Camille McGirt & Healthy Girls Save the World

Check out this article from Alexis Davis on Medium’s #2017BlackList!

~ Read it here ~

“When I’m asked to think about a woman I personally know who is all about making moves, I immediately think of Camille. From the moment I met her, I quickly realized that she is extremely focused and not into anything that will hinder her dreams and goals.

I mean it when I say that Healthy Girls Save the World means the most to her and her sister Rachel. I’ve seen how much time and effort goes into organizing the many events for the young ladies involved and how much the program has grown since she stepped foot on the campus of UNC Chapel Hill.

I can’t wait to see what’s next for Healthy Girls. If you know Camille, then you know the possibilities are endless.” -Alexis Davis

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Tales of a Tall Girl – Tell Us Your Tale!

Tales of a Tall Girl is a blog series that is published on Tuesdays for #TallGirlTuesday. The series celebrates the different life experiences of tall women and young girls. The series asks several different Tall Girls who have worked with HGSW for their input and insight on the awesomeness of being really tall!! HGSW encourages you to celebrate #TallGirlTuesday with us by posting on your own social media about being a tall girl or a tall girl you know!!

Following the wonderful feedback we’ve received HGSW will be continuing out Tales of a Tall Girl blog series! If you are a tall girl or you know a tall girl share your tale with us! Email us at hgswunc@healthygirlssavetheworld.org a few sentences explaining why you wish to be featured on our blog. We will reach back out for an interview. HGSW looks forward to adding more tales to our blog!

Thanks and Happy #TallGirlTuesday !!!

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Tales of a Tall Girl – Part III: Camille & Rachel McGirt

Introduction: Tales of a Tall Girl is a three part blog series that is published on Tuesdays for #TallGirlTuesday. The series celebrates the different life experiences of tall women and young girls. The series asks several different Tall Girls who have worked with HGSW for their input and insight on the awesomeness of being really tall!! HGSW encourages you to celebrate #TallGirlTuesday with us by posting on your own social media about being a tall girl or a tall girl you know!!

Part III: Camille & Rachel McGirt

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How tall are you?

Rachel: I am exactly 6’1 ¾ of an inch. Whenever people ask me how tall I am I tell them that I am 6’1, but if the conversation begins with “Do you play…?” (I typically get basketball but sometimes I get volleyball), then I say that I am 6’2.

Camille: I’m about 6’4. When I played basketball they had me on the roster as 6’6, but when I’ve been measured at the doctor I’m exactly 6’3 ¾, soooo basically 6’4 lol

How tall were you in middle school?

Rachel: When I was in middle school I was 5’9-5’10. I was a lot taller than my female classmates and I was usually the same height as the guys in my class and in my grade.

Camille: I was at least 6’1/6’2 by the 8th grade, possibly taller. I’ve always been taller than my classmates, literally since kindergarten.

What was your experience like growing up as a tall girl?

Rachel: Growing up I never really thought that I was “that tall”, but everyone around me told me that I was, especially my friends. Because of my size, there was always an expectation for me to play sports, but my mother always reaffirmed for me that I did not have to fulfill that stereotype and I could take a different path.

Despite my mother’s efforts, I was still really excited about sports and I fell in love with athletics and my passion for all sports still stands today. Athletics helped me to have confidence about myself really embrace who I was as a young woman. In middle school I didn’t really like being tall because I was different from everyone else, but in high school I came to love the fact that my differences made me stick out in a beautiful way!

Camille: Well, it was never easy but there was something always beautiful about it. As a tall young girl turning into a woman my parents always taught me to hold my shoulders high and to be proud of this gift that I was given. I also think that playing sports growing up gave me a “reason” to use my height in a way that was “appropriate” to other people. Growing up I never knew that it was okay not to play sports and to love who I was unapologetically without having to throw a ball around, but people expected me to play sports because I was tall (even to this day, people say “why aren’t you playing basketball). I’m just glad that I was able to enhance my academic/professional skills so that I can confidently navigate the world today, without a basketball/volleyball in my hand. HOWEVER, I cannot knock the valuable lessons that playing sports taught me and I do love athletics. From determination, to confidence, to resilience and learning how to finish what I start—I learned a great deal from playing sports for the majority of my life and I’m proud to say it!

What’s been the craziest reaction to your height?

Rachel: I typically get “crazy” reactions from men. Guys are usually so surprised at how tall I am and how I carry myself, as if to say tall women can’t be confident and stylish…YEAH RIGHT!

I also get crazy reactions from children, when I volunteer at elementary schools, children are always so amazed to see a woman as tall as me.

Camille: Haha, people have said some CRAZY things to me during my years on this Earth. I’d say the craziest reaction was this one time when I was at a theme park and a family came up to me (pretty sure they were from a different country) and asked for my autograph then took a picture with me because they thought that I was a famous professional athlete.

Where do you find clothes?

Rachel: I consider myself to be a “curvy” ( I can wear anything from a 12-14) tall girl so a lot times I have to find my clothes from places that fit my curves and also fit my length. I love keeping up with the latest trends and fashions so I usually buy my clothes form ALLOY and Torrid.

Camille: My main go to stores for clothes are Long Tall Sally, Talltique, and Height Goddess. I also enjoy scrolling through @tallswag’s Instagram because she knows where all of the spots are for us super talls to find cute stuff! There’s also this new site called shoptheheight.com that I like too! Also, Nordstrom Rack is my go-to place for shoes!

What is your favorite thing about being tall?

Rachel: My favorite thing about being tall, is that it makes me different. I love sticking out and not being your “average” woman. I think that many times my height is the first thing that people notice about me and I love that!

Camille: I’d say my favorite thing is that it makes me memorable and I honestly like the attention that I get haha (unless I’m running errands and trying to be lowkey lol). But seriously, it’s really helpful when I’m networking because people rarely ever forget me. That also helps to me stay on my game and make sure that I represent myself in the best possible way, because people are watching and people are remembering.

Do you only date people taller than you?

Rachel: Okay so yes, I have to admit that although things could change (which they probably won’t), I am really only attracted to people that are taller than me. The shortest guy that I have ever dated was my boyfriend in high school and he was actually my height. Since I have been in college I have only dated people that are taller than me.

Camille: Hmm, I think “only” is pretty exclusionary. I’d never want to limit myself, but I think that my biological instincts make me initially physically attracted to guys that are my height or taller. As a tall woman who is consistently asserting leadership roles I usually feel very dominant with people looking up to me 98.6% of the time so I think that it makes me feel more feminine and less dominant when I’m looking up and someone’s looking down at me. But when it comes down to full holistic attraction and being compatible for a relationship there is so much more involved. So after many years of trail and error I’ve come to understand that the 6’7 athlete may or may not be the guy for me and that’s okay! I’ve never seriously dated anyone significantly shorter than me, but hey life is unpredictable!!

Who’s your favorite tall role model?

Rachel: I am not really sure if she is considered to be that “tall”, but the one woman that I have admired since the 5th grade is Serena Williams. As a tall woman, who has a curvy body, it has always been nice to be able to have someone to look up to that actually looks like me. Serena is so beautiful and she exudes confidence in everything that she does!

Camille: Man, y’all know I love my 1st lady, Michelle! She’s definitely a role model for all of the tall women and girls out there and she’s doing a great job of raising Sasha and Malia to be tall, smart and beautiful. But I’d say that my 1st tall role model was my mother and she was my 1st true example of how I should carry myself as a lady. She helped me to make it through those moments of feeling different because of my height and she made sure that I had what I needed to become who I am today.

Who has helped you to shape the perception of yourself?

Rachel: I think that a lot of my confidence was instilled in me when I was young by my mother, but I always like to acknowledge the fact that I had my older sister to look up to who is a very tall woman as well. They both really helped me embrace the fact that I was tall, and they did this not just by telling me, but more importantly they exemplified this through example. When I was younger I wanted to be just like my older sister (and in some ways I still do), and because of her I thought that being tall was cool, and she showed me that I had something that everyone else didn’t have.

Camille: Definitely my parents and other members of my family. First, I’d say my parents both my mother and father are very tall and they always let me know that I needed to stand up tall with my head up high. Those bouts of confidence were instilled in me at a young age and they helped me to believe that I was strong, smart, pretty and lovable—and I believe that it was during those random but assuring moments of affirmation that helped me to build my body-image. I would also say other members of my family too, both of my grandmothers were tall and they would both tell me to keep my head held high and to be who God made me to be, unapologetically. I also had a really tall grandfather, tall uncles/aunts/cousins etc. and I think that being around them helped me to understand that this is just who I am, it’s in my blood!

How have you built confidence over time?

Rachel: I think that a lot of my confidence has been built up by just loving myself more and more every year that I’ve gotten older. I think that it is amazing, how much more I have fallen in love with myself since middle school and high school. I have realized that I am truly an amazing person and the world should know that too! That is why it is so important for me to love myself for who I am, nothing more and nothing less. Self-acceptance is key to confidence and once you accept yourself for who you are, then you can conquer anything!

Camille: I think it’s pretty cool how Rachel mentioned me in her answers for body-perception because I’d say that over time she’s definitely helped me to continue to build my confidence (physically, mentally, professionally/academically etc.). When I look at my sister I see a reflection of myself and all the years of our talks, sister sessions, sleepovers, mirror discussions and how we’ve built a lot of positive affirmations within each other. When I’m feeling down, my sister can seriously speak life into me in a way that is powerful and uplifting—so when I’m feeling like I’m lacking confidence or losing it I know that she can help me to remember who I am, all that I’ve done and how I can overcome whatever I am fighting internally, and really help me to be a better person.

What role has sports or other extracurricular activities played in your life?

Rachel: I LOVE SPORTS! The joke when I was in school was that I was the one girl that was on every team. In middle school I played volleyball, basketball, and soccer and then in high school I played tennis, basketball, and softball. Every season, I had something to do!

Playing sports in school was really fun as it gave me the chance to make new friends and learn about different sports, but I also did sports as an effort to manage the weight issues that I had. Up until my junior year of high school I was overweight and really struggled with ever getting to a “healthy” weight. I used sports as a way to stay active and to make an effort to live a healthy lifestyle. Despite my weight issues I was a skilled and talented basketball player, but I knew that if I wanted to play at the Division one level then I had to lose weight and get in better shape.

The competitive nature that sports taught me how to fight for what I wanted and go after what I wanted. The summer before my Junior year, I made a plan and I lost 30 pounds.

After I did this, I went on to have my best basketball season of my basketball career, and earned several Division One full scholarship offers. I went on to play at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. I played at UNCA for two years, but I decided being there was not the best situation for me, and I transferred here to UNC Chapel-Hill. When I got to UNC I thought that my playing days were over, but I was presented with a wonderful opportunity to play basketball for UNC Chapel Hill and I eventually became a lady Tar Heel!

I say all of this to say that sports have not only helped me to build my confidence as a young woman, but they have also opened doors for me to gain access to opportunities that I never thought that I would have.

Camille: So if you know my story, you’ll know that me and basketball have a love hate relationship. Basketball seriously put me through sweat, blood and tears of agony and pain but it also brought out the best in me and pushed me to become a phenomenal woman. I don’t want to go into details on what happened to me (if you’re interested you can learn more here: YouTube Watch) but I’d say that sports are a great way to maintain physical health while learning valuable lessons about life and relationships. I think that being a college athlete helped me to understand the amount of work that you can actually get done in one day, I have so much respect for all college athletes out there because that life is a GRIND and students who are not athletes don’t know the amount of work that college athletes have to complete (especially high academic performers) to get through each week. Knowing that level of hustle, determination and grit early on helps me (yes, even now) to push through each day so that I can be a high-performer in any arena (academic, professional etc.)

What advice would you give to tall middle school girls?

Rachel: To all of my beautiful tall middle school girls, I want you all to know that you are special in so many ways. Hold your head high and never let anyone dim your shine because you are amazing. Being different is a GOOD thing. When you have something that everyone else doesn’t, then they want to be like you (they look up to you!…you get it? Lol). Ladies, continue to be who you are and exude confidence in all that you do!

Camille: I would say: love who you are and love who you are becoming. Hold your head high and be confident in the way that you’re intended to be, TALL and BEAUTFUL. Know that what you have is rare, and it’s a gift so love it and embrace who you were born to be! It’s great to be different and being tall is something that you will continuously love more & more each day, so keep your shoulders up & OWN IT!

About Camille & Rachel: 

Camille and Rachel are sisters who together founded Healthy Girls Save the World in 2011. To read more about both of them visit our Leadership Team Page.

Tales of a Tall Girl – Part II: Amber Henson

Introduction: Tales of a Tall Girl is a three part blog series that is published on Tuesdays for #TallGirlTuesday. The series celebrates the different life experiences of tall women and young girls. The series asks several different Tall Girls who have worked with HGSW for their input and insight on the awesomeness of being really tall!! HGSW encourages you to celebrate #TallGirlTuesday with us by posting on your own social media about being a tall girl or a tall girl you know!!

Part II: Amber Henson

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How tall are you? 

6’4

How tall were you in middle school?

5’10 – 6’0

What was your experience like growing up as a tall girl?

My entire family is pretty tall, so I never noticed my height until I got to middle school–a time where we are most self-conscious and everyone’s differences seem to stand out. It was definitely an advantage on the basketball court, but my jeans never fit right and I often felt awkward around my classmates or people that I was meeting for the first time. Sometimes I even slouched to make myself seem shorter. But my dad always encouraged me to own my height with poise and confidence. Now a stand tall and embrace every inch of me– I love it now!

What’s been the craziest reaction to your height? 

When I was a sophomore high school traveled to Singapore (where people are very short) to play in the Youth Olympics. We got a chance to go shopping and a local woman called me Godzilla…. It was a bit hurtful at the time, but now I can laugh about comments like that. There will always be someone out there what has a negative or insensitive comment, but you have to let that stuff roll off you. 

Where do you find clothes?

Lately there have been so many cute online stores popping up specifically for tall women and I think it’s awesome that someone finally realized that tall women want to be stylish too! My favorites are Long Tall Sally and Talltique.

What is your favorite thing about being tall?

I love that I can walk in a room and grab everyone’s attention before I even say a word. People naturally look my way and listen to what I have to say.

Do you only date people taller than you? 

No, I don’t discriminate. Sure it’s nice to have someone close to my height, but I’d never limit myself!

Who’s your favorite tall role model?

My teammate Erin Mathias. She really into fashion and always so well-dressed. Sometimes I hesitate to wear certain things because I don’t know if I can pull it off with my height–She takes risks and rocks her heels shamelessly. I get a lot of fashion inspiration from her.

How have you built confidence over time?

Making friends with other tall girls. It’s kind of like a secret society. We talk to each other about some of our insecurities and challenges and try to overcome them together. It’s great to talk to someone who can relate to your own experience as a tall girl.

Who has helped you to shape the perception of yourself?

My dad. From he first time he noticed that i was slouching and being shy because of my height, he talked to me a lot about how my height was a blessing and that I would appreciate it more and more as I got older. He told me that tall women are born leaders who command attention and respect. and as I went through college, I noticed what he said was exactly right! I can’t count how many times I’ve heard “I wish I has long legs like you!” since I’ve been in college. So now I’m really proud of my height.

What role has sports or other extracurricular activities played in your life? 

A tremendous role. For a very long time (especially through middle and high school), the basketball court was the only time I felt completely comfortable and it seemed like it was only time that my height was seen as desirable. Playing basketball helped me build self-confidence, got me a scholarship to the school of my dreams, and helped me meet some of my best friends

What advice would you give to tall middle school girls?

LOVE IT, OWN IT, STRUT IT. Middle school is a  tough for many girls, not just tall girls. We are so concerned about fitting in and hiding our differences, but as you get older you will embrace those differences and others will appreciate them too! If you’re ever feeling self-conscious, surround yourself with positive people, find a tall role model, look in the mirror, and remember that tall is beautiful!

About Amber:

Amber graduated from Duke University in 2015 where she played on the Duke Women’s Basketball Team as a Center and studied Public Policy. She is currently a graduate student at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.

Tales of a Tall Girl – Part I: Claire Veazey

Introduction: Tales of a Tall Girl is a three part blog series that is published on Tuesdays for #TallGirlTuesday. The series celebrates the different life experiences of tall women and young girls. The series asks several different Tall Girls who have worked with HGSW for their input and insight on the awesomeness of being really tall!! HGSW encourages you to celebrate #TallGirlTuesday with us by posting on your own social media about being a tall girl or a tall girl you know!!

Part I: Claire Veazey

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How tall are you? 

6′ 0″

How tall were you in middle school?  

5 ‘ 9 “

What was your experience like growing up as a tall girl?

I remember middle school being a particularly tough time for a tall girl. I definitely wasn’t the only person who’s body was going through all sorts of changes, but my height made me a little more visible than other girls. As someone who was a little more shy, I didn’t really like the extra attention, and felt self-conscious. I was taller than everyone… even some of my teachers! Also, my school decided that they wanted everyone to wear uniforms when I was in 7th grade, and I had the HARDEST time finding khaki pants that were long enough. When I got to high school, I started playing volleyball, and that was the first time that I really felt like being tall was beneficial for me.

What’s been the craziest reaction to your height? 

I often have older women comment on my legs like, “Oh honey, you have fabulous legs” or “Whew! Wish I had those legs!”. It’s definitely a compliment, but sometimes catches me off guard.

Where do you find clothes?

Most of my height is in my legs – I have a 35″ inseam! So finding pants that are long enough are a big challenge. I am really grateful that “cropped” pants are in style right now, because almost all skinny jeans look cropped on me. I’ve had the best luck with Express and Gap online. I have to order them online because they rarely have them in stock in the store. However, sometimes they change the design of their jeans and then they don’t fit me anymore, so I’m always in search of stores that carry “tall” sizes :)

What is your favorite thing about being tall? 

I love being able to reach most things that my shorter friends can’t… no need to get out a step-stool to put away dishes in the kitchen!

Do you only date people taller than you?  

I do prefer to date people who are as tall as or taller than me. I have been on dates with men who are a few inches shorter than me, but I just never quite felt comfortable. 

 Who’s your favorite tall role model?

My friend Andrea is 6 feet tall, gorgeous, and absolutely embraces her height. She wears pretty, high heels all the time and never seems self-conscious about being the tallest person in a group of people. When I’m with Andrea, I feel more confident and powerful… and I wear my heels too!

How have you built confidence over time?

I think for girls there is a lot of emphasis on what your body looks like, rather than what your body can DO. So I build confidence by getting involved in physical activities that give me an opportunity to appreciate my body. Yoga helps me calm down, and slowly give a little TLC to each part of my body. Going for walks or jogs, and getting better at it every day, helps me feel healthy and accomplished. I also try to not think so many critical or negative thoughts about myself… but they pop up all the time! It sounds kind of silly, but sometimes I treat those thoughts like another person is saying them to me, and say “I hear you, but I’m going to ignore what you’re saying!” We girls have enough negative things going on outside of us, and we need to be our own best friend!

Who has helped you to shape the perception of yourself?

My good friends and family always encourage me to see myself in a positive light. My mom especially has always been there for me if I ever got discouraged with myself, whether it was related to how I looked or how I was doing in school, or if I felt like I didn’t have many friends. She has taught me how to keep things in perspective, and acknowledge all the wonderful things going on in life, even on a bad day.

What role has sports or other extracurricular activities played in your life? 

Playing volleyball was one of the first times that people started commenting on how “lucky” I was to be tall, and I started to think that way too! I was grateful for my height because it made me better at a sport that I enjoyed playing. Unfortunately, there were some unhealthy, competitive influences on the volleyball team as well. My teammates judged other girls for their physical appearance, and always made comments about how important it was to be “fit” or look a certain way in the uniform. Over time, I found myself internalizing some of those negative attitudes, and being really hard on myself. I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to be involved in other extracurricular activities, like piano lessons, school plays, and volunteering at nursing homes… wonderful pieces of who I am that have nothing to do with how I look!

What advice would you give to tall middle school girls?

– It may not feel like it now, but tall is GOOD. I promise that you won’t always be the tallest person in the room… as people get older, especially boys, they will get taller too! As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that people are all shapes and sizes, and being healthy on the inside is so much more important that how you look on the outside.

– Try not to get discouraged when clothes don’t fit you perfectly. Your body is unique and it may take some time to find the right clothes for your shape. Clothes should make you feel comfortable and beautiful, and if they don’t do that, then they don’t deserve your money! Keep searching :)

– Just because you are tall, does not mean that you have to be “athletic” or play a sport. Your body is a very important part of who you are, but it is not the only part of you. Getting involved in extracurriculars that make you happy and help you connect with others are just as valuable as a sports team.

About Claire:

Claire is currently pursuing a Masters of Public Health (MPH) at the University of North Carolina – Gillings School of Global Public Health, with a concentration in Health Behavior. She is a loyal Tar Heel, having also completed her undergraduate degree in psychology with honors at UNC in 2013.

With a background in psychology research, she is an advocate for incorporating more mental health into programs for children and adolescents, teaching them to recognize from an early age that taking care of the “inside” is just as important as healthy eating and exercise. She is particularly passionate about women’s health and empowerment, and is dedicated to creating more opportunities for girls to learn how to take ownership and pride in every facet of their health: bodies, minds, relationships … and everything in between!

In addition to helping with HGSW, Claire attends classes on campus and works as a Development intern at Planned Parenthood South Atlantic in Chapel Hill. In the future, she hopes to pursue a career in non-profit leadership and/or helping for-profit companies navigate giving back to communities through public health projects.

To stay healthy, Claire enjoys being outside as much as possible, practicing yoga, listening to music and dancing, playing piano, laughing, watching cat videos on YouTube, and spending time with friends and family.

Push It to the Limit

This past weekend, I ran in the second 5k of my life. From the time I signed up to the morning of the race, I was completely dreading it. I kept thinking of how badly I was going to do because I hadn’t been training. I was convinced I would hate every second of it and stop running within the first mile. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed the race the ENTIRE time I was running it. Yes, there were times of pain and exhaustion, but I genuinely enjoyed myself. Even though my time of a little less than 31 minutes is quite unimpressive to those in the running world, I was proud of myself because I was able to push myself and finish the race.

During the race, I told myself I could do it and that the pain would be worth it. When I crossed the finish line, I felt a sense of accomplishment and a step towards finding the right form of exercise for me. I could have decided to walk at any point in time, but when I felt like I could barely take another step, I would push myself harder and run a little faster. When I felt a pain in my knee, I would convince myself it wasn’t there and refused to let it be my excuse to give up and walk the rest of the way. There were two times that I had to stop and take a few steps to give myself a rest, but I could not let myself just give up. I ran all but maybe 2o steps for the entire race and set a new personal record for fastest time! I could have very easily decided to just walk the race that morning. It was early, I was tired, I felt out of shape, and I was not confident in myself. But I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. To me, this is what working out is all about. It isn’t about looking good in a bikini, impressing that boy with your body, wearing a size 0 jeans, or impressing other people. Accomplishing this goal was all about me proving to myself that I had it in me.

In all that you aim to do, whether it be a health goal, a school goal, or a relationship goal, push yourself to go past what you think you are capable of. Doing this can help raise your confidence in yourself, make you happy, and help you find something you really enjoy.

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Balancing Act: How to Balance Friendships and a Relationship

The excitement of a new relationship is overwhelming and fun, and we want nothing more than to be with that person 24/7. It is so easy to get caught up in that excitement that we oftentimes lose track of the friends who have always been around. Being in a relationship should never make you lose sight of friendships, but that is easier said than done.

Why do we suddenly put our friends on the backburner and focus all of our time, attention, and effort on one person? As young girls we are made to believe that one of our main goal in life is to find a man, fall in love, get married, and have a family. However, dating does not mean that friends need to be dropped. It is just as important to maintain friendships as it is to maintain a relationship. No significant other should ever pull you away from your friends so much that they feel neglected or forgotten. Of course, you and your friends will have to understand that you won’t be spending all of your time together. It will be an adjustment for all parties involved, but if you try your hardest to maintain a healthy balance, it will be rewarding in the end.

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Keys to Success:

  1. Alternate weekends: If most of your free time lies on the weekend, and you see both your friends and your significant other during the week, don’t make plans with the same people every weekend. One weekend, go out to dinner with your significant other, and have a girls’ night the next.
  2. Put yourself in your friends shoes: Imagine feeling like you have lost your best friend to someone else. You would probably be crushed. Being empathetic towards your friends in this time will really help you keep in mind that you have a lot of important people already in your life and that one new person should not take all your time away from those people.
  3. Make your S.O. be friendly with your friends: This helps to ensure that you don’t always have to divide up your time. Trust me, life is so much easier when your friends love your significant other and he/she likes your friends back.
  4. Remember that friendships usually last longer than relationships: In the “honeymoon phase” of any relationship, you are going to think you’ll be together forever. But that is not true most of the time. If you spend all of your time with your significant other, who is going to be there for you if your relationship does end? Most friends won’t stick around if you start ignoring them every time you get into a new relationship. Nothing is better for heartbreak than your best friends!

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One of the most important pieces of advice I have gotten from my mom is how to have a healthy relationship. She always tells me that one of her biggest mistakes in high school was having her life revolve around her boyfriend. She lost a lot of friends during that time because she was at her boyfriend’s beck and call, and she would drop whatever she was doing to hang out with him. Although the relationship lasted a few years, it wasn’t forever. My mom would have liked to get her friends back, but most people will not be willing to come back into your life after you ignored them for someone else. I learned a lot from her mistake, and she is a constant reminder to try and keep balance between the people in my life.

There is a huge rush of excitement in a new relationship, and it can be quite overwhelming. It’s hard not to want to do everything you can to make that person happy and to get to know him or her as best as you can. But you must remember that friends need just as much love and attention. If all focus shifts to one person, you risk losing the friends that have been there for you through everything. It’s easy to get carried away with the relationship and devote all your time to it, but if you just put yourself in your friends shoes and imagine how you would feel if you were suddenly pushed aside and constantly canceled on, it should help you put equal effort into your friendships and relationship.

The Lactose Free World

I have never been a picky eater. When it comes to food, I love trying new things and finding fun ways to mix up my diet and keep a fresh palate. I always felt bad for people who had food allergies…until I found out I was one of them. My diet can no longer include dairy. And I realized once I could no longer have it, just how often I had it from day to day.
Before I completely jumped in to life without dairy, I did some research about what it means to be lactose intolerant.

Lactose is a sugar found in milk and subsequently other dairy products that include milk like yogurt, ice cream, and cheese. Sometimes the digestive system cannot easily breakdown the sugar and can cause uncomfortable and complicated digestion. While symptoms of lactose intolerance are not necessarily painful, they can be uncomfortable. Bloating, gas, and stomach pains are included as the most common symptoms caused when consuming dairy as a lactose intolerant.

Thankfully, there are some awesome alternatives out there to help me and other people figure out the lactose intolerant lifestyle. The best part is, you may not even have to give up your sweet tooth!
Milk
Milk by itself is a great asset to someone’s daily diet because it provides necessary calcium for bones. In order to make sure the body is receiving necessary nutrients, Lactaid is a great alternative to milk. This dairy free brand replaces the lactose enzyme with lactase, allowing for easy digestion and still providing calcium for the body.
An interest in tree nut milks is also growing, and personally I enjoy the Silk brand almond milk. I use the vanilla flavor to add some sweetness to a bowl of cereal or just to enjoy in my coffee in the morning. It still provides the nutrients I need, and it tastes great as an interesting alternative to milk.


Cheese
I never realized how much cheese I consumed until I had to completely cut it out of my diet. It’s on sandwiches, in salads, topping pizza, and covering nachos. All of those delicious foods we enjoy day to day include dairy. Daiya is a dairy free brand that produces lactose free cheese. This alternative can be used on tacos, in a salad, or even to top your pizzas. I went to Mellow Mushroom the other night for dinner and they served dairy free pizza using Daiya. It was so good I had to go buy some from the grocery store afterwards. This dairy free option is a great way to satisfy the cheese craving without discomfort.
Ice Cream
Let’s be honest, ice cream is a great dessert and I had some trouble finding a way to maintain my sweet tooth and not feel uncomfortable doing so. The Lactaid brand also provides great options for lactose free ice cream. My personal favorite is the Salted Caramel Chip! They also had basic products like vanilla and chocolate. The alternatives taste just like ice cream, but are way easier to digest. I never feel bloated and don’t feel like I am missing out on a sweet dessert every now and then.
So do not fret- life without dairy is not all that scary! With these great alternatives, you can make sure you maintain calcium in your day to day diet without missing out on sweet treats or savory flavors.

Outside sources include: http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/tc/lactose-intolerance-topic-overview

The Talk

birdbee

What do you think of when you hear “the talk?” More than likely that awkward talk you had with your parents in the fifth grade about the birds and the bees popped into your mind. Or maybe it was that time in sex ed when your teacher put a condom on a banana. But that isn’t what I am here to talk to you about. Instead, I want to talk about how to have that same talk with your significant other. No matter your opinions on sex, you are going to have to have this talk at one point or another. It could just be to set ground rules and say you want to wait until marriage to have sex, or it could be to tell someone you are ready to “take your relationship to the next level.” Either way, it is one of the most important conversations to have with your partner.

So many people think that sex is a thing that “just happens.” But I think that it needs to be talked about. Every relationship needs boundaries, and although it can be awkward to have these boundary-setting conversations, they are necessary to a successful and comfortable relationship. Not talking about sex, can lead to a lot of regret and unanswered questions. “Did he just want to date me so we could have sex? Did it mean as much to him as it meant to me?” You’ll never know unless you are able to have the tough conversations.

There are no set rules on when or how to have these conversations, but here are a few tips:

  1. If you are not comfortable enough to talk about it, wait. If the thought of saying the word “sex” makes you cringe, it is probably because you are not comfortable enough to have sex with your partner.
  2. Remember, this is a two way street. Even if you are ready, your partner may not be, and you have to respect that.
  3. Talk about condoms, birth control, and previous partners. It is better to get all of this out in the open before you become sexually active with someone. Safe sex is the best sex J.

birth-control

  1. And if there have been previous sexual partners, make sure you get tested for sexually transmitted infections. You don’t want to harm your partner by accidentally passing something along that you didn’t know you even had! It is also super important for your own health, and some STI’s are even curable!
  2. It is okay to tell someone that you are not ready to have sex with them or that you want to wait until you are married to have sex. If your partner is not accepting of that, they are not the right person for you.
  3. CONSENT! Even after having the talk with your partner, one of you may change your mind. That is completely fine and normal; so make sure you ask your partner again if they are sure and ready before doing anything. And if you change your mind, don’t hesitate to tell your partner. If he or she loves you, they will wait!

ryemm

Whether you are ready to have sex with your partner or not, you should always be able to talk to him/her about how you feel about sex. Letting someone know that you are ready to have sex is just as important as letting him or her know you don’t want to have sex until marriage. I feel like this is one of the most important conversations in a relationship because without it there is room for a lot of mistakes, regret, and peer pressure. Don’t let anyone pressure you into doing something you are not ready to do. Have the difficult conversations, set boundaries, and always respect your partner!

The FDA Finally Puts Their Foot Down: No More Trans Fat!

The time has finally come. There is no longer a need to fret over whether or not your morning stack of Bisquick pancakes, Pop Secret popcorn, or Chips Ahoy cookies have loads of trans fat: the hydrogenated oils that are known to increase the risk of heart disease. Originally, the FDA proposed a ban on trans fat in consumer products back in November of 2013. Specifically, the FDA targeted partially hydrogenated vegetable oils—an ingredient found in many crackers, baked goods, frozen foods, and even foods you would believe to be decent (Saltines, anyone?). It is now 2015, and consumers are starting to take note of all the foods that still contain trans fat. Most of us experienced a sigh of relief when we first heard about the transition, but the transition seemed to never occur. Rather, food-manufacturing companies lowered the levels of trans fat in their products so that they did not have to report the amount on their nutrition labels. While we consumers thought that we had seen the last of partially hydrogenated oils, food companies profited from tiptoeing around the FDA ban.

 

Fast forward to June 16th, 2015. NPR reports that the FDA has taken note of the sneaky food companies and decided on a ban of all trans fats on processed foods to be complete by 2018. By setting a specific timeline, the FDA hopes to give manufacturers the time to come up with alternate methods of producing their goods or adequate time to receive approval for their additives. While the FDA is keeping an eye out for the scant amounts of trans fat in your buttered popcorn, it is helpful to read the ingredients list to find out for yourself if certain packaged goods contain the destructive ingredient. While any less than .5g of trans fat does not have to be listed on the nutrition label, look for partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, cottonseed oils, soybean oils, and similar ingredients as an indication of trans fat.

 

transfatlabel

 

Small amounts can add up. So while the food manufacturing industry works to fix the problem, take matters into your own hands and start reading carefully. With 86% of processed foods already without trans fat, we are well on our way to exterminating the elusive ingredient.

 

Sources:

Barclay, E. (2014). When Zero Doesn’t Mean Zero: Trans Fats Linger in Foods. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/08/28/343971652/trans-fats-linger-stubbornly-in-the-food-supply

Aubrey, A., & Stein, R. (2015). FDA To Food Companies: This Time, Zero Means Zero Trans Fats. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/06/16/414906829/fda-to-food-companies-this-time-zero-means-zero-trans-fats