Tips for a Healthy and Happy Fourth of July

The Fourth of July is one of the most celebrated holidays of the year and rightfully so.  We’re celebrating the birth of, not only our nation, but the birth of democracy itself.  And how do we choose to celebrate? With fireworks, family, sunshine and barbecues, of course!

But the holiday can also come with a few potential hazards if you’re not careful. Not to worry; we’ve got some helpful tips to make this Fourth a happy and healthy one!

Bring some earplugs

And no, they’re not to tune out your annoying cousin Larry.  Fireworks can produce a sound output that is in the 150 to 175 decibel range. The World Health Organization recommends that adults not be exposed to more than 140 decibels of peak sound pressure and for children, the recommendation is 120 decibels. Ear protection is recommended for decibels above 85.  So be sure to grab a pair of earplugs before you head out to enjoy the fireworks.

Apply Sunscreen

To keep your skin from matching the red, in the red, white, and blue of the American flag, you’ll want to apply sunscreen.  According to the American Academy of Dermatology it takes approximately 15 minutes for your skin to absorb the sunscreen and protect you. So you’ll want to put it on before you’re out in the sun. You’ll want to use something with an SPF of 30 or higher, that is water resistant and provides broad-spectrum coverage. Reapply every couple of hours to prevent sunburn. Follow the American Academy of Dermatology’s tips on How to apply sunscreen and you should be covered.

Stay Hydrated

Being outside in the sun for a picnic or barbeque cookout can make you more susceptible to dehydration and other health risks. Keeping a bottle of water nearby will help to keep you cool and hydrated throughout the day’s festivities. Plus alternating each alcoholic beverage (if you are of age) with a bottle of water, will help to stave off alcohol-induced dehydration.

Practice Safe Barbecuing

So you’re the one who’s manning or woman-ing the grill; then it’s up to you to make sure that you’re practicing safe barbecuing. This means that you’re designating different plates for the raw and cooked meat, you’re marinating food in the refrigerator and not out on the counter, you’re cooking the food thoroughly, you’re not leaving the food out in the sun for more than 2 hours (one if temperatures are really extreme), and you’re following the manufacturer’s instructions for safely operating your grill.

Follow these tips and you’re sure to have a happy and healthy Fourth of July!

Written by: Jennifer Robinson, Social Media Coordinator/Blog Editor – Arizona Automotive Institute

What Food Labels Aren’t Telling Us

Food Labels 101

You would think that if you wanted to know exactly what is in your food, you would just read the label. Think again. Although labels are supposed to be there to tell us exactly what’s in the food we’re about to purchase, they can be extremely deceiving. With consumers being more health conscious than they ever have been, food companies have figured out how to trick us with misleading claims and clever marketing phrases.

Labeling claims are carefully crafted to catch your attention and convince you that the product is healthier than it actually is. Look out for these common, but misleading phrases found on food labels.

Natural

This is possibly the most misleading term in the food industry. This does not mean that the product is healthy or even all that natural. The word “Natural” is used to reel in unaware consumers who tend to believe it means the same thing as “organic”, which it does not.  In fact, when it comes to labeling foods, the term has no clear meaning and isn’t regulated by the FDA, much less, any agency. A recent survey of 1,005 adults  by Consumer Reports found that more than half of consumers usually seek out products with “natural” on the label, based on the false belief that they’re made without GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms), hormones, or artificial ingredients.

Low Fat

Food labels claiming that the product is “low fat” can be found on everything from yogurt to salad dressing. Unlike the term “natural”, the FDA does regulate when this claim can be used. This may seem to offer the assurance that the food has a significant nutritional benefit, but in fact it could be the opposite. Low fat products are processed to reduce either calories or fat and some products are simply watered down. Often when these things are removed something is added in their place, like sugar or artificial ingredients.

Cage free or Free Range

The terms “cage free” or “free range” might conjure up lovely images of happy hens frolicking around a farm yard all day, without a care in the world, but unfortunately this is not the case. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) defines free range as having exposure to the outdoors. The problem is that there are no requirements for the amount, duration or quality of the outdoor exposure. Most “free range” or “cage free” birds spend their lives in extremely over-crowded warehouses, with little exposure to the outdoors. Diseases run rampant in these conditions, due to unclean surroundings, tight quarters and contaminated feed. If you are looking for eggs or poultry from happy birds, look for “pasture raised” on the labels.

Sugar Free

Products labeled “sugar free” may not contain refined sugar, but it is often replaced with something far less healthy. “Sugar free” usually indicates the presence of artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols. Aspartame, sucralose, and other artificial sweeteners can have just as many, if not more negative health effects than regular sugar. Just because a food has no added sugar, doesn’t mean that it’s sugar free! Juice, for example has no sugar added to it, but the naturally-occurring sugar in an 8 ounce glass of juice still contains anywhere from 24 to 36 grams of sugar – the equivalent of six to nine teaspoons.

Finding your way in the supermarket jungle

Making informed choices on the food that we buy for ourselves and our families can be difficult when food companies are constantly trying to mislead us, but here are a few suggestions to help you find your way:

  1. Stay informed – the best way to avoid being pulled-in by healthy-sounding deceptive marketing phrases is to become knowledgeable about the foods that you should be eating.
  2. Be skeptical – If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  3. Shop the Perimeter – The perimeter of the store is where the freshest and least processed foods are generally found, such as fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish.
  4. Keep it simple – Avoid foods that contain more than five ingredients, artificial ingredients or ingredients you can’t pronounce.

Want to see if you’ve learned a few things about food labels? Take the Web MD quiz here.

Written by: Jennifer Robinson, Social Media Coordinator – Ancora Education

Study Techniques That Compliment Your Learning Style

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Study, study, study. Do you find yourself studying excessively, but your grades aren’t reflecting all the effort you’re putting in? Then maybe you aren’t studying in ways that compliment your learning style. Contrary to popular opinion, textbooks and lectures might not be the only way to prepare yourself for an exam.

What is a learning style and how does it effect me?

Learning style has to do with the different ways that people bring in and absorb new information. Knowing your learning style can help you use your strengths when studying. Ever wondered why you do well in some classes and not in others? This may depend on your learning style. Whether taking a regular class or studying for a major exam you can greatly increase your productivity by tailoring your study habits to compliment your particular learning style.

You might be a Visual Learner if…

If you never forget a face, but have trouble remembering people’s names then you might be a Visual Learner. If you’d rather watch the movie than read the book, you might be a visual learner. Visual learners process information best when it’s presented to them visually.

Study tips for Visual Learners:shutterstock_280433198_rendered

Take detailed notes

Whether you are sitting in class or reading a text book, make sure to take lots of notes. By taking copious amounts of detailed notes you give yourself the ability to review what was covered later at your own pace, and the act of note-taking itself contributes to your absorption of the material.

Watch a video on the topic

Like I said before, if you’d rather watch the movie, then maybe you should. Now this doesn’t mean go watch the new Star Wars movie instead of studying. It means finding videos online that cover what you are studying. Whether you Google a short clip to answer a particular question or you use an online learning resource like Khan Academy, you will find videos to be strong study aids. Note: Make sure your videos come from reputable sources.

Use Flashcards

Flash cards will help you learn the subject using repetition to ensure you retain the knowledge. There are many apps available if you don’t feel like making your own flash cards. Apps such as Chegg Flashcards and Studyblue allow you to keep score and track your stats so that you know what areas you need to focus on.

 You might be an Auditory Learner if…

If you find you enjoy humming aloud or talking to yourself, you might be an Auditory Learner. If you remember words to songs and notice sound effects in movies, then you might be an Auditory learner. This just means that you study best by listening. Auditory Learners tend to perform the best in classes that emphasize lectures and class discussions.

Study tips for Auditory Learners:

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Recording your lectures allows you to listen to them again when trying to study. There are many apps available.

Verbalize what you’ve learned.

In the same way that visual learners learn from writing notes, auditory learners can solidify their learning by verbalizing what they’ve learned. Put it into your own words, this helps you to truly grasp the subject and remember it longer.

Read aloud

Read aloud whenever possible. After reading a chapter, summarize it out loud.

Use Mnemonic Devices

A mnemonic device is a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations that assists in remembering something. Using a mnemonic device can make remembering dull or difficult to learn material such as numbers, formulas, dates, terminology, or concepts easier and maybe even a little fun.

Work in Groups

When working in a group you can discuss the subject and better absorb the material. You can also quiz each other.

You might be a Tactile/Kinesthetic Learner if…

If you hate using an owner’s manual when you buy a new gadget or reading the instructions to put together IKEA furniture, then you might be a kinesthetic learner. If you tap your feet to music and can’t sit still in lectures, you might be a kinesthetic learner. This means you comprehend information best through hands-on learning. Kinesthetic learners tend to do better in labs than in lectures.

Study Tips for Kinesthetic Learners:girl typing on laptop with socks

Apply what you’ve learned

If you’re studying from a textbook, you can get frustrated pretty quickly. To combat this frustration and better understand the material you covered, look for practical applications for what you’ve just learned.

Take short study breaks

Rather than forcing yourself to sit and study for long periods, break up your study sessions into 30 minute increments with 5 minute breaks in between to stand up and move around. This can be beneficial to all students, but especially for kinesthetic learners.

Keep your hands busy while studying

Believe it or not, kinesthetic learners study and comprehend information better when their hands are involved. It can be as simple as holding an object, like a stress ball, while studying or typing out your notes.

What to keep in mind

 No matter what your predominant learning style may be, it’s important that you keep in mind that it’s just your predominant, not your only learning style. Most of us are a mix of all three.  Don’t be afraid to try methods from other learning styles as well. The goal is to find what methods work best for you.

 Find Out Your Learning Style

You can find out what your preferred learning style is by taking the assessment found here.

Written by: Jennifer Robinson, Social Media Coordinator – Ancora Education

One Graduate’s Success Story

CorbinI remember the first time I met Corbin Gerner.  Corbin wasn’t even looking for one of our skilled trades programs and visited AAI with his friend for moral support.  “I was only going to support my friend who was interested in AAI’s HVAC/BR program.” But after touring AAI Corbin left with such a great impression of the campus. “When I first walked through the welding lab I saw students cutting metal, grinding steel with sparks flying and I thought that it was the most awesome thing and instantly wanted to try it.”

Corbin is a United States Army Veteran who served five years in the Infantry, did a one-year tour to Iraq and served another year in Afghanistan. He was happy to see that AAI had a big military population, from staff, faculty to students and alumni. He felt right at home. He only had 11 months left on his G.I.-Bill and felt that the “timing was just perfect.” Meeting with our Admissions and Financial Aid team really helped him through the process.

When I first met with Corbin he mentioned that he had just finished his AA degree but still had no idea what to do with his career. I was able to help and guide him. After checking out the skilled trades programs AAI offered, he became more and more interested in our Combination Welding program and enrolled in February 2015. He had never welded before so this was new to him and was really excited to learn the welding trade. Throughout his program we kept in good contact and he always let me know how classes were going for him. He said, “Looking back now, the teachers and staff always checked on me and that kept me motivated.”

In anticipation of graduation Corbin started working more with the Career Services department.  They were able to help him update his resume, helped him with interviewing skills and how to effectively present the skills he learned at AAI to a potential employer. After graduating in November, Corbin landed a job with DH Pace in Phoenix. “I now have the highest paying job I’ve had since getting out of the Army, I’m more than excited every day to go to work now!” stated Corbin.

As an admissions representative at AAI, I find that success stories like Corbin’s are incredibly motivating. Seeing him succeed made me feel like I played a small part in changing his life.  Keep up the great work Corbin!

Written by: Karina Zavala, Admissions Representative – Arizona Automotive Institute