HAPPY NATIONAL WOMEN’S HEALTH WEEK!

woman getting her pulse checked

The United States Women’s National Health Week is from May 12th through the 18th this year! Here are a few ways to keep your health in check so that you can continue being the most badass version of yourself:

GET YOUR WELL WOMAN CHECKUP ASAP!

If you haven’t already gone in for your annual checkup, now’s the time to get it scheduled! I don’t know about you, but I’m a borderline hypochondriac so I’ll do anything that’ll reassure me that I’m not nine-months pregnant or that I have a rare, incurable disease. A thorough well-woman checkup will include preventative screenings such as breast examinations and pap smears.

START MOVIN’ AND GROOVIN’

Woman's silhouette running against the sunrise

According to World Health Organization, one in four adults live a sedentary lifestyle. This leaves you susceptible to common diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and even cancer. The good news is that it’s never too late to adopt a more active lifestyle.

Just recently I started seeing a personal trainer and I’ve never felt so strong in my life. Now, I’m not saying you suddenly have to start doing SoulCycle every week or become a yoga guru, but even just incorporating brisk 15-minute walks into your routine could make all the difference.

ADOPT A HEALTHIER DIET

Did you know your gut can tell you more about your current health state than any other part of your body? Think about it; how often do you deal with bloat or constipation or fatigue? It can even affect your sleep and weight! Bad gut health is a result of consistent bad eating habits (along with a few other factors such as stress levels and hydration). That means the best way to get your gut in check is to have a well-balanced diet. Try to cut back on foods with a high sugar or trans fat content and replace them with more fibrous foods. Maybe even get tested for subtle food allergies you might have.

Be warned though. Your doctor might tell you that you’re allergic to garlic and you’ll question everything you know about yourself – not that I’m projecting or anything.

Long story short vinas, a better balanced diet = happy gut = happy you.

KEEP YOUR MENTAL HEALTH IN CHECK

A girl reading poetry with a cup of tea

According to Women’s Health, one in five women in the United States (I’m sure it’s similar in other parts of the world) have experienced a mental health condition. Thankfully it’s becoming more acceptable to be open and honest about mental health issues in the workplace, in schools, and even between loved ones.

I personally struggle with depression and anxiety. It’s been a long road getting to a place where I can manage it better, but I still have a long way to go.

So here’s your reminder to be kind to and patient with yourselves vinas. Treat yourself to some “me days” accompanied with some wine (or coffee or tea) and a good book (or your favorite T.V. show). Of course these should not be in placement of treatments provided by a licensed therapist if you choose to seek one.

BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY

Here’s my last one for you vinas, and it’s an important one. Be sure to practice safe behaviors such as quitting smoking (or not starting), not texting while driving (I ain’t a saint, I struggle with this one too), wearing your seat belts, and using protection.

I want to end on a high note and remind all of you vinas that the first step to loving yourself is taking care of yourself, so please keep these tips in mind year-round.

Even better download the Hey! VINA app today and share these tips with some new life-long friends.

HOW TO DEAL WHEN YOUR PARTNER AND VINA DON’T GET ALONG

When I was dating my ex, he and my cousin – who was like a sister to me – never seemed to get along. They were both always good to me, and they were genuinely thoughtful and loving people, but it would always feel so tense whenever they were in the same room. I don’t know about you, vinas, but I personally dislike it when my loved ones can’t get along. I over-exert myself to make sure other people are happy…so this situation was basically a nightmare. I mean, what was a vina to do? Break-up with who was then the love of my life, or cut ties with my own blood?

“But Kaitlin, isn’t it obvious, if your friends don’t like your partner, that must mean they’re not the right match!”

Not necessarily.

“But wait, you’re talking about an ex! So obviously your vina was right about not liking him from the beginning.”

Now hang on!

My cousin and ex never explicitly said they didn’t like each other – they just had clashing personalities. Sure, it didn’t work out between me and him but that’s a different story to be unfolded later. The fact was, at that time, I had two people I cared about a lot, who cared about me, but didn’t care for each other.

“Okay…so how did you deal with it?”

Glad you asked! I avoided it! Just kidding. Reflection was a key part of dealing with this issue. I had to make sure there was no underlying reason for my two loved ones to not like each other – like, it would’ve been understandable if my cousin didn’t like my ex because he wouldn’t let me go out and live my life or that my cousin took advantage of our friendship, but that wasn’t the case. What it broke down to is that they had different interests and different lifestyle choices. In any other given situation, they just wouldn’t be friends, but they had to interact because they were both associated with me.

Eventually, I just kept the two separate. If they didn’t have to be around each other, I wouldn’t force them to be. When it came to situations where they did, both my ex and my cousin were respectful of each other’s relationship with me. They would just suck it up, make small talk, and call it a day.

Did I wish we were just the best of friends who always got along? Of course, but it’s not always going to be like that. So, my advice to any vinas dealing with a similar issue is to be reflective on the people you choose to hang out with and the people you choose to date. If they’re always bringing you up, supporting you, and loving you, then it shouldn’t matter if the two can’t get along, because the fact is – they’re not dating each other.

The best advice comes from the best of friends. Download the Hey! VINA app today!

QUICK TRAVEL TIPS FOR THE SOLO ADVENTURER

I don’t know about you, vinas, but I love to travel. I love to explore new places, visit tourist attractions, and uncover hidden gems of new cities. Unfortunately, though, being a young adult with friends who are living separate lives, I don’t always have a travel buddy to go with. Instead of putting my plans on hold, I decided it was time for some solo adventures. Nowadays, I think I prefer solo trips. Everything you do is according to your schedule and your likes and interests. So vinas, if you want to gear up for your first solo trip, I’m here to offer friendly advice. Follow these quick tips and you’ll be having the time of your life.

RESEARCH. RESEARCH. RESEARCH.

Woman's feet out an open car window with a map in her hands and the ocean outside.

If you’re going to a brand new city all by yourself, it’s important to do as much research as possible! You should search for lodging and transportation deals. It’s important to know which neighborhoods have the best night-life and attractions. Figure out how to use the transit systems and where the best local spots are. Doing this allows you to make the most out of each day when traveling. I once went to New York and spent 75% of the trip inside because I didn’t plan well. I’ll never make that mistake again, and hopefully this warning can help you to avoid it, too.

PACK LIGHT, LADIES

Woman's open suitcase

I’m a natural over-packer. I’m the type of person to pack for an East Coast storm when taking a summer trip to San Francisco. No matter the location, it’s always important to pack light. At the end of the day, if you need something, you can always shop for it at a local store. It also leaves plenty of room in your suitcases if you decide to go on a shopping trip mid-vacation.

SAFETY FIRST

Being a vina all by yourself in a new city can be a little intimidating. I want to believe that there’s mostly good people out there in the world, but after listening to many crime podcasts, I’ve learned that it’s better to be safe than sorry. Take all the necessary precautions before going on a solo-trip. Make sure you share your location with loved ones before you leave. Give them your flight information, the address of your hotel or, if you rent out an AirBnB, the host name – even a copy of your itinerary. When meeting new people, try to remain in public and open areas. (Hint: good and honest people will do whatever it takes to make sure you feel secure and safe.)

BE OPEN TO NEW FRIENDS

A group of women sitting in  park against a sun setting behind the city skyline.

So maybe you don’t have a friend to go with or know anyone in the city you’re visiting, but you’d still like someone to share an experience with or have someone show you around. Well allow me to introduce Hey!VINA’s teleport option. Hey!VINA is already a rad, free app, but, with a small fee to upgrade to the premium option, you’re able to use this cool tool to pin point yourself in a different location. That means if you’re a California girl like me trying to visit Texas for the first time, you can pinpoint yourself in Texas and get a head start on making new friends in a different area. Even if you don’t meet up with them, you can get tips on how to navigate the new city from a local. Beyond the app, I’ve found that there is always friendly and amazing people in cities who are looking to converse and chill – of course, always use your better judgement vinas.

That’s it babes! Keep these four helpful tips in mind the next time you plan a solo trip. Oh and don’t forget to take lots of pictures to document your kick-ass vacation!

Some adventures are better with friends. Download Hey! VINA today to meet your next travel buddy.

TALKING SAFE SEX WITH NEW PARTNERS

I love sex as much as the next vina. It’s empowering, liberating, and just plain fun, but if you’re not taking the necessary precautions, sex can end up being a traumatizing experience. The first step to avoiding a bad time? Talk to your new partner about safe sex. I get it – when it’s getting hot and heavy in the bedroom the last thing you probably want to do is talk about contraceptives.

Gif courtesy of https://giphy.com

But it’s 2019, vinas. It’s time we disregard the notion that talking about safe sex is a mood-killer. Do you know what’s unsexy to me? Unplanned pregnancies and/or sexually transmitted infections.

Gif courtesy of https://giphy.com

So how do you talk about sex safe with new partners? Well, let’s break it down:

COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE

If you trust another person with your body, you should be able to trust that you can have open and honest conversations about sex with them too. This should always be an open-ended conversation as situations can change at any given moment. You and your partner should be on the same page at all times.

GET TESTED. SERIOUSLY.

It’s up to your discretion how much you want to disclose about your sexual history, but it’s wise to suggest getting tested with your new partner before having sex. It’s especially vital if you and your partner have agreed to be non-monogamous and are seeing other people.

FEELING SAFE IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS BEING SAFE.

I hate to admit that I’ve been in one too many situations where I did not feel safe. It’s essential to be vocal and communicate how you feel with your partner, if you can, to avoid long-lasting regret. Remember, it’s okay to change your mind. You do not owe anyone, anything, especially sex.

ALWAYS BE PREPARED

Look, in an ideal world, you’d be able to have a talk about the logistics every single time before you strip down, but sometimes that’s not the case. Which is why it’s extra important to keep yourself safe and be prepared. If that means getting yourself on the pill, the patch, getting some dental dams, or keeping a couple of condoms on you, then so be it. Always be prepared.

At the end of the day, you get the final say when it comes to your body. So get to talkin’. Start the dialogue between you and your partner, because the sooner you do, the sooner you get to enjoy worry-free sexy time.

Talking about safe sex methods with fellow vinas made it easier to talk to my partners. Ready to find a fellow confidant? Download the Hey! VINA app today!

DEALING WITH LONELINESS: THE LONELINESS CHRONICLES

Human connection is an essential need for survival. We will always crave a sense of belonging, and, because of this, when we cannot satisfy this need, a feeling of loneliness is inevitable.

Now, I hate to be a cliche, but a time where I felt the most alone was when my three-year relationship came to an end. My ex-partner was a kind person, but we weren’t good for each other. At that point in my life, any spare time I had was dedicated to my significant other, which meant that I neglected my relationships with friends, family, and myself. When we broke up, I had to face a harsh reality that I didn’t have much of a life beyond our relationship. So for the first time, in a long time, I was alone — and I was lonely.

I’ll spare you the details of a very long sob story, but going through this specific season of loneliness left me with a lot of life lessons that I feel compelled to share with my fellow vinas. Here’s what did and didn’t work for me:

WHAT DIDN’T HELP:

  1. Isolating Myself – Yeah, this one seems obvious, haha. If you’re feeling alone, isolation would be counterproductive. When I was feeling lonely, I thought my best bet was to “tough it out,” but this only validated the fear that I was alone and didn’t deserve love.
  2. Meaningless Hookups – I am all for recreational sex with whoever, whenever. What I don’t recommend is seeking physical relationships to fill the void caused by loneliness. This was my go-to M.O. every time I was craving intimacy, but temporary solutions don’t fix long-term problems. When I sought out partners for this purpose, I was always left feeling emptier than before.
  3. Alcohol – I went on a three-month-long bender of going out to the bars and clubs at any given opportunity. Translation, I was filling the void yet again, but this time with too much alcohol. Your objective of a fun evening out shouldn’t be to drink until you don’t feel anything anymore.

WHAT DOES HELP:

  1. Reaching Out – Initially, it was really hard to reach out to my loved ones. I felt that because I neglected our friendships that it would be insulting to try and lean on them for support. I’m glad that I didn’t listen to that voice for long because I would have missed out on some really great moments with my friends. These people provided me with the reassurance I needed the get out of the dark place I was in. In the long run, reconnecting with those I cared about has taught me to be a much better friend in return.
  2. Creating New Relationships – Alongside the rebuilding of my current relationships, I also made it a point to try and meet new people. It was extremely daunting to put myself out there, but it was a necessary step to self-healing. Also, shameless app plug, but that’s actually how I stumbled upon Hey! VINA! Nothing brings two vinas together more than a broken heart.
  3. Doing Things I Loved & Trying Out New Things – In my relationship, I neglected a lot of my personal hobbies that used to bring me a lot of joy. Now that I had more time for myself, I decided to pick them back up. I got back into reading, attending story slams, and traveling. It also gave me a chance to try out things that always wanted to do painting (I wasn’t very good at it). Filling up my calendar with things to do meant I didn’t have much time to dwell upon the loneliness. Which brings me to my next item:
  4. Being Kind to Myself – A lot of the loneliness I was feeling was fueled by negative self-talk, which is why it was unsettling to be by myself. I had to learn to change the narrative and replace my harsh words with affirming ones. This isn’t easy for anyone, but sentences like, “I am deserving of love” or “I have an amazing support system that cares for me” made all the difference.
  5. Embracing Solitude – Not to be confused with isolation, but it’s important to solidify your relationship with yourself. How you go about it will be different for everyone. For me, sometimes it meant taking days off to sit in bed and read or dedicate a day to pampering myself. Time to time, I’d make plans to travel and explore new cities with me, myself, and I. This opportunity for quietness, peace, and self-reflection lead to such clarity and self-growth. After all, being alone doesn’t have to mean being lonely.

Unfortunately, loneliness doesn’t have an expiration date. You might have many periods of loneliness in your lifetime, but I hope that this list gives you some insight on how to tackle it. Just remember vinas, you may feel lonely, but you’re never alone.

Don’t be afraid to reach out and make new friends. Download the Hey! VINA app today to do so!