Cat-calling: It’s NOT a compliment

"20140404-123815"Paul Weaver. Flickr Creative Commons

“20140404-123815″Paul Weaver. Flickr Creative Commons

Ever spent countless hours going from store to store in search of that perfect piece to complete your vision for tonight’s special event? For me, there’s no better feeling than getting all dressed up and seeing the masterpiece in the mirror you’ve hunted high and low for. However, getting all dressed up can be a double-edged sword: the end goal is to feel good about yourself in your attire, however it can also come with seeking validation from others. We typically want someone to notice all of the effort we put into our ensemble, like a simple “You look nice.” We don’t, however, wish to hear something crass, like the sexualized comments we might hear from passersby on the street, otherwise known as cat-calling, or unwanted provocative verbal comments, whistles or gestures usually from men directed towards women.

Oftentimes, beauty ads for products that are meant for women, such as handbags and makeup, are not actually geared towards women. Instead, they are geared towards what heterosexual men find attractive with the assumption that heterosexual women will want to buy these items to attract men. We all subconsciously gain our social cues from ads like these, including men, who may take cues on how men relate to women. Unfortunately, mass media often portrays women as sexualized objects for viewing pleasure, negatively affecting how men may choose to communicate with women in their daily lives. Ironically the term “cat-calling” is blatantly reflective of women being viewed as sex objects; a kitten or cat in this case. Using this perspective, it becomes possible to see how cat-calls can become a part of our social interactions. Not only do unwanted comments about one’s body have an impact on how you view others, it also can shape how you view yourself. These types of comments can impact your emotional wellbeing in terms of developing a negative sense of self or deflated body-image.

So what can we do?

  • Become a critical consumer of media. There has been a lot of discussion surrounding the viral video of a woman’s perspective on being cat-called, and even more responses to this video. It is so important to actively engage in analyzing how media affects us emotionally and socially to start a dialogue and raise awareness. Click here for more info on becoming a critical media consumer.
  • “KIC and KIM”: “Keep it Cordial and Keep it Moving.” Like the old saying goes, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” And if you feel like what you have to say may make someone feel threatened or unsafe—or if you wouldn’t want someone saying that thing to your friend/partner/relative—don’t say it either.
  • Sometimes cat-calling can lead to seriously unwanted attention that can become dangerous—for example, stalking, harassment and/or sexual violence. If you or someone you know has experienced this, the Women’s Center and CAPS can offer support.

Find Your Own Reason to Quit Smoking

Today is the Great American Smokeout! I have to be honest. I did not have this day marked on my calendar because I am not a smoker. However, my wife and my mother used to be a smokers and they were able to quit, and my mother-in-law is a smoker who is currently trying to quit (this is for you Patty).

"The Last Time" by Morgan, flickr creative commons

“The Last Time” by Morgan, flickr creative commons

The Great American Smokeout is a day sponsored by the American Cancer Society, and occurs on the third Thursday of November every year. The purpose of the day is for smokers to use the day to start a plan to quit or plan ahead of time and actually quit on the day. Smoking is the # 1 cause of death in the United States and kills 467,000 people every year. I could go on and on about why smoking is bad for you, and, in fact, that is what most websites and other sources of media do. The Cancer Society’s page for the Great American Smokeout, tells you about all the health benefits of quitting smoking. But I am not going to do that. And you know what? I would not even recommend looking at those facts, if you don’t want to. You can even ignore the number of people that die from smoking every year because we all know that smoking is bad. You do not need to be told again.

We as promoters of public health always want people to look at the data and then make decisions based on what the numbers say. We think that if we tell people how bad cigarettes or soda or french fries are for you, then you will just stop. And the ironic thing is that we know from data that this doesn’t work, but we keep doing it. So I am not here to tell you how bad smoking is for you. What I am here to tell you is that if you want to quit, figure out why you really want to quit, or what your motivation for quitting is. I think for a heck of a lot of people it is not because cigarettes are bad for you, and that is totally fine, but I am guessing that there might be other reasons for quitting. Maybe it is because they are really expensive. Maybe it is because you can’t smoke anywhere anymore, and it is a real pain in the butt to have to sneak around to find a place to smoke. Maybe it is because there are 4 cigarette companies in the Fortune 500 and you don’t want to support huge corporations. Maybe it is because cigarette companies have marketed their products to kids. Maybe you are motivated by social justice and don’t like the fact that tobacco companies disproportionately market and sell in low-income neighborhoods. Or maybe, like my wife and mother, you are motivated to quit because of a bet (my dad and I made those bets).

"Today I Quit Smoking" by Sibel, Flickr Creative Commons

“Today I Quit Smoking” by Sibel, Flickr Creative Commons

My point in all of this is, you don’t need to let the “professionals” tell you why you should quit smoking because they may have no idea what motivates you. If you want to quit smoking, find the thing that is going to make you quit and keep going back to that. It is not important how or why you get there–it is just important that you get there. For my mother-in-law, it is because her husband, my father-in-law, just passed away three months ago from sudden cardiac arrest, and her grandson, who she is raising, is scared to death that the same thing is going to happen to her. We all have our reasons. Good Luck.

WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: Store Your Health and Fitness Data in Your Pocket with iOS 8

by: Emily Wheeler

In this time of omnipresent technology, many health-conscious individuals are using their phones to track measures of fitness and nutrition information as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Apps such as MyFitness Pal and Livestrong have made it routine for some people to track their calorie intake, calorie expenditure, active time per day, and even water intake.

If you have an iPhone and you’re running iOS 8, you’ll notice a new default app has been added to your phone. The app has a white background and a single pink heart and it is simply named “Health.”

When you first open the app, it can seem pretty confusing. There are several empty graphs, with options to chart everything from weight, to blood pressure, blood glucose, and even magnesium. There is a main menu of eight categories of measurements that you can choose from, and you’ll definitely want to limit yourself to choosing a handful of them to display on your dashboard, because displaying them all would be completely overwhelming! Most of the category names are self-explanatory, but the “results” category with a little Erlenmeyer flask icon beside of it is for tracking the results of regular medical tests for individuals who require them often, so you can input your results and avoid saving the paper print-outs each time. Instead, you can see your blood alcohol content or your oxygen saturation in graph form over time.

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For each category you choose, you can select that category and then turn on the switch to “show on dashboard.” This will show you a graph of any data from this category on your main dashboard next time you open the app! An example of a good set of metrics to show might be “weight,” “active calories,” “dietary calories,” “fiber,” “sodium,” and “blood pressure.”

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You can also choose to display certain categories that might be of special interest to you based on your health status, such as “blood glucose,” for diabetics, and “iron” if you are anemic or planning on donating blood anytime soon.

The confusing and slightly inconvenient aspect of the app to many individuals is the fact that you can’t really make the most of the usefulness of this app by inputting data points into the app directly. For example, the app doesn’t track the calories in specific foods you eat or the number of steps you take in a day. Instead, the app is intended to be used in conjunction with other health and fitness apps, which you can set to share their data with the health app to generate your graphs and results automatically.

If you already have and use other fitness apps, linking them to share their data with the health app is simple. All you need to do is launch any of your other health apps, enter the “settings” or “profile” area of that app, and look for the option to “share” information with the Health app. You can also adjust exactly what information from that app will be shared with the health app, such as only calories consumed, or only steps taken per day (which can be configured with the health app if you’re already using FitBit!) The option that says “read” lets you set what information the app of interest can use from what is already in your Health app, and the option that says “write” lets you adjust what information from the app of interest will be shared with the Health app.

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If you don’t currently have any other health and fitness apps but would like to try a few in conjunction with the new Health app, here are the three I would suggest starting with:

1. MyFitness Pal: This is probably, by far, the best dietary tracker app out there. It’s free on the app store and has the nutrition information available for over three million foods, including foods served at specific restaurants and even at Ram’s Head Dining Hall here at UNC. You can also track calorie expenditure with 350 tracking options for cardio and strength training exercises!

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2. Withings: This free app features an icon of a person with an overlaid pair of 4-quadrant butterfly wings meant to symbolize four categories of health (weight, activity, heart health, and sleep) that are monitored in the app. You’ll get supportive messages from the app and the butterfly wings will grow and shrink depending on your health status, reminding you that you might need to get some more sleep or exercise tomorrow!

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3. Cody: This is a free fitness app that encourages you to workout with comments and cheers from other users. The best feature of the app is the collection of exercise instructions with picture, video, and text instruction!

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Perhaps the best feature of the Health app has nothing to do with the graphs and data coming in from other fitness apps. At the bottom of the screen, you’ll notice a tab of the menu in the bottom, right corner that says “Medical ID.” By selecting this tab, you can create a personal medical ID where you can input your name, height, weight, blood type, pre-existing medical conditions, allergies, and all medications you take. You choose what information you want to provide and what you do not. You can also link emergency contacts from your phone’s contact list into the medical ID. This is an extremely valuable feature of the new Health app because it can be accessed from the lock screen under the “emergency” option without requiring your phone password. If you are ever in an emergency situation where you are hurt, unconscious, or otherwise unable to speak to the people or medical professionals trying to help you, first responders are aware of this new feature and will check to see if you have set up your medical ID to give them valuable information quickly when they need it. It also doubles as a way for someone to get in touch with one of your linked contacts if you happen to lose your phone with a passcode set on it, without allowing them to access any of your other information. This is a feature that I would encourage every iOS 8 user to set up; you never know what could happen and it’s definitely best to be prepared!

The present is a time of technology, but it is also a time of poor overall health in the United States. Certainly there are more people who use iPhones everyday than people who get enough physical activity each week, or people who eat enough vegetables on a daily basis. I appreciate the fact that Apple has placed a useful health tool in the hands of millions of Americans, reminding them that “heath” is something that requires attention, monitoring, and effort. Perhaps the health app will encourage more people to be aware of the components of a healthy lifestyle, and might even encourage them to download and link other free apps to help them develop healthy habits and personal awareness of where they can work to improve their health in their own life.

8 Dimensions of Wellness Portrayed by Animals!

UNC Student Wellness believes that student and community health choices involve the integration of eight dimensions of wellness. To illustrate these dimensions, the staff at Student Wellness looked to our pets to bring you examples of how they embody each dimension of wellness.

 

  1. Cultural wellness. Pictured: Mary’s cats Buffy and Giles helping to create a safe, inclusive space for LGBTQ beings of all species.
    Cultural Wellness
  2. Emotional wellness. Pictured: Diana’s dog Bea liking (and licking) what she sees in the mirror, demonstrating her fabulous body image and self-acceptance.
    Emotional Wellness
  3. Physical wellness. Pictured: Kate’s dog CJ getting her jump/fly/swim on at Uwharrie National Forest. Pictured: two litters of puppies napping together for their physical wellness.
    Physical Wellness Physical Wellness 2
  4. Environmental wellness. Pictured: Diana’s dog Bea out for a fun day of sailing on Jordan Lake. Here, she’s taking in the splendor of the lake and thinking very thoughtfully about air quality. Pictured: Kelli’s former foster dog Kori rolling around in the grass to scratch her back.
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  5. Intellectual wellness. Pictured: Kate’s dog CJ demonstrating an important part of intellectual wellness: sometimes you need a study break! Pictured: Mary’s cat Giles learning how to play a new game and demonstrating that intellectual wellness can be fun and social!  Pictured: Kate’s dog CJ catching up on this week’s biggest news stories.
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  6. Financial wellness. Pictured: Diana’s dog Bea managing her personal finances; setting finance goals for the upcoming year.
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  7. Social wellness. Pictured: Part of social wellness is also knowing when not to be social by finding time for yourself. Here is Brittany’s cat Noble in a box, finding some time and space to be alone. Or nap. Both are important for maintaining social wellness. Pictured: Mary’s cats Buffy and Giles spending time together and bonding over looking at some birds outside. Pictured: Natalie’s adopted kittens demonstrating some solid peer support — an essential component of social wellness.
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  8. Spiritual wellness. Pictured: This is Brittany’s cat Barnes. He like to take time for self reflection every day.  Usually while using his tail as a pillow.  Pictured: Pedro, a recently adopted dog with Triangle Beagle Rescue, looks up at the heavens and smiles.
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The Career Guide for the Soon-to-Be UNC Graduate

scrabble career

“Scrabble—Career.” Flazingo Photos. Flickr Creative Commons.

It’s finally Homecoming! Time to connect with old friends, go to the Homecoming concert, the step show, the football game, and celebrate being a Tar Heel! But you know what else happens during Homecoming Week? UNC alumni return to their alma mater after going on to start careers after graduation. So what time is it for you seniors? Time to start thinking about life after UNC. Continue reading

Sexual Health Resources at Student Wellness This Fall

Previously known as CHECS appointments, Student Wellness offers sexual wellness education appointments with a trained health educator to individuals as well as student pairs. Topics for these appointments include but are not limited to:

  • Contraceptive option consultations and education;

    Photo "Devious Question"  by  Zita, Flickr Creative Commons

    Photo “Devious Question” by Zita, Flickr Creative Commons

  • HIV testing and counseling;
  • Well Woman’s Exams questions;
  • Post-diagnosis STI management questions; and
  • Other concerns or questions relating to sexual health.

When are educational appointments available?

For the Fall 2014 semester, sexual wellness education appointments will be offered:

  • Tuesdays, 1PM-3PM
  • Wednesdays, 10AM-12PM
  • Thursdays, 10AM-1PM
  • Fridays, 10AM-11AM

How does a student make a sexual wellness education appointment?

Because of limited availability and space, students should call Student Wellness at 919-962-WELL ahead of time to schedule an appointment. Depending on demand, there are usually available appointments within the week. Walk-in appointments may also be available if other appointments are not yet scheduled.

 

Free HIV Testing at World AIDS Day!

Photo "World AIDS Day, December 1" by  Sully Pixel, Flickr Creative Commons

Photo “World AIDS Day, December 1″ by Sully Pixel, Flickr Creative Commons

Every year on December 1, people worldwide write to increase awareness and testing for HIV on World AIDS Day. This year Student Wellness and other campus partners will be celebrating this day on December 2 by offering a free, confidential, fast HIV testing in the Union from 10am-4:45pm. For more information visit the Facebook event for the day.

 

For further questions about these appointments and World AIDS Day, please contact sexualwellness@unc.edu.

 

WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: How to Do Proper Push-Ups and Pull-Ups

by: Emily Wheeler

Ahh the classic pull-ups and push-ups. These simple and traditional upper-body exercises are beloved by some and dreaded by others, but most of us have been acquainted with them since elementary school gym class. Like many things we have known how to do for a long time, it’s easy to get sloppy with these exercises and to start losing proper form and doing them incorrectly. That’s right, there is a specific proper form for push-ups and pull-ups!

Here is a reminder of how to do them with the form that will protect your muscles and joints from damage while giving your body the maximum workout possible!

Push-ups:

  1. Start by positioning your hands and feet. Hands should be either shoulder width apart of slightly wider than this. Feet can be together or apart, whichever is most comfortable or stable for you.
  1. The KEY to a proper pushup is that your body needs to stay in a straight, solid line (plank position) the entire time! Whether you’re pushing up or lowering down, your bum should not be sticking up so that you look like this (^) and your hips should not be sinking down to the floor. It should take legitimate effort just to hold your body in this position before you ever start actually doing the push-up part! If you’re having trouble knowing if you’re in a straight, plank position, ask a workout buddy to check for you or practice in front of a mirror at the gym where you can see your form. If you don’t have either of these options, just get into what you feel is a solid plank position, and then make it even better by tightening your glute muscles and engaging your abdominal muscles. You’ll be feeling the work almost immediately.
  1. For your first push-up, begin to lower down and pay attention to your elbows: are they sticking way out to the side? Try bringing them in closer to your body and the push-up will feel more difficult. This is because you’re doing it the right way, therefore getting your maximum workout! If your hands are directly under your shoulders, keep the elbows hugged in so tight that they brush against your sides as you lower down for an excellent triceps workout!
  1. Don’t keep your chin tucked down and stare straight at the floor beneath your hands. This is not a great position for breathing or blood flow, as you might notice if you find yourself holding your breath without even noticing it and feel your face getting hot. Think about holding your head so that your chin would be the first part of your face to touch the floor if you lowered all the way down instead of your nose touching first. This should open the airway, making it easier to breath and for blood to circulate, as well.
  1. Try to lower until you get your arms to form angles (with your elbow as the vertex) that are 90 degrees or less. If you can only do 5 push-ups when you lower to 90 degrees but you can do 10 push-ups if you just don’t lower down so far, it’s still better to just stick with the 5 push-ups that you can do with the best form. This will increase your strength, and even if you only add one push-up at a time, you’ll clearly see yourself progressing as you can do more and more per set.
  1. It’s fine to start with push-ups with your knees on the floor as long as you still keep your body from the knees up in a tight, straight line. Allow your feet to lift off of the floor as you lower down with your knees on the ground, because otherwise your arms aren’t supporting much body weight at all.

 

Pull-ups

A proper pull-up should be an exercise primarily targeting your arm muscles, right? Actually, no! Pull-ups are targeting the back muscles when done properly, not to mention the fact that anyone looks pretty impressive if they know how to do them right.

  1. A proper pull up has an overhand grip on the bar and hands spread wide.
  1. Elbows don’t need to stay super close to the body, but they do need to be controlled. Keep those guys under the bar at all times!
  1. Before you even start your pull-up, become familiar with what it feels like to have your shoulder blades pulled back and together, like you’re trying to hold a pencil by squeezing it in the upper middle of your back. You want to reset to this retracted position before every pull-up to activate your back muscles. This means that you won’t be stick straight and vertical because there will be a slight arch in your back if you’re doing it right. That’s ok, because if you stay completely straight you’ll feel like your chest is coming up into the bar before you pull all the way up and you’ll be using your arm muscles more than your back.
  1. Reach your full range of motion by fully extending your arms straight every time you finish a rep. Don’t keep that partial bend in your arms or, once again, you’ll be relying on your arm muscles more than working your back. Yes, it makes it harder because you have a longer distance to pull up per rep, but doing half-reps is cheating if you’re trying to make some progress here.
  1. You might want to consider crossing your ankles and keeping a slight bend in the knees. This keeps your legs from feeling awkwardly heavy and dangling wildly beneath you.
  1. Personal pet peeve: Doing “momentum pull-ups” is also cheating. If you’re using your arms or legs to swing or pop yourself up every rep, you’re not doing proper pull-ups. Proper pull-ups are not done at a rapid pace; they use controlled, paced movements. If you can do twenty-five pull-ups because you’re heaving your legs up to your chest every time to gain momentum on your upward pull, it’s still less impressive that the person who did three of them using pure muscle effort.

 

That being said, learning how to do proper pull-ups is extremely difficult because you’re literally lifting your whole body weight against gravity! If you don’t regularly lift weights, this is a huge feat! The first time I tried, I could barely do one of them. I was taught that to work your way up to being able to do a few proper pull-ups, you can use the assisted pull-up machine in the weight room (which offsets some of your body weight with the amount that you set on the machine), or simple looped resistance bands along with your pull-up bar. Simply loop the resistance band around the pull up bar and pull one end through the other end of the band so that you have a sturdy loop around the bar and one end of the band is dangling downward. It has to be a band that makes a continuous circle, so that you can put one knee in the loop that is hanging down. Now, as you try to pull up, the resistance band will give you a little lift as it shrinks back to the length it prefers to be once you pull up! Gradually decreasing your assistance level will have you on your way to doing an extremely impressive pull-up before you know it!

Now you’re on your way to strengthening your whole body with proper form and control. Even with the simplest exercises, don’t forget to learn the form and precautions you should use when doing it before you decided to go for it regularly!