Healthy Eating: A Way of Life, Not Just a Fad

Photo credit: Medical News Today

by BRETT MARSHALL, CSU Public Relations Intern

As healthy eating and active lifestyles continue to sweep the nation, Minnesota State University, Mankato is doing its part to help its students and staff lead healthier lives.

“Nutrition and eating habits play a large role in your overall health,” Lexi Cournoyer, MSU campus dietician, said. “I think it is important for college students to develop healthy eating habits that they can carry throughout the rest of their lives.”

According to research conducted by Havard Medical School, eating healthy food can contribute to not only better physical health, but also mental health. This is due largely in part to a neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, which is lined with nerve cells. These nerve cells produce the serotonin and they function better when good foods and “good bacteria” pass through them. They send signals throughout body and help your body and brain to feel better.

Cournoyer says that some foods that people should try to consume more of, if they’re trying to eat better, include whole grains, lean proteins such as chicken, fish, turkey, beans and legumes, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.

“It’s important to that everyone finds a positive relationship with food and understands that everything can be enjoyed in moderation,” she said.

Good nutrition can also help students succeed academically.

“Having a good breakfast can help increase your concentration and focus in class,” Cournoyer said. She also added that smart snacking can aid in memorization.

Food shouldn’t be consumed whenever someone feels like it either. Cournoyer said that everyone is different when it comes to how many times a day they eat. Some people can eat three larger meals and some snacks, others benefit from five to six smaller meals and less snacking.

“To find out what works best for you, try and really listen to your hunger cues and eat only when you are hungry. This can help you figure out how often you should be eating throughout the day,” she said.

MSU has expanded health food options it offers both in the University Dining Center (UDC) and in the MavAve food court. The UDC has expanded the salad bar and added a cold vegan bar, which has lots of plant-based proteins. Cournoyer said that each day a lean protein, hot and cold vegetable options and fresh fruits are offered. She added that Sodexo, the food provider for the UDC, has a wellness platform called “Mindful,” which features healthy entrées that the UDC incorporates into their menu cycle.

“Our campus also meets ‘Mindful Gold,’ which is a standard set by Sodexo focused solely on healthful options. Our campus now having a dietician is a great step forward as well,” Cournoyer said.

MavAve is ramping up their efforts for healthy options as well. For entrées, Cournoyer said places like Toss, Star Ginger and Garbanzo offer great options with things like fresh vegetables and lean meats. She also highlighted the various healthy snack options ranging from fruit and vegetable cups to Baby Bell Cheese to Kind bars. These products are all listed under “Dietician’s Choice” labels indicating they’re a great option for people who are watching what they eat.

MSU is also working on increasing programming that focuses on nutrition and wellness. Cournoyer said MSU expands the number of events each year that focus on health. National Nutrition Month, which takes place in March, is one of the major events. She said they have lots of things planned that students and staff can look forward too.

To stay up-to-date on things happening with Cournoyer and university dining, you can follow @rdmnsu_ and @maverickdining on Instagram.

Fitness Goes Interactive As Students Connect

by TAYLOR ZENZ, CSU Public Relations Intern

Are you sick of your daily, strenuous routine at the gym? Switch it up and try an interactive group fitness class!

During the school year, Campus Rec offers 22 group fitness classes on campus each week. Classes range from yoga, meditation, core conditioning, Zumba, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), Thai dance, cardio-based classes, hip-hop, circuit training, strength training and stretching classes.

When speaking with Carly Hopper, fitness and wellness program coordinator at Campus Rec, she explained how unique and versatile the classes are for students with busy schedules. She says the Group Fitness classes provide an opportunity for friends to get active together and also provides an opportunity to meet new people who share the same interest.

Apart from getting socially and physically active, Hopper mentions that the Group Fitness classes are beneficial for those who don’t know “how to develop a safe and effective workout or which machine to use or for how long. It is already done for them when they attend a Group Fitness class. They simply have to show up with a positive attitude, participate, and most importantly, have fun.”

“Going to the group yoga classes on campus allows me to connect with my fellow students in a very relaxing environment,” said Mahala Wolff, MSU senior. “The class allows me to clear my mind and set my intentions for the day.”

Another senior student, Margaret Winter, explained, “I look forward to having an hour of peace after a long day and these classes are the perfect way to have it.”

If group fitness isn’t your forte, Campus Rec offers other options that are bound to get your blood flowing – intramural sports, sports clubs, adventure programs, Maverick Adventures pilot programs, indoor and outdoor climbing walls, a “Health in Every Aisle Tour” at the Hilltop Hy-Vee Monday, April 9, the MSU sprint triathlon Sunday, April 29 and more.

Hopper suggests that studies show that students who are physically active have a higher retention rate in schools versus those who are not. Studies also suggest that physically active students have a decrease in depression and anxiety problems.

“Anybody and everybody, regardless of their health, fitness level, experience or lack of experience is welcome in Group Fitness classes,” Hopper said. “We hope to see you in class!”

Campus Rec is always developing new, creative ways to keep up with MSU’s physically active and collaborative community. For a full list of offered fitness classes and events, visit and follow the Campus Rec Facebook page for event notifications.

EXTREME MAKEOVER: Field House Edition

by BRETT MARSHALL, CSU Public Relations Intern

One of the Midwest’s largest free-standing (4 walls only) facilities is going to have an entirely new look in Fall 2018.

Myers Field House is set to undergo a $740,000 renovation that will bring new floors, a fresh paint job, updated artwork and new logos to the facility. Some of the renovations began over Spring Break and will continue through the summer with focus on upgrading the floors.

“This is the original floor from December 2001, and the wear and tear over the past 16 plus years requires us to replace it,” said Todd Pfingsten, MSU director of Campus Rec.

The new floors will receive an updated color scheme as well. The track, which, according to Pfingsten, sees “the majority of the wear and tear,” will be purple. The infield courts, which are lined for basketball, volleyball, tennis and badminton will be a charcoal gray. The area between the courts will be a lighter shade of gray.

The walls will spirit the school colors of purple, gold and white. Pfingsten said students and faculty can look forward to seeing some new artwork and logos on the walls as well.

The painting began over spring break and is expected to be completed no later than the end of June. The floors will be installed beginning mid-June and finished by early September, just in time for the school year.

Pfingsten said the project is being funded primarily by two sources. The flooring project, which costs $737,580, is funded by a special allocation from university reserves. The painting project, which costs about $3,500, is being funded by departments who normally occupy the facility.

Myers Field House is a shared facility by human performance for classes, athletic practices and collegiate track meets, and for Campus Rec programs like open recreation, sport clubs, indoor climbing and adventure education programs.

The upgrades will benefit many people beyond those who use it regularly as Todd Pfingsten and Campus Rec host a variety of campus and community events including: Welcome Week, Family Weekend, concerts, Relay for Life, the Mankato Marathon Expo, youth and high school athletic tournaments, science fairs and more.

For more information on Myers Field House and MSU Campus Recreation, visit

It’s True. Hunger and Homelessness at MSU

By BRETT MARSHALL, CSU Public Relations Student Intern

It may not always be visible, but students at Minnesota State University, Mankato go hungry and homeless.

Nearly one-third, or 31.4 percent, of Minnesota State University, Mankato students missed nine or more meals this past semester according to statistical results of a recent student survey.

In a recent Centennial Student Union survey*, 574 students responded to a question about food insecurity that asked the number of meals a student reduced or missed due to lack of food or funds. Of those responding 12.2 percent indicated they had skipped 25 or more meals. Student ratios showed 8.2 percent missed 13-24 meals, 11 percent missed or reduced 9-12 meals during the past semester. Remaining results had 12.9 percent of students missing 4-8 meals and 18.1 percent missed 1-3 meals.

The majority of responding students, 216 or 37.6 percent said they did not miss any meals due to food insecurity.

The survey question by the Community Engagement Office sought to determine students facing hunger issues at Minnesota State Mankato. Karen Anderson, CEO director, said she’s seen nationally food insecurity statistics among students on college campuses ranging from 25 percent at the University of Hawaii to 59 percent at the University of Oregon.

Along with food insecurities, student homelessness is a concern for her’s and other offices on campus. She said she couldn’t comment too much more on campus homelessness “without breaking confidences.” She added those numbers are part of a state count collected each January. Actual numbers that include students may be skewed since many homeless find a shelter, are “doubling up” or are couch hopping.

Campus and Community Resource

The good news for students are the various university and community programs that help students dealing with tight budgets, shortage of food and homelessness.

Anderson wanted to make students aware of the Campus Cupboard, a free food shelf for University students. A student-organized food shelf that operates out the Crossroads Church campus ministry across the street from Wissink Hall at 331 Dillon Ave. Campus Cupboard is open Tuesdays from Noon to 3 p.m.

“Usually when you use a food pantry you might need to show proof of need or income, etc.,” she said. “Because we have a high percentage of students eligible for Pell Grants, Campus Cupboard has worked it out with Second Harvest that our school population qualifies without showing proof. Anyone with an MSU, Mankato student ID can get food on a weekly basis.”

In addition, Crossroads Church also offers $1 lunches every Tuesday. These lunches are open to the campus community.

Individuals can also provide financial support to Campus Cupboard by visiting its online donation page.

Anderson also wanted students to know about REACH, a local drop-in shelter for homeless Mankato youth between the ages of 16 and 24. The shelter is operated by Lutheran Social Service (LSS) out of St. Paul, which according to its website, “Helps thousands of young people every year, providing them with the support and resources they need to launch into a productive, healthy and independent life.”

The Mankato shelter is located at 125 East Liberty St. and is open Monday-Thursday between noon and 5 p.m.

Emergency Grant Program

Minnesota State Mankato now offers an Emergency Grant Program, highlighted in this week Serendipitous Moments video this new program offers emergency assistance through a grant from Great Lakes Higher Education.

University students with financial aid on record can apply for the grant when encountering a non-school related financial emergency. Visit the Emergency Grant website and click the Apply Today button. More information is available in the University Admissions Office located in the Taylor Center.

* The Centennial Student Union’s 2018 student survey randomly selected 3500 students. This year’s survey concluding March 1, 2018, had 24.6 percent response rate with 862 students taking the survey. 

‘Discovering Yourself’ Series Helps Your Personal and Academic Success

Continuing through the Spring Semester, the Counseling Center again offers a series of personal discovery workshops to help guide students through typical troubling waters of college life.

The series, “Discovering Yourself,” offers sessions that tackle topics that typically  trouble students. The FREE 50-minute Spring 2018 sessions in CSU202 resume this Wednesday, Feb. 28, at 1 p.m. with helpful tips on Avoiding Academic Burnout.

Other topics include conflict resolution, healthy living, body compassion and – just in time for finals week – taming test anxiety.

The sessions happen at different times of the day to accommodate various class schedules.

Do yourself a huge favor. Check the remaining list of classes (right), choose your sessions, mark your calendars and attend.

Such tips for success are never a waste of time.

Also know that your Counseling Center offers students free consultation, individual counseling and group counseling to support students in resolving personal, social, educational, and mental health concerns.

The Counseling Center is located in CSU 285. Fall and Spring Semester hours are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to noon and 1-4:30 p.m., and 7:30 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m. during summer semesters.



What Can You Do For The Winter Blues?

Finding Your Personal Remedies

by TAYLOR ZENZ, CSU Public Relations Student Intern

Winter in Minnesota seems to get colder and snowier by the day. When winter seems never ending it can hit us non-winter lovers especially hard.

So when winter drags on what do you do when you’re feeling blue?

Here’s my top 3 things that I do when I’m feeling the “winter blues” and need to stay in good spirit:

1. Mark my calendar with the things that I’m looking forward to. Crossing off days in my calendar and making countdowns gives me satisfaction and happiness knowing that I’m inches closer to something that I’m excited about.

2. Play music throughout the day. Growing up, my mom always had fun music playing throughout our house. It was very calming and it helped release the tension that was built up during a long day. Coming to college, I had a hard time playing music because I didn’t want to interrupt my roommates and their studies. Just recently, I’ve been testing the waters and playing music in our kitchen during dinner and on the weekends. It’s helped us bond and smile more frequently because we usually end up dancing and laughing as we belt out the wrong lyrics.

3. Eating well. Every single day, I start my day with a chocolate protein shake full of vitamins and an egg. Starting my day off with nutritional value creates a mindset of wanting to eat right the rest of the day, which ultimately gives me the energy to get throughout the rest of the day.

Though we’re nearing the end of the cold months, it’s important to find things that make you happy and that can help lift your spirits.

Taylor Zenz

Public Relations Intern

The Effects of Music on the Brain

  • Music keeps the brain active – even while sleeping
  • Instrumental music is more conducive to concentration
  • Surgeons perform better when listening to music
  • Music can reduce blood pressure and is a defense against anxiety, depression and stress
  • Types of music impact our relationships and willingness to help others.

Even if we listen to music in a passive state and largely as a means to relax or let go, music is anything but. Whether you use it when you exercise or during a power nap, your brain, when in contact with music, is working at full!

Since the 1950s, many studies have focused on identifying the action of music on the brain.

Music and Work

Not everyone has the same needs when it comes to music and work. Some prefer silence despite scientific proof that music helps to focus and improve efficiency and creativity.

In 1994, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported a spectacular difference in performance of stressful operations between surgeons operating with their music of choice versus those that operated in silence.

In general, instrumental music has been shown to be more conducive to concentration than alternative forms. Lyrics and singing may cause distraction even if it is in an unconscious manner. That being said, the type of work being done and the monotony of the task will affect this.

The Mozart effect

Listen to music and your body, in particularly your brain, will say thank you. With slower music, it can improve circulation and dramatically reduce blood pressure.

According to a 2004 study involving rats listening to Mozart, music generates a supply of calcium to the brain that produces dopamine, inhibiting the sympathetic nervous system and reducing blood pressure. This also explains why music acts as a defense against anxiety, depression and stress.

Music makes us better

Beyond the biological benefits of music, it is now proven that it even has impact on our relationship with others.

A 2009 study revealed that if one is subjected to a happy music, the people who surround us will seem happier.

Even more surprising is the experience of psychologists Rona Fried and Leonard Berkowitz of the University of New York: they subjected a group of students to listen to calm music; another to stimulating music; a third group to music producing negative emotions; and lastly one with no music at all. The students were then asked to render a service. Students submitted to the calming music were more likely to help (90%), followed by those in the third group and those who did not listen to music (60%) and in last, the group subjected to more negative music (45%).

Moral of the story: listen, sing, play! It’s good for the body and for the soul.

Taken From Karaoke Version Blog

New Campus Cupboard Offers Shelves of Food for Students in Need

This week, Kassie & Sam introduce students to the new Campus Cupboard located in Crossroads Ministry along the Minnesota State University, Mankato campus. This by-students-for-students program facilitated by Crossroads serves as a food pantry for students in need.