Understanding Fetal Movement during Pregnancy

Feeling your infant action for the very first time is a magical minute. What starts as a scarcely apparent flutter quickly becomes a full-on kick as your youngster starts to make her presence felt and by the end it can feel as if she is dancing a jig inside you. You will most likely also view a foot or a hand making out from time to time in the final maternity stages – pregnancy miracle.

Having an energetic bump not simply functions as a remarkable way to bond with your baby however it is likewise an excellent indicator that is well inside the bump. So just what should you be feeling as well as when? Right here is what to watch out for with the infant’s movement in maternity.

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When will I feel my infant for the very first time?

If this is your very first maternity, you will probably first really feels something at around the 18 to 20-week mark, although it can be later. However, if you have actually currently had a child, you might begin seeing that tell-tale twinge a little earlier.

What does it seem like?

In the first stage infant’s activities in maternity can feel like a gentle flutter, just like the butterflies in your belly you obtain when you are nervous. By week 24, you ought to be feeling precise kicks in addition to the dizzying squirm as she executes somersaults in all her vacuum. Child is still very small so don’t run scared if you go a few hours and even a number of days without activity At 29 weeks, area is becoming a little bit more confined as you move through the different pregnancy phases and the movements will be smaller sized and also a lot more defined. The child’s activities in pregnancy have the tendency to tail off from week 32 as well as instead of the normal pummeling of little kicks; you will feel a big lurching movement as your child changes position in her cramped quarters.

Facts about Pregnancy: https://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Pregnancy

Being familiar with your baby’s activity.

Once you have learned to recognize exactly what is a kick (and what just caught the wind is), you will begin to get to know your infant’s program. Some come to be a lot more energetic in the evening as throughout the day they usually sleep as you enter. Others obtain spooked after you eat as the surge in your blood sugar level gives them a rush of power. The same could take place if you are nervous and producing adrenalin. You may even have the ability to realized the routine jerky movement as your child obtains the hiccups.

Suppose the motions quit?

It is typical to not feel your infant relocate constantly. She will certainly often sleep or simply desire a rest. By week 32, your infant’s activities in pregnancy will reduce significantly as room ends up being tight. However, if you observe a continual fall in movements over several days, a large decrease in movements or assume that she has actually quit moving completely; call your midwife or General Practitioner promptly.

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Celery Juice: Miracle Drink or Overhyped Fad?

With hashtags like #healing, #miracle, and #foodasmedicine, you might think the latest trend taking over Instagram involves the fountain of youth or the cure for cancer. But these glowing descriptors refer to none other than the juice of your ordinary lunchbox veggie: celery.

Wait, celery? Like, ants-on-a-log, bits-in-your-tuna-salad celery? Even as a licensed nutritionist, I’ve never been too impressed with the nutrient profile of this humble vegetable. To me, celery has always seemed like a low-calorie choice for a light afternoon snack or for adding extra crunch to soups, not much more. But could I be wrong? And could juicing be the key to unlocking celery’s untold health benefits?

The Health Claims

The health claims surrounding celery juice are, admittedly, pretty bold. According to Medical Medium Anthony William, Instagram’s most famous celery juice evangelist, drinking the stuff can heal eczema, psoriasis, and acne. It also theoretically reduces bloating, fights autoimmune disease, tackles acid reflux, and eradicates bacteria and viruses. Other proponents have declared it contains “detoxifying properties that cleanse the body of all germs and toxins.” (Mmkay, we may have to draw the line there.)

Still, dramatic personal testimonies are hard to argue with. Side-by-side before-and-after photos show a woman with severe acne, now radiant with post-celery juice clear skin. Various bloggers attest that celery juice on an empty stomach first thing in the morning has led to weight loss, improved digestion, and even “a feeling of zen bliss.” How do you account for that?

The Experts Weigh In

While Medical Medium Anthony William may have 1.4 million Instagram followers, he does not actually possess any medical or nutrition degrees. So, to get the bottom of what’s legit and what’s not, I dug into the science and spoke to some credentialed nutrition professionals to see what they have to say about celery juice. (And oh, boy, do they have a lot to say about it.)

First of all, what’s so great about celery? Is there anything inherent in this unassuming veggie that makes it more nutritious than, say, cucumbers or carrots? Probably not. Celery does contain large amounts of vitamin K, which keeps blood clotting normally and may reduce bone loss. And it boasts smaller amounts of important nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, and folate—all in an extremely low-calorie package of 16 calories per cup. But all vegetables contain vitamins and minerals, and compared with many others, celery is low in fiber and other nutrients you might hope to get in a vegetable, like magnesium or calcium.

Even so, any veggie is a good veggie. “Celery, like many vegetables, is a rich source of flavonoids,” says registered dietitian Erin Palinski-Wade, CDE, author of 2-Day Diabetes Diet. “These flavonoids have been found to help fight against chronic disease and may ward off inflammation.” A 2017 review of nine studies concluded that celery also had high antioxidant activity. “These antioxidants can prevent cell damage and protect against chronic disease,” says clinical nutritionist Josh Axe, DC, DNM.

Do we really need to juice it, though?

If celery is a healthy choice, why go to the trouble of juicing it? Wouldn’t we do just as well crunching some with a side of ranch? “Eating celery will provide you with the same phytochemicals and flavonoids that are found in celery juice,” confirms Palinski-Wade. “The benefit [of juicing] is that you can consume these nutrients in larger quantities by juicing as compared to eating large quantities of celery each day, which may not always be practical.”

But some see major drawbacks to the juicing phenomenon. “Juicing anything generally removes or significantly breaks down fibers in the food product, which is not ideal,” says Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RDN. “Those fibers help us feel full, and the act of chewing is satiating in itself.” Plus, if it’s vitamins A or K you’re after from celery, these nutrients are both fat-soluble, meaning that eating them with fat helps your body absorb them. So that side of ranch may be the better way to go, after all.

Other Drawbacks

On the whole, many credentialed health pros view celery juice with far more skepticism than enthusiasm. According to Moreno, jumping on the juice bandwagon “is just profoundly misguided and will not confer any more ‘benefits’ than eating celery would confer. There is no clinical or anecdotal evidence that is convincing enough for me to recommend or personally drink celery juice.” Some have gone a step further in their criticism of the trend. Registered dietitian and frequent media commentator Abby Langer, RD, called out the Medical Medium on Twitter for promoting “classic charlatan BS” and has dismissed celery juicing as “pure idiocy.”

Even Dr. Axe, known for his more alternative approach to healing through diet, doesn’t think the craze lives up to its hype. “Many people mistakenly believe that consuming a few servings of celery juice—or any other ‘superfood’—can be a quick fix for better health. However, celery juice alone is unlikely to have much of an impact on health, especially if it’s paired with a poor diet and lack of physical activity,” he says.

But what if you really love the stuff?

For those who feel their lives have been transformed by celery juice, the opinions of experts may not hold a candle to personal experience. It’s true that everybody is different, and science can’t account for every individual response to food. So, if you feel celery juice gives you more energy, reduces bloating, or clears up your acne, rock on with your green self. Just note that there’s power in the placebo effect, which may account for your results more than any miraculous properties of celery. “The placebo effect is strong enough to cure or kill,” Moreno says—and when it comes to the “cure,” that’s not a bad thing.

Plus, though celery juice may not be the miracle elixir its proponents believe, is there really anything wrong with drinking it? Couldn’t you make a lot worse choices in your diet? “There are no harmful side effects to drinking celery juice, and it may provide some health benefits,” Palinski-Wade says. “If you are drinking celery juice and enjoying it, there’s no reason to stop.” Moreno agrees. “If someone adores their celery juice like I adore my daily yogurt, I would say go for it! We should all eat foods we love and look forward to.”

Then again, if you’re thinking of planting a celery garden and dropping a wad of cash on a juicer that’s going to take up all of your kitchen storage, you may want to think again. For good health, most dietitians emphasize eating a diet full of fruits and vegetables—not just celery and definitely not just juiced. It may sound boring, but the road to better health is often rooted more in these common-sense principles and less in social media trends.

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Being a Woman Runner Can Be Scary As Hell. Here’s How to Keep Going

Content Note: Assault and Sexual Harassment

I run to escape the day-to-day stress, the kind that grinds us all down: unanswered work emails, dishes that somehow pile up in the sink, the general lack of hours in the day. It feels so freeing to literally outrun my stressors, even if just for 30 minutes or an hour.

I run to feel human. I stop thinking about myself in relation to my work or my relationships, and simply connect with my body. I run to feel the physical pain, the self-doubt, the impulse to give it all up and call my husband for a ride home—and to feel the accompanying ecstasy when I run through the pain and out the other side, then keep on running.

I run to feel powerful. Mostly, I run to feel free.

But I’m never really free when I run.

Because I’m not just human—I’m a woman. And as a woman, I can never feel fully, totally, entirely free. When I run, I can relax into the sensation of freedom for a little bit… until I hear a catcall, sense a car creeping behind me for blocks (or even miles), or become overly aware of every snapped branch as I speed down a forest trail. Since I’m a woman, when I run, I can never fully escape—inevitably, I’m removed from the moment.

Running presents itself as one of the most democratic sports around.

To be a runner, you don’t need fancy gear. You don’t need a gym membership (or even the courage to step into a gym). You don’t need professional training or a rare body type—provided your body is equipped for running, odds are good that your body knows how to run. And for so many women, this is part of the appeal of running.

According to Statista, running is one of the most popular sports worldwide. In the U.S. alone, a whopping 60 million people engaged in running, jogging, or trail running in 2017—and the majority of these runners are women.

“Two things I’ve grown to love about running are that you can do it anywhere and it’s an amazing way to explore a new place,” says Katie Sullivan, director of brand and marketing at Swerve Fitness in New York City.

Samantha Baron, an education coordinator at Sentergroup, Inc., who lives and runs in downtown Chicago, agrees. “Running’s something I can just go and do,” she says. “It’s something that’s so seemingly gender-neutral.”

But the experience of being a runner isn’t gender neutral.

The average runner of any gender deals with standard safety concerns, like getting lost or avoiding traffic. But runners who present as women are much more likely to face a host of additional issues on their runs, most of which revolve around physical safety.

Harassment is so pervasive among women runners that it’s practically become normalized. “My immediate reaction is to say I haven’t been harassed,” Sullivan says. “But then I realize that I can’t actually remember a run in NYC—day or night—when I wasn’t peppered with catcalls and sexual comments. They were all what I’d typically characterize as ‘harmless,’ but the recent shift in our culture has made me rethink the way I tolerate them.”

Cultural conversations about sexual assault and gender inequality can help women validate their own experiences. They can also make women more cognizant (and perhaps more fearful) of the potential threats lurking outside their front doors.

“Recent events definitely have an influence,” says Colleen Elrod, a nursing student who has run primarily in suburban environments. “Now, no matter what time it is, I feel like I’m taking a risk every time I go out for a run.”

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And this isn’t paranoia.

A 2016 Runner’s World survey of more than 2,500 female runners and approximately as many male runners uncovered the extra concerns that weigh on women who run:

  • The majority of participating women runners reported they are sometimes, often, or always concerned about being physically assaulted or the recipient of unwanted physical attention while on a run.
  • 43 percent of all women surveyed experience at least occasional harassment while running—compared with only 4 percent of men. That number increases to 58 percent among women runners under the age of 30.
  • Of the women who reported being harassed, 94 percent said their harassers were men.
  • 30 percent of women respondents have been followed by someone on foot, on a bike, or in a car while running.
  • 18 percent of women have been sexually propositioned mid-run.
  • 3 percent shared they have been physically grabbed, groped, or otherwise assaulted while running.

And just as the #MeToo headlines surfaced, so have stories of women runners who have experienced assault.

This October, well-known runner and safety advocate Kelly Herron was 12 miles into Vancouver’s “Girlfriends Run for a Cure” half-marathon when she was accosted on the course by a male bystander. Herron made the split-second decision to abandon her record race time and pursue her assailant in order to press charges.

Sadly, this wasn’t Herron’s first encounter with assault while running. In March of 2017, she fought off a brutal attack in the public bathroom of a popular Seattle park. These experiences prompted Herron to create the platform Not Today Motherf***er (NTMF), which brings awareness to the topic of runner safety (especially for women runners) and provides personal safety tips to women.

But harassment and assault aren’t even the worst that can happen.

In the summer of 2016, the running community reeled as three joggers were killed in the span of nine days. Those cases were deemed unrelated, but they all shared one thing in common: Each victim was a woman.

Just as our culture tends to blame women for being sexually assaulted, people searched for ways to explain away these deaths as evidence of the women’s poor judgment. Even though all three women were running during the day on routes that were familiar to them (which is not to say they would have been responsible for their murders if they’d made different choices), the armchair advice poured in from social media: Women shouldn’t run alone. Women shouldn’t run in the dark. Women shouldn’t run with headphones on. Women shouldn’t run too far from where they live. Women shouldn’t…

Freedom, meet constraint.

The fear of harassment or assault doesn’t just affect women while they run. By its very nature, harassment is meant to communicate to its targets that they are not safe.

Research into the consequences of street harassment has found that people who are harassed tend to experience body-image issues, increased depression, heightened fears of rape, and internalized shame. These are consequences that extend far beyond a ruined workout.

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In an attempt to avoid harassment and assault, women runners tend to alter their behaviors: They change their running routes, alter their schedules, and adopt new habits in the hopes of feeling safer.

Many women choose to be strategic about when they run.

“I started training for a marathon back in July,” Elrod says. “In order to get my long runs in, I’d have to start running between 4 and 5 a.m. Even though I live in what I consider a very safe part of town, there have been so many recent stories about people being harmed while running that I never felt fully safe unless the sun had completely risen and I was on a two-way, busy, double-yellow-lined road.”

Sullivan also modifies her runs. “I rarely run at night, but when I do, I wouldn’t venture on the West Side Highway (fewer people, fewer eyes on you) or into a park,” she says.

And they’re not alone. Sixty percent of women respondents in the Runner’s World survey said that potential threats cause them to limit their runs to daylight hours.

Many modify what they wear too.

“I definitely consider the time of day when choosing my wardrobe,” Sullivan says. “On a super-hot weekday afternoon this summer, I decided to run in shorts and a sports bra, and found myself running through several crowds of men spending their lunch break outside—I’ll never make that mistake again.”

And then there are the safety measures put into place.

Every woman interviewed for this article shared that she sometimes alerts a friend or family member to her intended route prior to a run and asks them to follow up if they haven’t heard from her by a certain time.

Some women adopt more advanced measures too. For example, Elrod often runs with 911 queued up on speed dial and her phone in her hand. This mirrors data from the Runner’s World survey, which found 73 percent of women respondents who are concerned about safety run with a phone rather than unencumbered.

Other women bring along weapons for physical protection. “When I lived in cities, I would run with pepper spray as well as with my keys between my fingers,” says Caitlin Murphy, a critical care nurse who resides in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Baron brings along mace on every run. “It definitely makes me feel better to know that I have it,” she says.

The 2016 Runner’s World data found that 21 percent of women bring pepper spray on their runs at least some of the time. One percent have gone so far as to carry a loaded gun.

Of course, not every woman who runs is harassed, assaulted—or even terrified—every time she laces up her sneakers.

The odds of harassment often diminish outside of urban environments. “Because I’m living in a small mountain community, it just feels safer. And when I’m out, I see people I know,” says Heather Hower, a trail runner who resides in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. “It’s like everyone is watching out for each other a little bit.”

Even in urban environments, some women are more concerned about vehicles or other roadside hazards than they are about would-be attackers. “Probably my biggest issue is cars,” Baron says.

And of course, men are also sometimes the targets of harassment or assault. But as a general rule, the contrast between cis male runners’ concerns and those of other genders remain stark. The Runner’s World survey previously cited found that only four percent of male runners reported experiencing harassment while running—compared to nearly half of all women surveyed. Meanwhile, only one percent of men reported being sexually propositioned on a run (compared to 18 percent of women), and 93 percent of surveyed men reported they are rarely or never concerned about unwanted physical contact or assault as they prepare for a run.

The striking difference between the experience of running while male and running while female is even reflected in Google search results. Type in “male runners stats” and you’ll get pages and pages of results pertaining to marathon finishing times, training guides, and other sport-related info. Search for “women runners stats,” on the other hand, and stories about the dangers of running while female show up in the first few results and continue to spill onto the following pages.

While running may be a more democratic sport than most, it’s still challenging for women to escape the realities of deep-rooted cultural misogyny—no matter where, when, or how fast they run. In order for women runners to be really free, our culture first needs to reconcile with its pervasive misogyny, and men as a collective group need to stop harassing and assaulting women.

“I always wish someone would go into all the high schools and say something to make high-school boys not catcall women,” Herron says—pointing out that boys who learn to treat women with respect are less likely to grow into men who don’t.

Until that day, Herron says there are several strategies women can employ to feel safer on their runs.

“The No. 1 safety strategy is just to be completely aware of your surroundings,” Herron says. To that end, she makes a habit of continually scanning her surroundings and wears open-ear headphones that allow her to enjoy music while simultaneously hearing what’s going on around her.

Herron does occasionally bring a weapon, but she’s very selective about what she uses. “If you’re going to carry a weapon, it should be something that you’re very comfortable with, very skilled at, and have lots of practice with,” she says. Her preferred option is a Go Guarded ring, which is a plastic, serrated-edge weapon that can be worn on any finger. She points out that it’s also essential to keep your weapon in your hand at all times. “It’s not going to be any good in your fanny pack,” she says.

Herron also advocates for self-defense classes. “I would recommend a self-defense class to anyone,” she says, crediting the skills she learned in such a class with helping her fight off her first attacker. “The fact that my self-defense class was brought in by my employers—that’s something that I’d love to see more HR departments do. Taco Tuesday is great, but you can also give employees the tools that could potentially save their lives.”

Finally, it’s important to look out for each other. And that can happen in several ways.

“Men often ask me what they can do to make women feel safer, and I tell them to be on the lookout for creeps,” Herron says. “Sometimes just making eye contact can be enough to deter them. I also think guys need to call each other out for harassment and misogyny.”

Talking openly about women runners’ experiences can be another form of solidarity. “In coming forward with my stories, I wanted to let other women who have been accosted or assaulted know that they’re not alone,” Herron says. “Sharing the stories and hearing that it’s happened to other people can be very healing, so that you’re not kind of caught in this spiral of shame and blame.”

While having to think so much about safety may curtail women’s freedoms while running, Herron says putting strategies in place can help women feel confident enough to continue heading to the streets and trails. “While I don’t think we can ever get to a place of 100 percent freedom, I think we can do everything we possibly can to free ourselves of worry and fear.”

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6 DIY Beauty Customs From Around the World (and the Science Behind Why They Work)

As a celebrity makeup artist, Stephanie Flor has worked plenty of red carpets and fashion spreads, but her true passion is discovering beauty tips from all over the globe and sharing her experiences in Around the World Beauty.

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“I wanted to discover a different perspective on beauty,” Flor says. “I’ve talked to women in more than 30 countries about their ingredients, and took part in their rituals.” Stephanie has stored up a treasure chest full of time-tested beauty recipes and gratefully credits the women she meets in her travels.

She shared with us a few of her favorite global DIY beauty recipes, and we consulted with dermatologist Debra Jaliman, M.D., to learn exactly why these traditional treatments have stood the test of time, scientifically speaking.

1. Turmeric Mask, India

Turmeric is an essential ingredient in Ayurvedic medicine and is used to bring a warm golden color and slight bitterness to curries, make milk tea, and even treat inflammation—but it also does wonders for your face. “Turmeric is loaded with antioxidants, which help slow down the aging process by protecting and firming your skin,” Jaliman says. That said, turmeric can temporarily stain your skin, so best to try this mask on a rainy weekend in.

The other ingredients in this mask pack a punch too—honey is a natural moisturizer and has antimicrobial properties which can help with irritation and acne, while yogurt helps cool and soothe skin while also hydrating and improving brightness.

Recipe: Mix a couple tablespoons of full-fat, plain Greek yogurt; one teaspoon of turmeric; and one teaspoon of honey until smooth. Apply the mixture to your face and leave on for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off.

2. Coffee Cellulite Scrub, Colombia

A cup of joe can perk up more than your morning (yes, we’re talking about butts). Although there’s no miracle cure for cellulite, this scrub can give you a tighter, more radiant backside—temporarily.

“It pulls water out of the skin, making the skin look less dimpled,” Jaliman explains. Caffeine is a popular anti-cellulite ingredient found in most pricey firming creams. With this scrub, you’ll not only save a wad of cash, but you’ll also get the exfoliating benefits of brown sugar particles and the nourishing, essential fatty acids found in coconut oil. “Your skin will be super soft—and you’ll smell amazing!” Stephanie says. (And you’ll probably taste pretty sweet too… just saying).

Recipe: Grind half a cup of Colombian coffee beans fairly fine (or smash them with a mortar and pestle). Add two tablespoons of unrefined coconut oil and a teaspoon of brown sugar. Mix it up and start scrubbing, or transfer to a jar for later use. Wash off and admire.

3. Wine and Oat Mask, Argentina

Have you heard the latest wine news? Turns out, drinking might not be so good for you after all. While this is a major bummer, wine can be put to good use on your face. “Resveratrol, found in red wine, is a powerful antioxidant that can fight skin aging,” Jaliman says. Red wine also has anti-inflammatory properties, while oats are known for their ability to calm down skin irritation. But if you’re prone to rosacea, you might want to sit this one out.

Recipe: Combine a tablespoon of yogurt, two teaspoons of honey, and a handful of dry oats. Add a splash or two of red wine and mix. Apply to your face using circular motions and let sit for 15-20 minutes before rinsing off.

4. Rhassoul Clay Rubdown, Morocco

Flor got this traditional Berber recipe from La Roseraie Spa Retreat in Morocco. Rhassoul clay, found in the Atlas Mountains, is a staple in Moroccan beauty. It’s known for its exfoliating powers as well as its rich mineral content. “Minerals such as magnesium, silicon, potassium, and calcium all help to nourish the skin,” Jaliman says, and all are present in rhassoul clay. Be warned, this recipe is both labor- and time-intensive, but at least you can save the airfare and order the clay online.

Recipe: In a bowl, mix equal parts rhassoul clay and freshly steeped herbal tea with your hands, adjusting amounts of each until you get a paste. Flor suggests also adding a drop of essential oil, such as rose or lavender. Once you have a smooth consistency, free of lumps, transfer the clay to a pan to air dry for a couple of days.

When you’re ready to get your rub on, apply the paste to your face and body and let dry for 15-20 minutes. Turn on the warm water and, using an exfoliating glove or your hands, start rinsing the clay off in circular motions. This might taa whileile, but your body and a clearer mind will thank you.

5. Matcha Powder Hair Mask, Japan

Flor was introduced to matcha as a hair treatment for the first time in Japan. “Women were using it as a way to prevent hair loss and get some shine,” she says. “Matcha’s loaded with antioxidants, which, as we know, is always good for the skin,” Jaliman says.

Peppermint oil has a cooling effect on the skin, has been shown to stimulate hair growth, and may increase circulation to the scalp, although we’d love to see more studies demonstrating this. However, don’t overdo it! Like all essential oils, peppermint oil is highly concentrated, so keep the dosage super low. For most folks, though, you can use this mask once a week, and it won’t cause any irritation.

Recipe: Warm a tablespoon of coconut oil in a bowl with one teaspoon of high-grade matcha powder, stirring gently, since matcha is very delicate. Add 1 drop of peppermint oil and mix. Part your dry hair, and, working in sections, apply the paste to your whole scalp. Work the remainder of the mask into the ends, gently brush through, and wait 30 minutes before rinsing off and shampooing.

6. Clove Scrub, Zanzibar

This scrubdown is used by Zanzibar brides for a week before their nuptials to get their skin glowing and fragrant. “You’ll find cloves in a lot of skin products for acne-prone skin because of their antiseptic properties,” Jaliman says. “They’re also full of antioxidants.” And bonus: They smell divine! Rose water has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, while coconut oil is all kinds of moisturizing.

Recipe: In a large bowl, combine three tablespoons of coarsely ground cloves, two tablespoons of rose water, two tablespoons of coconut oil, and three tablespoons of ground dried flowers. You can create a mix of your favorites, but Stephanie suggests roses, jasmine, and ylang-ylang. Mix all of the ingredients together and vigorously massage into dry skin for a few minutes before washing off.

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My Unexpected (but Totally Worth the Wait) Journey from Diet-Obsessed to Body Positive

I’m not sure when I first started worrying about my weight, but I suspect it started around the same time I started growing breasts and worrying what boys thought of me. Or, more likely, what other girls thought of me.

Until then, I assumed that adolescent girldom came the way it was depicted in movies — at least back then. The “average-sized” girl always played sidekick to the model-type who had it all: the grades, the looks, and the boy.

So by the time I was 14, the word “diet” to me meant “eat like this until you reach your goal weight and then everything will be OK.” Though it never was, I spent those formative years trying to balance my love of food and my disdain for any form of exercise that broke a sweat outside the swimming pool — my weight yo-yoing within a narrow range through the remainder of my teen years.

When I went away to college, this range moved (mildly) up the scale. Still, since I constantly charted my weight, I didn’t see it as concerning. Instead of losing the initial five pounds, I’ll just have to lose 10 pounds, I thought. And on came the weeks, if not months, of fad diets before they officially entered the mainstream (paleo, keto, and Dukan come to mind) and charting my ups and downs — at first on paper with a habit tracker and later with a Fitbit.

At 24, however, I reached my heaviest: 137 pounds. I was two years into therapy and one thing became increasingly clear: I did not have “it” (whatever it was) together, especially when it came to my body.

Consumed by my day-to-day life — school, work, and the social life that comes with college — I didn’t even realize my initial weight obsession started out of sheer neuroticism. Working out blanketed me into believing I was in control of my anxiety.

With a Fitbit, I was constantly reminded of my daily goal and whether or not I had reached it. I would jog on the spot until midnight to make it, or excuse myself at a friend’s and take a freakishly long call or an extended visit to the restroom until the black band on my wrist started buzzing to signal that I was done.

On days I missed ticking a box or making my step goal, I’d mentally scold myself like a child, guilt myself into doing more tomorrow, and watching my food twice as closely in the days that followed.

Until therapy, it never occurred to me that my anxiety and eating were also enmeshed in something bigger — that gaining weight during my years of therapy was linked to reliving repressed memories.

When I happened upon old diaries from my teenage years, one thing became obvious: Every hundred odd pages, without fail, I’d start a health kick, hoping that “this” would be “it.” My monologue was always consistent: “If I’m 110 pounds, my anxiety will go away, and I’ll be happy and not have to binge-eat when life gets tough.” For me, food was comfort, and I needed extra comfort in those days.

But that was then – and this was now. I was at my heaviest weight ever, and something had changed. It wasn’t until the elastic of my underwear was digging into my hips that I realized this bout of weight gain was different. Unlike years gone by, this time I didn’t hate myself for it.

At my largest, I suddenly discovered that I was much more than my weight. For the first time, I didn’t feel exhausted by the continuous cycle of weight watching, and I realized that being healthy wasn’t at all about vanity.

I was, without knowing it at the time, body positive. So much so that when I did start working out again — on my terms this time — I questioned whether or not I was being true to my new, body-positive self.

I thought, just as many women did, that body positivity couldn’t go hand in hand with weight loss or healthy eating or working out. And that’s simply not true. As cliché as it sounds, for me, body positivity is a mental state that involves accepting my body the way it is today.

There’s a slightly cheesy quote I think of whenever I do weigh in after a swim, about how it’s not the destination, but the journey itself. For me, my journey involves swimming because I enjoy it and it expels anxiety from my mind — or choosing to meet a friend at a chocolate workshop because that’s something I enjoy too.

There’s so much more to a healthy life, I’ve found, without all the extra weight that comes with chasing a goal that ends where it’s met.

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Not Giving 100 Percent Can Actually Help You Get Fitter

It took years of having a torrid, on-again-off-again relationship with working out to finally discover a deep and abiding love for fitness—and a six-pack. My secret? I gave myself a break and stopped asking myself to be so hardcore. Seriously, rarely do I give more than 70 percent of my max effort.

It’s hard to believe that you don’t have to torture yourself to be fit, especially when every ripped-AF person you meet at a coffee shop is raving about the CrossFit class that just made their eyes bleed (… awesome!). Besides, conventional bro wisdom and even scientific studies declare that the harder you work out, the better results you get. (Failure, bro!!! You gotta get to failure, BRO!!!) Yep, I swallowed that blue pill too.

It’s just that hardcore workouts NEVER worked for me.

People thought I was fit because I had the highest PT score in my battalion—as a former medic, I could run 20 miles at the drop of a hat and knock out 130 push-ups in a minute. But despite being able to perform under pressure, I never felt fit.

That might’ve had something to do with the fact that I always had some sort of catastrophic injury that kept me from being consistent and gaining muscle. And truthfully, injury was okay with me because I hated working out. It was a high-stress, low-fun thing for me, and I’d take any excuse to avoid it.

So I settled for being “skinny fat” and semi-sedentary throughout my early- to mid-20s, only reverting to binges of hardcore exercise when I got fed up with the way my body looked and felt, and always burning out or getting injured. I was basically a bulimic exerciser.

That you could enjoy your workouts and essentially be a balanced human being hadn’t occurred to me yet (failure, bro, failure!!!). But shortly after I turned 28, I came across one of those YouTube videos that just happens to resonate with you in a satori-like moment from God (is there an algorithm for that?). And it had me drinking a new flavor of Kool-Aid within 24 hours.

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Firas Zahabi, head coach at Tristar Gym, was featured on the Joe Rogan Show, where he talked about reducing exercise intensity for more consistency, better form, and more gains. That’s where I learned about the 70 percent principle: Only on rare occasions, Zahabi says, should you extend yourself past 70 percent of your perceived maximum effort. Basically that means fewer hardcore workouts and more “softcore” workouts.

Certified personal trainer Shawn Mynar agrees, saying that workouts for overall fitness should primarily be full body and low intensity, with your exertion level somewhere between 60-70 percent of your perceived max.

The idea is never to be fatigued so that you can do high-quality reps all throughout the day—we’re talking anywhere from five to seven 3-5 minute mini-workouts—that way, you can continue working out the next day (when hardcore lifters can barely get off the pot). It was good enough for elite marathoners and weightlifters, so I gave it a shot.

I was hooked after the first day.

The first thing I noticed was that I actually enjoyed the workouts. Instead of going cross-eyed and crying in a corner (OK… maybe it was never that bad), my “softcore” mini-workouts were no longer than a coffee break—and just as energizing.

I did my first 5 sets of 10 push-ups at 9 a.m. and was ready for the second round by 10, then repeated the cycle every hour or two until sunset—either hitting the floor right next to my writing desk or sauntering to a park five minutes from my house.

The best part was that instead of looking to the clock and thinking, Ugh… I’ve gotta go work out, I actually couldn’t wait to break away from work to use my body and feel like a human being again. It was totally stress-free and fun, which is the exact opposite of what working out had always been for me.

And yeah, I work from home—so you might be thinking, um, this sounds super inaccessible, but I know a guy who used a conference room in his office for the same type of training. Where there’s a will (and a decently flexible work environment), there’s a way.

I ended up finishing the day with about 300 push-ups total, which was more than I would normally do in my hardcore days, and I felt awesome—no strains, no DOMS, no crying in dark corners. I did pull-ups the next day (each round was 3 sets of 7), and the same thing happened—I just wanted to go back to my bar and do more and more, because now that I wasn’t killing myself, I could actually enjoy the movement and feel energized.

I worked in days of burpees, just five at a time, short sprints of 40 yards, squats, planks, weight training—rarely going over 70 percent max. And it was the same story for each: I fell more in love with fitness after each set. No injuries, no burnout. Just more energy and results.

Friends and family were commenting on my changing physique within the first month.

My (admittedly kinda weird) family members started talking about my “nice tummy.” By month two, I had a defined six-pack for the first time in my life, and my notoriously hollow upper chest was finally starting to fill out. The fact that I was still working out by the third month was a testament to how well the 70 percent rule had worked for me because I’d never stuck with anything for that long.

This isn’t to say there isn’t a type of person that can get energized by crazy-intense workouts. It’s just that I was never that person, try as I did. The best part of it all? After years of dreading exercise, working out this way finally sparked my love for fitness. And that’s something everyone can use.

Dan Dowling is a writer and coach in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Got some fitness or career goals you’re putting off? Swing by his blog, Millennial Success.

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Probiotics or Prebiotics: Which Ones Should You Take?

Just when you get a handle on all of the health and wellness trends out there, some new concept comes along that brings you back to square one. So you’re probably familiar with probiotics—you’re trying to eat the right gut-healthy foods or taking supplements that contain friendly gut bacteria—but a relatively new product with a similar name may have you all confused.

That’d be prebiotics. Wait, is that just a misspelling of probiotics? Or are prebiotics some kind of wellness snake oil sold by companies who want to ride the coattails of legit probiotics?

And—hold the phone—now there’s buzz about postbiotics?! With all the similar yet different terms swirling around, it’s time to clear up the confusion around what distinguishes each.

What Are Probiotics?

To really understand probiotics’ role in your health, let’s start with a quick refresher of how they work in your digestive tract. Your large intestine (and, to a much lesser extent, your small intestine) is home to an enormous population of bacterial microbes—more than 100 trillion of them.

These trillions of itty-bitty gut bugs have a major impact on your well-being, as a diverse colony of “good” bacteria promotes healthy digestion, while “bad” bacterial strains can cause digestive distress.

But it’s not just smooth bathroom business that makes a thriving intestinal colony so desirable. The microbiome (a term for the sum total of bacteria inhabiting your body) has lately become one of science’s hottest topics, with research linking healthy gut microbes to reduced risks of health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and even depression.

With all that’s on the line, it’s not shocking that consuming probiotics is becoming the norm. These positive strains of bacteria exist naturally in fermented foods, so you can consume them by eating yogurt, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, or tempeh. They can also be encapsulated in pills that deliver a massive dose in one shot—a.k.a. the over-the-counter products most of us think of when we talk about taking probiotics.

So, What Are Prebiotics?

As researchers uncover deeper insights into how probiotics operate, they’ve discovered that there’s more we can do beyond inserting good bacteria into our systems via food or pills.

For probiotics to work most effectively, it’s important to provide them with the best possible environment. (Don’t you want the little buggers to feel right at home in your colon?) That’s where prebiotics come into play.

In the simplest terms, prebiotics are food for probiotics. Your good gut bugs need something to feed on while they’re hanging around your nether regions, and that something is “prebiotic” fiber. This fiber is hardy enough to survive the first several stops along the digestive process (the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and small intestine) and make it to the end of the line (the colon), where probiotics live. Therefore, prebiotic fibers are the so-called “non-digestible” varieties: oligosaccharides, inulin, and fructooligosaccharides.

But you don’t need to memorize that mouthful of nutrition-science vocabulary. Instead, remember that plant-based, high-fiber foods—such as vegetables, fruits, grains, and roots—are good sources of prebiotics. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, soybeans, and whole wheat make some of the best choices.

And What About Postbiotics?!

And now a word about the last type of biotics. Postbiotics, as their name implies, have to do with what happens after digestion. As bacteria “digest” the fibers in your GI tract, this activity produces metabolic compounds. Though in the past, researchers thought of these postbiotics merely as waste byproducts, there’s rising interest in their potential as a medical therapy for inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and enterocolitis.

As the research is currently in its infancy, you won’t see postbiotics sold next to prebiotics and probiotics as dietary supplements any time soon. But in a world where nearly anything can be distilled and put in a pill (even fecal transplants!), it’s possible that postbiotic pills will eventually hit the market.

Which Ones Should You Take?

With our biotic terms defined, the question remains: Which of them should you take, and how? If good bacteria benefit us so much, a billions-strong, over-the-counter probiotic supplement may seem like an obvious choice. But as with most health information, it’s not so cut and dry. Two recent studies have raised serious questions around whether probiotic pills actually do what they’re purported to.

In one of the studies, many subjects’ digestive tracts resisted being colonized by probiotic supplements. In the other, taking probiotics to “bounce back” after antibiotics actually proved counterproductive, as doing so made gut flora take longer to return to its “normal” state.

So are probiotics are a bust? What are we to do if we want that all-important healthy gut? “For a generally healthy person, I’d always recommend food first,” says Ali Webster, Ph.D., RD, associate director of nutrition communications with the International Food Information Council Foundation.

“Probiotic supplements have shown benefits only for very specific conditions, like antibiotic-related diarrhea, C. difficile infection, and necrotizing enterocolitis in infants. For other conditions, the evidence isn’t there.” Webster points out that probiotic-rich foods also have “a lot of other beneficial compounds” you won’t get in just a pill, like protein and calcium in yogurt and kefir, or vitamin C in sauerkraut.

As for prebiotics, you don’t necessarily need a pill to keep enough of them in your system, either. And prebiotic-containing foods also boast plenty of important nutrients of their own, so Webster recommends getting them through food as well. However, if your diet doesn’t include many fruits, veggies, or whole grains, or poses certain macronutrient restrictions—(we’re looking at you, keto)—it may be wise to add a prebiotic supplement.

Finally, as with all supplements, if at all possible, talk to a registered dietitian or other health care providers before starting a pre- or probiotic, especially if you have any specific health condition(s), Webster says.

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8 Drug-Free Ways to Calm Anxiety in Minutes

Pretty much everyone deals with anxiety at some point in their lives, and you don’t have to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder to need a release—so we spoke with experts about how to identify anxiety (and how to deal with it).

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“Anxiety can show up in our lives in many different ways,” says Ginger Poag, MSW, LCSW, a licensed therapist at Brentwood Wellness Counseling in Nashville, Tennessee. “But the most common are often irritability, lack of patience, worrying, difficulty sleeping, avoiding certain situations or people, inability to focus or concentrate, inability to relax, stress eating, tense muscles, and headaches.”

If you’re dealing with anxiety, it can be tough to keep going, and while there are a lot of ways to reduce anxiety in your life, we found some very specific options that you may want to try.

1. Listen to This Song

It may sound weird, but research suggests that listening to this song could help reduce anxiety by up to 65 percent. Music therapy has been shown to help reduce anxiety for patients undergoing procedures—and it may even help reduce pain.

Try This: Block out a few minutes and pop in your headphones to listen to this song. (Yes, I tried it. And yes, it actually works.)

2. Get App-y

Anxiety can make you feel like you’re on an island, which is why it can be super helpful to talk to someone about how you’re feeling. Some people process things verbally, so talking about what’s going on in your head can help you begin to understand and cope with your anxiety.

“We can begin to catastrophize the problem and make ourselves believe the problem is much bigger and worse than what we originally believed,” Poag says. “I encourage clients to talk their anxiety out with a trusted friend or family member—by getting out our concerns verbally, we can begin to see the reality of our worries.”

However, sometimes it can be hard to talk to your friends and family when you’re feeling anxious, and therapy can be expensive or overwhelming.

Try This: Download an app like 7 Cups to work through any anxiety that pops up in your life. The app offers free trained “listeners” who are other users of the app, group chats, and even virtual therapy sessions to help when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Even just working through the app’s guided activities can help improve your overall emotional wellness and distract you when you’re feeling anxious.

3. Drop Into Cat-Cow

Need to relax fast? There’s a yoga pose (OK, a lot of yoga poses) for that. However, cat-cow pose is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety so you can focus on your breathing.

Studies show that a regular yoga practice can have a significant impact on anxiety levels in your daily life, so taking the time to find your zen can be good for both reducing existing anxiety and preventing more in the future.

“A regular yoga practice can teach you how to become aware of the present moment,” says Lauren Zoeller, a certified yoga instructor and Whole Living Life Coach. “When you learn to live in the present moment, your body and emotions are able to cope with anxiety more efficiently.”

Try This: Using a yoga mat, blanket, or the space behind your desk (we won’t tell anyone!), position yourself onto your hands and knees with your shoulders aligned with your wrists and your hips over your knees.

With your weight balanced evenly, inhale as you slowly look up and let your stomach drop toward the floor. After a brief hold, exhale and tuck your chin to your chest. Moving gently, draw your navel toward your spine and round your back up toward the ceiling. Repeat slowly for one minute.

4. Breathe With a .GIF (Seriously)

This might sound a little redundant—hello, we’re already breathing—but experts agree that deep breathing can have a serious impact on stress and anxiety.

“Deep breathing allows the brain to receive more oxygen, activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which, in turn, lowers heart rate and blood pressure, which allows the body to experience calmness and relaxation,” Poag says.

Translation: The parasympathetic nervous system is what helps you relax, which is definitely helpful when you’re feeling anxious.

Try This: Use the handy .GIF below to focus on your breathing. Set a timer to give yourself a mini-break and turn your phone on silent while you breathe.

“Two minutes of controlled breathing can significantly change your attitude and will immediately decrease your stress level,” Zoeller says. “Even if that means locking yourself in the bathroom stall at work.” a .GIF of a geometric pattern
Don’t worry about controlling your thinking or needing to find your zen, which can sometimes leave you feeling more anxious. Be gentle with yourself and focus on the movement—and getting that sweet oxygen—as much as possible.

5. Take a Five-Minute Break

“It is proven that a regular meditation practice can help you cope with difficult situations, ease mental and physical pain, and eliminate the common factors associated with anxiety,” Zoeller says. “Five minutes of meditation a day can drastically your decrease your anxiety level.”

In fact, one study showed that 20 minutes of mindful meditation practice for four days cut anxiety levels by nearly 40 percent. Yep. That much.

Meditation has long been known for its benefits, and they’re totally backed by science. Not sure where to begin? Turns out you only need five minutes to get started.

Try This: Poag suggests downloading a guided meditation app to help the process along, or you can try watching a video on guided meditation on YouTube. It only takes a few minutes to reap the benefits of meditation, making it a perfect tool to combat anxiety.

6. Turn Anxiety Into Excitement

If you’re feeling anxious about a big work project, a date, or karaoke night, studies suggest that traditional anxiety-relieving techniques might not do as much as we’d like.

Try This: Harness your anxiety and focus on turning it into excitement instead. Research on performance anxiety in highly skilled musicians shows that those who view anxiety as a good thing are more likely to perform better.

And, honestly, it makes sense: Perception matters, and science suggests that a little bit of stress can actually be beneficial. We spend a lot of time talking about getting rid of stress and anxiety (which, let’s be real, totally makes sense). But in reality, those things—in small doses—aren’t actually the worst things for us, so long as we perceive them as good.

7. Chew Some Gum

Chewing gum might not be the first remedy you think of when it comes to anxiety, but studies suggest that it may reduce fatigue, stress, and anxiety, and even boost your mood. Of the 101 study participants, chewing gum was also associated with a better perception of work performance.

A small study concluded that chewing gum helped reduce anxiety and increase alertness, and another determined that chewing gum reduced stress-related responses in the brain.

Try This: Pop a piece (or two) of gum into your mouth. This isn’t the time for casual chewing—one study suggests that the best benefit comes from more, uh, enthusiastic chewing.

8. Use the 5-4-3-2-1 Method

Project LETS—a nonprofit organization dedicated to erasing the stigma surrounding mental illness, diversity, trauma, and neurodivergence—suggests the 5-4-3-2-1 method as an emergency intervention for panic attacks or anxiety.

It involves using all of your senses and engaging your mind to find calm in the midst of anxiety. Plus, it’s something you can do out loud when you’re alone or in your head if you’re around other people.

Try This: Look around the room you’re in, and name 5 things you can see. Next, name 4 things you can touch or feel. Then, you’ll look for 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and—finally—one thing you can taste.

It might take practice, but the Mayo Clinic suggests that trying this grounding technique when you’re feeling anxious can help take the focus off your thoughts and place it on your surroundings instead. This might not seem like much, but disrupting anxiety before it builds can actually make it easier to cope in the long term.

The Bottom Line

Anxiety can make a big impact on your life, even if it’s not something you regularly deal with. If it is—and you’re struggling to identify the difference between anxiety and an anxiety disorder—try talking with a doctor or therapist.

“Anxiety is often related to an event or situation and tends to only last for the duration of that situation or event. Everyone may feel anxiety at some point, such as when a deadline is approaching,” Poag says.

Anxiety disorder, she says, is different in several ways. It can pop up for no specific reason, it’s often long-term and not situation-based, and it can seem impossible to control—especially if you start avoiding certain people or situations and worry excessively.

“Individuals should seek professional help if they have tried to control the anxiety and worrying with no success, and it has lasted for at least six months,” Poag says. “Or when anxiety begins to negatively impact relationships, work, or routine tasks.”

Stress and anxiety might be unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take steps to prevent them from negatively impacting our lives.

Jandra Sutton is an author, historian, and public speaker. She lives in Nashville with her husband and their two dogs, and Pluto is still a planet in her heart. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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17 Extremely Good Ways to Save Money When You Are Broke As a Joke

Being broke can teach you how to live very thriftily—trust us, we spent years figuring out how to live well on next to nothing. This is not one of those “Here’s how we saved $ 50k while only earning $ 20,000 a year” stories because, hi, that isn’t a real thing. Instead, we’re here to offer small, actionable steps you can use to help you get your money right so you can go from scraping by to building your savings.

1. Go through every meal kit subscription in the universe.

Seriously, try them all. Just remember to cancel your subscription after those $ 60 off, first-five-meals-are-free coupons have stopped kicking in.

2. Make a list of your luxury items and see what can stay and what can go.

Do you really need a paid Spotify account when the free one also works extremely well? How about your Hulu, Netflix, Mubi, and HBOGo accounts? You can cut back on two and get a library card—most libraries let you rent DVDs and stream movies and TV shows now too.

And ask yourself if some of your other monthly expenses are really that necessary. Is the super-fancy gym membership necessary, or would a more basic gym be Just Fine? (It would. And you can bring your own expensive shower products—worth it).

3. Family plan it up.

And when you decide that yes, yes, you really do need Hulu, Netflix, Mubi, HBOGo, and a paid Spotify account, start up a share system with friends and family. It takes a few minutes of planning, but if everyone in your group subscribes to one service, you’ll all save big bucks.

4. Be the host when you hang out with friends.

If your house becomes the hangout spot, you can avoid spending wildly overpriced bar prices for a glass of wine (and bonus, you don’t have to worry about finding your way home if you party too hard). Or create invites for BYO drinks-and-snacks picnics in the park—everyone shares, and you don’t even have to clean your place after.

5. You can find really, really good stuff used.

If you check out garage sales and secondhand shops, you’ll find plenty of clothes (not to mention furniture and a seemingly endless supply of charmingly mismatched, shabby-chic glassware) for cheap. Try searching your town’s name plus the word “garage sale” in the Facebook search bar to find a ton of local postings.

For furniture, sites like Craigslist and online community boards like Nextdoor are fantastic. You can get practically brand-new, high-quality items by just throwing the name of a brand you’re interested in (“Crate & Barrel”) into the search tool. And check out sites like Thredup that are basically gigantic online thrift stores. You can get really well-made, designer clothes for 1/16 of the retail price, and it’s a far more environmentally friendly way to live.

6. Get your cash right.

While lots of different savings accounts offer interest, credit unions typically have better rates and higher limits. You can also try the Mint app—it can help you figure out what you’re spending where and how to do better—use the discount-code-whiz Honey app whenever you shop online (it’s kind of amazing), and give the cash-back Ibotta app a go, because why not.

7. Check out discounted services.

Groupon hasn’t been as popular in the past few years as it used to be, but redownload it—it’s not just for restaurants. You can find everything from haircuts and spa services to dental and eye exams.

8. Do odd jobs.

This one kinda goes without saying, but if your paychecks aren’t stretching and you have some free time, a side gig is always helpful. You can always opt for Lyft and Taskrabbit, but don’t forget the classics like babysitting gigs (which you can find on Care), dog-walking (Wag!), or using sites like Upwork to make a few extra dollars doing creative tasks. Plus, having a fun side-gig like dog walking to occupy some of your free hours will keep you from overspending (… and the bonus cash doesn’t hurt).

9. Revamp your dining style.

Meal prepping can help you with eating healthy while saving money (and avoiding waste). Also, check out food co-ops to save money on fresh produce, always buy dry goods like paper towels in bulk, and don’t overlook the cheap (and delicious) benefit of starting your own garden.

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You can also create budget-friendly rules for yourself, like prepping food for meals you’ll be eating alone, which can create a little room for a dining-out budget with friends. And pro tip: If you start meeting friends for breakfasts instead of dinner and drinks, it’s way, way cheaper—and a really lovely way to start the morning.

If you’re someone who just hates meal planning and is always going to eat lunch out every day, try a service like Mealpal. You can buy a bundle of lunches from local spots for less than $ 6 a meal, and the company has great intro packages (like we’re talking 40 percent off) too.

10. Think before you spend.

It’s really easy to see something you want and drop a stack right then and there. But what if you just… didn’t? Adopt a two-week to 30-day policy before spending money on non-emergencies. Corporations spend a lot of time and money researching the absolute best ways to get you to spend before you have the chance to think, but you can avoid their Jedi mind tricks if you spend some time thinking first, do price comparisons, and assess value. Think first; spend later. It’s less fun in the moment but more fun when you realize you totally have the cash to go on vacation later this year.

11. Dust off your bike.

You can save so much money on transportation (plus give yourself a good cardio workout and avoid using fossil fuels) by opting for a bike ride over taking a train or a car. Don’t want to make the investment in a bike of your own? Check to see if your city has a bike-share program and hop on one of those bad boys—your wallet will feel the relief as much as your feet.

12. Put a personal trainer in your pocket.

These days, there are so, so many different options for in-app fitness, and they’re all super customizable for your workout needs. So even though having the one-on-one attention of a personal trainer is the bomb.com, we guarantee there’s a muuuuuch cheaper way for you to get that workout and still have it be, well… personal. At least until you win the lottery, that is.

13. Two words: Trader Joe’s.

This—and every other brand shoutout in this article—is not an #ad. But the entire Greatist office is obsessed with TJ’s, and we don’t care who knows it. We’ll shout it from the top of a tower of Trader Joe’s almond milk because it’s only $ 1.99 so we can afford it!

Seriously—not only do we love their products (have you had this?! Or this?!), but you can’t beat the prices on typically expensive items like quinoa or blueberries. Trust us when we say that the amount of food you can get for your money will practically double what you’d scrounge together at another grocery store. Long live the Hawaiian shirt!

14. Get scrappy with your movie/festival/concert candy.

Should you break the rules at the movie theater? Of course not! Great, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way: Who hasn’t snuck candy into a movie theater? You’ve gotta get crafty sometimes (jackets with pockets on the inside) because bag checks are (rightfully) common at theaters, but hey—drugstore candy is just cheaper and every bit helps. This also applies to festivals, concerts, and plays, so if you need to BYOC… we won’t judge.

15. And it’s OK to fool your friends into thinking you’re fancier than you are too.

Yeah, we’re not above refilling an old Aesop soap bottle with cheaper Mrs. Meyers so the bathroom seems nicer than it is. See also: upcycling the glass containers from nice candles into bud vases and mini planters for succulents (which you’ll kill, but oh well), and serving your friends from carafes of sangria, which you made with a few bottles of TJ’s “Two-Buck-Chuck” cab sauv, an apple, and a couple of oranges (no one ever needs to see the label).

16. Be your own ATM.

You know the saying “out of sight, out of mind,” right? We’re pretty sure that phrase originated when debit cards became a thing. Try taking out cash on Sunday night or Monday morning and let that be your allowance for the rest week—those Jacksons will feel infinitely more real in your hands than they do in your bank account.

17. Go for free.

Take advantage of the free cultural events in your area. You can get into some interesting things this way and, worst case scenario, it’s not the most amazing time you’ve ever had but at least you didn’t get spendy for it. We’re into free museum days, outdoor concerts, improv shows, cemetery walking tours… whatever’s happening, we’re game to try anything twice.

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The Reason You Always Get Sick After Vacation

After a relaxing vacation, you’d think your body would be so rejuvenated that your immune system would be in tip-top shape. But it’s like clockwork: The second your plane lands back home, sniffles or body aches surface out of nowhere. How on earth can a week of sipping mojitos on the beach cause you to get sick when that’s the opposite of the point?

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You’re not imagining that this is a common occurence. “I see patients that return from vacation sick quite often,” says pharmacist Inna Lukyanovsky. The CDC even has a special section of its website devoted to this phenomenon. Some people get sick before they even land at home, something so common that some doctors call it “leisure sickness.”

Whether you spend most of your vacation napping in a lavish hotel bed or walking miles through the streets of a new city, it’s certainly a change of pace from your life back home. That’s a lot for your system to adjust to, only for those changes to come to a grinding halt when you arrive back home again and jump right back into your usual routine.

Post-vacation illness is the ultimate letdown, but there are scientific reasons for it beyond the universe trying to make your transition back to the office grind as miserable as possible. Here’s the deal—and how to cope.

The Real Reasons You Get Sick

No, your body isn’t just doing this to torture you. Here’s why experts believe people get sick after vacation.

1. Planes (but Not for the Reason You Think)

Anyone with even mild germophobic tendencies cringes when boarding a plane. While it’s horrifying to imagine gross recycled air floating through the plane every time someone sneezes the next aisle over, that’s likely not the true cause of your health issues.

The real culprit behind most plane-related colds is the low humidity in flight. “Airplanes can be the worst,” pharmacist Lindsey Elmore says. “The low-humidity air can dry out nasal passages.” Thanks to the plane’s high altitude, you’re cruising through the sky in some seriously dry air. That dryness can irritate your throat and nose and can also make it tougher for your body to fend off bacteria.

The Fix: Over-the-counter saline nasal spray and some eye drops can go a long way to combating this issue.

2. The Usual Germy Suspects

It’s no surprise that the classic culprits, like being exposed to new allergens and germs, not washing your hands enough, and coming into contact with large crowds, can also make you sick on your travels. Airports, train stations, public transit, and tourist sites all put you in contact with big crowds, which can increase the likelihood of coming down with something.

“These days, with the ability to be in different hemispheres and continents so easily, transmissible diseases due to viruses and bacteria can easily spread to different regions quickly,” says Dana Hawkinson, M.D., assistant professor at the University of Kansas.

The Fix: The best thing to do is wash your hands regularly and for the right length of time (that’d be 20 seconds). You can also attempt to maintain some personal space in large crowds? Yeah, focus on the hand-washing.

3. Plain Old Exhaustion

The truth is, travel is freaking tiring. Even the most relaxing beach vacation in the world is fairly taxing to actually get to, especially if you’re the type who goes on a panicked frenzy to pack, complete your entire to-do list, and clean your house top-to-bottom the night before an early morning flight. (Raises hand.)

Before you even arrive at your destination, your body has likely already been subjected to several days of strain and exhaustion as you prepped for the trip, packed, and stuffed yourself into a tiny plane seat at an inhuman hour.

“Sleep deprivation is a major immune system depressant,” Inna says. “You often see people who spend sleepless nights on vacations or sleepless days when traveling for long hours.” This gets even more complicated when your vacation is in a different time zone. Jet lag is definitely not your immune system’s friend.

The Fix: Some effective time management can help you not freak out the night before a trip, and you can learn some ways to sleep better too.

4. Boozing It Up

There’s nothing wrong with celebrating on vacation—God invented swim-up bars for a reason! That said, the frustrating fact is that drinking more than you do during your non-vacay life can increase your likelihood of getting sick when you head home. “Excessive drinking during vacation can certainly inhibit your immune system and back up the detoxification system, leading to a virus or bacterial infections,” Lukyanovsky says.

The Fix: Consider spacing out your drinking with more low-key days in-between. If nothing else, stick to the old college trick of making sure you’re drinking a glass of seltzer or water for every glass of alcohol you drink. This will keep you hydrated (and help fend off hangovers).

5. Temperature Changes

Traveling between two different climates can confuse your body and make you more susceptible to illness. This is especially common if you jet off in the winter to lounge in a warmer destination.

“People traveling in the winter to a warmer climate often get sick coming back to cold weather,” Lukyanovsky says. “And the cold itself isn’t the reason; it’s the cold affecting the immune system response. That can trigger the virus that you normally would fight off without noticing.” In the moment, your body has bigger fish to fry—like readjusting to the cold—allowing viruses you’d normally fend off with no issue to creep in.

The Fix: OK, there really isn’t one for this, unless you want to start avoiding warm-weather destinations in winter (haha, no). But a little self-care won’t hurt…

Above All, Spoil Yourself

It’s not like you ever need someone else’s permission to treat yo’self, but remember that it’s extra important to coddle yourself when you get home from a trip. All of that flying and driving and time zone changing is a huge deal for your body. Whether you feel a cold coming on or arrive home feeling perfectly healthy, it doesn’t change the fact that your body needs to recalibrate.

If you can swing it, take a day off when you arrive home before heading back to work. On these days, give yourself permission to be a total couch potato. Laze around, do a relaxing exercise like yoga, and let your body adjust. Drink lots of water and eat fresh fruits and veggies. (Also pay attention to how you feel during this time. If you develop symptoms like persistent diarrhea, rashes, or a fever, check in with your doctor to rule out any pressing health issues that are linked to travel to certain regions.)

If you’re someone who struggles with letting yourself do nothing, remember that you’re doing this for your well-being! If you take the time to slow down, you’ll be a lot less likely to develop a surprise illness the second you dive back into your routine. The world keeps turning even when you sit still—promise. So kick up your feet, spend the day plotting your next vacation, and give yourself a high-five for putting your immune system first.

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A Guide to Balancing “Clean Beauty” With Science

When you read about the problems caused by “everywhere chemicals” like BPA and phthalates, it can be tempting to chuck everything, buy a mud-colored hemp outfit, and move to an off-the-grid commune for a life of hammock weaving. But if you’re someone who loves beauty products (and all that they promise), it can also tempting to just… shrug the whole thing off. Sure, every cosmetic ingredient will probably cause cancer or infertility—but not before the world ends, right?

Perhaps there’s a happy medium between knee-jerk fear and sheer nihilism, however. Maybe we don’t have to buy all our beauty products from companies like Goop and Whole Foods and can still live to tell the tale. Maybe Goop and Whole Foods shill products that are no healthier for you than the products you buy anywhere else, many of which are products made in factories that make no effort toward sustainability or waste reduction and cost five times as much as the perfectly safe products you’d find at a Walgreens. After all, it’s 2019, and there’s big money to be made by simply feeling green.

This won’t be an exact science, but here are our thoughts on how to try to find a reasonable “clean beauty” balance:

1. Follow the Watchdogs

One of the first places you can turn for information is the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep database, which rates almost 70,000 products based on their ingredients. Enter the name of a lotion you’re about to buy, and the search will tell you whether any of its ingredients are known to cause problems, or if they’re still in question. (Although we recommend Googling the name of the product and “EWG”—the internal search is not amazing.)

“One of the biggest problems is that many of these ingredients have never been tested,” says EWG’s director of healthy living science, Nneka Leiba. Unlike with pharmaceuticals, the ingredients in beauty products don’t have to proven completely safe before they hit shelves. “What we’re saying to the consumer is, if there is no science on something, you shouldn’t assume it’s safe.”

Basically, when there’s not enough information, EWG will sound the alarm—which does mean they can sometimes be, well, rather alarmist about ingredients that aren’t known to cause harm. So it’s up to the consumer to take a look through the flags EWG raises and see if they seem relevant.

The group also issues an EWG-verified seal to certain products that meet its high standards of safety (though these seals have nothing to do with how effective the products are—just how safe they’ve been shown to be).

“Under that seal, we’ve already looked for ingredients of concern to make sure that they’re fully transparent to the consumer,” Leiba says. “That they’re not hiding harmful ingredients under the term ‘fragrance,’ for example.”

Other groups, like Made Safe, also have a nontoxic seal for approved products. This system can help you choose products in a wide variety of categories. Yes, using these systems may mean you’ll miss out on some potentially safe, effective products, but if you want to avoid doing a bunch of research into cosmetics and personal care, they can be a good solution.

2. Ask Your Dermatologist

On the other hand, you could take the watchdogs’ warnings with a grain of salt. There are a lot of products that dermatologists regularly recommend to their patients that carry moderate or high hazard ratings from EWG.

For example, CeraVe moisturizer, which many dermatologists love, has a score of 4 (moderate hazard). Among the ingredients EWG finds hazardous is the preservative propylparaben, a long-chain paraben that can bind to estrogen receptors in the body. It has been difficult to prove causal relationships between long-chain parabens and cancer, but groups like EWG and the European Union believe there is enough cause for concern. (Short-chain parabens such as methylparaben are thought to be safe by both groups.)

“It’s really hard to find products that are completely paraben-free, but every week there are more and more that are available,” says dermatologist Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, M.D. He doesn’t yet specifically advise his patients against using products with parabens, but he is pleased that patients are able to find alternatives.

Another discrepancy is in retinoid products, which have a 9 rating (high hazard) from EWG because of the way they caused more tumors to grow in mice exposed to the sun. Dermatologists agree that retinoids increase sun sensitivity but simply recommend using it at night or with sunscreen.

This is why you shouldn’t be embarrassed to bring your own list of concerns to your dermatologist—there’s only so much you can learn from Dr. Google, after all.

“People come in with their long list of craziness: ‘Can I use this? Can I not use that?'” says dermatologist and RealSelf contributor Michele Green, M.D. But both she and Mudgil certainly don’t seem to mind that their patients are keeping them on their toes.

3. Go Natural—to a Point

Green finds that some patients do feel more comfortable when they mix up their own DIY skin care—”You know exactly what’s being put into them”—and isn’t opposed to the practice, as long as it’s done well.

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But the truth is, some natural ingredients are just as bad for your skin as the man-made kind—even formaldehyde comes from trees, after all. The biggest problem with plant-derived ingredients like essential oils is that they’re potential allergens.

“Repeated exposure to a potential allergen can cause allergies,” Mudgil warns, so even if you don’t think you’re allergic to the latest trendy natural ingredient, like coconut oil, using it every single day might make you allergic to it. Before you go mixing your own cleansers and masks, read about which ingredients dermatologists think are actually effective and which may actually make your skin worse.

When you do use natural products, pay attention to your reaction to them and avoid anything with that vague label “fragrance,” because it could still be hiding toxins and allergens.

4. Vote With Your Wallet

For years, Congress has been sitting around not voting on a bill that could expand the FDA’s authority over personal care products and force manufacturers to be transparent about all their ingredients. We’re not holding our breath on that one, but in the meantime, this might be a situation in which capitalism is working in our favor. And all those new products screaming “paraben-free!” is a prime example.

“Companies are being forced to test their products more because consumers are asking for those scientific studies,” Leiba says. “The companies are doing what the consumers demand because the consumers voted with their wallet. They have choices—and they’re not choosing companies that are hiding things from them.”

Sabrina Rojas Weiss lives in Brooklyn, surrounded by her fellow freelance writers and competitive stroller-pushers. Her work has appeared on Refinery29, Yahoo, MTV News, and Glamour.com. The views expressed herein are her own and are meant to be taken with a grain of salt. Follow her on Twitter @shalapitcher.

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