Greatist RSS Greatist covers all things healthy, providing the most trusted and fun fitness, health, and happiness content on the web — from healthy recipes to workout tips. Here's to healthy en Tue, 26 Mar 2019 17:45:55 -0400 Tue, 26 Mar 2019 17:45:55 -0400 Greatist RSS The Fitness Membership That Saved Me From Sitting at a Desk All Day Greatist The Fitness Membership That Saved Me From Sitting at a Desk All Day The Fitness Membership That Saved Me From Sitting at a Desk All Day Mon, 18 Mar 2019 06:00:00 -0400 Ashley Sepanski 17509 at This article was created in partnership with Peerfit.

My weekday routine goes a little something like this: Sit and drink coffee. Sit and boot up computer. Check hair in bathroom mirror to make sure dry shampoo doesn't look like dandruff. Sit and work. Small talk with coworkers. Sit and work. Bathroom break. Sit and work. Lunch at desk. Sit and work. Maaayyybe make it to the gym before crawling home for dinner, where I sit on my butt some more and reflect on how tired I am.

You get where I'm going with this. If sitting was an exercise, my bum would be in amazing shape—like superhero-in-tights-shape. Sadly sitting doesn't really do us any favors. And I should know: I'm so freaking good at it.

While the solution is fairly obvious—stand up, doy—giving in to that sedentary life is so easy. That's why Peerfit is my butt's new BFF.

Imagine a fitness subscription that lets you sign up for a range of fitness classes and gyms near your office without any blackout times or price hikes. That's Peerfit in a nutshell, but it gets better: Peerfit works with employers and your insurance to foot the bill, and it comes with social networking tools so you can coordinate workouts with friends at the office.

Here's how it works:

  • Create a personal or corporate account. If your insurance/company won't chip in, you can get a subscription for $8.95 a month, then pay a discounted member rate for each class you book.
  • Find your gym or a workout class. You can filter your search by type (boxing, dance, HIIT, yoga) and reserve your spot with one click.
  • Grab a friend. Once your class is booked, you can sync it to your calendar and invite coworkers with an email invite or social media event or by sharing a special link.
  • Sweat and save your butt from another full day in a chair.

I can attest that the system works. Our associate fitness editor (and wonderful pal) Jamey Powell lured my hermit self into the world with a boxing invite. After an hour of winded jokes, punches, and kicks, I felt totally revived and ready to annihilate my to-dos. A few days later, I kept the momentum going with a lunchtime session at my favorite NYC studio, 305 Fitness. It's weird how making time for exercise becomes second nature when you've got a mile-long list of classes to try and good friends to sweat with.

So look, sitting might not be the new smoking, but being active with friends has benefits on benefits. Wouldn't you rather give your desk a break and do your body and mind some good? Trust me when I say I can't think of a $9-per-month subscription with more value than Peerfit. My butt totally agrees.

The Easiest Way to Make New Friends at Work Greatist The Easiest Way to Make New Friends at Work The Easiest Way to Make New Friends at Work Mon, 18 Mar 2019 06:00:00 -0400 Healthyish Generation 17502 at This article was created in partnership with Peerfit.

No matter how cultivated your social skills are, starting a new job always feels like the first day of school. You agonize over an outfit the night before, wonder who you'll sit with at lunch, and have nightmares of getting stuck in the elevator with your new boss (just us?).

Work friendships can be complex, but there's no denying it's nice to have a buddy in the office. So what's the best way to find your BFF when you're brand spankin' new? We teamed up with our friends at Peerfit to find out. Peerfit makes it easy to book workout classes and invite folks to join you, which is convenient because one of the quickest ways to meet people at work is surprisingly simple: sweat together.

No, not the nervous kind of sweat that makes your shirt feel uncomfortably damp—we mean exercise-induced sweat. We work out to relieve stress and better our overall mental and physical health, right? Exercising with a colleague means you get to share all those stress-busting, endorphin-pumping good vibes. Plus...

1. Working out together forces you to open up.

We're our most real selves while exercising (it's hard to fake a state of calm when you're gasping for breath in Spin class or slamming away at a punching bag). While you might feel self-conscious at first, by the end of class you're both likely to have let your guard down. After all, nobody looks like they have their life together after a round of burpees.

2. Group workouts inspire camaraderie (and even a little friendly competition).

Misery loves company! Pick a workout where you have to partner up or work next to each other. Peerfit, a platform that lets you sign up for workouts at thousands of different gyms and studios across 48 states, is an easy way to organize an out-of-office hangout. With a few clicks, you can book bags for boxing, bikes for cycling, or mats for om-ing, so you can commiserate, high-five, or compete to see who can hold a plank the longest.

And the best part? Peerfit works with employers and insurance carriers to pay for the classes. If it's not part of your new gig's benefits (you can check here), sign up for a personal subscription—for just $8.95 per month, you’ll get the same access. Just pay per class at a discounted member rate, and you're good to go.

3. It's healthier than happy hour.

It's not breaking news that working out is better for your overall health than boozing it up. A lot of the reasons people drink together (to socialize, gripe, relieve stress) are also good reasons to work out together, so why not schedule fitness classes like they're social events? It'll also hold you accountable. And, hey, maybe you grab drinks after the workout—we're not saying you can't have it all. Just make sure you eat and hydrate first.

Connecting with a colleague in a stress-relieving environment has been shown to seriously improve overall health and even support personal weight-loss goals. And don't forget: One in five people meet their significant other at work (!!), so who knows where one sweat date could lead? Just keep your chin up, newbie. Leave that gym bag where your coworkers can see it, and you'll have a few new friends in no time.

How to Get Away With a Super-Sweaty Lunch Workout Greatist How to Get Away With a Super-Sweaty Lunch Workout How to Get Away With a Super-Sweaty Lunch Workout Mon, 18 Mar 2019 06:00:00 -0400 Healthyish Generation 17500 at PeerFit Lunch Workout This article was created in partnership with Peerfit.

When it comes to squeezing in a workout, early risers and night owls have it easy. But what about those of us who feel our most energized in the middle of the day? Are we doomed to deskercise our way to stronger muscles? To monotonously count our steps around the office in hopes that hitting 10,000 will help us reach our fitness goals?

If getting your sweat on in the middle of the day is what works best for you, who's to say you can't make it happen? In fact, studies show exercise can boost energy, creativity, and productivity—exactly what you need to get through the rest of your nine-to-five.

We partnered with our friends at Peerfit to find the best ways to fit in a noon gym sesh. The fitness platform partners with companies and insurance carriers to make it easier (and cheaper!) for employees to work out. As long as you're getting your work done, sneaking out for a lunchtime fitness class might be easier than you think. Here are our top six tips for pulling it off.

1. Keep extra workout clothes in your desk.

Not only is sitting in sweaty clothes post-workout a bad look for the office, but it's not great for your skin either. Because sweat is wet and warm, it promotes the growth of bacteria and yeast on your clothes and body, which often leads to less-than-ideal skin conditions such as yeast infections or folliculitis. Keeping a spare set of workout gear (even down to your skivvies) in your desk guarantees you'll stay fresh during and after your workout.

2. Pick your workouts wisely.

There are two key factors for choosing a workout in the middle of the workday: First, you're more likely to make time for a workout you actually enjoy. Second, you want to find somewhere close to the office that makes the transition from studio to conference room a cinch.

But how to find those coveted locations? Sign up for Peerfit, a workout treasure map that gives you access to a long list of amenity-rich fitness studios and gyms across 48 states. Peerfit has a diverse list of class types—boxing, barre, CrossFit, you name it—and there's no blackout times or price hikes during high-traffic hours. WFH and would rather not leave the house? Use Peerfit to stream workouts on your computer or TV.

Even better: You can get your work to foot the bill. Peerfit works with employers and insurance companies to pay for your gym time. Pretty sweet, right?

3. Enlist an accountabilibuddy at work.

Midday workouts are prime time for excuses—to-do lists pile up, meetings magically appear on your calendar, Susan from accounting just got a puppy and wants to show you 500 photos. That's why having a coworker who is as committed to the workout as you are is a big help (even science agrees).

We recommend planning ahead and blocking off time on each other's calendars so there's no chance of ditching. It'll feel like a meeting (who's to say it isn't?), and physically canceling an event will be a lot tougher than just saying, "Eh, let's skip it."

4. Fake a shower.

A blowout isn't an option when you need to rush back to a meeting. And walking in with a drenched head of hair is a surefire way to feel self-conscious (and probably cold). A quick blast with a hair-dryer and generous dose of Gym Hair or dry shampoo into your roots will almost always do the trick. But, of course, not all scalps are the same, so check out this list of suggestions for managing sweaty locks of all types.

5. Remedy your red face.

Sure, you can change your clothes and dry your hair. But one dead giveaway that your doctor's appointment was really a trip to the gym? Your face.

Oxygenated blood levels during aerobic training (we're looking at you, cardio junkies) can lead to a red, blotchy complexion. For some people, the redness goes away pretty quickly, but for others (hello, us), it takes its sweet time.

If you're a lunchtime runner or Spinner, try products that help to reduce redness and calm irritated, sweaty skin. Look for ones with ingredients such as aloe vera and tea tree oil, which are known for their anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, and save the redness for the next time you have to present in front of your CEO.

6. Plan your lunch ahead of time.

Working out during your lunch hour should never replace, ya know, lunch. Meal-prepping makes post-exercise fueling a breeze—not to mention saves you time and money. Take 15 to 20 minutes the night before to pack a lunch that gives you the nutrients you need to recover from your workout and make it through the dreaded afternoon slump. Bonus points if it's not another sad desk lunch.

3 Food Bloggers Share Their Favorite Family Recipes Greatist 3 Food Bloggers Share Their Favorite Family Recipes 3 Food Bloggers Share Their Favorite Family Recipes Fri, 15 Mar 2019 06:00:00 -0400 Healthyish Generation 17390 at This article was created in partnership with Barilla® as part of Together at the Table.

It's Tuesday, and you’ve got a major task at hand: Cook a meal that's healthy, ready in minutes, and delicious enough to please everyone. On nights like these, it's easy to default to ordering takeout or heating up a microwaveable meal. But it doesn't have to come to that.

Because there's nothing like gathering around a home-cooked meal, we teamed up with Barilla® to ask three of our favorite food bloggers for their tried-and-true family recipes. These are the healthy yet satisfying dishes they keep coming back to—the ones they know will bring everyone together, even after the table is cleared.

Need more inspo? The folks at Barilla make getting dinner on the table easy with their recipe builders, which use everyday ingredients and global flavors to inspire you to create a dish you can feel good about serving.

Baked Spaghetti Feel Good Foodie Source: Yumna Jawad /

1. Easy Baked Spaghetti

Feel Good Foodie blogger Yumna Jawad has fond memories of watching her mom get creative in the kitchen. One of Jawad's favorite inventions? Baked spaghetti. Jawad even created her own one-pan version that cuts down on prep time. The trick is not boiling the pasta.

*Record scratch*

OK, we know it sounds implausible, but Jawad found that if you toss spaghetti in olive oil and add enough water and sauce (about 1 ounce liquid per 4 ounces pasta), your spaghetti will cook in the oven, no stovetop prep required.

To up the flavor and texture, she adds a helping of chopped onions and peppers, but encourages anyone trying this recipe at home to get creative with their own combo of veggies. Other go-tos: mushrooms, spinach, zucchini, eggplant, and olives. Layer ingredients together in a baking dish, give them a quick mix, top with a light sprinkle of cheese, then bake. It’s that easy.

2. Healthy Rainbow Fettuccine

To create a filling, nourishing treat her family loves, Erin Gleeson of The Forest Feast mixes fettuccine noodles with freshly shaved carrot and zucchini ribbons. Boil Barilla® Fettuccine one minute less than directed on the package (for that tender-but-firm al dente texture), then sauté in a pan with veggie ribbons, diced garlic, thyme, and butter (or, for a Mediterranean-friendly option, try olive oil). Serve warm and watch your fellow eaters go nuts.

Want to get extra fancy without extra work? Try this version topped with—wait for it—edible flowers.

3. Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole

Blogger Brittany Mullins grew up loving the sweet potato casserole her mom made every Thanksgiving Day, but as an adult, she didn't want all the sugar and butter that came along with it. So Mullins developed her own vegan, gluten-free version, subbing in a crispy, pecan-based topping for the typical marshmallow mixture.

“Making healthy versions of the not-so-healthy family recipes my mom made for us growing up brings me so much joy,” she says.

Another Mullins pro tip? Sprinkle nutmeg on sautéed greens. “If you add just a pinch, it’s barely detectable but adds a hint of nuttiness,” she says.

These bloggers prove it doesn't take a ton of effort to put together a meal your family and friends will enjoy. Keep it simple and focus on what really matters: time together.

6 Cooking Tips That Make Hosting a Dinner Party So. Much. Easier Greatist 6 Cooking Tips That Make Hosting a Dinner Party So. Much. Easier 6 Cooking Tips That Make Hosting a Dinner Party So. Much. Easier Fri, 15 Mar 2019 06:00:00 -0400 Healthyish Generation 17380 at This article was created in partnership with Barilla® as part of Together at the Table.

Hosting a dinner party is like having to sauté on stage in front of a crowd of critics. Even the most self-assured person in the world can feel a lot of pressure to create a fancy meal that's *just right.*

Thanks to our friends at Barilla®, who always hook us up with great cooking tips and tricks, we know that preparing a delicious dinner doesn't have to be complicated. It's actually surprisingly easy to create a chef-quality dish without spending hours bent over the stove.

Below, three cooking and hosting pros share their best advice, so you can feel readier than ever to throw a gathering that will bring friends, family, and even strangers together. Your guests won’t even notice that it took almost no time and effort to pull off!

1. Make a good first impression.

Holistic nutritionist Brittany Mullins loves starting out with a veggie tray, so guests have something to snack on as soon as they arrive.

“[Veggie trays] are super easy, and everyone loves to have a healthy snack to munch on before dinner,” she says. “I keep the veggie platters exciting by finding unique, seasonal produce like endive lettuce or watermelon radishes.”

Mullins likes making guacamole to pair with, but she swears by a controversial secret ingredient: peas! Mix them in with the avocado, and you’ve got a lighter version of everyone’s favorite dip—no one will be able to spot the difference.

2. Reimagine classic dishes in new ways.

Nothing brings people together like a bowl of pasta. While you can never go wrong with classic spaghetti and marinara, a dinner party is a good opportunity to mix things up and surprise guests with something unexpected.

Erin Gleeson, the blogger and cookbook author behind The Forest Feast, looks for creative ways to incorporate color and fresh produce. A good example? Her snap pea pasta.

She combines roasted sugar snap peas and asparagus in a warm pot of al dente penne (the recipe calls for whole grain, but you can also try Barilla® Collezione Penne. It's bronze-cut for a rougher texture that better absorbs sauce—yummm). Then she tosses with chopped basil and cilantro, olive oil, and shaved Parmesan. You'll love how pretty it looks on your dinner table; your guests will love how totally satisfying it is.

Another pro move? Use Barilla's recipe builders to create a unique pasta dish that's all yours. The handy infographics make it easy to turn a box of pasta into a flavorful, plant-based meal that people will be talking about long after the table is clear. (Barilla® Orzo with pomegranate seeds, toasted pine nuts, chickpeas, olive oil, and za'atar, anyone?)

3. Don't forget the garnish.

Herbs are total game changers when it comes to cooking. They add taste, texture, and color in a single stroke. Blogger Yumna Jawad of Feel Good Foodie says you should never serve a meal herbless. "There’s nothing that brings more flavor to a dish than fresh and crisp herbs added right before serving,” she says.

To keep herbs like parsley and cilantro (her go-tos) as fresh as possible, Jawad stores them with their stems in water or wraps them in a damp paper towel in a plastic bag. When you're ready to use, just pat dry with a clean towel and chop.

4. Use your freezer.

Don’t be afraid of the freezer! It’s a wonderful tool that will help your ingredients last longer and cut down on day-of cooking.

Mullins has a brilliant trick for preserving fresh ginger: Peel it with the back of a spoon and store it in the freezer. “It lasts longer this way and grates so easily when needed,” she says.

The freezer also comes into play when you want to prep ingredients or meals in advance. For instance, homemade pesto can be frozen in ice cube trays, then reheated in individual servings when you’re ready to serve dinner.

5. Repurpose your food scraps.

Don't throw out those veggie scraps or chicken bones! Jawad suggests using them to make broth. “Broth is such an easy way to flavor not only soups but also stews, pasta, marinades, casseroles, rice, and stir-fries,” she says.

Our fave: Add the broth to a jar of pasta sauce. This trick comes in handy particularly in vegetarian recipes, where Jawad notes that you don’t have the fat from meat to enhance the flavor (just make sure to use veggie broth if you want to keep the recipe meat-free). No matter what dish you upgrade with this trick, your guests won’t guess your secret—but they’ll definitely notice the taste.

6. Try new gadgets… and methods.

Mullins's two favorite cooking techniques? Air frying and sous vide. Air fryers are amazing tools because you can cook your favorite indulgences in a healthier way, but they’ll still come out crispy and delicious.

Sous vide is a method that involves sealing food in an airtight container and then cooking it. Sounds complicated, but it’s really quite simple—and it helps make sure your meat is cooked evenly throughout. Try cooking steak or chicken sous vide before mixing into Barilla® pasta sauce.

No matter how many you’re hosting or what you’ve got on the menu, these simple tricks will help you pull off dinner with ease. That way you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the best part: sitting around the table with the people you love.

How to Throw a Dinner Party on a Weeknight (Yep, It's Possible) Greatist How to Throw a Dinner Party on a Weeknight (Yep, It's Possible) How to Throw a Dinner Party on a Weeknight (Yep, It's Possible) Fri, 15 Mar 2019 06:00:00 -0400 Healthyish Generation 17372 at This article was created in partnership with Barilla® as part of Together at the Table.

Why do we limit fun to the weekend? There are seven days in a week, yet we save all our socializing for precious Friday and Saturday nights (and the occasional Sunday, when we’re feeling adventurous). Gathering around the table on a weeknight can be a great way to connect with busy friends, practice your cooking skills, and still get to bed at a reasonable hour.

We partnered with our friends at Barilla® to talk about all the reasons you should host a weeknight dinner party—plus show you how to pull one off without stress or hours of cleanup.

Why Weeknight Dinner Parties Are the Best

1. People are more available.

Finding a free Friday or Saturday night that works for everyone is nearly impossible. But a Monday? The only plans you have to compete with are The Bachelor.

“Weekends get so booked for us that it’s nice to make time during the usual weekday schedule to spend time with friends we haven’t seen in a while,” says Erin Gleeson, the best-selling author behind The Forest Feast.

When you aren’t competing for a coveted Friday slot in someone’s social schedule, it's much easier to get everyone together on the same night.

2. You get to party and get to bed early.

If you’re going out to a bar or restaurant with friends, the chances of making it home for an early bedtime are slim. But when you host your own party, you can end it as early as you like!

“I'm not really a night owl, so I like the fact that most weeknight dinner parties end earlier,” says Brittany Mullins, nutritionist and creator of Eating Bird Food. “That way, I can hang out with friends but still get to bed at a decent hour.”

Food, friends, and pj's by 9 p.m.? That’s our kind of party.

3. Just about anything goes.

When you have people over on a Wednesday, no one expects you to have slaved over the stove all day. Your friends will be happy enough to eat a home-cooked meal they didn’t have to make.

“I like weeknight dinner parties because they feel less formal, so you can serve something relatively easy and casual, and everyone is still impressed and happy,” Mullins says.

Also, since you're making the food, it's easy to keep things simple and healthy. Eating out usually involves hidden salt, butter, and other less-than-ideal ingredients, but by playing host, you can ensure the meal is light and nutritious.

How to Pull It Off

1. Do as much as possible the night before.

“My best tip for hosting is to plan ahead and get as much done the night before as possible," Mullins says. "You'll feel organized the day of instead of running around at the last minute trying to get everything together."

This applies to the cooking and any tidying up you need to do. Wipe down the bathroom, straighten up the living room, and put your laundry away. Also, “make sure your dishwasher is empty before the guests arrive,” Gleeson says. “That makes cleanup easier!” If you don’t have a dishwasher, just make sure the sink is clear.

You can also save time by prepping some of your food in advance. Know you’ll need a lot of diced onions? Slice 'em up the night before. Appetizers and desserts can also usually be made ahead of time.

2. Set the mood.

You don't have to put together a Pinterest-worthy tablescape to give your dinner party a special vibe. Simply dim the lights, put out a few candles, and throw on your favorite music.

“Ambience, especially lighting and music, are very important for me, and I always try to have those set before guests arrive,” Gleeson says. “Candles are a must! I opt for unscented beeswax ones that are clean-burning and don’t compete with the delicious aroma of the cooking food.”

3. Start with every Instagrammer's favorite: a snack board.

Setting out a few apps before dinner will keep guests entertained and give you time to put the finishing touches on your entrée. But don't feel like you have to go all out with fancy bruschetta or a baked Brie. For wow factor without all the work, simply arrange a few of your favorite snacks on a plate or cutting board.

“Not only do [snack boards] look pretty, but you can put them together in a matter of minutes without having to cook anything," Mullins says.

Start with vegetables like celery, sliced red peppers, carrots, cucumbers, and cauliflower, then add nuts, fruits, cheeses, crackers, or charcuterie.

And don't be afraid to add something unexpected. Yumna Jawad, creator of Feel Good Foodie, likes to include candied ginger and wasabi sugar snap peas for extra kick. “They are great conversation starters for mingling and to get everyone talking about the different flavors they've tried,” she says.

4. Serve a simple entrée that still looks chef made.

When it comes to the main course, you don’t need to try some fancy new recipe with 100 ingredients.

“I usually stick with something that doesn't require a ton of hands-on cooking time," Mullins says. "That way I can enjoy time with friends and family the night of the party rather than being stuck in the kitchen."

Pasta is a great choice for a crowd-pleasing dinner. It comes together in minutes; is made with real, simple ingredients (whole durum wheat and water); and is the perfect base for pretty much any flavor combo. We recommend reaching for Barilla Collezione pasta to make dinner feel extra special. It's bronze cut—an artisanal way of cutting pasta that gives it a rougher texture, helping it hold onto sauces better. Plus, there's nothing that brings people (even strangers!) together more than a delicious pot of pasta.

Gleeson recommends this easy recipe: Boil pasta until al dente, drain, then top with shaved Parmesan and sunflower seeds. (Pro tip: For extra flavor and moisture, toss the noodles in olive oil after draining.)

For something unexpected, Jawad suggests making her hummus pasta. The hummus adds a creamy, rich flavor that’s a little like a vegan Alfredo sauce. Just add your pasta of choice, and you've got a plant-based, protein-filled dish that will have guests begging for the recipe.

Or make cleanup super easy by trying Mullins's one-pot vegan mushroom stroganoff. Once all the ingredients are in the pot, you’re pretty much done.

You can also check out these showstopping recipes from Barilla's executive chef, Lorenzo Boni, or give one of Barilla's flavor-packed recipe builders a spin.

5. Don't forget dessert.

You don’t have to make a cake that would impress Mary Berry. As with everything else on this list, keep it simple. Set out a variety of fruits and berries with store-bought whipped cream or an easy chocolate ganache (microwave chocolate and heavy cream in 30-second intervals until chocolate is melted, stir to combine, and serve).

Or try make-your-own sundaes. All you need is ice cream, bowls, and a few toppings, and your guests can serve themselves. Gleeson offered up three unique sundae ideas:

  1. Vanilla ice cream with berries and a thick balsamic sauce for drizzling
  2. Vanilla ice cream drizzled with a good quality olive oil and topped with flaky salt
  3. Vanilla ice cream drizzled with honey and finished with a dollop of peanut butter

So really there's no reason not to get a dinner party on your calendar right now. With just a tiny bit of prep, you'll be able to spend more time around the table with the people you love.

7 Ways to Turn a Box of Pasta Into a Globally Inspired Meal Greatist 7 Ways to Turn a Box of Pasta Into a Globally Inspired Meal 7 Ways to Turn a Box of Pasta Into a Globally Inspired Meal Fri, 15 Mar 2019 06:00:00 -0400 Healthyish Generation 17227 at This article was created in partnership with Barilla® as part of Together at the Table.

If you think spaghetti only has a place on your table if it's served with red sauce and meatballs, allow us to illuminate the possibilities. A box of spaghetti is a blank canvas: Add a few unexpected mix-ins and you've got a knockout meal.

To prove it, we turned to our friends at Barilla® and their recipe builders for inspiration. Then we created seven internationally inspired pasta combos you can whip up with just a few simple ingredients.

To get a steaming bowl of al dente goodness, boil Barilla Collezione Spaghetti one minute less than directed on the package. Next, sauté your ingredients in a pan until cooked through, toss with spaghetti, plate, and serve. Better yet, invite a friend or two to sample your handiwork.

Spaghetti Dinners ]]>
What to Eat for Breakfast, Based on What Kind of Morning Person You Are Greatist What to Eat for Breakfast, Based on What Kind of Morning Person You Are What to Eat for Breakfast, Based on What Kind of Morning Person You Are Fri, 01 Mar 2019 15:16:53 -0500 Healthyish Generation 17438 at This article was created in partnership with Daily Harvest.

Love 'em or hate 'em, mornings are a part of life. Maybe you’re the kind of person who wakes up naturally at 6 a.m. (nothing personal, but we hate you). Or maybe you barely have time to brush your hair on the way to work. No matter which type you are, there’s a breakfast out for you.

The trick is figuring out where to begin. That’s why we teamed up with Daily Harvest to break down the best breakfasts for every kind of morning person. Daily Harvest makes good food that fits into your life (read: ready to eat in as little as 30 seconds), so you never have to stress about the most important meal of the day. Want to have the best morning ever? Lehgo.

Daily Harvest Breakfast Bowls

1. The Early-Riser Exerciser

You like to jump out of bed and sweat first thing, which means you need a breakfast that will help you recover and fuel you for the rest of the day. Oatmeal is a hearty, nourishing option, but when you're starving after a workout, you don't want to wait around for it to slow cook.

That's where Daily Harvest's new Apple + Cinnamon Oat Bowl comes in. Like all of Daily Harvest's perfectly portioned, chef-crafted meals, the immune-boosting dish is ready to eat in minutes and is packed with fruits and vegetables. Cinnamon and cloves add tons of flavor without mounds of sugar, almond butter ups the protein, and cauliflower (you won’t even know it’s in there!) keeps it light and nutritious.

2. The Mantra Maven

You love the early hours, but you like to take them at a slow pace, beginning with meditation and maybe a light yoga flow. So why not take your time with breakfast too?

Our favorite leisurely a.m. meal is a frittata. These four-ingredient recipes are easy to make but will feel like you're indulging in a relaxing brunch. Simply pop the dish in the oven while you work through your morning mantras, then serve yourself a slice with a side of fruit.

3. The Fashionably Late Commuter

It’s hard enough to make it to work at a decent hour, let alone fuel your body when you’re running 30 minutes behind. But if you don’t eat, you’ll definitely end up hangry and cranky by 10 a.m.

Smoothies are a dream come true because they’re portable and easy to drink on your commute. For a little extra zing, try Daily Harvest’s Ginger + Greens Smoothie. It’s packed with ginger, apple cider vinegar, spinach, and avocado to boost energy, fight inflammation, and keep you full. We suggest getting a stash of smoothies delivered to your door, so they're ready to go whenever you’re done hitting the snooze button.

4. The Night Owl

You meant to get to bed before midnight last night. Seriously, you tried! But no matter how diligent you are, you just can’t get your brain to quiet down at a decent hour. Inevitably, you wake up every morning feeling like you just fell asleep 10 minutes ago.

Try adding a caffeine kick to your breakfast. Prep this coffee toffee banana bread on Sunday (or, you know, at 1 a.m. when you can’t fall asleep), and it’ll be ready to slice in the morning when you need it. The bread is sweetened with just a touch of brown sugar, so it’s a pretty healthy option, and you can top it with whatever nuts and spices your sleepy little heart desires.

5. The Party Animal

Last night’s group hang was a blast. Now you’re somehow supposed to rally for the day? SOS. It’s tempting to reach for greasy food, but grabbing a fast-food breakfast will only make you feel more sluggish.

If you're craving a sandwich, opt for one of these homemade varieties instead. Or skip the prep work (who has time for endless chopping?) and get your brunch on with a Daily Harvest Sweet Potato + Wild Rice Hash Harvest Bowl. It's a veggie-loaded take on the classic burrito bowl designed to wake you up, keep you full, and get you out the door. Also, it's topped with our favorite breakfast ingredient: avocado.

3 Easy Pasta Dishes That'll Have Guests Asking for Seconds Greatist 3 Easy Pasta Dishes That'll Have Guests Asking for Seconds 3 Easy Pasta Dishes That'll Have Guests Asking for Seconds Wed, 20 Feb 2019 11:13:01 -0500 Healthyish Generation 17211 at This article was created in partnership with Barilla® as part of Together at The Table.

It's easy to get overwhelmed when you're planning a dinner party. Do you play up your skills and cook something trés fancy? Do you make multiple entrées to satisfy every diet preference? Yes—but you do it the smart way and make pasta!

Pasta is one of those simple, universal foods that everyone loves. It pairs perfectly with all kinds of ingredients and flavors, and is the ideal staple of any plant-based diet (vegans, pescatarians, and Mediterranean diet lovers, rejoice!). Not to mention it's super easy to get on the table, even on a weeknight.

Since our friends at Barilla® know a thing or two about pasta, we teamed up with Barilla's executive chef, Lorenzo Boni, to create three delicious, crowd-pleasing recipes that don't require hours in the kitchen. In fact, these can all be made in 30 minutes or less (Monday night dinner party, anyone?). Pick your favorite, make them all, or get more recipe inspo here. Then sit back and enjoy all the happy faces around the table asking for seconds.

1. Rigatoni With Meatless Bolognese

Barilla Rigatoni Vegan Bolognese


1 box Barilla® Collezione Rigatoni
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup white onion, chopped
12 ounces brown lentils, cooked
2 cups cremini mushrooms, ground
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Almond flour, toasted (optional)
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta for one minute less than indicated in package directions, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

2. Meanwhile, heat extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onions and cook until softened.

3. Increase heat to medium. Add brown lentils and stir frequently, until heated through.

4. Add ground cremini mushrooms and tomato paste, and cook until softened. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

5. Stir cooked Barilla® Collezione Rigatoni and reserved pasta cooking water into the lentil-mushroom mixture, and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes, until heated through.

6. Remove skillet from heat. Sprinkle with toasted almond flour (if desired) and garnish with Italian parsley before serving.

2. Thick-Cut Spaghetti With Lobster, Cherry Tomatoes, Zucchini, and Bottarga

Barilla Thick Cut Spaghetti With Lobster


1 box Barilla® Thick Spaghetti
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup garlic, sliced
12 ounces lobster, cut into small pieces
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups zucchini, diced
2 tablespoons bottarga (optional)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta for one minute less than indicated in package directions, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

2. Meanwhile, heat extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until softened.

3. Increase heat to medium-high. Add lobster and cook, stirring frequently, until opaque.

4. Add cherry tomatoes and zucchini, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

5. Stir cooked Barilla® Thick Spaghetti and reserved pasta cooking water into the vegetables, and continue cooking for an additional 2-3 minutes, until softened.

6. Remove skillet from heat. Sprinkle with grated bottarga (if desired) and garnish with fresh basil before serving.

3. Quick Seafood Paella With Orzo

Seafood Paella With Orzo


1 box Barilla® Orzo
4 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 white onion, diced
1 quart vegetable broth
6 ounces shrimp
6 ounces mussels
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup red pepper, diced
1 pinch saffron
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta for one minute less than indicated in package directions. Drain Barilla® Orzo when it has finished cooking.

3. Meanwhile, heat extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened.

4. Pour vegetable broth into skillet and add cooked orzo.

5. Reduce heat to low. Add shrimp and mussels, and cook until heated through.

6. Stir in cherry tomatoes, red pepper, and saffron. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.

7. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven until thoroughly cooked, approximately 10 minutes.

8. Allow to cool and garnish with fresh basil before serving.

Some Big News From Greatist Greatist Some Big News From Greatist Some Big News From Greatist Tue, 19 Feb 2019 08:37:47 -0500 Derek Flanzraich 17442 at I've got some big news to share.

Greatist has been acquired by Healthline, one of the best and biggest health sites out there.

It's no doubt a wild ride for digital publishers these days, and we're excited to partner with a brand that's so complementary to ours. Healthline is great at scale, quality, resources, and profitability—all things that make them a smart business for us to align with! Oh, and we're hopeful some of Greatist's strengths, like our strong brand and voice, will have some influence here too. I'm sure our brand will evolve in the coming months—that's always the way it works—but we're excited for Greatist to grow while maintaining its soul and important message.

When I started Greatist eight years ago, I set out to build a brand in health and wellness that would make you feel better about yourself instead of worse. A brand that spoke to you like a friend who's just a little further along. A brand that encouraged you to improve and celebrated when you got even a little better. Since then, the health space has changed an awful lot. Wowza. Health is cool now! (Even salads, I think!) And while a lot of what's new in health is presented through an uncertain Instagram filter, it's heartwarming to know a lot has improved for the better. And I'd like to think we played a role in pushing the right narrative forward.

I couldn't be more proud of what Greatist and its extraordinary team have accomplished, from day 1 to whatever-the-heck day it is now. And I'm excited about how the space will continue to change. As our Healthline chapter begins, I'll be taking a break before starting work on my next great brand that does good (if you'd like to keep up with what I do next, sign up here).

Thank you all for an amazing, unforgettable ride—and thank you all for being such a greatist.

- Derek Flanzraich
Founder & CEO, Greatist

I Sleep on an Avocado Every Night, and It's Magical Greatist I Sleep on an Avocado Every Night, and It's Magical I Sleep on an Avocado Every Night, and It's Magical Tue, 19 Feb 2019 06:00:00 -0500 Ashley Sepanski 17406 at This article was created in partnership with Avocado Green Mattress.

Somewhere between midnight and 1 a.m., I feel myself hovering in that all-too-familiar, awake-but-still-asleep state. The stakes are high: If I focus hard enough on how tired I am, I can fall back asleep and continue peacefully ticking off those precious hours of rest. But if I give in to the urge to stretch my aching back or check my phone or (delicately) shove my partner because of his lumberjack sawing, it’s over. I’ll be awake with nothing to do but stare at the ceiling.

I’m typically not someone who struggles to fall asleep—my Polish blood was built for hibernating through long dark winter nights. The problem is simple: My mattress sucks. At least it did, before I saw the light and upgraded to an Avocado Green Mattress.

I could go on and on about how my old bed's cheap foam and stabby springs resulted in aching muscles and sleeping limbs. I often lie on my side and woke up countless nights to tingling arms that were limp as a dead fish. And after just a few short years of use, my mattress had two hollowed-out, body-shaped dents from where my partner and I slept.

Then there were the problems you can't see: sketchy materials and chemical flame retardants sourced from pollution-spouting factories. According to the EPA, the fumes from glues and flame retardants hiding in furniture, combined with household cleaners, perfumes, and other smelly stuff, can make indoor air quality anywhere from two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. For people with allergies and chemical sensitivities, that can trigger a lot of discomfort. And, you know, no one wants to huff their mattress every night while they sleep. Now when I look at the sad heap of a mattress stored in the corner of my basement, I wonder how I let our relationship go on for so long.

Avocado Green Mattress Organic

I wasn’t looking for Avocado, but it found me.

Fate is funny sometimes, and our meet-cute was long overdue. The words natural, organic, and sustainable feel so important when it comes to our food, but shouldn’t they also apply to the place we spend one-third of our lives?

The husband-and-wife duo behind Avocado Green Mattress think so. Long story short: While shopping for a bed for their son, the pair discovered all the gross stuff hiding in traditional foam mattresses and decided to take matters into their own hands. Their goal? Create beds that were good for people and the planet by using only organic, natural, and sustainably sourced materials.

Did they succeed?

Y’all, they sure did. They set up shop in sunny California where all Avocado mattresses and pillows are handmade in Greenguard Gold-certified factories using materials like 100 percent natural, sustainably sourced latex and Global Organic Textile Standard-certified organic cotton and wool. Avocado also supports 1% for the Planet, a group of businesses that contribute 1 percent of all profits to environmental groups. And because buying a bed is one of those big-deal purchases, like leasing a car or an apartment, the mattresses come with a 25-year warranty and free shipping. Plus, Avocado lets you try any bed for 100 days. If you don’t love it, send it back for a full refund.

But listen, you will love it.

Sleeping on an Avocado every night isn’t like sleeping on a pallet of unsupportive fluff or a rigid brick of memory foam—it’s the kind of comfortable that feels right, and that’s without any of the artificial nonsense other brands use. It’s just Mother Earth in mattress form, cradling you in her cottony soft arms (I should know, I'm writing this in bed right now).

But because sleeping is believing, Avocado is giving Greatist readers $175 off any mattress (that includes green and vegan options!). Just use code GREATIST175 at checkout. It’s the kind of purchase that’ll have you sleeping like a baby—because it’s comfortable (obv) and because your money isn’t vanishing into the black hole of an environment-destroying corporation's wallet. Saving the planet has never been so easy.

A Guide to Balancing "Clean Beauty" With Science Greatist A Guide to Balancing "Clean Beauty" With Science A Guide to Balancing "Clean Beauty" With Science Fri, 15 Feb 2019 11:44:57 -0500 Sabrina Weiss 17403 at 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.


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 The views expressed herein are her own and are meant to be taken with a grain of salt. Follow her on Twitter @shalapitcher.

The Reason You Always Get Sick After Vacation Greatist The Reason You Always Get Sick After Vacation The Reason You Always Get Sick After Vacation Fri, 15 Feb 2019 10:37:07 -0500 Claire Hannum 15916 at 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?


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.

17 Extremely Good Ways to Save Money When You Are Broke As a Joke Greatist 17 Extremely Good Ways to Save Money When You Are Broke As a Joke 17 Extremely Good Ways to Save Money When You Are Broke As a Joke Fri, 15 Feb 2019 05:30:00 -0500 A. Rochaun Meadows-Fernandez and The Greatist Team 15975 at 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.


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, 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.

8 Drug-Free Ways to Calm Anxiety in Minutes Greatist 8 Drug-Free Ways to Calm Anxiety in Minutes 8 Drug-Free Ways to Calm Anxiety in Minutes Fri, 15 Feb 2019 04:55:00 -0500 Jandra Sutton 16249 at 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).


"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.

Probiotics or Prebiotics: Which Ones Should You Take? Greatist Probiotics or Prebiotics: Which Ones Should You Take? Probiotics or Prebiotics: Which Ones Should You Take? Fri, 15 Feb 2019 04:40:00 -0500 Sarah Garone 16640 at 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.

Not Giving 100 Percent Can Actually Help You Get Fitter Greatist Not Giving 100 Percent Can Actually Help You Get Fitter Not Giving 100 Percent Can Actually Help You Get Fitter Fri, 15 Feb 2019 04:40:00 -0500 Daniel Dowling 16507 at 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.


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.

6 DIY Beauty Customs From Around the World (and the Science Behind Why They Work) Greatist 6 DIY Beauty Customs From Around the World (and the Science Behind Why They Work) 6 DIY Beauty Customs From Around the World (and the Science Behind Why They Work) Fri, 15 Feb 2019 03:50:00 -0500 Masha Vapnitchnaia 16079 at 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.


"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.

Being a Woman Runner Can Be Scary As Hell. Here's How to Keep Going Greatist Being a Woman Runner Can Be Scary As Hell. Here's How to Keep Going Being a Woman Runner Can Be Scary As Hell. Here's How to Keep Going Fri, 15 Feb 2019 02:05:24 -0500 Laura Newcomer 16827 at 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."


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.


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."

Celery Juice: Miracle Drink or Overhyped Fad? Greatist Celery Juice: Miracle Drink or Overhyped Fad? Celery Juice: Miracle Drink or Overhyped Fad? Thu, 14 Feb 2019 11:34:00 -0500 Sarah Garone 17320 at 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.

The Mysterious Beats That Could Help You Sleep Better Greatist The Mysterious Beats That Could Help You Sleep Better The Mysterious Beats That Could Help You Sleep Better Thu, 14 Feb 2019 11:00:01 -0500 Deanna deBara 17129 at I'm a person who needs a solid eight hours of sleep to function like a normal human being—anything less, and I'm destined to spend the following day feeling a) exhausted b) confused c) unproductive, and d) kind of mean (sorry, everyone).

And because I'm a person who needs plenty of zzzs to feel my best, I'm always on the lookout for ways to improve my sleep game. One of the most interesting techniques I've come across: binaural beats. These have been steadily growing in popularity as a must-try for improving focus and concentration, boosting memory, and—yup—getting a better night's sleep.

But what, exactly, are binaural beats? How do they work? And how can something that comes out of your headphones dramatically increase the quality of your shut-eye?


What even are binaural beats?

"Binaural beats are a technique of combining two slightly different sound frequencies to create the perception of a single new frequency tone," says clinical psychologist and founder of The Sleep Doctor Michael Breus, Ph.D.

More specifically, a sound played in the left ear is heard as a single tone, and a sound played in the right ear is also heard as a single tone. When played together, the brain produces a perceived third sound, known as a binaural beat, says Garrett Stevens, president of Hemi-Sync.

Binaural beats: How do they work?

So how exactly does that sound help you fall asleep faster? Basically, our brain produces its own frequencies—gamma (40Hz+), beta (13 to 40Hz), alpha (7 to 13Hz), theta (4 to 7Hz), and delta (<4Hz)—and each of these frequencies aligns with a particular emotional and physical state. So, for example, your brain produces brain waves at a specific frequency when you're excited and full of energy, but produces brain waves at a completely different frequency when you're ready to fall asleep.

The jury's still out, but there's some evidence that binaural beats work by changing the frequency of your brain waves in a process called entrainment: By creating a binaural beat with the right frequency, you can "trick" your brain into producing the brain waves you need to experience a specific emotional or physical state—including sleep.

Now, if this is sounding a little out there, we totally get it (really… so a pair of headphones is all I need to change my brain waves?), but it's plausible that this may be effective. A recent study found that participants who used binaural beats during sleep (with frequencies between 2 and 8 Hz) for eight weeks reported both improved sleep quality and post-sleep state, while participants who didn't use binaural beats reported no change.

Let's be clear: Binaural beats' value is still extremely speculative at this point. There's very little actual evidence published in reputable journals to indicate that binaural beats do anything at all. But it's possible, and there are more studies being performed about what they do every year—so if you're willing to be your own little guinea pig and don't mind a lack of hard evidence, this could be a fit for you.

Binaural beats: How can you use them to improve your sleep quality?

Ok, so now that you know what binaural beats are and how they work, let's talk about how you can use them to increase the quality of your shut-eye and catch more (and better!) zzzs.

Your brain wave activity during sleep is largely distinct from your brain activity when you're awake. (REM sleep is one exception to this—during REM, your brain is active in ways very much like when you're awake)," Breus says. "During non-REM sleep, the slower, lower frequency theta and delta waves dominate, compared to the alpha and beta waves that are prominent when you're alert and active."

A therapy, such as binaural beats, that slows brain wave activity, helping to produce low-frequency waves, is likely to aid relaxation and sleep, Breus says. The beats entrain your brain over the course of a 30-minute to one-hour session by taking you from a waking conscious state of high beta brain waves down to theta and then deep delta brain wave frequencies that are associated with deep sleep," says Niraj Naik, founder of Trypnaural.

Look for a track that produces the binaural beats necessary for sleep (ideal brain waves are in the aforementioned delta range—about 0.5 to 4 cycles per second, Stevens says), pop in a pair of headphones, and let your brain do the rest.

If you tend to feel wound-up before bed (and those anxious feelings are what's keeping you up at night), you can also incorporate another binaural beats session into the day to potentially help you relax, which will come in handy when it's time to go to sleep.

Binaural beats: How can you get the best results (and get better sleep in the process)?

Ok, so clearly binaural beats are a must-try. But how can you get the most out of the experience (and squeeze as much sleep as possible out of your headphones)?

  1. Meditate. "A daily meditation practice, whether before bed or at some other time in the day, can help one to fall into a relaxed state more readily," Stevens says. This can promote relaxation on its own and may increase the potential effectiveness of the binaural beats—helping you get results faster.
  2. Use headphones. In order to produce binaural beats, you need to listen to a different frequency in each ear. And while it's technically possible for binaural beats to work while listening through standard speakers, it's much easier to get the right tones in each ear using headphones.
  3. Watch your overall health. "Maintaining an overall wellness program that also addresses diet, exercise, and avoiding drugs or alcohol can also play a role in increasing the effectiveness of binaural beats," Stevens says.
  4. Be patient. In most cases, the improvement to sleep quality should happen fairly quickly, Stevens says—but that doesn't mean binaural beats are an instant fix for sleep issues. It can take time for your brain to adjust, so if you don't see results immediately, be patient. Give yourself at least a month of regular, consistent use before judging the effectiveness of binaural beats on your sleep patterns.

There are plenty of things I've turned to for better sleep, but my headphones were definitely never one of them. Now that I know about binaural beats—and how they may completely change your brain waves to improve the quality of your shut-eye—I think it might be time to swap the Zzzquil for some Beats by Dre and see what happens.

Deanna deBara is a freelance writer and accidental marathon runner living in Portland, OR. Keep up with her running adventures on Instagram @deannadebara.

A Dumbbell Workout That Doesn't Require Getting Off the Floor Greatist A Dumbbell Workout That Doesn't Require Getting Off the Floor A Dumbbell Workout That Doesn't Require Getting Off the Floor Thu, 14 Feb 2019 09:45:10 -0500 Jamey Powell 17127 at Sometimes working out is just so much… work. Not to sound painfully lazy, but wouldn't it be nice if you could get stronger and spend time on your back watching New Girl? According to Melody Scharff, a trainer at Fhitting Room in New York City, my dreams aren't that far out of reach: She's hooked us up with a dumbbell workout you can do almost entirely reclined.

"Even if you're horizontal for the whole workout, there are plenty of challenging moves you can do with dumbbells while on your back," Scharff says. "If you truly challenge yourself with the weights you pick (especially for the press movements like chest press and hip bridges!), you'll be glad you have the floor to support you. Take this time to pay extra attention to your form and challenge yourself by slowing down the reps."


So queue up your favorite show, grab a set of dumbbells, and try these six moves for 45 seconds each—all from the comfort of your floor.

Dumbbell Chest Press (for chest and triceps)

A Dumbbell Workout You Can Do Entirely on the Floor Lie on your back, holding your dumbbells, and bring the soles of your feet to the floor, knees pointing up. Bend your elbows so your weights stack over your wrists, then bring your elbows to a 45-degree angle—your arms should look like an arrow.

Press your entire back into the mat and exhale as you push the weights up over your chest. (Try not to let them bang together!) Inhale as you release back down to the floor, then reset and repeat. Pro tip: If you're pressing heavier weights, pick up your dumbbells before lying back, as it's easier on your shoulder joints. Repeat for 10-15 reps or 45 seconds.

Dumbbell Sit-Up to Overhead Press (for core and shoulders)

A Dumbbell Workout You Can Do Entirely on the Floor Hold one dumbbell in each hand and bring them to your chest as you lie back on a mat. From your back, bring the soles of your feet to the floor, knees pointing up. With a big exhale, sit all the way up and press your dumbbells overhead, palms facing each other. Bring the weights back down to shoulder height, then roll back to the mat.

"If you hold the dumbbells even an inch or two ahead of your chest, they actually act as a counterweight, helping you up," Scharff says. But if you want to really feel the core burn, keep the weight touching your chest as you roll up and down! Repeat for 10-15 reps or 45 seconds.

Lateral Leg Raises (for glutes and inner thighs)

A Dumbbell Workout You Can Do Entirely on the Floor Lie on your right side, holding the dumbbell on your left thigh. Stabilize yourself by perching on your right forearm and engage your core as you lift your left leg a foot or so into the air—really try to use your hand to stabilize the weight, not to lift it. Focus on keeping your hips square to avoid rocking forward or backward as you lift.

"Flex your foot and keep your toes pointing straight ahead, not up," says Scharff. "Pointing the toes towards the ceiling is going to create a quad-dominant movement here, and we want to hit the gluteus medius (the sides of your butt)!" Repeat for 15-20 reps or 45 seconds on each side.

Dumbbell Glute Bridges (for glutes)

A Dumbbell Workout You Can Do Entirely on the Floor From your back, bring the soles of your feet to the floor, knees pointing up. With one dumbbell in each hand, rest one on each thigh and press your shoulders and heels into the mat. Exhale to lift your hips off the floor and squeeze your glutes like crazy at the top.

Then, as you lower back down toward the mat, try to hover without actually releasing your butt back down to the ground before lifting again. "You want to already be engaged at the bottom of the bridge and be more engaged at the top," Scharff says. Repeat for 10-15 reps or 45 seconds.

Dumbbell Skullcrushers (for triceps)

A Dumbbell Workout You Can Do Entirely on the Floor Sounds charming, doesn't it? From your back, bring the soles of your feet to the floor, knees pointing up. With one dumbbell in each hand, press them into the air, fingers facing each other. Stack your weights over your wrists and your wrists over your shoulders. Press your lower back into the mat and hinge at the elbows so the weights move toward—you guessed it—your skull, creating a 90-degree angle. You should feel the backs of your arms (your triceps) engage as you re-extend your arms overhead. Repeat for 10-15 reps or 45 seconds.

Dumbbell Scissor Kicks (for core)

A Dumbbell Workout You Can Do Entirely on the Floor If you were worried a floor workout would be too easy, this move will set you straight—and fast. This move starts in a hollow hold position: "Imagine doing a crunch but staying at the top,' Scharff says. From your back, press a set of dumbbells into the air over your mid-chest. Peel your shoulders off the mat while keeping your lower back glued to the ground. Think about pressing the weights toward the ceiling as you scissor your legs, never letting them touch the ground.

This doesn't have to be a fast movement, just big, controlled kicks. You can also do this move with one heavier weight as opposed to two dumbbells. Either way, go for 50 reps or 45 seconds!

Jamey Powell is Greatist's associate fitness editor as well as a NASM certified personal trainer, cycling instructor, yoga teacher, and triathlete. When she isn’t sweating, she’s usually eating or trying to pet someone’s dog. You can follow her antics on Instagram.

How to Tell If Someone's Truly Passive-Aggressive or If You're Just Taking Things Personally Greatist How to Tell If Someone's Truly Passive-Aggressive or If You're Just Taking Things Personally How to Tell If Someone's Truly Passive-Aggressive or If You're Just Taking Things Personally Thu, 14 Feb 2019 08:30:00 -0500 Amber Petty 16637 at If you've ever had a roommate (or just lived life as a human in this world), you've probably dealt with passive-aggression more times than you'd like. You get real familiar with sentiments like "I guess you could wash dishes that way, I just like them a little cleaner" or "I love that bracelet. Usually gold looks so tacky, but it works for you." Or the classic "it's fine," paired with a tense, angry-eyed smile.

This backhanded aggression is hard to deal with (though there are ways to handle the passive-aggressive people in your life) and can sometimes make you feel a little crazy—it's not always easy to tell if someone's trying to be hurtful with a smile on their face or if their words are just triggering your insecurities.

One time, my mom made a simple comment about keeping in touch with our old neighbors and I spent the next few hours crying about how she doesn't think I love her enough. In that case, she wasn't making some backhanded dig, but it set off my insecurities about feeling distant from my family.

I'm not saying that everyone's gone on a crying jag over a totally innocuous statement, but it's not uncommon to take neutral remarks personally and assume the other person is just being a passive-aggressive nightmare. So I spoke to experts to find out how to determine when someone is being legitimately hurtful in a backhanded way and when our insecurities are simply getting the best of us.

Also, please note, any reaction you have to a person—whether they're being passive-aggressive or not—is OK. I'm not at all trying to tell you to not get upset or hide your feelings because your feelings are valid no matter what the cause.

Unfortunately, if you're at work and dealing with a poor communicator or someone who sets off all your worst insecurities, you may not want to be all up in your feelings during office hours. So by figuring out when someone is intending to be hurtful (as opposed to inadvertently causing you pain), you might be able to have more control over your reactions—and you can save your real anger for the people who are purposeful jerks.

Take a Step Back and Get Perspective

When you hear a potentially passive-aggressive comment, empowerment coach Alani Bankhead suggests you take a step back and try to identify the specific behavior that offended you as objectively as possible. Basically, before things get washed away in emotion, it's good to break down what just happened.

Maybe you just had a passive-aggressive boss, so now you interpret everything your new boss says as passive-aggressive, when, in reality, they might be giving you a simple note. This is backed by the appraisal theory of emotion, which states that we feel emotions based on our appraisal of the situation. This explains why people can react so differently to the same situations.

For example, a dog running away could make an acting teacher storm into the room in tears and take the entirety of class time to weep and talk about a dog psychic that gave her bad news, whereas the same dog running away might make a student in that acting teacher's class think, Seems like we should still probably have class today? (For the record, my acting teacher's dog came home that night, even though the dog psychic said she was "with the angels." Lesson: Don't spend a lot of money on dog psychics or acting classes.)

Anyway, the appraisal theory helps explain why some things might set you off while they don't bother anyone else. It also explains that our whole life experience and history influence our day-to-day reactions. Once you become more aware of your appraisals, you can have more control over your reactions.

Bankhead says it's good to take a look at the situation after you've had an emotional response. Quickly replay what they said and try to see if there was any real malice behind it. It's also helpful to ask for other opinions. If everybody at the office thinks that person is a passive-aggressive a-hole, then you probably don't need to do a lot of soul-searching to find out if that's true. But if no one had a problem, it's good to give your initial reaction a second thought.

Now, I'm not saying to blindly trust everyone else's judgment here. If you know someone is passive-aggressively manipulating you, it doesn't matter what anyone else says. But if you're not sure if something is based on aggression or insecurity, getting a second opinion can help.


See the Signs of Insecurity

Sometimes, it's hard to see your own insecurity. Either we've lived with our own self-negativity for so long it doesn't register anymore or we've never stopped to analyze the things that make us feel insecure.

A report from Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania (as reported in Slate) found that there are lots of clues to insecurity in the way people speak. For example, people who are constantly self-promoting or trying to emphasize their status in a group are often the most insecure.

In the study, students at Penn often referred to their school as "Ivy League," while Harvard kids usually left that moniker out. Since Harvard is the King of Ivy League schools, the students didn't need to assert their dominance. But for kids at Penn, a school that most people forget has Ivy League status, their insecurity made them want to shout "I'm Ivy League too" from the rooftops.

So if you notice yourself ever wanting to overtly brag about accomplishments or trying to inflate your status in a situation, it probably means you're a little insecure about the topic. When I say "I'm a freelance writer," I always drop a few names of places I've worked so people don't think I'm some random Yelp reviewer with a blog.

It's not because anybody actually cares about my writing career, but I feel the need to assert my status out of insecurity. Once you really get to know what makes you feel insecure, you'll immediately know when someone is setting off your insecure alarm and when someone's being legitimately passive-aggressive.

Know Your Triggers

As you get to know your insecurities, dig deeper into your specific triggers. It will help prepare you for when someone accidentally steps on your emotional minefield.

"When you find yourself dissecting every word, action, tone, and gesture the other person used in the allegedly offensive comment, identify what specifically irritated you," Bankhead says. "What emotions are you feeling? What do you physically feel in your body? Often times, we have physical reactions but don't even notice!" After you identify the feeling, see if there's a root cause to that reaction, Bankhead suggests. Maybe you had a traumatic experience in your life that not everyone knows about. It makes perfect sense for you to have a bigger reaction to something that triggers anything close to that trauma.

Even if you didn't have a major tragedy in your past, you can still get upset about things that other people brush off. For another personal example, nothing makes me madder than someone telling me to "calm down." I work hard to regulate my emotions, stay rational in work or public situations, and avoid conflict. So when I'm trying to make a point without a ton of emotion behind it and someone tells me to "calm down," well then I'm ready to punch a b*tch. Now, I wasn't told to calm down as a kid, nor did a mugger with a "Calm Down" jacket try to rob me a gunpoint. I just hate hearing that phrase. But I also know that those words are a trigger, so when I hear "calm down," I have to regulate that rage feeling and take the words at face value.

"Being self-aware is the key to knowing when someone is intentionally mistreating you," says Sal Raichbach PsyD, LCSW, of Ambrosia Treatment Center. "Self-awareness gives you the ability to take constructive criticism without projecting your insecurities onto the situation."

Now, if someone is outright aggressive, uses hurtful language, or is utterly insensitive, you don't need to check yourself. But when someone pushes your buttons without malice, knowing your sore spots can make your life a little easier.


Empathize (Even When You Don't Want To)

Before you go around town telling everyone what a jerk this passive-aggressive person is, try to empathize. I know, that's not fun, but sometimes it gives you a better perspective. "Most people are generally trying to do the best they can in life, but it's 100 percent normal to have conflict," Bankhead says.

If you're dealing with a person you can't avoid (like a boss), try to give them the benefit of the doubt. Assume they meant the best, even if it came out wrong. We all say stupid things sometimes, so it's nice to cut people a little bit of slack, especially when it's the first instance of potential passive-aggressive behavior.

Taking a moment to put yourself in their shoes can sometimes resolve the situation entirely. Maybe the other person is stressed, overworked, and just as insecure as you. They said something that wasn't great, but you can see how that might happen when you empathize with the entirety of the situation.

Or you might try to empathize and find that there's simply no excuse for their behavior. In that case, they are being passive-aggressive and you should deal with them on those terms.

Take It at Face Value

"If you can't decide whether someone is being disrespectful or just giving you their opinion, recognize the fact that their lack of communication is likely to blame," Raichbach says. "Instead of projecting your self-doubt onto the situation, remind yourself that it isn't your job to teach them how to communicate." So, if you get an "it's fine," it's totally OK for you to take those words at their literal meaning and go about your day as though everything is totally fine.

Stop Analyzing

There's a fine line between reflecting and overanalyzing. Raichbach recommends reflecting about what was said, how you felt about it, and if it set off any triggers. But spending much more time thinking about the incident becomes counter-productive.

"It can be tempting to spend hours trying to pick apart what a passive-aggressive means when they say something," Raichbach says. "Remind yourself that it's impossible to see what's going on inside someone else's head." When your thoughts start to swirl around a potentially passive-aggressive person, you suffer. That person goes about their day, while you pour over every word, wondering what you did wrong or if they have mean motives behind their sentiments.

"Instead of trying to interpret, move forward by asking them direct questions the next time they voice their opinion," Raichbach says. Simply ask in a polite tone, "What did you mean by that?" or "Are you upset with something I did?" If the person is really passive-aggressive, they'll have to either get aggressive or back away from their back-handed response. Or if the person didn't have any malice behind what they said, they'll probably apologize and correct the situation. Either way, you'll immediately know what you're dealing with and won't have to spend so much mental energy on the hidden meanings of the other person's words.

Keep Communicating

"If you complete this process of self-evaluation and empathy and arrive at the decision that the person's comment was truly meant to be hurtful, then it's a great opportunity to identify what boundaries were violated and how to address it so that it doesn't happen again." No one deserves to be mistreated at work, home, or anywhere. So, if someone said something with malice, they shouldn't do it again.

Sadly, this can be difficult to approach in work situations, but it's not impossible. If someone is constantly trying to stab you in the back with a smile, go to HR and talk about some of the hurtful conversations you've had. Or, if you can, address the person directly. That's all easier said than done, but addressing the situation head-on will make your life better in the long run.

We all have insecurities, triggers, and jerks in our life. When you get really self-aware and know all your sore spots, it gives you power. Instead of accidentally getting set off all day, you know what upsets you and when someone is stepping over the line. Rather than get caught in a cycle of worry about what someone really means by "it's fine," you can let that go and put your energy elsewhere. "At the end of the day," Bankhead says, "we all decide how we choose to view the world."

Amber Petty is an L.A.-based writer and a regular contributor to Greatist. Follow along as she shares her weight-loss journey in her new bi-monthly column, Slim Chance. Take singing lessons from her via Sing A Different Tune and follow her on Instagram @Ambernpetty.

Why I'm Willing to Look Like a Disneyland Tourist While Running Greatist Why I'm Willing to Look Like a Disneyland Tourist While Running Why I'm Willing to Look Like a Disneyland Tourist While Running Thu, 14 Feb 2019 07:43:00 -0500 Nichole Fratangelo 17140 at About a year ago, I decided to take running more seriously. For some, that would mean training for an ultramarathon or finally breaking record time on a mile, but for me, it just meant running for more than five minutes at a time without wanting to die.

Clearly, I've never been a natural runner. Sure, I've gone through spurts where I'm more into running than usual, but it never sticks, and I wind up falling back to my regularly scheduled programming—the gym. And that's fine, but gets incredibly boring day in and day out. There are only so many times I can use the elliptical before my body's like, Seriously? This again?

When I did finally start running more, I knew it'd be a big commitment. I still have flashbacks to high-school soccer tryouts, where the sprints were plentiful, and my oxygen levels were... not. This time around, I worked slowly to increase mileage by even the smallest distance when I could, and tried not to rush the process. Fast forward a few months, and I found myself running about three miles "easily"—as in, I didn't desperately need to check my watch every 15 seconds. It was by no means a breeze but a huge improvement from where I started.


But I wanted to find ways to make the process even more enjoyable.

I started looking for cheats to help me along, anything from playlist recommendations to sneaker suggestions and running blogs. These definitely helped, but there was something about having my keys, phone, and other belongings in hand that really distracted me. I felt like I couldn't focus on my stride or my breathing while holding things—like trying to rub my stomach and pat my head at the same time. I also found it impossible to disconnect from my phone if I was holding it. I know it sounds harmless, but all this extraneous crap really started to weigh on me.

Out on my runs, I started to notice people with dorky little fanny packs around their waists.

My inner middle-school girl would come out in full force: What is this, 1994? But my judgment came to a screeching halt as I realized—they weren't holding a single thing in their hands. It seemed like the most obvious concept, but I had one big concern:

Could I swallow my pride and accept looking like a straight-up Disneyland tourist while I trotted around the local track?

If it would make me a better runner, I thought, why the hell not?

I took to the internet and stumbled across something a teensy bit less nerdy by my standards—the FlipBelt. It looked far more discreet than your average neon fanny pack, and the description claimed it could hold everything I'd need during workouts, with multiple compartments and zero slippage against my clothes and body. As it sat ominously in my Amazon cart, I realized I had no expectations of it actually changing my runs. But I figured there was nothing to lose except a few bucks (and possibly my fashion sense), so click, it was mine.

Once it arrived, I immediately started using it to hold all my usual stuff. Money and cards, keys, chapstick, maybe a snack. At first, it felt a little weird having a waistband on while I went for a jog—almost as if I was actually using my shirt pocket to hold pens. But after a few tries, I was sold. Everything stayed in place. I no longer had to worry about juggling everything while trying to stumble through songs on Spotify. I could actually focus on my pace goals—you know, the running part?—instead of on my phone.

The belt forced me, in the best way, to forget about Instagram, just blast music, and go.

Yes, I was skeptical. But since wearing the belt, I've wondered how I ever ran without it. Over the past few months, I've been able to increase my mileage and pace each week. Maybe it's all in my head, maybe I did really put the necessary work in, or maybe the belt gave me the freedom I was looking for on longer runs. Either way, I get a little more confident every time I lace up my sneakers—so much so that I recently completed my first 10K race. And of course, I had the belt on the whole time.

Sure, super-fit moms with double strollers still run laps around me in the park. But for now, I'll consider rocking a running belt with confidence, and a few steady laps a serious victory.

Nichole Fratangelo is a freelance writer and social media manager focusing on food, wellness, and entertainment. When not typing away at a coffee shop, you can find her running around Brooklyn or relaxing on the beach at the Jersey Shore.

The Totally Weird (but True) Reasons We Fall in Love Greatist The Totally Weird (but True) Reasons We Fall in Love The Totally Weird (but True) Reasons We Fall in Love Wed, 13 Feb 2019 19:05:14 -0500 Amber Petty 14321 at What’s the point of love? I’m not asking this to set myself up as the troubled lead in a rom-com who, after a series of montages, will eventually learn to open her heart and love again. I’m seriously asking: Why do we love?

Chances are good it poses some evolutionary advantage or love would have faded away with Cro-Magnon foreheads. But why on Earth would we evolve to be overwhelmed by an emotion that makes us act like Logan Paul in a Japanese forest, which is to say, a completely irrational idiot?


Tina Turner isn’t the only one who’s been asking, "What's love got to do with it?" Scientists have devoted a good amount of time to figuring out the evolutionary point of love, and they’ve come up with a few interesting theories—all of which start with our big-ass heads.

Yes, it seems our oversize craniums are the nexus of love. I don’t mean that figuratively, like our huge egos send us on a quest for companionship. Nope: According to most bioanthroplogists today, our thick skulls literally changed our species and led to an evolutionary need. When humans started walking upright on two feet, the shape of our pelvis changed. And with that change, we had to give birth to smaller babies, or their heads would grow too big to pass through the birth canal. (Feeling amorous yet?)

Anyway, our little pelvises meant that babies had to be born before they could do basically anything. Ever see the birth of a baby deer? That thing’s frolicking all over the place straight out of the womb. Baby deer are almost fully developed immediately after birth. Conversely, human babies are utterly helpless and require a lot of time and care from their parents to live through this vulnerable stage and make it to sexual maturity; we do most of our growing outside the womb, a fact that has led to all kinds of benefits, but is tough on parents.

The fact that humans are born so early in their development led to two major developments: First, since babies grow so much outside of the womb, our brains can grow bigger than other mammals’. Second, the delicate life of a baby requires a lot of work, and the child may be more likely to survive if it has two caretakers. According to an article in Perspectives on Psychological Science, love works as a "commitment device" to motivate pair bonding, and pair bonding helps humans with "the massive investment required to rear children."

But although love seems to have initially developed as a "commitment device," we’d recommend against scrawling, "I’m so in a commitment device with you" on your Valentine’s Day cards.

Still, pair bonding can’t explain everything about love. Thankfully, we can look to a similar species to learn more about our amorous behavior: prairie voles. When it comes to love, we aren’t closest to apes, chimps, or monkeys. Our behavior is most similar to prairie voles, which are basically chubby, short-eared field mice. Turns out these Laura Ingalls Wilderian mini mammals are one of the few animals that mate for life and raise babies in a two-parent home. That means we can learn a lot from these loving critters… especially when we take a little time to mess with their brain chemistry.

"You might be surprised how easily one can mimic 'true love,'" says Don Vaughn, Ph.D., professor of neuroscience at Santa Clara University. The release of oxytocin and vasopressin are thought to be primarily responsible for the deep, attached feelings of romantic love. And when you block those hormones in prairie voles, "they become promiscuous almost immediately," Vaughn says.

So, even the "til death do us part" prairie voles start incessantly swiping right as soon as oxytocin and vasopressin are out of the picture. But if you crank up those hormones on the voles, Vaughn says that "they bond immediately with the first companion they see, no physical mating needed."

It’s not so easy to turn the love hormones on and off in humans, so it’s not clear if people would behave in the exact same way as prairie voles. But it does seem pretty clear that oxytocin and vasopressin play a big role in our romantic emotions.

So far, we’ve found that love is mainly used to force two people to stay together so a baby doesn’t die, that it can be turned on and off with some hormone manipulation, and that prairie rodents probably have better marriages than we do.

Once again, we strongly recommend leaving that sentiment off of your Valentine’s cards.

Sadly, this love science doesn’t get any more romantic.

In fact, according to one theory, posited in an article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the primary reason we have love and monogamy is to stop men from killing their babies.

Primates came upon a real problem when mothers had to start taking care of helpless babies, according to the bluntly titled, "Male infanticide leads to social monogamy in primates." When a mom’s got a baby at her boob all hours of the day, she’s probably not making time to get busy with her mate. So male primates would kill the infants so he could start up his healthy boning schedule again.

But consistently killing off your offspring isn’t exactly a good way to enhance your long-term reproductive success. So primates evolved the capacity to love, thus keeping males from infanticide. If the male loved the female and loved the child, he was less likely to a) abandon the mother and child and b) murder one or both of them. Ah, sweet amour!

It seems clear that love evolved mostly as a way to keep two people together long enough to raise a child. And though we’re constantly finding out more and more about how love affects the brain, we still don’t have all the answers.

One big question remains: Why does love make us so crazy? And I don’t mean the, "He left comments on Stacy’s Instagram, but he hasn’t taken the time to like A SINGLE PICTURE OF MINE. WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME, JIM, WHY?!?" kind of craziness. I mean ka-ray-zee love.

Take Bill and Linda Pugach, for example. More than 50 years ago, Burt fell in love with Linda and proposed. But Linda got engaged to another man. Poor Burt did what any man would do—hire a guy to splash Linda with lye, leaving her blind and facially disfigured. And we haven’t even gotten to the crazy part yet.

After spending 14 years in jail for planning Linda’s attack, Burt emerged from prison with a heart full of love. He proposed to Linda again... and she said yes. They were married for 38 years until Linda died in 2013.

"Love is the only socially acceptable psychosis," Elvin Semrad, M.D., once said (as quoted in Psychology Today). Researchers gave MRI scans to people experiencing the first, irrational throws of love and found that the intense emotion wasn’t just excitement: Love looked more like extreme hunger or a craving for drugs, according to reporting in the New York Times.

"The first stage of love is characterized by passion and reward but also by symptoms of anxiety and stress, likely reflecting the relationship’s uncertainty," Vaughn says. This leads to reduced levels of serotonin (happiness) and increased levels of cortisol (stress). According to Vaughn, that hormone combo is commonly found in people with anxiety disorders or OCD. "This is not surprising, given that early stages of romantic love can be somewhat similar to OCD: There are symptoms of anxiety, obsession, and intrusive thinking."

So the first phases of love neurologically make you feel like a drug-addled person ready for an anxiety attack. Cool. But it’s true... I’ve felt it. Hell, even Beyoncé has been "Crazy in Love." And if Beyonce can’t keep her emotions in check, then we mortals don’t have a chance.


As of now, there doesn’t seem to be a direct evolutionary reason why love hits us so intensely. Maybe it’s because the motto of the human race seems to be "go big or go home."

An article in The Independent stated that humans evolved to have a lust for blood: Over the course of our history, we’ve been six times as likely to kill each other than any other mammal. That’s pretty extreme. We’ve also developed the most advanced language skills and have the biggest brains in the animal kingdom. With all that extra brain space, it seems to make us feel emotions more deeply and sometimes live our lives on the extreme ends of the spectrum.

Love is still a bit of a mystery, but we keep getting closer to figuring out its oddball intricacies. Sure, it’s based on an evolutionary need to pair up and spread our genes, and our hormones are responsible for lots of the craziness, but that doesn’t explain all the volatility and heartbreak that goes along with finding love.

So until we figure out all the ins and outs of amore, take comfort in knowing that love is real and generally beneficial to us. And no matter who you are, at some point, we’ll all feel that tingling glow and say, "Ah, I’m so in a commitment device."

Amber Petty is a freelance writer in Los Angeles.

Should I Go to Restorative Yoga or Just Take a Nap? Greatist Should I Go to Restorative Yoga or Just Take a Nap? Should I Go to Restorative Yoga or Just Take a Nap? Wed, 13 Feb 2019 12:50:00 -0500 ej.johnson 16862 at It was Friday night after a long week. I was exhausted, but I had recently signed up for a trial yoga membership in an effort to practice more "self-care," so I looked up the schedule and found a late-night restorative yoga class that promised to leave me feeling "balanced, rested, and elevated." Yes, please, I thought as I grabbed my mat and hurried through the cold to the warehouse-like studio.

Once inside, I was instructed to grab what felt like a large carry-on of props: two blocks, a firm pillow-like thing called a bolster, and two blankets. I dragged this load into the dark room, laid everything out, and was prepared to be restored. I couldn't wait to feel balanced, rested, and elevated—look at me and my Friday night self-care!

As the class started, we moved through a few stretch-like positions slowly, then set up for our first restorative pose. I followed instructions and positioned the bolster-pillow-thing under my stomach while in child's pose. The teacher instructed us to turn our head to the right and lay it on the bolster. Great. Done.

Then I waited. And waited. And waited. After what seemed like an eternity, we were instructed to turn our head to the left and... lay it on the bolster.

My mind erupted. Are you kidding me?

If I knew I was going to walk in the cold just to lie on a pillow and turn my head every 10 minutes, I would have just gone to bed early instead! After the 75-minute class ended, I stormed home and that's exactly what I did (... and slept like a baby).

At the time, I didn't put together that my childlike slumber could have been a positive side effect of the class, but I was curious as to why anyone would pay money for what seemed like a 75-minute group-snooze. So I decided to do some research and talk to people who are fans of the practice.

Restorative yoga was first developed to help people heal from injury, illness, or burnout by holding certain poses for longer stretches of time (5-20 minutes) compared to a traditional yoga class. Some claim that it is the most advanced practice of yoga due to the difficulty of achieving conscious relaxation—it's all about moving past the "Um, now what?" I was fixated on in that first class and learning to achieve a state of active relaxation.


OK, great. But couldn't I just take an hour-long nap instead?

Elian Zach, yoga instructor and founder of the Woom Center in New York, believes that naps and yoga are both useful self-care tools, but they're not interchangeable. "When restorative yoga is done right, it can facilitate a deeper rest than sleep. What happens is almost the equivalent to REM sleep, but when we sleep, we dream and can experience anxiety. It's not necessarily always a quality time of rest."

Eileen Goddard, a restorative yoga teacher at Yoga Vida in NYC, shed some light on all the added equipment. "In order to fully relax, we need to feel supported, both physically and mentally. We prop up in restorative yoga, particularly at the joints, to give the body this experience of full support." Goddard adds that another important prop is the presence of the teacher, which offers another level of support.

And the studio atmosphere itself can make or break a good restorative yoga class. "The environment needs to exude a personality that is soothing and calming," Zach says, adding that at the Woom Center, they have everything from a 3D sound system and overtone-emitting instruments to three unique aromatic combinations that alchemist Michelle Gagnon developed to help students unwind. (Which, whoa.)

This is all starting to sound a little better than a nap—but what are the real benefits of this type of self-care?

Yogis who practice restorative yoga regularly (at least once a week) report feeling more focused and experience better sleep post-class.

"The biggest benefit of practicing restorative yoga is the opportunity for your nervous system to switch over from the 'fight or flight' stress response to the 'rest and digest' relaxation response," Goddard says. Other reported benefits include improved management of pain, anxiety, and depression as well as lower blood sugar and even weight loss.

A study from the American Diabetes Association observed a focus group of obese women who practiced restorative yoga over a 48-week period and a group who engaged in a stretching program over the same time period. They found that those who practiced restorative yoga lost a significant amount of subcutaneous fat over the six-month program compared to those in the stretch group, and those same women continued to lose during the maintenance period once the program was over. The study credits this to the practice's focus on relaxation and stress reduction, which led to a decrease in cortisol (the hormone we blame for abdominal fat).

Sign me up! Restorative yoga for life! I have self-care figured out now!

I won't be removing Pilates and cycling classes from my schedule any time soon—you can't just replace regular exercise with restorative yoga. Instead, even the study noted that restorative yoga is a "complementary, ancient practice" that should be used in addition to regular exercise.

So, intense workout, restorative yoga class, or just a nap? Why not all three. "There is room for high-intensity classes," Zach says. "There is a time for sharing space with others and another to sit alone and veg in front of the TV. Sometimes that's OK, but sometimes you want to find self-care in a bigger way. Restorative yoga isn't lazy—it's a proactive act of self-care."

E.J. Johnson is a Brooklyn-based comedy writer and performance artist. If you like pictures of pink sparkly things, you can follow her @ej.sunshine on Instagram.

The Gear Our Fitness Editor Is Currently Obsessed With Greatist The Gear Our Fitness Editor Is Currently Obsessed With The Gear Our Fitness Editor Is Currently Obsessed With Wed, 13 Feb 2019 12:24:52 -0500 Jamey Powell 17439 at Not to go all Marie Kondo here, but I have zero time for "stuff." Between teaching cycling classes, a 9-5 hustle, and squeezing in a workout for myself, I live my life on the go, and my gear has to hold up—not to mention help me look remotely put together. So when I'm staring down a product, I make myself stop to think about whether it would elevate my life in some way: Does it make me faster? Less sore? Just plain happy? That last one is super valid, trust me.

There are plenty of reasons to make purchases, and finding a "why" typically helps me be a smarter consumer and lands me with products I truly love. After all, life's too short to waste time on "stuff." Here's the gear that keeps me going on the daily, no matter how tough the going gets.

APL Ascend in White/Midnight

My Favorite Kicks for Kicking Around

Go ahead and call me crazy for wearing white kicks in the middle of a New York City winter—I'm not going to stop living in these APL Ascends. They're supportive enough to cross-train in but cool enough to wear while grabbing drinks with friends. Plus, with their Propelium® technology, I feel like I'm walking on floofy clouds.


AirPods Case from Elago

The Perfect Air Pods Silicone Case

If you're like me, you drop your beloved AirPods on a regular basis. That's why I rely on this gold-flecked silicone case from Elago to soften the blow. The carabiner hook helps to keep the case from falling into the depths of your bag (and this particular style is glow in the dark for when they inevitably do).


Theragun G3Pro

The Game-Changer of PT Tools

If you haven't experienced the glorious percussive therapy of a Theragun yet, don't walk, run to find one. The new Theragun G3Pro is a game-changer in the world of personal physical therapy and pain-relief devices. It's insanely quiet for a tool that shoots 16mm amplitude at either 1750 or 2400 RPMs (depending on the setting). You'll definitely giggle, smile, and say "ohhhhhyeah" as it jiggles your muscles like Jell-O—you can use it briefly across all of your major muscle groups as a stimulating warm-up or tension-releasing cooldown. Yes, it's pricey. But I think it's totally worth it.


Garmin Forerunner 645 Music

A Tracker that Fits My Goals (and My Wrists)

I'm currently using the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music to train for a few races, and I'm officially an Apple Watch convert. This baby does it all—activity and sleep tracking, Vo2Max and recovery coaching, a shockingly long battery life (seven days in smartwatch mode), and space to hold 500 songs so you can run phone-free. Its big brother, the Forerunner 935, is slightly more rich in data but has a considerably larger face. So with my puny wrists, the 645 is just right.


New Balance Fresh Foam LAZR v2 Hypoknit

These Floaty-Light Running Shoes

New Balance shoes haven't ever been my go-to for running, but these lightweight sneaks have changed all that. The Fresh Foam LAZR V2 have a fairly supportive sole, an elevated pocket for your achilles to rest in, and great bounce. The knit material on the upper portion of the shoe almost makes it seem like I'm running in some cushy socks, which is awesome for someone like me who broke a toe that will apparently never ever heal. Not to be a total tease, but these actually haven't been released yet—you can get your hands (feet?) on them March 1.

M2 Smart Trainer

A Trainer for Indoor Cruisin'

I'm a cyclist, but there's no chance you'll catch me on the road when it's 13 degrees outside. The M2 Smart Trainer from CycleOps helps me bring my workouts indoors—if you're a bike nerd like me, you'll appreciate that it seamlessly connects to your favorite training software (like Zwift or Rouvy), and all of your performance data is recorded within the trainer itself (meaning no external sensors required).

Also, if you're someone who actually enjoys climbing hills (shout-out to our video producer, Jenna!), the Wahoo Kickr and Kickr Climb are a powerful duo that simulate grade changes during your indoor training. #noflatearth


Athleta Salutation Stash Pocket 7/8 Tight in Powervita

The Leggings You'll Have to Rip Off My Dead Body

Sorry for the alarming description, but I need you to understand my feelings for the Salutation Stash Pocket ⅞ Tight from Athleta. They're super soft yet high-rise and compressive, and they'll make you feel incredible in any yoga or barre class (they're also my go-to for maximum comfort during travel). I wasn't a huge Athleta fan until recently, but I truly feel like they've stepped up their game in terms of design and aesthetic. Also, they're a B Corp now, which is pure awesomeness.


Trigger Point GRD STK Form Roller

A Portable Masseuse

Hold the face masks—this is my type of self-care. Whether I'm needing relief from muscle soreness midday or traveling for a race, the Trigger Point GRD STK foam roller has come to my rescue on several occasions. Not many foam rollers are travel-friendly, but you can slide this one into a backpack or suitcase fairly easily.


Rothy&#039;s Sneaker in Sand

Shoes for Walking All Day That Aren't Heinous to Look At

These slip-on Rothy's sneakers are my go-to hack for looking somewhat put together when I'm rocking day-old gym hair and leggings. They're ridiculously comfortable—priority No. 1 when I'm standing at a desk or zipping around NYC all day—and are made from recycled water bottles using a 3D knitting process to reduce waste. Bonus: They're machine washable. Boom.


Jane West CBD Coffee

The Pre-Workout Dream Team

I know, I know—CBD is everywhere right now. And sure, coffee and CBD might sound like a contradictory combo, but hear me out for a sec: Lately, this CBD infused coffee from Jane West has been my version of a pre-workout, and I'm really into it. Obviously, caffeine helps when my alarm so delightfully sounds at 5:30am, but I'm also convinced that CBD has helped me feel more focused during my workouts. With 240mg of full-spectrum CBD per 12-ounce bag, a cup of coffee (I err on the strong side) contains about 13 mg of CBD—that's enough to help me shake the stress of the day to come and stay present when the workout gets tough.


Lululemon On the Fly Pant 28&quot;

The GOAT of Athleisure

We've sung these pants' praises before, but let me say again for the people in the back: These are the best pants ever. Whether you're a commuter, a lunchtime exerciser, or just thrive in comfy clothes, the On The Fly pant from Lululemon is going to change your life. They look like trousers but have the elasticity of leggings, so you can chameleon your way from the conference room to yoga with no problem.


Every editorial product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through one of our links, we may earn a commission. But don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra, and we wouldn't recommend a product if we didn't love it as much as we love puppies.

Jamey Powell is Greatist's associate fitness editor as well as a NASM certified personal trainer, cycling instructor, yoga teacher, and triathlete. When she isn’t sweating, she’s usually eating or trying to pet someone’s dog. You can follow her antics on Instagram.

7 Steps to Take to Be Nicer to the Most Important Person in Your Life Greatist 7 Steps to Take to Be Nicer to the Most Important Person in Your Life 7 Steps to Take to Be Nicer to the Most Important Person in Your Life Wed, 13 Feb 2019 12:00:00 -0500 Amber Petty 16056 at Why even try. Nobody cares about you.

This thought crosses my mind at least once a day, thanks to my struggle with negative self-talk. And if you're also someone who consistently makes mean comments to yourself, you're far from alone. Thoughts like "Oh, you're so stupid" or "You're too fat to wear that" are prime examples of the way many of us talk to ourselves every day.

"Negative self-talk can be hugely impactful on your daily life," says psychologist Ashley Hampton, Ph.D. "Our thoughts influence our feelings and then our behaviors. This can lead to negative behaviors, like isolation, lack of motivation, and a desire not to engage in activities that bring you happiness."

Beyond adding to depression and isolation, negative thoughts can lead to physical changes. A 2015 study found that adolescents who viewed themselves as overweight, even though their body weight was in the normal range, were more likely to become obese later in life. Now, thinking "I'm fat" once or twice will not make you heavy one day, but the study showed a direct connection between negative thoughts and a negative outcome.

(And let's note that I'm not saying that being overweight is negative, I'm saying it was the negative scenario for those participants. Be whatever weight you want!)

Negative self-talk promotes a cycle of self-fulfilling prophecies and prevents you from seeing the bright side. Most of us have probably felt its effects before. When you tell yourself, "I'm going to do terribly in the job interview. I'm awful. Oh, God, let's prepare for this disaster," you're setting yourself up to do a terrible job when the interview actually happens. We think we'll do badly, which makes us perform badly, which makes us think we'll do badly again next time.

But instead of getting stuck in this cyclone of sadness, you can change the way you talk to yourself. It's not always easy, but coaches, counselors, and psychologists have some tips on how to turn your Negative Nelly voice into a Pollyanna of Peace.

1. Check Yourself

"Building an awareness of your negative self-talk and recognizing every time you are giving yourself a negative message is the first step of minimizing its impact," says life coach Shefali Raina. When you're used to being crappy to yourself, you might not even notice how negative your thoughts are.

Raina recommends tracking your negative thoughts for two weeks. Simply write down every time you say something mean to yourself. Maybe you'll have a couple lines on a page or a whole journal full of hate. Either way, by recognizing the negativity, you're making a good step toward changing it.


After you find out your baseline of negative self-talk, then you want to find your triggers. "In a world where we are inundated with social media and highlight reels showing us people living on the beach and saying they're millionaires, sometimes the comparison game can trigger negative self-talk," Hampton says. "The very simple reality is most of what we see on social media is not true or at least is not completely true."

Even if social media isn't your trigger (and if it isn't, I commend you), Hampton says to always give your triggers a second look. Ask yourself if what you're reacting to is actually true ("My friend is always at the beach. She has such a better life than me.") or if you're reacting to a false presentation ("Oh wait, she's always complaining about how broke she is. This beach pic is just one example of a complicated life.")

By reframing these knee-jerk reactions, you can distance yourself from these negative thoughts, which can allow you to more easily see lies for what they are. As the great Bette Midler once said, "From a distance, there is harmony, and it echoes through the land." View your thoughts from a distance and you'll start playing a lot more songs of hope and peace and fewer songs of "everyone hates me."

2. Amber Petty Recommends Speaking in Third Person

I say things to myself like, "You're an f'ing idiot," or "Nobody cares what you think," all the time. But would I talk that way to another person? Nope. I mean, I might say it behind someone's back if they really pissed me off, but to someone's face? No way!

It turns out that distancing yourself from your own self-talk can be surprisingly helpful, as a 2014 meta-study revealed. Participants who referred to themselves in the third person ("She's a great person with solvable problems") during introspection had less anxiety than people who spoke in the first person ("I'm a smart person with solvable problems").

This is evidence that using the third person automatically puts those thoughts at a distance and lets you treat them more rationally and less emotionally. I mean, maybe if the phrase had been, "Can you smell what I'm cooking," the Rock never would have become superstar Dwayne Johnson.

Basically, when you speak in the third person, you're acting like you're talking to a different person. So just as you wouldn't say, "You look so ugly in that dress" to a friend, when you use third person, you're much less likely to say that to yourself. It may seem a little odd at first, but if you try it, you may find it works for you too.

3. Name That Jerk

Raina recommends another distancing technique to tame your negative instincts. Instead of using the third person, Raina says to give your mean thoughts a name. "Naming it helps create a space between the message and yourself," Raina says. "It gives you the opportunity to send those negative thoughts to the side and get back in control of your destiny again."

I actually do this. My negative voice is like an unfunny Daria or a goth teenager who wants to sit around and tell me how stupid and pointless everything is. So, when I have those thoughts, I tell that snotty teen to put her black lipstick away and go bother someone else for a while. And it really helps! Lord knows I'm not always perfect with this, but it's something I've done recently that makes a big difference.

Or in the words of Katya Zamolodchikova, name your inner saboteur "Brenda" and tell her to shut the eff up. It's a really solid, funny way to reduce stress—and it works.

4. Watch Your Words

After you notice your negative thoughts, you can begin to change them. An easy way to start is by taking a few words out of your self-talk vocabulary. Counselor Melanie Hall, M.A., LCPC, recommends limiting your usage of "always," "never," and "should."

"Using absolutes such as 'never' and 'always' disempowers a person, and is self-defeating," Hall says. "There are ranges to most things in life—few things are final while life is in motion." When it comes to the term "should," Hall says this word can be punitive and is usually attached to shame and guilt. By taking these words out of your self-talk, you instantly have thoughts that are less drastic, more balanced, and probably less negative.

Now, instead of saying, "I should work out more," try, "I can work out more," "I will work out more," or "I could work out more, but I have better things to do with my life." The last one maybe isn't the best choice, but it's certainly my favorite.

5. Look on the Sunny Side

Now that you can identify negative thoughts and make little changes, it's time to really make changes by turning negative self-talk into positive self-talk. And when you practice positive self-talk, that's not just some rah-rah BS to make you feel good—it can really change your attitude, outlook on life, and actions in the world. Studies have found that positive self-talk can even help athletes perform better in high-stakes situations.

So, even if it feels weird, try to see little positivity in all of your negative thoughts. Maybe "I messed up, I'm so stupid," becomes "I messed up and I know I won't do it again because I'm a smart person and hard worker."

Now, sometimes it's really hard to go from dark to light. But even going from dark to neutral can make a difference. So, instead of "Ugh, my gross, fat stomach," you could think, "My stomach is big. I'd like it to be smaller." You're not exactly farting rainbows, but at least you're looking at the situation objectively and not guilting yourself into feeling worse.

Over time, it'll be easier to change neutral thoughts into positive thoughts. Then, who knows, maybe you'll catch yourself thinking, "Wow, you are so smart, you did a great job today" without any prompting at all. That might take some time, but that kind of positive attitude is attainable when you get to work on your Debbie Downer self-talk.

6. Bust Out the Gratitude Journal

To help achieve a general aura of positivity, all the experts I interviewed said to start a gratitude journal. "I encourage clients to write three to five things they are grateful for every day. This helps redirect the pattern of thinking to the glass being half full, rather than half empty," Hall says.


I've done this before, kind of, in that I used to keep a journal where I'd just rattle off three things, like it was such a chore to be asked to be grateful. And guess what? That journal didn't help me. Instead, Hall recommends taking time and really feeling the happiness the things in the journal brought you. After a while, you'll start to look for the positive things in life instead of always latching on to the negative. And your self-talk will follow suit.

7. Make It RAIN

Asking you to go through every one of these tips every time you have a crappy thought is kind of asking a lot. So, Raina recommends the RAIN method as a handy way to remember the steps toward changing your self-talk.

R - Recognize the negative self-talk

A - Accept the message

I - Investigate

N - Non-Identify with Negativity

Basically, realize you're being a jerk to yourself, accept that that just happened instead of arguing with yourself about it, figure out if that mean thought is actually true or just an exaggeration or false perception, then distance yourself from the negativity and switch it to a positive or a neutral.

That still sounds like a lot, but think of the mental health toll negative self-talk takes. It's exhausting to think unkind things about yourself 24/7. By slowing down, analyzing your thoughts, and going through these simple steps, the negativity will begin to fade, and a happier you will emerge.

Amber Petty is an L.A.-based writer and a regular contributor to Greatist. Follow along as she shares her weight-loss journey in her new bi-monthly column, Slim Chance. Take singing lessons from her via Sing A Different Tune and follow her on Instagram @Ambernpetty.

How to Get More Bacteria on Your Face—'Cause That's Actually Something You Want Greatist How to Get More Bacteria on Your Face—'Cause That's Actually Something You Want How to Get More Bacteria on Your Face—'Cause That's Actually Something You Want Wed, 13 Feb 2019 11:30:00 -0500 Kristi Pahr 14844 at The microbiome has been generating a lot of buzz lately, and for good reason. Recent studies have shown that there's a connection between the microbes in your digestive tract and everything from your mental health to irritable bowel syndrome. Lately, we've started seeing more evidence that increasing the number of "good bacteria" in your gut is a solid way to improve your overall health and well-being.

Gut health is a new frontier in medicine, and probiotics are proving to be useful as treatment for many modern-day maladies. Feeding the good bugs in your gut is a huge step toward improving your overall health—but it turns out that there's a microbiome on your skin as well.

What exactly is a skin microbiome, and why should we care?

"The skin biome is the ecosystem of microorganisms that live on the skin," says Jasmina Aganovic, president of biome-focused product line Mother Dirt. "Research is showing that they potentially play a crucial role in how our skin looks, feels, and acts." Your skin is colonized by millions and millions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, and just like the microbes in your gut have a larger impact on overall health, microbes on your skin, which is your largest organ, impact the way it looks and feels—and its ability to serve as a barrier between your body and the outside world.

Chicago-based dermatologist Toral Patel, M.D., explains how vital the skin microbiome is, not only for skin health but overall health as well. "A healthy microbiome can protect against skin infection by preventing the overgrowth of pathogenic organisms," Patel says. And it turns out that the skin microbiome can also fight against external and environmental factors, as well. "It can also help keep inflammation in check, promote wound healing, and act as a barrier to some allergens and environmental toxins."

Unfortunately, most modern hygiene practices absolutely wreck our skin microbiome. Antibacterial soaps, preservatives in topical products, and pretty much every other harsh chemical we apply to our skin can annihilate the "good" bacteria in addition to the "bad." Basically, being such a germ-phobic culture is actually making us sicker.


Holistic beauty nutritionist Paula Simpson explains, "Clinical research has shown that blemish-prone skin has a less-diverse skin microbiome, over-populated with pathogens and damaging stressors—compared to those with healthy skin."

According to a recent study, skin conditions like rosacea, acne, and psoriasis can either be caused or exacerbated by a microbe imbalance. There is even evidence that a balanced skin microbiome can be effective in the fight against some skin cancers. Other studies point to a correlation between skin microbiome health and overall immune function.

So what can we do to protect our skin microbiome?

Simpson offers the following tips to keep your skin microbiome healthy and flourishing:

1. Eat clean, high-fiber foods—they're full of prebiotics.

Prebiotics contain fibrous carbohydrates that nourish the good bacteria to help it to grow—examples include asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, oats, and soybeans. If you eat a diet rich in prebiotics, you'll encourage microbial diversity and promote the growth of healthy bacteria.

2. Consume probiotic-rich foods every day.

Although there is no recommended daily amount of probiotics, health experts recommend consuming approximately 1 billion to 10 billion live bacteria cultures (measured in colony forming units, or CFUs) per day. Get at least one serving of a prebiotic and probiotic-rich food every day.

3. Start with rebalancing microbiome from within.

You can also complement eating probiotic-rich foods with supplements, which can encourage and maintain a healthy community of gut and skin microflora.

To help your skin microbiome be the best it can be, skip using antibacterial soap on your face (or anywhere else on your skin, for that matter); eat nourishing, prebiotic-packed foods; and try putting good bacteria on your face (and in your belly).

Kristi Pahr is a freelance writer and mother who spends most of her time caring for people other than herself. She is frequently exhausted and compensates with an intense caffeine addiction. See what she's up to on Twitter.

5 Ways to Stop Overthinking Everything and Find More Joy Greatist 5 Ways to Stop Overthinking Everything and Find More Joy 5 Ways to Stop Overthinking Everything and Find More Joy Wed, 13 Feb 2019 10:01:55 -0500 Susie Moore 17230 at Workout classes are always super-crammed the first couple of weeks of January. The other day, my regular yoga class became a mat-to-mat experience, and I had to chuckle a little at the universal New Year enthusiasm.

But in this particular class, the teacher said something cool because there were obviously lots of newbies in the room:

"If you lose balance and fall, it's perfect. If you don't know the pose and have never heard Sanskrit, that's perfect too. Just copy the rest of us and try your best. If you're confused and regret coming at any time—also perfect! Just enjoy yourself. Explore your body's limits. Play around."


And as the class kicked off, I was surprised by something. The experienced yogis seemed to have the least fun of all. I noticed their furrowed brows. Their discomfort when toppling during a standing balance. Their rushing ahead versus flowing with the breath.

As for the newbies, one even asked, "Hey, what's an asana (pose)?" And they had the most fun and probably got the best workout too. A couple of them even went for it with headstands—something I never even attempt after nearly 10 years of going to classes! And it worked!

Let me ask you something for a sec… Take a breath and think of a time you purely used your head. A time when that brain of yours entirely led the way. What happened?

Now… Take another breath and think of a time you used your heart. When your heart-space led you fully. What happened then?

Reflecting on that for a moment, do you want more of those heart-driven, intuitive moments to create life? Probably, right? That's how we get to the place where we're going full-throttle and falling over in yoga class, not caring what we look like. Here's how you can sprinkle in more heart-led decisions every day and have far more (unexpected) fun along the way:

1. Imagine 2019 is your last year to live.

What are three things you'd make non-negotiable: spending time with your parents? Writing that book? Visiting the Grand Canyon? Sitting down to have an intimate talk that you've been putting off? Make them real!

2. Risk more in your routine.

Can you test a new recipe you've always wanted to try and not be married to the outcome? Just give it a whirl with an open, curious mind? If it's good, great! If not, how bad can it be? What's the worst that can happen? It's ramen night! And the best-case scenario—a new fabulous meal in the rotation!

3. Sign up for something new.

Can you show up for a new workout without being embarrassed? Every expert was once a beginner, and even the triathlon pros had to learn to ride a bike and swim. People aren't watching, don't worry (they're too focused on themselves). Most classes have beginner options too—including barre, Zumba, SLT!

4. Think: What have I kinda always wanted to do but haven't made a priority yet?

It can be anything. Can you ditch the reason that's stopping you and just book that trip to India? Try cryotherapy? Register for that self-help seminar or take that evening Spanish class? Go trapezing? What are you waiting for, exactly?

5. Cleanse yourself of perfectionist tendencies.

Expect nothing. Or expect awful. Anything above awful can be a bonus. Can you take yourself a little less seriously? Because joy, ideas, and creativity flow when we're loose, not uptight.

There's nothing wrong with using your head. It's an amazing decision-making filter that keeps you safe and helps you make "sound" decisions. But the brain is not pro-experimentation. Our head likes routine and the perceived security it brings us. But not every decision needs to be sensible. Pure sensibility creates many blocks to new opportunities.

If your 2019 resolutions read like a logical January to-do list, you may wanna infuse a little more heart into them. And what's the heart like as a guide? Well, it doesn't overthink. It feels. It goes where it's called. And who knows where that can take you? Maybe something as unexpected as a successful headstand that would've taken your brain a decade to arrive at.

Susie Moore is Greatist's life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!

A Beginner's Guide to Meal Prep Greatist A Beginner's Guide to Meal Prep A Beginner's Guide to Meal Prep Wed, 13 Feb 2019 09:00:00 -0500 Marygrace Taylor 17379 at If finding the time to pack lunch every morning or cook dinner every night is impossible, or you're relying on takeout more than you want to, you're probably ready to jump on the meal-prep train. As you should! Except, um, how do you get started? If you’ve never done it before, meal-prepping can feel overwhelming. But it’s not, really. Here’s everything you need to know to succeed.

What is meal prep, and why should I try it?

Meal prep is exactly what it sounds like: prepping your meals (or meal components) ahead of time so your food is ready to eat whenever you are. The easiest way to do it? Pick a day when you’re free—usually a Saturday or Sunday—to prep enough food to get you through the upcoming week.

People love meal-prepping because it makes life easy. Trying to figure out what to make for dinner every night can be stressful, and finding the time to make it can be even more so. Meal-prepping means you get all the work out of the way ahead of time. Instead of taking time to think about food and cooking during the week, everything’s already there.

Planning your meals ahead of time can make it easier to eat healthier too. “We tend to make better choices for our future selves than we do for our current selves,” says Georgie Fear, RD, CSSD, author of Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss. It’s easy to succumb to takeout or frozen pizza when you’re exhausted after a long day. But you’ll probably be motivated to make better choices—say, salmon and quinoa or chicken and pepper fajitas—when you map out your menu in advance.

How to Meal-Prep

Prepping several days’ worth of food all at once might seem like an overwhelming task. But it’s actually pretty simple once you get the hang of it. Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting started.

1. Gear up.

Despite what some meal-prep guides might say, you don’t need to shell out for tons of new products before beginning. That said, having the right tools can be pretty helpful. Consider stocking up on these items, if you don’t already have them on hand.

  • One or two large sheet pans. Use them to roast veggies, proteins, or full sheet-pan meals.
  • A big stockpot. It’s key for one-pot meals like soups, stews, curry, or chili.
  • A medium sauce pot. Use it for cooking whole grains or making hard-boiled eggs.
  • Glass storage containers with sturdy lids. They’re your best options for storing prepped food. (And, unlike plastic, they won’t leach chemicals into your food.) Aim to have a variety of sizes for storing big and small batches of prepped items.
  • Zip-top bags. Small ones are great for portioning out snacks like nuts or sliced veggies. Bigger ones are good for storing whole meals or individual components if you run out of storage containers (or run out of room for more containers in your fridge).

2. Plan your menu.

Before you begin cooking, you need to figure out what you’re going to make. Aim to have a protein, a vegetable, and a starch for each meal—the combo will help you stay satisfied, says nutrition expert Kelly Jones, MS, RD. As for what to cook, exactly? The sky’s the limit, but in general, the most successful meal-prep meals fall into one of these categories:

  • One-pot or one-pan meals: Think soups, curry, chili, oatmeal, or anything else that you can cook in a single pot or Crock-Pot. “They’re always a great option because you don’t need to add anything to the meal other than condiments,” Jones says. Sheet-pan meals and frittatas (bake them in a big pan and cut into slices, or make individual servings in muffin tins) work here too. If you want simplicity to the max, this is the route to go, Fear says.
  • Component-based meals: Want a little more variety? Try prepping proteins, vegetables, and starches individually for mixing and matching. For instance, pre-chopped veggies can top a pizza on Monday, be mixed into pasta sauce on Tuesday, and folded into tacos on Wednesday, Fear says. And since a plain bowl of quinoa, veggies, and chicken or tempeh can get kind of boring, plan to make a few sauces, dressings, or toppings to keep things interesting from a flavor perspective, Jones says.

Do you have to map out every single thing you’re going to eat for the entire week? Nope. “Having a plan for most meals may be helpful for some people, but it’s important, especially when starting to meal-prep, that you start small,” Jones says.

So if tackling five or even seven days seems like way too much, start by prepping just two dinners. Double the ingredients so you can eat each dinner twice, and bam! You’ve got four nights covered.

3. Shop and cook.

With your menu planned, it’s time to make a grocery list and go shopping. Think through all the items you’ll be cooking and write down all the ingredients you’ll need. This is key! Having an actual list (versus trying to keep track of everything in your head) ups the odds that you’ll actually come home with everything you need—and won’t waste time running back to the store later on.

When it’s time to cook, think about ways to maximize your efficiency as much as possible. “Meal-prepping shouldn’t take more than one to two hours if you multitask the right way,” Jones says. (These recipes only take 15 minutes from start to finish!) If you’re firing up the oven, roast vegetables and bake chicken or tofu at the same time. Then start a pot of quinoa or soup on the stovetop. While that simmers, pre-chop fruits or veggies or whip up a batch of hummus for snacking, she suggests.

4. Pack it up.

Got your food all prepped? Congrats! Now it’s time to store everything so you’ll have easy access to your meals and ingredients throughout the week. Three important tips to keep in mind:

  1. Utilize the right containers. Portion out single servings into small individual containers, which are easy to grab and go, Jones says. Dinners you’ll serve in one big batch can go in bigger containers.
  2. Keep salads and dressings separate. Storing already-dressed salad is a recipe for a soggy, wilted mess, Fear says. Keep everything fresh by packing chopped salad veggies in one container and dressing in another.
  3. Cool before refrigerating. It’s fine to transfer hot food straight to your glass storage vessels. But let the food come to room temperature before moving it to the fridge—especially when it comes to big batches. Popping a family-size serving of, say, piping hot chili into the fridge will warm up everything that’s already in there, Fear says. That could potentially set the stage for spoilage and food poisoning.

5. Eat strategically.

You’ve got all this delicious food at the ready—so what should you eat first? “Most things can be prepared in advance and stay safe to eat for five days,” Fear says. Still, animal-based proteins often tend to lose their luster the quickest. So consider eating your meatier meals earlier in the week and saving plant-based proteins for later on, Jones recommends.

Of course, it’s always a good idea to use your judgment. If something looks or smells suspect, don’t eat it—even if it’s only been sitting in the fridge for a day or two. Use this guide to determine how long food really lasts.

5-Ingredient Smoothies That Taste and Look So Good We Want to Cry Greatist 5-Ingredient Smoothies That Taste and Look So Good We Want to Cry 5-Ingredient Smoothies That Taste and Look So Good We Want to Cry Wed, 13 Feb 2019 08:30:00 -0500 Jamie Webber 11203 at Whether you've got a hankering for something fruity, a craving for dessert (when don't we?), or just need a heavy dose of greens to cancel out the wine you drank last night (that's how it works, right?), these smoothie recipes are pretty much the only ones you need to get you through life the morning. With only five ingredients, there are no complicated combos or crazy superfoods that will have you running for a bagel instead. From tropical beach drinks to cozy blueberry pancakes, these dairy-free twists serve up your favorite flavors, so you won't have to look elsewhere, ever.

Note: To make your smoothie like the pro that you are, add all of the ingredients into a blender and blend on high until smooth.

Fruity Smoothies

1. Piña Colada

Pina Colada Smoothie

Who needs a beach bar in Hawaii when you can make this tropical drink in your own kitchen? OK, we could all use a vacation right now, but this creamy pineapple mocktail will do. Shot of rum optional.

1 cup coconut milk
1 cup frozen pineapple
1 banana
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2. Berry Oat Hazelnut

Berry Oat Hazelnut Smoothie

When oatmeal isn't cutting it, but the thought of living without a super-filling breakfast is just crazy, meet your new day-starter. Your bowl of oats topped with blueberries and hazelnuts transforms into sweet-nutty richness in liquid form. We might add a tablespoon of cacao powder. Nutella, anyone?

1 cup almond milk
1 cup blueberries
1 banana
1 tablespoon hazelnuts
1/4 cup rolled oats

3. Orange You Glad It's Not Green

Orange Smoothie

Leave the store-bought OJ on the shelves and opt for the juicy oranges in the produce aisle instead. A minute in a blender will recreate a healthier version of Orange Julius's classic shake. If your blender is older than you, buy two oranges and squeeze out the juice for a smoother, less pulpy consistency.

1 cup almond milk
1 cup frozen mango
1 orange
1 banana
1 date

4. Strawberry Sunrise

Strawberry Smoothie

Strawberries and bananas are the most obvious smoothie ingredients, but they get taken to the next level with sweet-as-candy goji berries and crispy coconut flakes. Remember strawberry milk as a kid? Yeah, you're welcome.

1 cup almond milk
1/2 banana
1 cup strawberries
2 tablespoons goji berries
3 tablespoons coconut flakes

5. Peanut Butter and Jelly

Peanut Butter and Jelly Smoothie

Get creative with that daily spoonful of peanut butter you dive into every day and add it to your smoothie instead (or do both). The tart raspberries give it that jelly-like taste, and when you add the PB, you're immediately brought back to the middle-school lunch table.

1 cup almond milk
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 banana
1/2 cup raspberries
2 dates

Green Smoothies

6. Tropical Mint Smoothie

Tropical Mint Smoothie

If the green color turns you off, just imagine it's a tropical palm tree next to the ocean, and all your worries will be washed away. We promise you won't even taste the kale leaves, because the coconut water, pineapple, and mint give it that mojito kick that will have you wondering, "Is this really healthy?" The answer is yes.

1 cup coconut water
1 cup pineapple
1/2 banana
2 kale leaves
1/2 cup mint

7. Green Protein Shake

Green Protein Shake

TBH, you can add protein powder to any of these smoothies, but there's something about pairing it with refreshing cucumber and mild spinach leaves that won't leave behind a chalky aftertaste. If you're not a protein powder guru, we like swapping in 2-3 tablespoons of hemp seeds with a dash of vanilla extract.

1 cup almond milk
1/2 cucumber
1 banana
1 cup spinach
1 scoop vanilla protein powder, or 2 – 3 tablespoons hemp seeds + ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

8. Jolly Green Giant

8. Jolly Green Giant

Some say we're nuts for combining chocolate and greens, but we think you're crazy if you've never tried this before. And don't pass up on the cashew milk. Its rich and buttery texture closely resembles the dairy kind more than any other dairy-free milk, in our opinion.

1 cup cashew milk
1 cup frozen blueberries
2 kale leaves
1/2 banana
1 tablespoon raw cacao powder

9. Green Nut Butter

Green Nut Butter Smoothie

A simple green smoothie base gets a major upgrade in the creaminess department with a (huge) scoop of almond butter and little but nutrient-packed chia seeds. We think it's safe to say that if you're looking for a daily smoothie, this would get our vote.

1 cup almond milk
2 cups spinach
1 banana
1 tablespoon chia seeds
2 tablespoons almond butter

10. Basic Green

Basic Green Smoothie

No one likes being called "basic," which is why we added one extra ingredient to this green guy to make him feel special. (Real reason: We needed more fruit to mask the heavy veg taste.) When you want something simple but packed with the good stuff, this is the one to whip up.

1 cup coconut water
1/2 banana
2 romaine lettuce leaves
1/2 cucumber
1 cup spinach
1 apple, peeled and chopped

Dessert Smoothies

11. Mint Chocolate Chip

Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothie

MCC ice cream lovers, this tastes like the real deal. Once you try this recipe, good luck trying not to make it for dessert every night. Using cacao nibs instead of powder gives it the crunch that's a must in all mint choc ice creams. Pro tip: Add in the nibs after the smoothie is blended so you get the chocolate crunch in every sip.

1 cup cashew milk
1 banana
2 tablespoons cacao nibs
1/2 cup mint leaves
1 cup spinach

12. Chocolate Almond Butter Cup

Chocolate Almond Butter Smoothie

If Reese's Cups were made with almond butter and dark chocolate, and you blended them with almond milk, banana, and dates, this is what it would taste like. Need we say more?

1 cup almond milk
1 banana
2 tablespoons cacao powder
2 tablespoons almond butter
1 date
Dash of sea salt

13. Blueberry Pancake

Blueberry Pancake Smoothie

If blender pancakes are a thing, then doesn't it make sense that you can create a smoothie (in a blender) that tastes like pancakes? We thought so too.

1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 banana
2 tablespoons cashews
2 tablespoons oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon

14. Apple Pie

Apple Pie Smoothie

Time to put your apple-picking gloves away and get out the blender. When you can't stop thinking about your grandma's pie but also can't be bothered with baking, throw these ingredients (the same ones you'd add to a real pie) into your machine and watch the magic happen. Just don't tell Nana.

1 cup almond milk
1 apple, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons pecans
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 dates
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Optional: Top with almond butter and ground cinnamon

15. Cinnamon Bun

Cinnamon Smoothie

Move over, Cinnabon, there's a new bun in town, and it doesn't need an oven. While you might not get that insanely sweet smell rolling through your kitchen, the oats, cinnamon, and maple syrup will remind you of your airport No. 1 pillowy treat.

1 cup almond milk
1 banana
1/4 cup oats
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Want More?
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Big Muscles Just Weren't in the Cards for Me—Here's Why That's OK Greatist Big Muscles Just Weren't in the Cards for Me—Here's Why That's OK Big Muscles Just Weren't in the Cards for Me—Here's Why That's OK Wed, 13 Feb 2019 08:00:00 -0500 Andrew McMaster 17250 at Big Muscles Weren&#039;t in the Cards for Me—Here&#039;s Why That&#039;s OK Illustration by Bianca Dunn

It was after what I called a "strong day" at my college gym: a marathon two-plus hour session where I pushed myself to lift more weight than I ever had before. In fact, I had just pushed myself through an entire week of strong days, and I was feeling confident in my progress—I was finally putting on the muscle mass that would take me from skinny guy to jacked giant.

But as my sweat dripped onto the scale in the men's locker room, all of that confidence immediately melted away. After six months of going to the gym three to five times a week, increasing my healthy calorie intake by almost double, and taking endless scoops of protein powder and creatine supplements, I had gained almost no weight at all.


In that moment, I knew the sneaking suspicion I'd done my best to ignore was true: I would likely never be one of the "yoked" guys hulking around the dumbells. Probably not even close.

At 145 pounds with a 6' frame, I've always been what you could call skinny.

Or thin. Or lanky—I've heard it all before. For as long as I can remember, I was taller than most of my peers and definitely thinner than almost all of them. Strange as it sounds now, I remember feeling oddly proud of my thinness when I was younger—it meant I wasn't the stigmatized "fat," which was one less thing to be mocked for. Ah, kids.

As time went on, my body remained largely the same shape, even as the onset of puberty had me eating like a horse. In middle school, we didn't think (or understand much) about "body image," and though my friends and I teased each other about anything we could think of, I still thought of myself and my body as healthy. Back then I was a fairly good soccer player, and some girls even thought I was cute. So did my mom—and that was good enough for me.

But when high school rolled around, it seemed like someone had turned up the pressure dial on everything.

Suddenly, everyone became painfully aware of their bodies. By that point, all of us had consumed enough movies and TV to internalize what a "beautiful" body should look like and had begun to endlessly compare ourselves to those absurd standards. Girls wanted to be thin and curvy at the same time, and guys wanted to be big, strong, and covered in muscles. Consciously or not, we were desperate to look like the athletes, actors, and rugged dudes in the shaving cream commercials who defined male attractiveness.

For the first time, I started to feel a little bit self-conscious about my thinness. Our soccer workouts now included weightlifting, and we worked tirelessly to pursue what we thought the world (and mostly girls) wanted from us. Some of my teammates showed results quickly, putting on noticeable muscle mass easily. And me? I was a little bit stronger! Did it show? Not really.

By the end of high school, it was clear that puberty would not magically grant me massive pecs and defined triceps.

But that was OK! Another tenet of masculinity I had learned to internalize was the "no pain, no gain" attitude. I would just have to double down, work harder, and be more focused on my goals.

I moved into my college dorm a man determined. Like every other freshman on campus (and probably every campus, ever) awkwardly attempting to reinvent themselves in some way or another, I was sure that my goal was going to happen. If I can just get big, I thought, I'll be the man. I'll have all the confidence in the world.

Andrew McMaster Weight Gain Essay Illustration by Bianca Dunn

For a year and a half, I worked my ass off. I researched weight lifting, spent hours at the gym several days a week, and forced myself to eat way more chicken and rice than any reasonable person should. And to be honest, I never really enjoyed any of it. I found weight lifting to be so goddamn boring, and I constantly felt like there were better ways to be spending my time. Did I mention how much chicken and rice I ate?

These feelings, combined with a constant lack of noticeable results, would convince me to give up every few months. It was just too hard to keep forcing myself to do things I hated when it seemed like I wasn't moving any closer to the body that I wanted.

So when I stood on that scale for the last time, after a one-last-try-period of dedication, it was a seriously difficult pill to swallow.

I hadn't gotten huge. I wasn't swole. Even with a few hard-earned extra pounds, my body was eons away from looking like the lead of a Marvel movie. It just wasn't going to happen for me, and it felt like sh*t to accept that.

That night I went home and scoured the internet for stories of people like me, hoping to find words of commiseration from thin guys about how impossible it was to gain weight. And while I did find a few things like that, what I found more of were blog posts and articles about people with my body type that eventually did put on a ton of muscle. For most of them, it took years of going through intense daily workouts and strict diets—and I suddenly realized how laughable my six months of four times at the gym per week was.

I considered what committing to that lifestyle would mean for me. For starters, I would have to sacrifice a lot to make it happen: A few extra hours every day, a ton of money on supplements, freedom to eat what I wanted… and these were all things that I enjoyed having. On the other hand, I also began to think seriously about what I would gain from committing to that life.

Well, I'd be absolutely jacked, obviously.

But what did that even matter? How would my life be measurably different? When I really thought about it, I couldn't really find a good answer. Even though I wasn't completely into my body, I never found getting dates to be a problem. So while I sometimes wished I looked different, I still had a ton of confidence stemming from, you know, being a nice, thoughtful human being, with diverse interests and a lot of ambition to do good things in the world.

Turns out, I thought I should be big because... well, that's just what we're instructed to believe as men. And that really sucks.

When I realized that, things changed quickly. It was as if a weight was lifted off of my chest (pun intended). I stopped going to the gym and got into cycling, rock climbing, yoga, and surfing. I put down the chicken and rice, and ate the foods I actually liked—and I realized I loved eating so much I started working as a cook.

It was easy to keep physically active doing things I enjoyed, and pretty soon, I noticed serious improvements in my flexibility, strength, and agility. For the first time, I started to feel healthy in my own body, by my own standards—and it felt fantastic.

I know this struggle isn't unique—most people, at some point in their lives, will compare themselves to some fantasy body planted in their head by a culture that worships a very narrow brand of attractiveness. But what gives me hope is this: When we resist the standards of all-the-same-looking Kardashians and Hemsworths, we make more room to see the real beauty in one another's differences.

Nowadays, I'm still thin. But I can climb a wall, run a six-minute mile, and cover 200 miles of wilderness with a 50-pound pack on my back. Plus, my mom still thinks I'm cute. That's healthy to me.

Andrew McMaster is a freelance writer. His work covers food culture and policy, as well as anything random, interesting, and important.

The Best Boxed Baking Mixes That Aren't Full of Crap Greatist The Best Boxed Baking Mixes That Aren't Full of Crap The Best Boxed Baking Mixes That Aren't Full of Crap Wed, 13 Feb 2019 04:00:00 -0500 Meredith Heil 16625 at The world of boxed cake, cookie, muffin, and brownie mixes is confusing at best, debilitatingly overwhelming at worst. Spend more than 45 seconds in any grocery store baking aisle and you’ll see what I mean: The shelves are lined top to bottom with brightly colored boxes, all covered in tiny font, bombastic claims (The gooiest! The fluffiest! Just like Grandma’s!) and edge-to-edge photos of piping hot baked goods beckoning to hungry shoppers like Sirens taunting Odysseus with their bewitching songs.

OK, I’m being dramatic, but the point stands: When you’re pressed for time and a premade mix is your only option, sifting through the din to find a box not teeming with hydrogenated oils and unpronounceable preservatives is a real needle-in-the-haystack situation. A word to the wise? Stick to these six vetted and approved numbers and you’re sure to be the belle of the bake sale ball.

1. Miss Jones Baking Organic Vanilla Cake Mix

Free of GMOs, trans fats, artificial colors, and hydrogenated oils, this certified USDA organic baking mix fluffs up like a charm. We're going to say it: Miss Jones might be, pound for pound, the best no-frills cake mix on the market.

With no dairy or soy in the box, it’s totally up to you whether you add eggs, butter, and milk or swap in vegan substitutes (they even provide a vegan recipe online). The organic cane sugar, tempered with earthy vanilla and a dash of sea salt, doesn’t overpower, so it’s perfect for doctoring up with a custard or jelly filling, fresh fruit, glazes, or frosting. Go ahead and get crafty.


2. Simple Mills Chocolate Muffin and Cake Mix

Muffins, cake, brownies, or cupcakes—this Paleo-friendly, dairy-, soy-, and gluten-free mix can do it all. The ingredients are fittingly simple: almond flour, organic coconut sugar, cocoa, arrowroot, organic coconut flour, baking soda, and sea salt. No preservatives, no BS.

The mix itself only packs a comparatively low eight grams of sugar per serving, and recipes printed on the box include suggestions for optional add-ins like sweeteners or vanilla extract to make things extra versatile.


3. Foodstirs Organic Snickerdoodle Blondie Mix

Fall is prime snickerdoodle weather IMO. What's better than the intoxicating cinnamon-sugar smell linked with crisp weather, cozy flannel blankets, and roaring fireplaces? These warm, fudgy, 100-percent organic squares—a straightforward mix of brown sugar, wheat flour, sunflower oil, sea salt, baking powder, vanilla, molasses, and cinnamon—hit the spot like none other. They’re like snickerdoodle cookies on steroids… and yet somehow still only 80 calories per serving. Thank you, healthy baking world.

($14 for 3;

4. Immaculate Baking Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

These rice flour-fueled, gluten-free treats are the ideal combination of light and crispy at the edges and plump and gooey in the center. They’re packed with velvety semisweet chocolate chips but pass on bleached flour, GMOs, artificial preservatives, hydrogenated oils, and artificial flavors. One box makes 22 two tablespoon-size cookies, so don’t forget to pick up that extra carton of (nondairy) milk—you’re going to need it.


5. Whole Note Naturally Gluten-Free Create-a-Muffin Mix

If you’re looking for a reliable blank canvas to satisfy all your gluten-free muffin-making needs, this is it. On its own, the mix is neutral yet tasty, with a light, pleasant vanilla scent and hearty texture.

But where it really shines is as a base for antioxidant-rich blueberries, walnuts, or any other flavorful additions that might catch your eye. Going vegan is easy with this one, and no matter how you prepare it, you’re looking at 14 grams of whole grains in each muffin, including fava bean flour and flaxseed meal for a dose of protein.

($21 for 3;

6. King Arthur Flour Essential Goodness Bar Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Mix

Good old King Arthur strikes again with this rich and creamy cheesecake bar mix complete with real ground vanilla beans, savory cinnamon, and a melt-in-your-mouth graham cracker crust made with whole-wheat flour and molasses.

There are no preservatives, corn syrup, artificial colors, or flavors. And it's verified non-GMO and super customizable—the website includes recipes for tasty twists like pumpkin swirl, caramel pecan, and chocolate chip bars.

The coolest thing about this particular mix (besides its undeniable deliciousness) is that for each box purchased, King Arthur donates a meal to someone in need. As if you need another excuse to indulge.


5 Things You Should Know Before Your First Boxing Class Greatist 5 Things You Should Know Before Your First Boxing Class 5 Things You Should Know Before Your First Boxing Class Tue, 12 Feb 2019 10:33:50 -0500 Alexa Pipia 17413 at Upon hearing the word "boxing," visions of Rocky, loose teeth, and bloody noses used to pop into my head. But when I finally mustered the courage to take my first boxing class, I was totally surprised.

It wasn't gritty and filled exclusively with pro-athletes like I imagined, but inviting, a ton of fun, and a great workout. People high-fived (gloved?), the music was bumpin', and I left feeling like a total badass. Needless to say, I was instantly hooked. So if you're feeling hesitant about slapping on some gloves, here's what you should know before you take your first boxing class:

1. You don't have to punch anyone (if you don't want to).

If you're more of a lover than a fighter, know this: Not all boxing classes involve sparring with an actual human being. There are plenty of boxing studios popping up around the country, like Shadowbox and Rumble, where you'll experience a combination of shadowboxing, punching the heavy bag, and conditioning exercises like burpees and ab work. Think about what you're wanting to get out of the class before signing up: Are you looking for a new, fun way to get fit? Look for a class that incorporates other exercises. Are you trying to improve your boxing skills? Choose classes that'll focus on punches, footwork, and defensive movements.

2. Grab the right gear.

We're not saying you need to drop cash on a bunch of new equipment, but a few things are worth noting when it comes to boxing gear. First of all, you'll need wraps (like these, from Sanabul) to protect your wrists and knuckles, and gloves. Some studios even offer wraps for purchase when you arrive for class.

Gloves aren't the most compact accessory to tow around town, so check if the gym you're headed to has gloves to rent. And don't let the idea of sharing boxing gloves with strangers gross you out too much—like cycling shoes, studios typically clean them pretty thoroughly. Of course, if they make you feel like a badass, you can buy your own at a relatively cheap price on Amazon.

As for shoes, pick supportive training sneakers that'll help you move and pivot with ease throughout the class. If you start getting more involved in the sport, you can invest in a pair of boxing shoes, which are lightweight and provide good ankle support.

3. Don't stress about the cueing.

"Technically there are only four punches," says Shadowbox trainer Radichell Lopez. The punches are words you've definitely heard before on TV: jab, cross, hook, and uppercut. "And to break it down and to get you to understand the sides of your body, we say 'lead hand' and 'backhand'."


When terms like "slip," "duck," and "roll under" come flying at you, focus on practicing one at a time. The more comfortable you get with the punches, the easier incorporating defense into your combos will be.

And remember that boxing is a skill that takes time to learn. "I've been boxing for 11 years and I'm still learning," Lopez says. "Go in with an open mind and try not to get frustrated if you don't catch on immediately. Boxing is a lifelong skill, and that's the beautiful part of it."

4. Get ready to let it all out.

With boxing, the physical benefits are just part of the equation. "Boxing ramps up your metabolism, builds strength, and improves hand-eye coordination and core stability, but it also focuses the mind, relieves stress, and builds confidence," says Kyle Shneider, a coach at BoxUnion.

Julian Devine, an instructor at Rumble, agrees, saying the sport can be extremely therapeutic. "We're human—we all have something we're holding on to that we really can't say aloud," he says. "The best therapy you can give yourself starts the minute you hit the bag."

5. Boxing isn't just a sport, it's a community.

In the same way that runners nod as they pass each other in the park, there's a silent bond that links all those who box. "I had my gloves attached to my backpack when a retired pro fighter came up to me and said, 'Keep up the good work son,'" Devine says. "It was so affirming—I was like, 'Alright, let's go.'"

Group boxing classes have taken something that was once intimidating and exclusive and turned it into a workout that's accessible and fun. If you're feeling nervous about your first class, ask a friend to join you—there's a surprising camaraderie that comes with hitting a heavy bag alongside dozens of other people fighting their own fight. Who knows—you both might just find your new favorite workout.

How to Be Less Annoyed About the Little Things Greatist How to Be Less Annoyed About the Little Things How to Be Less Annoyed About the Little Things Tue, 12 Feb 2019 08:22:00 -0500 Susie Moore 17405 at As I was enjoying a warm Miami break from the NYC freeze last week, I saw someone next to me at the beach freaking out—over a sarcastic Instagram comment. She called her mum. Then she called a friend. They talked it out for more than 45 minutes. She then huffed up and down the beach in anger. And then she packed up and left.

Fun day at the beach much?!

I wanted to reach out, hug her, and say, “It’s OK! Don’t worry about it! This isn’t even about you.” Because any shade thrown is always about the thrower, not the receiver. I couldn’t help but think about the misused energy and squandered time (on a beautiful morning, no less).

Could you be doing this too? Wasting your limited energy and time on nonsense? Here are some things that don’t have to bother you:

1. A Callous Comment

There’s an old meme I once liked on Instagram. It read, “You thought that was offensive? I thought it was funny! Maybe that’s why I’m happier than you.”


Think about it: How much time and energy would you have back if you weren’t easily offended and/or reactive to stuff? I say it might the world’s biggest time-saver.

2. A Copycat

A successful writer friend of mine was recently put off by someone copying her website (pretty much to the letter). She asked me if she should bring it up to the copycat. A lot of people would say yes. But my advice was not to bother (unless it was affecting her business). As Oscar Wilde said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

It can be annoying, yes. But it can be touching to know you’re worth copying. Would you copy someone you didn’t look up to—their website, their Lululemon threads, their penchant for an aperol spritz? I’d take the (extremely authentic) compliment over a fired-up confrontation any day of the week.

3. The Winter Chill

The holidays are over. New Year jubilance is dead. And yet... the cold persists! It’s a form of madness to hate what you cannot change. Given the 10 degree temps in New York right now, it’s near impossible, I know. But what’s the upside?

More time indoors? Using that dutch oven for chili or a one-pot lasagna? An opportunity to be more productive than usual and Marie Kondo the heck outta your home? A chance to rock leg warmers? (I’m in love with mine)! Seasons pass. If we’re lighter about them, they pass faster too. Or would you rather be miserable 'til April?

4. The News

This can be tricky, I realize. But think: What can you limit? No news consumption at all until after lunch? And strictly none before bed? You want to be informed, yes. But is an undercurrent of anxiety and stress going to help you be a great human all day?

Instead of getting worked up over the news all the time, consider taking action even in small ways—getting involved in local politics or giving to a cause that calls to you are both far more helpful than ranting, posting hate, or fighting with someone with a different POV. Think action over words. Imagine if we all did this!

5. Being Ghosted

Sorry, but that person is a loser. Don’t waste a single second worrying about it!

6. The Space Between Where You Are and Where You Wanna Be

If you could be inspired by the space instead of frustrated by it, how could your life be different? The thing is, there will always be a space of some kind. Because as soon as one desire is met (a weight-loss goal, a promotion, the arrival of a rockin’ new romance), another desire is born. It’s why we’re all alive. Desire keeps us alive—and it maintains our forward motion.

We are all in that gap, all the time. Think—what do you have now that you really wanted once? Your own apartment? An incredible jacket? A relationship that’s so much better than you expected? What would you go back and tell that pre-space you? To relax a little? Like, “Chill! It’s all comin’!”

Your energy matters. Save it for something that matters: you.

Susie Moore is Greatist's life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!

Is Drinking Decaf Coffee Better for You? Greatist Is Drinking Decaf Coffee Better for You? Is Drinking Decaf Coffee Better for You? Tue, 12 Feb 2019 06:22:27 -0500 Tara Goodrum 17240 at So you want to cut back on coffee. Maybe it’s because you want a better night of sleep or jitter- and crash-free days, or perhaps you've even heard that coffee may cause cancer. (Don’t worry: That’s highly unlikely.)

No matter the reason, it’s not uncommon to consider cutting back. After all, we drink a lot of it. One study found that 64 percent of Americans drink a cup of coffee every day (the highest percentage to date), with another finding that Americans spend an average of $1,100 on coffee a year.

But breaking up is hard. And for every counterpoint, there seem to be countless health benefits to sipping the good stuff. If only a caffeine-free, coffee-like substitute existed… oh wait, it does.

What Is Decaf Coffee?

Decaffeinated coffee—known to most as “decaf”—isn’t just a regular coffee, it’s a cool coffee. (And by cool, we mean it cools it when it comes to caffeine.) But don’t let the name fool you. Though decaffeinated suggests that it’s devoid of caffeine, most decaf brews actually do contain some buzz. Just how much, exactly, can be a little unclear.

Because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t have strict regulations around decaf, it can be difficult to know exactly what you’re getting in each cup. Not to mention, the quality of the bean and processing methods can affect caffeine levels, which is why one brand of coffee may leave you feeling even-keeled while another sends you soaring through the roof.

What we do know is that the decaffeination process typically removes around 97 percent of the caffeine and that, on average, decaf coffee has 3 milligrams of caffeine per cup compared to the 85 milligrams in a regular cup of coffee—which is a considerable amount if you’re sensitive to caffeine.

How It’s Made

It’s believed that decaf coffee was discovered in the 1900s when a shipment of coffee beans was soaked in seawater during transit, which naturally extracted some of the caffeine. Shortly after, the merchant who happened upon the mishap recreated these magic beans using a chemical solvent called benzene, an ingredient that is a major component of gasoline and also found in volcanoes. (Talk about intense.)

The good news is: Decaffeinating coffee beans has gotten a lot safer and is no longer carcinogenic (bye, benzene). The less good news: Chemicals aren’t fully out of the picture.

The decaffeination process starts with unroasted beans (fun fact: the beans are green pre-roasting), which are initially soaked in water to dissolve the caffeine. Then, it can follow three primary methods.

  1. First up is the one with those pesky chemicals. Methylene chloride, which is used in paint removers (yikes), or ethyl acetate, which is used in glue and nail polish removers (double yikes), are used to remove the caffeine from the water by either adding them to the mix of coffee and water (the “direct” process) or by removing the water from the beans and then adding them to the water mixture (the “indirect” process). The final step is the same, which is evaporating the water so the flavor remains in the beans.
  2. Another method, called the Swiss Water Process, uses a charcoal filter to remove the caffeine from the water, making it 100-percent chemical-free.
  3. The third process also keeps things chemical-free by using liquid carbon dioxide to dissolve the caffeine.

Though the latter methods may sound preferable, the amount of chemicals remaining at the end of the first decaffeination method is minimal and has been deemed safe by the FDA. No matter your preference, since labels aren’t required to disclose the method used, it’s hard to say what you’re getting—unless you opt for organic, which is solvent-free.

So, Is Decaf Good for You?

Whether decaf or regular, coffee is high in antioxidants. And though decaf can have slightly lower amounts of those antioxidants, decaffeinated coffee isn’t devoid of the benefits. Whether gulping down caffeine-infused fire or a mellower brew, coffee may help prevent cancer and even type 2 diabetes.

But that’s not all. Decaf coffee has plenty of positive attributes, a few of which are due to its lower levels of caffeine:

  • Decaf coffee consumption in one study showed a decreased risk of developing rectal cancer.
  • A study on rats (yeah, we're waiting for the proof on humans) showed that rodents who were supplemented with coffee performed better in cognition-related tasks than those without, suggesting that coffee may reduce age-related mental decline—no matter the caffeine contents.
  • Consumption of both decaf and caffeinated coffee has been shown to protect neurons in the brain and may help prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
  • Decaf coffee may lower mortality thanks to its positive effect on risk factors like inflammation and depression.

But Is It *Better* for You?

Regular coffee certainly has a longer list of health benefits, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthier. On one hand, there’s the argument that because caffeinated coffee is more widely studied, we know that much more about it, hence all those benefits. But there’s also another key consideration: those who don’t do well with caffeine.

Many sippers suffer from symptoms like acid reflux, heartburn, and general stomach discomfort after a cup of coffee. (Not the most pleasant way to start the day.) But because the decaffeination process can make the coffee milder, decaf may reduce these symptoms, making it a wiser choice for some.

Caffeine is also responsible for other less-than-stellar side effects, like anxiety, sleeplessness, high blood pressure, and fatigue (3 p.m. crash, we’re looking at you). It’s all too easy to forget that caffeine is a drug, and though not as addictive as some of the harder stuff, regular consumption can still lead to cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Caffeine can also negatively affect certain medications. However, due to its minimal levels of caffeine, decaf is a much safer choice (though please consult your doctor if you have a medical condition that requires minimizing caffeine consumption).

The Takeaway

When it comes to coffee, it depends on you and your body’s response to caffeine. If you don’t suffer from side effects, keep calm and coffee on. Just try to limit your caffeine consumption to 400 milligrams per day (3-4 cups, depending on strength).

If you prefer something milder—both in taste and experience—then opt for decaf. And if ingesting chemicals doesn’t sound all that appealing to you, look for the certified organic seal or ask your local coffee shop if they stock organic or know how their beans are processed.

The good news is, no matter your preference, you can still enjoy that heavenly taste of coffee. And ain’t that a thing of beauty.

The 11 Grossest Things You Use Every Single Day and Don't Know How to Clean Greatist The 11 Grossest Things You Use Every Single Day and Don't Know How to Clean The 11 Grossest Things You Use Every Single Day and Don't Know How to Clean Tue, 12 Feb 2019 05:00:00 -0500 Amber Petty 16373 at Every time I buy a new phone, I make the same mistake: I remove the old case while there are other people within a five-mile radius. The amount of gunk, weirdness, and straight-up dirt that's caught within the crevices is always a horror.

Honestly, at this point, if a fistful of dust and a screaming ghost escaped my case, I wouldn't be surprised. But when's the last time I cleaned the thing that I press up to my face and hands all day? Oh, approximately never.


That's not a great move. A 2017 study from the University of Tartu found that the cell phones of secondary school students were swarmed with 17,000 bacterial gene copies. Granted, middle school kids probably gross up their phones more than the average adult, but that's still a lot of germs, especially for an item that you probably stay in contact with day and night (my phone sits right next to my pillow while I sleep. Yes, I have problems).

Since my mom didn't teach me how to wash cell phones, earbuds, fitness trackers, or other items of the modern age, I went to sanitization and lifestyle experts for advice on how to clean up my life and all the little stuff that can't get shoved into a washing machine. And with their advice, we all can live a slightly less gross existence.

1. Earbuds

"Earbuds are one of those items you don't think to clean until you catch a glimpse of several weeks' worth of ear gunk inside. Then it's all you can think about," says Allison Bean, lifestyle expert and editorial director for The Spruce. To clean these tricky little buds, you don't need anything special, but it is a multi-step process.

For silicone-tipped buds, take off the silicone and soak those bits in warm, soapy water. "While the tips are soaking, hold the earbuds with the opening facing downward, and use a clean toothbrush to brush off any debris," Bean says. If they're extra gunky, Bean advises dipping the toothbrush in hydrogen peroxide to dissolve the wax and speed up cleaning. Just make sure you go easy with the peroxide since you don't want to drip liquid into the metallic parts of the earbuds.

After a little brushing, dry the buds upside down. Then rinse off the silicone tips, let them dry, and enjoy the A Star Is Born soundtrack on repeat with squeaky-clean ears.

2. Laptops

If your laptop is anything like mine, it holds about as many crumbs as it does gigabytes. "Laptops undergo a lot of handling and therefore collect a surprising amount of germs in a short amount of time," Bean says. Like earbuds, laptops aren't hard to clean, but you need a little patience to do a thorough job.

First of all, turn off your laptop and unplug it. There are very safe ways to clean your computer, and there's no reason to risk electric shock. Secondly, put equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle, says Marieta Ivanova, cleaning and home improvement expert for Fantastic Cleaners Brisbane. Spray a bit of the solution onto a cotton rag (so that it's damp but not dripping) and wipe down all surfaces, including the screen. "If you're worried about the vinegar smell, you can add one or two drops of soap as well," Ivanova says.

Though water and electronic devices sound scary, this tiny amount of liquid won't cause a short or harm your device. Just make sure the rag is barely damp and feel free to use a microfiber towel to grab even more dirt and debris with less liquid.

If your screen just needs a quick dusting, Leanne Stapf, vice president of operations at The Cleaning Authority, recommends using coffee filters. "They are perfect for clearing dust from TV screens, computer monitors, and any other screens around the home without leaving behind any fibers like towels do." Since screens get dusty fast, coffee filters are great for a quick dust between antibacterial cleanings.

For the keyboard, you have a few options. You can use compressed air to give your keys a spray to free any crumbs and dirt, Bean says. A vacuum with small, detachable hose works great too. If you'd like a deeper clean, "a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol (you'll likely need more than one) is the perfect size to get in-between each key," Bean says. Or, if you long for the days of Nickelodeon Gak, you can use a keyboard cleaning gel like this one: The ooze sneaks into all the keyboard crevices and seems equally gross and satisfying.

3. Phones

How do you get those 17,000 germs off your phone? The easiest way is to use a little dish soap and water.

"Screens are way too delicate for applying strong chemical products or using abrasive materials for cleaning," Ivanova says. "So when you're at home, use a cleaning solution of milder dish soap (preferably an eco-friendly one) and water." Add this solution to a soft cloth (again, make it just barely damp) and give your phone a gentle wash. Ivanova adds that disinfecting wipes will also work if you need a quick cleanse in a pinch.

Bean suggests using a 1:1 mixture of distilled water and isopropyl alcohol to clean your cell. Spray the solution on a microfiber cloth and wash away, then use cotton swabs and toothpicks to get into all the nooks and crannies.

For both cleaning techniques, the experts suggest cleaning your mobile at least once a week. And be sure to let the phone dry completely after every wash.

Or if you've stashed your phone in rice too many times after aqua accidents, you can use a waterless UV cleaning device: A sanitizer like the PhoneSoap kills 99.9 percent of bacteria and you never have to pick up a washcloth.

Whichever method you choose, remember to take off the case before cleaning, otherwise, you'll leave most of the gross stuff on the phone.

4. Remote Control

Have you ever thought about cleaning your remote control? Honestly, I thought that kind of cleanliness was reserved for the Martha Stewarts of the world, but according to a study from the Hygiene Council (via WebMD), the remote control is the 28th dirtiest thing in your house. That might not sound too scary, but it comes only one place below toilet flush handle on the dirty list. Since the remote is something you put your hands on day after day, it makes sense.

Thankfully, cleaning isn't too hard. "Taking the remote control apart to remove dust and other things isn't really a good idea because there's no guarantee that you'll be able to put it back the right way," Ivanova says. Instead, use a blend of vinegar and water or water and rubbing alcohol to clean the exterior. Spray the mixture on a cloth, then use the cloth to remove the many, many bacterial strains. To get between the buttons, add a toothbrush to the mix to scrub in all the little crevices, Ivanova advises.

5. Metal/Reusable Straws

"The no-straw movement has certainly increased the use of metal and reusable straws," Bean says. "Luckily, there's an easy way to keep them clean so you can continue to drink your smoothies every morning without worry." Grab a tiny bottle brush or pipe cleaner and clean the inside of the straw using hot water and dish soap. Many reusable straws come with tiny brushes to make this even easier.

If you lost the little brush or have trouble finding one at the store, Ivanova recommends using a wooden skewer and cotton ball. Tear the cotton ball into a straw appropriate size, then use the skewer to move it through the straw. It's not as easy as using a brush, but it gets the job done in a pipe cleaner-less scenario.

Bean suggests washing the straw after every use and letting it dry completely. "Small traces of water is all it takes to permit bacteria growth," Bean says. If you don't get a chance to wash the straw after every drink (you're human), try not to go more than two days without a little scrub.

6. Phone/Computer Chargers

Guess what else you touch almost as much as your phone? Your phone charger. I know I always have one rattling around in the bottom of my purse—and who knows what kind of germ-filled terrors are in there.

For chargers, the cleaning solution is easy: disinfectant wipes. Ivanova recommends wiping down the chargers and cords about once a week. Make sure the wipe is on the drier side ("soaking wet" and "things that plug into electrical sockets" aren't a great mix), but the quick-drying alcohol of the disinfectant will keep your chargers safe and nearly bacteria free.

7. Toothbrushes

It's best to replace your toothbrush (or head of the brush, if you have the electric kind) every three to four months. Before that, Stapf recommends cleaning your brush every week. Let it soak in a cup of antibacterial mouthwash for pretty much effortless cleaning. If you don't have mouthwash, a soak in a mixture of water (2 cups), baking soda (1-2 tablespoons), and vinegar (1-2 tablespoons) will work just as well, according to Ivanova.

To wash the base of an electric toothbrush (which gets shockingly yellow and dirty, in my experience), Ivanova says you can use the same vinegar, baking soda, and water mix. Just apply it to a soft cloth and give it a light scrub. Use a cotton swab to get a more detailed clean.

As with all electronics, make sure the toothbrush base is unplugged before you whip out your homemade cleaning solution.

8. Fitness Trackers

Whenever you wear something on your wrist every day (even if you ignore the readings—how could I only have 5,000 steps today?! Come on, FitBit!), it gets filled with sweat, germs, and skin flakes. Aren't our bodies delightful?

Anyway, Ivanova suggests that elastomer devices (like FitBit) should be washed with just a bit of warm water. Use a toothbrush for a deeper clean, but adding any kind of soap might damage the mechanism.

If you have a metal or leather band on your tracker, simply use a damp cloth. Wrist-based trackers are less likely to be havens for germs, so by removing the daily dirt and sweat from the band, the device stays clean. You don't need any heavy antibacterial solutions for this one.

9. Nose Pads on Glasses

For the non-bespectacled among us, nose pads on glasses might not seem like a big deal. "Just wipe them down!" you'd cry. But nose pads are a surprising trap for all things disgusting.

When I was a kid (I've had glasses since I was five), I'd look at my nose pads and see practically a petri dish of mold and mystery growing inside. Since your glasses rub up against skin, sweat, and all your usual face bacteria, it's easy for that stuff to get trapped inside the little silicone pads.

For removable silicone pads, Ivanova recommends taking the pads off and cleaning them with cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol. Sometimes, dish soap will do the trick, though rubbing alcohol is best for the moldier situation.

In some cases, you might have to get new nose pads. You can buy them without getting new glasses, and it's usually pretty affordable. Even if you don't wear daily glasses, if you have silicone nose pads on your sunglasses, give them a look. You might be surprised. (And you probably need to bust out the rubbing alcohol.)

10. Hard-Brimmed Hats

When it comes to cloches, baseball caps, or cowboy hats, I never wear them long enough to get them dirty. Usually, I give them one try in the winter and realize my head is weird, and the hat goes back in the closet. But for people without weird heads, it can be hard to know how to clean these chapeaus. You can't just put them in the wash, so how do you remove the sweat buildup?

Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza, the brand editor at House Method, says that baseball caps should be cleaned with cold water to prevent the color from fading. The cold water method is best for other hard-brimmed hats as well. Just let the hat soak in a mixture of cold water and gentle detergent (she recommends Seventh Generation). After about two hours, unless the hat is crazy dirty, give it a quick rinse, and let it air dry completely.

11. Light Switches

Remember that fun list of filthy stuff in your house? Well, light switches beat remote controls in the dirty department. For example, the bathroom light switch is only a tiny bit cleaner than your toilet seat.

I've been scared to clean light switches since they have the most direct connection to an electrical line that can kill me, but it turns out that I'm being far too cautious. Ivanova insists that cleaning switchplates isn't dangerous at all as long as you don't overdo it on the cleaning solution.

She recommends using a mix of equal parts water, vinegar, and a couple drops of tea tree oil to disinfect the surface. Spray this onto a cotton cloth, make sure the cloth is just barely damp, and wipe away. If the switch is extra dirty, you may want to add a bit of rubbing alcohol to the mix, Ivanova says.

Though our homes are full of overlooked, disgusting things, cleaning them is surprisingly easy. With a little vinegar and patience, you can turn your home from germ factory to clean dream in less than a day.

Amber Petty is an L.A.-based writer and a regular contributor to Greatist. Follow along as she shares her weight-loss journey in her new bi-monthly column, Slim Chance. Take singing lessons from her via Sing a Different Tune and follow her on Instagram @Ambernpetty.

8 Ways to Make Your Bedroom Healthier Greatist 8 Ways to Make Your Bedroom Healthier 8 Ways to Make Your Bedroom Healthier Mon, 11 Feb 2019 16:26:19 -0500 Healthyish Generation 17234 at This article was created in partnership with Avocado Green Mattress.

The bedroom is the place we reset and recharge. It's where we spend a good chunk of time (even if many of those hours are spent sleeping). So shouldn't it be treated like the most important room in the house? Abso-freaking-lutely.

To help you do just that, we partnered with our friends at Avocado Green Mattress to come up with a few ways you can make your room a healthy paradise. Avocado is on a mission to make toxic, synthetic mattresses a thing of the past, because the place you lay your head at night should not only be comfy but good for you too. Start with any of the recs below to make your space a little bit healthier. We won't judge if you never wanna leave.

1. Dim the lights.

Artificial lighting and light pollution have some pretty negative effects on your sleep patterns. In fact, the light you're exposed to right before you fall asleep can impact the quality of your rest.

Bright, white light is bad for the bedroom because it increases alertness (great for productivity at the office, not so great for catching some zzzs). It's also been linked to melatonin suppression, which can throw off your circadian rhythm (your internal clock that tells you when to wake up and go to bed) and make it harder to fall asleep.

Warm, diffused lighting, on the other hand, is less likely to interfere with melatonin production. Other research shows that dimming lights before bed can help you feel sleepier and stick to a regular schedule.

So swap out those bright bulbs for warm, dim (or dimmable) ones. Look for something in the 2700-2800K range—or, if you really want to prime your room for shut-eye, try pink or red lights—they've been shown to affect sleep the least.

2. Upgrade to a green mattress.

We spend one-third of our lives asleep, but when's the last time you thought about where you're spending all that time? Turns out you might want to reconsider what you're sleeping on.

Most big foam mattress brands are made from petroleum-based polyurethane, which, when paired with chemical glues and flame retardants, can emit chemical odors and volatile organic compounds (or VOCs) over time. While many mattresses don't give off enough to cause problems in healthy people, the gases can contribute to unhealthy air quality and affect people with a chemical sensitivity or allergies. Not to mention they're bad for the environment.

Another thing to note about flame retardants: They can accumulate in your body over time and have been linked to negative impacts on the immune and nervous system, disruptions in thyroid function, and other health issues (especially in children). Europe and California have banned many of these chemicals, but they're still making their way into some mattresses. Even worse, companies aren't required to disclose the use of said chemicals on mattress labels (you know, the very intimidating ones you're not supposed to remove?).

So how do you know what's in your mattress? Do your research and seek out companies that are transparent about their products. For example, Avocado Green Mattress never uses petroleum-based polyurethane foams or chemical flame retardants. All its mattresses and ultra-plush pillows are handmade in California using nontoxic, sustainable, and renewable materials, including 100 percent natural latex, and Global Organic Textile Standard-certified cotton and wool. Even better: Avocado mattresses are Greenguard Gold Certified, which means they meet super-strict emissions standards. And with free shipping, free return pickups, a risk-free 100-night trial, and a 25-year warranty, there's really no reason not to try it for yourself and see if it makes a difference.

3. Scrap the screens.

Whether it's working, scanning social media, or binging Mrs. Maisel, we all spend way too much time in front of screens. So why not make your bedroom a screen-free zone? Using your phone at night can negatively impact shut-eye, and even just snoozing near screens is tied to less time actually asleep. Why? It goes back to tip No. 1—too much light (especially the blue light from screens) can disrupt our natural cycles of relaxation and sleep.

Set the alarm on your phone a few hours before bed and use that last hour awake to read a book or meditate. Staying away from the TV, phone, and computer will help you wind down and get a better night’s sleep.

Avocado Green Mattress

4. Fill your room with plants.

Your green friends definitely deserve a place in the bedroom. Beyond adding a nice decorative touch, plants filter air and remove toxic particles from your space. How? Basically, when plants eat and breathe, they trap harmful particles (like ozone and formaldehyde).

While there are many stylish and pollutant-destroying plants to choose from, snake plants, spider plants, and golden pothos are three top choices. And because exposure to plants also lowers anxiety and stress, you can breathe a sigh of relief while reading in bed next to your plant babies.

5. Add natural scents.

Your sense of smell has the power to affect your mood. For example, good scents can help reduce stress and anxiety. But it's it important to choose the right kind of scent. A lot of fragrances are considered indoor air pollutants—not to mention many people are sensitive to them.

When it comes to cleaning supplies, rooms sprays, and candles, you want to avoid the potentially toxic VOCs found in artificial fragrances. Instead, seek out products scented with essential oils, which have antimicrobial and calming properties. A good place to start is the Environmental Work Group's list of cleaning supplies and air fresheners.

6. Wash your sheets weekly.

We hate to break it to you, but you really should be washing your sheets and pillowcases once a week (ugh, we know). Letting sheets marinate week after week can create a breeding ground for dust mites—microscopic pests that can trigger asthma and allergies.

So don't neglect laundry day. Toss sheets in hot water (131 degrees or higher) and don't skimp on detergent, which takes care of those pesky mites and allergens. Just do the environment a solid and check out the EWG’s laundry detergent ratings, since many detergents are toxic to marine environments.

7. Nix the noise.

This may seem obvious, but it’s important. Noise leads to sleep disruptions and can potentially cause health issues over time. If you have noisy neighbors, live near a busy highway, or have a night-owl roommate, consider investing in a white noise machine. Studies show that ambient sound helps many people fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly than silence.

8. Keep cool.

It's typical to want to crank up the heat in winter, but embracing the cold is the secret to better sleep. In fact, restless nights happen most often in the summer, and even insomnia has been linked to elevated body temps.

But you don't need to freeze to death. Aim for a Goldilocks environment between 60 and 67 degrees to sleep more soundly and get more of that much-needed REM sleep.

How to Fight in a Healthy Way That's Actually Good for Your Relationship Greatist How to Fight in a Healthy Way That's Actually Good for Your Relationship How to Fight in a Healthy Way That's Actually Good for Your Relationship Mon, 11 Feb 2019 12:31:29 -0500 Tikva Wolf 17404 at When can conflict can be used as fuel for growth and connection, and when is it actually healthier to walk away? It can be difficult to know which is better in a heated moment. We’ve all heard the relationship advice “never go to bed angry,” but is that really what’s best for a relationship’s health—and for our own health? How do we know when we’re just making things worse? This comic illustrates some useful tips in navigating conflict in healthier ways.

9 Bad Cycling Habits—and How to Fix Them Greatist 9 Bad Cycling Habits—and How to Fix Them 9 Bad Cycling Habits—and How to Fix Them Mon, 11 Feb 2019 09:30:00 -0500 Lola Mendez 17389 at Whether you stick to a stationary bike or ride outdoors, cycling is one of those activities that seems pretty straightforward (hence, "it's like riding a bike"). But picking up a few bad habits is easier than you'd think, and poor technique can cramp your cycling style, damage your body, and even mess with your bike.

Sitting there wondering if you're guilty of getting lazy in the saddle? We tapped a few expert cyclists to help you leave nine harmful habits behind and become a better biker.

1. Not wearing a helmet when cycling outdoors.

I mean, come on, people! The biggest, most obvious cycling no-no is to skip out on wearing a helmet. Even wearing one that isn't a proper fit can be harmful—a comfortably snug helmet is an absolute must, as a loose fit won't protect you in the event of an accident.

Even if local laws don't require you to wear a helmet, do it anyway. Nix the annoying excuses you make: No distance is too short, temperature too hot, or hairstyle too perfect to justify not protecting your brain. Promise me you won't ever get on a bike without a helmet again, OK?

2. Neglecting your gear.

Sarah Hoots, a domestic elite cyclist for Unknown Cycling in Charlotte, NC, says that serious cyclists logging serious miles should buy a new bike every 2-3 years. Or, instead of getting an entirely new whip, she says you can invest in a great carbon frame and swap out components when needed. "A new chain is as valuable as a new bike so be sure to get a new one every 2,000 miles," Hoots says.

Hoots also suggests keeping a regular maintenance appointment scheduled with your local bike shop to prevent long-term issues. "If you ride more than once a week, this could be once every three months. Less frequent cyclists should aim for twice a year. But always check your tire pressure and inspect tires visually to look for any small tears or leakage," Hoots says.

3. Riding a bike that's the wrong size.

Unless you're riding a BMX bike that's intentionally small, you should speak with an expert to get properly fit for a bike before making a purchase. Paul Levine, CEO of Signature Cycles in Greenwich, CT, says that a proper fit plays a huge role in injury prevention and overall comfort on the bike.

"A lot of companies measure their bikes to slightly different points," Levine says. "Even within the same manufacturer you may ride a 56cm frame in one model and a 54cm in another, simply because of the design of the bike. So many riders end up on the wrong equipment if they're not working with experienced shop staff or a fitter to determine the bike size."

Levine also notes that getting properly fit in a shop improves your overall riding experience, no matter how seasoned a cyclist you are. "For more seasoned riders, a fitting can increase performance and accommodate life changes, or help us reach goals," he says. "Our bodies change a lot over time, we lose weight (or gain it), have injuries (or kids), and we evolve as cyclists when the miles accumulate. Our positions on our bikes need to reflect this."

4. Skipping meals before or after a ride.

You've got to fuel before riding, but there's no one-size-fits-all meal plan for cyclists. Erin Nelson, an instructor at Swerve Fitness in New York City, says that eating before exercise depends entirely on the person, especially for morning classes. "If you're going to eat something, make sure it's at least 30-45 minutes before class. I love RxBars and always have them on me."

After a ride, it's essential to refuel as cycling burns lots of calories. Nelson recommends having a nutritious smoothie to replenish until you can have a meal with lean protein and lots of greens.

And don't forget to drink plenty of water before, during, and after a ride. "The actual amount during a workout varies from person to person, but you should aim for around 36 ounces of water in the hours before and after exercise," Nelson says.

5. Barely warming up or cooling down.

Even if you hate it, stretch before and after a ride. According to Nelson, stretching is the best way to prevent injury and is also imperative for recovery and maintaining your range of motion.

Nelson recommends a runner's lunge as it helps elongate the hip flexors that typically get very tight during cycling. And massages are always a great idea for tending to sore muscles—this is your permission slip to book that spa day you've been dreaming about.

Most indoor cycling spots will allow riders to enter the studio at least five minutes before class, so Nelson suggests hopping on your bike early to get warm. "This is a great way to let your body loosen up and get the muscles ready for action," she says.

6. Skipping out on anti-chafe cream.

Discomfort from chafing during an epic ride is such a buzzkill. But good news: This agonizing pain is entirely preventable. Hoots knows from experience that chafing occurs after hours of friction in the groin region while cycling. She suggests applying a generous amount of Chamois Butt'r on any areas with creases in the skin that may be touched by the lining of your shorts' padding.

7. Lousy form.

Cycling is a relatively low-impact on your joints, but only if you have the correct alignment. All too often, novice bike riders jot their knees outward rather than tucking them in or ride with their seat height far too low.

Splayed knees are going to cause you serious pain down the road (and make you look like a clown riding a tricycle). Keep your knees slightly inward and your elbows in tight. "When in the saddle, the body position should all be within the frame of the bike, and the core muscles should be engaged to support the back," Nelson says.

To measure the correct seat height, start by aligning the seat with the top of your hip. Then sit on the saddle and adjust the height until you have just a 30-degree angle in your knee while extending your leg. Having the seat too high, which strains the tendons and ligaments in the hips and knees, and riding too low puts all of the engagement in your quads and patellar tendons.

And if you're on a stationary bike, Hoots has an easy-to-follow rule of thumb for checking your form: "There should be a straight line from the center of the pedal to the tip of your knee cap. Anything slightly over or behind will cause knee pain," she says.

8. Not being aware of your surroundings.

Wearing headphones is just plain dumb when it comes to outdoor cycling. You won't be alert, you'll have trouble hearing car horns and emergency sirens, and you definitely won't hear other cyclists approaching. Even in the countryside you need all of your senses to be fully aware of your surroundings and prevent accidents.

It's illegal in most places to use your phone while operating a vehicle, and bikes are no exception. Don't text and ride. If you need to send a message, snap a picture, or check directions, stop off on the side of the road. Keep your phone out of sight to prevent the temptation of checking in.

9. Play by the rules.

Cyclists tend to hate drivers, but drivers also tend to hate cyclists. You must adhere to road rules. Don't roll through stop signs haphazardly, ignore red lights, or weave through traffic—you can't predict when someone else may open a car door or run a red light.

And if there isn't a bike path on the street, command space in your lane. Never ride in pedestrian areas or on the sidewalk as you'll be moving at a faster speed than people walking. Don't hug the curb and risk getting pushed off of the road. "Cars should give cyclists three feet of space when passing, although not every driver is respectful of this rule," Hoots says.

Lola Méndez is a full-time traveler and freelance journalist who has explored more than 50 countries. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

What I've Learned From Balding in My 20s Greatist What I've Learned From Balding in My 20s What I've Learned From Balding in My 20s Fri, 08 Feb 2019 11:38:49 -0500 Jonathan Warner 17371 at The Rite-Aid held its Rogaine bottles hostage in an anti-theft box. It wasn't a thick plastic, but if I really wanted one, I'd probably have to invest in some decent-quality tools or ask a store employee for help. "Excuse me, would you mind unlocking this annoying plastic contraption so that I can spend $52.99 on a bottle of miracle-grow scalp chemicals that probably won't even work? And let's be discreet, please."

Not a chance. I walked out the automatic door.

It started when I was 25. My friend Steve pointed at my temple, laughing, "Look, you're thinning!" I stiff-armed him, but a shot of adrenaline coursed through my body. That night, I scrutinized my hairline in the bathroom double mirror. Was it happening?

Dark, curly hair was one of my defining characteristics, so much so that my friends would rib me because it could puff out into a white-guy afro. For a few days after Steve's comment, I was able to convince myself that it wasn't true—he was just trying to scare me. Over time, however, it slowly became undeniable: hair clogging up the shower drain, the curious sunburn on my scalp, less friction when I applied shampoo... I was balding.

If you don't struggle with hair loss, I have two things to say:

You're very lucky.

I curse you softly each morning when I look in the mirror.

Balding sucks. I still suffer an existential identity crisis every time I consider myself a bald man. However, having lost hair every day for the last six years, I've had a minute to contemplate the curiously bleak phenomenon that makes a scalp gleam radiantly in the morning sun.

The progression of balding is demoralizing. But is there a silver lining to a receding hairline?

I'm not sure, but here are a few realizations I've had through my slow, ongoing struggle with hair loss:

1. You certainly recognize your own mortality more.

As an active, healthy, fit former athlete, noticing hair loss was pretty much the first time it really hit me that I wouldn't live forever. Despite 25 years on a planet riddled with disease and ravaged by wildfires, I still subconsciously thought I was invincible. The realization shook me. I was actually—gasp—aging.

How could my genes have betrayed me? How long until the rest of my body's weakening faculties shut down forever like my languishing hair follicles? I stood in front of the mirror, watching a fast-forward movie of my body's decay, my hair going from gray to white to non-existent, my taught cheeks sagging into a pair of papery jowls, my semi-muscular chest and shoulders slumping south into a round paunch protruding heavily past my belt line… now it's clear that I am going to die, and balding is my memento mori each time I look in the mirror.

I don't like it, but feeling a step closer to the Grim Reaper motivates me to live well in the present. It reminds me to relish my relatively youthful skin while I still have it and to explore being alive right here and now.

2. You have to come to terms with your superficiality.

Sure, I know I'm vain—we all are. But losing my hair made me realize that I'm desperately vain, almost irreparably chained to our culture's ideals of traditional beauty. All through high school and college, I was a decent-looking guy. I never modeled clothes or whatever, but my appearance gave me confidence. It countered my social anxieties and reassured my ego.

How could I face important meetings and look slick on dates with a lame buzz cut that made my ears stick out? People would see that I was weak, that I was afflicted with a glaring imperfection at the topmost point of my being! I looked at hats through store windows with new interest. I rationalized toupees: They're the exact same thing as women's makeup, right? It irked me. I didn't want to live life without a perfect hairline.

The agitated thoughts made me realize the extent of my immaturity. Toupees... really? That's where my head's at? Acknowledging my profound vanity was necessary: a healthy first step. It's ultimately helped me work on moving beyond the anxious state in which my self-worth hangs precariously upon an impeccable appearance.

3. You learn that comparing yourself to others is useless.

I knew I compared myself to other people sometimes, but as I became aware of my balding, I suddenly felt physically inferior, especially living in a city like New York, where everyone is so damn beautiful it hurts. I found myself giving into insecurities I hadn't felt since middle school, trying to ascertain how far down the rung of appeal I was falling: Was I a 7 now? A 6.5? That guy on the 2 train—was I better- or worse-looking than him? A girl walking briskly across Union Square without noticing me—would she have looked if I'd had my college curls?

I gazed wistfully at pictures of Jason Statham, marveling at how he somehow managed to transcend the woes of hair loss with his square jaw and bad-ass celebrity. How could I still measure up to the levels of beauty and vitality that flowed past me daily on the city sidewalks?

I compensate in other areas, and not necessarily ones born of out of a deep well of self-love: teeth-whitening, experimenting with flattering facial hair, developing more beach muscle on my shoulder, dressing better. And while there's nothing wrong with having a little self-respect, I realize that I have to get off the hamster wheel of comparison. I have to be mindful that working out and picking out my morning clothes can become a desperate attempt to mimic others, an exhausting daily effort to reaffirm my relative self-worth in an endless and losing game.

A Healthy Struggle

I never tried the Rogaine: I don't like balding, but honestly, it's probably good for me. It's a necessary wake-up call, an opportunity to get over myself and realign my focus on character traits and skills that can actually last and even ripen with old age. Maybe the average person isn't as delusional and vain as I am (though I'm willing to bet many are), but maybe for people like myself, hair loss can be a positive affliction: a healthy catalyst for much-needed growth.

In my better moments, I don't worry so much about my hairline. Sometimes now when I look in the mirror, it wakes me up a little bit from my fast-paced dream. It wakes me up just for a minute to the realization that life is so much more than the shapes of our faces, our rank among the masses, and the hairs upon our heads—and for that, I'm thankful.

Jonathan Warner lives in a New York studio smaller than your bathroom and enjoys riding motorcycles in the rain. He writes regularly on his blog The Scrap Journal to try to keep sane between outdoor adventures. Catch him riding the 2 Train late in the evening or connect with him on Instagram @jparkwarner or Twitter @JParkWarner.

21 Mason Jar Meals That'll Make Meal Prep Way More Manageable Greatist 21 Mason Jar Meals That'll Make Meal Prep Way More Manageable 21 Mason Jar Meals That'll Make Meal Prep Way More Manageable Thu, 07 Feb 2019 11:06:14 -0500 Anisha Jhaveri 17311 at It’s widely known that if you want to score points for presentation on anything, use mason jars. From substituting as soap dispensers to being viable alternatives to flower vases, there’s a rustic charm about those little glass containers that amps up the cuteness of anything that’s in them about tenfold.

Needless to say, the same goes for food. No longer just for jams and preserves, mason jars are actually godsends when it comes to meal prepping. Not only do they give your food a magazine cover-worthy appearance, but they also allow you to pre-portion your eats for the week, are easily microwavable if you need to reheat the contents, and are even oven-safe.

So take a break from Tupperware and prep these 21 mason jar meals. And don’t worry—it’s not just about appearances. The recipes themselves are as tasty as the mason jars make them look.


1. Chia, Acai, and Strawberry Layered Breakfast Jar
Photo: The Awesome Green

With chia seeds, acai powder, and lots of mixed fresh berries, these naturally sweetened smoothie and pudding jars are bursting with antioxidants. You’ll be getting a lot of healthy fats and fiber, all from a cool and creamy concoction that tastes like dessert.

2. Mason Jar Blueberry Baked Oats
Photo: Hungry Hobby

They taste like muffins, but they’re much healthier for you, and you get to eat ‘em out of jars. We’d say these portable baked oats are a win on all levels. Make them if you’re not into the texture of regular overnight oats but still need something fast and hearty on busy mornings.

3. Mason Jar Sweet Potato Ground Turkey Scramble
Photo: Physical Kitchness

Don’t let the compact look of the jars fool you—with turkey, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and eggs layered into each one, they’re packed with nutrients to fuel you all morning. A pinch of cinnamon and cardamom gives them a unique kick, and as a bonus, these are totally Whole30-friendly for anyone in search of compliant recipes.

4. Apple Pie Breakfast Parfait
Photo: Meal Plan Addict

Of course you can have apple pie for breakfast—that is, as long as you’re making this recipe. With just two tablespoons of added sugar in the four-serving batch, a Greek yogurt topping instead of whipped cream, and some chia seeds lending good fats to the apple “jam,” each layer offers plenty of nutrition.

5. Mixed Berry Protein Overnight Oats
Photo: Amy's Healthy Baking

No protein powder necessary to give this pumped-up jar its power. All of that macronutrient comes from the milk and Greek yogurt, which, when combined, make the oats taste especially creamy. While this recipe only makes one serving, it’s such an easy process—just mix everything together!—that you can easily multiply the batch to fill a few jars.

6. Sausage, Spinach, and Pepper Omelette in a Jar
Photo: My Life Cookbook

You’ll be sautéing the meat and veggies in a skillet first, but the actual omelets are cooked in the mason jars themselves. Baked until perfectly set and fluffy, they are amazing straight out of the oven or reheated in a microwave later in the week.

7. Mason Jar Egg Casserole
Photo: Confessions of a Fit Foodie

With cauliflower rice adding some extra volume (and veg!) to the eggs, you won’t notice that these compact casseroles are low-carb creations. Topped with cheese and cooked right in the jars, they’re so much cuter, more space-efficient, and more portion-controlled than if you were to make them in a giant baking dish.


8. Summer Quinoa Salad Jars With Lemon Dill Dressing
Photo: Pinch of Yum

The only real work you have to do for this recipe is blending together the ingredients for the herb dressing—in other words, it’s a really quick and easy salad that’s perfect for meal prep. Make sure to put the dressing at the bottom of the jars so the veggies don’t get soggy before you’re ready to eat!

9. Fall Mason Jar Salad With Maple Cider Vinaigrette
Photo: Detoxinista

With quinoa, white beans, and chunks of hearty butternut squash, this recipe may be called a salad, but it’s as filling as a main dish. Cook the quinoa while the veggies are roasting to make the most of the time, and don’t let the 45 minutes of prep scare you off—after all, you’ll be getting a good three to four meals out of this.

10. Mason Jar Zucchini Pasta Salad With Avocado Spinach Dressing
Photo: Sugar Free Mom

This zoodle-based pasta salad may be low on the carbs, but with edamame, feta, and a creamy dressing made from avocados, it’s got no shortage of protein or healthy fats to keep you full. The dressing also includes spinach so you’re getting some extra nutrition from leafy greens without actually having to chomp on them.

11. Meal-Prep Nicoise Salad
Photo: Eating Bird Food

In just 30 minutes, you can build yourself a well-balanced French salad that includes everything from tuna and roasted sweet potatoes to a boiled egg and fresh veggies. You may be eating it at your desk, but it’ll make you feel like you’re on a sidewalk café in Paris.

12. Apricot and Feta Quinoa Mason Jar Salad With a Lemon Curry Dressing
Photo: Del's Cooking Twist

Sweet, savory, spicy, crunchy… all of it fits neatly into these wholesome fruit and quinoa salads, thanks to the dried apricots, the feta, the curry and mustard dressing, and the slivered almonds. Knowing that you have these flavor- and texture-packed salads prepped and ready will make you look forward to lunchtime every day of the week.

13. Thai Beef Salad in a Jar
Photo: Super Golden Bakes

A meal involving steak doesn’t have to be something you wait for a special occasion to enjoy. Take all of 20 minutes on a weekend to season some sirloin and pack it in a jar along with some veggies, juicy mango chunks, and a zippy dressing, and you can enjoy this Thai-inspired salad a few days of the week.

14. Greek Mason Jar Salad With Chicken
Photo: Wholesome Yum

Chicken salad may not sound like the most exciting thing in the world, but when you give it some Mediterranean flair with feta cheese and a zippy balsamic olive oil dressing, then layer the ingredients in jars for a rustic effect, the lunchtime staple goes from standard to special.

Main Dishes

15. Vegetarian Mason Jar Burrito Bowls
Photo: She Likes Food

Put that weekday Chipotle habit on hold and get your Mexican food fix with this healthier and more affordable meal-prep version. With sweet potatoes, black beans, corn, and rice, each jar is full of satisfying carbs that won’t have you crashing mid-afternoon. Plus, you’re likely getting four meals for the price of one burrito bowl at a restaurant.

16. Dynamite Shrimp Sushi Jars
Photo: The Girl on Bloor

Rolling sushi? Way too much work. Putting everything you love about sushi into a jar and digging in with a fork? Much better. From the vinegary rice to the seaweed to the veggies cut like matchsticks, these free-form shrimp sushi jars don’t skimp on any of the ingredients of a traditional maki, but they're so much easier to make.

17. Vietnamese Rainbow Noodle Jars
Photo: Grits and Chopsticks

These colorful jars really do make you feel like you’re tasting the rainbow (sorry, Skittles). Layered with rice noodles, lots of refreshing raw veggies, and juicy sautéed chicken, with a tangy lime dressing to pour when you’re ready to eat, they’re as tasty as they are eye-catching.

18. Vegetarian Minestrone Soup Jars
Photo: The Girl on Bloor

This meal-prep mason jar version of minestrone couldn’t be easier—you don’t even need to cook the pasta beforehand. Simply layer it with pre-sautéed veggies, beans, and some veggie bouillon. When you’re ready to eat, all you need to do is add water and microwave until it resembles the chunky, rich soup we all love.

19. Meal-Prep Turkey Spring Roll Bowls
Photo: The Live Fit Girls

Sure, spring rolls are crunchy and deep-fried and delicious, but oftentimes, there’s simply too little filling in them. Get rid of that problem with these meal-prep meals, which take everything you love about spring rolls—the juicy meat, the vermicelli, the crunchy veggies, and the creamy dipping sauce—and give you an entrée-sized portion of them in jars. Trust us, you won’t miss those greasy wrappers. After all, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

20. Shepherd’s Pie in a Jar
Photo: Super Healthy Kids

These single-serving shepherd’s pies may look like they take a lot of work to make, but they’re really not much harder than a regular recipe. The only difference is, instead of putting each component in a casserole dish, you’re spooning it into jars. If you’re enjoying one a day or two after making them, nuke it when it’s time to dig in. The cheese will be melty, the potatoes will be fluffy, and the meat/veggie mixture will have marinated nicely.

21. Mason Jar “Instant” Ramen Zoodles
Photo: Strictly Delicious

The insanely high-sodium count, the fried noodles, the weird preservatives… there isn’t much about instant ramen that’s good for you. For a solution that’s almost as quick to make but infinitely healthier, turn to this recipe, which uses spiralized zucchini, chicken for added protein, extra veggies for fiber, and a broth made from nutritional yeast and simple seasonings. It’s definitely not the ramen we ate in college—it’s so much better.

The Glute Guy's Top 4 Booty-Building Exercises Greatist The Glute Guy's Top 4 Booty-Building Exercises The Glute Guy's Top 4 Booty-Building Exercises Thu, 07 Feb 2019 08:22:41 -0500 Hilary Achauer 17388 at Believe it or not, butts are meant to do much more than just look amazing in tight jeans—giving your glutes the TLC they deserve helps strengthen and prevent pain in our hips, low back, and knees. And when it comes to building a strong backside, we don't know anyone who knows more than Bret Contreras, PhD, CSCS—seriously, people call him the "Glute Guy."

Of course, training our entire bodies is important, but Contreras believes that a strong posterior chain is an essential part of any strength-training program. That's why he's created an entire strength and conditioning program centered around—yep, you guessed it—the glutes.

To get started strengthening those cheeks, check out Contreras's four favorite butt-building exercises below. And if you're really chasing booty gains? Contreras says practicing these moves three times a week for two months will show serious results.

1. Barbell Hip Thrust

The Glute Guy&#039;s Top 4 Booty Building Exercises While watching a UFC fight in 2006, Contreras noticed one of the fighters had an ineffective hip bump, which he thought was due to weak glutes. So he went into his garage and toyed around with the idea of putting his back against a bench, his feet on the floor, and a weighted barbell on his lap, thrusting his hips to full extension. This exercise allowed for a full range of motion and the ability to load weight—the perfect glute-focused exercise.

To perform a barbell hip thrust, you need a barbell, weights, and a bench. Start out seated in front of the bench and place the barbell on your lap. With your feet planted on the ground and your back and lats on the bench, thrust your hips up, squeezing your glutes. Pause for a few seconds at the top, then lower your hips to the starting point.

Contreras suggests starting with 65 pounds and doing 3 sets of 12 reps three times a week. Add 10 pounds a week as long as you can fully open your hips and maintain proper form.

2. Goblet Squat

The Glute Guy&#039;s Top 4 Booty Building Exercises For this exercise, hold one dumbbell at chest level with your hands around one of the heads (holding it upright as if it were goblet full of wine). Descend into a full squat, keeping your elbows between your knees, which Contreras says keeps the knees from caving in at the bottom of the squat. Come up out of the squat by pushing through your heels, driving the knees out, and keeping your torso upright.

Contreras says to aim for 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps with a30-poundd dumbbell three times a week, moving to a heavier dumbbell once the reps start feeling easy.

3. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

The Glute Guy&#039;s Top 4 Booty Building Exercises The Romanian deadlift is a variation on a traditional deadlift where your legs remain relatively straighter and your hips stay higher, which results in targeting the glutes and hamstrings.

To get started, hold a dumbbell in each hand at a 45-degree angle in front of your thighs. Push your hips back like you're closing a car door with your butt and lower the dumbbells. Keep your knees slightly bent and your back flat by squeezing your core and your shoulder blades together. Once the dumbbells reach about mid-shin—or as low as you can go while still maintaining a flat back—squeeze your glutes and stand up straight.

For the first week, Contreras recommends holding a 25-pound dumbbell in each hand for 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps. Once this feels easy, move to a heavier set of dumbbells.

4. Banded Seated Hip Abduction

The Glute Guy&#039;s Top 4 Booty Building Exercises For this exercise, you'll need a small resistance band or Contreras's own band, called the Glute Loop, which is made of cloth (as opposed to latex).

This move has three different parts:

First, sit on a bench and place the band above your knees. Holding onto the bench, lean backward and pulse your knees out for 30 reps, keeping your feet planted on the ground. Maintain tension on the band for the entire 30 reps by not letting your knees come together. Next, sit up straight and repeat for another 30 reps. Finally, lean forward slightly, still holding onto the bench, and finish with a final 30 reps.

This is a burnout exercise, meaning it's to be completed at the end of your workout. Working the abductors—muscles on the hip that include the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and tensor fasciae latae—helps prevent the knees from coming in during a squat, can improve knee pain, and can help with running gait and agility.

Hilary is a San Diego-based health and fitness writer. Check out her website, or follow her on Instagram at @hilaryachauer.

7 Healthy Chocolate Bars That Are All We Need on Valentine's Day Greatist 7 Healthy Chocolate Bars That Are All We Need on Valentine's Day 7 Healthy Chocolate Bars That Are All We Need on Valentine's Day Wed, 06 Feb 2019 12:16:11 -0500 Meredith Heil 17360 at Whether you’re single, partnered, or somewhere in-between, avoiding the sugary tsunami that comes crashing into offices, classrooms, stores, and houses across America every February 14 is practically impossible. Thankfully, a rising tide of forward-thinking chocolate producers is swooping in to sweeten up your Valentine’s Day without totally shoving your health and wellness goals off track. Ditch the tired, chemical-ridden boxed assortments in favor of one of these seven healthyish chocolate bars, and your lucky Valentine won’t even know what hit them.

Fine and Raw Chocolate

Brooklyn-born Fine and Raw has been wowing chocoholics with its organic stone-ground offerings for more than a decade now. This special V-Day edition is a heartfelt reminder of the company's continued bean-to-bar expertise. Inside the shiny gold wrapper, a thick, bittersweet 70-percent dark chocolate shell gives way to an organic coconut butter, agave, and cacao filling, which is broken up by little bits of organic dried coconut. If your sweetheart is partial to Mounds bars, do them a favor and upgrade their stash with a couple of these guys.


Lily&#039;s Chocolate

This 70-percent dark chocolate indulgence is not only certified gluten-free, vegan, and non-GMO, but it’s also botanically sweetened with stevia. Read: There’s absolutely no added sugar involved. Fair-trade unsweetened cocoa, cocoa butter, and vanilla provide the melt-in-your-mouth chocolaty goodness, while a dose of orange peel and blood orange oil add a bright burst of citrus to every bite. Um, did we mention there’s no added sugar?


tcho chocolate

Show your best people some much-needed love with this six-bar gift box from TCHO, a company as lauded for its ultra-conscious business practices as its tasty treats. The California-based brand makes all of its chocolate in Madagascar and is deeply invested in lifting up the economy there, from working directly with farmers to employing local textile manufacturers for the sleek hand-wrapped packaging. This seasonal sampler runs the gamut from more intense 70-percent dark chocolate to creamy 39-percent milk chocolate. You and your pals can taste the entire fair trade, certified organic, and sustainably sourced rainbow.


Shangri-la chocolate

Toasted black sesame seeds and pleasantly chewy antioxidant-packed goji berries set this sweet-meets-savory cacao number far apart from the rest of the V-Day goods. This L.A. bean-to-bar specialist, ChocoVivo, knows just how to create this exotic flavor: stone-ground cacao nibs from Tabasco, Mexico, plus a dash of unrefined cane sugar, making the whole shebang gluten-, soy-, and dairy-free. Pro tip: Melt this one down into drinking chocolate or a spreadable toast topper for ultimate enjoyment.


Antidote chocolate

Encased in a bright red and white heart print box and named after Xochipilli, the Aztec God of love and beauty, this option from NYC chocolatier Antidote is a no-brainer on Valentine’s Day. The fact that it’s made with just three simple ingredients—cacao beans, cacao butter, and dates—and has only two grams of sugar per serving is just icing on the sustainably sourced cake.


Dandelion Chocolate

The chocolate-obsessed folks behind San Francisco’s Dandelion travel the world in search of the finest ingredients. And the resulting lineup of single-origin bars puts their globe-trotting passion and dedication on full display. This soy-, dairy-, eggs-, and gluten-free 70-percent bar has a smooth middle and a creamy, stone fruit finish typical of southern Belize’s coveted cocoa. A little cane sugar makes them shine—no added cocoa butter, lecithin, or vanilla required. One nibble and you’ll immediately see why this one took home the silver medal at the 2018 International Chocolate Awards.


Compartes chocolate

Swap out your green juice with one of these vegan-, dairy-, and gluten-free bars from fashion-forward L.A. trendsetters Compartés. Inside the crunchy off-beat concoction, a hearty, sea salt-dusted blend of kale crisps, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and briny spirulina snuggle in a bed of dark chocolate. Now that’s a winning breakfast.


Every editorial product is independently selected by our editors or writers. If you buy something through one of our links, we may earn a commission. But don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra, and we wouldn't recommend a product if we didn't love it as much as we love puppies.

4 Ways to Tell Who Your True Ride-or-Die Friends Are Greatist 4 Ways to Tell Who Your True Ride-or-Die Friends Are 4 Ways to Tell Who Your True Ride-or-Die Friends Are Fri, 01 Feb 2019 09:30:00 -0500 Susie Moore 17370 at In a recent moment of nostalgia, I was re-reading an old favorite, Charlotte's Web. And when Charlotte essentially sacrifices her life to save her best friend, Wilbur (sorry for the spoiler, if a book published in 1952 can still have spoilers)—it still gets me all choked up.

As an adult, it made me think: In a world where you can have more than 3,000 online "friend" connections, what makes a real, true, lasting friendship?

Yes, there are lots of friends who pepper our world. Partying pals, business acquaintances, cool colleagues you grab a cold one with after work. But what makes a real ride-or-die?

1. You can show them all sides of you.

A real friend isn't there just for the good times: celebrations, happy events, when you're in a good mood... they're there for you in times of pain, uncertainty, and failure too. This is often when we most need our friends.

Who will check in on you regularly when you're sick? Who will give you a ride to the airport when you're stressed? Who will listen when you need to rant about your boss? Who will attend a relative's funeral with you? Friendship is multidimensional, and it's a 365-days-a-year privilege.

2. They don't judge you.

Trust is created when you can be met without judgment, no matter what. When something embarrassing, upsetting, or awful happens (maybe you made a bad decision or trusted the wrong person?) or something goes awry and you can't deal with it alone, a real friend will listen without judging. Brene Brown says we're blessed to have just one or two friends we can trust with our "shame stories."

"Most of us can steamroll over these friends while we work to win the approval and acceptance of people who really don't matter in our lives—people we'd never call when we were in a real struggle," she says.

Who can you trust with something that feels ugly?

3. They speak truth (even if it hurts).

I once told my best friend that she could no longer complain about her boyfriend to me. They were on-again, off-again, and he was borderline abusive. She'd call and cry and come over and cry some more. We'd sip wine and she'd simply repeat herself—he does this, he does that. I held up a mirror to it. I said, "If you continue to choose him, you can't complain to me anymore. You know how I feel. I won't listen. This relationship is your choice."

She said this "shock treatment" helped her end her relationship once and for all. Caring tough love is a sign of a true friend.

4. They want good things for you.

I felt warning bells one time when I got a promotion and was a little scared to tell my friend Dina. I knew she'd make it about her, and she'd feel bad about herself. The conversation wouldn't be about high-fiving me, it'd be about why she's not further ahead. I'd have to reassure her (again).

A real ride-or-die isn't worried about you outshining them. Because they also know you're happy for them when life goes right (and, sadly, this is not the case in a lot of friendships). True friends celebrate your wins, help wherever they can, and in moments of doubt, they remind you who the eff you are. And what type of friendship could be better or more supportive than that?

As spider Charlotte talks to her friend for the last time, and he asks what he can do for her, she says, "You have been my friend," replied Charlotte. "That in itself is a tremendous thing." It's true—a real ride-or-die is amazing.

Susie Moore is Greatist's life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column! ]]>
These Cheesy Guac-Stuffed Mushrooms Are a Magical Combo of the Best Flavors Greatist These Cheesy Guac-Stuffed Mushrooms Are a Magical Combo of the Best Flavors These Cheesy Guac-Stuffed Mushrooms Are a Magical Combo of the Best Flavors Fri, 01 Feb 2019 09:15:00 -0500 Suze Kaufman 17217 at Every Monday on our Instagram stories, we share a super-easy, 7-ingredients-or-less recipe. Follow us for a new episode each week!

We love guac, but we'll be honest: Sometimes we get tired of the usual vehicles for eating it. That's why we love this recipe. It doesn't require chips, crudites, or burritos. Instead, it uses grilled portobello mushrooms to cradle some cheese-infused homemade guac.

Is your mouth watering yet? If not, we should probably mention that the whole thing is topped with homemade buffalo sauce. Yup, thought so. Share a photo of your own guacamole-stuffed mushrooms on Instagram and tag us @greatist.

Guacamole stuffed mushrooms

Guacamole-Stuffed Mushrooms

Recipe adapted from: Half Baked Harvest
Makes: 6 servings
Ready in: 15 minutes


1 pound baby portobello mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 avocados, mashed
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup green onions
1/4 fresh cilantro, chopped
1-inch jalapeño seeded and diced
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3-4 oz cotija cheese, crumbled (or blue, if you prefer)
Salt and pepper to taste


1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper


1. To make Buffalo sauce, combine melted butter, hot sauce, seasoned salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk to combine and store in fridge until ready to use.

2. Preheat a grill to medium-high heat or the oven to 400 degrees.

3. Toss mushrooms with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Place mushroom stem side up on the grill and cook for 8-10 minutes or bake in oven for 8-10 minutes.

4. While mushrooms cook, combine mashed avocados in a medium bowl with tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, cumin, salt, and pepper. Fold in cotija cheese.

5. When the mushrooms are cooked, remove from grill or oven and discard any liquid that has accumulated in the mushroom caps. Stuff each mushroom with the cotija guacamole.

6. Drizzle mushrooms with the Buffalo sauce. Enjoy!

Why Sweaty Scalps Can Cause a Slew of Problems (and How to Fix 'Em) Greatist Why Sweaty Scalps Can Cause a Slew of Problems (and How to Fix 'Em) Why Sweaty Scalps Can Cause a Slew of Problems (and How to Fix 'Em) Thu, 31 Jan 2019 09:30:00 -0500 Grace Gallagher 17343 at Sometimes after an especially sweaty workout, my brain and body feel great, but my hair looks like it was dragged through a slice of pepperoni pizza. Then, in the cold winter months, when my dry scalp gets itchy and flaky, it gets a nice sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. Is this visual super gross? Or do you want pizza?

But seriously, washing my hair after a workout isn't always feasible (hello, 8 a.m. class right before work), and there's only so much I can reasonably expect dry shampoo to do. On a mission to get to the (literal) root of the problem, I decided to ask the experts for their advice on keeping my sweaty scalp happy.

What actually happens to my hair when I work out?

When you work out, you sweat (I know, I did a ton of research to come to that conclusion, huh?). But while sweat is a good thing for the body, Dendy Engelman, M.D., of Medical Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery in Manhattan, says it can lead to less than awesome skin conditions, including scalp acne.

"Generally speaking, our bodies like to be balanced (we call it homeostasis). When we sweat, it's our body's way of regulating the changes that threw it off balance. Sweat isn't bad for the body; in fact, it's necessary! But sitting in sweaty hair traps bacteria against the scalp."

If that has you thinking you should wash your hair the second you finish your cool-down, hold tight: You may actually be washing your hair too much after working out, which can cause your scalp to swing from dry to greasy.

"Detergents and water weaken your outer hair layer's ability to function by reducing components of the natural oil in your skin," says Sandy Skotnicki, M.D., dermatologist and best-selling author of Beyond Soap. "This is why we use conditioner—to replace what detergents remove. I suggest dry shampoo between washing or using a detergent-free shampoo, called a co-wash."

OK, so wash less: check. What else for this itchy, flaky scalp?

Scalps are pretty easy to forget about because you can't see them, sort of like the hiatus my pedicures take in the winter (anyone in my yoga class can attest). But if your scalp is suffering from an endless cycle of sweat and shampoo, it'll be sure to let you know in the form of itchy, flaky skin on the top of your head—especially during the winter months.

"Your scalp contains many sebaceous glands that produce oil, or sebum, that protects hair. Problems occur when that sebum is lacking." Engleman says. "Dry months, when there's less moisture in the air, can strip hair and scalp of natural oils, resulting in skin that is sensitive and vulnerable. We need those natural oils to create a barrier, keeping bacteria and toxins out."


The good news is there are plenty of DIY options that can drastically improve the oil levels of your scalp (and thus your hair). Coconut oil, tea tree oil, thyme, and lavender are all expert-approved ingredients—and you may already have some of them in your kitchen. Marina Perkovic, a stylist at Eliut Salon, suggests the following DIY scalp concoctions, depending on your needs:

A Scrub for Exfoliation

Before you shampoo, grind steel-cut oatmeal into a fine powder, then add warm water and 5-6 drops of thyme essential oil. Massage the paste into your scalp and leave it on for minimum of 30 minutes.

An Oil for Hydration

Warm up olive, coconut, or jojoba oil, and add few drops of lavender or rosemary oil. Massage it into your scalp before sleep (with a towel on your pillowcase!) and wash it in the morning.

Perkovic adds that it's essential to rinse the masks thoroughly. "Any product left on the scalp will create a buildup, which is practically suffocation for the hair bulb."

For Those of Us Who Hate DIY

I'm right there with you—I once made Elmo cupcakes from Pinterest and they looked fully demonic. Luckily, our experts say there are a handful of products specifically designed to enhance scalp health. Skotnicki suggests avoiding hair products with fragrance, which are known to cause irritation, and passing on sulfate detergents in favor of glucoside detergents (like this one from Hugo Naturals), which are gentler on the scalp. "Less is more in total number of ingredients," she says. "Medical shampoos with tar or zinc can be helpful for dandruff, as can the antifungal Nizoral."

Engleman recommends the Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Scalp Care Collection. "It features a botanical blend that contains clover flower extract, pea peptides, turmeric, kakadu plum, and ginseng to stimulate the scalp and protect against breakage," she says.

There are also moisturizers designed specifically for the scalp (who knew!) like LivSo moisturizing lotion, which was developed by Shari Hicks Graham, M.D. LivSo was designed for textured hair but also digs deep to moisturize scalp skin for all hair types.

And in case you need another excuse to hit up Target, celebrity hairstylist Kristin Ess has an incredible line of hair products that are available there. I'm now personally obsessed with Ess's stuff, some of which specifically targets the scalp (Micellar water shampoo, anyone?). The best part? They all clock in at less than $15. Shwing!

Moral of the Story

If your scalp ain't happy, your hair probably isn't either. "Scalp skin is some of the thickest on the body, and it carries more blood than the rest of your skin," Engelman says. "It carries nutrients to your hair follicles, which help support hair structure and growth, break down carbs and fats, moisturize the scalp, and distribute oxygen to the cells."

So if your workout schedule is wreaking havoc on your scalp, it might be worthwhile to cut back on the shampoo and give the area a little TLC. With the exception of hat head, wearing a cap can do wonders for your scalp —if you tend to dry out more during the winter, Engleman says wearing warm hats can help protect your noggin from the cold air. And if you're beach bound, keeping your scalp protected from sun damage will help keep it healthier year round.

It might take a little experimenting to find the remedy that works for you, but washing my hair less often did the trick for me. It turns out there are a bunch of hacks for post-workout sweat so my scalp can take a breather. Plus, I've freed up time after my workouts to do the things I love—you know, like eating pizza.

Grace Gallagher is a freelance writer living in Portland, Oregon. She's a lover of coffee, thrift store shopping, salt, poetry, watching cooking competitions on TV, and workouts that incorporate lying down. You can see more of her work at

I Worked From My Hospital Bed the Day I Gave Birth—and I Don't Regret It Greatist I Worked From My Hospital Bed the Day I Gave Birth—and I Don't Regret It I Worked From My Hospital Bed the Day I Gave Birth—and I Don't Regret It Thu, 31 Jan 2019 09:30:00 -0500 Destinee Berman 17322 at When my son was born four weeks early, I accepted the need to text clients from my hospital bed while I was in labor. I accepted the frantic scramble to wrap up the product launches I had planned to finish before he arrived. I accepted the late-night feedings and the gallons of coffee it took to get through the day. What I refused to accept was the guilt other people tried to pin on me.

"You're only taking a month off?"

I had spent 19 years as a marketer in San Francisco, launching multimillion-dollar campaigns for the likes of Microsoft and Twitter. But four and a half years ago, I followed my heart and started a consulting business helping yoga and spiritual teachers launch online products and grow their revenue. It's my soul's work, but it is very demanding, so when I found out I was pregnant, I planned on taking just one month off after the birth.

When I told friends about my plans, I'd often hear responses like, "You're only taking a month off? You know you're never going to get these years back, right?" Even my husband asked if I was sure it was enough time. And that was before my son made his unexpected appearance a month early—and things ended up being so much more complicated than planned.

I know these people were just trying to express concern, but the underlying message was that I should feel guilty about focusing on my career as well as my son. Like every parent, I have moments of doubt. I sometimes wonder if I'm a good mom, but I don't regret giving so much to my business when my son was small. In fact, I don't think I'm putting my work before my family at all. Instead, I think I'm teaching my son one of the most important lessons in life:

The best way to fight regret is with self-knowledge.

Parents teach their children by modeling behavior. What I'm modeling for my son isn't all-out commitment to my business (though I do put my heart and soul into my work). Instead, it's an all-out commitment to choosing the kind of life I want, instead of just downloading my values from my family or society.


When it comes to taking time off after having a baby, many parents don't have a choice. But for those of us who are lucky enough to have options, one mom might take six months off. Another might take no time at all. A third family might decide it's best for dad to be the primary caregiver. The important thing isn't the details. It's that families make a choice that fits the needs and personalities of the people involved.

My choice was mine alone, and I would never push it on anyone—and to be honest, I wouldn't necessarily recommend texting from the delivery room if you can avoid it. I had some very time-sensitive product launches going on, and since my son came four weeks early—and very unexpectedly—my clients had no clue.

As luck would have it, I was able to have a natural birth: I started feeling contractions around four in the morning, randomly had a doctor's appointment scheduled for 7:45 anyway, and delivered just before 1 p.m. Since they weren't aware that any of this was happening, my clients were texting me, and given that it was a natural birth, when the team took him from me to go measure and do all the rest and I wasn't able to join for a little while, I felt fine… so I just started responded to my work messages.

What I do recommend is making a decision about how you want to handle being a parent from the get-go. Make this plan from a place of awareness about who you are and what you value. I've seen a therapist for years, I meditate regularly (a practice I would recommend to anyone), and my husband and I discussed the kind of parents we hoped to be in depth before we had our son. There are many ways to learn about yourself, but if you've done that work, hints from those around you that you should feel guilty simply don't have to stick.

These are my three best tips to help you avoid this guilt:

1. Do the pre-work/mental planning and really, truly consider what's important to you.

2. Develop the muscle of giving yourself permission to choose and create what you want.

3. Have a daily practice (whether it's taking a walk, meditating, or practicing yoga) to help you stay clear and continue making active choices.

The more you live with awareness and the more you choose to be conscious of what you want, the more you can create your own world. And you can give yourself permission to be right with it—no matter what other people may think or say.

And this isn't just a lesson for parents.

I learned this lesson from having to my son, and I hope to pass it on to him, but you don't have to be a parent to face moments of intense self-questioning. There are many crossroads where others will try to tell you they know what you need better than you do. Starting your own business, getting a big promotion, or changing careers are all milestones that force you to figure out how to navigate a new paradigm.

These are defining moments, but they are also the choices you're most likely to doubt. If you face these life shifts from a place of awareness, and if you take the time to really know what you want, then there will be no room for regret. No matter what anyone says or implies, you won't look back and say, "Why did I do that? That was just because my parents or society was pushing me that way!" And that is real freedom.

Destinee Berman has been called the strategist and "secret visionary" behind today's most widely recognized online schools in the yoga and mindfulness space. She helps holistic practitioners scale their impact for good, helping them grow their business in a way that is authentic, genuine, and helps them serve even more people. Learn more at

11 Flavored Lubes, Toys, and Other Sex Products That Actually Taste Freaking Great Greatist 11 Flavored Lubes, Toys, and Other Sex Products That Actually Taste Freaking Great 11 Flavored Lubes, Toys, and Other Sex Products That Actually Taste Freaking Great Thu, 31 Jan 2019 02:39:00 -0500 Aly Walansky and The Greatist Team 17309 at Flavored lube, condoms, and other edible sex toys are often not nearly as tasty as the labels promise (... tbh, many of them taste pretty vile, like stale chocolate and old socks covered in Fun Dip). We chose to figure out which ones actually delivered—all of the following are surprisingly delicious!

Kama Sutra Honey Dust in Sweet Honeysuckle

A light, sweet body powder you can apply with either your fingers or the accompanying feather applicator. It leaves your skin soft and dry, so you can cover yourself tip-to-toe or select areas you’d like your partner to focus on, like a little, hidden treasure map. Don’t bother with the other flavors—have you ever had a fake strawberry flavor that tasted right?—but the sweet honeysuckle is simple and solid.


Modern Love Essentials Organic Warming Intimate Body Creme in Cinnamon and Clove

This stuff smells and tastes pretty freaking amazing, which makes sense since it’s made with high-quality organic coconut oil. (Honestly, just a jar of the regular stuff from Trader Joe’s is going to do you right.) This is the warming version, but the same company also makes a neutral tangerine and vanilla flavor, and a cooling mint option. We can’t vouch for the others from experience (though they both get rave reviews), but the warming one is excellent.


Aloe Cadabra Organic Peppermint Lube

Flavored lubes usually taste like you accidentally melted a plastic army guy into an off-brand Jolly Rancher, and feel about the same way on your skin. This lube isn’t sticky and tastes faintly of peppermint. Plus, it’s vegan, made from food-grade aloe vera, and is really good for sensitive skin. Pro tip: If it starts to dry out, just sprinkle a little water on it and you’ll be good to go again. This brand’s lubes come in a range of flavors, including vanilla, mango, and, uh, butter rum (... we’ll admit we’re curious about that one).


Foria Awaken Natural Arousal Lube with CBD &amp; Kava

So if you live in a state where weed is legal, you should totally check out THC-infused lubes, which many are claiming lead to crazy-long orgasms. For the rest of us, there’s CBD lube, which is still hella, hella good. This one is made with a coconut oil base (so not for use with latex condoms!) and has a light mint-chocolate flavor. Users say it can help decrease tension and enhance pleasure, and we have to say, we agree.


Candy G-String

Look, does this candy G-string actually taste really good? Like, no, of course not—but neither do those little candy paper dots or regular candy necklaces. The real question is: Does it taste hella nostalgic, like you’re teenagers half-seductively nibbling candy bracelets off each other’s wrists again? Sure does. You can seriously spark that feeling with some grown-up fun in this thing.

($8; Amazon)

Candy Cock Ring

Same basic situation as the above, but... you know. There’s also a candy “posing pouch,” depending on how many layers deep you want to go with the whole candy theme (what a reveal with a candy cock ring underneath!).


Kink Lab Jawbreaker Ball Gag

If you’re into some fun, kinky sh*t, this ball gag is an extremely playful variation on the classic red rubber ball.


Classic Erotica Crazy Girl Oral Sex Gel in Cotton Candy

This oral sex gel tastes freaking exactly like cotton candy, so it’s basically like an extremely naughty visit to a carnival. Plus, it claims to help increase sensitivity (although we haven’t noticed that part ourselves).


BJ Blast Oral Sex Candy

Let’s be real: This is basically Pop Rocks for blow jobs. Try these fizzing candies in an assorted pack of three flavors (strawberry, cherry, and apple). The popping and fizzing in your mouth are super fun and add a whole other element of surprise for your partner as well.

($6; Amazon)

HighOnLove Vegan Chocolate Body Paint

Made with rich dark chocolate and premium-grade hemp seed oil, this body paint was designed to be an aphrodisiac. A lot of chocolate sex products taste kind of waxy and gross, but this one is awesome! (Alternatively, follow this recipe for DIY chocolate body paint—if you use high-quality chocolate and cocoa powder, it’ll taste ah-maz-ing).


Lube Life Water-Based Watermelon-Flavored Lubricant

Lube doesn’t have to be nasty-tasting! In fact, some are downright pleasant. We haven’t tried this one, but as always, we think the experts know best. “This is my absolute favorite flavored lubricant. It tastes phenomenal and is the perfect way to enhance your pleasure during foreplay,” says Christiana Cinn, adult performer and former Penthouse Pet who has graced the cover of Hustler magazine four times. Plus, it’s sugar-free!


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