Culture 04 June 2018
Lots of people are on birth control. A lot.
In fact, across the United States, 62 percent of young reproductive age adults are using birth control right now. That’s over 103 million females throughout our country. While that is only slightly more than half of the female population, a whopping 98 percent of females that are sexually active have used birth control at some point in their lives. The repercussions of cutting away access to birth control, which is currently under seige in Washington, are beyond widespread, and sadly this could be a reality in the not too near future.
The Trump administration’s latest attacks on women’s reproductive rights are, simply, outrageous. We’ll explore every avenue to protect women’s access to all available reproductive health services. #NoGagRule #TitleX pic.twitter.com/SWV5pmOnR3
— New York Attorney General (@NewYorkStateAG) June 1, 2018
As of Friday June 1st, a newly proposed piece of legislation has made it much easier for health providers to resist the previous birth control mandate, which provided free access to the pill to anyone with health insurance. The new mandate, which would pull Obama’s Title X family planning options from many women across the country, is set to take action immediately, should employers chose to cut it from their plans. In short, the revoking of this act now gives employers the ability to deny health insurance coverage over pregnancy contraceptives that the Affordable Care Act had previously made mandatory.
Over the past nine years that Title X has been in affect, the lack of co-pays on preventional substances have not only helped them become largest female-obtained product covered by healthcare, but it has also prevented hundreds of unwanted pregnancies and lessened the number of abortions within the United States by half. Substances such as these have become a daily part of females lives, but possibly not for much longer.
"Rather than putting up with this attack on womankind, Planned Parenthood has created a tool to assist citizens in tracking Trump to keep females up to speed with the new ruling’s effect on their bodies." Photo Courtesy of TrackingTrump.org
“The affordable birth control that Title X provides helps prevent one million unintended pregnancies each year.” according to a statement from Planned Parenthood. “Overall, publicly funded birth control services — including Title X — help women avoid 1.9 million unintended pregnancies, including 440,000 teen pregnancies, every year.”
And, Mr. Trump, what do you plan on doing to support those half a million women children that will need resources and access to health care throughout and after their pregnancies? Any legislation planned to address this Handmaid's Tale-like reality you will be supporting?
Without the birth control mandate I don’t know how much the treatment would cost,” Diedra from Washington told BBC. “This is definitely an attack on women - if this issue affected men it wouldn’t be happening this way.”
According to the Trump Administration, this new ruling, which was originally presented in December, uses ‘religious beliefs’ and ‘moral convictions’ as the reasons for pulling universal access. In no uncertain terms, the United States government also hints at the availability of birth control substances leading to ‘risky sexual behavior’. Jury’s out on whether there’s any proof of that, or whether it’s just more lip service meant to push a pre-decided agenda.
“Imposing a coverage mandate on objecting entities whose plans cover many enrolled families who may share objections to contraception could, among some populations, affect risky sexual behavior in a negative way,” claims the hotly contentious piece of legislation.
While this new ruling came as a shock to the majority of U.S. citizens, Planned Parenthood has been taking this heat for a while. However, this nonprofit organization that supplies contraception, family planning, and assistance on reproductive complications, which treats approximately 4 million U.S. citizens a year, is not willing to go down without a fight. Rather than putting up with this attack on womankind, Planned Parenthood has created a tool to assist citizens in Tracking Trump to keep females up to speed with the new ruling’s effect on their bodies. The website also tracks and calls out the promises Trump had made when elected, revealing which he has gone back on, and which were simply abandoned.
And yet, the Trump-Pence administration is issuing a gag rule to block patients from getting care at Planned Parenthood. It is clear the administration doesn't care. #NoGagRule #IStandWithPP pic.twitter.com/ACdwpbOiGP
— Planned Parenthood Action (@PPact) June 4, 2018
Planned Parenthood isn’t alone in this fight. Females across the country are not putting up with this new ruling. Instead, they are standing up for their bodies and taking control of what they are rightfully entitled to. Protest-inspired hashtags such as #ThxBirthControl, #ProtectTitleX, #NoGagRule, and #HandsOffMyBody are helping to galvanize females across the country into action. Hopefully, we can begin to take this threat seriously, and take our anxiety into powerful counter-action.
3 Min Read
With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.
When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.
Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan
Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.
Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.
The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.
Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits
The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.
With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.
Tip 3: Start slow and strong
If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.
Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.
Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize
In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.
When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.
Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness
From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.
Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.
Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.
A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.
Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition
In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.
If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health
While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.
For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.
While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.