ifIknew is a health initiative for young adults that uses a multi media approach, including social media and in person programs, to address the contemporary issues that impact the well-being, self-image, careers, and relationships of people in their 20's and 30's.

If I Knew is a prevention education project that raises awareness about risky behaviors that can profoundly impact lives.

Filtering by Tag: healthy decisions

It’s Okay to be Sexually Confident!

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.

Start crossing things off your Bucket List

To-DoWe’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.

Unhealthy expectations won’t help you succeed

inner_voice_bubbleThere 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.

Celebrating the Milestones

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.

Beating the Stigma of Being the “Odd One Out”

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.

30 things you should (or shouldn’t) do before you turn 30. They’re not what you think.


  1. Don’t shower every day, but do shower frequently.
  2. 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.
  3. Eat a vegetable, for heavens sake.
  4. 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.
  5. Take a stand for something, and do it with energy, fervor, and kindness.
  6. Visit a dentist regularly
  7. Watch the movies you loved as a child and decide which ones hold up, which are silly, and which are oddly creepy.
  8. Go to a concert and listen to the whole show, sober.
  9. Talk to your parents about their childhoods. Ask the questions you’ve always wanted to.
  10. 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.
  11. Vote in non-presidential elections.
  12. Take a class totally separate from school or work.
  13. Find the kind of exercise you like: dance, volleyball, yoga, running.  And do it.
  14. Have a quiet birthday.
  15. Do something grand for your parents.
  16. Do something wildly outside your comfort zone: rock-climb, eat a snake’s heart, ask for a raise, perform at an open mic.
  17. 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.
  18. Put effort into your friendships. Just like romantic relationships, they can take work.
  19. Ask yourself what kind of person you want to be. Write down your answer.
  20. Expand your definition of love.
  21. Try to fix a mistake you’ve made, big or small. Know that it might not work.
  22. Ask for the kind of sex you want.
  23. Lecture a teenager, but do it kindly.
  24. Befriend someone at least a decade older.
  25. Re-examine your table manners.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. Put someone else first in a difficult situation.
  29. Choose someone you admire. Try everything (within reason and legal limitations) to have lunch with that person. Buy the lunch.
  30. Dance like no one is watching. Just kidding. Everyone’s watching, silly.


Why nutrition should be a huge priority in our 20s and 30s

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?

Going Home for the Holidays? How to keep your cool...

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.