The startup of Simply Açaí at the University of Utah

Story and gallery by GRIFFIN BONJEAN

University of Utah student Seth Neelman, 23, has opened his first location for his company Simply Açaí in the Lassonde Studios building on campus. 

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he spent two years on a religious mission in Brasilia, Brazil, to help the community. 

While in Brazil, he met the friends who introduced him to açaí berries. “It was like the most amazing thing ever,” Neelman said, “and from then on out I was eating açaí like two to three times a week.” 

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Freshly made Simply Açaí Power Bowl.

After finding his love for açaí, he later joined a summer 2019 internship with Makai Fruits. It is a company that ships hand-picked açaí berries from the Amazon Forest to customers in the US. Through the internship, Neelman got to travel to Belem, Brazil, to check the açaí harvest and factory.

Neelman also met and helped support locals in Brazil by purchasing bracelets made from the açaí berry shells. He handed them out for free after opening in Lassonde on Aug. 19, 2019. 

Neelman believes that this internship taught him information that was used to help the start of Simply Açaí. He also credits Lassonde for giving him his entrepreneurial spirit because he lived there as a freshman student. 

Being a student at the U helped him gain the ability to connect with the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute and its food partner Chartwells Catering. Neelman wanted to stay on campus with Simply Açaí and felt that the food trailer in the Lassonde lobby would be a good place to start. 

In order to open, he had to hire employees. Neelman said, “First I started with a manager because I wanted someone that was familiar with the restaurant industry.” He wanted someone who would lead by example and enforce the rules involving cleanliness and health codes. Neelman interviewed the job candidates. He said many of the employees whom he found were references from other employees. Not only did he want to find good employees, but he wanted to create an experience where his employees could have fun and enjoy the work.

Employee Reid Lanigan feels that Neelman has succeeded in doing so. “I’ve loved it so far,” Lanigan said. “I have class after it on some days and class before it on some days so it works out well with my schedule.” 

Lanigan only works an average of three shifts a week with each of his shifts only lasting about three hours. He works Monday mornings, and Tuesday and Thursday lunch shifts. His duties are to follow the health codes as he makes food that customers order from the menu and to serve it to them. He said the company encourages employees to “try to get the food out as fast as possible and try to make sure that the food is correct.”

The menu displayed on the red and white Lassonde trailer gives students a variety of different açaí bowl options. Each item on the menu contains the pureed frozen açaí palm fruit berries. Customers are also able to choose additional toppings like dark chocolate chips, goji berries, almond butter, Nutella, and many more. 

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Employee Reid Lanigan adding the final ingredient into a customer’s açaí bowl.

An avocado toast menu is now a new addition to the menu items that are offered to add to the different flavors. Avocado toast is an example of how businesses have to make adjustments to change. Employee Grayson Goodyear has had to deal with business changes for the company. He said, “We’ve actually started to run out a lot mid week and I’ve had to do two grocery store runs for Seth [Neelman].” The employees of Simply Açaí are adjusting as the business makes its way through its early stages.

These changes contribute to the success of the startup of Simply Açaí, and the employees face these changes to help with company success. Goodyear believes that the bosses did well with hiring their employees. He thinks this is important. “Seth has done a really good job hiring just like friendly people and people that seem inviting to the customers, and I think that creates a lot of attention,” he said. 

Goodyear believes that this attention to the relationships that are built between the friendly employees and customers contribute greatly to the success of the business. 

When it comes to the success of the business, customers returning is one of the ways to measure Simply Açaí’s success. “It started off a little slow, but after the first couple of weeks it picked up,” employee Reid Lanigan said about his first few shifts after opening. “The longer it’s been open, the more word has definitely spread.” He believes that the company continues to grow as it gets further and further away from its opening day.

As a student entrepreneur, Neelman feels that he is able to gain knowledge in the classroom that he can apply to his business. In a follow-up FaceTime interview he said, “It is kind of cool now that I’m in a lot of my management and leadership classes, like that make sense or that would work in my situation.” Neelman has started his journey toward success as a college student entrepreneur.

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Expansion of Rice-Eccles Stadium

Story and Photos by TUCKER SCOTT

In Salt Lake City, 1927 marked the first time the Utah Utes football team defeated the Colorado Mines in their first home opener in Ute Stadium. 

In 1972 The University of Utah was donated $1 million by Robert L. Rice  to create a football stadium by the name of Rice Stadium. 

Fast forward to 1997 when a Utah alumnus, Spencer Eccles announced that George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation would donate $10 million toward the construction of the new stadium. They agreed to keep the previous donor’s name along with their name as part of the new stadium called Rice-Eccles Stadium. 

They started the remodel by replacing the stadium frame with modern steel, including a concrete and glass facility. The football schedule was never interrupted by the construction as they had it built in less than 10 months. 

Since the previous rebuild of the stadium, Rice-Eccles Stadium has hosted a variety of events from concerts, super cross, monster jam, and also the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Since the last stadium expansion, Rice-Eccles Stadium has been home to the Utes for over 20 years, giving fans the experience they have always wanted. 

In 2010 the Utah Utes received an invitation to join the PAC 10 Conference, which is now the PAC 12 conference. Since joining the conference Utah has gained a larger audience that attends the football games. For consecutive years they have been selling out the stadium and only having standing room only tickets available. 

Then there was some buzz going around about another stadium expansion. Plans started to develop as the Athletics Program wanted to expand the size of the stadium by around 5,000 seats. The estimated funding for a project like this was around $35 million in donations. 

On Aug. 13, 2019, the unexpected occurred. The Ken Garff family gifted Utah Athletics the largest donation in the history of Utah Athletics. They donated $17.5 million to the renovation of the new stadium. The other amount needed will be donated by several other revenue sources.

In a recent interview with Coach Kyle Whittingham, he said, “This really cements this project and makes it an absolute reality.” Whittingham expressed his gratitude toward everybody who is helping make this stadium expansion happen. 

The number of seats that will be added will be around 5,144. The stadium currently holds a capacity of 45,800 and the Utes have sold out 57 consecutive football games. The plans are about 1,000 more stadium seating in the corners and the rest will be premium seating with terraces on each side of the goalposts, suites, loges, club seats, and rooftop seating. 

The south bowl will be enclosed allowing fans to walk around the entire stadium without having to leave the stadium.

Ron McBride, the University of Utah head coach for the football team in 1990, took a team who was barely winning five games and turned the program around. In two years he took the program to the Copper Bowl, the program’s first bowl appearance in 28 years.  McBride said that he was excited to see the tedium expansion be complete. “This has been a long time coming,” he said. “We have been needing some more room for our fans to cheer us on.” McBride still attends the games on the sideline as he watches the team take on their opponents in Rice-Eccles Stadium.

One major thing that was discussed with the designers of the stadium expansion was seats. Fans wanted more seats so they could enjoy the game and not only be in the standing room only section. 

Cade Carter, a student at the U, was late in buying his MUSS student section ticket so he has the standing room only tickets. Although he enjoys watching the games, he dislikes the fact that he has to stand the whole game. “I really enjoy watching the games and being in that type of environment, but I really dislike how much standing I have to do,” he said. “With the stadium expansion I really am excited to see how the seating will play out next year.” 

With all this excitement about the stadium being rebuilt it has everyone anticipating the final result. The stadium is set to be finished in August 2021. 

Art with a cause: artwork from cancer patients, caregivers, and staff at the Huntsman Cancer Institute

Story and gallery by MADISEN GATES

The Huntsman Cancer Institute stands as a gentle giant overlooking the University of Utah from the northeast corner of campus. Its massive glass structure is a symbol of excellence and elegance. The building illustrates its mission statement; “The patient first, a united effort, excellence in all we do.”

Treatment can be a stressful time for those who have cancer. The side effects for most people range from physical symptoms to emotional ones.

But what lies inside the facility is more than a treatment center for cancer patients.

For years, HCI has been a leading innovator for cutting-edge cancer research, including creative and emotional therapies.

Shelly White founded the Artist-in-Residence program in 2012 and has served as its director since then. Patients, caregivers, and HCI staff can participate in group or individual art projects every Tuesday throughout the year.  

Coming from a musical family, White said she believes that art can be both mentally and physically supportive.

She applied and was approved for a LIVESTRONG grant that offers funding for creative arts programs nationwide. She was determined to find a way to implement these benefits at HCI.

But these weekly classes are not just art workshops.

The artists leading the program each year act as mentors. Participants can learn skills in pain management and how to relieve stress. They can also spend quality time with loved ones through various art projects. These projects can include painting, mask-making, ceramics, and even designing maps. The patient is able to gain control over one aspect of their treatment – their art.

“I think a lot of the time people feel like they’re having all these things done to them that they wouldn’t choose. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, you wouldn’t choose those things,” White said. “And you get to make choices about ‘what do I want to get engaged in.’”

Each current artist will choose the artist for the next year to ensure the quality and engagement during these workshops. Every prospective artist can attend a session as a guest presenter. The current artist observes how the guest presenter interacts with the patients and attendees. This improves the success of the project to continue enriching the patients’ time in treatment.

Laura Wilson, the current mentor for the program, has been making art her whole life. Her favorite form of art is fine arts, which she studied at Carnegie Mellon to earn her BFA. Every artist is free to run the sessions in their own way. “People are just really happy to be here. The level of creativity here is really high,” Wilson said. “You have people dealing with very hard things, and they just free themselves.”

White said the greatest motivation to continue searching for artists to expand these projects is watching patients flourish creatively. “Seeing the whole person” develop, she said. “Giving people an opportunity for people to express themselves beyond words.”

The sessions are always kept open to allow participants more freedom while they create. There are no rules as to what a participant can or cannot create and participants are able to come and go from the art sessions in between regular treatments.

Vibrant clay tiles form a legacy piece displayed in White’s office.

A brown and red clay art piece is displayed in White’s office, which became a legacy project for one participant.

 

 “With some people, it’s a legacy,” White said. “There was another woman who was in her 40s who had daughters that were probably in their 20s who did this piece. It was a legacy piece because she wasn’t going to survive the cancer, but it was a really meaningful thing she could do with her daughters to make this piece.”

For most participants, the art represents much more than a fun craft project.

Caren Pinson has been attending the sessions for many years as a cancer survivor. She described her time in the Artist-in-Residence program as “life changing.”

“I have medical post-traumatic stress, from long before I moved to Utah and when I actually did first move over it was pretty bad. I didn’t ever really want to see a doctor again,” Pinson said. “But being here, this is really the safest place I’ve ever felt.”

Pinson continues to contribute many ideas to improve the program. She recalled a previous conversation with one of the HCI acupuncture specialists who said, “Huntsman hires compassion and they can teach everything else.”

Seven years later the program has flourished. In addition to the Artist-in-Residence program, a Writer-in-Residence and a music therapy program can be found on the HCI calendar throughout the year.

The programs aim to go even deeper in the upcoming years. It is the hope of the director to pair biologic researchers with participants to show the value of arts through basic science.

The emergence of these programs is a testament to the dedication of the staff at HCI. It is a giant not only in dominating the cancer treatment field, but also for the heart that lies within the walls.

 

All you need to know about Utah men’s basketball player Donnie Tillman

Story and photos by SAMIRA IBRAHIM

Donnie Tillman’s successful start in his first four games as a freshman paved the way for him to secure minutes in games during the rest of his collegiate basketball career.

Now a sophomore, Tillman, 19, stands at 6-foot-7 and weighs 225 pounds. He has become an immediate impact for the Utah men’s basketball. He averages 20.3 minutes per game and is ranked fifth among his team members. Tillman is an important element for the Pac-12 basketball team.

Even though his sophomore season came to an unpleasant end with the team’s overall record of 17-14 and no ticket punch to the March Madness dance, Tillman has remained grounded and is ready to get to work and prepare for next season.

“I make sure that my focus is directed toward improvement rather than all the backlash and comments about our performance this season,” Tillman said. “It just allows me to focus on becoming better and getting some future wins for our team.”

Tillman was born and raised in Detroit and is the son of Donna and Johnnie Tillman with four other siblings. Out of the four boys, Tillman is the youngest. He often looked up to his oldest brother, Bishop, who played as a Division II point guard for Wayne State University. His brother basically paved the way for Tillman and his love for basketball.

As his mother Donna was a single mother raising her boys, she was also battling illness and would often get sick. There would be instances where her epilepsy got so bad, that she needed to quit her job as poker dealer for MotorCity Casino. But she was fortunate enough that it allowed her to support her son and let him finish high school.

He and his mother received a call about an opportunity to attend and play for Findlay Prep in Las Vegas. This is a nationally-recognized high school basketball program that has produced many NBA draft picks. In less than two weeks they made the decision to drop everything and move 2,000 miles away from home in time for him to enroll in the basketball program.

“Everybody thought I was crazy for leaving everything I had known and grew up with. But I knew that this was fate and written for me and so I just had to take the leap of faith. I was also only 15 years old, so you can only imagine how scared I kinda was,” Tillman said.

He and his mother sold everything in their home and everything they owned, then took a ride and never looked back. It wasn’t necessarily easy making the move, as the road trip included many tears and fond memories that they shared along the drive.

“I was always aware of Findlay Prep but they said there are going to be a lot of differences, but it is going to be the best thing for me,” Tillman said. “It took us four days to get there, I was definitely having second thoughts and didn’t know what I got myself into.”

He played three seasons at Findlay Prep where he averaged 14.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, and shot 65 percent as a senior. Tillman had a few injuries in his first two seasons but still helped his team to a 33-4 overall standing record.

When Tillman decided to sign with the Runnin’ Utes at the end of his senior year in high school, his mother counted more than 20 scholarship offers. He was ranked as a four-star recruit by ESPN.com coming out of high school.

After committing to Utah, Tillman said people expected him to be an even better collegiate player than he was in high school. His mother also was excited about his decision to come to Salt Lake City because it offered a strong emphasis on families.

For his sophomore season at Utah, in a vote of the 12 conference coaches, Tillman was named Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year. 

“He is a great team player on and off the court. Donnie constantly works hard and just wants what’s best for our team. I see him making it to the league for sure,” said teammate Timmy Allen.

Intermountain Healthcare announces groundbreaking policy that removes pharmaceutical representatives and medication samples from Utah practices and hospitals

Story and photos by BERKLEE HAMMOND

Effective May 1, 2019, Intermountain Healthcare has prohibited industry-based pharmaceutical representatives and medication samples from entering practices and hospitals throughout Utah. 

Intermountain believes this new change will increase patient safety, refine adherence to clinical guidelines, improve prescription patterns, decrease cost of medicines and eliminate operational complexity and burden.

According to a statement by Dr. Mark Briesacher, senior vice president of Intermountain Medical Group and Medical Staff, this change has been made to fulfill Intermountain Healthcare’s vision of being “a model health system by providing extraordinary care and superior service at an affordable cost.” 

Pharmaceutical representatives received a document titled “Removal of Pharmaceutical Representatives and Medication Samples from Intermountain Clinics” issued by Intermountain Healthcare. The document explains why samples and pharmaceutical reps are no longer permitted. It also states that patients are commonly given verbal instructions about appropriate use of medication samples and side effects.

This can lead to product labeling and written patient instructions that are often inadequate. These new regulations will decrease the chance for medication errors and improve patient safety.

Intermountain plans to improve adherence to clinical guidelines by removing pharmaceutical representative visits, samples, and marketing. According to a statement released to pharmaceutical companies, Intermountain would do away with professional and social pressures and would allow physicians to make unbiased decisions on behalf of their patients. 

This document explains how these steps will improve prescription patterns for patient care. Eighty-three percent of prescription promotion is done by physicians who have been educated on drugs from pharmaceutical representative visits. 

According to a 2014 study of 150,000 physicians over a 24-month period showed the detailing impacts selective, brand-specific demand and influenced prescribers. 

Intermountain Healthcare cited numerous studies that have shown physicians were three times more likely to prescribe a generic product when samples were removed from clinics.

The Medical Group Service Line’s statement indicates the changes at Intermountain will eliminate operational complexity and burden. Storage, distribution and security of medications is challenging to manage and increases the expense on care teams.

HOW WILL THIS AFFECT THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY?

The reason behind this decision came after leading healthcare organizations like the National Institutes of Healthand the Institute for Safe Medication Practicesrecommended against utilizing pharmaceutical representatives and samples because this has a negative impact on patient safety, care quality, and costs. 

Crystal Goodrich, a local district manager of a pharmaceutical company, explained the small steps that eventually led to the new regulations.

First, she said the changes started when Big Pharma companies agreed to discontinue distributing any type of promotional materials such as sticky notes and pens to any healthcare entity. Goodrich said, “Some rules made sense.” 

Intermountain was among the other healthcare agencies that did not want their physicians being influenced by promotional materials. 

The Big Pharma agreement, including Intermountain, later prohibited physicians from going out to dinner or to special events with representatives. Goodrich remembers, “This was when the pushback from physicians started across the industry.”

According to Goodrich, Intermountain then took restrictions to another level.  Intermountain only allowed one appointed representative from each of the pharmaceutical companies statewide to have access to any and all of Intermountain’s approximately 5,000 physicians. 

Rebecca Nixon was assigned to Intermountain Healthcare exclusively as a representative 10 years ago. Nixon only visits Intermountain’s practices and clinics.

Nixon explained the adjustment from visiting clinics from all Utah healthcare entities to going exclusively to Intermountain. She shared frustration in the lack of competition in Utah with Intermountain and lack of authority from Intermountain Healthcare physicians. 

Nixon said, “The doctors are employed by Intermountain Healthcare, they are not in charge or able to make these decisions themselves.”

She said these new policies from Intermountain Healthcare will affect her job tremendously. She is now going to be reassigned to another position due to the regulations set by Intermountain Healthcare.

As of May 1, 2019, there is a new level of restriction. If a representative enters a clinic, Intermountain Healthcare urges physicians and administrative staff to not accept any medication samples, coupons, literature, vouchers or other forms of drug marketing.

Both Nixon and Goodrich stated that physicians at Intermountain Healthcare have pushed back with these new regulations. Due to the pushback, Intermountain Healthcare has now made an exception to lifesaving medications like inhalers, blood thinners and several other medications from drug representatives.  

Intermountain Healthcare physicians will now get their education from pharmacists instead of trained pharmaceutical representatives. “This certainly concerns us,” Goodrich said. Pharmacies make more revenue from generic brands than name brands. This raises concern for patient care.

“A big concern is knowing physicians at Intermountain valued our knowledge and they can’t get it anymore,” Goodrich said. Pharmaceutical representatives spend weeks, months and years becoming trained on the medication they represent. They get trained through in-person trainings, online training and continual training by district and regional representatives that monitor the accuracy of the information distributed.

This training will now be the responsibility of each physician. They will need to take the time to educate themselves on hundreds, even thousands, of medications to provide accurate and informed education to each patient. 

According to Intermountain Healthcare’s website, this not-for-profit system has more than 5,000 physicians who are affiliated with Intermountain, including about 1,400 employed physicians in the Intermountain Medical Group who provide care to patients at more than 185 clinics and offices as well as 23 hospitals.

Better safe than sorry: What to know before setting out

Story and photos by CAROLINE J. PASTORIUS

Avoiding avalanches is much easier than trying to survive one.

Outside of Denver, CO
Feb. 24, 2019

Many climbers, skiers, snowmobilers and outdoor enthusiasts are not aware of the proper precautions for avalanche and snow safety. The dangers of this type of recreation require more preparation and knowledge than you may think.

It’s not as simple as reading a pamphlet or set of instructions to prepare you to take on the outdoors, it’s about knowing what you are headed into and being fully prepared for and aware of the risks that come with venturing into nature.

Park City, UT |March 10, 2019

Mark Staples, director of the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center, labels himself as an extremely experienced outdoor enthusiast and emphasizes, “There is no way to assure safety once you’re out in the wilderness. But there are ways to go about it safely, and that’s the best you can do,” Staples says in a phone interview.

Park City, UT (backcountry) | March 3, 2019

The elementary rule comes first and foremost when preparing to take on this type of terrain; do not travel alone. “Always make sure you have the proper education and tools before going into the backcountry, and make sure your partner does as well,” says Jordan Hicks from REI Cooperative. Hicks also added a helpful tip. “Make sure you have a set plan before you head out and tell somebody that plan in case you’re late coming home so they can notify authorities.”

Hicks also says to be aware of your surroundings. The cause of 90 percent of avalanches that harm a victim or members of the victim’s group is caused by their own missteps. Any foreign activity caused in a natural environment that adds weight that wasn’t there before can easily trigger downfall. A helpful way to foresee the conditions on the mountain before enduring it is to check daily aspects like the weather forecast and condition of the mountain on the day of your travel, both of which are easily accessible online. He says some red flags include unsteady snow, heavy snowfall or rain, posted warning signs, wind loading, and persistent weak layers. Avoiding avalanches altogether is much easier than trying to survive one, so take the precautions seriously.

Snacks. Water. Fuel. You can never be too prepared. Josh Alexander from Utah Ski and Golf recommends that you should “bring two times more than you expect to consume on your trip.”

Alexander also shared a story about his personal experience of being buried in an avalanche and what he learned from it. “Luckily, I was well prepared for any possible situation. I went out with a buddy of mine in the backcountry of Canada a few years back, somewhere we have never been before.” In retrospect, this was a red flag. You should never travel on unfamiliar territory when visiting it for the very first time. Alexander recommends scoping out uncharted terrain a day before riding it. Also, he mentions researching the area online to check previous travelers’ comments.

The avalanche that affected him was caused by a collision he had with a snowboarder, which produced a rush of snow and carried him about 100 yards. Being unable to breathe for that time, he saw his life flash before him.

Park City, UT |March 10, 2019

After coming to a halt, Alexander realized his friend was nowhere in sight. In fact, nothing was. It was all white. “I was completely lost, and all of my calls for help got absorbed in the snow I was buried in. I knew I had to find help but I also didn’t want to use too much oxygen, since I wasn’t sure how long I would be stuck there for.” He settled his pulse and remembered focus on what he learned to do when caught in this sort of situation.

He took a deep breath and started “swimming” against gravity to get closer to the surface of the snow pile in attempt to get any sort of signal for his avalanche beacon (a small radio that transmits a lost or dangered travelers’ location to rescue crews). He soon started transmitting his device, which was caught by his partner on the receiving end. Finally, he was located, rescued, and lives to tell the story. If the pair was not prepared for the worst-case scenario and did not hold the necessary tools, Alexander had a slim chance of survival.

There is only a 30 percent chance of escaping when buried by an avalanche. Take the lessons taught and learned in this article next time you think about getting involved in avalanche-prone territory. Always remember that you are in control of your own safety in uncharted territory.

Salt Lake City’s juicing scene is on the rise

Story and gallery by LAUREN HINKLEY

Nutritious eateries and shops seem to be on every corner in Salt Lake City, an indication that the community is becoming more health-conscious by the minute.

One of the most powerful trends of this healthy-dining movement is cold-pressed juice bars.

This form of juicing involves a hydraulic press that extracts juices from fruits and vegetables. Consumers often choose these products based on their desired mental or physical health benefits. These benefits can be determined by the ingredients included in each individual batch.

In Salt Lake City, juiceries including Vive Juicery, Just Organic Juice, and Seasons Juice Bar and Cafe are among some of the companies that are leading Utah toward better health with their nutrient-dense cold-pressed beverages.

Upon entering Vive Juicery, located at 1597 S. 1100 East, customers are greeted and welcomed into a cozy, chic atmosphere. With couch seating, ambient music, and a fun and friendly counter staff, this store is an inviting space for anyone and everyone looking to explore and be educated on the health benefits of cold-pressed juice. This is the exact vibe Brittany Shimmin, founder and CEO, had in mind when she created Vive Juicery in 2013.

“We’ve really tailored the experience to be inclusive of everyone,” Shimmin says.

Shimmin appreciates the wide variety of clientele she sees engaging with and supporting Vive’s brand and product. Even those who are just entering the world of nutrition and healthy living can find Vive to be the perfect place to start.

Sitting conveniently between two major college campuses of Salt Lake City, the juicery has become a hot spot for students of The University of Utah and Westminster College.

Many students are now turning to cold-pressed juices during the stresses of midterms and finals week. “Hearing what drinking juice has done for them opposed to a Red Bull has been really cool,” says Shimmin, reflecting on this new trend.

At the forefront of the local juice scene, Vive contributes even more to the community than just its state-of-the-art products. By sourcing its produce from local farms and gardens whenever possible, Vive is making a positive impact on the economy and sustainability of Utah.

Shimmin and the Vive team are passionate about forming relationships with the farmers who grow their ingredients. “When you can talk to the person that grew your food, you in turn will end up appreciating it more,” she says.

Just a few blocks away at 2030 S. 900 East sits another local juice bar, Just Organic Juice, the creation of cancer survivor, Lisa Graham.

When Graham was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 27, she opted out of chemotherapy and turned to nutrition to help nurture her back to health. After implementing juice into her diet, she recalls immediately seeing the benefits. She has been cancer free ever since.

Graham stated that the impacts cold-pressed juice had on her own health inspired her to start Just Organic Juice where she could show the rest of the community just how beneficial juicing can be.

“We see a lot of customers with cancer and other diseases,” Graham says. She also mentions that she has noticed a growing awareness in the importance of nutrition across the medical field.

Graham says she believes this new importance doctors are placing on nutrition has contributed to the growing popularity in her business. “More doctors are advising patients to change their diets,” she says.

With juiceries popping up all across Salt Lake City, Just Organic Juice continues to stand out from the rest by serving products that contain only 100 percent organic ingredients.

The most popular juice on the menu at Just Organic Juice is the “Giving Green.” “I could go on and on,” Graham admits as she raves about the product’s health benefits. “You couldn’t even eat that many vitamins and nutrients in a day.”

Another up-and-coming juice spot is Seasons Juice Bar. Seasons is located in Midvale at 7630 Union Park Ave. and is proudly owned and run by juice enthusiast Bobby Movarid.

When Movarid moved from Santa Monica, California, to Salt Lake City, he was driven to show Utah what cutting-edge high-quality health food and beverage really is.

Movarid says he saw what was missing around town and knew he would be the one to introduce truly good cold-pressed juices and acai to the community. That’s when he started Seasons Juice Bar and Cafe.

Movarid has used his entrepreneurial mind to curate a delicious and nutritious menu of cold-pressed juices. He says he is eager to encourage new customers to sample them.

The “Black Lemonade” remains one of the most popular juices at Seasons. This pitch-black beverage is a little intimidating at first glance but has a pleasant flavor of lemon and agave. The key ingredient is activated charcoal, a detoxifying ingredient, which is explained in the company’s juice guides and pamphlets.

Movarid has put care and attention into every aspect of the Seasons experience, from the biodegradable utensils to the complimentary water. “Our water is alkalized and purified using reverse osmosis,” he explains.

Seasons in the product of Movarid’s extensive hard work. “You gotta hustle!” he exclaims.

While the juicing scene is already flourishing, there’s no doubt it’s still growing every day. Brittany Shimmin, Lisa Graham, and Bobby Movarid are among some of the pioneers of a movement toward a healthier Utah. Through their craft, they are inspiring the community of Salt Lake City to prioritize wellness, one juice at a time.

The most sustainable and ethical diet for people and the planet

Story and photo gallery by CAMILLE AGLAURE

With so much talk concerning diet in the media, many people find it difficult to know what to eat. What foods are ethically sourced and grown? What foods truly promote human health? What foods support the health of the planet? These are all questions that are fogging up the minds of so many people.  

One thing that Thunder Jalili, Ph.D., and a professor of nutrition and integrative physiology, and Anne Pesek Taylor, registered dietitian, at the University of Utah can both agree on is that, generally speaking, a healthier plate is one with more plants and less overly processed foods and added sugar. 

Pesek Taylor said in an email interview that balanced nutrition needs to account for individual food preferences, lifestyle factors, and include a variety of food groups so it can be maintained long-term. Pesek Taylor referred to the University of Utah’s Healthy Eating Plate, an adaptation of the government’s MyPlate created in 2011, as a useful guide to good health.

What does this mean for meat and dairy, though?

Studies like the popular health book “The China Study” and documentaries like “What the Health” and “Cowspiracy”detail the harmful effects to humans and the environment that come with the consumption of animal-based foods. Jalili said he believes that the absolute exclusion of animal-based foods is not necessarily vital. However, regarding meat, “a little still means a little,” he said. 

Jalili said the maximum recommended intake of red meat is 100 grams per day while the maximum for processed meat is 50 grams. “Once a day is still a lot,” he said, and as far as human health is concerned, many studies indicate that there is, in fact, a decrease in mortality rate among those who maintain a vegan and vegetarian diet. When considering environmental health, there is slightly more to be taken into account when writing out your grocery list.

As more media attention surrounds the question of climate change versus animal agriculture, many organizations and communities are reevaluating the importance of animal-based foods, particularly meat, in a standard, western diet. 

“Raising cows is an environmental disaster,” Jalili said. With animal agriculture accounting for 91 percent of rainforest deforestation, according to The World Bank, and more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector, according to the United Nations, Jalili said he believes that it is time for groups of people, like nutritionists, to not focus on health alone, but the bigger picture. “It’s just responsible,” he said. 

So, is a universal vegan diet the solution?

In the opinion of Christy Clay, Ph.D., an associate professor at Westminster College who teaches courses on subjects including biology, ecology, and environmental studies, “a homogenous, universal diet is exactly what has caused so many problems in our current food system.”

Clay said she believes that the current food system has created a monster of unequal distribution of foods, the elimination of native crops and variation, and potentially the loss of culture and professions. 

“We’re not understanding the limitations and values of local resources,” Clay said, as she explained the harms in seeking mainstream foods that do not naturally occur locally. Clay used the example of quinoa, a grain that grows in the Andes that is now exported to Western countries more than it is provided for locals who have depended on the grain in their diets for centuries. To be truly sustainable and ethical, Clay maintained that “diets should be bio-regional.”

For Clay, the ethical question of which foods to eat is not as simple as drastically lowering our consumption of meat. Rather, “there’s a whole dismantling of a current food system that needs to happen,” Clay said as she painted a picture of just how disrupted our way of eating has become. 

So, where do we begin?

Clay suggested that the first action to take is having the conversation about “how broken our food system is.” This consists of poor income for those in the agriculture industry, the cost and precarious nature of leasing land to farmers, a decline in community gardens, and loss of interest in crops that have fallen out of the mainstream.

“What does it look like to say we actually value this profession?” wondered Clay as she additionally suggested encouraging communities to be a space for local gardening. Already, there are a number of organizations working to do just that, including Green Urban Lunch Box, which goes from school to school, educating children on the value of local gardening while furthermore educating local farmers. 

Making a difference in your community requires collective action to encourage local agriculture and farming. Clay suggested gardening out of your own backyard. If you live in an apartment complex, ask your landlord or property owner about creating a roof garden. Clay also suggested engaging with other community gardens and protecting land to be used for local farming. Getting back in touch with a farm-to-table way of eating is imperative for a sustainable diet. Rekindling a healthy and community-based relationship with food is the best way for individuals to eat ethically, healthily, and in an environmentally friendly way. 

Road to recovery for one USA Nordic athlete

Story and gallery by KATHERINE SCHUMANN

On July 23, 2018, USA Nordic athlete Stephen Schumann suffered a fall on the K120 ski jumping hill at the Utah Olympic Park, tearing his ACL and meniscus. His focus for the season then turned from training to the recovery of his knee.

That was a huge change for the young athlete of 18. This Olympic hopeful is ranked for the US team and as his coach Blake Hughes said, it “is a huge loss for the team itself and teammates to lose him this winter season.”

Schumann’s entire focus of life has been his sport and getting to the Olympics. Last winter Schumann missed the Olympic spot for the 2018 winter Olympics in Peyong Chang by just a point, coming in fifth when the team cut off is four athletes.

Not being able to make the Olympic team drove Schumann’s focus for the upcoming four years and the next Olympics. He knew he had to train harder and get faster to make that cut the next time.

After the fall when Schumann heard his knee snap he said, “At that point I knew my season was over and it absolutely devastated me.” For the young athlete he felt like his Olympic chances were over. He worried about the future of his career as an athlete, his sponsorships, and mostly his childhood dream of the Olympics.

“For a while Schumann was angry at himself and the world for letting this happen,” Hughes said. Mentally it was especially hard when his teammates were off to Europe for another round of training and competitions and Schumann was stuck on the couch resting.

Schumann expected the hardest part of his injury to be the physical recovery and getting his strength back to normal. But what he learned was the hardest part is the mental recovery The physical aspect he found to be simple.

“You can only push your body to a safe point,” he said. “That’s not confusing. Dealing with your emotions while having a lot of free time to think about it. That’s confusing.”

After waiting a week Schumann got two surgery dates a month apart. The surgery was to be done by Dr. Robert Burks at the University of Utah Orthopedic Clinic. He was also comforted by knowing that his team doctor, Jonathan Finnoff at the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis, a sponsor of the USA Nordic team, was working directly with Burks.

Having his team doctor by his side and a plan made it easier for Schumann to feel confident about the surgery and process of healing. With all his free time and the doctors supervising his physical healing, Burks said, “The news of two surgeries brought the young athlete to tears, more bad news he didn’t want to hear.”

Schumann started physical therapy at the Alpine Physical Therapy Clinic two times a week, and at the USSA Center of Excellence with James Stray-Gundersen. He is the founder of B-Strong Bands.

Physical therapy gave Schumann a way to focus on the sport he loved in a different aspect, seeing one of the two physical therapists at least five days per week and sometimes six keeps him busy and focused.

Stray-Gundersen said, “Working with a young athlete at this capacity was eye-opening. These kids are so driven and dedicated to their sport.” As a professional athlete Schumann’s recovery is expedited going through the general steps that any meniscus and ACL physical therapy recovery would go through. But moving through them faster, with more visits and the B-Strong.

“The hardest part Schumann has faced with this expedited recovery is that he feels the need to push himself like he would when training, but recovery is different than training and recovering correctly is the most important thing to getting his physical strength back to 100 percent,” Stray-Gundersen said.

After Schumann’s second surgery he was more motivated than ever knowing that he is done with the medically mechanical side of the injury and now that he can work one day at a time toward his end goal, total recovery and competing again. The recovery has been straightforward, and Schumann said  he “has taken huge strides finding happiness in the little victories.”

Schumann has learned so much from this experience that he feels has made him into a stronger person and athlete and will help him come back not only more motivated but mentally stronger.

Having felt as though he already knew a lot about his body and physical limits as an athlete this experience has taught him that you can’t control everything, taking things slow is sometimes better, and your body is much smarter than you think it is.

Watch out for Schumann in the near future as he works day in and day out to become the best in the world at the sport that he loves.

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Instagram taking the advertising world by storm

Story and gallery by RILEY SPEAR

Instagram is the largest social media and advertising platform in the world and it continues to grow its users daily by the thousands. Organizations and businesses have taken advantage of the Instagram platform to advertise their products, target their audiences and create awareness for their cause, all for free.

Salt Lake City is a hub for startup companies that don’t have the funds in their marketing departments to pay for advertisements.

Individuals from three local companies, The Hut Group, Beauty Industry, and STEM, have worked closely with Instagram, and have accepted the large role it plays in their marketing techniques.

Beauty Industry specializes in hair, lashes and fashion. Paige Johnson is a member of the social media team who works with Instagram to promote a product.

She uses Instagram analytics to track following, and gauge when good times are to post in order receive the most engagement.

“Marketing is always changing, and shifting. With present digital age, social media is most of what marketing entails,” Johnson said.

Beauty Industry mainly targets young women because they are the majority of the company’s customers, which is ideal for Instagram because according to OMNICORE 59 percent of its users are individuals in the age groups of 19-29.

Johnson said Beauty Industry’s main objective through the Instagram account is to make customers feel as if they are a part of their community. Beauty Industry sticks to its content and theme to best emphasize its products in the market.

“Working in this industry I have become aware of others’ marketing techniques, whether it be competitors or my own time on Instagram. I often find myself taking bits of other techniques, and forming it to ours,” Johnson said.

Beauty Industry has tried to focus on what the big marketing brands are doing, and then tailor it to the company’s own theme. The social media world is extremely competitive, and it’s crucial to notice the likes, comments and following ratio in order to receive the most positive feedback and response.

Beauty Industry is a company that is familiar with the positive impacts Instagram can make. There are very few restrictions, no wrong outlook and is more about finding a strategy that works well with your company.

“Customer service is a big thing specifically on Instagram, because a lot of people currently if they have a complaint or question, it is a lot easier to do this through messages. We try to really be interactive with our following, and our customers who reach out to us on these platforms,” Johnson said.

Instagram is Beauty Industry’s main tool to advertise because it has the highest success rate in selling their products.

Instagram has the ability to capture so many eyes, and create global awareness. STEM, a program that targets schools in the Salt Lake City district, does just this.

Molly Vroom helps run, and plan their social media campaigns in order to educate, and promote STEM research.

“There isn’t much competition in this field of work. It’s more about receiving attention that could possibly lead to funding,” Vroom said.

In order to achieve this STEM uses demonstration videos giving a more hands on approach to the followers. “Instagram gives the ability to educate, and give knowledge, and that is another one of our main goals,” Vroom said.

STEM uses several social media platforms, but targets millennials through Instagram because they are the individuals who use it the most.

The world is constantly changing and growing, adapting to new trends of life. In order to be impactful on Instagram it’s crucial to put out content that ignites your target audience.

The Hut Group, a global company centered around health, beauty and fitness, sometimes can spend up to a month planning a post. This organization opened a small office in Salt Lake City and will grow in the years come.

Jasmyne Reynolds, a manager for their acquisition companies’ social accounts, works daily with Instagram.

Her days are spent brainstorming concepts, working with photographers and videographers in their creative studio, and collaborating with the content director and Search Engine Optimization managers.

Every one of The Hut Group’s Instagram posts is extremely evaluated, and calculated before posting. “Working with Instagram helps us achieve our goal of reaching consumers and getting them to click over to our online platform and ultimately drive purchases,” Reynolds said.

As the social media account manager, Reynolds also spends hours working with other brands doing Q and A’s, giveaways and questionnaires in order to bring in more followers, and gain positive feedback.

Reynolds believes Instagram is a platform that has allowed businesses to create a personal connection with consumers.

“It’s important now more than ever to showcase products as a part of a consumer’s life,” Reynolds said.

Instagram marketing is used in an assortment of aspects, whether it is to bring awareness of a cause, or to advertise and sell products. It has drastically changed the game from billboards and TV commercials to a free platform being used by billions. Instagram is the new outlet for inspiration.

Exemplary Service Through the Bennion Center

by Kyle Lanterman

SALT LAKE CITY─ Since 1987, the Lowell Bennion Community Service Center has been a valuable resource by aiding the Salt Lake Community. The Bennion Center provides service to others living in the region, with many University of Utah students involved in the process. The mission statement of the Bennion Center reflects that there are strong values rooted within the center such as integrity, collaboration, diversity, engagement, and optimism to name a few. Six office spaces, a conference room, and a few couches constitute the space where students make items for the homeless or construct sustainable gardens. The center itself is extremely small compared to the impact it has on the Salt Lake Community.

The Bennion Center delivers service to address a variety of issues in the community including hunger, homelessness, illiteracy, sustainability, and health care. The people that work to make these areas in the Salt Lake Community better have bought into the mission of the Bennion Center and the work that comes along with it. Not only does the Bennion Center extend its outreach in Utah, but students and staff have done service work in many other areas in the Country. In addition, there are two service trips that are located in Cuba and Costa Rica. The outreach to these areas are inspired by a spirit of wanting to help communities that have people and environments in need. The community of the Bennion Center draws students who have want to take action in service.

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An infographic depicting the locations of service projects by students and staff from the Bennion Center from the past year. Service projects have dominated the western United States and have gone outside the country in Cuba and Costa Rica. Graphic creation credit to nationalgeoraphic.com

“So I was kind of involved with volunteer work in high school and wanted to continue doing volunteer work in college,” says Eric Nhem, a 22-year-old University student from West Valley City and Bennion Center volunteer. “My friend texted me one day and sheasked if I wanted to do this thing through the Bennion center,” Nhem continued, “I said what the heck is the Bennion Center?”

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Eric Nhem, 22, a student programs coordinator the Lowell Bennion Community Service Center. Nhem hails from West Valley City and works with students to fulfill their needs for service projects. Photo courtesy; Bennion center website.

That “thing” turned out to be a once a month assignment with Project Youth, which helped Title I students learn about higher education. Nhem eventually became the director of Project Youth after two consecutive years of volunteering with them which lead him to become a student programs coordinator with the Bennion Center. Nhem’s role is vital for the Bennion Center and the work that is done there.

“Basically, my job is to coordinate with students about service projects they wish to participate in and then guide them about what needs to be done. For example, what resources they might need or who they need to take talk to,” says Nehm. “Those two areas are usually what needs to be tackled first in order for the projects to get going.”

Regardless of who needs to talk to who or what the students need, there needs to be a level of optimism brought to the table. This sense of optimism is needed for student run projects to flourish and along with enthusiasm for the service to continue. The students  display optimism in their work and and are enthusiastic about it every day and those elements are what brought Nhem to the Bennion Center originally. 

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The bulletin board located outside the Bennion Center, with the main sign in the background. The Bennion center is located in room 105 in the Union building on the campus of the University of Utah. The center specializes in volunteer work in areas such as hunger, sustainability, homelessness, literacy, and healthcare. Photo credit: Bennion center staff.

“I fell in love with one program that had a mission I believed in,” Nhem stated.

Believing is something that holds the Bennion Center together, as communications specialist, Jennifer Jones, will attest. As the communications specialist, it is Jones responsibility to make other aware of the great work being done at the Center.

“My job is awesome because I get to brag about all the fantastic things students are doing here!” says Jones, and there is no shortage of work to be discussed. “Just the other day we had a group of students ironing plastic bags to make beanies for hospitalized infants and sleeping mats for the homeless. That is the kind of stuff that tends to take place in the Bennion Center on a day to day basis.”

Jones is particular proud of the people she works with. “What motivates me to do my work is everyone who is involved with the Bennion Center. We have so many students from a plethora of backgrounds who are passionate about their work,” she says.

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Students collaborate as they construct arts and crafts for the Primary Children’s Hospital in the Bennion Center. The center specializes in volunteer work in areas such as hunger, sustainability, homelessness, literacy, and healthcare. Photo credit: Bennion center online blog.

On a given evening, the Bennion Center is bustling with activity. This night, students sit on couches and huddle around a coffee table discussing their current work and planning out future projects. Nhem and Jones have their own workspaces where they speak to students or other parties about current or future projects. What goes on in the Bennion Center on a day to day basis continues to change the Salt Lake Community in a positive way.

The mission of the Bennion Center is “to foster lifelong service and civic participation by engaging the university with the greater community in action, change and learning.” This mission is being accomplished routinely through the meaningful work by students at the U with the help of staff members such as Nhem and Jones. Lifelong service is being given and will continue to be given as long as the belief in projects exists along with the drive to help others and make the local community of Salt Lake City a better place.

 

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Biking into the Future with Bike Utah

Article and Photos by Shane Bryan

SALT LAKE CITY — Biking on city streets can be intimidating for new bicycle commuters. The rush of traffic, distracted drivers and the difficulty of using a map can easily deter people from riding bikes instead of getting into a car. Bike Utah, a bicycle advocacy organization, is here to help residents all over Utah get on a bike and feel safe while doing so. They work to make cities and towns all over the state more bike friendly.

Based in Salt Lake City, Bike Utah operates as a non-profit organization. The organization started ten years ago after a road cyclist was hit and killed on the Utah

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Simon Harris demonstrating proper road riding techniques (Photo by Shane Bryan)

roads. The founders quickly became aware that there needed to be some serious advocacy for safety between drivers and cyclists. The mission of Bike Utah is to “integrate bicycling into the everyday culture of the state,” says Simon Harris, Bike Utah’s Youth Program Manager. “We envision Utah as the most bicycle friendly state in the country.”

Bike Utah carries out their plan via city planning—putting traffic plans into action, and working with local governments to make the roads a safe haven for cyclists.  

Throughout the city, there are extra wide bike lanes with more room for riders and marked lines so drivers can steer clear. There are large signs specifically identifying bike lanes, and paint on the roads to show where the lane is and where bike riders have a right-of-way. Popular destinations are also clearly marked with nearby street

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Wide bike lane Eastbound on 300s (Photo by Shane Bryan)

signs, eliminating the need to use a map or phone while you ride, all in an effort to keep bikers safe.

Bike Utah has been chosen as the non-profit sponsor for the new Thousand Mile campaign, an effort to revamp old bike paths and add new ones totaling 1,000 miles. Introduced by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, the Thousand Mile campaign is intended to make Utah one of the best cycling and active transportation states in the country.

Bike Utah’s role is to “provide strategic planning, technical assistance, and financial resources so communities can begin or continue developing bicycling in their area,” according to Bike Utah, they help, “communities to advance their bicycle-related goals.” This means advancements in local bike routes to get kids to school, people to work and riders out enjoying the roads and trails. 

Multi-use pathways and mountain bike trails are also laid out in the Thousand Miles plan. Salt Lake City also has protected bike lanes, similar to ones found in Europe, in which there is a physical concrete barrier separating the bike lane and the car lane, reducing the probability of a car merging into the bike lane. Through their work, Bike 

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Concrete barrier separating the road from the bike lane Westbound on 300s (Photo by Shane Bryan)

Utah would like to inspire people to ride bikes instead of driving, to help keep our air clean and reveal the health benefits of pedaling to your destinations. Active transportation is healthy for you and the community. Riley Peterson of Salt Lake City, commutes around the city all the time whether it’s to school or to work. “I always have lights on which makes it safe and I have never had an issue with any cars,” says Peterson. “Plus, it is just more fun to ride.”

There are things you can be doing to further increase your safety on the road. For starters, follow the rules of the road. Stop at stop signs, use hand signals, and stay in your lane. Also, wear bright colors. Brighter colors will pop and grab the attention of drivers. Standing out from the line of traffic on a bike will separate you from the crowd. Having a front and rear light is also a good way to do this. Many people think that only having a front and rear light at night is important; however, Adam Olson, Manager of Trek Bike, encourages riders to use 

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LED lights can keep you safe day and night (Photo by Shane Bryan)

lights at all times. “Using lights in the day time increases your chances of being seen,” says Olson. “Drivers are more likely to see a flashing object over a cyclist with no safety warnings attached.”

Drivers are always subliminally looking for objects that they are accustomed to seeing on the road (street lights, street signs, parked cars, etc.), the flashing of a light makes it apparent to drivers that there is something else to watch out for. 

Bike Utah also hosts an amazing kids program teaching kids from an early age about bike education and safety by visiting schools statewide.  Over 250 kids have learned how to ride a bike while increasing overall bike knowledge by 67 percent. You can support Bike Utah and follow upcoming events by clicking here for more information. Next time, consider throwing a leg over a bike before you step into a car.

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Natural remedies to reduce stress and anxiety

Story and images by  CLAIRE HILLARD

Take a long run or sit still with a glass of tea and feel the weight of stress drift away.

In the United States, a majority of people with anxiety either neglect their troubles or use pharmaceuticals to dull their anxious feelings. People do not have to suffer through anxiety nor do they have to use medications with negative side effects.

For some, natural remedies may be the answer.

Dr. Uli Knorr is a naturopathic doctor who practices in Salt Lake City. He received an education from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Oregon.

Knorr said something that many people with anxiety may like to hear — that anxiety has little to do with an individual’s personality. Most commonly, stress is caused by some hormonal imbalance in the body.

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Knorr recommended physical activity as well as spending time outdoors to help reduce stress.

To some extent, humans need stress. However, too much stress can be detrimental. If the body is experiencing constant stress, it continues to act in a fight-or-flight state. “People who are very stressed are surviving, but they’re also perceiving life as life during war time,” Knorr said. This is not a healthy state to remain in long-term.

The method of stress relief that Knorr recommends above others is exercise. The many health benefits of exercise are well documented. Additionally, while exercise releases stress, it is also a type of stress itself. Knorr says that because exercise is a type of stress, it can help the body adapt to other types of stress in the future.

Mia Gallardo has found a passion in aerial — a type of acrobatics done while hanging from fabric. For her, this combination of physical demand and artistic expression is a major relief for stress.

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A personal health routine including various vitamins and ashwagandha.

Gallardo is an avid believer in natural medicines. Throughout her personal journey, she has used a number of natural techniques to reduce her stress. Many of her favorite stress-relieving techniques perfectly exemplify the practices that the two professionals recommend.

Knorr’s advice to anyone who struggles with stress is to not ignore their feelings of anxiousness, to participate in some form of exercise, consider taking a complete B vitamin and vitamin C, and consider herbs that may help. And if none of those things help, book an appointment with a health-care professional.

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Upon sitting for the interview, Josh Williams poured each of us a cup of warm tea.

Over a piping cup of local, Native American tea, Josh Williams shared some of his thoughts on stress and ways to address it. Williams is a clinical herbalist who received his education from East West — an herbal medicine program in Sarasota, Florida. He currently owns an herbal shop in Salt Lake City called Greenthread Herbs.

Williams believes that the key to reducing stress lies somewhere in self-care. Whatever that means to each individual, self-care is a good way to approach good health.

For Gallardo, self-care is a big part of her stress-relieving practices. To reduce stress she is known to meditate, bake, spend time with loved ones, or read “Harry Potter” books. Taking time just to do something that makes a person happy can be incredibly therapeutic.

For Williams, he sees taking herbal medicines as a form of self-care. For example, he shared his love for tea. “Tea taught me how to slow down,” he said. Simply being able to sit in peace can do wonders for a person’s mental state.

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Acts of self care can be as simple as taking time to sip a cup of coffee and read a good book.

While herbal medicine is less commonly used in the United States, the practices are used worldwide and throughout history. There are many herbs that for centuries have been used to help people manage stress.

Interestingly enough, Knorr, Williams, and Gallardo all mentioned “ashwagandha” in their interviews. Knorr suggested it, Gallardo takes it every night, and Williams said it is his “spirit plant.” Ashwagandha is a plant that is known for its many medicinal benefits — especially for soothing anxiety.

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A wall inside Greenthread Herbs displaying just a few of the available herbs.

Plants like ashwagandha will not take the pain away. Instead, they aid the body in overcoming the stress it is under. While many people want a quick fix to their anxiety, using natural products may be beneficial in the long run by helping someone improve their ability to handle stress.

Using herbs helps the body get better at responding to stress, as opposed to simply ignoring or medicating for it. When referring to common pharmaceuticals for anxiety, Williams said, “Instead of learning how to deal with these stresses and learn from them, we numb out.”

In the same way that lifting weights helps people gain muscle mass, individuals can train their body to overcome stress. By experiencing stress in a calm manner, the body begins to adjust and approach it differently. Over time, individuals can feel calmer in the face of stress and train the body to respond accordingly.

This means overcoming anxiety as opposed to relying on numbing medication.

Many people struggle with high levels of stress every day and use different methods of dealing — or not dealing — with it. Wanting to make a change and knowing your options are two steps in the right direction.

Whether it be exercising, drinking tea, or adding a touch of herbal medicine to your daily routine, there are ways to reduce stress. Finding what works best for you is part of the journey.

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A sign in Greenthread Herbs offering customers the opportunity to create custom tea blends.

Tinker’s Cat Café, a coffee bar with a twist

Story and gallery by JOLIE BELL

Coffee. Conversation. Cats. What do they have in common? They are integral to a new local small business.

Tinker’s Cat Café is the first of its kind in Salt Lake City. A novelty in the United States, cat cafés are popular in other parts of the world, particularly Asia. In fact, the very first cat café opened in Taipei, Taiwan, and soon turned into a sensation in Japan. Cat cafés are a twist on a traditional coffee shop. In addition to coffee, tea and goodies, people also pay to socialize with felines.

Lisa Boone is the owner of Tinker’s Cat Café, located at 302 E. 900 South. Boone saw her first cat café while watching late night television. The idea intrigued her and soon she developed plans to open an establishment of her own. She decided to name her café after her childhood pet, Tinker, who lived to be 22.

“It was all from Tinker, he shaped how I thought about cats,” Boone said. Along with petting cute kitties, the café serves a variety of specialty drinks including coffee, hot chocolate, Italian soda, and tea. It also sells pastries from other local businesses.

The cats themselves come from Salt Lake County Animal Services and are spayed/neutered and vaccinated. One aspect that is unique about Tinker’s is many of the cats may be adopted. In fact, more than 80 adoptions have occurred since it first opened the doors in 2017.

The adoption process is simple. If someone decides to adopt, an employee meets with them and discusses their history with cats. If it is the person’s first time ever owning a cat or if they have other animals in their home, the employees explain what the future pet owner needs and how to care for the cat. There is a $40 adoption fee per cat.

Adoption isn’t for everyone. Boone understands not everyone has the funds or a suitable home for pets. The café fills the need for those who love animals and she feels the café is a positive experience for both the people and felines.

“It’s a win-win,” Boone said. “Especially for the timid cats because they can socialize and get used to an environment.” The cat room, adjacent to the café, is open and without cages. This allows patrons to show them affection while they are living at Tinker’s, which can help the cats come out of their shell.

Not every cat is up for adoption. For some, Tinker’s becomes home. One cat has been at Tinker’s since it opened. He stays to help the new cats acclimate to the surroundings by sitting with the newly acquired timid cats.

“We are not sure what cat magic he has,” Boone said with a laugh.

Throughout the year, Tinker’s acquired several regular customers. Sarah Murtagh is one. Murtagh said she loves the calm environment and has made friends with other kindred spirits.

“When I was going through a rough time in my life, the café was where I found therapy,” Murtagh said. She bought an unlimited pass for the cat room to visit her furry friends as often as she could. Eventually her living situation changed and allowed her to own a pet. Once Obsidian (Obi for short) crawled into her lap at the café, she knew they were a perfect match.

Not everyone is looking to adopt. Some are interested in something new and fun to do. Ally Jelitto, a University of Utah student, visited the shop on a whim after noticing the café driving through town.

“I felt fancy drinking a latte while petting a cat in my lap,” she said in a phone interview. “I’d go back more, but if I do I might go home with five cats,” she said, chuckling.

Recently Boone began organizing special events at Tinker’s such as Cat & Paint, Yoga, and Crochet with Cats. Boone has more event ideas on the horizon, such as trivia or game nights.

The paint and crochet classes offer a coffee, hot chocolate or tea and an hour in the cat room with an instructor. The yoga class is an hour and allows an extra half hour to play with the felines. The curious cats will sit on the yoga mats, play with people’s hair and bat around the balls of yarn.

Reservation spots fill up quickly to spend time with the cats. Or, customers may walk in (if there’s room). The cost is $8 an hour and $4 a half hour in the cat room. Tinker’s offers an unlimited monthly pass for $50 or an unlimited annual pass for $600. The café also provides a children’s hour for kids 8 and under from 5 to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays. It is $6 each for children and parents.

The café hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday- Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Tinker’s is closed on Mondays. The cat room opens at 11 a.m. and closes the same time as the café does.

Boone is looking forward to another year of business and to continuing to foster a community location where people can connect. Success has its price, however. As the felines leave for their forever homes, it can be difficult for Boone and her employees who become attached to them.

“It’s bittersweet,” Boone said. “However, I’m happy they are going to good homes.”

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The plant revolution: anti-inflammatory, anti-meat

Story and gallery by JEN CHUN

Plant Based Utah, a collaborative organization that utilizes specialists to educate people about a plant-based lifestyle, held the 2nd Annual Plant Based Nutrition Symposium on Oct. 13, 2018, at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City. Doctors and health experts were invited to give lectures about a plant-based diet.

Annually, many Americans die because of chronic diseases such as cancer, stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. According to 2017 data of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 635,260 people died because of heart disease and 598,038 died of cancer. These two are the most fatal chronic diseases that threaten Americans’ health.

The problem is people do not know how to make healthy meals for themselves. Nutritious food is easily available, but consumers are having a tough time selecting ingredients for a healthy diet.

“One option is a plant-based diet,” said Patrick Olson, an orthopedic surgeon at the Rosenberg Cooley Metcalf Clinic in Utah.

Plant-Based Diet (PBD) is a diet that consists of minimally processed food. It focuses on consuming natural products that people can grow such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and herbs. PBD does not include any animal products, which is eco-friendly to the earth as well.

“PBD is the most anti-inflammatory diet you can get,” Olson said.

He said plants are the primary source of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. Not only do plants lower cholesterol and blood pressure, but they also change gene expression and lengthen telomeres. Maintaining a plant-based dietary pattern is helpful for lowering obesity rates.

Lucy Mower, a second-year graduate student at the University of Utah’s Department of Nutrition and Integrative Physiology, said PBD promotes good health. She said PBD emphasizes the consumption of certain foods that are associated with heart benefits. “Eating vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are beneficial to the heart,” she said. Mower explains that “a lot of them have fiber which maintains or lowers the cholesterol level.” She added that components of vitamins and minerals control high blood pressure and bad cholesterol, known as LDL. “Having a PBD is helpful to break the vicious cycle of” America’s daily diet, Mower said.

Additionally, Mower emphasized the importance of research before starting PBD. She said PBD is challenging because it can be a big transition of one’s diet pattern. She said she won’t recommend specific PBD to people unless they do prior research or have background knowledge of plant-based nutrition. She emphasized the importance of discipline in building one’s PBD by researching, planning, and reading a nutrition label.

“To do a healthy PBD, it is significant to know one’s needs,” she said. She recommends considering the food groups seriously when looking for alternatives — replacing animal oil to vegetable oil — which should provide enough carbohydrate, protein, and fat to the body.

Zuri Vasquez, 18, and a student at the U has been doing PBD for five years. Her natural environment and family history — diabetes — influenced her to start PBD. “I don’t consume any animal product because I grew up with chickens and cattle in Idaho and I could not even imagine to harm them,” she said. She supports local farmers’ markets as well.

Meat-based diets stimulate climate change. According to the website PETA, making one hamburger needs as much fossil fuel as it takes to drive a small car 20 miles. Meat-based diet requires massive water, fossil fuel, and trees, which cause drought, air pollution — methane gas — and depletion of the ozone layer — carbon dioxide.

On the other hand, PBD is sustainable and has a lower environmental impact because it does not contain any animal product. “Having a PBD is promoting a huge impact on not only our planet’s health but also all its inhabitants,” Olson said.

Vasquez said having PBD is realistic and inspiring. She said it has become more accessible and sustainable since the increase of markets featuring whole food and grains. By eating healthy vegetables, fruits and nuts, she has gained more energy and improved cognitive abilities. “I feel strong and motivated because of the belief that I am doing something good,” she said.

She advised beginners of PBD to “start little by little.” Rather than changing the whole diet at once, gradually eliminating one thing a time, such as limiting animal products once a day, will be beneficial in adjusting to the plant-based meal. “It is a good investment to think about a longer period for my body and the earth,” Vasquez said.

Heber Rivera has been a chef for 15 years and has done PBD for four years now. He runs a business based on whole food and plant-based meals called “Chef Heber.” Before he started the business, he was in charge of catering to 23 different hospitals for Intermountain Healthcare. “Chef Heber” provides catering, artisan bread, and personalized meal delivery, services in which all the food is cooked by plant-based nutrition.

“Our catering is unique because it is built to the needs of customers,” he said. The artisan bread is made from 100 percent whole wheat and five other plant-based ingredients without any preservatives or sweeteners. He crafts pre-cooked plant-based meals to meet every dietary need. He delivers the food twice a week, which makes it easier for people to access and maintain the PBD.

Rivera aims to offer natural and nutrient-based meals without oil, sugar, or any chemical seasonings. “Ideally, we wanted to help people live better,” he said. He said it is hard for modern people to access healthy meals. He is trying to help as many people as possible by collaborating with different retail stores at reasonable prices.

According to the website, Plant Based Utah’s mission is, “We strive to advance our health and lifestyle culture through the sharing of evidence-based information and initiatives promoting whole food, plant-based nutrition.” This organization is helpful for learning about PBD.

At the symposium, the professionals emphasized that changing habits is crucial in PBD. Nowadays, people are too used to consuming processed and fast foods. Ayesha Sherzai and Dean Sherzai, who are neurologists and co-directors of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Program at Loma Linda University, described the habit pathway as a cycle that continues toward mindfulness, which brings healthy behavior and eventually, success. They pointed out that the “mindfulness” is the most important stage to form a good eating habit. The website Healthy Minds Initiative shows a lot of helpful resources and programs for a healthy lifestyle.

In addition, Dr. Brooke Goldner, who is an expert in healing chronic disease with Plant-Based Nutrition, suggested making a green plant-based smoothie daily. Her book “Green Smoothie Recipes to Kick-Start Your Health & Healing” and the website called smoohieshred.com  contains various delicious and healthy recipes of green smoothies. Moreover, she runs the website called Goodbye Lupus for further information and tips for healthy eating and wellbeing.

One of the greatest scientists, Albert Einstein, said, “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” The plant-based diet could be the revolution of health needed for every individual.

 

Local rock climbers are inspired by Alex Honnold’s mental toughness

Story and photos by McKENZIE NICOL

Ascending 3,000 feet of sheer granite is no easy task. Most would deem it impossible.

Rock climber Alex Honnold proved the impossible to be possible as he ascended El Capitan in Yosemite National Park without safety ropes on June 3, 2017. His triumph, depicted in a 2018 documentary, is impacting the sport of rock climbing by pushing the limit of where risk lies.

Climbing up the Free Rider route in just under four hours, Honnold has achieved one of the greatest physical tasks conceived in the human mind.

Fellow climber Tommy Caldwell was the first to free climb (a style of climbing with ropes only for safety, not aid) the Dawn Wall of El Capitan in 2015. In a National Geographic story published in October 2018, he called Honnold’s ascent the “moon landing” of free soloing.

Honnold’s “moon landing” is quite possibly the most incredible physical performance of humankind​, and the physical achievement is just the beginning of the victory. Honnold holds an astounding ability to control fear and remain determined and clear headed.

National Geographic quoted Honnold as saying, “[Fear is] only hindering my performance, so I just set it aside and leave it be.”

Honnold’s ascension is helping local climbers to see an obvious representation of what it means to really compartmentalize fear and overcome difficulty and stress through grit and mental toughness.

In the heart of Salt Lake City, the climbing team at the University of Utah is training to compete in the collegiate national climbing tournament April 27 and 28, 2019. Ben Roa is in his fourth year at the U and is president of the team. He expressed his amazement and admiration of what Honnold has achieved.

“It is the single most impressive athletic feat that any human has ever done,” Roa said. “The fact that Honnold has done it is astounding.”

He explained that climbing is 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical. It is all in the head. “He compartmentalizes fear and fatigue and it is really impressive,” Roa said.

Roa said he enjoys the constant challenges that rock climbing presents mentally and physically. He said he has several “projects” – or routes – that he is working on in Big Cottonwood Canyon that require “great mental effort.”

“The cooler stuff is always the harder stuff,” Roa said. “It might be a little dangerous because people can be like, ‘Oh wow, I can do it.’” He described that setting goals and knowing your limits is an important part of getting better.

“The goals never stop. That’s one of my favorite things,” Roa said.

Joel Zerr, another climber and employee at Momentum Climbing Gym in Salt Lake City, gave some insight on Honnold’s accomplishment. He said, “[The] level that he’s pushing is on the edge of the risk. Mistakes can happen. It’s a different thing and it’s really impressive.”

Zerr recognizes the immense psychological control that is required to rock climb and why many people, rock climber or not, are drawn to what Honnold has done.

“People can relate to him because you can obviously see the anomaly of what he did. It draws attention and it inspires,” Zerr said.

Zerr explained that he does not feel that pushing those boundaries of risk is completely necessary. It is possible to push oneself in any aspect, not just rock climbing, and it does not need to have such dire consequences. He said he challenges himself mentally and physically, but not in the same way Honnold does.

Managing stress, pressure, and fear are factors of Zerr’s daily climbing life. Whether in the gym or on a wall outside, it feels “real” to be up there and trying to work out the best way to maneuver to the top. Mental sharpness and control are essential.

Isaac Baker, a rock climber from Bountiful, Utah, suggested the idea that rock climbing brings a new edge to life.

“Being on the wall not only gives you a new perspective of life, but a new way of living. Climbing is not a hobby, it’s a lifestyle,” he said.

Baker has been rock climbing for seven years and can see the effects of needing to be mentally sharp on the wall in his everyday life. He said he loves challenges and tackling any sort of project with the mindset of pushing himself to his limits.

Rock climbers all around can add their story to that of Baker’s in saying that the sport has changed their life. Following Honnold’s journey and studying his mental game shows us that his is no exception.

Being the first to free solo a beast like El Capitan, Alex Honnold has set the stage for pushing the limits of what humans can do physically and mentally.

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Healthcare: what’s in the price when you’re seen by a provider?

Story and images by BRADEN ROLLINS

Whether you go to the doctor to ensure your health shouldn’t be a decision you have to make. Unfortunately, rising healthcare costs are forcing individuals to choose between other expenses and healthcare.

Many face the daunting prospect of healthcare cost. But what contributes to the cost and why are some at a disadvantage as compared to others?

Stories of healthcare costs frequent the news and media attribute one of the causes of high costs to doctors offices themselves.

Trying to decipher why healthcare costs are so high can be difficult. However, speaking with employees at a local doctor’s office and their experience with rising cost may shed light on the subject for some.

Jordan Meadows, a small family practice located in West Jordan, provides services such as physicals, blood draws, weight checks, vaccinations and other basic medical services.

Debra Bowen, the general manager of the clinic, discussed factors that contribute to the price of healthcare in the office such as payroll, collections, supplies, utilities, and other miscellaneous expenses.

Keeping quality employees is difficult in today’s economy due to the unemployment rate being so low. And with major corporations offering higher pay for similar jobs, Bowen said it is difficult for smaller clinics to compete for labor.

Bowen said more than half of the expenses to the clinic is for payroll and if they were to significantly raise wages the patient prices would increase significantly as a result. So keeping the balance between quality employees and wages is a constant problem.

Another problem faced by the clinic is outstanding balances on patients’ accounts, which are usually sent to collections. Some patients receive treatment but delay paying for it at the time of service for various reasons. Many of these unpaid accounts can come from patients who have been treated and have since felt better and no longer feel payment is necessary, Bowen said.

Medical supplies are a major cost to the clinic. Bowen said most of the cost comes from sterile equipment for examination, followed by supplies and tests to diagnose different ailments. The most expensive of the supplies are vaccinations. The use of supplies is carefully monitored so only things that are needed are ordered to reduce waste and overstock of unneeded supplies.

While rising costs are affecting most Americans, Bowen acknowledged low-income individuals and families without insurance are particularly impacted. Jordan Meadows offers cash patients a reduced price for their care while barely breaking even on the cost to the clinic.

These individuals are faced with the decision to pay a high insurance deductible or pay out of pocket. Some coverage is minimal due to the plan selected by the patient.

Bowen said these policies, known as catastrophic insurance, have high deductibles such as $5,000, which most patients would not meet in their plan year, so they choose to pay out of pocket. 

This makes treating these patients difficult, especially those who have chronic care needs such as diabetes. Some patients will come in for their initial visit, but don’t return for follow-up appointments due to the price, which can sometimes cost over $100.

Though prices can still be considered high for cash-only patients, Bowen said they are negligibly higher than the prices set by government Medicare programs. Legally the clinic cannot charge lower prices than Medicare without it being considered fraud.

John Neilsen, a family nurse practitioner, said he and the clinic assist patients by reducing prices whenever possible for cash patients, and suggesting alternatives treatments and helping them find discounts on medications.

Neilsen said it is difficult at times when the patient cannot afford their care, but it’s even more difficult when the patient has the ability to pay but chooses not to afford their healthcare due to extravagances in their lives.

A main focus of the clinic is putting people first and doing what it can to help individuals struggling to pay for services by working with each one on a individual basis.

Mariana Alvarado, the receptionist who was assisting patients, said she has dealt with many patients who can’t afford the healthcare.

Many of the patients who have no insurance or poor insurance are notified before they are seen by the provider of the price of the visit. She says it’s difficult when patients are agitated by prices. But she said she does her best to calm them and explain why services are priced as they are.

Alvarado agreed with one of her co-workers. “Being a smaller clinic we develop relationships with our patients,” she said, “and do what we can to help each patient with staying healthy while helping them afford treatment.”

Jordan Meadows provides healthcare at prices that are manageable for the majority of its patients who have good insurance. But the clinic is willing to work with those who are in positions of financial stress or have poor insurance.

While basic healthcare could be considered relatively expensive as compared to other necessities, the breakdown of expenses to your doctor’s office, especially those of smaller practices, add up to and contribute to the final price of the service provided.

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Goalkeeping done right, from TIP Goalkeeping

Story and gallery by JOSH LUDLOW

The first Saturday of October at 8 a.m. was cold. According to the car’s outdoor temperature gauge it was in the high 40s. Freedom Hills Park in Centerville, Utah, sits just under the east mountain side. With rain falling the night before, the grass was spongy and wet. Feet were soaked within a few steps on the soggy surface. At this time, and place, goalkeepers from across the Salt Lake Valley gathered to hone their skills.

Brian Simmons, the head of TIP (technique, insight, power) Goalkeeping, is the man running the training program. As the young high school goalkeepers arrive, subtle moans are heard about the hour of day, temperatures, and lack of sleep. Simmons quickly gets them into action to start the morning training session with a few warm-up routines.

Soon enough the goalkeepers are diving on the ground, in the air, and even forward attacking the ball. Simmons directs the efforts of these young players in a positive direction. He provides needed correction but also positive reinforcement when a player correctly executes a save.

The session runs about an hour with much of the allotted time at an intensive work rate. At the end, footprints and cut marks are visible from where the goalkeepers worked as the grass is torn to shreds. Final comments are made by Simmons and then everyone departs till next week’s session.

Simmons discussed TIP and what the inspiration was behind the idea by saying that, “There was a lot of demand for goalkeeper training where I am based in Davis County, Utah. I was asked over and over about what training I could offer, so after holding training sessions sporadically I decided to formalize TIP so that I could be a consistent resource for the goalkeeping community as well as the average coach.”

TIP Goalkeeping provides young goalkeepers the opportunity to train at a higher level than a typical club team practice would provide. The high intensity, demand for excellence, and positive feedback make these trainings invaluable for the goalkeepers.

“TIP was officially founded in 2017, though TIP trainers have been active for about a decade,” Simmons said.

Another TIP trainer, Cole Palmer, also said, “I am not sure of the exact time I started with TIP but I believe the first camp that Brian and I did was in the summer of 2017.”

As a relatively new company in a heavily concentrated soccer playing community, TIP found its niche. The opportunity to work with parents and athletes away from the club teams has given the young goalkeepers formalized training. Whereas at the club levels, goalkeepers are treated as just another field player.

Craig Waldron, a parent of one of the athletes, described the training TIP provides. “I think TIP is different from other trainings because of how personal they make it for each keeper. They also have a very good trainer to athlete ratio so there is a lot of personal help with each of the athletes. And trainers that truly want to make better goalkeepers.”

The success of TIP, when broken down, is about the values it represents. Simmons said, “Our aim is to help keepers learn and develop the skills necessary to become great goalkeepers and people…. So many goalkeeping principles can be applied to life, and at the end of the day, we care very much that our athletes develop as people in all facets of life.” TIP goes further than teaching athletes how to properly be a goalkeeper. It instills values that these young players will one day look back on and realize they were already developing by attending these training sessions.

Ideally, the training sessions are there to assist in bringing a sense of accomplishment and improvement. Specific instruction is delivered from Simmons and Palmer on how to execute a desired movement, perform the technique correctly, and how to improve what the athlete already knows.

Palmer said, “I think the biggest difference that I have seen is getting kids genuinely excited about training. I have never seen kids show up to training and say they also have a game or even two after but at TIP I see that all the time. It seems like they show up excited and ready to go.”

TIP is also giving back to the community. Once a year, TIP hosts a training session for free to anyone. All that is asked from those who attend is a donation, which will be given to someone or a place in need. This past summer of 2018 TIP was able to raise “$330 to support Eumer, a boy living in Ethiopia,” Simmons said. The next year TIP is hoping to raise even more money to benefit someone or something.

TIP brings goalkeeping to a completely different level. With multiple trainers, athletes, and philosophies involved, these young players are receiving the skills necessary to enhance their playing abilities and life. Simmons said it best: “I want TIP to be THE authority on goalkeeping in the state of Utah.”

 

Redefine beauty with positive body image

Story and gallery by MORGAN STEWART

“In the last decade, there was a 446 percent increase in the number of cosmetic procedures in the U.S., with 92 percent performed on women. The majority being liposuction,” according to Beauty Redefined.

Today more than ever women and young girls are facing unrealistic ideals about beauty and body image. Coming from every media outlet, these beauty standards are becoming extremely harmful to the thoughts and minds of young girls and women all over the world.

Identical twins Lexie and Lindsay Kite recognized this issue and established the nonprofit organization Beauty Redefined in 2013 after obtaining their doctoral degrees from the University of Utah. After great research and study the twins have made it their mission to shine light on the effects of the beauty standards that are portrayed in the media and to start a different conversation about body image.

Their Story

As young girls, the twins were avid competitive swimmers starting at just 6 years old. The girls loved to swim until their attention moved from their actual performance to the way they looked in their swimsuits, Lindsay writes on the organization’s website. This started the girls’ “preoccupation with weight loss” that consumed so much of their thoughts and actions during their developmental years.

But the girls were not alone. Many of their friends were experiencing the same thoughts and emotions toward their bodies and appearances. The common factor that the girls believe attributed to some of these thoughts was the “easy access to media our entire lives,” Lindsay wrote.

Movies, television, social media and magazines all portray a certain standard for beauty. What is cool, what is not cool, what is thin, what is fat, and even what it means to be successful. And the list goes on.

Today

Today, Beauty Redefined has become a successful tool for spreading awareness of the damaging cultural standards that are portrayed in the media. Lexie and Lindsay travel the world teaching about positive body image and their strategies for developing what they call “body image resilience.”

In an online interview with the women they described body image resilience as “the ability to become stronger because of the difficulties and objectification women experience living in their bodies, not just in spite of those hard things.”

Through their speeches, website, blog, social media accounts and eight-week body image resilience program the twins are helping women and girls all around the world to shut down these ideals and to build positive body image from within.

The Beauty Redefined “Body Image Resilience Program” is an eight-unit online program. The program is designed to teach women how to recognize harmful messages in the media and how to reflect on the ways in which those messages impact their daily lives. Furthermore, the program guides women through the process of redefining beauty and how we think about beauty, health and self-worth.

Though there are many “well-intentioned” people who promote positive body image by telling women to embrace their beauty and bodies, Beauty Redefined takes a different approach. “Beauty Redefined is changing the conversation about body image by telling girls and women they are MORE than beautiful,” Lexie told me. “We assert positive body image is about feeling positively toward your body overall, not just what it looks like.”

The Beauty Redefined mantra is: “Women are more than just bodies. See more. Be more.”

Because media in all forms are becoming increasingly easy to access, the popularity of various social media platforms has skyrocketed in the past few years as well as the negative effects that accompany them.

I asked the women how they felt the rise of social media has been affecting women today. “As image-based social media content like Instagram and Pinterest have soared in popularity, so has the endless self-comparison so many girls and women engage in. That self-comparison is a trap, a ‘thief of joy,’ and leads to unhappiness,” they said.

To avoid the harm of self-comparison and the other dangerous messages portrayed in the media the sisters recommend going on a “media fast.” Avoid the use of any and all forms of media for a few days to “give your mind the opportunity to become more sensitive to the messages that don’t look like or feel like the truths you experience in real life, face to face with real fit people and your own health choices,” Lexie suggested. By eliminating media for a period of time you allow yourself to become more aware of these messages and the way they truly make you feel.

Another tip the women shared with me is to “stay away from mirrors while exercising.” Research has shown that women who work out in front of mirrors are less likely to perform to the best of their ability because their focus is on how they look rather than what their bodies are able to do.

Finally, “use your body as an instrument, not an ornament: When women learn to value their bodies for what they can do rather than what they look like, they improve their body image and gain a more powerful sense of control,” Lexie said. This is the mantra that much of the organization’s content stems from.

Moving Forward

Though there are many issues concerning female body image and the way women’s bodies are portrayed in the media, the biggest issues are that “women’s bodies are valued more than women themselves,” Lexie said.

Objectification is the root of these issues and both men and women must fight to stop it.

The sisters believe that “progress for all of society requires valuing women for more than our parts, not simply expanding the definition of which parts are valuable.”

 

University of Utah students discuss their passion for medicine and science

What university students are enduring now to be successful later on.

Story and slideshow by Ryan Matthew Thurston

It’s late on a Saturday night, and while most students are sleeping, partying or hanging out with friends, Ben Battistone, a freshman from Salt Lake City, is busy studying.

“I spend 15 to 20 hours a week on homework, conservatively. If it’s a test week I spend probably about 30,” he said.

He has a good reason to study. Although Battistone is only 19, he has big plans for the future: He wants to be a doctor.

“My dad is a doctor, so I grew up around it,” he said. “I’ve always been a quantitative person, so the sciences come naturally.”

Battistone has been studying at the University of Utah for almost a year. He’s not entirely sure what kind of doctor he wants to be, but whatever his specialty, his primary focus is helping people.

“I want to make a positive difference,” he said. “I really hope people don’t do it for money or job security. You’re sacrificing quality of care. If someone’s in it for the money, they won’t be as passionate and motivated as if they’re in it for the people.”

Helping patients is an essential part of any medical profession. As one doctor told Battistone, “They don’t treat patients, they treat people.” But he says the extra workload is worth it.

“Students in general are under a lot of pressure,” Battistone said. “You have to balance a lot of things in class while being asked to somehow take extracurricular activities. It’s crazy sometimes.”

The tremendous workload is a common theme among science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors. Ben Adams, a biomedical engineering major from Salt Lake City, has experienced similar trials in his pursuit of going to medical school.

“I don’t know that the major is the most important part of it,” Adams explained. “I’ve been considering changing my major to biochemistry or kinesiology.”

Between taking classes and studying, Adams also plays defense for the No. 1 ranked lacrosse team in the nation. Participating in sports has also influenced his career path.

“This summer I had a hip surgery done,” he said. “That doctor was incredible. He did such a great job that it made me think this is maybe something I want to look into.”

Like Battistone, Adams only takes four classes a semester, but considers his workload to be significantly more. Each class requires more work outside of it and contains harder concepts within.

“I’m in 12 credit hours, and it’s supposed to be a lighter load,” he explained. “But I probably spend upwards of four hours a day on calculus and bioengineering.”

Such a workload might seem unfamiliar to students with different majors. But for STEM majors and pre-med students, it’s a common thread that binds them together.

“I think about how the workload differs between majors a lot,” Adams said. “Some kids have 16 credit hours and have more free time whereas I’m swamped the whole day.”

Adams isn’t complaining though. He understands the work he has to put in might be more than someone else, comparatively.

“The end goal is very desirable,” he said. “Helping other people is something I want to do. It’s challenging but worth it.”

Helping people is a consistent theme across STEM majors, even for those who don’t want to go to medical school. Stella Ray is a chemistry major from Park City, Utah, but says she eventually wants to teach the subject in high school.

“I took chemistry all three years in high school,” she said. “I was a teaching assistant and tutor for it as well, and that’s how I decided I wanted to teach it at the high school level.”

Although Ray is only 19, education has always been something she’s wanted to work in. She explained that while chemistry can be challenging, having to work hard to understand the material has given her a greater appreciation for it.

“I like the challenge that chemistry poses,” she said. “Physics makes like no sense to me, but chemistry poses enough of a challenge that I had to work at it, and because of that I ended up liking it more.”

Ray also puts a lot into her studies, but often does so with friends to make things easier.

“The classes that require the most effort are my calculus and chemistry classes for sure,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like a ton of work though, since I have such a good support group of friends.”

Interaction with others is something Ray anticipates as she pursues her career.

“I think maybe more so than the subject of chemistry I love teaching,” she said. “That is my No. 1 priority, to become a teacher.”

Ray explained that in high school, she was amazed how different teachers led to different experiences for students.

“A lot of my peers have had different teachers,” she said. “Usually if they didn’t like chemistry it was because of the teacher they had. If you have a good teacher, even if the subject doesn’t come naturally, you’re still going to enjoy it more. I want to be the teacher that makes this subject accessible to everyone.”

Whether they are studying anatomy, chemistry or biology, the students at the University of Utah all seem to be tied together by more than just their workloads. Those who really work at it all seem to have one goal in common: helping others.

 

 

Two single moms open medical spa in Salt Lake City

Story and gallery by ASHLEIGH ZAELIT

Devynne Toote wakes up in the morning and takes her 3-year-old daughter Grei to her mother’s house. She grabs her morning coffee, and gets ready for work. When Devynne gets off around 7 p.m. she picks up her daughter to go home and make dinner together. She gives Grei a bath, they read a bedtime story, and then it’s time for bed.

Toote referred to her life as “work and mom.”

Yet Toote, who is a single mom, doesn’t mind this exhausting schedule because she is turning her dreams of owning a medical spa into a reality. She owns Bye Bye Med Spa with friend Kaeci Durfey, who is also a single mother.

Toote met Durfey seven years ago at the Mandalyn Academy, the beauty school they both attended. They became best friends and moved in together.

“We had always wanted to open up a med spa, it was our dream,” Toote said.

After school Toote started doing eyelash extensions. She later started training where she taught students the ins and outs of lash extensions, and even started her own lash company.

Toote was 20 years old when she got pregnant with Grei, and has been working to show her daughter that she can do anything.

“I just want to be a great example for my daughter,” Toote said. “Being a single mom and working full time is not easy but it’s fulfilling at the end of the day when you start accomplishing things. We don’t have time to waste. It’s hard to do alone but both my parents have helped me along the way. What makes the biggest difference is having a support system.”

She said it can be very difficult to balance the need to work to earn a living with the desire to spend time with her daughter.

Toote said it can be daunting to be a single parent and entrepreneur. But she advised other women, “Don’t let the fear of it all stop you. As long as you’re working hard and remember who it’s for, it will all be worth it.”

Kaeci Durfey is a medical esthetician. A medical esthetician specializes in advanced skin care treatments to develop and maintain healthy, beautiful skin.

Durfey provides the service of microneedling. This is a treatment that improves the look of scars, fine lines, wrinkles, stretch marks, and minimizes pores.

She starts the microneedling treatment by cleansing the face. Then she uses a device that stimulates the production of collagen, uses different kinds of light therapy, and removes impurities. Next she applies a topical numbing cream on the face followed by going over the face with a microneedling tool.

Both Durfey and Toote loved their jobs, but they wanted to expand. Opening Bye Bye Med Spa was the first step in their 20-year plan.

Bye Bye Med Spa is located at 4698 S. Highland Drive in Millcreek. Services include Injections like Botox, microdermabrasion to lighten and tighten the skin, eyelash extensions, microblading, waxing, airbrush spray tanning, and even weight loss programs. The spa also gives clients a great selection of everyday skin care as well as supplements.

Toote and Durfey would love to help others accomplish their goals and are leasing out rooms to anyone, even those who aren’t estheticians. Rent starts at $650 a month and includes social media marketing, business financial services, and web design.

Kendall Robbs is a 21-year-old single mom who rents out a room at Bye Bye Med Spa. She provides facial waxing and eyebrow tinting, and she specializes in microblading.

Microblading is a type of permanent makeup applied to your eyebrow. Robbs uses a special blade to tattoo individual hair strokes giving a fuller, natural looking brow.

Kendall moved from Salt Lake City to Orem two years ago for an internship where she learned microblading. She decided to move to Bye Bye Med Spa because the location would better accommodate her clients.

“The location is great, and everyone offers something different vs. other places where everybody just does one thing. Since there are individual rooms each client gets a more comfortable experience,” Robbs said.

Robbs related with Toote and Durfey, saying, “They are young single moms trying to build a career and I just really connected with them being a single mom as well. We just get each other.”

Toote and Durfey have a lot of plans for Bye Bye Med Spa, including offering cool sculpting. Cool sculpting is a device that dissolves fat cells in the area of choice.

They just recently got a laser to provide skin-resurfacing, laser hair removal, and tattoo removal for their clients. Kybella was also recently added, which is an injection that completely paralyzes fat. They would like to partner with a plastic surgeon in the future.

Bye Bye Med Spa is planning a grand opening this upcoming summer but anyone is currently welcome to set up an appointment for a skin care treatment, eyelash extensions, microblading, or spray tanning session.

The confidence of their customers is their top priority. All women and men are welcome, regardless of their color, shape, or size.

 

Medical marijuana versus the opioid epidemic in Utah

Story and gallery by CHANDLEY CHYNOWETH

Utah has the seventh highest drug overdose rate in the United States. Six people in Utah die every day from opioid overdoses, according to Opidemic. Taking opioids prescribed from a doctor can be harmful and cause addiction. It’s important that people are informed about this issue in order to prevent it from happening.

According to Opidemic, opioids release chemicals in the brain that stop the perception of pain. The brain can become accustomed to the pills and demand unnatural levels to dull pain and feel pleasure.

One individual, a neurologist, who has been practicing in Provo, Utah, for 28 years, believes that medical marijuana can be an answer to this opioid problem. He asked not to be identified because medical marijuana isn’t legal in Utah, so he will be referred to as Dr. R. He said, “There are over 200,000 new opioid addicts in the United States every year.”

Dr. R mentioned that many of the illicit drug addictions stem from prescription opioids. Oxycodone is the most commonly abused medication. He believes heroine is the most popular illicit drug that opioid abuse leads to because of the falling prices for it in Utah.

In his clinic he only prescribes opioids if the patient is in immense pain. When he does prescribe them it is in low quantities for a short period of time. He will try every other option of medication before he tries opioids because of their negative effects.

If the patient is looking for long-term opioid prescriptions he sends them to a pain clinic that can better manage their pain and medication intake.

When prescribing an opioid Dr. R has three rules: 1. The patient must sign a contract agreeing that he is the only provider for this drug; 2. The patient has to agree to stay within the parameters he supplies; 3. His office checks the patient out on DOPL, which stands for The Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing. This program indicates what other medications the patient is prescribed. He takes these measures to prevent patient addiction.

“I prefer medical marijuana to opioids, and anecdotally multiple patients have told me medical marijuana works better than their opioids,” Dr. R said. He explained marijuana is known to be a “culture drug,” which is the cause for difficulty in legalization.

Michelle C., a medical assistant who has been practicing in Draper, Utah, for eight years, said opioid addiction is a significant problem. Many patients come to her clinic seeking an opioid prescription.

“It doesn’t matter about your age, gender, or profession, anyone can become addicted and we see all different types of people that are struggling,” said Michelle, who asked not to be identified. If a patient wants an opioid prescription and is in pain, the clinic will prescribe one as a last resort and only for three months at most.

In most cases, Michelle said medical marijuana is a better alternative than opioids. She said it can benefit children who suffer from seizures and birth defects because it has been proven to help them. Cancer patients can also find great relief from it.

Michelle’s sister suffers from LAM disease, which attacks the lungs and is fatal. “My sister lives in Idaho so she doesn’t have access to medical marijuana. I wish that she did because it would benefit her a lot more than the pain pills she is prescribed,” Michelle said. Her sister is in constant pain and she believes that in cases like that, medical marijuana is the way to go.

Michelle does not recommend smoking medical marijuana for health reasons, and says taking the pill form of it is best.

Lee Barry, who lives in California and uses medical marijuana for his back pain, said he used to be prescribed pain pills and began to worry when he started depending on them too much. He increased his dosage because his body became used to the medication. Soon he realized that he couldn’t continue taking them because he was on the road to addiction.

He turned to medical marijuana and said it was a much better solution for him. “When taking my pain pills I felt groggy and in a daze all the time. When I switched over to medical marijuana I felt so much better and didn’t have to worry about addiction,” Barry explained in a Skype interview.

Barry believes medical marijuana is a perfect alternative to pain pills and would never go back to taking them again. It helps his back pain and he feels more like himself than when he was using opioids. He doesn’t know where he would be in his life without it.

Barry, Michelle, and Dr. R all agree that medical marijuana is the better alternative to opioid medications. They all believe that the opioid epidemic is very serious and caution people to avoid taking them at any cost.

If you or a loved one is suffering from opioid addiction you can call 1-800-622-HELP to reach Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s national helpline that is free and confidential.

RELATED: Listen to The Politics of Medical Marijuana, a May 2018 episode of KUER’s “RadioWest” that explored “the politics, popular opinion, and policies surrounding legalizing cannabis” in the U.S. and Utah.

 

 

 

 

Plant-based dining takes root downtown

Story and photos by Allison Oligschlaeger

SALT LAKE CITY — To any unsuspecting omnivore, the new Cinnaholic on 700 East looks like any other bakery. The only hint to the contrary is the two-inch tall, health-department mandated “V” in the corner of the glass serving case, discretely indicating the restaurant’s open secret.

Everything at Cinnaholic, from its custom cinnamon rolls to its coffee offerings, is egg-, dairy- and gluten-free. The franchise’s menu is extensive, boasting 20 flavors of frosting and even more toppings. Each option is entirely vegan.

Not that their marketing strategy reflects that — “the whole franchise, we don’t lead with ‘vegan,’” says Kurtis Nielsen, owner of the recently-opened Salt Lake City location. “The concept plays to everyone.”

Nielsen, a veteran of the health food industry and recent adopter of the plant-based diet, attributes the strategy to the business’s reliance on walk-in customers.

“The vegans are going to come — they have limited options, as we all know,” Nielsen jokes.

Those with little exposure to vegan food may pass it up as less appealing, “substitute” fare, requiring a more tailored marketing approach than the store’s vegan customers.

Cinnaholic’s approach isn’t unique in the fast-growing industry of vegan and vegetarian restaurants. In fact, much of the sector’s recent growth can be attributed to a new focus on acquiring omnivorous customers.

“You don’t have to be vegan to appreciate the food,” says Joslyn Pust, duty manager at Zest Kitchen and Bar. “It’s more than salad, it’s more than fake meats. That’s the biggest thing we try to convey to people.”

Since opening in 2012, Zest has enticed brunchers and barhoppers of all dietary persuasions with upscale vegetarian entrees and a zany cocktail menu. Rather than pushing the meat-free angle, Zest’s marketing strategy focuses on the food’s organic sourcing and health benefits. In fact, Pust estimates only a third of the restaurant’s staff is vegetarian or vegan.

“I think that honestly speaks to how accessible our food is, and our drinks as well,” Pust says.

While Salt Lake City’s vegan establishments of yore — like Sage’s Cafe and Vertical Diner, opened by veteran restaurateur Ian Brandt in 1999 and 2007, respectively — focused on meeting existing demand for plant-based food, their newer counterparts are committed to extending it. The last five years have seen a veritable explosion of vegan and vegetarian restaurants, nearly all of which practice some degree of “omnivore outreach.”

 

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Buds, a vegan sandwich shop popular with University of Utah students, was founded in 2012 in hopes of rehabilitating the meat-eating public’s opinions on veganism and vegan food.

“They just wanted to show people that you can get good food and it doesn’t have to contain animals or byproducts of animals,” says Buds employee Emma Broadbent. “It doesn’t have to suck, you know? Vegans don’t just eat salad.”

Buds founders Alex and Roxy expanded their cruelty-free restaurant network in September with BoltCutter, a South-American inspired restaurant and bar, and MONKEYWRENCH, an adjacent dairy-free ice cream and espresso shop. MONKEYWRENCH barista Molly Jager, a senior at the U, said the shop is rebounding from a quiet opening as Gallivan Avenue-area professionals discover MONKEYWRENCH’s morning coffee offerings. The store’s variety of dairy-free milk and cream options make it particularly popular with lactose-intolerant customers, Jager said.

Unlike the staff at Zest, the crews at both MONKEYWRENCH and Buds are made up entirely of herbivores. Jager is the only vegetarian employee at MONKEYWRENCH; the rest of her coworkers are vegan.

“It’s interesting and cool being around a group of people who are really passionate about what they work with,” Jager says. “Everyone is very dedicated to it and very vocal about it and it’s cool to see that excitement.”

Additional recent newcomers include dinner restaurants Seasons Plant Based Bistro and Veggie House, both 100% vegan. Seasons positions itself as upscale Italian dining, while Veggie House purports to meld the best of “fast” Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese food.

“We’re proud to watch our city’s taste buds continually expand,” said Nick Como, Director of Communication for the Downtown Alliance. “The opening of several new vegan restaurants downtown proves downtown is truly for everyone and has something for every taste.”

While the recent crush of such establishments may seem sudden, Pust says it’s been a long time coming.

“The community has grown exponentially just since I’ve worked at Zest,” she says. “In the past two years it’s exploded.”

Jager attributes some of the community’s rapid growth to trendiness — “It’s kind of an Instagram thing now,” she says — as well as to an increased cultural focus on physical and environmental health, which she says “goes hand-in-hand” with eating less meat.

Nielsen says the rate at which people are adopting veganism and vegetarianism is perfect for entrepreneurs looking to capitalize on the craze. While flashier food trends like gluten-free and low-carb were quickly adopted by corporate giants, the relative slow burn of plant-based diets allows smaller producers and restaurateurs to dominate the scene, he says.

While Nielsen does believe the mainstreaming of veganism is inevitable, he hopes it’s a while off.

“It’s going to happen, but I hope it happens slow, because it’s fun as a smaller player to be able to get into something like this and be successful,” he says. “For example, if Cinnabon was doing this, I wouldn’t have the opportunity.”

Nielsen is optimistic about Cinnaholic’s future in Salt Lake City.

“I think it’s a great market for it,” he says. “We’re off to a roaring start.”

 

(Read Allison’s reflection blog about this story here.)

University of Utah students have many mental health options available to them

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Story and photos by KAYLEE ANDERSON

There’s a rising epidemic on college campus and it’s not what you would expect.

Mental health is becoming a problem and it reaches new heights with young adults between the ages of 19-25, the typical demographic of college students. With so many new stresses coming into play, 49.5 percent of adolescents are affected by some kind of mental health disorder, according to youth.gov.

The University of Utah understands these problems and has many resources for students who need help. For example, the Counseling Center is located on the fourth floor of the Student Services Building. Most students aren’t aware of the services that are provided to them.

Steve Lucero is the center’s associate director. He encourages students to come check out the center and everything it has to offer. Lucero says that depression in college is a normal thing that can happen because of major life transitions, and for most students, college is the first big event that occurs in their lives.

“The magnitude of changes and lifestyles can be a difficult adjustment that triggers depression and anxiety,” Lucero says.

Lucero and the rest of the counselors at the center say that process is quite easy to follow. Students can call or come into the center Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Once they are there, they take a survey with a series of questions to determine the measure of distress the students are in.

If the students are in crisis, a crisis center is available at all time for them. Being in crisis is when you are in a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger. If they aren’t in crisis mode but still want to get help, they will be assigned a counselor and an appointment time. Group counseling, yoga, workshops, or individual counseling is available. The intake appointment, crisis center and workshops are all free for students. The group counseling is only $5 and the individual sessions are $12. These are very reasonable prices Lucero says.

The counseling center has two advanced practice registered nurses who can prescribe medication, which can be the next step after talk therapy.

Lucero wants more students to be aware of the services provided on campus.

Ashley Nagel is a sophomore at the University of Utah. She says her depression was very much heightened when she first went to college. Nagel says that moving away from her parents in Draper, was very hard and she didn’t realize how big of an impact it was going to have on her mental health and body. Going from a family house setting to a dorm room can be hard for young adults without them even realizing it. Nagel also says that she thought she had to have everything figured out when she first got to college, which heightened her anxiety.

Nagel hasn’t used the services on campus, but she wishes they were a bit more advertised because she feels like many students don’t know they exist. That is what Lucero is trying to accomplish by using social media and presenting to classes and other university groups about the center and all it has to offer.

Nagel says, “My depression is mostly socially related, so when I found a solid group of people that I felt genuinely comfortable with, my depression became a lot less of an issue.”

According to Self Magazine, 30 percent of people who suffer from mental illness never seek treatment.

Devin Johnson, a sophomore at Salt Lake Community College, says drugs and alcohol may have something to do with it. “Everyone just wants to party so they become distant from their real friends and befriend people who just like to use drugs and alcohol because they are so caught up in the having the college experience,” Johnson says.

Salt Lake Community College has a counseling center as well as the University of Utah, but Johnson says he has never been aware of that and doesn’t know where it is located. It is called the Center for Health and Counseling. It provides massage therapy as an option for students, which is very unique, as well and group and individual counseling.

If university counseling centers don’t work out for students there are so many other  psychiatrists around the Salt Lake Valley who are accepting new patients.

Jessica Arbogast is a family nurse practitioner who practices at the Martindale Clinic, which is located in downtown Salt Lake City on 340 E. 200 South, only five minutes from the University of Utah campus. She is willing to take new patients at this time and is very good with adolescents.

The Martindale Clinic is also a part of the Odyssey House, which helps people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. This can be another problem for college students and can increase depression and anxiety.

People who start taking an antidepressant to help with mental illness should avoid drugs and alcohol because it may mess with the medication, Arbogast says. 

She sees a large rise in the number of patients between the ages of 19-25, especially 19-21. “There are so many new stresses that come in play that people in high school did not deal with,” Arbogast says. Some of these newfound stresses include living without a parent, high stress classes, work, lack of sleep and meeting new people.

The Martindale Clinic and the Odyssey House are very affordable options for college students who can’t afford treatment or advising. They also are good options for students who attend other schools, colleges, or just live around the area and want to get help.

Mental illness is a huge problem for students, but there is no more need to hide behind it. So many people are dealing with the disorder and help can be found easily. No battle is too big to overcome.

The time to act is now.

Developing mindful awareness as a proactive approach to ending the stigma on mental illness

Story and gallery by SAVANNAH BERNARDO

As humans, each one of us is unique.

Just as our bones grow, our thoughts grow. Just as our bones develop muscles, our thoughts develop emotions. And just as our bones and muscles have developed the structure that our body is today, our thoughts and emotions have developed the structure that our mind is today.

We all have a different design that makes up how we see ourselves and how other people see us. But this is only half of what makes us unique.

The distinct way that each mind reacts and responds to different circumstances is what makes each human an individual. Each thought and emotion created is a response to a variety of different circumstances that we experience. However, the difference is how each mind will react.

Our perceptions and reactions to other people’s emotions is the reason for the stigma surrounding mental illness. Because we are unique, we all have a different story comprised of thoughts and emotions. But how often are we mindful of the details in this story? Once they come into awareness, we as a society become mindful. And only when we are mindful will we be able to stop reacting — and start being proactive.

ZOOMED OUT  

Stigma occurs when we are unsure of how to react. Instead of trying to empathize, our lack of understanding causes a shameful judgement. This is stigma. And its mark of disgrace is left on those diagnosed with a mental illness. For many generations, stereotypes and misconceptions have caused stigmatization against people who have been diagnosed. But if we are all humans with these unique minds, why is our first reaction to judge what we don’t understand?

Mayumi Shill, 22, programs coordinator at National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), describes this as a “zoomed out view.” While zoomed out, many people diagnosed with a mental illness are blamed for their disorder. There is a common curiosity as to why someone cannot just choose to be happy. This concern implies that they must be doing something wrong, and that there is a simple fix to the problem.

Just be happy.

If only life were that simple. However, simplicity does not always amount to happiness. Along with finding happiness comes facing adversity.

Andrew Smith, 35, a psychologist at the University of Utah Hospital, said, “Many people will experience some kind of mental difficulty in their life span.” But this is normal. This is what makes us human. “We’re all in this human experience together,” he said, and it’s important that we “help normalize that experience, together.”

EVERYONE HAS A STORY

That human experience is our story. Shill, with NAMI, said, “Everyone has a story, everyone has a different journey, and just because you don’t struggle with a mental illness, doesn’t mean that the person next to you isn’t.”

So let’s zoom in. If we take a moment to listen to the details, we will be able to hear the real story. And most importantly — accept it.

Samantha Shaw, 20, a junior at the U, said sharing her story was the best decision she ever made. Shaw was diagnosed with depression during her sophomore year of high school, but still had the thought, “This can’t be real. I can just choose to be happy.”

Even her boyfriend at the time advised her to smile more and be grateful she didn’t have something more serious like cancer.

Shaw said she felt like she had become trapped inside of her mental illness. “I felt very defined by it,” she said.

But little did she know, this was just part of her human experience.

After high school, she found her outlet in creativity and consistently wrote down her thoughts and emotions through poetry and short stories.

Her mindful awareness allowed her to accept her emotional state, rather than react to it. She was being proactive. This acceptance led her to talk about her mental illness more openly and no longer be defined by it.

PROACTIVE RATHER THAN REACTIVE

The Counseling Center at the U, supports this proactive approach. Staff are actively educating students through presentations on campus about their services. Lauren Weitzman, director of the University Counseling Center, said their underlying goal is to normalize everybody’s mental health.

It also provides an important service called the Mindfulness Center. Free workshops are held on the third floor of the student services building. Students may drop in for meditation to learn mindfulness strategies to help manage stress and anxiety and check in with their overall mental health. “Everybody can benefit from it, and it can help everyone’s well-being,” Weitzman said.

And while being on campus is convenient for students, the Counseling Center also refers people to a variety of additional resources around the Wasatch Front, including NAMI.

NAMI is a national nonprofit advocacy organization that provides help and hope in relation to mental illness. It has a range of peer taught support, education and school programs that are available to the public.

Along with these programs, it offers everybody the chance to stand together and pledge to be stigma free.

By taking this pledge we are joining together as a society.

We are recognizing that we are all humans with a unique story. But as Andrew Smith, the psychologist at the University Hospital, said, we are in that human experience together. And as we bring awareness and acceptance into our mentality, we are practicing mindfulness. Only when we are mindful, Smith said, will we be able to “do a better job at supporting each other.”