Ten Quick Facts About HIV

1. HIV is not spread through holding hands, hugging, kissing, or eating food prepared by an HIV+ person

2. You can only get the virus if blood or other fluids from an HIV+ person enter your bloodstream. The virus can enter the bloodstream though the tip of the penis, the thin membrane of the anus, the thin membrane of the vaginal walls, sharing needles, and through open cuts or sores in the mouth or body.

3. Oral sex is considered a low risk activity when it comes to spreading or being infected with HIV. If the HIV+ partner is on anti-retroviral therapy (ART), the risk is almost nonexistent. Saliva and the acids in the stomach do not allow the virus to survive. But any open cuts or sores in the mouth or body, or gum disease can increase the risk of it spreading. Using protection is still recommended for oral sex, especially because one can still catch other sexually transmitted infections without it.

4. Anti-retroviral therapy does not cure HIV, but it does slow the disease down significantly, which can allow an HIV+ person to live a full, long life.

5. Gay and Bisexual men of color are the most affected by HIV in the U.S.

6. HIV can be tested in many ways, including through home kits that can be mailed to a lab. Many clinics and LGBT community centers also offer testing for free. You can be tested through your saliva, a finger prick, a full blood test, or a urine test.

7. HIV does not live long outside the body.

8. Condoms, when used correctly, greatly reduce the risk of spreading HIV.

9. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) is a daily treatment that people can take if they are at a high risk of contracting HIV. If used properly, it can prevent the virus from spreading.

10. PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis can be taken within 72 hours of exposure to HIV and can prevent the infection from spreading. The sooner it is taken, the more effective it can be. It’s only meant to be used in emergency situations.


What I learned from eating vegan for a day

vegan day1

Yesterday I decided to eat vegan for the day. This is something I’d thought about doing, eating vegan for a day or a meal, but I didn’t have the tools I needed to get started. I had some inspiration over the weekend after watching a video on YouTube, where one young woman talked about the kinds of plant-based foods she kept in the house. She also talked about how she planned her meals for the week, and based her grocery shopping off of that.

Lastly, she said she would make her meals in bulk so that they would last for a few days. This video really clicked with me, and so the next day, I decided to eat vegan for the day. I had made a list of groceries for breakfast, lunch/dinner, and snacks to really get an idea of what should be on my plate. And that morning I planned out my meals in my journal before I went to get breakfast (Food is the only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning 🙂 ).

So how did this experiment go for me? Was I able to do it? I did! All my meals and snacks were vegan. I started my day with fruit and peanut butter. For lunch I had brown rice, lettuce, tomatoes, lime, and vegan meatballs from Trader Joe’s. (It helps that I’m a vegetarian, so I already had these things in the house.) For dinner I made tacos with similar ingredients to what I had for lunch. And for a snack I had raisins.

I was aware of the foods that I couldn’t include in this meal plan, like cheese, sour cream, Little Debbie snack cakes, the sliced bread and English muffins we happened to have, honey, and butter. I especially noticed excluding some of these things in my tacos. A part of me was a little bummed out, but another part of me was glad to be eating more raw, fresh food.

I did find myself eating much healthier. I ate more fruits and veggies. Being a vegetarian, usually if a meal has protein, then I feel like I’m all set. But this made me realize I want to include more fruits and veggies in my meals!

Eating vegan certainly doesn’t have to mean missing out on your favorite foods, because there’s veg-friendly substitutes for everything, like cashew cheese, almond milk, etc… However, if you want to try eating vegan for a meal, a day, or longer, I think it’s good to substitute things not only for flavors, but for nutrients. Like if you’re not getting calcium from cheese, be sure to eat lots of dark, leafy greens like collard greens and kale. (For a list of awesome protein sources, see my previous post 🙂 ).

I also recommend planning your meals for the day, it’s super helpful. I think all in all though, be gentle with your relationship with food. You don’t have to be perfect. Just remember that it’s all about taking small steps to take care of yourself. Celebrate those small steps, and love yourself. You are good enough!!

So what are my take-aways from all of this? Do I plan on going vegan anytime soon? Probably not. But I do want to plan out my meals some days. I already planned mine for today. This is about progress, not perfection. I also want to add more fruits and veggies to my meals for sure. And I want to include more plant-based foods in my diet. This was a nice, little experiment.

Just to reiterate, always educate yourself before making changes to your diet, whether it’s for a day, a week, a few months, or longer. The key is to have balance and to show your body some love by giving it the proper nutrients it needs ❤

Anyway, I hope you have a wonderful day, Lovelies. This girl’s gonna go eat!! 🙂


Plant-based diet


I want to incorporate more plant-based meals into my lifestyle. I’m already a vegetarian, but I want to eat more organic, fresh foods. Right now my ideal meal plan for breakfast includes fruit, like bananas, plums, peaches, and cherries, oatmeal, cashews and mixed nuts, peanut and almond butters, and maybe on occasion spinach with apples, berries, and sliced almonds.

For lunch and dinner, I’d like to have healthy grains, like brown rice, quinoa, and whole grain bread, muffins, and crackers. I want to include more veggies, like sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, and corn, and great sources of protein like chickpeas, red beans, black beans, nuts, seeds, peas, quinoa, chia seeds, and sun-dried tomatoes. For snacks, I wanna keep dried fruit handy, as well as dark chocolate.

Like any lifestyle, I think it’s important to be relaxed and not put too much pressure on yourself to be “perfect.” But educating yourself and making small choices each day makes a big difference over time. I find that planning my meals for the day, and maybe even for the week, especially when it’s time to buy groceries, can be a great way to achieve small goals.

Life is a journey, and doing small things to take care of yourself along the way tends to feel really good 🙂 Even the things you achieve today are worth celebrating ❤

On Gym Class

The thing about gym class is that it has so much potential. It has the potential to teach young people to fall in love with fitness and self care. It has the potential to help teens appreciate their own strength and abilities. It has the potential to help young people who may be dealing with struggles no one else knows about to have some time to let go and have fun.

Unfortunately, gym class did none of these things for me. I have memories of being made to play dodge ball (a game I never wanted to play), only to have usually harmless balls fly by my head at a ridiculously fast pace and smack into the wall, leaving me to think, ‘That could have been my face.’ I was a pacifist with a dislike for team sports, and I had no interest in hitting anyone with a ball. This usually meant no one wanted to hit me either, so I stood there awkwardly until the game was half over and let a rolling blue or red ball touch the tip of my sneaker, allowing me to finally walk away to the sidelines.

Some days we were made to play my least-favorite sport– volleyball. I never found it fun. If you’re not good at it and hit the ball so it flies in the wrong direction, people look at you as though you have three heads. I have my strengths like anyone else, I didn’t care that volleyball wasn’t one of them. The judgement is one reason I didn’t like high school. Being in a classroom should be about growth and improvement, but in most cases, people were judged for the skills they already had, not for their ability or potential to improve in those skills.

This leads people to believe false things about themselves. It leads people to believe things like, “I am not a math person,” or “I am not an English person,” or in my case, “I am not a sports person.” I realize now that, quite frankly, that’s a load of crap. You can be any kind of person you want to be. The key is realizing you are not defined by natural abilities alone. You’re defined even more by the things you actually put work into. Skills are like seeds. If you nurture them, they are likely to grow.

On other days in gym we’d have to run around the track. There’s nothing wrong with having access to a nice, beautiful track. But these days always felt unstructured, no one ever wanted to do them, and people like me, who had asthma, had to walk more than run anyway. It was just another day of class that perhaps some people liked, but many people dreaded.

By the time I was an upperclassman, it was easier to choose the class I wanted, so I usually ended up going to the weight room. As far as weight rooms go, I think our school had a nice facility. I rode an exercise bike, walked on the treadmill, and used a couple other machines to pass the time. I wasn’t terribly enthusiastic about being there, but it was better than being stuck in the middle of a dodge ball game.

Perhaps my dislike of most sports meant I wouldn’t have enjoyed gym, even if it were structured a little differently. The sports or related activities I do like include hockey, yoga, climbing, biking, and skating. I suppose the last two aren’t the most feasible in a class setting. I think it’s good we got to try different things, but as with most high school courses, I feel the overall purpose of the class (to help students be healthy and active) is lost in the fact that many of us were put into situations that only made us feel uncomfortable or inadequate.

Don’t even get me started on the locker rooms. I never had a problem changing in front of other people. Maybe I felt a little self conscious, but overall I didn’t care. But (and I can only speak from my own experience), I think in a time when our bodies as young women and people were changing, and as we were getting to know ourselves and our identities, I think the locker room of all places is a space where body positivity should be promoted. The idea that all bodies are beautiful should be plastered on posters all over the damned place. No teen should be made to go into a locker without first being taught the most important thing I feel gym could/should ever teach you: love your fucking body.

We did have one interesting day in gym class where two men (I believe they were both Indian) taught a session about breathing exercises and meditation. We were young, and not everyone took the session seriously, but I know that’s something that stuck with me. I knew they were there because they cared about what they were teaching us. They taught us coping mechanisms. They taught us a way to practice self care.

I remember other days in gym where people (who were able) were encouraged to donate blood and the way it helped many people. Days like that were good. They were important.

Unfortunately I associate most days in gym, especially before I started going to weight room, with just being unhappy. I felt out of place and awkward. I feel like it’s something that was supposed to be fun, but it was hardly ever fun for me.

I remember having teachers say that being on your period isn’t an excuse to sit out of gym. While I’m sure there are people who would abuse this as an excuse, I hardly see how pain, nausea, dizziness, or headaches aren’t an excuse to rest while loud basketballs are dribbling and sneakers are squeaking across the court.  You can’t put an ultimatum on something that affects different bodies differently.

There are things I liked about our gym classes. We had nice facilities, the weight room was good, the locker rooms, as far as I remember, were clean and I felt safe. We had several teachers to go to if we had questions. If I could change anything about how the classes went? It would probably be the same thing I’d want for any class: Stop treating all students as though they learn, or play, in the same way, at the same pace, at the same time. Students shouldn’t have to feel like they are better or worse than anyone else in the classroom. They should feel like they can always improve and be better than they were yesterday.



On meditation articles

People who talk about meditation tend to have an all or nothing mentality. If you don’t do it, the reaction is that you “don’t like sitting still” or that you haven’t given it enough of a chance. It feels similar to someone trying to convert you to their religion.

I meditate sometimes, and I went through a period where I did it each day. It’s not something I really like doing, though. But not for the reasons most people say they don’t do it. I enjoy sitting still, in the silence, and that’s something I do a lot. I have no problem with being still or having moments of peace. I do quite often because that’s just my personality.

But sitting with my eyes closed and focusing on my breathing isn’t something I enjoy. I have asthma, so focusing on my breath doesn’t always make me feel relaxed. I know there’s medical benefits to the practice. But I prefer to listen to music, paint, dance, and enjoy nature. All of those things are therapeutic and I think help me a lot.

Maybe other people don’t mind it, but I get kind of annoyed when I see articles that try to make you feel guilty for not meditating as a daily practice. (There’s also more than one way to meditate, but most articles are referring to mindfulness meditation). There’s always more than one way to do things. And there’s more than one path to being healthy and taking care of yourself.



Apps to Help You Stay Hydrated

Summer time is here! And between balancing work, family, chores, and vacation-planning, it can be easy to forget to make our health a top priority. As the days get hotter and we spend more time outdoors, an important part of staying healthy is to drink plenty of water. Not only is staying hydrated a basic way to help us, well, NOT die, but it also helps us to have healthy skin, hair, and nails. It improves our circulation, helps us to cool off, helps us to take a moment to relax, keeps our lips from getting super chapped, and helps to cleanse our bodies of toxins (you know what they say, to avoid a hangover, drink water).

In addition to being super busy, it can also be hard to stay hydrated when our first instinct is to grab a beverage that doesn’t do a great job of hydrating us. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t crack open that can of soda or poor yourself an ice-cold glass of juice from concentrate. It’s all about having things in moderation. If you enjoy a sugary beverage, but you feel you could use more refreshing water in your life, here are a few apps that can help you stay hydrated all summer long:

iDrated. Based on the name, you can tell that this app was created by Apple and for iPhone, iPad, and iTouch users. After including some basic information about yourself, iDrated helps you to track how much water you drink throughout the day, gives you some insight into how hydrated you are, and allows you to set reminders for when you should drink water next.

WaterLog. This app is available for free in the Google Play store. It allows you to keep track of how much water you drink, lets you set reminders to drink more throughout the day, and allows you to keep track of how well you’ve reached your daily hydration goals.

Drinking Water. This app is also available for free in the Google Play store. The concept is simple. You set a goal for how many cups of water you want to drink each day, and you set times for the app to remind you when to drink a cup. If you turn your phone horizontally, the app will show you how many cups of water you drank each day. The description in the app says you can also use it for beer.


These are a few of many apps that can help you to drink more water. Keep in mind that while notifications can provide you with good reminders, no one can know what your body needs more than you do. There may be days where you need to drink more (like if you spend hours in the hot sun), and other days where you might not need to drink as much (like if you spend the day in an air-conditioned room binge-watching Netflix and napping).

The point of all of this is so that you can be your healthiest and best version of yourself. If you need extra reminders to take care of yourself, like with anything else, there’s probably an app for that. And above all, listen to your body. Because at the end of the day, it knows best.


[Disclaimer: I am not certified to give any kind of health-related advice. This is simply an informative article to provide apps you may use at your own discretion].


The Beauty of Living Out of a Suitcase

One thing I love about traveling is having to pack a suitcase. There’s something so wonderful about the minimalism of it. It lets you focus on the bare necessities, and something about that is so freeing. As I fold my clothes, pack my toothbrush, and think about the journey ahead, I feel content. I only have to have the most important things with me. I can let go of the clutter that’s weighing me down in the form of material things, and consequently, I can let go of the things weighing me down mentally as well. Travelling as a way of life is a wonderful thing to aspire to. I hope I can travel as much as possible. But for now, I take the little opportunities as they come. And I bring just a little of what I own, so that I can experience a whole lot of the world.