If you are sexually active at all, chances are you are taking birth control. The tricky part is that it’s not always clear which ones are safe and which ones can harm you. The popular birth control pill Yasmin made headlines once again when a young woman in the US suffered a stroke within 13 days of beginning treatment with Yasmin. According to her lawsuit, the prescribing physician failed to take into account her increased risk of stroke, a potential consequence for taking Yasmin. She ended up receiving a $14 million settlement. The case sparked a new controversy over the safety of contraceptive pills that contain drospirenone, a progestin associated with an increased risk of thrombosis, blood clots and stroke. The debate is leaving women who are currently taking the pill confused and worried - is it safe to continue taking Yasmin or should they switch?
There are pros and cons to the pills Yasmin and Yaz. A pro would be that both pills contain the progestin drospirenone, have been found to reduce unwanted side effects such as weight gain commonly experienced with contraceptive pills. However a con would be that they have also been found to increase the risk of thrombosis and stroke to a larger extent than contraceptive pills which contain a different progesterone, such as the commonly used levonorgestrel.
To put this into perspective, a woman’s risk of suffering thrombosis while taking a contraceptive pill - including Yasmin - is still lower than during pregnancy or the weeks after giving birth. According to MHRA data, thrombosis affects one in 10000 women who are not pregnant and not taking a contraceptive pill, as opposed to 6 in 10000 women who are pregnant. For women who are in good health and are using Yasmin, this risk increases to an estimated 3 - 4 cases in 10000 each year.
While this increase in your risk for thrombosis seems relatively small, it is important to consider this when choosing a contraceptive. For women with an increased risk of thrombosis, Yasmin is not the best option. However, if there is a family history of stroke or blood clots, combined contraceptives of any kind must generally be avoided. This caution also goes for women who smoke or who are very overweight. The risk of thrombosis is known to increase with age, which is why combined contraceptives are not recommended for women who smoke and are over 35. It is important to have a consultation with a doctor before taking any hormonal contraceptive pill to assess possible risks and side effects. In some cases, women with a slightly increased risk of thrombosis can still use a contraceptive pill, provided they choose a progestin-only mini pill.
Be it Yasmin or any other contraceptive pill, choose the method that is a suitable for you according to your general health and family history. The MHRA states that there is currently “no reason” for women who are not at risk for health concerns to stop taking Yasmin or change their birth control medication. However, if you are still worried about thrombosis you could switch to a combined pill which contains levonorgestrel, the progestin assumed to cause the least significant increase in your risk of thrombosis.
If you checked out sites like mya.co.uk, you'd learn that breast enlargements are the most popular cosmetic surgery procedure in the UK and many women opt to go under the knife each year. However there have been instances with problematic PIP implants that have resulted in troublesome issues after surgery. Because of the risks that are associated with having a breast enlargement, it is important to know as much as possible about the procedure, the surgeon and the clinic before deciding to go through with it.
The Huffington Post reported that 51 year old Kim Brockhurst had a boob job almost 10 years ago and went from an AA cup to a DD cup. Unfortunately, Kim did not ask for her breasts to be that large and after the surgery she was forced to get used to them, despite them being much bigger than she had expected. Her breasts slowly began to change shape and she soon discovered that she had a dent in her right breast. Her left implant had exploded and then leaked the through industrial strength silicone into her breast tissue. After this horrific experience, Kim was advised to have the implants removed but she was unable to pay the steep bill for the National Health Care Service to restructure her breasts after removing the implants. Fortunately, Kim was able to have her breasts reduced to a 34D cup in an operation that was paid for by a UK reality TV show ‘Botched Up Bodies’.
Women go through breast enlargements for many different reasons. Perhaps the most popular reason is to improve the self-confidence of those women who are unhappy with their bodies. Many women also go through this type of surgery for medical and health reasons, such as those women who have suffered from breast cancer or whose breasts have grown at a different rate, leaving them with uneven breasts. The main complications of having a breast enlargement is the possibility of needing to have them replaced ten years later. According to the NHS, the risks of having a breast enlargement include: excessive bleeding, an adverse reaction to the anaesthetic, infection and the possibility of developing blood clots. Makes you wonder if it’s really worth it to go under the knife.
Summer is coming! And there is a new health and fitness destination online that will help whip you into shape. Brocollete.com is a new wellness platform for women of all colors. The site will provide video lessons from various health and wellness practitioners to educate, inspire and enable women to live healthier lives. Brocollete.com will cover topics from natural medicine, homeopathy, physical training, organizational tools, meditation, on-the-go fitness, juicing, clean cooking, utilizing creativity for emotional health and more. The site was started by LA based health and wellness curator, Njambi Gibson, who has devoted her career to inspiring and educating people toward passionate, healthier living.
For this next week, in exchange for kick starting Brocollete, Njambi will whip you into your happiest, healthiest, most beach-ready self with recipe books and guides found on her RocketHub site. Here’s a sneak peak of some great tips to get you right for the summer!
Dump those sugary calorie-laden drinks in favor of chia seed water, fresh green juice, herbal iced teas and coconut water. You can also eat your water in the form of hydrating fruits and vegetables. Cucumber, watermelon, lettuce and celery are great choices!
Your workouts don’t have to be hours long. Get them in where they fit in your daily routine. Hit the squats in the a.m. while brushing your teeth, applying makeup or making a smoothie. Perform isometric exercises at your desk and keep a pair of weights handy. Don’t forget classics like parking further away and swapping elevator rides for stairs!
Excessive salt consumption causes us to retain water, making us look and feel bloated. While eating out or shopping for pre-packaged foods, ask for dressings and sauces on the side and opt for salt free alternatives. When cooking, flavor food with fresh herbs, garlic, lemon and spices instead of salt.
Consume chewing gum, sugar free snacks, beer, sparkling drinks, dairy products and other gas producing foods in moderation. Considering cooking fibrous vegetables --broccoli, brussels sprouts and cabbage -- and be sure to soak beans before cooking. Remember to eat slowly and make decisions based on the way your stomach feels.
Exfoliate skin weekly with a homemade salt and sugar scrub. Scrub daily with a natural sponge or gloves to remove buildup. Use Shea butter to even skin tone and reduce the appearance of scars.
For more great tips and insights including a Healthy Snack Recipe Book, Drinks and Smoothies Recipe Ebook, Wellness Guide for Busy Professionals and a Natural Beauty Guide visit the Brocollete Rockethub site, found below for the next week! And for exclusive first look of the site, leave your email address on Brocollete.com!
Many of us have heard that we ought to buy certified organic berries, kale, and fuzzy fruits (remember the dirty dozen?), over conventionally grown counterparts to avoid eating genetically modified or pesticide-laden plant products (the list is updated every year; check out the new one here). The label, organic, has become synonymous with being the better option for selecting produce and other groceries. At what point, however, did it become a catch-all term for everything associated with being healthy?
I know, I know, organic fruits and vegetables are healthy. What I’m talking about, though, are the certified organic meats, cheeses, sugary cereals, and cookies. I’ve overheard some people say in the cookie aisle, “this one’s organic, so I’m gonna get it cuz it’s healthy.” (You can also insert gluten-free or vegan, in place of organic.)
Sadly,these foods are not necessarily healthy (yes, meats, cheeses, and dark chocolate, in small portions can have health benefits, but read: small portions). You can’t eat as much as you want simply because the food is organic.
The organic label means that a product is a better option over the conventionally grown/raised food. It’s a good guide for avoiding unwanted pesticides, antibiotics, and other chemicals that may leach into your food, unbeknownst to you. Some research has indicated that organically grown and raised produce and meats have greater nutritional value because they have not been genetically modified. And organically raised animals are fed a healthier diet and are often raised under healthier conditions (not in cages or pumped with steroids or other meds). However, there are other studies that suggest that there is not a significant difference between conventional and organic foods. The Organic Trade Association took a look at the major studies that compared the nutritional value of organic versus conventional produce, and concluding... that more studies need to be conducted. But take a look at their report, and form your own opinions.
If avoiding chemicals in your food is your aim, then stick to organic foods -- if your pocketbook permits it -- otherwise, refer to the list of dirty dozen produce items that you should buy organic and go conventional with anything else. To ensure you don’t gain a few extra pounds, use good judgment and remember that the organic label isn’t a green light to eat as much as you want. Moderation is always the best policy.
This article was part of our series "30 Days of Made: Giving Back." In an effort to create social change, each day we will highlight one charity or non-profit organization, and provide information on how you can support them by giving back. Click here to read more!
I’m sure most of you have stayed overnight in a hotel somewhere. Whether the Ritz Carlton or the Holiday Inn, we’re all familiar with hotels having housekeeping services and we often take those amenities for granted - like the soap we use in the shower.
To accommodate their guests, hotels will provide personal hygiene products such as mouthwash or shampoo for use during their stay. Shampoo and mouthwash get replenished when they’re empty, but other amenities like soap are a one-time use. After a bar of soap gets used, housekeepers will discard the used soap into the trash and replace it with a fresh, newly-wrapped bar. That’s a lot of wasted soap for a single-use shower, approximately 2.6 million bars daily in the United States. There has to be a better way to repurpose that soap so it isn’t just tossed away, creating more waste. Enter the Global Soap Project.
The Global Soap Project is a non-profit out of Atlanta, GA that partners with leading hotel brands to receive partially used and discarded soap to recycle it. The new bars they create are distributed to those in need around the world. That’s great, but what can a bar of soap do? Actually, it can do a lot -- even save lives. Surprisingly, the leading cause of death for children in underdeveloped countries are hygiene-related illnesses. A staggering 1.6 million children die each year from poor hygiene, accounting for nearly one-third of all child deaths. Although vaccines, clean water initiatives and medications can help fight the diseases, the best way to effectively prevent illness is by hand washing with soap. So by repurposing soap, The Global Soap Project is eliminating waste and saving lives. Not only are their efforts servicing those abroad (reaching 32 countries on four continents), but they also work in collaboration with health organizations like the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) and Partners in Health to aid those domestically. The Global Soap Projects aims to ensure that all who lack access to soap receive it as well as receive an education on why soap is important.
Once hotels release the discarded soap to The Global Soap Project, a thorough recycling process has to occur before the soap is ready for use:
1. Sorting: Once the soap is collected and received into the warehouse, it is sorted into boxes for the designated hotel. Each hotel brand is distinct with their own soap ingredients, so The Global Soap Project does not mix soap.
2. Sanitizing: Soap only holds bacteria when it’s wet, which is how the dried soap is able to be reused. To eliminate any bacterial remnants, the top layer of the soap is scraped off before the soap gets heated and filtered through an extremely fine mesh screen to remove any excess dirt or particles. After cleaning the soap, it is then melted and molded into finished bars. The soap is then cut into individual bars and ready for verification.
3. Verification: After the sanitation process, a third-party laboratory test is used to screen for pathogen samples from each batch of soap before it gets packaged and ready to ship.
4. Packaging/Shipment: A packaged box holds 120 four oz. bars and weighs 30 pounds. One pallet is 50 boxes totaling 6,000 bars. Those boxes are then shipped via non-governmental organizations (NGO's) to assist their intended populations.
I’ve been a supporter and volunteer for The Global Soap Project for two years. I love that they aren’t just giving away soap to help people (even though that’s awesome!), but that they are also encouraging better hygiene practices through education on how and why soap is crucial. I also love that they’re encouraging people to take responsibility for their own health and hygiene by not just relying on free soap, but also implementing what they now know into their lives as a lifestyle change. If giving someone soap to wash their hands or body is all we need to do save a life, I’m on board for making sure they have those resources.
If you love the mission of the Global Soap Project show your support! Just click the buttons below or Tweet at them @globalsoap!
There is nothing worse than a face full a blackheads. Yuck. You love your skin and you want it to have a healthy glow at all times. As seasons change, so does your skin and this can wreak havoc on your pores. Luckily, our favorite beauty expert and vlogger sensation, Daisy Jing of YourPerfectBeauty.com, has broken down for us not only how to get rid of blackheads -- but also what causes them. Check out the video below and then say bye-bye to your blackheads! Oh, and you can get more of Daisy and her beauty tips here.
It’s a commonly accepted myth that you have to read Jane Eyre cover-to-cover (although, who’s reading books on paper nowadays?), in one workout session on the treadmill, to get a Beyonce-esq tight a$$. Women everywhere are spending hours of their precious time in the gym and are still not reaching their fitness goals. Let me tell you, you can burn all the rubber off a treadmill belt, but it really isn’t necessary if you put in some Q-T workout time.
If you seek improved cardiovascular health, improved muscle tone, and overall improved fitness, you will get there faster by power walking over hilly terrain versus strolling aimlessly for an hour or two. The ups and downs of a hilly road or trail builds in low, moderate, and high intensity intervals to your workout session.
How do you add intensity to your workout without hiking up hills, going to a trainer, or paying to participate in a fitness class, you ask? Well, you can do that by changing a couple variables—speed and resistance. To add speed, you just move faster. Adding resistance requires adding incline, weight, or other opposing force against your direction of travel. For example, if you are strength training, add more weight to your effort; if cycling, running, or walking, add hills to your tour. If you decide to add jumping or sprinting to your routine, wear a weight vest or do it in soft sand. There are various ways to add intensity to your workout. A good rule of thumb to follow is that the more intense an interval is, the shorter that period will be. These high intensity intervals should be interspersed with low to moderate intensity exercise such as walking, jogging, or other less physically intense activities to give your body a chance to recover.
More challenging intervals increase your breathing and heart rates, fatigue some muscles, and make you sweat. By adding them into your workout, you burn more calories in a shorter period of time, elicit a positive cardiovascular response (read: healthier heart), “tone” and “firm” skeletal muscle (Michelle Obama arms, anyone?), and increase your recovery metabolic rate (that means you’ll burn more calories while you’re relaxing or going about your business, post-workout, while your body returns to normal resting rate). Bottom line is that a workout that incorporates high intensity bouts can do more for you than a steady state workout, and in a shorter period of time. More bang for your buck there, sister!
The *vegetarian lifestyle is a growing trend in the United States, with interest in the **vegan diet especially increasing this year. Maybe it’s due to public figures like former President Bill Clinton, Justin Timberlake, Ellen Degeneres and Natalie Portman endorsing the plant-based lifestyle. But reports that the many health benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets include reduced risk of cancer, obesity and cardiovascular disease is far more compelling. If you are jumping on the bandwagon (I did!) but are not quite sure where to start, these tips are for you.
1. Learn about plant-based nutrition—If you are worried about getting enough iron or protein into your diet, then it’s time to educate yourself on plant-based nutrition. I really like this veggie version of the “My Plate” dietary guidelines, which outlines sources of essential nutrients like calcium and protein.
2. Make vegetarian versions of your favorite meals—Are you committed to making a healthy transition, but sometimes crave comfort foods like Spaghetti Bolognese, chili, macaroni and cheese or an All-American cheeseburger? Then experiment with vegetarian versions of your favorites to help ease the transition. For example, swap the meat in your Spaghetti with fresh, seasonal vegetables or try a soy or black bean burger instead of beef.
3. Try new recipes—One of the great aspects of changing your lifestyle is embracing the new flavors and textures of vegetarian food. Subscribe to vegetarian resources like VegNews and Vegetarian Times, which offer informative blogs, websites and newsletters full of fun recipes and creative ideas for living a vegetarian lifestyle.
4. Explore ethnic foods—Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Italian, Indian and Vietnamese cuisines all offer flavorful and healthy vegetarian options. My favorite is Mexican, and my go to meal when eating out is a burrito with black beans, salsa, extra veggies and guacamole. Yum! Check out the Vegetarian Resource Group's national restaurant guide the next time you eat out.
5. Try faux meats and dairy alternatives—If you’re not ready to go cold turkey, there are meat and dairy alternatives that may be a great option. Daiya offers a variety of cheese substitutes that have great flavor and melt well, which is a great alternative for all recovering cheese-a-holics craving pizza or grilled cheese.
There are many great reasons to try a vegetarian diet, particularly because it boasts several health benefits. There is a plethora of healthful, colorful options at the grocery store, and more restaurants are adding tasty vegetarian options to their menus. However, vegetarianism can be a huge shift from the standard beef-based American diet so you’ll need some help. Get support from your family and friends by letting them know about your new lifestyle. It’s also a good idea to consult your doctor or visit a dietician if you have any existing health problems or need some extra guidance. Have more questions? Our friends at Every Day Health provided the infographic below. Happy eating!
*Vegetarians do not eat meat. This includes pork, chicken, beef and fish.
**Vegans (strict vegetarians) do not eat any meat. Additionally, a vegan does not eat dairy products, eggs, or any other animal products. Vegans also avoid using products that have been tested on animals or made from animal skins.
Your best friend does it. Your little sister does it. Your next door neighbor probably does it, too.
We're talking bikini waxing -- arguably the second most painful thing to happen to our lady parts next to childbirth. Once considered taboo, pubic hair removal is now something we don’t need to "beat around the bush" about; women from all backgrounds are pouring into salons across the country to get their hair down there bikini-ready. However popular the service may be, some of us still have our doubts and haven't yet tried it out. Esthetician Heather Nelson, owner of WAX by Heather Nelson and creator of "The 7 Minute Brazilian Wax," has seen her fair share of inquisitive first-time waxers and answered their questions. In order to debunk the myths and help us to physically (and mentally) prepare for our debut wax, Heather breaks down the top 5 things we need to do before receiving the signature service:
Before you step foot into any waxing parlour, make sure you've taken a nice hot shower and exfoliated the area. "Get down there and scrub all the dead skin away," Nelson says. Warm water opens up pores and regular exfoliating can lessen the likelihood of ingrown hairs and promotes silky, smooth skin.
Been a while since your last "haircut"? Don't be embarrassed ladies -- that's actually a good thing! "I get this all the time!” the wax guru says. "Ideally, hair should be between 1/4 of an inch to 3/8 of an inch long. The longer the hair, the easier it is to pull from the root -- as opposed to just ripping at the skin." Don't want to estimate what 3/8 of an inch looks like? Waxing generally lasts anywhere from three to five weeks, so schedule appointments anywhere from four to six weeks apart. Extra incentive: the longer the hair, the less tearing it out hurts!
"Yes, waxing hurts. It's not the most comfortable feeling in the world, but like anything the more you do it, the more accustomed to the sensation you become," Heather states. Think taking a shot will help loosen you up and make the wax easier to deal with? Think again. Alcohol is dehydrating and makes skin more sensitive to pain. Nelson suggests avoiding caffeinated drinks and steering clear of direct sunlight for 48 hours pre wax appointment. She also recommends taking a pain reliever 30 minutes before your service to ease the discomfort of waxing.
Brazil has birthed some pretty remarkable exports; supermodel Giselle Bundchen, the Brazilian butt lift workouts and of course, the Brazilian wax. In short, a bikini wax is removing all the hair that could potentially be seen whilst wearing a bikini and a Brazilian wax is umm....all the hair you can and can't see whilst in a bikini. Heather has perfected her waxing technique to accommodate a comprehensive Brazilian wax in seven minutes, so if you are bold enough to go completely bare down there, at least you aren't on the table for too long.
Think you can do a little shaving or home waxing kit touch ups between appointments? It's best to leave the hair removal to the pros. Certified estheticians are well versed in the ways of what works for skin and the most effective ways to maintain it. Likewise, if you have any skin allergies, health conditions or are on any type of topical medications (Accutane, Retin - A, AHA's), let your waxologist know before you book your appointment; certain meds don’t go well with waxing services.
Now you should feel completely at ease about bikini waxing and know what to expect when you do decide to get your first wax. For more information about hair removal by waxing and more expert insight from Heather, click here.
“Why not?” I am convinced that this phrase holds a place in the personal mantra of every entrepreneur. Everyday, people brave enough to run their own businesses, push themselves boldly into the unknown. While it can be terrifying, there’s really little room for hesitance –because, if you think only of the possibilities for failure, you’ll undoubtedly forfeit your opportunity for success. Fitness expert Samantha Monus lives by those two simple words, a positive philosophy. Her fearless attitude has launched an amazing career, which now includes a partnership with Venus Williams. A graduate of Florida State University, she fell in love with fitness. Then she did what many of us hope to, she started a business doing what she loved. Monus’ biggest challenge was saying goodbye to an established company and venturing out on her own. Her mind was full of doubts: did she have what it took to start a business from the ground up? Now, a few years later, the answer is a resounding yes.
If you go to your neighborhood gym, say 24-hour fitness, Equinox, or Spectrum, you will have a plethora of trainers available to you. In many cases, you’ll find that they focus on one or two of your needs, but may not consider your entire lifestyle. Monus succeeds in her holistic approach to fitness. She believes there are multiple branches on, what she calls, the “Fitness Tree” including but not limited to: strength training, flexibility, nutrition, and meditation. She individualizes her regimen for each client.
With the help of family, friends, mentors, and inspiring clients, Samantha Monus has made a name for herself in the fitness industry. Monus is now involved with the clothing line EleVen by Venus Williams. They even have a program called Fitness Journey, a six-month nutrition series, which follows 4 participants looking to make lifestyle changes. Additionally, Monus was a key participant in Jamba Juice’s Fit Trend Expo, this past spring. This “health crusader” works diligently to promote wellness by offering individual private training and wellness consultations. Based on her expertise and the company she keeps, it is clear that venturing out on her own was an excellent decision. Like any Made Woman, belief in herself and her abilities was paramount in building her business.
I loved meeting Dr. Monus and she was kind enough to share some tips with all of you Made Women out there:
MWM: What are your top five pieces of advice for aspiring personal trainers?
1. Be patient: It takes a long time to be good at anything. The more you engage, the better you’ll be.
2. Stay open: Many trainers close their minds to something that they were not taught or do not know or understand. Often times, their ego gets in the way. The body and mind are so complex and we are still learning so much more about it than we could have ever imagined. Never poo-poo someone else’s training method because you don’t understand it. None of us are the authority; we can all learn from each other.
3. Emphasize balance: The body needs adequate flexibility and rest. You can’t just burn out your clients - you’ll set them up for injury. Making sure the client is balanced structurally is super important. Emphasizing flexibility and therapeutics are invaluable to having top-notch athletes and clients.
4. Study nutrition (or collaborate with someone experienced in this area): I think many trainers unknowingly recommend products that are toxic and unhealthy. Though they have good intentions, they recommend artificial diet products and crappy protein powders. If it’s out of your realm, then collaborate with someone who is qualified to help.
5. Keep Learning: I’ve never stopped learning. Go out and get more certificates, take workshops, go to seminars, read every book you can in your field. Consider trading sessions with trainers or instructors from outside of your knowledge base. I’ve learned so much from this exchange. Most importantly, leave your ego at the door! Everyone makes mistakes, just learn from them.
MWM: And for those of us who just want to get fit, what do you do if you are interested in making a lifestyle change but unable to afford regular classes or trainers?
Samantha: “Check out the Internet! It's Free and if you don't like it…click to the next workout. We are so lucky in this day in age to have YouTube, NETFLIX, and social media. You can seriously get so many great workouts and motivations online. I love YouTubing workouts and trying them out. Social media provides so many amazing classes, fitness challenges, support groups and healthy recipes, all for FREE!”
MWM: How can we take care of our bodies and stay informed about our health options?
Samantha: “Eat right and avoid toxic people and food that clog your brain and mind. Learn everything you can about health, fitness, and nutrition. Don't believe the media or everything you hear. Listen to your inner wisdom. Study and be open. Read books, watch documentaries, and go to free seminars at health food stores. The more you learn, the more power you have to make healthier decisions. “
For more tips, check out Dr. Samantha Monus’ Here: