America Runs on Coffee…

Good morning people of the AM! I honestly don’t think I have ever been awake and functioning this early this semester. Today is sort of a slow and long day; I woke up this early to begin dehydration of samples for histology, and later during the day I must go to Student Government where we will debate a VERY VERY VERY important smoking bill (did I accentuate my sarcasm in all caps?). For my research in histology I must begin a three and a half hour long process that essentially dehydrates whatever samples that I am interested in. Under the supervision of Janice Voltzow, I will place the samples in a plastic-like substance and section these samples by cutting them into slices that are on the order of a few micrometers thin. That way I can later stain them in order to visualize the cellular structure of the samples; this is a super condensed and simplified explanation of the art of histology. It is something that I still have much to learn from Janice but slowly I’m getting there; in her words, histology and research in general sometimes requires a little black magic to produce the desired data! At present I am dehydrating the samples of dissected-out snail gills [left and right] of Diodora aspera. This species of snail is better known as a keyhole limpet, and I am conducting histological research because when compared to Haliotis rufescens, better known as abalone, the abalone gills exhibit a strange “cross linkage” between the individual leaflets that make up the gills. Whereas in keyhole limpets the phenomenon was not observed. Original footage captured by Janice when she examined abalone with an endoscope showed that the gills, for lack of a better phrase, looked like waffle fries.

Later on in the day I will have the pleasure of attending a Student Government meeting and debating the smoking bill that has come to the table for deliberation. I think this debate may take a good chunk of time because when I was reading over its contents, a lot of the findings seemed rather redundant to the current smoking policy on campus. Let me backtrack a little bit because I feel as though for any readers who may have just started reading my ramblings, it might seem a little confusing. I am a senior senator on Student Government and as such, the senate votes on the passage or lack thereof of bills and resolutions of virtually any matter. This matter in particular tackles the hot topic of smoking on college campuses. At present, there are many college campuses that have banned smoking however our’s is up for debate. On the one hand, it would be a healthier course of action but at the same time, would it be just in violating the rights of those who do smoke to enjoy at their leisure? The world may never know.


To read something hopefully inspiring, skip to the last paragraph and watch the Facebook link. The whole body of this post is about my tips for fitness.

Today started out very interestingly; due to all the snow late last evening and subsequent sleet that turned the snow into ice during the early morning, Scranton had a compressed schedule and opened at 10:00AM in order for the grounds crews to clear as much of the ice away from the sidewalks. Might I add they did a fantastic job as well! Anywho, I got out of class rather early due to the compressed schedule and figured, heck why not? I should just head on over to the gym and get my workout finished early on in the day so that I have a huge chunk of time in the evening to study and goof off (but mostly goof off). When I got to the gym there were so many people there and all the benches/powerlifting stations were full. Usually I would groan to myself because of the inconvenience but for some reason, I didn’t do that today. Instead I thought about all the work that these people were putting into the betterment of their physical health. It’s true; instead of sitting around doing a whole lot of nothing, these people were at the gym working their butts off and making their health all the better for their grind. I applaud you dearly.

This brings me to my next point and rant that I would love to articulate: schedules. Currently, I’m working on a five day schedule: first day is chest and back, second day I do legs and abs, third day marks the shoulders/traps fun, the fourth day is dedicated to arms, and the fifth day is the day of rest. For me, it is important that I stick to this schedule religiously otherwise I won’t see any improvement with my body. It is so crucially important to have an established schedule that one abides strictly by if their goal is to improve their body.

Next point: what would you like your body to do? The type of workout really depends on what direction a person would like to go as far as how they want their condition or physical appearance to be. Some may wish to put on some mass and therefore they would have a workout regiment that prescribes heavy weight with low repetitions supplemented by a high macronutrients diet. Conversely, others may want to lose weight, like myself. I need to enter a cutting season really soon and since it takes me a couple decades to get my lazy butt to do anything, I might as well start now. My workout regiment consists of high repetition with low weight; the more repetitions in each exercise theoretically leads to a greater cardiovascular strain. It also doesn’t hurt to throw in some running and high intensity cardio/ab circuits in order to help get the sweat flowing. The diet of a cardio-centric workout should have moderate protein with minimal carbohydrates and minimal fat. The carbs simply add a lot of water weight and won’t help much when you try to lose body weight.

I am on a role for perfect segues. Dieting is key for any kind of workout. I don’t even want to hear about those kinds of extreme diets that tell you to cut out virtually everything from your daily intake except a cracker. That is absolutely absurd and a perfect recipe for causing physical harm to yourself down the road. Your body needs nutrients to function! Do yourself a favor and don’t take extreme methods just to lose weight. DO NOT get me started on dieting pills. All you need to do is eat right and eat lean. When considering protein options, try the less fatty/greasy option. Both chicken and turkey are perfectly lean sources of protein that don’t have hundreds of thousands of calories associated with them; that is, grilled chicken or grilled turkey, not a freaking chicken nugget Happy Meal from McDonalds. That isn’t even real chicken meat… And in the off chance that it is real meat, I can almost guarantee you that it is processed the heck out of and cannot give you much nutrient benefit. Long eating rant short, cooking your own food is an outstanding option as opposed to grabbing fast food because you, yourself, are putting the ingredients into the food and you know exactly what you’re eating. Along the lines of nutrients, counting calories is not a bad idea either. I use the app MyFitnessPal in order to manually enter each food item that I eat. It does take some time to individually input all the food you consume but I promise it will pay off if you are on a diet that adheres to a calorie count.

That is only a small fraction of what is on my mind in regards to fitness. Let me recap all the stuff I just said:
1. What would you like to do with your body image? What are your goals?
2. Have a schedule. Stick to it.
3. Diet lean and well. I DO NOT commend extreme dieting programs. AT ALL.
4. Count em up! Make the calories your friends and not your foes.
5. For the love of all things good, don’t cheat.

Let me clear up my fifth point. Cheating includes working out at the gym for any period of time and then eating/drinking something unhealthy later on only to think it’s justified because you worked out, or if you skip gym days because blah blah blah. It is never justified to consume unhealthy food simply because you worked hard if you are actually serious about improving your image. It is all a matter of how bad you want it! How bad do you want to look like fire in a couple of months? How good do you want to feel about yourself because of all the work that you have dedicated into improving your physical health? Trust me, the celebrations will come but you must be patient. Once you have reached that goal that you have set for yourself, whether it is losing X amount of pounds or getting chiseled abs, then you can treat yourself. However, if you are hyper consistent and conscious about your workout and what you eat, it is very possible by the time you reach your goal that you will have lost a taste for whatever “cheat” you probably wanted when you first started the grind.

This whole process is completely doable and I have every faith in YOU that YOU can make this change if you want it to be. Let me share something with you: a decade ago I was grossly overweight. I couldn’t do much physical activity for long before I got winded and my body would scream in pain for doing so. How dare I get up off my bum? How DARE I want something more than a sedentary lifestyle? But I did. I dared to challenge myself to be a better me than a day before; I did this every single day until I started to notice the change. Let me tell you the change is addictive. You are gifted a higher level of energy to tackle the day and you have a better outlook on life as a whole. I knew that if I continued to do nothing about my health that it would spell trouble for me later down the road, possibly in the form of heart disease. That was my “why”; it was the reason why I decided to make the change so that I can live longer and appreciate life fuller. If you embark on your own journey for self-betterment, remember that your biggest opponent is staring right back at you in the mirror, that’s it. Believe in yourself that you can make a change. Each repetition makes you stronger – each stride you run makes you better. With each workout that you stick to in your schedule, you are better than the person you were yesterday. Just know these things because YOU have what it takes.

I’m just going to leave this here:

Look at all this jazz!

Greetings and salutations dearest readers, mine. I hope all was well over this past weekend and that not too many people were upset by the Superbowl turnout! I personally enjoyed myself. At Pilarz apartment 402W, I had a small party for the occasion on Sunday with plentiful food, great company, and a refrigerator armed to the teeth with….beverages. I wanted the Broncos to win and I felt the good mojo coming all game long. It all started at the coin toss; I had called tails-Panthers and sure enough luck would have it that I was right. From then on out the entire game was smoothish sailing for the Broncos. Somewhere in-between the interceptions and mounting frustration on Cam Newton’s face, my roommate Bob, his girlfriend Kim, and myself cooked up a mountain of food for us to inhale alongside the…beverages… that we so heartily enjoyed! This massive feast included endless mozzarella sticks, numerous wings, and a big old pile of fried rice. Oh, just a wee bit of background, I am very much Chinese and yes, rice is a staple for every freaking meal; the carbs are glorious. Of course, the University of Scranton Programming Board also hosted their own Superbowl watching event that also had wings and mozz. sticks, but did they have ANY beverages? I don’t think so. Therefore, my party > their party; too bad, sorry not sorry 🙂 I’m writing for my readers, and I’m sure it’s quite entertaining to read about my strange ranting on various things from my [seemingly harmless] poking fun at USPB to my endless schedule that seems like David taking on Goliath.

Perfect segue!

Speaking of biblical stuffs, today was Ash Wednesday! Of course, me being the perfect angel and free of sin, I had accidentally slept in this morning and missed the mass to get my ashes. Lord knows I will utter so hard a prayer of forgiveness, quite literally! I have decided that for lent, I will give up all cheese. Now, I know what some of the readers may be thinking: that task is too hard. I say nay (as I often do during my  Student Government meetings when voting on bills, though I assure you I identify as more liberal)! Giving up cheese won’t be hard as long as I still have my two staples in life: 1. Rice, enough said, and 2…beverages… It won’t be that hard. On a different yet still biblical note, the analogy to the biblical tale of David and Goliath references my taking on the teaching assistant role and my role in research. You see, it’s true I’m only taking 16 credits this semester but all my free time has been filled with to-do lists that contain a lot of homework that I’m doing my best to stay on top of, as well as miscellaneous tasks that are loosely involved in research.

I don’t quite recall if I explained this in my last post but I am back working with Dr. Voltzow on snail histology. Basically, I will be looking at two different species of marine snails: Haliotis rufescens and Diodora aspera. They are commonly known as abalone and keyhole limpets, respectively. I will look at both of their gills. While the keyhole limpets’ gills look like two axes with leaflets extending off of the main axes, the abalones’ gills have the same setup except that the leaflets appear to be interconnected. Dr. Voltzow has looked into this phenomenon previously but not in close detail; she had only looked at the morphology rather than the cellular makeup. That’s where I come in. With my thirty plus decades of experience doing histology, I shall skillfully slice the snails gills up and mount them on slide, staining them with a Milligan trichrome stain to see the different types of cells that are present within the gills. Did I mention I’m only 22, to refute my “thirty plus years of experience”? Unfortunately that’s all I’ve got for you oh readers, mine. Remember: stay hungry [for knowledge], my friends. Until next time!

The one about TA and Judo

Hey all,

It has been a great start to the last semester! In recent news, I have picked up a teaching assistant (TA) position for comparative biomechanics, a course that I took two years ago. Things are a little rusty at this present time, and unfortunately in my infinite wisdom I threw away my old comparative biomechanics notebook so brushing up on it is impossible, but I think it will all come streaming back to me. Today was my second day TAing the course and I have been diligently taking notes in the back of the class so that I will have a complete set of notes to reference if I should have a need in the future. Truly, I forgot how fun this course was! Another recent happening occurred on Sunday right before I was supposed to start classes. I got an email from a department of which the name currently escapes me and it reminded me that I was still missing one credit of three gym courses that are mandatory for my graduation. Now, I know what some prospective students reading this are saying in their minds, “Forget that, I don’t want to have mandatory gym in my curriculum!” Nay I say to you! Be still your aching hearts and bellowing thoughts! Do not fear because my class, the class of 2016, was the last to have mandatory gym credits for graduation. However that does not mean gyms are no longer offered. It’s quite the contrary because gyms are still offered and they are incredibly fun. In my haste when I read this email, I signed up for the first available gym course that fit my schedule which happened to be judo. This course meets once a week on Monday from 5-7pm. I went to the first class and it was a really interesting and strangely humbling experience! At the start of every class, every student must bow when they greet the sensei. The sensei instructed us on proper etiquette and proper ways to sit. Seating is not so much part of formalities as bowing is, but it is rather for one’s own safety. For instance, if two people are sparring and one is thrown directly at seated person, the seated person could either have a bad bruise of a blown off leg, depending on whether or not they observed a safe seated position. I can’t wait for the next course!