3 Ways to Tackle Your Period With Technology

There was a time when women got really pumped about a new period tracking app, but the latest advancements in Aunt Flow technology are kicking these apps to the curb. Periods are bloody awful, but from re-useable underwear to connected cups women are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel - and this time the light is probably coming from their smartphones.

Period innovation is due for an update. In the 1930s, the tampon was invented by a man and to-date not much has changed. In 1969 pads shocked the world by adding an adhesive strip. Finally, building momentum through 2015, we’re starting to see safer and smarter products that offer women alternatives to coping with a bloody mess and its side effects.

If menstruation is a gift from Mother Nature, these three gizmos are the gifts that keep on giving.

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1. THINX: Stain and leak-resistant undies

THINX self-absorbing underwear have been developed to keep women dry throughout their period and can be washed after each wear. Each pair has four built-in layers designed to wick away moisture, fight bacteria with an “invisible silver treatment,” absorb up to two tampons’ worth of liquid, and prevent leaks, respectively.

Sound gross? Yes, it does. According to the company and some brave early adopters, it truly doesn’t feel like a) you’re wearing a diaper b) you’ve leaked through your clothes or c) you’re sitting in blood. At the very least, THINK eliminates the need for preventative panty liners, light tampons or the “ugly underwear” you wear when you’re expecting a period and don’t want to be surprised.

The creators of THINX have also teamed up with AFRIpads, an organization that provides washable, reusable pads to women in developing nations who don’t have sanitary products. A pair starts at $24 and comes in various shapes and colors so you can pick what fits your style best.

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2. LOONCUP: A smart menstrual cup

We’ve evolved from smart phones to smart watches, then smart homes to now smart menstrual cups. Yeah, the thing you shove in your hoo-hah to collect lady juices, spill them out, clean up and use again later. As wearable technology evolves there’s one place we didn’t expect it to go (or did we?) but it recently went there.

The LOONCUP is a connected menstrual cup that automatically checks your menstrual cycle, analyzes fluid color and volume, while also doing all the other things your regular cup, tampon or pads would do on their own. The company raised more than $160 thousand on Kickstarter to bring the Bluetooth-enabled cup to market. It’s touted as safe because the sensor, battery and antenna are discreetly located in the stem of the cup, that is, the outside. Signals are as low and safe, so you don’t have to worry about creating a radioactive disaster down under.

Bonus: The Company believes their medical-grade technology will soon be able to read menstruation for signs of anemia, diabetes and cholesterol. High five for good health.

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3. Livia: Your cramps’ saving grace

Dealing with spills, bloating and food cravings is already so uncomfortable, and the time of the month is only made worse with a woman’s worst enemy: cramps. The pain can sometimes be so severe that women often call in sick to work or class, and stay in bed popping pain killers, waiting for them to kick in.

Livia, on the other hand, is a portable device that provides instant relief from cramps, and lasts up to 15 hours on a single charge, long after those pills wore off. The company has tapped into physiotherapy tech to block pain receptors through electrical pulses. All this science-talk means this is a game changer, especially during times when we are just not having it from Mother Nature.

“With Livia, women everywhere can have a more comfortable period,” said Livia’s CEO Chen Nachum. “Especially with people looking into holistic alternatives for food, medicine, and other industries, Livia is the natural step to take in order to get relief from menstrual pain, especially for women whose cramps can really be debilitating.”

Whether you’re into these ideas or not, the introduction of products like these into the menstrual space means there will soon be bigger and better things to help you with that time of the month.

Take that, Aunt Flo!

#BreakTheStigma: 3 Mental Disorder Myths We Need to Stop Using

Look left, look right, look in front of you, look behind you, and look in the mirror. One of you is affected by a mental health condition. Each year millions of Americans are facing the reality of a mental disorder of different nature and severity.

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May pays tribute to Mental Health Awareness by shedding light on the issues affecting so many and finding ways to provide support. Beyond money and time donations, education is one of the most powerful tools in fighting the stigmas that tag along with these conditions. Though this is a short start, here’s a couple of busted myths we need to never use again.

1. “Happy people can’t be depressed.”

Depression and anxiety are too often the poster child for mental disorders. When thinking of mental health going astray, many think about someone falling under severe feelings of restlessness and sadness. We see someone who is enjoying the fruits of life looking happy on the outside, and then put a mental block in our perception of them that tells us they simply can’t be suffering through depression.

“Happiness isn’t a permanent state; the experience of life includes every emotion,” says Dr. Patrick Wanis, Human Behavior Expert. “We can be fooled into thinking that someone who always has a smile on their face and appears to be so happy cannot actually be depressed, and yet they actually are deeply depressed.”

Depression is a serious illness with a huge stigma. No, a person can’t “just cheer up” like someone with a broken leg can’t “just put it back together.” It’s not about feeling sad or happy, it’s about feeling broken on the inside and creating a deep sense of hopelessness and despair that carries through their day-to-day activities.

2. “I don’t see how she can have an eating disorder.”

Whether we say she’s too big or too small to have a form of anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder, it’s often impossible to know the internal battles someone is struggling with from the outside. For Marcela Paguaga, a young thriving performer and blogger, her eating disorder started with her obsession toward achieving “the perfect body.” After countless fad diets she lost 74 pounds, but gained an eating disorder that she would carry through the next decade of her life.

“It was an addiction: losing weight and finally being accepted by society,” says Marcela. “I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. I was actually proud because I was finally looking the way I thought everyone wanted me to look.”

The dark side of an eating disorder also lies in the other mental health symptoms it can cause: depression, anxiety and feelings of suicide. For Marcela, seeking treatment for an eating disorder didn’t come until she started feeling symptoms like these. Through support from her family and peers, she followed through with therapy and now works to raise awareness of these conditions through her craft. You can’t see living disorder, but you sure will live it.

3. “ADHD is for kids — they’ll outgrow it later.”

If there were any of these that I wish most true, it’s this one. The transition from high school to college was hard for me, and not because the workload was more challenging. College demanded that I become accountable for myself, work and relationships while I hadn’t “outgrown” my ADHD symptoms. I struggled to keep grasp of people and things I was passionate about without letting my impulsivity, anxiety, absent-mindedness, forgetfulness and short attention span getting in the way.

Dr. Daniel Bober, Medical Director of Pediatric Psychiatry at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, says “about 60 percent of children with ADHD will become adults with ADHD and they will continue to struggle as adults in their personal and professional relationships, meaning their marriage and their work.”

Without help, adults with ADHD are highly vulnerable to depression, anxiety and substance abuse. But once you harness the power of condition, it turns into a gift. Unbeknownst to many of my peers, I started seeking treatment and counseling my sophomore year as an undergraduate and used my “Ferrari brain,” as the doctor called it, to be productive on campus and bring energy to the groups I belonged to.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness provides resources toward a stigma free society. Individuals, companies, organizations and others can take the pledge to learn more about mental illness, to see a person for who they are and take action on mental health issues.

1 in 5 Americans live with a mental health condition and each of them has their own story. Take time to lean in and offer support where you can.

Visit www.nami.org for more information.

If you — or someone you know — need help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.

If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.

Global Bike to Work Day: 4 Reasons to Cycle

Little changes in our routine can guide us to better health in the long run. One simple change is ditching the car for the bike seat and getting a little extra activity on the way to school or work. Strava, the social network for fitness enthusiasts, invites cyclists around the world to join the Global Bike to Work Day Challenge on May 10th to become a part of the largest bike to work day to date.

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More than 100,000 people have already pledged online, and by participating you open the doors to not only helping yourself but also helping the environment with the benefits of cycling.

1. Live Healthier, Live Longer

For those looking to shed a few inches, ramping up your cardio by biking to work is a great place to start. Biking to work for a year can help the average person lose 13 pounds. Doing aerobic exercise accelerates your breathing and heart rate, which helps to stimulate the contraction of intestinal muscles and keep you on a path to wellness.

Other health benefits can include lower blood pressure, boosts of energy, muscle building, and improved coordination. Riding a bike for three hours a week can already cut your risk of heart disease by 50 percent.

2. Save Money and Time

It’s a no-brainer that biking to work is much cheaper than fueling up your vehicle and driving every day. It costs about $400 a year to keep a bike in shape, while it takes thousands of dollars to own and maintenance a vehicle. If your commute involves tolls and daily parking fees, you’ll be putting away even more dollars when you put away the car.

The time saving benefits will put a smile on every big city driver’s face. These days it feels like we spend more time sitting in traffic than we’d like to, but cycling skips the whole thing. If you don’t already drive because you live walking distance from work, a bike ride is still about three times faster than walking.

3. The Environment Will Thank You

Bikes have long been a poster child for green transportation because it substantially helps clear our air. A solo driver in an average vehicle releases about 1.2 pounds of C02 per mile, while the average cyclist releases only 0.7 grams through respiration. Cycling significantly reduces transportation emissions while also reducing traffic congestion and the need for harmful fuels.

Bonus: it takes only about five percent of the materials and energy used to make a car to manufacture a bike, and cycling produces zero pollution.

4. Happiness Production

Aside from feeling better from the fitness-friendly benefits of cycling to work, spending more time outdoors is guaranteed to cheer you up. The release of endorphins and vitamins from the sun are working together to boost your levels of feel-good hormones and make you happier. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself wishing your commute were longer.

Exercise can improve your mood, while sitting in rush hour traffic does the exact opposite. By commuting on your bike, you’ll be happier when you step into the office and when you get back home. Biking helps you to create that simple feeling of exhilaration as you zoom through your neighborhood knowing you’re helping yourself and those around you.

Since its inception, Strava has helped cyclists and runners track their activities and engage with other athletes in a fun, motivational way. Each week 150,000 new athletes around the world sign up to Strava, and last year Strava athletes uploaded an average of 5.3 activities every second. StravaMetro anonymizes and aggregates the millions of human-powered commutes uploaded to Strava every week, and then partners with urban planners and departments of transportation to improve city infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians.

Cyclicts can participate in Global Bike to Work Day by uploading and tagging their commutes on Strava, and use the hashtag #CommutesCount on their social media channels to show global support for better cycling and pedestrian infrastructure.

Every pedal has the potential to make cycling better in communities all over the world. Whether you ride one mile or 50, if you bike to work on May 10th you can be a part of a global movement to make cities better for cyclists.

Wearable Technology Contributing to the Sexual Assault Awareness Conversation

Sexual Violence is a crime of power and control. It affects people of all ages, genders and cultures. April is dubbed Sexual Assault Awareness Month - an observance that serves to build momentum around the conversation of rape culture and those being affected by shocking statistics. It’s a month that celebrates survivors while working to use education as a tool for prevention.

While harassers and victims are both men and women, victims are predominantly women. Of the 12,510 charges of sexual harassment received by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2007, 84% were filed by women. A study by the National Victim Center finds that 1.3 women (age 18 and over) in the United States are forcibly raped each minute. That translates to 78 an hour, 1,871 per day, or 683,000 per year.

Revolar and ROAR for Good are just two companies looking to slash these statistics with wearable technology. Both companies were founded by women ready to disrupt the pattern of rape culture and change the way people keep themselves and those they love safe.

ROAR for Good built Athena as a simple device with a big mission: to protect women with the touch of a button. The coin-sized discreet device emits a loud alarm and sends your location to friends and family during an emergency. It’s GPS-enabled, rain and splash-proof to make it easy to tag along with you during exercise or while on a vacation.

How does it work? A recessed button, to prevent accidental presses, is held down for 3 seconds to emit a loud alarm and simultaneously text your location to pre-selected friends or family. Your loved ones can then opt to give you a call or get 911 on the line. The alarm can serve as a deterrent to an attacker, but Athena also has a SilentROAR™ option if you’d rather hide your alert from them. All messages and help alerts are sent without the invasive alarm. You can clip it to your clothing, bags or wear as a necklace.

Philadelphia-based entrepreneur Yasmine Mustafa created Athena after personal realizations of the urgency to protect women from sexual assault. She returned from a solo trip across South America, during which she was repeatedly warned of the risks of a young woman traveling alone, only to find someone had been assaulted in her neighborhood. Since then, she paired with co-founder Anthony Gold to launch their startup to help empower women.

Athena’s Indiegogo campaign was recently 667 percent funded - with more than $300 thousand raised to get it to market. 10 percent of proceeds from their campaign were allocated to raising awareness about the warning signs of abuse and helping end relationship violence. You can now pre-order the device at $79.99 and expect it in the mailbox this Fall. Available in black, rose gold and silver.

Revolar was born out of a passion to keep our loved ones safe in a smart, modern way. Founder and CEO Jacqueline Ros created Revolar out of love for her little sister who was assaulted as a teenager. Jacqueline found herself wishing her sister had been able to simply press a button to call for help, so that’s exactly what she built. Jacqueline and her team are a dedicated group of allies and survivors, who are all committed to building safety technology to empower people to keep themselves and those they love safe.

Similar to Athena, Revolar uses a discrete button to signal a personal emergency alert to loved ones via text message or e-mail. Emergency contacts are then provided with a web link that provides them with alert severity level (yellow or red), up-to-date location information, and path traversed since the alert was triggered. Their battery lasts up to year and the device itself is waterproof, which means you don’t have to worry about getting caught in the rain or using it near the water.

The startup recently raised $3 million from The Foundry Group which is also a backer to Fitbit. Revolar plans to build other wearable devices for use in fields such as solo running and travel, and adding features to Revolar itself. It’s available at www.revolar.com for $99. Their Give One Get One campaign asks for $119 to send you a Revolar and donate one to a woman in a domestic violence shelter on your behalf.

There have been overwhelmingly positive responses to wearables like Athena and Revolar, as well as other gadgets in the market seeking to prevent sexual assault. While these short-term strategies do not reach the core of the problem, they arm men and women with tools do defend themselves against becoming another number.

April is a month for action, but innovations like these are helping to push the conversation further and closer to positive, sustainable change on rape culture. They’re making safety “as easy as pressing a button,” because it is pressing a button.

If you’ve experienced sexual assault, please visit: www.notalone.gov for resources or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE.

Juicing: A Beginner’s Guide

If you live life on the go, it gets difficult to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your diet. A great way to sip your nutrients while you run out the door is with a bottle full of nature’s gifts through juicing.

Time and time, we hear about the benefits of juicing and juice cleanses while the likelihood of investing in a juicer or program is ridiculously small. An apple a day might not keep the doctor away, but eating two whole fruits and three to four veggies a day will help keep your immune system in line and leave you energized throughout the day. An easy way to achieve this is through sips of a freshly made juice.

What is juicing, really? Separating juice from its fruit or veggie parent provides a way to access digestive enzymes and other important nutrients that are typically locked away behind the fiber. Commercial juices are often processed and lacking the nutritional benefits, while making your own – or getting it from a fresh source – gives you a dreamy concoction packed with an abundance of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

Where art thou juice? The most convenient way for beginners is taste-testing your local fresh foods stores, juice shops and other healthy digs. In Miami, I swear by my local jugofresh at least once a week. If you’ve got the funds and time to dig deeper, you should definitely invest in your own juicer. The process of getting your own will feel a little like buying a car but it’s well worth the research.

Masticating vs. Centrifugal Juicers

If you’re taking the plunge toward making your own fresh sips at home, you’ll be wondering what you need to buy. Juice expert and best-selling author, Cherie Calbom, says “getting a juicer that is easy to use and clean is the best way to get started.” The less work on your part, the more time you have to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Centrifugal juicers are some of the most common and less expensive of the two. They extract juice by spinning pulp around in a chamber while being pushed through a mesh that separates the juice from the rest of the fruit. These are quick and perfect for beginners looking to start with basics and those using less leafy greens. The downside? The increased speeds will break up the nutrients faster, meaning you’re getting fewer goods in your cup than a Masticating counterpart.

 WWW.OMEGAJUICERS.COM

WWW.OMEGAJUICERS.COM

A Masticating juicer, sometimes labeled a cold-press juicer, is the more expensive of the two but trumps in quality. The system works by “chewing” the fruits and veggies to separate the juice from the core. The Omega Vertical Slow Juicer is an example of a system that brings produce to life by creating juice that’s full of flavor and more nutrients. This one rotates at 43 revolutions per minute (RPM), one of the slowest you’ll be able to find. This slow rotation keeps nutrients more intact and leaves room for a seamless rinse and repeat.

Don’t forget the fiber! When you juice, the machines are removing the skins and other pulp material full of healthy fibers that you’ll also need in your diet. You can opt to drop in some pulp into your juice or use it in another cooking recipe to keep your body fortified.

Calbom also mentions that the top health benefits to juicing include “an improved immune system, better and happier moods, clearer thinking through better cognition, recall and memory, healthier looking skin, better sleep cycles and lots of more energy.” She says, “One of the first things people are usually surprised by is how much energy they have!”

What do you say, are you going to give juicing a spin?