Disclaimer: The information, articles, and tips portrayed on this blog, while based on research, do not constitute medical advice. The opinions expressed are meant to educate and inform, but not to dictate lifestyle choices or personal beliefs. These articles are meant to provoke thought on issues surrounding college health and to inform the Hopkins community of healthy information and resources.


Happy Hump-o-ween!

Halloween is upon us!  After months and months of planning Halloween costumes (or a few hours)- what was the final result?  Political satires, super heroes, monsters, technological tributes, Olympians, or what else?

Beyond the costumes, photo ops, and general ridiculousness, there's also the chance for the Halloween hook up.  The "I hooked up with Rainbow Brite!" or the "I had some sweet morphin time with the Red Ranger!" story.  Stories are great-- if they are only that...stories.  Whatever the real deal is, keep it safe.  Consider, using protection if you choose to swim the breast stroke with "Halloween Ryan Lochte".

Not sure where to get it?  We have free condoms in the Student Health and Wellness Center (in Homewood), the CHEW office (in Levering), and RAs may have them for you, as well.  You can also order condoms at a discounted price through our Condom Sense program.  Order online and it will be ready for pick up at the Health Center-- payable by cash, credit card, or J-cash/J-card.
CHEW also offers free female condoms, dental dams, and lubricant-- just come by our office and pick some up!


SEE...in the dark


SEE tip: When it comes to exercising, mixing it up can have incredible results.  Not only does it make working out more fun and challenging, but you end up working different muscle groups which results in a more beneficial and higher impact workout than doing the same workout over and over.  If you are constantly on the elliptical, try the treadmill 1 day a week.  Or try a circuit workout where you do 10 minutes on 3 or 4 different cardio machines.  And don't forget about the weight room-- mixing it up in there is a great idea too!

If you aren't sure what to do for cardio or for weights, try a fitness class.  The Rec Center offers a number of great classes with trained fitness instructors who can guide you if you have any questions.  Learn more about the classes here.

4:45pm Today!

Want to try a class before buying a card? We have the class for you! Try Glow in the Dark Zumba today at 4:45pm!  This is glow in the dark class isn't normally offered during the year.  Zumba is appropriate for all fitness levels and beginners are very welcome!  Come and get your glow on!

 HKB Tip: So you've heard it a million times, smoking is bad.  And while we would encourage anyone who is ready to quit, we understand that it is incredibly difficult.  While the struggle to quit might continue, there are some things that you can do to keep yourself healthy in other ways though.  Research has found that smokers who had high rates of exercise had a lower chance of developing lung cancer than those smokers who did not exercise.  If smoking is something you cannot give up just yet, consider amping up your exercise to give your body some added benefits and a fighting chance until you are ready to take that next step.

Source: http://articles.latimes.com/2008/aug/04/health/he-smokingside4

Mellow Out Monday Tip: A 2006 study on 300 college students from across the country found that many were stressed out.  No surprise there, right?  To deal with the stress, 1 in 4 turned to exercising for stress relief.  Are you in the 25% that use exercise as a stress reliever?

Looking for a stress reliever that will take less than 10 minutes?  Try a free back rub from Stressbusters tonight in the MSE on Q level starting at 8pm.  The back rubs last 5-7 minutes and are a great way to work out the tension from hunching over those books all week!


Sip Tip: Jitter Much?

Midterm exams have you reaching for extra energy drinks?  Coffee? Red Bull? Monster? 5 Hour Energy? The options seem endless.

While the options keep popping on the market, the regulation of these items is slow to control them, particularly in the U.S.  In comparison, places like France are proposing to reduce the use of energy drinks through a tax increase on the beverage, similar to a cigarette tax.  Canada is proposing a caffeine cap, where energy drinks can contain up to a certain amount of caffeine per unit.  This tax would take drinks like the 20 oz Red Bull cans that are so commonly seen off the market and those 24 oz Monster cans would be out, too.  In the US, the FDA does not require companies to disclose how much caffeine is in each product, and face the problem of the various types of packaging energy drinks are being marketed as- whether it be a supplement, a beverage, or something else.

So why is any of this a problem?  According to this article, there have been five reported deaths attributed to Monster energy drink.  This is likely attributed to the unknown amount of caffeine in these drinks, the high rate of consumption, and the less known about health dangers that consuming large amounts of caffeine can do to the human body.

This doesn't mean you need to throw out all of the energy drinks you have under your bed- caffeine is okay, within the right dose. But like most things, when we consume too much of something it can stop being okay and in this case, be quite dangerous.  If you want to drink energy drinks, keep in mind that a healthy adult can safely have around 400 mg of caffeine daily.  Although, that much is usually not needed, particularly on a day to day basis.  A 6 oz cup of coffee offers about 60 mg of caffeine and may have other health benefits versus an energy drink that doesn't provide those things.

If given the choice between an energy drink or trying an alternative method- what might you do?  Some alternatives might include taking a 20 minute nap, taking a study break for a quick walk, or taking a shower.  What do you think you would do?

If you've already downed your 1st caffeinated drink today and are about to grab your 2nd or 3rd, consider what caffeine specialist at JHU, Roland Griffiths, has to say on the matter, "high caffeine use by young people can cause a cycle of rushes and crashes that can add a degree of variance to their moods and psychological well-being that they don’t really need."

Does this sound like anyone you know?  You? Friends of yours?  Consider some alternatives to the energy crash before reaching for another can, pack, bottle, or whatever they think of next.


Corner Coaches

Thriving at Hopkins requires a number of factors- intelligence, dedication, commitment, studiousness, and most importantly a support system.  A group of people you can lean on, vent to, listen to and be listened to, and generally have an understanding with.  These people are your social support networks.  The people you go to when classes are overwhelming and about to swallow you whole. They help remind you that the ground is under your feet, not over your head and you CAN handle this.

Take a minute.  Identify who's in your corner?

If someone in your corner came to you with a problem, could you help them?  What if the issue was personal?  Think you could help?

Imagine a friend in your group told you she was sexually assaulted.  How would you respond?

If you aren't sure, keep reading... we have some advice that could help you if you are ever faced with this.  And note that statistically, 1 in 5 college women will be the victim of sexual assault during the time they are in college.

Believe them when they confide in you. 
Do not place blame on them for the sexual assault (there is NOTHING they could have done to deserve or cause what happened to them)

Don’t pressure them to talk or ask them for details. It is better to go slowly and let them set the pace. 
Give them options, and be sure not to make any decisions for them.
Ask open ended questions and see what they'd like to do.
Some options include reporting the crime to Security or Baltimore City Police.  Same for going to the hospital.  If they'd like to go to or need medical attention it would be best to suggest going to Mercy Hospital which specializes in sexual assault and has specially trained forensic nurses ready to help any survivor.  
And lastly, consider offering the Counseling Center as a place they can seek help.  They can be walked to the Counseling Center by you, if that's more comforting than going alone or they can call the counselor on call through Security, if it is after hours.  The Counseling Center can help the survivor walk through akll of the options and assist in coping with the sexual assault.

Some student groups that can offer a great deal of help are APTT and SARU.  A Place to Talk offers free, non-judgmental listening to students in AMR 1 and Wolman.  They are a great resource for anyone that needs to vent.  See more about them at http://www.jhu.edu/aptt.  SARU is the Sexual Assault Resource Unit which offers support through listening, referrals, and information for survivors or friends of survivors of sexual assault.  If you or someone you know needs information, consider calling them at 410-516-7887.

With all of this information, do you think you might be able to help a friend if one came to you about sexual assault?  Sexual assault on college campuses happen at high rates, are under-reported, and survivors are both men and women.  While we want to do more to reduce sexual assault, we also want to provide a support network for those who are assaulted.

Please know that if you or a friend have been assaulted, there are resources and people here that care and want to help in whatever way the survivor would like.


SEE for Yourself: Eat your FROOT

SEE Tip: It's that time of year when the price of berries in the grocery store goes up, the quality goes down, and overall fruit consumption takes a big hit.  Don't let the lack of yummy fruits get you down, they'll be back before you know it!  Instead, check out some other fruits that haven't been around- try cherries, Asian pears, and the many varieties of apples.  Take the 2 cup a day challenge and get your daily recommended serving size in for the day.

Start today with SEE for Yourself Monday as we partner with Froots & Co. on the Levering Quad from 11am-2pm.  We'll be asking quick trivia questions about fruit and you'll get tasty grapes, oranges, or apples as a reward!  Come by and SEE!

HKB Quit Tip:  Nearly 70% of American smokers want to quit smoking.  Quitting can be a tough road though, with many trying between 7-9 times before they are successful.  If you have tried to quit, but had a cigarette and felt like you failed, know that aren't alone and quitting is TOUGH.  When you are ready to try again, consider trying something slightly different than what you did before to give yourself a better chance at succeeding.

Want to learn about more quitting strategies- either for you or a friend?  Come to HKB's meeting on Wednesday at 6pm in the AMR 1 TV room for more info and free food.

Mellow Out Monday Tip: Want to combat stress? Try eating fruit with high levels of antioxidants like blueberries or oranges.  Antioxidants help the body fight the negative impact of stress and with the recommended amount of fruit in your body, you'll have a fighting chance against the Hopkins stress.  If that's still not enough and the stress is getting you down swing by the MSE anytime from 8-10pm tonight for a FREE 5-7 minute back rub from Stressbusters.  Let Stressbusters help you mellow out.


Booze Brain


You may remember Dr. Gorman's presentation on alcohol and other drugs effects on the brain from your orientation days.  Since some time has gone by whether it's been a few months or years, we thought a refresher could be helpful, especially as your brains are churning out papers and exam answers.

So thanks to Forbes, here's a quick run down:

"Why drinking makes you less inhibited:

Cerebral cortex: In this region, where thought processing and consciousness are centered, alcohol depresses the behavioral inhibitory centers, making the person less inhibited; it slows down the processing of information from the eyes, ears, mouth and other senses; and it inhibits the thought processes, making it difficult to think clearly.

Why drinking makes you clumsy:

Cerebellum: Alcohol affects this center of movement and balance, resulting in the staggering, off-balance swagger we associate with the so-called “falling-down drunk.”

Why drinking increases sexual urges but decreases sexual performance:

Hypothalamus and pituitary: The hypothalamus and pituitary coordinate automatic brain functions and hormone release. Alcohol depresses nerve centers in the hypothalamus that control sexual arousal and performance. Although sexual urge may increase, sexual performance decreases.

Why drinking makes your sleepy:

Medulla: This area of the brain handles such automatic functions as breathing, consciousness and body temperature. By acting on the medulla, alcohol induces sleepiness. It can also slow breathing and lower body temperature, which can be life threatening."

Instead of developing any sort of Booze Brain, try keeping the brain in a safer place by using some protective strategies.  Consider things like having 1 cup of water after each alcoholic beverage consumed.  This will help keep the body hydrated and give it some time to metabolize the alcohol.  Another way to keep the brain out of harm's way is to stay in the blue zone, also known as stopping at buzzed.  By drinking in moderation, the euphoric effects of drinking can still be felt, but without the dangerous consequences, like impaired judgement, reduced motor functioning, and so on.


Body Lovin!


Come to Love Your Body Day in the Glass Pavilion from 1-3pm today!  We'll have food, yoga, make your own sugar scrub and more!! 

Check out some snippets from a 2011 Love Your Body Day Blog Carnival post.

Reasons to Feel Good About Your Body

1. It enables you to recognize yourself, and other people to recognize you. Which is really important, because there are billions of people in the world. You have stuff going on that no one else does. It’s fantastic. It’s a really good thing. In fact, I want to meet you, just to see all the ways in which we’re interestingly different and comfortingly similar.

2. It is incredibly complicated, but tends to work. And you’re alive. Which is absolutely astounding, when you take a moment to think about it.

3. Even though you can recognize yourself, you always look different. How you feel and what you do and who you’re with and what kind of mirror you’re looking in all shift and rearrange the way you appear to yourself. It’s cool. Sometimes it’s awful. Sometimes you feel like total crap. But there’s always potential for startling beauty. Or surprising awesomeness.

4. No matter what you look like, you’re hot to other people. Like, seriously hot. Except to internet trolls... 

5. You can find something about your appearance that is stunning. Even on a day when you feel gross. We’re trained to find the flaws. But take a moment and focus on the MANY positives that you have.

6.  You don’t have to be perfect!! Perfection is stupid. It’s a myth perpetuated by Photoshop and fantasy. You don’t have to look any one way to look beautiful, great, stunning, wonderful, pretty, gorgeous, amazing, strong, fantastic, cute, nice, cool, or any other good thing. Often, you just have to look like you.


Fall Break!


We hope you are enjoying the Fall Break!  See you back here for Hump Day on Wednesday.


House Parties and the Law


Have you ever seen someone under the age of 21 at a house party where alcohol was being served?  Did you see those people drinking the alcohol?  Not so uncommon, right?  In reality, this could happen in all sorts of situations.  From parties off campus to parties in your hometown (where parents/older adults might be there, too).

But when something goes wrong in relation to one of these parties, whether it's the police showing up and spotting the underage drinkers or party-goers injuring themselves- the question is asked, who is responsible?

Based on case histories, it would seem that the party hosts are responsible.  Does that seem fair?  Let's look at some situations and you be the judge.

Case history 1:

A 19 year old female was at a party off campus.  She played a few rounds of beer pong, and lost terribly.  The result was a high BAC with a low ability to function with a BAC level of .16 (2x the legal limit to drive).  She decided to leave the party and on her way to her next destination and sadly, was struck and killed by a passing car.

Imagine you were asked to decide who would was to blame in this case- who would you say?

In this case, the hosts of the party were 2 of the 5 people held accountable.  They were both under 21, as well.  If you were sitting on the jury, how would you feel about holding these two accountable?

How do you think you might feel differently as a family member?

Case history 2:

A 19 year old female was at an off campus party.  At the party, she needed to be taken to the hospital for alcohol poisoning.  The hosts of the party were charged for providing alcohol to a minor.  Their punishments included a 30-day sentence on home electronic monitoring, $1000 fine, and they were not allowed to "possess or consume alcohol for the next 12 months".

Should party hosts be responsible for the behavior of their guests, including anything from rowdiness to near fatal underage drinking?

Case history 3:
An 18  year old male was at an off campus party at a fraternity house.  He was pledging the fraternity with a number of other students.  He and the other pledges were told to drink all of the alcohol they were given.  They were told they could not leave the room they were in until they completed the task.  After drinking heavily, he stated to the others that he wasn't feeling well and he passed out.  The fraternity members carried him to another room in the hopes that he would sober up.  Three hours later, he was found unconscious and not breathing.  911 was called, but it was too late and he passed away due to alcohol poisoning.  He was found to have a .36 BAC and had suffered severe brain damage as a result of the alcohol use.

If you were this young man's family, how would you want to proceed?  Would you go to court and if so, who would be the defendants?

These are not easy cases to think about, and unfortunately, each one is real.  The law is tough, but losing someone you care about is tougher.  If you see someone with signs of alcohol poisoning, or perhaps someone that could use some help, consider ways that you can help- whether it be calling 911 or HERO, or helping them get somewhere safely.  You could save a life, and also save someone the headache of legal issues.


CHEW on this: Coming out and Mental Health


In honor of National Coming Out Week and World Mental Health Day, we wanted to write about Coming Out, as well as the mental health struggles that many in the LGBT community may face or have already faced.

In a study by the creators of the Family Acceptance Project, they found that "LGBT teens that were highly rejected by their parents and caregivers were at very high risk for health and mental health problems when they become young adults (ages 21-25).

Highly rejected young people were:
More than eight times as likely to have attempted suicide
Nearly six times as likely to report high levels of depression".

This study found that a way to reduce these issues was to provide a safe and supportive environment.  This particular study was speaking to caregivers and parents, but in an environment where parents are sparse and classmates and peers are caregivers, like a college campus, could the same also be true?

Another study found that to reduce the mental health struggles an environment should be supportive and positive through things like refusing to accept the teasing and bullying of LGBT students.  Teasing, bullying, and the like can be detrimental to students' feeling of safety and overall security and comfort in their environment.  Instead, by showing respect and providing a safe space for each person to live and breathe, we can foster a supportive community that encourages people to be themselves and come out, as they feel comfortable and ready.

While we continue to work on making our campus a safe and supportive community- know that there are already safe places out there.  Consider checking out the Counseling Center if you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues.  There are a number of group therapy options, including an LGBT focused group, as well as individual counseling.  APTT is a student group that is there to listen.  Consider checking them out and talking to someone who is trained to listen to you.  

Being at Hopkins isn't easy, and piling on a mental health issue can make things even more of a stuggle.  Consider asking for help and know that you aren't alone.



SEE Tip:  Get your Z's even in the most stressful of times- midterms, papers, O's in the post season.  Don't let yourself be caught in one of these clips

If your sleep has been suffering and you'd like to change it, perhaps you should step up to the SEE for Yourself- Sleep Challenge!  We'll be explaining the challenge on the Breezeway today from 11am-2pm so come by and get a chance to win a prize and improve your sleep.  All it takes is a little work and a lot of sleep. 

HKB Quit Tip:  Difficulty sleeping can be one resulting health effect from tobacco use.  This lack of sleep can lead to more stress and likely more dependence on tobacco as a temporary stress reliever.  Instead of looping into a cycle of low sleep and high tobacco use, consider what options are available to help people quit and see what could work based on personal preferences.  Want to know about other health effects of tobacco use?  Come to the Hopkins Kicks Butts meeting on Wednesday at 6pm in the AMR TV Room. 

Mellow Out Monday:  Do you ever feel like you can't get to sleep at night because you are just too stressed?  Try writing it down.  Keep a notepad or journal with a pen nearby so you can write your thoughts down as you settle into bed.  If you still feel stressed and the tension is reaching your neck and back, give your mind and body a break with a back rub from Stressbusters.  Come to Mellow Out Monday on Q Level of the MSE from 8-10pm for a FREE back rub. 


In the News: Butt Chugging


CNN, NBC, and the Washington Post have been clamoring over the recent news story out of Tennessee of the college student who was hospitalized with a .4 BAC level.  Thankfully (and amazingly) this student survived having that much alcohol in his blood stream; however, his near fatally high BAC level is not what got the attention of news outlets everywhere.

Allegedly, the students at the party were "butt chugging", also known as giving each other alcohol enemas.  The hope with these alcohol enemas is to get drunk faster (faster than who or what is unclear).  Unfortunately, they joined the race before knowing the lesser known risks.

According to gastroenterologist Dr. Preston Stewart, "Our stomachs and livers have an enzyme known as alcohol dehydrogenase that breaks down ethanol to make it less toxic for our bodies. The lower gastrointestinal tract doesn't have that enzyme, so alcohol molecules are absorbed into the bloodstream through the lining of the colon.  Eventually the alcohol would still make its way to the liver, but the high alcohol content would overwhelm the organ.  It's extremely dangerous."

It's important to keep in mind that the majority of people do not drink like this and most likely haven't heard of this.  This sort of drinking is seen as an isolated incident.  And for our campus in particular, most students at Hopkins do not drink to get drunk, according to our recent survey done this past Spring, and would be less likely to be engaging in this sort of drinking behavior.  Looking at your group of friends, would you agree or disagree?


Hump Day Myth Buster- the Penis Edition

Time to separate the Myths from the Facts when it comes to the male genitalia.  Get the facts straight and read on!

If your penis is bent when erect, you will never be able to have sex properly.

FALSE: It's normal for a man's penis to curve slightly, and it's also normal for it to go to one side.  This will not stop a man from enjoying or having sex.  If you are worried about your or your partner's penis, or if sex hurts for either of you, talk to a doctor about it.

If men masturbate they'll use up all the sperm.

FALSE: Masturbating will not affect a man's ability to produce sperm, and he will not ”run out” of it – he produces sperm continuously. For some men it can take some time to ejaculate again after having sex. This is normal, and doesn't mean there is anything wrong with his sperm.

Men with big feet have big penises.

FALSE: The size of a man's feet do not reflect the size of his penis. If a man has small or large feet, this doesn't mean his penis will be the same.

Once a man is aroused and has an erection, he must ejaculate to avoid harmful physical effects.

FALSE: It is not harmful for a man  – or woman – not to have sex. A man's testicles will not explode if he does not have an orgasm. Men produce sperm all the time, and if they don't ejaculate it is simply absorbed into their body. 

The average penis length is 8-10cm.

TRUE: The average length of a non-erect penis is around 8-10cm. Penises come in all shapes and sizes, and the size doesn't affect how much you and your partner enjoy having sex. Knowing the things that make you and your partner feel good is more important than the size of your penis.


Workout Tips from our PEEP/Fitness Trainer!

Get your Workout In with tips from our PEEP/Fitness Trainer!

If you’re like most college students, getting to the gym can seem like an impossible task. You know the benefits, but just never have the time. You begin each school year saying THIS will be the year you get in shape. But then exams start and exercise gets put on the back burner. I could tell you all about how great exercise is and that you just need to make it a higher priority, but I know you’ve heard that already. So I’m going to give you some super easy usable tips on how to fit working out into your schedule.

  1. Work out with a friend. Love hanging out with your friends? Take a trip to the gym together and talk while you workout. Talking is also a good way to measure the difficulty of your workout. Most of the time it should be easy enough to have a regular conversation. However, if you want to get some good interval work in, try to workout to the point where it becomes harder to talk. Want more? Go until you can only say a few words at a time. Spend 10-20% of your workout in this zone and you’ll be on your way towards aerobic efficiency.
  2. Workout while watching TV. I love television, so I combine it with my workouts so I don’t feel as guilty. It also helps the time go by faster, so if you don’t enjoy working out, but always have time for at least one show a day, this may be a good option for you.
  3. Try circuit training. Circuit training is a great way to fit in cardio and weight training in a short amount of time. Try this routine 3 times a week. To warm up, do a 5-10 minute walk or short jog. For each exercise, do as many repetitions as you can for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, then repeat the exercise. Rest again for 30 seconds, then move on to the next one.
  • Jumping jacks
  • Squats
  • Mountain climbers 

  • Russian Twists

  • Burpees with pushups
  • Planks
  • Lunges
  • Bicycle crunches
  • Forward jumps
  • Side plank

  • Cool down with a 5-10 minute walk then stretch.

All of these can be done with no equipment in your dorm room, and the whole workout should take about 30 minutes.

Want more workout ideas? Head over to https://www.acefitness.org/exerciselibrary/default.aspx , email me with any questions at mlauver2@jhu.edu or set up a personal training session with me at the gym.

In health, Megan

Megan is a PEEP (peer health educator) and Certified Fitness Trainer.  Check out one of her classes!


What can you do with 10 minutes? SEE for yourself!


SEE Tip:  Do you find yourself out of time by the evening to cram in an hour long session at the Rec Center? It isn't easy to carve out a whole hour for the gym, especially with everything you have going on.  But could you spare 10 minutes 3-4 times a day?  Maybe during a break in classes, during the commercials of your favorite show, or even while you have your skype chat with a friend.  These are perfect times to get in a quickie workout (though make sure your friend knows what's up and ask if s/he wants to join in- workout buddies are awesome motivators)!

For 10 minute workout suggestions without weights (or you could use your water bottle for a "weight" for an extra boost) try things you can do from your chair like:
Tricep dips

Chair pose (yoga for a squat)

Want help getting started with your workout this week?  Whether it be an hour, 10 minutes or somewhere in between let us help you!  
Come by the Breezeway from 12-3 today for a chance to roll the dice on your exercise.

HKB Quit Tip:  If you're a smoker and begin to feel like you need a smoke to reduce your stress, try taking a cue from SEE for yourself and use that 7 minute smoke break for exercise instead.  The stress levels will go down and according to research, the craving will likely decrease, too. 

Mellow Out Monday: Exercise has been proven to reduce stress, even doing so in short bursts like the 10 minute workouts mentioned above.  If you find yourself with another break coming up from 8pm-10pm tonight, reward yourself for the workouts you've fit in, the hard work you've done, or whatever you are proud of yourself for accomplishing today and check out Stressbusters for a FREE backrub.