Women’s liberal arts college

Women’s liberal arts college, Bryn Mawr, one of the famed Seven Sisters known for leading the American women’s education movement, recently sent out emails to 100 current students with “elevated BMIs” asking them to join an eight-week fitness program based on their private health data stored in the student health center. This information was misused, as emails for the fitness program were sent through a HIPAA-protected confidential system that doctorsused regularly. “There were truly good intentions behind this,” Bryn Mawr spokesman Matt Gray told . “It’s a program that includes individual counseling, nutritional advice, and group support.” But regardless of intentions, the Bryn Mawr program, Onward to Weight Loss Success, makes an assumption that those with “elevated BMIs” even want to lose weight or need to lose weight for good health or high self-esteem. Enrolled students are taking a stance against the school, while some health care experts feel this use of personal health information can be potentially harmful.

Related: When “Healthy” is Actually Unhealthy

“I think a lot of young woman would go down the slippery slope of shame, blame, and guilt if they got that email from their college,” Dr. Pam Peeke, Senior Science Advisor of Elements Behavioral Health and author of Body-for-LIFE for Women, told Yahoo Beauty. “I understand Bryn Mawr meant no malice, but they used an old-fashioned approach to young women who are already battered in the media. Young women who are obese already feel enough shame—they don’t need that email.” Instead of policing BMIs, Dr. Peeke suggests making the gym more accessible and welcoming and turning a healthy campus culture into the norm, instead of focusing on the scale. She cites her undergraduate experience at wellness-centric and radical UC Berkeley, as a major influence for her views on how colleges should address student health.

Related: Plus-Size Model Tess Holliday Encourages Women to #EffYourBeautyStandards

Furthermore, Peeke feels that Body Mass Index is not the most reliable source of tracking one’s health in the first place. “BMI tells you nothing about body composition, which means that it doesn’t say anything about how much muscle you have, or how much fat you have,” she says. “I can line up five women who are all 5’4” and 120 pounds, and each will have a different dress size—a size two to a size 10. What’s going on with that? It’s all body composition.”

Related: Emma Sulkowicz Tackles the Issue of College Rape

On Facebook, junior Rudrani Sarma, who publicly acknowledges her battle with eating disorders and received the email, wrote:

“Sending your students a message “inviting” them to take a weight loss class because they’re on a ‘list of students with elevated BMI’s’ is not ethical. It’s problematic, it’s hurtful, and it’s just plain stupid. You’re telling students that they need to fit an arbitrary measurement of health (that has been criticized to the nth degree). You’re telling students that it’s more important to lose weight than to be healthy. You’re telling students that you discriminate based on weight by compiling a list of ‘fat’ students.

A year ago, getting an email like this would have set me back years of counseling and self-esteem work. I’m in a good enough place now to call out your bulls—t. How dare you, Bryn Mawr?”

Related: What if You Stopped Looking in the Mirror for a Year?

In a statement sent to Yahoo Beauty, Bryn Mawr officials claim the invitation to Sarma was sent as an error in her electronic medical record, and they have since then apologize to her and corrected the error. Health Care officials have apologized directly to students and publicly on social media, and the statement carefully noted that “[t]he goal of the program has been to reduce health risks and to help women take care of and love their bodies at any size. Most students who have completed the program have been positive about their experiences.” Dr. Peeke, however, rebuked, “Young women shouldn’t have to live on a scale.”

Related: Fitness Exec: ‘It’s Not About Being A Size Zero’

Check out the original email sent by Bryn Mawr below, and let us know if you feel it was inappropriate:

“Give a HOOT! We want YOU to be in the Fitness OWLS program.

The Health Center, Dietician and Athletic Department are collaborating to offer a fitness program for students with elevated BMIs*. There is no cost to you. This program includes a personalized fitness plan and is eligible for PE credit. If you would like to enroll or learn more about this program please email us at [redacted] immediately indicating your interest.

BMI stands for ‘Body Mass Index’ and is a standardized estimate of an individual’s relative body fat calculated from his or her height and weight. An elevated BMI can lead to significant health problems.”

If you’ve ever had trouble sleeping

If you’ve ever had trouble sleeping (falling asleep, staying asleep, or falling back asleep), then you know the misery and anxiety attached to not getting a full night of shuteye. No longer. Use these 7 genius strategies to make sure that you’re out cold and sweetly dreaming as soon as your head hits the pillow.

 Related: How to Burn More Calories While Sleeping

Do This First
“Turn down the lights a full hour before bedtime,” says Michael Breus, Ph.D., a sleep specialist. Lowering overhead bulbs and drawing the shades helps your body produce more melatonin, which can induce sleepiness.

For even better dimmed light, install a Good Night bulb ($70, definitydigital.com), which eighty-sixes the blue-light wavelength that’s considered most detrimental to sleep.

Nighttime Noshing

Banana: The magnesium and potassium can relax your muscles.
Tart cherry juice: This drink is full of melatonin, which may help you doze off.
Toast with peanut butter: Easy-to-digest simple carbs topped with tryptophan-rich protein won’t keep you up.
Rooibos tea: Soothing and caffeine-free (black and green aren’t always).

Related: 5 Foods That Are Keeping You Up Every Night

Supply List: Accessori-zzz’s
Eye Mask

Choose one that’s lightly filled or weighted (as opposed to a single flap of cotton), or made with a pillowy fabric like fleece, so it blocks light from coming in around the sides of the mask too. Sleep Mask ($45, sleepstudio.com) is chic, not cheesy.

The perfect slumbering outfit should be loose; made of a lightweight fabric such as cotton or silk; and comfortable around your middle (no gut-pinching waistband!). We like the Butterfly Blue camisole, $31, and shorts, $24, figleaves.com.

Myth, Debunked
Sheep counting? Baaa-d idea. In a study, insomniacs asked to imagine a nice scene (like a future vacation) fell asleep faster than those told to count something (like sheep). Detailed, positive images may take up enough cognitive space to distract you from other thoughts, while mindlessly ticking off numbers won’t.

Related: The Best Sleep Position For You

Keep Your Cool
The ideal temperature for snoozing is 65°F to 70°F

Relaxing or angst-producing? We rank the usual suspects.

E-mail—especially for work. “It stirs up emotions,” says Breus. “To fall asleep, you don’t want to be dwelling on your day.”

Pretty Bad
Texting or game playing. Though it can take your mind off stressors, constant pings and beeps are bound to stimulate you (ahem, Candy Crush).

Related: 4 Tech Traps That Destroy Your Memory

At Your Own Risk
Watching television or a movie. This is the least disruptive tech activity (especially if the screen is far away) because it’s passive and distracting.

Mostly Calming
Sex. Everyone’s different, but “the endorphins tend to be good for sleep in most people,” says Janet Kennedy, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist.

Downright Soothing
Reading fiction. “It settles the mind and distracts you from other things buzzing in your head,” says Kennedy.

Quick Tip: If you’re reading on your tablet, slap on a SleepShield screen cover to dim the snooze-destroying glow (prices vary by tablet, sleepshield.com).

More From Women’s Health:
76 Best Things You Can Do For Your Body

14 Foods Nutritionists Never Eat

14 Foods Nutritionists Never Eat

Many nutritionists will tell you that they’re big advocates of the “all foods fit” approach to healthy eating—the idea that even things like cookies, cakes, and candies have a place (albeit in moderation) in an overall healthy diet. That said, there are still foods that they personally wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot-stick. Granted, they may be ones that you love and simply couldn’t eliminate from your diet altogether—and that’s OK.

Still, it’s pretty fascinating to get a glimpse into the eating habits of people are who paid to help others eat nutritionally for a living. So we asked several nutritionists to share the foods that they would never, ever eat. Here’s what they had to say:

Processed and/or Canned Meat or Cheese
“I particularly avoid those that are made with additional thickeners, preservatives, sugar, or a high content of preservatives. Animal products (and food products in general) that have to sit on a shelf inherently require a decent amount of processing to protect against microbial growth and contamination. I’d rather go for the fresh version than eat something high-sodium and preservative-rich (hence why some processed meats have earned their ‘mystery meat’ name).” —Jaclyn London, M.S., R.D., senior clinical dietician at Mount Sinai Hospital

Related: 15 Gross Facts You Didn’t Know About Processed Meats

Non-Dairy Creamer
“It’s completely without nutrient density of any kind, and it can increase your risk for heart disease.” —Kristin Kirkpatrick, M.S., R.D., a wellness manager at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute

“If it’s controversial, I err on the side of caution. Plus, I prefer organic, high-quality foods that are clean and more environmentally sustainable.” —Katie Cavuto, M.S., R.D., the dietician for the Phillies and the Flyers

Related: Frankenfish and the World of Genetically Modified Food

“I personally don’t love the taste, but more importantly, I’d much rather top my pizza with nutritious veggies than overly processed meat.” —Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Change Diet

Diet Soda
“Those who are drinking diet sodas are most likely looking for that sweet taste without the extra sugar and calories. Unfortunately, that sweet taste comes with sugar cravings and increased caloric intake throughout the day. I’d recommend slowly removing diet soda from your diet. If you’re looking for an extra boost of caffeine, try green iced tea. Or if you’re a bubbly connoisseur, opt for a club soda with a squeeze of lemon or lime. Diet soda is all chemicals and won’t help you avoid extra calories in the long run anyway.” —Keri Glassman, R.D., Women’s Health contributor

Related: 7 Fizzy Alternatives to Diet Soda

Maraschino Cherries
“The added sugar, chemicals, and artificial dyes ruin the health benefits of the naturally delicious fruit.” —Michelle Davenport, Ph.D., R.D., a Silicon Valley nutritionist

Cold Cereal and Fat-Free Dairy
“Most cold cereals are loaded with added sugars and are missing protein and fiber. If I eat that to start, my entire day will be thrown off eating-wise, as I’ll be hungry and on a sugar crash within an hour or two. Fat-free dairy is something I avoid whenever possible. It certainly doesn’t taste as good as regular dairy products, but mainly because I think fat is a super important part of each meal. Having good-quality diary that’s full fat is delicious and nutritious.” —Brooke Alpert, M.S., R.D., founder of B Nutritious

Related: 5 Fatty Foods That Make You Skinny

“It’s literally liquid candy with absolutely no nutritional value. Why bother?” —Joy Bauer, M.S., R.D., the nutrition and health expert for NBC’s TODAY Show and Founder of NourishSnacks 

Fluorescent Orange Crunchy Snacks
“Most chippy packaged foods are an absolute waste of calories and are loaded with chemicals. But any of them that are orange? Well, that pushes yuck over the edge. These are salt, chemical, and artificial color cocktails in a bag! Steer clear.” —Keri Glassman, R.D., Women’s Health contributor

Artificial Sweeteners
“I can’t bring myself to consume something I know is fake and void of nutrients. Plus, my body doesn’t like them.” —Katie Cavuto, M.S., R.D., the dietician for the Phillies and the Flyers

Related: 16 Detoxing Cleanse Foods That Jumpstart Weight Loss

“Unless it finds its way into my Brussels sprouts with my knowing when I’m dining out, bacon is a food that I haven’t eaten since I was a child. Its high saturated fat and sodium content has been a huge deterrent for me for years.” —Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Change Diet

Hot Dogs
“Processed meat loaded with preservatives and barely any protein? No thanks!” —Joy Bauer, M.S., R.D., the nutrition and health expert for NBC’s TODAY Show and Founder of NourishSnacks 

Sugary Beverages
“For example: coffee, juice, and tea ‘drinks.’ I’d rather eat my calories (or save them for a glass of wine!) than drinking calorie-rich, nutrient-poor beverages that don’t fill you up.” —Jaclyn London, M.S., R.D., senior clinical dietician at Mount Sinai Hospital

Support for Rape and Sexual Assault Survivors

“We need to fight back against those who miss that Mad Men era,” said Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) on a press call Thursday to introduce the 21st Century Women’s Health Act, which Murray brought to the Senate today along with co-sponsors Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA).

Murray emphasized how women’s health decisions should be made between a woman, her doctor, and, when applicable, her partner — and recognized how many of her colleagues in Congress feel otherwise and have made a concerted effort to intervene directly with women’s health, especially when it comes to abortion and birth control access.

The bill focuses on the following key components of women’s healthcare:

Maternity Care

The Act would require all states to establish a “Maternal Mortality Review Committee” to address disparities in maternal mortality nationwide, to better assess the factors contributing to pregnancy-related and pregnancy-associated deaths so that policy and medical solutions can be implemented to ensure that all women are able to experience pregnancy as safely as possible.

Birth Control

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) now requires all private insurance to cover FDA-approved forms of contraception. The 21st Century Women’s Health Act would ensure that those same measures are extended to women who are insured through Medicaid.

Support for Rape and Sexual Assault Survivors

The Act will ensure that all survivors of rape and sexual assault are provided with factual information about emergency contraception (EC) upon receiving treatment in an emergency room or hospital setting, and be provided with emergency contraception upon their request at no charge.

Presently, only 13 states and the District of Columbia require hospital emergency rooms to provide emergency contraception upon request to survivors of sexual assault. Additionally, nine states have enacted restrictions on emergency contraception, including six states that allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense emergency contraception.

It is estimated that 25,000 to 32,000 women become pregnant each year as a result of rape or incest. If used correctly, emergency contraception in conjunction with prompt medical treatment could help many of these rape survivors avoid the additional trauma of facing an unintended pregnancy.

A related provision would also support campus based sexual assault prevention educational programs and ensure access to EC at institutions of higher education.

Abortion and Reproductive Rights

The Act would require the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a study every 5 years on women’s health and report their findings to Congress, looking specifically at the impact of state laws that restrict access to abortion and geographic regions where access to family planning services is limited. The study will also report on economic impacts of such measures as well as the effect they have on pregnancy-related deaths.

Presently, 89 percent of counties nationally lack abortion clinics, and hundreds of laws have been passed at the state and federal level to restrict a women’s access to reproductive health services and family planning services.

Preventative Care

Since the implementation of the ACA, all private insurance companies are required to cover birth control, breast pumps, breast feeding support services, as well as well-woman exams, cancer screenings, and treatment and testing for sexually transmitted infections.

The 21st Century Women’s Health Act will ensure that all women, both those with private insurance and Medicaid, have equal access to these services and comprehensive level of care. The legislation would strengthen Title X funding, providing additional support to clinics and health centers across the country that provide these services at little to no cost for American women who would otherwise be unable to access this care.

Additionally, this legislation would establish a three-year grant program for the training of nurse practitioners that specialize in women’s health care, helping to ensure a stronger health care workforce.

To ensure women are fully informed about their rights and health care options, the Act would launch a public awareness campaign among community-based organizations, pharmacists, providers and other stakeholders making sure that women have information and access to the services available to them.

Furthermore, The 21st Century Women’s Health Act would help ensure that women are not wrongly forced to pay more for health care services now covered under the Affordable Care Act by creating a reporting database for women to inform Health and Human Services of inappropriate charges.

Though the bill was just introduced today, Murray said that she and her co-sponsors will be seeking additional co-sponsors and are “confident” that they will receive “bipartisan support” of the legislation, and that “colleagues on both side of the aisle” will recognize its importance and sign on with their support.

Dana Singiser, Vice President for Public Policy and Government Affairs, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, voiced Planned Parenthood’s support of the new bill, noting that will there has been significant progress for women’s health in recent years (from the teen pregnancy rate dropping to historically low levels, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and its many benefits to women including the more than 48 million women nationally who can now access birth control without any co-pay), the 21st Century Women’s Health Act will continue to push progress for women’s healthcare forward.

Singiser also called attention to the fact that since birth control has become legal, women have become the majority of undergraduate students and holders of graduate degrees. She noted that there is now an expectation among young women embarking on higher education that safe and legal abortion and birth control will be available to them, and that unplanned pregnancy should never be a deterrent in their educations or future careers.

7 Hot Tips for Supple Summer Skin

The key to healthy skin lies beyond which soap you use. It depends on what you eat, whether you exercise, how much stress you are under and even the kind of environment in which you live and work. Summer is particularly harsh on skin so consider these seven tips for helping your skin survive the harsh rays of summer:

1. Take advantage of all the summer fruits and vegetables and eat a varied and nutritious diet. Studies show that diets high in saturated fat, including meat, butter and full-fat dairy, as well as soft drinks, cakes and pastries increased the likelihood of skin wrinkling. Follow a diet high in vitamin A, E and C and essential fatty acids.

2. Don't forget to wash down your nutritious foods with a big glass of water. In fact, aim for at least eight to 10 glasses of water a day for optimum skin results.

3. Get out in the warm weather and exercise! Exercise flushes impurities out of your skin and promotes production of sebum, or oil, you skin's natural moisturizer and enhances blood flow to the skin.

4. Here's another reason to stop smoking...smoking constricts blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the skin. It also depletes levels of valuable antioxidant vitamins like vitamin A, increasing damage to the elasticity of the skin.

5. Of course, the greatest damage to your skin occurs from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. When it comes to sunscreen, the higher the SPF, the better. Few people use sunscreen the right way — apply a full ounce every couple of hours, more if you've been swimming or sweating.

6. Think a tanning bed is safer than a beach tan? Think again. The reality is there's no safe thing as a safe tan. UVA rays in tanning booths not only inflict damage similar to sunlight, but they are up to 20 times more intense than natural sunlight.

7. There's a very strong mind/body connection that exists between our emotions and our skin health. The stress in your life turns up on your face. Relaxation techniques, biofeedback and breathing training can help you cope better with life stresses and reduce their effects on your skin.

Essential Tips for Maintaining Healthy Skin

When is the last time you thought about your skin beyond worrying over a wrinkle or praying that a pimple would be gone before an important event? The reality is that your skin is far more than just a top layer to be washed, creamed and made up. Your skin is your body's primary defense system against disease. As such, it might be time you treated it with more respect.

Skin: the basics

Your skin is your body’s largest organ. It provides a thin, yet very effective, barrier to billions of health threats (called pathogens) found in the world that would love nothing more than to sneak past your skin's defenses and make you sick. But if you don't take care of your skin on a daily basis, it may become dry, rough and chapped, providing an opening for pathogens that could harm your health.

Skin plays other roles in your overall health, as well. It helps keep you cool or warm, insulates you, stores energy and provides sensation through touch so you can interact with the outside world beyond what you see and hear.

Maintaining skin health

Numerous things in the environment are harmful to your skin. Environmental pollution, ultraviolent light (sunshine), extreme temperatures, wind, sweating and using the wrong skin products can all damage that important outer layer.

The good news is that you have the power to maintain healthy skin. Among the steps you can take:

Protect your skin from the sun. That means using an SPF 30 sunscreen on your face every day, even on days you don't plan to leave the house or office and even on days the sun doesn't shine. That's because you're still exposed to damaging ultraviolet rays through windows and clouds. Thankfully, today it's easy enough to ensure sunscreen coverage; many moisturizers and even liquid and powder makeup contain sunscreen.

When you are in the sun, slather on the sunscreen. You should use enough to fill a shot glass each time you apply it (in fact, how about keeping a shot glass in your beach bag?). And wear a broad-brimmed hat; those baseball caps might be cute, but they're not doing much to keep the sun off your ears and the back of your neck.
Protect your skin from dryness. The epidermis is made up of about 30 percent water, much of which is bound in the lipids that help prevent the water from evaporating. You can increase your skin's ability to bind water by using a good-quality moisturizer. Natural moisturizing ingredients include citrate, various minerals, urea, lactate and amino acids.
Clean your skin properly. Water alone won't do it. You need something to clear out the oily residue that can clog pores and lead to pimples. Compounds that do this are called surfactants. But stay away from soap; most soaps are alkaline, which can change the delicate pH balance of your skin and cause itching, redness, flaking and dryness. Instead, opt for liquid cleansers and cleansing creams with natural ingredients like beeswax and mineral oil to dissolve dirt. Other moisture-replenishing ingredients include vegetable and fruit oils and less-irritating surfactants such as coconut oil (cocamidopropyl), amphoteric surfactants, alkyl ether sulfates and alkyl glyceryl ether sulfonate.

Also chill out on how you wash your skin. Ditch the rough exfoliating buffer or washcloth and opt instead for just splashing warm water on your skin to remove the cleanser or using a soft cloth. You also don't need to wash your face more than twice a day. And make sure you wash with warm—not hot—water.
Check your skin carefully. If you're 40 or older, you should have a health care professional perform a total body scan every year to look for any signs of skin cancer. If you're younger, you should get a body scan every three years. And all women should examine their own skin periodically.
Remember, your skin is one of the most important components in your quest for good health. Just as you take care of your body from the inside out by eating well and exercising, you need to take care of your body from the outside in, by protecting your skin as that all-important barrier.

The Facts on Adult Acne

The Facts on Adult Acne
What is adult acne?

Many women think of acne as something they bid farewell to with adolescence. But actually, a significant number of women over the age of 25 years experience adult acne. Because you have acne as an adult, it can be frustrating and embarrassing, but rest assured that adult acne is quite common. Adult acne can be divided into two general types: persistent and late-onset acne. Persistent acne is acne that continues from adolescence into adulthood. Patients tend to have lesions most days and may experience flare-ups before their menstrual cycles. Late-onset acne appears for the first time in adulthood and falls into two categories. Chin acne is concentrated in the mouth area and tends to flare premenstrually. Sporadic acne tends to appear and die down suddenly, with no apparent reason.

What causes adult acne?
The causes of adult acne are not entirely clear. It may be linked to the behavior of certain sex hormones, particularly those called androgens, which control excretion from the oil-producing sebaceous glands. Other possible triggers include smoking, cosmetic use, stress or taking certain medications such as those used to treat epilepsy or depression. Some women may also have a genetic predisposition to the condition.

Researchers have been able to dispel some myths about the causes of adult acne, such as lack of face washing or what you eat makes you break out. Acne is not caused by poor hygiene; in fact, washing your face too often or aggressively can irritate acne lesions. Additionally, no evidence exists to connect certain foods, such as fried foods and chocolate, to acne. Although a healthy diet is conducive to overall well-being, no foods are thought to specifically cause or exacerbate adult acne.

What are the effects of adult acne?
The physical appearance of adult acne can vary widely. Sometimes acne is confined to comedones—commonly known as whiteheads and blackheads—that exist on the surface of the skin. But it can also include deeper lesions called nodules and cysts that lie further underneath the skin. Such deeper lesions tend to be more painful and are sometimes filled with pus.

Women feel awkward having acne as adults. Because the flare-ups characteristic of adult acne are often unpredictable, women may feel like they are unable to control the condition. Click here to learn more about the effects of adult acne on women.

Adult acne is not something you should attempt to solve yourself, particularly by trying to pop, squeeze or pick at lesions, which may lead to scarring. However, there are things you can do on your own. In addition to carefully following your dermatologist's prescribed treatment plan, try to keep your skin as healthy as possible. Wash your face gently with a mild soap or cleanser, keep hairsprays and gels away from your face, opt for makeup that is labeled "non-comedogenic" or "non-acnegenic" and eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

What treatments are available?
There are a number of possible treatments for adult acne from topical treatments to oral antibiotics. To come up with the best plan for you, speak frankly with your dermatologist about your acne. If your current course of treatment isn't working, you should feel free to talk to your dermatologist about what other treatments might be right for you. It may take weeks before you see results from your treatment, so it's important to be patient.

While adult acne can be an unexpected and unpleasant experience, the numerous available treatments mean that you and your dermatologist have an excellent chance of restoring both your healthy skin and your healthy outlook for the future.

This resource was developed with the support of Allergan, Inc.
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