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health

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Health, Puberty, Sexual Health

    Periods Made a Little Easier with Clue

    clue app

    Being on your period is always an unpleasant experience with the physical and emotional pains that come with it. However, it becomes an even worse situation when you’re out somewhere and you start, but you didn’t plan ahead because you weren’t supposed to start at that time or you don’t have a set schedule for your cycle. I know that when I started it could be as short as 28 days to 40 days in-between cycles. Even if there are symptoms that signal your period is about to start, not everyone is the same, and they won’t experience them right when they begin having frequent cycles. That’s why to make things easier girls can get the app, Clue.  

    What is Clue?

    Clue is an app that helps women keep track of their monthly cycles. It collects data based on how often you start to how low you are on your period. There are even different tracking methods that help you not only understand what is happening with your body but to also get an idea of what is normal for your body. You could be someone who is very emotional during this time, or you could need extra sleep. Because periods usually only last 4-7 days, it can be hard to pay attention to how you’re feeling and live your life. This app helps you catalogue the information in just a few seconds, so when you have some downtime you can always go back and see what happened during that time.

    Give me the Data

    The Clue app has an easy set up. You download it, create an account, and put in your birthday, height, and weigh. These details can help Clue give you better research based on who you are. After that on the home page, you’ll see a circular arrow with a red circle in the middle. This is the page that helps keep track of everything. It shows how many days it has been since the last cycle started. This is the most beneficial part. I know that there have been days for me where I think I’m supposed to start at the beginning of the month, but I have no idea when. The day represented on the arrow just lets me know whether I’m close or not.

    Moving on to entering the data. The green circle with a white plus in the middle or the red circle with “Enter today’s data” are not hard to see because they are about the only pop of color. This part is what I really enjoy while using this app. There are so many little things to add:

    • Pain (cramps, headache, ovulation, or tender breasts)
    • How much you’re bleeding (light, medium, heavy or spotting)
    • Emotions (happy, sensitive, sad, or PMS)
    • How many hours you slept
    • How energized are you
    • Mentality (focused, distracted, calm, or stressed)
    • How motivated you are
    • Hair
    • Skin
    • Cravings (sweet, salty, carbs, or chocolate)

    Each of these can be added to your personal tracking options or taken away. It is all up to what you want to know. The section about the actually happenings of your period is gross to think about, but it helps to know how much bleeding you have to see when your period will be over. It also provides information that a doctor may need to know.

    Other really cool functions of the app

    Another function of Clue that I enjoy is the notifications. Every app has these, but Clue has set reminders to let you know when your cycle will begin, if you’re late, or if PMS is about to hit. This saves so much time. If I get notified that I’m late or about to start then I can make sure I have a pad or tampon with me. Most girls probably already have these any way, but sometimes after using one from the last cycle you forget about restocking because you’re just glad it’s over. That has been a problem for me in the past. Once that last day is over, being on my period is the last thing I want to think about.

    The final part of Clue that really makes it a good app is the Cycle Science section. When first starting your period, you may not know the ins and outs of it. You probably just think, “Hey, I’m bleeding. This is a thing now.” This section explains why all of the functions in Clue are important.  There are little articles with medical terminology, too. Some of this stuff you might not be taught, so having this here will help later when you’re older and go to the doctor. You’ll have the information you need to tell your doctor exactly what’s wrong if your period has something to do with it.

    If there is something to dislike about this app, it would be the “Plus” section. I have never found the need to pay for anything more because it is all provided right there in plain sight. There could be some extra analysis data I could be missing, but with everything that is already there, I don’t think you actually need anything more. This app is pretty straightforward so using it shouldn’t be a problem.

    Wanna download Clue and make period tracking a breeze? Get it on the App Store or Google Play. Or do you have more questions about periods and birth control and everything else that comes to sexual health? Check out our Need to Know page.

  • Body Image, Confidence, Health

    My Fitness Journey

    My Fitness Journey

    Learning the Difference Between Self-Sabotage and Self-Care

    When I was 14 I decided to make a change. Chubby and tired of being labeled “the chubby friend”, I started a 30-day workout video called “30 Day Shred” by Julian Michaels. I also downloaded the My Fitness Pal app to count calories. All of this was completely new to me and I had zero knowledge of working out or healthy eating.

    However, I did know that the Google search results on “how to lose 20 pounds in a week” were not working.

    Within the first week of counting calories and working out, I noticed results. Because I was in the ninth grade, my metabolism was probably in its prime. I just needed to put in a little effort because of bad genes. Thanks, Mom and Dad. Without realizing it, I lost 30 pounds in a month! Often, I lost motivation and did not want to work out, but watching the scale go down helped me to persevere.

    If you know anything about counting calories – you know that once you factor your weight loss, it lowers your calorie intake and so on. Ultimately, this created an obsessive behavior. As the weight continued dropping, I managed to still see myself as the chubby, 130-pound girl I was determined to erase.

    I was miserable. I constantly thought about food, and wouldn’t hang out with friends if I hadn’t worked out. If I missed one day of working out, I felt like I had gained 5 pounds. If I ate more than 2 slices of pizza I would take laxatives to make up for it. After diving straight into an incredibly unhealthy mentality, I didn’t eat cake on my birthday because I was afraid it would make me fat. I was afraid of food and terrified of gaining any weight.

    This went on for a while until I was miserable enough to confess to my sister – which wasn’t much of a confession because all I ever talked about was food and working out so she had already noticed.

    My mentality was so messed up. I started to research on maintaining my weight and tried to find stories about people who had gone through the same thing. I found nothing.

    It wasn’t until I came across a girl on Instagram who had just finished a workout guide called BBG. Grace had abs and that was what I was striving for. I worked hard and wanted abs to prove it. So I started doing BBG and I did not like it, at all. I thought the workouts were boring because I was a runner. I didn’t finish BBG but I continued to follow Grace and her fitness journey. BBG lead her to fall in love with lifting weights and cured her unhealthy relationship with food.

    Finally, I found my solution to this madness. Although the weight room was unfamiliar to me, I threw myself in. To be honest, I was clueless and felt like a man. Eventually, I  learned the correct form, put my headphones in and pretended to know what I was doing – using the Nike Training app as my guide. I fell in love with the gym. It became my stress reliever and my favorite part of the day. My body was sore, but seriously who doesn’t like that feeling? I felt so strong but just wanted to transform my body.

    Weight lifting resolved my eating issues. I fell in love with healthy eating and learned how to balance my meals and fuel my body according to my new active lifestyle. I stopped counting calories and solely focused on how my body felt and the nutrients I was consuming.

    It is incredible the way my body has transformed. Now, I workout 4-6 days a week and love it. Also, I’m much stronger and am learning a lot about form and technique with the help of Youtube and Instagram. It is crazy what you can accomplish if you just change your mentality. 

    Be healthy and take care of your body! WE can do anything. Girl power!

     

  • Health

    How to Start Working out and not get Discouraged

    Start Working Out

    It is the beginning of a new year and you may feel like it’s finally time to start making time for the gym and start your journey to a new you. You may have no idea where to start or whether or not you need to have a gym membership to lose weight. If you are feeling desperate for a quick fix then understand now that there is no such thing as a quick fix and your body will not change overnight. It is going to take hard work, dedication, and persistency.  You are not alone I, myself have Googled “how to lose 20 pounds overnight” and it was left with the only option: eat healthy and exercise.  So how do you get started?

    Find a workout you enjoy:

    You can workout in so many different ways: running, cycling, yoga, H.I.I.T., weights, and so many other things. Whatever gets your heart rate up and causes you to wipe the sweat of your brow. You need to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. H.I.I.T. otherwise known as high intensity interval training is a fast-paced workout where you give it your all for 30 minutes at a very-high intensity. It is proven to be extremely effective in burning fat and showing results quickly. Cycling and running are also high intensity cardio options that will guarantee results. Don’t be afraid of the weights! The weight rooms are usually men-dominate but there is not reason to feel intimidated. Weights will give you that toned definition you want and don’t worry you won’t walk out of the gym looking like Hulk.

    Change up your diet:

    If you continue to eat the way you did before you decided to get healthy then working out will not cancel that out. Essentially, your body will not change if you do not give it the nutrients it needs in addition to working out. So add some veggies and fruits to that grocery list so that you can get the results you want!

    At-home workouts:

    If you are intimidated by the gym or can’t afford to go, then workout at home! I was so surprised that you could do so many workouts at home. at the beginning of my fitness journey. I lost 30 pounds by working out at home. Youtube has so many free workout videos. Julian Michaels and Blogilates have free workout videos on Youtube along with many other fitness youtubers. Nike Training Club is a free app that has so many workouts. You can even select how much time you have and what you want to workout. Popsugar Fitness has a workout generator and I promise you will wake up sore after all those burpees. Going for a run is free and it not only improves your heart health but it gets you outside and the endorphins will leave you antsy for tomorrow’s run.

    Do not get Discouraged:

    Getting started is the hardest. It is easy to give up when you are just beginning to get in shape. You will feel defeated and like you aren’t strong enough. Keep pushing through! Don’t give up on yourself. If you lose motivation then pick yourself up and remind yourself why you are doing this, why you want to better yourself, and why you want to be healthy. Start off small and gradually work yourself up, when it starts to feel easy then challenge yourself by running two miles instead of one just keep going!

    Take progress photos:

    You see yourself every single day so it may be hard to see your body changing, but if you take photos you will be able to look back and see just how much your body has changed. Scales don’t always tell the truth and usually leave you feeling discouraged so stay away from them if you can. Don’t be so hard on yourself or become obsessive. Your body is your temple so remind yourself you are doing this, which is to be kind to your body, not to achieve some ridiculous “model” body.

    Make a schedule:

    If you change up your workout routine everyday or every other day then your body will continue to be challenged which means more change! It will also keep you from getting bored and burned out if you do the same exact workout everyday.

    Working out at the gym:

    You don’t have to only do cardio at the gym. If you want to get stronger and challenge your body with weights then don’t be scared to do so. I walked into the gym completely clueless about weights or what a “rep” even was. At first, I used Pinterest to get my ideas about working out with weights, but then I soon discovered Whitney Simmons on Youtube. She will show you her workouts and she will also give you tips on your form and breathing, for free! So if you want to jump into the weight room, do it with confidence. You got this!

    Sample beginner workout plan: 

     

    Monday

     

    Run 1 mile

    Tuesday

     

    Yoga

    Wednesday

     

    Run 1.5 miles

    Thursday

     

    Rest day

    Friday

     

    H.I.I.T.

     

    Saturday

     

    Run 1 mile

    Sunday

     

    Rest day

    You can customize this however you would like, but this is a sample of what a week would look like. I hated working out and once I started my fitness journey I feel in love with exercising and living a healthy lifestyle. Now, I am passionate about helping others find love through exercising, too. Don’t give up, you can do anything!

    Happy working out!

     

  • Health

    Buying healthy groceries on a budget

    Eating healthy may seem difficult when you find yourself always going over your weekly budget and it always seems like healthy food cost twice as much as junk food. Healthy eating shouldn’t be hard and you should be able to buy the groceries that you want without spending too much. So how do you ditch the Ramen noodles and buy food that will fuel your body and give you all the nutrients it needs?

    Grocery Cart With Item

    Make a list and set a spending limit:

    It may seem like simple advice but making a list of your favorite healthy foods will keep you focused. You won’t be grabbing anything and everything that you see off the shelves. Every time I make a list I feel like I have no other choice but to stick with it. Another tip, use a calculator. This will give you a range of how much your groceries will cost so that you don’t end up overspending. Trust me, that has happened to me way too many times.

    Avoid Junk Food:

    No matter how bad those chips are calling your name, don’t give in. You will this save money, AND it will keep you from midnight snacking on foods full of salt and fat. Those shiny wrappers are wrapped around processed food that has a long shelf life but will not be beneficial to you, whatsoever. So focus on groceries that are more organic and stray away from foods that have 20 ingredients or more.

    Don’t by ALL your fruit and veggies fresh:

    Frozen and canned fruits and veggies are a lifesaver.  Not only do they last extremely long, but they are so CHEAP! Frozen fruit does not get rotten fast and has a lot more flavor packed into it. Canned veggies are fast, easy, and will save you a lot of money. If you can’t buy all of them fresh then these are alternatives that will still keep you on track to being healthy

    Get some grains:

    Rice is so cheap. It is a perfect side to any meal and can be made in less than ten minutes. If you are trying to eat healthy brown rice will give you the whole grain you need and keep you full long longer.

    Don’t go to the store hungry:

    I’ve found myself buying way more groceries than I needed for the week only because I was hungry, so make sure you aren’t starving when you are perusing the aisles.

    Budgeting is not easy, especially when you could easily buy cheap food that will seemingly agree more with your bank account but, if you actually take a few moments to plan your grocery store trip you can successfully walk away without a dent in your bank account and a full grocery cart.

  • Lifestyle

    Interview with Teen Vegan Athletes

    Vegan Athletes

    Meet Claire and Maddi, vegan athletes. Claire is a senior in high school, and Maddi is a sophomore. Both are competitive figure skaters that train and condition regularly. And both have made the life-changing decision to not consume animal products, to go vegan.

     

    How long have you been vegan?

    Claire: Three years.

    Maddi: Since September 20, 2017, so a little over a year.

    What influenced your decision to go vegan?

    Claire: Before I went vegan, I already faced dietary restrictions due to lactose intolerance, which was an influence to my choice. However, my ethical beliefs also influenced my decision.

    Maddi: I had a lot of different influences. The first being Claire, who had first introduced me to veganism, and the second being wanting to improve my skating and overall health. Once I did more research on veganism, I started doing it for ethical reasons, as well.

     

    How has your life changed since you went vegan?

    Claire: I have become a lot more aware of what I eat and no longer care as much about what others think about my decision.

    Maddi: It’s changed my life for the better. I’ve learned a lot about food and what is actually good and bad for me. A lot of people seem to think that when you are vegan you can’t eat out because restaurants don’t have food for vegans, which I have learned is definitely not the case. So that aspect of my life has not changed much if any. Lastly, I have learned to think for myself and not worry about what other people think.

     

    Have you noticed a difference in your health?

    Claire: I have absolutely felt a difference in my health. I have a lot more energy, and in general, I feel stronger.

    Maddi: I still get tired but I have way more energy. Also, I feel less bloated after I eat.

     

    How has becoming vegan affected your athletic life?

    Claire: Becoming vegan was the best thing as an athlete! I have found my recovery time is much faster now, and I just feel so much better in general.

    Maddi: I have noticed a huge improvement in my skating. I had way more energy and endurance. I also started sleeping better which helped me with training and mental health overall.

     

    What are some of the difficulties you’ve faced?

    Claire: Eating out has been a slight difficulty. Also, facing judgement from my family members and sometimes strangers too.

    Maddi: The biggest struggle is dealing with family, friends, or even strangers that don’t understand or respect my lifestyle. Having to deal with this almost everyday has taught me that I can’t make everyone understand or agree with what I am doing, but I can still do what I think is best for my own health and the world around me.

     

    Explain how you have adapted your daily life.

    Claire: I always make sure to have vegan food stocked up and let new people that I know that I have dietary restrictions. I definitely cook all of my food now as well.

    Maddi: I started packing my own lunch every day for school and I always check the ingredients of items before I eat or buy them.

     

    How do you order from restaurants?

    Claire: Normally when I order from restaurants I’ll pick an already vegetarian item, or I’ll ask the waiter if I can get my item without dairy or other animal products. Most restaurants are very accommodating and don’t mind at all! After all, they are there to serve you.

    Maddi: Ordering from restaurants is really not that difficult. I will typically choose an item on the menu with the least amount of non-vegan items in it, and then I’ll ask them to remove whatever isn’t vegan. Other times I order a whole bunch of sides together as my entrée.

     

    What advice would you give people thinking about going vegan?

    Claire: Do your research! Make sure you are getting all of your nutrients and vitamins. Don’t expect going vegan to turn you into a health guru. Also, don’t restrict yourself of any vegan foods. Lastly, keep everything in moderation.

    Maddi: I would definitely say do your research on what being vegan actually is. It is not just eating dairy, meat, etc., there is a whole other ethical side to it. Make sure you educate yourself on what actually happens within the meat and dairy industry. Secondly, do your research on the necessary vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. Know that people won’t always understand or even agree with your lifestyle and beliefs, and that’s okay. Do what you think is right and don’t worry about what other people think you should do.

     

    What is your typical meal?

    Claire: A typical meal would be tofu or edamame and veggies.

    Maddi: My typical meal is either a baked potato with ketchup, broccoli, apple, and a soft serve dark chocolate popsicle or some sort of burrito with rice and beans.

     

    What is your favorite vegan recipe?

    Claire: My favorite recipe has got to be lentil spaghetti or a really great veggie burger.

    Maddi: My favorite recipe is a good veggie burger.

  • Health

    Battling an Eating Disorder During the Holidays

    Can I tell you a secret? Recovering from an eating disorder or struggling with an eating disorder during the holidays is going to be tough.

    You’ll try to not disappoint your family, but everything they say will make you feel trapped. They will likely comment on your weight, how much you are or are not eating, and ask questions about why you are so skinny, or when you gained so much.

    If you begin to feel uncomfortable, it’s okay to say so. Let people know how it makes you feel when they say hurtful things. They may not realize that what they are doing is bothering you. And if they do know, then call them out.

    For those of you currently struggling with an eating disorder

    I have been there. I have been all around the block and back when it comes to not eating, overeating, forcing myself to vomit. It’s not pretty. You’re using your digestive system to deal with emotional or physical baggage. I can’t promise you that things will immediately get better if you stop what you’re doing right away. Nor can I say that it is even possible to do that. But what I can say is that it does get better.

    I know. I know. You’ve heard it all before: “You look better this way.” “Eating/Under eating won’t solve your problems.” “Try going to therapy.” Though these may seem like the obvious answers to having an eating disorder, they’re not rational when your emotions control your body. Besides, someone telling you to do something versus actually helping you accomplish something are two different things.

    Keep in mind that there are people out there willing to help you. Seeking council doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t make you broken. It makes you strong. It shows that you are willing to acknowledge a disconnected piece within yourself and find a way to fix it, even though it won’t be easy. You can beat this, despite the self-doubt and self-deprecation.

    For those of you recovering from an eating disorder

    You’re going to go through a serious of emotions. If you haven’t started already, then get ready. There will be tears, anger, and if you are not already going through a depression it is possible that you may experience it. Continue talking to your support group, whether it be close friends, family, or complete strangers. Anything helps when you are being held accountable.

    Find forgiveness for yourself. You are not the eating disorder, you are a victim of circumstance. It is important to be your own biggest supporter. If you forgive yourself, then you can help yourself heal by accepting that things can be taken slow and will get better. You are not to blame.

    If someone comments on your weight during the holidays or any day of the year, remind yourself that they are not you. They do not know what you have been through or what you are going through. They can’t understand how strong you are, and that what you are able to eat or not eat is a step in a better direction. If you can only take three bites at dinner and that’s one more than the night before, you have accomplished something. You should take pride in the little things.

    Continuously thinking about how you could do something better will only make you more sad or angry. If you take a small bite and hate yourself for not being able to take a larger or smaller one, then you will go back to where you started from. Let yourself have these moments. Digest the progress.

    Here are some links to check out from GirlSpring that cover eating disorders

    https://www.girlspring.com/the-nine-truths-about-eating-disorders-from-the-cast-of-to-the-bone/

    https://www.girlspring.com/signs-of-eating-disorder/

    Here are some external links to aid in recovery

    https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/stages-recovery

    https://www.waldeneatingdisorders.com/7-secrets-to-eating-disorder-recovery/

     

    If you have any questions for me about my journey or would like to share your own story, please comment down below.

  • Confidence, Health, Lifestyle, Sports

    My Figure Skating Journey

    On my third figure skating lesson, I broke my finger.

    It must have been a spectacular sight: my tall, fairly stable body was brought crashing to the ice by a girl not more than half my height and no less than a third of my age. It was really only a matter of time, seeing as I was older than everyone in my skill group by at least a decade. However, I had never truly felt my age until I was kneeling on the ice, finger throbbing, at eye level for the first time with my group mates and trying to comfort the crying young girl who had accidentally tripped me.

    A scenario like this had never really crossed my mind when I entered the sport.

    I decided to take lessons initially because a close friend of mine had introduced me to competitive figure skating as a spectator sport. I would watch full broadcasts of past World Championships and Grand Prix circuits while making art, doing homework, on long car trips, and whenever I had nothing in particular to do. Before I knew it, I had familiarized myself with all of the common terminologies of the sport and had a ranking list for which skaters I expected to win which medals at the 2018 Olympics. Watching the fast, dramatic, yet elegant athleticism of the top athletes reminded me of my days as a dancer in elementary school. I felt my childhood joy reigniting, and decided to give figure skating a shot. Yes, I may have under anticipated just how much time and effort would be needed before I could actually land a Lutz or perform a perfectly executed scratch-spin, but I was motivated like I never had been before and the world wasn’t about to stop me from trying.

    I asked for lessons for my seventeenth birthday.

    Even though the closest rink to me was thirty minutes away on a day with no traffic. I didn’t even own a pair of skates, yet I went to my first class that March. I was aware that I would be the oldest skater in my beginner group, as many of the female skaters my age were already in the professional bracket. However, the swarm of tiny five and six-year-old girls zooming around the ice in tutus caught me completely off guard.

    My newfound confidence dwindled.

    I was in way over my head thinking that I could ever reach the level of the awe-inspiring women I watched so religiously on Youtube. My dreams of standing on the top of a podium with a medal hanging proudly around my neck slipped into the realm of the unattainable. I doubted that I would ever even land a small bunny-hop, much less a graceful triple Salchow. It would only occur to me after I had passed the basic classes and looked back on them, that those tiny girls with all of their talent and potential, probably felt the same as I did. Suddenly I didn’t feel so different from my teammates, despite the fact that none of them could even tie their own skates yet. The throbbing in my left ring finger felt more like the first landmark on a long journey than a detour.

    It has been a year and a half since my first lesson.

    My finger has completely healed (except for a small bump in my knuckle that will probably never go away) and my coach has praised me for how fast I picked up on the technical elements of figure skating. She tells me to breathe before I take the ice for my first competition, and the gold medal I hang over my bed later that day makes me excited for what will come next.