Austin experts offer plenty of ways to lift up your life

Karsyn Lemmons

When juice cleanses and healing crystals just won’t cut it anymore, maybe it’s time to switch things up. 

Shortcuts may be enticing, but dedication to diet, exercise and mindfulness tend to lead to stronger results. Self-improvement, whether external or internal, presents itself in many forms, but ultimately it’s the strive to create a happier, healthier and more positive lifestyle. What better way to accomplish this than to meet with experts in their fields and discuss how they use their expertise to juggle busy lifestyles? 

Focusing first on how a diet affects one’s life, Katherine Hall, a registered dietitian at Optimal RD, shared her expertise on the benefits of healthy food choices. 

“Food and nutrition is a form of medicine,” Hall said. “There’s research that shows a correlation between gut and brain health. Eighty percent of serotonin (a chemical neurotransmitter responsible for maintaining mood balance) is produced in the gut. Therefore, a happy gut means happy and positive emotions.”

Hall grew up in a large family and this meant large meals bringing everyone together, which inspired her to become a dietitian. For students looking to incorporate healthier meal choices into their diet but who aren’t sure where to start, Hall suggests a simple method that’s easy to remember.

“Start with vegetables at every meal and use the 3-2-1 approach. This means three vegetables on your plate in the morning, two during lunch and at least one at dinner. The ideal plate always has vegetables.”

UT RecSports personal trainer Sam Twito said exercise is another important factor in a productive and happy lifestyle.

Twito said he has been active since his teenage years and spent his undergrad learning about exercise and biology before moving to Texas in 2013 to get his Ph.D. 

“First, it’s important to find exercises that work well with your schedule as well as exercises you enjoy doing,” Twito said. “You can have the best routine in the world, but if it’s not something you’re passionate about, you’ll have a hard time sticking with it.”

Twito said the Gregory Gym offers a variety of classes and facilities and even encourages students to consider intramural sports on campus.

For those looking for a more introspective take on self-improvement, Josh Walpole, facilitator at Meditation Bar in North Austin, has practiced meditation for three years now and believes it has the potential to greatly improve lives.

“Meditation lets you deal with situations in a more positive way, rather than just reacting,” Walpole said. “It gives you an extra second to just think about what’s going to happen, and you can make your decision in a more positive way.”

Walpole suggests going to a meditation center and ask all your questions there. He explained that while meditation apps are a good place to start and you can always do a lot of research online, it’s best to go to a center in person.

“A lot of people have a hard time doing it by themselves,” Walpole said. “If you want to really get into it, and you want to really be able to ask people questions, find a center where there are other people meditating.”

Whether you’re interested in getting fit or having a more positive outlook on life, there are a wide variety of scientifically proven resources on (or near) campus to help you get there. No need to consult your local snake oil salesman.