Sex can be confusing! Not just the act itself, but all of the social and emotional aspects surrounding it. We are constantly given mixed messages about sex: Be dominant! Be submissive! Ask for what you want! Be coy! Too slutty! It’s a whirlwind of contradicting information. No wonder it’s so hard to be sexually confident. We want to be ourselves and have great sex lives, but we don’t want to get rejected or hurt anyone, and we want to protect ourselves. The first thing to remember on the path to sexual confidence is this: You deserve a wonderful, healthy sex life. Beyond that, everyone is different. Likes and dislikes, religious beliefs, long-distance relationships, sexual orientation—all of these things can determine a person’s current feelings on sex. But the key is in treating sex seriously, but with a dose of humor as well. Two willing adult partners in a safe environment sounds clinical, but it is really the starter for great sex for a lifetime. So long as we respect our bodies and each other, great sex is out there for the having.
Filtering by Tag: healthy decisions
We’ve all heard about the Bucket List – that famous phrase coined from the movie starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson about things they want to accomplish before they “kick the bucket.” And, in fact, The Bucket List has been around long before the movie. Many of us have lists, either on paper or just floating around in our minds, of our life goals both big and small. So what’s the key to creating an achievable, yet ambitious Bucket List? Choose what you want, not what you think you should want. If you don’t see skydiving or swimming with sharks or a tattoo sleeve to be in your best interest, ignore the peer pressure and concentrate on you.
Mix up the crazy with the seemingly mundane, the big and the small. A good Bucket List is all about variety. Think about all the things you want for yourself. It’s natural to want immediate things along with those things that will take years of effort. So put the Masters in Economics and the trip to Bali right next to tap dance classes- they’re all worthy!
Sprinkle your list with a couple of things you’ve already done. It’s human nature to work better when you’ve got a little momentum. Plus, you should be proud of what you’ve already accomplished; after all, you are not starting at the beginning! So if you’ve already gone scuba diving and it was something you always wanted to try, put it on the list and enjoy the satisfaction of crossing it off.
Be ambitious, but patient. Use your list to stretch your comfort zone, to face some fears, and make sure some of the things on the list take true effort and discipline, but remember that most worthy things take time. Marathons, advanced degrees, saving for travel - all of these things take training, time, and planning. Just by beginning to take the steps toward what you want you are showing your Bucket List who’s boss.
There is a little voice inside of us that loves to torture us. And in many cases, there is a part of us that loves being tortured. The voice loves to tell us how badly we’re doing, how other people are better, richer, smarter, thinner. The voice is a punk. The voice will try to convince you that it is ambition talking, that it is trying to make you better so that you can have all you want in life. The voice is lying. Ambition is not feeling perpetually behind. Ambition is not a constant berating of your current status. Ambition makes you feel good, not terrible. Ambition doesn’t want to make you better than others, it makes you want to be a better version of you.
The voice is a trickster. It will tell you that it’s only trying to help, that it wants to see you succeed by making you feel less than. The voice is manipulative because if we are not careful, the voice inside our heads that tells us we are not good enough will start to come out of our mouths. Then the voice will turn on our friends, our children, our partners.
In order to be the happy and healthy versions of ourselves we deserve, we should have ambition. We should strive for excellence and be wary of complacence. We should also give ourselves room to grow, and to falter. The clearest sign of a person with a future of success is not if they never make a misstep, it’s how they handle the constant missteps and how they treat others. The voice doesn’t know that.
Ah, remember being in school when you were little and after every school year there was this feeling of accomplishment and freedom? What happened to that feeling? Can we get it back at other significant moments in our lives? It’s worth a shot. Pat yourself on the back. So you did something great! Yay! You got the degree, the job, the house. Or maybe you made your last car payment or ran a marathon. Congrats! You’ve earned a treat.
Don’t expect everyone to be impressed. It’s not you, it’s them. Literally it’s them. Others are going through their own victories and defeats and it can be hard to poke their head out and notice everyone. If you are feeling neglected, like maybe your loved ones aren’t acknowledging your accomplishments, it’s okay to give them a gentle reminder. The best way to do it? Throw a party. The worst way? Yelling “Pay attention to me!”
Let praise be a motivator and an ego boost, but not nourishment. Praise is great! But it’s not everything. Sometimes it can feel like we get a million high-fives for an everyday task, when the most grinding accomplishments warrant little attention. It’s frustrating, but that’s just the way of the world. If you’ve just kicked butt at something and you feel like you are hearing crickets chirp when you tell the world, try to brush it off and let your own pride be enough.
When you get the praise, be gracious and graceful (BUT TAKE THE COMPLIMENT!) It’s a tough line to walk between “Thank you so much for the compliment” and “I know, I’m awesome, you don’t need to tell me.” If a friend goes out of their way to acknowledge your accomplishments, make sure you’ve noticed how perceptive they are and return the favor.
Can we be frank? Young adulthood can suck. It can be wonderful and perhaps the best years of our life, but that doesn’t make them easy. This is the age we can so easily be trapped between the rules of childhood and the responsibilities of adulthood. It’s easy to get excited when school is a thing you look back on, but without the safety and structure of the institution of a high school or college, playing by society’s rules can be tricky. We live in a world where statistics play an incredibly important role in assessing our self-image. We hear about them all the time. An article recently hit the media stating that the amount of money a person should be making per year is equal to their age in years, and if you are “good” at what you do, you should make double your age. Is that what we measure ourselves against?
Another recent study says that the average age of marriage continues to rise for young men and women. Another notes the rise in couples who cohabitate before marrying. Again, are we pressured to conform to the “average.”
The problem with these statistics is that it’s incredibly easy to read them and feel out of place.
Perhaps you are unmarried in your mid-twenties, and are feeling like the only single person in your peer group. Perhaps at 27 you are making $25,000 per year. Perhaps you and your spouse did not live together before tying the knot. Statistics are meant to help us better understand our society, and the needs and characteristics of the people in it. But when you pin down an “average,” statistics do a funny thing: they make anyone outside that small bubble feel like an outsider, and anyone inside the bubble feel ordinary.
So how do we go about our lives and think of statistics as what they were intended to be? It starts with the way we view others. Freeing ourselves from negative judgment when encountering peers who don’t fit into a box designated as “average” helps us connect and be more considerate. If most of your friends don’t have kids, but a close friend is a new mom, consider her feelings before planning a last-minute trip for all your friends. If you’re getting married as a friend is divorcing, recognize the challenges he may face at your wedding. The kindnesses will be remembered when you are the odd one out.
Perhaps when that newly divorced friend makes twice as much money as his age, he’ll pick up the next dinner check.
- Don’t shower every day, but do shower frequently.
- Take charge of your finances, but in a way that works for you and your income and needs. Listen to an expert, but only one who that knows your current financial situation.
- Eat a vegetable, for heavens sake.
- Try not to listen too much to people who think they know exactly how much you should sleep. Some people need 6 hours a night, some need 9 -- listen to yourself.
- Take a stand for something, and do it with energy, fervor, and kindness.
- Visit a dentist regularly
- Watch the movies you loved as a child and decide which ones hold up, which are silly, and which are oddly creepy.
- Go to a concert and listen to the whole show, sober.
- Talk to your parents about their childhoods. Ask the questions you’ve always wanted to.
- If you are single and a kind person, truly kind, and someone that you are not attracted to asks you on a date, just go and enjoy yourself.
- Vote in non-presidential elections.
- Take a class totally separate from school or work.
- Find the kind of exercise you like: dance, volleyball, yoga, running. And do it.
- Have a quiet birthday.
- Do something grand for your parents.
- Do something wildly outside your comfort zone: rock-climb, eat a snake’s heart, ask for a raise, perform at an open mic.
- Read a book you never thought you’d like, cover to cover. Love novels? Try historical non-fiction. Love war stories? Try a beach book. Can’t get enough biographies? Dig into a YA saga.
- Put effort into your friendships. Just like romantic relationships, they can take work.
- Ask yourself what kind of person you want to be. Write down your answer.
- Expand your definition of love.
- Try to fix a mistake you’ve made, big or small. Know that it might not work.
- Ask for the kind of sex you want.
- Lecture a teenager, but do it kindly.
- Befriend someone at least a decade older.
- Re-examine your table manners.
- Decide for yourself whether buying a house is a good idea. If it is, start asking banks and realtors questions. If it isn’t, don’t listen to the pressure of your peers.
- Changing careers, getting married, having children, etc. are all amazing, and individual experiences. No one person has all of the answers. Accept a myriad of advice.
- Put someone else first in a difficult situation.
- Choose someone you admire. Try everything (within reason and legal limitations) to have lunch with that person. Buy the lunch.
- Dance like no one is watching. Just kidding. Everyone’s watching, silly.
Good news! Humans are now living an extra extra long time! Bad news! We’re spending a lot of that time being really sick. Biology is a fickle mistress and there are certain aspects of aging that are inevitable, but one thing we can all control (at least to some extent) is our diet. Researchers and nutritionists are more convinced than ever that what we eat is a direct catalyst for how we feel. If you are between 25 and 35, there is no better time to show your body who’s the boss (hint: it’s you). For women, whether you are looking to bear children or not, reproductive health is a biggie as you near your 30s, but it doesn’t end there. Sudden weight change, hair loss, fatigue and a compromised immune system can all take place during this time. Most nutritionists point to 2 major factors to combat these nasty side effects of growing up: Lack of vitamins and too much alcohol. That doesn’t mean you can never pick up a drink and you have to toss back horse pill sized capsules every morning. But your liver needs more protection than ever, so if you are going to drink, don’t overdo it, and do eat a full, balanced meal (lots of raw veggies and protein) before you drink. And a multi-vitamin (the ones for women are often packed with extra iron for ladies) can’t hurt. Women are often deterred from fresh fruit because of the sugar, but keep in mind that, calories aside, fruit can also be packed with nutrients that are great for your skin, heart, and digestion.
Men, you are not off the hook. You may still look like you’re 18, but if you’ve hit your mid-twenties, chances are you can’t get away with the same diet choices you made in high school. If you are putting on pounds, they can also be more difficult to take off as you age. Pay attention to your body. It’s at this age many people discover a lactose or gluten intolerance, or other diet limitations. The rule of thumb will always be: the fresher, the better. Some folks swear by going off meat, or wheat, or dairy. If that works for you and you are getting all of the nutrients you need, great. As long as what you are eating is fresh and lean, you may not need to forgo an entire food group. And all of that business about drinking goes for you, too. Enjoy yourself, but your days of excess may be over. Your body will thank you. And take a vitamin, would you?
You walk in the door and your mother nags you about your hair. Your father comments on your lack of drive. Your uber-successful big brother rubs his new car in your face. Sound familiar? Why is it when we go home we somehow become a kid again? We resume our childhood roles –the older responsible one, the rebel, the baby. How can we get through the holidays without letting our family drive us crazy? The first thing to remember is that families install and push each other’s buttons. Don’t take things so personally. Parents are parents and it’s a job that never stops. Mothers especially have a language all their own. It’s their job to turn us into productive members of society. Think of the National Geographic shows where the mother lioness cuffs her cubs. It’s the same thing. If we think of nagging as a mother’s way of saying “I love you,” it takes the sting out of it.
Try non-reaction. We can’t change our family but we can change how we react to them. When we stop reacting, things change. When we don’t engage and let our buttons be pushed, the roles tend to change naturally. Like a radio station, try a 10 second delay. Before you react to something, take a deep breath and exhale slowly. You’ll be able to react more like an adult and less like a kid.
There seems to be little in the news these days about HIV/AIDS unless it’s a story about a possible cure or vaccine. So is it still out there? Is it still a problem? Yes on all accounts. While there seems to be hope of a cure or vaccine, it’s still a long way off. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that in 2009, 1.2 million people in the United States were living with HIV/AIDS. They also noted that there were almost 50,000 new HIV infections in 2009. While people are living longer with HIV, the newest infections are likely to be drug resistant. An HIV infected person is less contagious when they are on their medications. However if they go off them, even for a short period of time, they are contagious. If you were to get HIV from that person, all the medication they took in the past wouldn’t work on you.
Because the news media doesn’t report much about HIV/AIDS anymore, and it is becoming more of a chronic disease and less of a death sentence (in the U.S.), there is less funding available for treatment and prevention.
The best way to get rid of HIV for future generations is to not get it in the first place.
Get the facts about HIV/AIDS.
Tobacco, aside from the ‘cool factor,’ is attractive as it has both stimulating and relaxing properties. Tobacco itself is an addictive substance to many, though not to all. However, there is no pre-test to know if you or I will develop the addiction to it. (More on Tobacco)
Perhaps because smoking doesn’t interfere with any immediate functioning and its effects are so subtle, smokers tend to light up multiple times a day and for many years before they consider stopping. By that time the habit has become so second nature. And by then, stopping is a big challenge.
We have all heard of people who smoke to a “ripe old age,” while others who once they are faced with a medical crisis, just stop on a dime. They are the lucky ones and the exceptions. There are those who die from it, even years after they stopped because the damage was done before they stopped. Many others try smoking cessation programs multiple times before they successfully stop, usually with some plan of action and support.
If you’ve already started, you might consider stopping sooner rather than later. Your doctor, an experienced counselor specialist, or a visit to the American Cancer Society website for strategies and resources can offer help.
Buying condoms makes most of us a little self-conscious. It is not a grab and go sort of thing. Even when they are on the shelf at the store like a carton of milk or a candy bar, it can still feel AWKWARD; like the whole store is watching you! But, in reality, people are way more busy in their own world then to be monitoring what we are doing. Take a deep breath, man-up (or woman-up if you are being the responsible one) and be proud knowing that you are doing the right thing to protect yourself and your partner. And if it is still just too awkward, you can always buy them online. Get your partner in on this part as well as it is definitely worth the effort! When you do buy condoms, there are some things to consider. Get latex for its anti-HIV effectiveness. Check if your partner has any latex allergies (unlikely). Also make sure you buy the proper size.
Then, when you get home, read the instructions and remember them so they will work to keep you protected. Practice alone or even better, together.
A new study conducted by the University of Maryland’s John Robinson focused on identifying what activities self-described happy people engage in. To do this, they investigated the responses of 45,000 Americans who have responded to 35 years of the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey. They also looked at “time diary” studies which recorded the activities of the survey’s participants. Robinson and his colleagues determined that watching television was the one activity that was less common among happy people and more common among unhappy people. The question still remains – do unhappy people watch television because they are unhappy or does watching television cause them unhappiness? Are unhappy people bound to feel happier once they stop being glued to the set? How much of unhappiness is nature and how much is nurture? Experiment for yourself! Let us know what happens.
It’s the time of year when there is an uptick in the number of alcohol overdoses occurring on campuses across the country. Newfound freedom for freshmen often seems to take the form of the freedom to drink with abandon. But the body has its natural limits. Binge drinking can lead to an overdose or what is otherwise called alcohol poisoning. This happens when someone drinks more rapidly than his or her body can metabolize. Alcohol’s intoxicating property, ETOH, goes straight to the brain, hence the buzz. The alcohol builds up in the bloodstream and depresses the part of the brain that controls involuntary actions like breathing and physical coordination. It can cause the drinker to lose consciousness. At this point the drinker is at high risk to choke on his or her own vomit, stop breathing, have irregular, slow, or fast heartbeats, brain damage, hypothermia or hypoglycemia (which can lead to a seizure), or death. Someone who survives an overdose can still suffer irreversible brain damage.
The difficulty in defending oneself against unwanted sexual advances when intoxicated accounts for a high percentage of rapes, that are reported or go unreported on campuses each year.
College is so much more than drinking. Find the student activities director on campus and ask for a list of non-drinking fun alternatives around town. Join clubs that may interest you or will advance your social life or future career. Join an intramural sports team. Constructive activities abound – and it’s much more fun to wake up with a great memory than to have no memory, regrets, or find yourself in the hospital.
I hate lying. I hate deceit. I hate playing on your personality and interests for personal gain. And I especially hate when all of the above are mixed together, along with bright colors, catchy mastheads, and pop culture to produce a concoction that’s sticky sweet in all the wrong aspects. You know what I’m talking about?
I’m talking about those irritating advertisements that take up the first and last thirty pages of whatever magazine you’re reading. Those ads that promise good fortune, lush hair, silky skin lots of friends and lots of easy sex? They are there aimed at increasing hormone-induced fuzzy thinking so we’ll buy their products.
You know why it sucks?
Because we are already genetically prone to temptation, which is hard enough to avoid as it is. You hear all these stories about people who have altered the way their brain and lungs function by drinking and smoking too much, so you resolve that this sort of thing won’t happen to you. You don’t want to grow up to forever regret accepting that Solo cup of Skyy mixed with Redbull, and you promise that this won’t be your future.
You know why this could be your future?
It could be your future because whether or not you want to see this stuff every day, you do. And even though you have that "this-won’t-happen-to-me-because-I’m-smarter-then-that" attitude, you probably check out the ads because they’re colorful, they’ve got hot guys or girls in them, and/or you know the product. Some ads show people, especially kids doing stuff that requires some serious coordination and alertness, like swimming, for example. Does anyone you know actually go swimming after ingesting 16 ounces of Four Loko? The problem is they don’t live to tell you about it. So just why are the guys in the picture smiling? We need to remember they are acting and getting paid to appear like it’s all fun and no consequences. - R.S
Want to see for yourself? Check out the website: http://www.camy.org/
Q & A: Is it true that fasting to lose weight can ultimately make you heavier than before you began dieting?
While it seems to make intuitive sense that fasting is the quick way to lose weight, it actually makes it a bigger challenge to keep weight off. Under normal circumstances the body uses glucose, the breakdown product of carbohydrates and fats, for fuel. The liver only stores enough glucose for one day. When you fast or severely restrict your caloric intake for an extended period of time, your body goes into "starvation mode." This means that your body begins to store fat instead of utilizing it for energy, and as an alternative begins to break down muscle mass to produce glucose for energy. The amount of muscle in your body impacts the rate at which you burn calories (your metabolic rate). The more muscle mass you lose, the more ineffective your body becomes at utilizing calories from fat, and instead starts to store them as body fat.
The longer the fast, the slower you will burn calories. As soon as your fast is over, you will gain weight faster than you would have previously – this is your body’s attempt to protect against another "famine." Those extra pounds will likely come back as stored body fat!
At the end of a long day, you just need to kick back and relax and forget your troubles... at least until tomorrow. Watch TV, have a glass of wine (if you’re 21, of course), or maybe just stare at the wall until it’s time to leave the house again. Next time, before you start that next episode of Hoarders or grab that second drink, consider trying something else to unwind. Even inmates at a Maryland men’s prison have found an alternative to take their minds off their worries. If you can believe it: they are KNITTING! Good Magazine’s reporter Jillian Anthony profiles Lyn Zwerling, the mastermind responsible for “Knitting Behind Bars,” a program that brings volunteers into the Pre-Release Unit in Jessup, MD. Zwerling says knitting is “more than a craft.” In fact, “It has the ability to transform you.” The prison’s assistant warden says, “It’s very positive because you can see … the dynamics of their conversation [are] very calm, very soothing.” So the next time you need some R&R, consider handwork like knitting! It’s therapeutic, affordable, practical, and fun. What could be better? And you may even end up with something beautiful that you can use or give as a gift. Read more about the Knitting Behind Bars project in "How Knitting Behind Bars Transformed Maryland Convicts."
A recent study conducted by Tristan Kirby MPH and Adam E Barry Ph.D. confirms that alcohol, not pot, is the primary indicator of whether an individual will experiment with other drugs. Researchers looked at the annual Monitoring the Future survey, in which 50,000 high school sophomores and seniors are questioned about their substance use and lifestyle choices. They compared high school seniors who had and had not consumed alcohol at least once in their lives and found that those who drank were 13 more times likely to smoke cigarettes, 16 times more likely to use marijuana and other narcotics, and 13 times more likely to use cocaine.
So why isn’t alcohol considered a “gateway” as marijuana is? For one thing, drinking is extremely common. Alcohol is legal and relatively easy to obtain. The Centers for Disease Control recently found that 71 percent of American students have consumed alcohol in their lifetime, and that nearly 39 percent drank within the last 30 days.
Most of us twenty-something year olds can no longer afford prescription drugs or visits to the doctor, even if we have health insurance. With high-deductible plans, co-payments, and co-insurances, often we don’t bother to use health care services. Taking care of yourself is especially challenging when you are unemployed or underemployed and don’t have the opportunity to go on an employer’s health insurance plan. Because really, who in their twenties has had the time or the luxury to save up in case of a health related emergency? According to a recent Commonwealth Fund survey, “28% of twenty-something year olds who are in medical debt report that they are unable to pay for basic necessities such as food and rent.”
So what are young adults like me supposed to do? Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, some of us are choosing to stay on our parents’ insurance until the age of 26. Others are choosing to continue our education so that we can gain access to a university’s more affordable health care plan. Still others are drinking Echinacea tea every night and crossing our fingers that we stay healthy!
A hangover. Splitting headache, vile taste of alcohol in your mouth and a nausea that won’t subside. How many times have you woken up with a hangover and then said,“UGH! I’m never drinking again!” Now, how many of those times did you actually quit drinking for more than a day? A week? A month? If your answer was a day or a week, then you are one of the many who experience a horrid hangover, but still continue to turn back to the alcohol that was the enemy only a few hours or days before. What is it that makes us come back for more, after feeling so awful? According to psychological researcher Diane Logan, we turn back to alcohol, the source of the problem, because we just didn’t learn our lesson. We rationalize the splitting headache, claiming it isn’t really that bad and getting rid of it by taking Advil. We downsize the disgusting nausea, and lie in bed for a while understanding that it will subside eventually and looking back to the more positive parts of drinking. We engage in what is sometimes called “euphoric recall,” in which we chose to remember the “awesome” night we had instead of the current hangover. Who wouldn’t prefer recalling positive associations instead of negative ones? Drinking is all fun again.
For a lot of us, drinking has become the social sport we engage in to have a good time. We have accepted drinking as part of our life and have let this “sport” become something that we almost must do in order to fit in. Hangovers can teach us something about our bodies – like knowing when we have pushed ourselves too far - if we are smart enough to listen.
You’ve just arrived at the party of the year and you’re psyched. Looking around, you realize that your friends haven’t gotten there yet. This is the night you’re finally going to talk to your crush and you need their encouragement. Everyone else looks like they’re having a great time so you head to the kitchen. Maybe there’s some liquid courage around. Red cups are stacked on the counter and what looks like a new trashcan filled with red punch sits in front of the sink. You dip your cup in and take a sip. It’s definitely spiked so you fill your cup and try to blend in while you wait for your friends to join you. Twenty minutes later you’ve had three or four cups and your friends aren’t there yet. As the room sways, you feel dinner and the punch start to come back up. Grabbing the closest thing…the trashcan, you puke red everywhere. To make matters worse, you see the flash of someone’s camera phone go off out of the corner of your eye.
What just happened? You thought this was going to be the party of the year and now everyone is mad at you! The brain could have had something to do with things going wrong. When we get excited about an upcoming event like a party, a date, a text, a game, or even eating a pizza, we get a surge of dopamine. This feel-good neurotransmitter is responsible for keeping us wanting more but not being satisfied! We get a good feeling as we anticipate the event, but unfortunately our expectations often fall short of reality. It’s like ordering a cherry pie for dessert at the diner and then finding out that it’s nothing like the one Grandma makes.
Our desire to be accepted, wanted, loved, cool, free, and have fun can sometimes kidnap the reasoning part of our brain. Adding that extra boost from dopamine to the mix can create the perfect storm. Before we do something we may regret, it’s a good idea to think things through to the end because in the end we have to live with our choices.