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  • Articles, Body Image, Confidence, GirlSpring.com, Health, Lifestyle

    5 Small Tips for Loving Yourself More

    body confidence

    Everyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I’ve struggled with my body confidence throughout my whole life. My extra pounds and my acne when I was younger, being taller and bigger than everyone, maybe too muscular when I used to weightlift or having no muscles at all now that I’m recovering from an injury. There’s always something to complain about my body or the way that I look… I can never be truly satisfied. 

    These past few months, after a guy that I was seeing decided to end our relationship because he “couldn’t love me if I didn’t love me”, I’ve decided to change the pattern. See, since I had been feeling the same thing for almost 22 years and it wasn’t helping me at all. Maybe it was time to try something else! And I still don’t know how, but I’ve managed to make huge changes in my confidence. So what better way to celebrate these changes than to share them with everyone else?

    Here are 5 small tips that I’ve used to accept and care for myself more:

    1. Tell the voice in your head to shut up. I know… It’s like every time I look at myself in the mirror, or I see myself in a picture, there’s an instant voice yelling “ugh… disgusting!” Well, it’s time to make a conscious effort to shut it down. I understand it will be hard, but try covering it up with positive thoughts such as “I look amazing!” “I feel great!” At first, it might seem unnatural, but after a while, you can revert the habit.
    2. Take a look at your beautiful self in the mirror. If you feel uncomfortable with yourself, it’s highly likely that you avoid seeing yourself in a mirror. I used to close my eyes a lot when I had to see myself in some sort of reflection. I didn’t want to face what was in front of me. It’s time to quit that: see yourself carefully, every little part of you. Look at yourself in the eyes and get to know who you are. 
    3. Make a list of all the wonderful things you’ve done in your life and what you’re capable of doing. When I feel sad, I remember something amazing that I did a while ago: maybe that time that I did stand-up comedy on TV, or how strong I was in a sports competition. I also take time to be grateful for what’s to come, for the many things that I am capable of doing. Body confidence to me is not about how I look, but about what I am able to do. When you take some time to remember what you’re good at and the things you’re passionate about, you accept your own self more.
    4. Be careful with social media! Social media can be very toxic. When your feed is full of pictures of what beauty is supposed to feel like, or hurtful tips about “how you should achieve your summer body” (ALL bodies are summer bodies!) it’s very hard to get out of the negative spiral. We spend lots of hours surfing through social media, so my suggestion is to clean up your following list. Be careful with who you take advice from, and try to find other inspiring things rather than just pictures of other people. 
    5. Get out. Go for a walk! Work out! Play the piano! Do whatever makes you happy. Appreciate time with yourself, do things that are healthy for you, follow your passions. I find that when I have an amazing day just with myself, I am the happiest when I go to sleep.

    Learning to love yourself can be a long journey, here are some tips on self-care that can help you along the way!

  • Articles, Cooking, Food, GirlSpring.com, Health

    More Smoothies to Keep Your Summer Cool

    smoothie

    Summer is approaching fast, and so is the excruciatingly high temperatures that come with it. In order to beat the heat this season, hydration is a must– and what better way to accomplish that than with fruity, satisfying smoothies? 

    Below are a few simple, refreshing recipes to help you cool down this summer, sipping by the poolside. All you need to do is gather the ingredients, blend together and enjoy! 

    Pineapple Mango Smoothie

    Ingredients: 

    • ½ cup of pineapple juice
    • ½ cup of canned coconut milk
    • 1 cup of frozen mango
    • ¾ cup of frozen pineapple
    • ½ of a frozen banana

    You can modify this recipe by using a different substitute for milk or adding spinach or kale for a healthy twist. 

    Find the full recipe at https://www.iheartnaptime.net/pineapple-smoothie/.

    Strawberry Lemonade Smoothie

    Ingredients: 

    • 2 cups of frozen strawberries
    • 1 cup of ice
    • 1 cup of lemonade

    Simple, sweet and sour! This strawberry lemonade smoothie would be perfect at a picnic or pool party. Add a flavor to your lemonade, such as strawberry or raspberry, for some extra flavor.

    Find the full recipe at https://recipeforperfection.com/strawberry-lemonade-smoothie-recipe/.

    Watermelon Peach Smoothie 

    Ingredients: 

    • 3 cups of chopped watermelon
    • 1 ripe peach, sliced
    • ½ cup of plain coconut milk (refrigerated, not canned)
    •  A handful of ice
    • Mint for garnish (if desired) 
    • 1-2 tablespoons of honey to sweeten (if desired)

    Since watermelon is mostly water, this smoothie won’t only satisfy your cravings, but it will quench your thirst. 

    Find the full recipe at https://www.seasonalcravings.com/watermelon-peach-smoothie/.

    Peanut Butter Espresso Smoothie

    Ingredients: 

    • 1 frozen banana
    • ¼ cup of peanut butter
    • 1 teaspoon of espresso or instant coffee powder 
    • 1 tablespoon of maple syrup

    Ditch your boring cup of iced coffee this summer with this energizing, refreshing smoothie. Coffee is a must-have in my everyday routine, so I’m always looking for new, delicious ways to consume it, like this recipe. 

    Find the full recipe at https://thealmondeater.com/peanut-butter-espresso-smoothie/.

    Smoothies are easy to make, taste amazing and will cool you down in the upcoming hot weather– what more could you possibly be looking for? These recipes, plus some other GirlSpring smoothies, will quickly become one of your summer staples.

  • Articles, Birth Control, Body Image, GirlSpring.com, Health, Puberty

    Glowing Up While Growing Up: Normalizing Hormonal Changes During Puberty & Beyond

    puberty

    Guest Post

    Do you have a habit of putting your body down? Maybe you spend hours picking at blemishes in the mirror or comparing yourself to other girls around you or online. It’s possible that self-criticism has become so normalized you may not even realize that you’re doing it.

    Beginning at puberty, we experience dozens of physical changes from head to toe. When we notice these changes in others, we tend to draw comparisons. That being said, each female body was designed to blossom differently. Nonetheless, we become inclined to scrutinize and criticize every detail of our bodies. Accordingly, as our bodies change, so can our self-image.

    But our formative years are when we’re just starting to figure out who we are and who we want to be. It’s with great hope that we all strive to be happy and healthy through good self-esteem and self-worth. This is only possible if we recognize, understand, and accept our different features. Much like plants, each body grows in its own unique way but is still beautiful and worth celebrating and admiring. We’re here to let you in on what you need to know about hormonal body changes during this time in your life and how you can love and accept your body through it all.

    Acne

    The first thing we typically observe in the mirror is our face – especially if we have acne. Acne is the most common skin condition in the nation. Almost everyone experiences some breakouts in the course of their lives. Acne comes in many forms: blackheads and whiteheads, papules and pustules, as well as nodules and cysts. These blemishes can pop up in more places than just our face. They can appear on our neck, chest, shoulders, and back too. It’s extremely common for girls to encounter acne breakouts due to hormonal changes, like beginning their menstrual cycle

    However, it’s easy to forget just how normal blemishes are when we see pictures all around us of girls with “flawless” and “clear” skin. Although acne isn’t harmful to our physical health, it can most certainly take its toll on our mental and emotional health. Instead of trying to conceal or hide your acne, embrace it! Start by making positive changes to the things you surround yourself with regularly, like social media. Delete photo retouching apps on your phone and avoid using filters on your photos that give a false sense of what normal skin is. Your self-esteem will thank you! If you find that you’re still comparing yourself to others, unfollow any social media accounts that make you feel “less than” and replace them with body-positive accounts that promote self-love.

    Body Hair

    When exploring the different changes that come along with puberty, body hair is one that can cause some unsettling feelings. As you develop, you will likely notice more hair growing in new places, like your legs, underarms, and pubic area. Despite its taboo connotation, body hair is a good thing – it’s a sign that puberty is right on track! Not to mention that pubic hair, in particular, acts as the first line of defense against UTIs and yeast infections by preventing the transmission of bacteria

    Body hair might be concerning still for some girls, especially if it’s excessive or growing in less conventional areas such as your face, chest, and stomach. In this case, it may be a sign of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a common condition of females that can cause other health problems, including irregular or missed menstrual periods. So it’s important to express these concerns to a doctor who may suggest you try hormonal birth control pills (also known as combination pills). Our ovaries make the hormones estrogen and progesterone. These regulate our menstrual cycle. Our ovaries also make androgens, which can be responsible for unwanted hair growth. Hormonal birth control pills containing estrogen and progestin can balance out your hormones to reduce hair growth and regulate your period.

    In any case, body hair can serve as a reminder to take care of your body for you and your health. Not for the approval or acceptance from anyone else! Whether you choose to let it grow or let it go, good hygiene and health precautions should be at the forefront. If you embrace your body hair, keeping your skin clean can prevent the buildup of oil, dead skin cells, and other things that can clog hair follicles and cause ingrown hairs. Likewise, if you decide to shave, talk to a trusted adult about the best shaving practices to avoid any “bumps in the road,” like ingrown hairs that can lead to infections.

    Growth and Development

    Speaking of estrogen, it’s also the hormone behind the growth and development of your breasts, which is one of the first signs of puberty. Because of our unique genetic makeup, breast size varies between every girl. Keep in mind that everyone’s body develops at a different rate, and all size breasts are perfectly acceptable! It’s also normal to experience growing pains while your breasts are developing. Protecting and supporting your breasts with a good first bra can help with discomfort. Girls whose breasts are less developed may consider a training bra or sports bra. Those who have developed further may choose a bra with a soft cup. It’s important that your bra is comfortable and fits correctly to allow your breasts to grow properly!

    Along with breast development, you will also notice growth spurts in both your height and weight, as well as a curvier shape to your body. Not only are these changes normal, but they are also a healthy sign of development! Your body is producing more fat to allow for fuller hips, thighs in order to support your body as it grows. Because of this sudden growth, it’s also quite common to have stretch marks. As the name implies, your skin stretched quickly to accommodate your body’s changes.

    You may even notice the development of cellulite. Cellulite is just fat storage underneath our skin that can create the appearance of a lumpy, uneven surface. Everyone has some fat under their skin, and cellulite during puberty is, like all other changes, normal and healthy! Despite what society leads us to believe, cellulite isn’t extra fat; but rather a shift in how and where our bodies store fat now that we’re growing

    Let’s be honest; it can be challenging to welcome these changes to our bodies at first. The most beneficial thing you can do for yourself is to find the good in all of it! Focus on all of the things you appreciate and like about your body. You might say things like, “I love that my body is growing because it means I’m getting stronger, which lets me run faster, jump higher, and dance more!” Don’t let comparisons put a damper on your body-image or cause you to neglect your body’s needs. It can help to remind yourself: “I will fuel my body with the love and nutrients it needs. I deserve a healthy body and no one’s going to take care of it except for me!”

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Health

    Importance of Maintaining a Regular Sleep Schedule During Summer Break

    sleep schedule

    Without the daily structure of school, summertime signals late bedtimes for many teenagers.

    Most high schoolers have commitments for at least part of the summer (if not for the majority of it), such as jobs, internships, and camps, and late bedtimes often result in an insufficient amount of sleep as they continue to wake up early to attend to their activities. It’s common for teenagers to go to bed past midnight, only to wake up exhausted early the next morning as they grudgingly get ready for the day ahead of them. This results in a screwed up sleep schedule.

    After some time, receiving an insufficient amount of sleep each night can affect an individual’s mood and health. Some people may try to offset this lack of sleep by taking a nap later on in the day. Although this may seem like a good idea, it isn’t because napping can mess with an already-altered sleep schedule. This results in even later bedtimes and even less sleep. Additionally, going to bed late and waking up late the next morning gets them accustomed to a new sleep schedule. Then it’s difficult to readjust once it is time to go back to their regular school schedule.

    Maintaining a balanced sleep schedule where you’re able to receive an adequate amount of sleep is essential to maintain good health and a positive attitude!

    If you’re unsure of whether or not you’re getting enough ZZZs, check out this slideshow from WebMD.

    Here are some recommendations on what you can do to maintain a healthy sleep schedule:

    1. Set a good bedtime. Set a bedtime that is early enough for you to be getting at least 7 hours of sleep. Your bedtime is when lights are turned off and you are in bed trying to sleep.
    2. Turn off electronics at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. For many teenagers, electronic devices are the number one thing keeping them up at night. Although binge-watching your favorite show on Netflix and Snapchatting your friends is fun (and sometimes kind of important!), sleep is valuable and should take priority. Remember, you can always be on your electronics during the day and should use nighttime to rest and get re-energized. Turn off electronics and put them in a different room if you think you’ll be tempted to use them. Use the time you have before you go to bed to read a book, listen to music, or do another activity that is calming and doesn’t involve the use of an electronic device that could potentially distract you and keep you up at night.
    3. Eat dinner at a decent time. For many individuals, a 6-6:30 pm dinner time is the most ideal. Sleep schedules get thrown off when dinner time is later in the evening, causing additional problems. I would recommend maintaining the same dinner time as during the school year. If you choose to stay up later, eat something healthy to satisfy your hunger and keep yourself energized.
    4. Create a bedtime ritual. For some people, creating a daily bedtime ritual allows them to stay organized and feel calm; better preparing them for receiving a good night’s sleep. Activities on your ritual could include anything from cleansing your face to reading a book before going to bed. Figure out what makes you feel happy and relaxed, and create a thirty-minute to an hour ritual for yourself incorporating those activities! Do you need ideas for before bed activities? Check out our Beginner’s Guide to a Self Care Routine.
    5. Be comfortable. When you feel comfortable in your room, you’re going to have a much easier time sticking to your sleep schedule! Make sure your bed is comfortable. If you care about the temperature, do your best to keep it at one that is optimal for your sleep! Some summer nights, it can get very hot and may be difficult for you to fall asleep. I would recommend getting a fan for your room if you don’t already have one.
    6. Exercise daily: For some people, this isn’t something to even worry about. Their summers are spent enjoying the nice weather outdoors and being active. However, for others who aren’t very active, making the effort to get some exercise in is important. Doctors recommend exercise or doing something active for at least 60 minutes each day. Going on a run, taking a walk around the neighborhood, or playing sports are some examples of ways one can stay active during the summertime. Exercising helps individuals get a good night’s sleep, making it is very important and something you shouldn’t neglect!
  • Articles, Health, Lifestyle

    The Stay at Home Guide to Becoming Fit During Summer

    stay at home workout

    Summer is a time for people to be outside swimming or playing sports, but not everyone likes these activities. Some people like to stay indoors with the air conditioning. They can’t be bothered to go outside. They like the indoors where they can watch Youtube videos or Netflix. Maybe they read. Either way, working out isn’t a priority. They don’t want to do it. They just want to laze around and relax, or maybe they don’t think they have time. There are easy things to do to stay in shape and continue whatever they want to do instead.

    If working out isn’t your thing then start off small and add the amount you’re comfortable with as you go.

    • The Workout
      • 10 Lunges on each leg
      • 10 Squats
      • 15 Push-ups
      • 15 Crunches
      • 10 Leg Raises
      • 1 minute Plank
      • 15 minutes Jog in place

    Working out can be daunting as a beginner, here are some ways to not get discouraged when starting a new workout

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Health, Mental Health, Tips

    Why is a Positive Attitude so Important?

    positive attitude

    I’m not going to lie; there have been moments in my life where I’ve been a negative person. From being convinced that I could never get my driver’s license because of my terrible parking ability to complaining about my confusing math proof assignments, I have had my fair share of frustrating experiences that I’ve let myself get far too carried away with.

    Through all these experiences, however, I have learned that negativity has never led to positive outcomes.

    Having a negative attitude has prevented me from being able to face my challenges head-on. It’s also caused others around me, like my parents, to not be as supportive because they do not appreciate the way I am choosing to handle my problems. Positivity is key to accomplishing anything good in life. Therefore, it is very important to always try to stay positive- even in times when things aren’t looking so great. Here are eight reasons why a positive attitude is so important:

    1. Energetic, Active Mind: It is a fact that people who maintain a positive attitude are more curious and aware of the world around them. These individuals can see past themselves and gain a better understanding of the way life around them operates. Therefore, they are able to be better thinkers and are more creative.
    2. Ability to Develop Meaningful Relationships: People like being around positive people. Individuals who radiate positivity are able to make themselves and others feel good about them. I always love when my friends are positive about both themselves and about others. It lets me know that they are confident and proud of who they are, and are able to appreciate others. It is a good balance, and I think this type of outlook is important for any good relationship.
    3. Better Mood: When an individual has positive thoughts, Cortisol levels decrease and the brain produces the neurotransmitter Serotonin. This helps boost mood by creating a feeling of well-being and safety. Having a good mood makes everything seems to go well. This motivates people to continue to work toward doing positive things.
    4. Better Health: People who have a positive attitude tend to have lower stress levels and other issues in their lives. They stay healthier and maintain a better sense of well-being because they see taking care of themselves and seeking out a good life that they are satisfied with as important.
    5. Better at Overcoming Obstacles: People with positive attitudes are able to view obstacles as regular parts of life that everyone goes through. A positive attitude allows individuals to overcome these difficulties in life and increases people’s ability to persevere. As the saying goes “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” True to that, having a positive attitude can help an individual face anything that comes their way with good spirit.
    6. Increased Productivity: When individuals have a positive attitude, they are able to set goals for themselves and work towards achieving them. Staying positive allows an individual to believe in themselves and their abilities, and work towards overcoming obstacles as they come. This reduces procrastination and leads to more productivity.
    7. People See You As Valuable: In today’s hyper-competitive, stressful world, nearly everyone appreciates positivity. When someone shows that they are able to stay positive in tough times, they will be considered valuable by potential employers. An employee with a positive attitude is a great asset because they can get along with others and be productive.
    8. Greater Satisfaction With Life: With positivity, people are able to appreciate themselves and the things around them better. Individuals with positive attitudes are able to take a greater amount of self-control over their lives, and they are able to live their lives the way they want. This would allow them to follow their dreams and achieve their definition of success. What is life if it’s not worth living?

    Sometimes, you need a little bit of a push to be more positive. That’s where “Perfect to Me” by Anne Marie comes in. Check out the song and instantly feel uplifted about yourself and the journey you’re going through.

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Health

    My Experiences With Health Care as an 18-Year-Old

    health care

    When I turned eighteen, many of my friends asked me how it felt to officially be an adult. To be completely honest, it didn’t feel any different from being seventeen. I for sure didn’t look any different and wasn’t necessarily treated any differently by my parents, teachers, or peers. Life seemed to go normally without any major changes until I realized that I was due for a doctor’s visit.

    I was on medication, and my doctor wanted me to come back and see her after my treatment was complete to make sure things were going well. The appointment wasn’t scheduled, so I asked my parents to call the doctor’s office and schedule an appointment for me, as they had done all these years.

    Here came one of the first big changes in my life.

    The receptionist said that since I was eighteen, my parents couldn’t schedule appointments for me; I had to call the office myself. It felt weird to pick up the phone and schedule an appointment on my own. I realize that it was ultimately just a phone call, and I have spoken to people over the phone many times before, but it felt unsettling and nerve-wracking. Did I know the name of my health insurance provider? Did I know important information regarding my family’s medical history? The receptionist was nice, and the phone call went fine, and, yes, I did actually know the answers to the questions I was asked. After the call ended, I felt relieved. It felt good to know that I had a little more responsibility. I learned to successfully schedule my own appointments, and although it doesn’t seem like a really big deal in hindsight, it felt pretty good at the time!

    The second big change came at the actual appointment.

    When the nurse called me to go into the doctor’s office, my mom accompanied me as she usually does. However, unlike all the other times I had visited the doctor, I was asked if I wanted my mom to be in the room with me. I make medical decisions with my parents, so I definitely wanted my mom with me, but it was an interesting feeling to know that it was my choice if I wanted my mom with me or not.

    Finally, during the appointment, almost all the questions were directed at me, rather than at my mom. I was controlling my appointment, which was strange and different. Being a bit of an introvert around people I don’t know well, I was comfortable with my mom asking all the questions and doing most of the talking for me, but now, I am learning how to handle things on my own. I had to make eye contact with the doctor, answer her questions, and ask any follow-up questions I had. It wasn’t as awkward as I thought it would be because of the open environment that my doctor created. I could tell that my mom had sensed the change too when she muttered, “You’re going to have to learn to do a lot on your own now…” when we left the office after the appointment that day.

    Sometimes doctor’s visits aren’t as helpful as they could be, especially if you don’t know what questions to ask (or if you even should ask questions), if you need to eat and drink before you go, etc. It’s a lot to remember! So this article should help you get the most out of your doctor’s visit.

    More changes to come

    Although I am still on my parents’ health insurance plan, a lot of responsibility regarding my health care will start falling on me. Already, I have learned to schedule my own appointments, check my health records on the patient portal online, and talk to doctors completely on my own. This isn’t stuff that is taught in school, but it is still important for real life. Many teenagers go off to college unsure of how to manage their own health care and use the resources available to them to take care of themselves. It’s crucial for them to acquire these skills early on so they can develop independence and personal freedom as new adults. I know I will have to get some orthodontic work done when I am in college, so I will have to be seeing an orthodontist every few months. This and a lot of other things are going to be new because I am going to school in a different state.

    I have realized that it is important for me to take control of things from early on. I hope I am able to do that next year and pave a good path for a smooth four years ahead in terms of managing my health care.

    Making your own doctor appointments is just one part of being an adult, here are some other tips that make the transition from young to young adult a little easier.