse to get someone out of a potentially dangerous situation, such as asking them to dance or go with you to another party
  • If your friend is with someone who is aggressive, pushy, or if your friend is drunk, stay with them!
  • Take steps to reduce someone’s use of alcohol before problems occur, such as giving them food or water instead of alcohol
  • If a situation arises that is concerning, but you do not feel comfortable dealing with it or do not know what to do, do not hesitate to call the police!
  • It is important to remember that men and women can be victims of sexual assault, so it is best to look out for all your friends and intervene or get involved when necessary.
  1. Know the signs of Alcohol Poisoning: Knowing the signs will help you determine if someone needs the help that could potentially save their life.
  • Unconscious or semi-conscious
  • Slow respiration (breaths) of eight or less per minute
  • Low body temperature
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Cold, clammy, pale or bluish skin

If you notice any of the signs, it is important to call 911 right away, lay the person on their side, and stay with them until medical services arrive!

by Kashmoné Hamilton, MPH
Health Educator
Health Promotion Department


10 Easy Ways to Save Water

christmas-cactusDid you know California is suffering from a drought? According to the City of San Diego, the City enacted Drought Alert mandatory water use restrictions on November 1, 2014, in response to serious drought conditions statewide. Below are some simple tips that Aztecs are finding are easy to adopt into the busy student lifestyle.

  1. Water houseplants with ice cubes.
    Ice cubes will absorb slowly, preventing excess water running out. Cubes that were dropped on the floor work well for this tip.
  2. Take shorter showers.
    Baths and long showers use at least 4x the amount of water as a 3-5 minute shower.
  3. Color your toilet tank water.
    This clever trick will tell you if you have a leaky toilet. Put the food coloring into your tank and if the color in the bowl changes color (and you haven’t flushed), you have a leak.
  4. Throw, don’t flush.
    Put the squished bug, tissue or small garbage in the trash, instead of flushing it down the toilet.
  5. Turn the faucet off.
    Do not let your faucet run while brushing your teeth, shaving or washing your face or hands at the sink.
  6. Capture warm-up water.
    While you’re waiting for the hot water to reach the tap, place a bowl or bucket under the faucet to capture “warm-up water”. Warm-up water can be used to rinse dishes, wash veggies or water the garden.
  7. Use one cup a day.
    Designate one glass a day for your beverages and do fewer dishes every night.
  8. Support local farmers.
    Knowing who your food comes from means knowing whether they use sustainable farming practices, which include water conservation efforts.
  9. Store drinking water in the fridge.
    You’ll use less water waiting for the tap to cool down and less ice is needed to keep it cool.
  10. Wash fruits and veggies in a bowl.
    Running water uses up to four times as much and is lost down the drain. Use a bowl instead and the water can be used in your garden when you’re done.

These tips are compliments of the A.S. Sustainability Commission.  Please share.