Is it possible to call two places “home?”

Photo by Emily McIntyre

It’s a phrase most people have heard before: “a house is not a home.” I have to say that I could not agree more with this. To me, a home is a special place that you can always come back to, a place that remains timeless in your heart, and a place that’s filled with love. Indeed, I call Cleveland my home because it’s where I spent eighteen years growing up, changing, and preparing myself for the next chapter of my life at college. However, Athens has grown very near and dear to my heart since I came to Ohio University two summers ago. Like several students, I refer to Athens as “home”—and it’s neither by mistake, nor due to the fact that it’s where I live for the majority of the year.

For the first few months or so of my freshman year, my comfort zones on campus were definitely narrowed down to a few places, especially James Hall (the dorm I lived in). It wasn’t until I met friends within my learning community when I started to gradually spend time in other campus hot spots. Adjusting to this new place had been so much easier with my peers in the same boat as me. Soon, I learned to appreciate campus, rather than fear it. The breathtaking view of Cutler Hall on College Green? Only Bobcats can understand its significance. Taking a stroll down Court Street, even on a rainy day? I never guessed I would miss something that simple while I was on winter break.

Aside from the scenic examples, no home is complete without the people who fill it with love. For example, I have formed unique bonds with professors who are now references on my internship cover letters; they helped instill in me a passion for journalism. Furthermore, I have become friends with countless faces from the dorms, campus organizations, classes and Greek Life. I even admire the locals for never failing to extend that warm Southern Ohio hospitality, whether it’s the hairdresser at the salon or a cashier at Kroger.

To me, when leaving Athens for an extended period becomes more difficult each time, I like to think it is a blessing in disguise. The Bobcat Family who belongs to Ohio University may lead their individual lives elsewhere in this world, but when we come together, it’s as if we never left Athens in the first place. Why else is “HOUmecoming” a bigger event each year than the one before? Why else do seniors want to avoid the “g” word (graduation) like the plague?

Now as an older and wiser Ohio University Bobcat, I no longer apologize when I refer to Athens as “home.” Generally speaking, I mostly apologize for the mistakes I make, but that is definitely not one of them. I chose to become a part of this place… on purpose… without a single regret.

Get ready… for the Snack Smackdown!!

Whether you’re looking to grab a bite between meals, fuel up post-workout or simply eat something on the go, choosing junk food over healthier options is usually the most convenient– and the most common.

A lot of processed drinks and foods give you that burst of energy at first, but then result in a crash-and-burn later (they won’t keep you full for long, either).

In my last post, I talked about the 30 by 30 Challenge I did; however, I realized you have to adjust both exercise and eating habits if you want results.

Fortunately I came up with some simple ways to snack healthier, rather than aimlessly going through the fridge, freezer, and pantry. It’s kind of turned into a little game, discovering how I can switch this for that, without sacrificing flavor or satiety.

I challenge you to try a few of these and maybe invent some of your own to share in the comments section!

Winner: whole wheat bread
Loser: white bread
Why: Your body take longer to digest the whole grains than the refined stuff (woohoo, fiber!) and there are endless whole wheat varieties out there to try.

Winner: chicken, fish, or lean meats
Loser: lunchmeat
Why: Lunchmeat is filled with harmful preservatives and additives (often MSG, a.k.a. monosodium glutamate). If you opt for the grilled winners above, you can usually search the ingredient list, then customize it to your liking. Bonus points for grilling (or pan-searing) it yourself, which means refrigerating/freezing leftovers to save time later!

Winner: Hummus
Loser: Creamy veggie dip
Why: As long as you’re eating vegetables, a little ranch dip never hurt anyone… right? WRONG. It’s easy to lose track of the skimpy two-tablespoon serving suggestion on the package. Instead, choose protein-filled hummus to save several grams of saturated fat. You can add garlic, paprika, or really any spice/seasoning to bump up the flavor.

Winner: DIY Greek yogurt parfait
: pre-packaged yogurt cups
Why: Did you know one traditional Yoplait has up to 27 grams of sugar? That’s the equivalent of two scoops of ice cream! I Also, a lot of yogurts have questionable artificial flavors and sweeteners in them. I prefer starting with Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla), then adding my own fresh fruit for flavor– often a few nuts and granola too!

Winner: microwave or air-popped popcorn
Loser: chips
Why: Scarfing down a bag of Lays seemed like no biggie… until you saw there are 10 grams of fat in about 15 chips. At only 100 calories for about two cups, air-popped or microwave popcorn wins for its fiber content and ability to satisfy any salty, crunchy craving. In a pinch? I highly recommend Skinny Pop, a brand located at Costco and most grocery stores.

Winner: bed of leafy greens
Loser: plates
Why: I know, salads aren’t everyone’s favorite. Yet, you can transform several meals into salads. Deconstruct your sandwich by including everything but the bread. Put stir fry on some torn Romaine lettuce. Ditch the burrito at Chipotle and go for a salad next time; you still get all your usual fixings! (Psst, according to their burrito tortilla has 300 cals, 10g fat, 46g carbs, and 29% of your daily sodium allowance).

Keep calm healthy and snack on!





The “S” Word

Believe it or not, I’ve struggled with my weight for several years.

My younger sister Hayley has always been naturally thin without really trying, while my older sister Hannah has been the queen of working out for quite some time. And then there’s me….

Looking back now, I guess I never had enough motivation to commit to a diet or exercise routine lasting longer than a few days. I would try something new, like tracking the foods I ate into a calorie-counting app, then end up letting each habit fall by the wayside.

Even though I didn’t gain the Freshman 15 (studies show it’s technically around eight pounds), I still struggled with tempting choices in the dining halls and making time during the busiest of days to hit the gym, which was a 13-minute walk from my dorm.

My weight also messed with my self-confidence all the time, which was discouraging.

This summer has definitely been the most stressful I’ve ever had with an internship, part-time job and two online classes. My plan was to feel accomplished after finishing all that schoolwork, building my portfolio from interning, and depositing paycheck after paycheck. However, I learned quickly that keeping in all that stress wasn’t healthy. With exercise as one of the best relievers out there, I decided to add one last goal to my already-too-full plate: the 30 by 30 Challenge.

I heard about the 30 by 30 Challenge from my Lose It iPhone app. The plan is simple: exercise for at least 30 minutes each day for 30 consecutive days. Personally, I think it’s perfect because I don’t have to worry about following those difficult magazine diagrams or paying an expensive gym membership fee. I am now on day 8, and I can already feel a positive change within.

I won’t lie and say that it’s been easy– after all, it is called the 30 by 30 Challenge! Yet, I’m not allowing myself to give up again like I have before. I’m not allowing myself to use the excuse of “I’m too busy to work out” anymore either. And most of all, I refuse to set a target number on the scale.

Instead, my end goal is to finally feel good about myself. Not lose x number of pounds. Realistically speaking, I’ll never be the “S” word: skinny. Our world is so obsessed with “skinny,” and according to, the definition reads, “very lean or thin; emaciated.”

Tell me that’s an attainable, achievable look to strive for.

I want to set a real example, different from the starved celebrities who swear by the crash and fad diets out there. I want to feel more confident. I want to be the f-word…


Nike said it best... Just do it! (My Pedometer app and workout playlist are essential for a good run)
Nike said it best… Just do it! (My Pedometer app and workout playlist are essential for a good run)