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Category Archives: Fitness and fat loss articles and news

Fitness and fat loss articles and news

Hate Running? These 5 Strategies Will Make Your Miles More Enjoyable


You’re not alone if waking up before dawn, putting on a pair of tiny shorts, and grinding out the mileage prescribed by a training plan doesn’t get you excited about running. You’re also not alone if you run but kind of hate it—or go through phases where running feels more like a “have-to” than a “get-to.” But listen up: Running doesn’t have to suck. The key to unlocking enjoyable miles is knowing yourself well and playing to your strengths. Here are five key strategies from the newly released book, Running That Doesn’t Suck: How to Love Running (Even If You Think You Hate It), that will help you turn that self-knowledge into a much more enjoyable running experience.

1. Find Your Flow. Not everyone’s a morning person. Some people will thrive by blowing off steam during the workday, or lacing up for a run at the end of the day. Listen to your body and your mental clock to determine your ideal time to run. Likewise, finding the ideal kind of running for your interests helps you find your flow, too. If you’re a mountain biker, rock climber, or skier, for instance, you’ll likely enjoy trail running more than pounding the pavement or treadmill. If you play sports like basketball or football, you might enjoy the intensity of doing intervals on a track.

2. Find Your Match. Extroverts thrive in running clubs and on group runs, which give them the chance to make friends while logging miles. Introverts will likely prefer some alone time or enjoy bonding one-on-one with a running partner. Running with a pup can be a great motivator for dog lovers, and new dads might enjoy pushing babies or toddlers in a jogging stroller (bonus: it’s also a strength workout). We all have ideal running scenarios, but mixing things up can be a good idea, too.

3. Buy Great Gear. There’s no magic bullet running shoe for everyone, but finding a pair that works for you can increase your enjoyment and decrease your chance of injury, too. “Each individual runner’s mechanics, how they move, how they run, where they run, their foot shape, how the surface of their foot interacts with the interior of a shoe all adds up to proper options for that particular runner,” says Mark Plaatjes, physical therapist, past marathon World Champion, and owner of In Motion Running in Boulder, Colorado. Bottom line: Go shopping.

4. Start Where You Are. “There is no harm in going out too easy, especially when you’re starting out,” says running coach and author Matt Fitzgerald. If you’re coming from another high-intensity sport and have good cardiovascular fitness (your engine), you still need to ease into running to give your musculoskeletal system (your chassis) time to adapt. Likewise, if you’re coming from a strength-oriented sport, like weightlifting, you’ll have a strong chassis but need to ease into running to let your engine catch up.

5. Keep Your Parts Working. Running hurts, but (hopefully) most of the pain is good pain. To keep good pains from turning bad, listen to your body and practice some self-care, like foam rolling. “Knots and trigger points are normal in muscle tissue,” says physical therapist Charlie Merrill. How long should you roll a sore spot? Merrill says to think of it like tenderizing a steak. “You’re not gonna sit there and bang on it with a hammer for 10 minutes, because then it’ll be flat and then taste like shit.”

Instead, roll for a couple of minutes to increase blood flow, which will help your sore muscles recover for your next run. Because now you might just love it.

Lisa Jhung is the author of Running That Doesn’t Suck: How to Love Running (Even If You Think You Hate It), available now.

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Jason Momoa Blasts Proposed Telescope on Hawaii's Mauna Kea


Jason Momoa has had a very busy summer, though it’s not because of another movie: He has joined protests against a telescope planned for Mauna Kea in Hawaii, and he’s using his massive Instagram presence (13.1 million followers) to draw attention to the cause. This isn’t a one-off celeb shoutout, either. Momoa has been in Hawaii and posting about the movement regularly for the past few weeks.


If you’re not up to speed with the situation on Mauna Kea, here’s a quick recap. The Thirty Meter Telescope, if completed, will be the world’s largest visible-light telescope. Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain in Hawaii at over 13,000 feet, was selected as the location for the telescope, but it’s also considered sacred ground by Native Hawaiians. Construction was supposed to begin in 2014, but protests prevented the groundbreaking from happening. Hawaii’s governor announced that construction would begin in July of this year, but renewed protests have blocked construction crews from reaching the build site. Jason Momoa, along with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, joined the protesters this summer.

In one of his latest Instagram posts, Momoa included a picture of the construction of the Subaru Telescope, another observatory on Mauna Kea (the mountain currently hosts 13 telescopes in total). “This is what telescope construction looks like,” he wrote. “We must protect our scared mountain from further desecration.”


In another post, Momoa described the protests as part of movement to unite kanaka, or native Hawaiians, with other residents of the state to protect the island’s culture and natural beauty.

“We are trying to unite both kānaka and Hawai’i born peoples alike to protect not only the mauna, but also our way of life and greatest natural resources in Hawaii as a whole,” he wrote.

Although the conflict has been dragging on for years, there may be hope for the protesters: As a result of the controversy, the group overseeing the Thirty Meter Telescope is also exploring the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean as a possible site for the observatory.

Sydelle Noel Talks 'GLOW,' Fitness, and Tactical Training


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When sporty Sydelle Noel first read about the role of Cherry “Junkchain” Bang ahead of the Netflix smash-hit GLOW, she instantly felt a kinship with her character. Independent and strong, Cherry caught on with audiences and makes her return with the rest of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling in Season 3 of GLOW.

We caught up with Noel, who also appeared in Marvel’s Black Panther, to learn more about her approach to fitness.

M&F: From your role as a Dora Milaje in Black Panther to playing Cherry Bang in Netflix’s GLOW, you portray a lot of strong women. Which one do you relate to the most?
Sydelle Noel:Definitely Cherry, because she knows her own body. She’s athletic, just like I’m athletic. She was a stunt double, and I can do my own stunts. And she’s a go-getter who’s willing to kick ass and do anything and everything. I’d love to say Dora Milaje…but I don’t have any vibranium in my closet. 

You ran track and field at the University of Georgia and then ran track professionally, and you have the body to show for it. Did your muscles ever limit you in Hollywood?
At one point, I was doing CrossFit twice a day. My manager would call for feedback after auditions, and they were always talking about my body, not my audition. I found myself getting injured a lot, so I stopped to take care of my body. When I got GLOW, I thought, “I’m going to be wrestling, and I’m supposed to be the girls’ trainer, so I need to be even more fit.” They were like, “No, no. How you are right now is how we want you.” That was so refreshing to know that they wanted me for who I am.


What’s your training like now?
I work out six days a week, sometimes seven. I like to confuse my muscles. I usually do more cardio-driven exercises, like a boot camp, and then I’ll go to the gym after and lift. I use light weights, but I still go heavy on legs, because that’s just my MO. 

And what’s your diet like?
So right now you could say that I’m pescatarian, eating pretty much anything from the sea and vegetables. I dropped meat, so I still feel like I can have my sweets—I get rewarded with Cinnabon.

Who’s your favorite GLOW cast member to wrestle with? 
Shakira Barrera, because she’s also a dancer, and dancers are athletes, too. You can’t wrestle with one person—it’s a team effort. 

How awkward is it to attend swanky celebrity events?
I wish there were a class. I went from small roles to being a supporting actress in Black Panther, so I was just thrown into all of these events. I remember asking my publicist if I get a plus-one to the Screen Actors Guild [SAG] Awards, because I didn’t want to be shy and off in the corner. I had to learn how to pose on the red carpet. And then after a while, being all structured, I got bored and said, “Fuck it.” Now I have pictures of me on the red carpet grabbing my crotch. 


You’ve been hitting up the tactical shooting range a lot. Any chance you’re gunning for a role in the next John Wick movie? 
I love John Wick! I auditioned for Halle Berry’s role in John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum, but then the audition went away. Then I found out it was her, and I was like, “What am I going to do?” 

What can fans expect from Season 3 of GLOW?
A lot of mayhem—we’re in Vegas, and Vegas gets crazy. Also, my character went through an emotional roller coaster in Season 2 with her career, but now she’s going to go through an emotional roller coaster with her actual life and love life.




Watch Simone Biles, the GOAT of GOATs, Make History Again at the US Gymnastics Championships


In spectacular news that we saw coming, the GOAT just made history again. Simone Biles won the 2019 US Gymnastics Championships in Kansas City, MO, with a two-night total of 118.500 (she led after the first night on Aug. 9 with a 58.650). This victory marked her sixth US all-around title, which is the first time a woman has achieved that in more than half a century. Simone has tied a record with Clara Schroth Lomady, who, according to USA Gymnastics, won the national all-around from 1945 to 1946 and 1949 to 1952. Simone’s national all-around titles were claimed from 2013 to 2016, 2018, and then this weekend.

Simone made more history at the US Gymnastics Championships – and we’d expect nothing less! – by doing a never-before-competed double-twisting double dismount off beam. That’s two flips and two twists off of a four-inch piece of equipment. She also was the first woman to compete a triple double on floor, a tumbling pass that we saw her warm up before the GK US Classic last month.

Simone attempted that triple double in her floor routine during the first night of competition, but faltered and put her hands down (this counted as a fall). On Aug. 11, the second night of the US Gymnastics Championships, she landed the skill without any issue, and with a smile on her face, later telling NBC‘s Andrea Joyce that she was relieved to not have missed the skill like she did in night one. Commentator and Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin said it best after that floor routine: “Simone’s got enough gold medals at home. Someone give this girl a crown.”

When asked what this sixth national all-around win means to her, Simone said post-competition, “I feel like each one gets better and better . . . it keeps getting more exciting.” Ahead, check out Simone’s record-making moves on floor and beam. She soars through the air like she was born to fly!

Simone Biles Wins Her 6th National All-Around Title: "Someone Give This Girl a Crown"


In spectacular news that we saw coming, the GOAT just made history again. Simone Biles won the 2019 US Gymnastics Championships in Kansas City, MO, with a two-night total of 118.500 (she led after the first night on Aug. 9 with a 58.650). This victory marked her sixth US all-around title, which is the first time a woman has achieved that in more than half a century. Simone has tied a record with Clara Schroth Lomady, who, according to USA Gymnastics, won the national all-around from 1945 to 1946 and 1949 to 1952. Simone’s national all-around titles were claimed from 2013 to 2016, 2018, and then this weekend.

Simone made more history at the US Gymnastics Championships – and we’d expect nothing less! – by doing a never-before-competed double-twisting double dismount off beam. That’s two flips and two twists off of a four-inch piece of equipment. She also was the first woman to compete a triple double on floor, a tumbling pass that we saw her warm up before the GK US Classic last month.

Simone attempted that triple double in her floor routine during the first night of competition, but faltered and put her hands down (this counted as a fall). On Aug. 11, the second night of the US Gymnastics Championships, she landed the skill without any issue, and with a smile on her face, later telling NBC‘s Andrea Joyce that she was relieved to not have missed the skill like she did in night one. Commentator and Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin said it best after that floor routine: “Simone’s got enough gold medals at home. Someone give this girl a crown.”

When asked what this sixth national all-around win means to her, Simone said post-competition, “I feel like each one gets better and better . . . it keeps getting more exciting.” Ahead, check out Simone’s record-making moves on floor and beam. She soars through the air like she was born to fly!

3 ways to trick yourself into becoming a mindful snacker


Have you ever started a movie with an overflowing bowl of popcorn, then looked down just minutes later to see an empty bowl and tons of crumbs on your shirt? (Guilty.)

Mindless snacking happens to the best of us, but the secret to overcoming it (and enjoying that popcorn instead of just shoveling it into your mouth) lies in identifying the motivation for your munchies.

Mindless snacking can be caused by boredom, loneliness, stress, or being unprepared for hunger (reaching for an option we don’t really want because it’s easy and there),” says nutritionist and food blogger Alexandra Dawson.

“Mindful eating is awareness of how the food we choose to eat—how we eat, how much we eat, and why we feel like eating—affects our whole beings.”

Who else can relate to the I’m-bored-so-I-guess-I’ll-eat mentality? The way to beat this mindset is… well, by doing the opposite of snacking mindlessly. “Mindful eating is awareness of how food—how we eat, how much we eat, and why we feel like eating—affects our whole beings,” Dawson adds. 

Before you say ‘easier said than done,’ Dawson has some great tips on how to actually incorporate the practice into your daily relationship with food. Tip number one: Dawson keeps her pantry stocked with options that don’t require effort, but still leave her feeling satisfied, like JUSTIN’S® nut butters.

I love adding JUSTIN’S® Peanut Butter to smoothies (with banana, coconut meat, and cinnamon), adding a big scoop to yogurt bowls, bringing JUSTIN’S® Almond Butter Squeeze Packs along when I’m out, and also enjoying the occasional spoonful right out of the jar,” Dawson says. And who’s not down for a snacking method that lets you eat almond butter by the spoon?

Keep reading for 3 snack ideas that’ll keep you from mindlessly munching—without having to give up your pantry faves.

Photo: Well+Good Creative

1. Stock up strategically

Swiping everything in sight off the snack aisle shelves is your inner child’s fantasy, but it won’t exactly do you any favors when you’re standing in front of your pantry looking for something nourishing that won’t leave you hungry again in an hour. (#Adulting.)

“Stock your pantry and fridge with nutrient-dense options,” Dawson says. “If they’re in sight and accessible, you’re more likely to reach for them.” For Dawson, that means raw nuts, fresh and dried fruits, and JUSTIN’S® nut butters—none of which require any preparation at all. All you have to do is reach, snack, and let the hanger dissipate. 

2. Listen to your body

Dawson’s biggest tip is to only snack when you’re truly hungry, but how can you tell the difference between snacking out of hunger and letting your bored brain take over as chef?

Dawson’s suggestion is rather than heading straight toward your pantry, first try to drink a few ounces of water. If you’re behind on your hydration goal for the day, the snack attack should fade away. If your hunger persists, it’s probably time to dig in.

If the water doesn’t hit the spot, opt for one of Dawson’s favorite snacks: one of her homemade grain-free breads or bagels smeared with JUSTIN’S® Almond Butter, sliced banana, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Who says snack time has to be boring?

Photo: Well+Good Creative

3. Reduce distractions

Think about when you’re usually snacking. Are you scrolling through Instagram? Flipping through TV shows? Blankly staring into your fridge?

“Step away from devices to really be present in the process of eating and how that meal is making you feel physically and emotionally,” Dawson suggests.

Snacking often accompanies other activities (which is how you end up with the shirt full of popcorn crumbs), so by instead giving your mini-meal your undivided attention, you’ll be more in tune with how much you’re really enjoying it. Did snacking just become part of your wellness routine? 

In partnership with the maker of the JUSTIN’S® brand

Top photo: Studio Firma/Stocksy

Will Ferrell Is Back As Ron Burgundy. Here’s What You Need to Know About His Podcast


Has a fictional character ever had their own podcast? While we’re not completely sure if it’s happened before, one thing is certain about the topic: Will Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy is definitely the most well-known character to do it.

Ferrell is bringing his iconic Anchorman character back for Season 2 of the Ron Burgundy Podcast, where he appears in-character as he welcomes guests and muses over a number of random topics. The first season included episodes about meditation, modern-day events, bullying, being stuck in an elevator, Christmas, and much more.

Ferrell has been doing the late-night TV rounds in character as Burgundy, visiting with The Late Show With Stpehen Colbert, Conoan O’Brien, Late Night with Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and The Late Late Show with James Corden. Throughout his appearances, Ferrell has done some stand-up comedy as the character and sat down with the hosts to talk about some very random topics.

Here’s a look at some of those appearances:

Here’s all the info you need to know about the podcast:

What Is It Exactly?: Will Ferrell stars in-character as Ron Burgundy, sitting down with a guest to talk about a specific topic—plus whatever else comes up in conversation.

How Long Are the Episodes?: The episodes vary in length, ranging from 30 minutes to around 50 minutes depending on the episode.

When Does It Come Out?: When in-season, the podcast comes out weekly.

How Many Episodes?: The first season had 12 episodes; Season 2 is likely to have the same.

Guests?: Some past guests have included Game of Thrones actor Peter Dinklage, Deepak Chopra, and RuPaul. The first episode of Season 2 is with Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris.

Scalp scrub isn’t one size fits all—here’s when you really need it, and how to pick the best one


You know how important scalp health is to hair health. When your scalp is happy and clean, your hair is able to grow long and strong. But if you don’t start taking care of your hair at the root—making sure your scalp gets all the attention it needs—you’ll wind up with build-up that can make your follicles weaker over time. And that’s where scalp scrub comes in.

Scalp scrubs do wonders for your hair. Just like facial and body scrubs, they exfoliate dead skin cells, get rid of any product build-up from all those mornings you reached for the dry shampoo, and fight off any excess oil—all things that leave you with healthy, thick, and shiny hair. But it’s not one size fits all, and—contrary to popular belief—not everyone benefits from using one regularly.

According to Sheel Desai Solomon, MD, a North Carolina-based dermatologist, scalp scrubs aren’t a good choice for anyone who suffers from skin conditions on the scalp, including psoriasis, acne, eczema, or any cuts and sores. “Scrubbing can aggravate the condition and might cause even more flaking and irritation,” she says. Also, be weary if your scalp is flared with seborrheic dermatitis or irritated for any other reason: “If that’s the case, a scalp scrub may not be the best solution,” adds dermatologist Keira L. Barr, MD, founder and chief wellness officer of Resilient Health Institute.

With that being said, if you don’t have a skin condition on your scalp, there are a few simple ways to tell if you actually need to use a scalp scrub or not.

“If you’re a product junkie, washing your hair may or may not wash out all the product, dry shampoo, oil, sweat, and dead skin cell build-up on your scalp, so scalp scrubs may come in handy. And individuals with finer textured hair can be more prone to product build-up, so a scalp scrub may be a good consideration,” Dr. Barr says. “All in all, if you tend to use a lot of product, your hair is dull, your scalp is more dry and flaky, and your hair is more difficult to manage, trying a scalp scrub may be a worthwhile consideration.”

If you think a scalp scrub could do you some good, don’t just go out and buy the first one you see. First determine which type is best for you: physical or chemical.

“Physical exfoliants use small grains to scrub away any product buildup or dirt on the scalp. They’re useful for anyone with any flakiness, excess oil, or dandruff. However, be sure to use gentle scrubbing motions to avoid damaging the skin,” Dr. Solomon says. “Chemical exfoliants, on the other hand, have the active ingredients that remove dead skin cells and flaking without having to massage or scrub the area. They contain ingredients like salicylic and glycolic acid to fight against excess sebum production and promote healthy cell turnover.”

Barr says finding the right product might take some trial and error, but there are some key ingredients you can look out for that can help you get closer to your perfect scalp scrub. “Those with a more oily scalp may choose ingredients like charcoal or kaolin clay to absorb excess oil, while those with more buildup may choose sugar or sea salt to help with exfoliation. And those with dry scalp may prefer to use coconut, argan, or jojoba oil to moisturize the scalp,” she explains.

After you bring one home, use it no more than once a week—or once every other week if you have more sensitive skin. It won’t be long until you have a squeaky-clean scalp…and the healthy, shiny hair to prove it.

The next time you want to rock some beachy waves, use these products that make air drying so easy. Then find out the only four hair products Blake Lively’s hairstylist uses, because who wouldn’t want to steal her ‘do?

HIIT or LIIT? Incorporating both is the surefire way to get stronger


When it comes to maximizing your fitness gains, it’s not just enough to do one type of workout, like running or yoga, or to focus solely on a specific muscle group. Instead, you should be targeting the whole body and working on integrating variety and different styles of training into your routine so you can continually shock your body and get some pretty mean results.

How might these different methods work? Well, you can think of them as being “opposites,” like doing active or passive recovery post-workout or choosing a HIIT class over a LIIT class (the former being high-intensity and the latter being low-intensity). And your best bet at leaning out and getting strong all over is by using both models together for an efficient workout and optimal recovery. If you’re not totally sure how to blend them—don’t worry—here’s a breakdown to doing both methods like a champ.

Active and passive recovery

Active recovery might be for LIIT days, where you’re choosing an activity that’s of a lower intensity to let your body recover while still getting in a workout or where you might try low-impact moves post-workout to cool down, explains Jackie Vick, CSCS, a trainer at Gold’s Gym.

“Active recovery movements during lifting take the focus off the primary movement. In strength workouts, if the focus is deadlifts and the workouts have double-unders then the double-under is the recovery,” she explains. For cardio-based active recovery, reducing the gear (or speed) in preparation for another interval is a form of active recovery.

Active recovery is extremely important mid-workout to maximize output over time, where you’re keeping blood flowing to the muscles during those rest periods. Passive recovery, on the other hand, is taking a day off for complete rest or stretching, rolling out, or doing mobility drills such as, in-step stretch or foam rolling a region that you targeted, she says.

When it comes to doing both, timing is how you choose. “Active recovery should be incorporated after each heavy lifting session or each high intensity interval to maximize output over time,” she says. If you’re doing a HIIT routine, “active recovery should occur multiple times throughout the workout, mostly after each set or round depending on the style of the training (functional, weight training, or cardio based),” she says.

Passive recovery is just as important, if not more, as active recovery because it allows muscles fibers time to re-build appropriately. If time is not given, you’ll tear down muscles, leading to less strength, increased injury risk, and less endurance.

Compound and isolated movements

“Compound movements, such as the power clean or deadlift, are full-body movements incorporating multiple muscle groups into a single lift. Isolated movements, such as the bicep curl, use a single muscle group to achieve a concentrated effect on that region,” she says. Knowing how to use both in your workouts will take your training to the next level.

Here’s how to do both: A power clean is a perfect example of an explosive compound movement designed to help train the fast-twitch muscle fibers. It targets the legs, glutes, hips, core, lower back, arms, and upper back all in one motion. (Yeah, it’s pretty killer.) Do a set of power cleans and then go for a set of an isolated movement.

Bicep curls or tricep extensions are isolated movements concentrating energy into working one group of muscles, rather than whole body, so you can definitely do one of these to follow the cleans. “Isolated movements are generally used one side of the body at a time, meaning you will train the right bicep followed by the left,” she says.

Be careful of timing—always start with the compound move first and move to isolated after, as you might become too fatigued to tackle the complexity of the compound move and give it your all.

Solo and group training

Solo training is all about you—in your own world, crushing your workout. It’s pretty meditative and you can focus on your own improvements. Group training provides a positive and competitive environment to push yourself and feel the bond. Obviously both are great, as long as you find a workout that keeps you motivated.

Yet try and do both if you can. “A combination of both leads athletes to their goals quicker, due to the positivity and encouragement from others while allowing time for athletes to train on their weak areas to eventually out perform their fellow classmates,” she says.

Timing and spacing is up to you. “Some perform better in positive group environments while others flourish focusing on their own personal training plan. I recommend following the path that motivates and drives you to be a healthier person; doing so will keep your fitness journey moving forward while hopefully making some life-long friends along the way,” she says.


“High intensity interval training, or HIIT, combines short peaks of work followed by periods of rest to achieve a physiological effect known as EPOC (excess post-exercise consumption) that allows the body to burn calories long after you’ve stopped working out,” she says. So, it’s pretty awesome, but you can’t do it everyday.“LIIT, or low intensity interval training, is a method of training endurance or reducing intensity for active recovery days using steady state or low resistance exercises,” she says.

How might they differ? It’s all about types of interval moves and the length of breaks in between intervals. LIIT can still be interval training but with longer rest periods and not nearly as intense intervals. So, both get your heart up, but with LIIT, just not as much and with less impact. HIIT brings your heart rate to the high cardio zone, while LIIT brings your heart rate to low cardio zone, she explains.

“I recommend separating the two training types over different days to achieve the intended effect from each,” she adds. And no more than two or three days a week of HIIT or LIIT.

“Each form of interval training has its individual perks. HIIT training can be performed under condensed timelines, offering the same result as LIIT training. LIIT training can offer the same caloric burn with lower impact movements by extending your workout from 30 to 45 minutes to one hour,” she says. By using both, you’ll lower risk of injury and be gentler on your body, while still getting some killer results.

Trainers share the secret to working out smarting, not harder.  And this is what happens when you skip a week of exercise.

Surgeons Labored to Save the Wounded in El Paso Mass Shooting


The bullets ripped through one woman, shredding her intestines and leaving holes the size of a man’s fist in her side. But surgeons had to work fast, clearing the operating room to make way for other victims.

I Went on a Silent Meditation Retreat, and It Was So Profound That I Can't Shut Up About It


Shot of a group of people doing yoga

When I signed up for a week-long silent meditation retreat, I was looking forward to some peace and quiet, to deepening my meditation practice, and to having no choice but to unplug. When the first day actually arrived, I spent the six-hour train ride to the retreat center manically scrolling through Instagram-famous ferrets and art history memes like they were my very life-force. By the time I walked through the doors, the idea of spending seven days living in device-free, total silence with two dozen strangers felt unbearable.

And it felt unbearable quite a few more times throughout the week. But it was also life-changing, largely in ways I’ll be figuring out with my therapist for a long, long time, but also in more practical ways I didn’t necessarily expect. In fact, I’ve incorporated some of what I learned into my life now that I’m home, which means I’ve become one of those insufferable people who tells others they should unplug, too. Here’s how I’ve changed since coming back.

I’m Not Glued to My Phone All the Time

Yes, I know that blue light messes with your sleep. And that spending too much time on your phone stresses you out. And that browsing Instagram after midnight leads to cutting your own bangs with a pair of kitchen scissors 100 percent of the time. Still, mindless scrolling is a part of my nighttime routine and my morning commute, and it’s usually what I default to during pockets of idle time when I don’t know what else to do with my hands.

I wasn’t cured of this in a week. In fact, there were plenty of times that my phone, tucked away in a bag in my room, felt like a phantom limb. But it also felt really, really nice to be away from it and to realize I didn’t actually need it to fall asleep or entertain myself as much as I thought I did. I was already a fan of long, phone-free walks pre-retreat, but now I’m also making a point to resist the urge to pick up my phone during those smaller moments when I feel anxious or bored.

I’m More Mindful

The hours I spent on a cushion weren’t my only meditative time during the retreat. I also meditated while doing my daily chore, cleaning one of the communal shower rooms. (By the end of the week, sponging down the shower curtains set my soul on fire.) I savored my daily walk up the long pebbled driveway to find the “good” rocks. Picking lint off my shirt became a treat. My lint-picking hobby doesn’t thrill me in quite the same way now that I’m home, but I’m still finding a sort of calm joy in being in the moment and practicing mindfulness while cleaning my apartment, cooking, and watering my plants.

I’m Even Eating More Mindfully

Every meal I ate at the retreat, I ate with nothing more than some critters on the porch to entertain me. Did I come to believe that I shared a deep psychic connection with a chipmunk I named Gary? Of course. But over the week, I also realized that, in my real life, I never eat without something else to do. I’m always deep in conversation with friends, reading, or watching TV. Just eating felt really uncomfortable – and to be honest, boring – at first. But by the second day, I felt like I was paying attention to my hunger and fullness cues and even enjoying my food more. Am I now canceling dinners with friends to sit on my couch alone with reheated leftover pizza? No. But I am starting many mornings with my cat on my lap and a quiet, distraction-free cup of coffee and a piece of fruit.

I’m Kinder to Myself

Things can get loud when you get quiet. You know that voice in your head that seems to be there just to criticize you? You know, like when you’re taking a workout class for the first time and you hear, “You’re doing it wrong,” with every squat, or when you’re trying to fall asleep and your brain is all, “What if everyone secretly hates you?” and “Are you maybe dead inside?” Seven days of silence took my awareness of that voice – and the authority I give it – to a whole new level. I came to recognize it not as the voice of truth, but just an especially loud voice, like a shouty mansplainer in a work meeting who sure seems to be talking a lot, but doesn’t actually know what the hell is going on.

Sure, I still sometimes fall asleep mentally scrolling through a highlight reel of every embarrassing thing I’ve ever done, like all normal people. But more and more often, I’m remembering that I don’t have to go to battle with that voice every time I hear it. I can hear it with a bit of detached bemusement – and for now, that’s plenty life-changing all on its own.

Sebastian Stan Is Shredded in His Latest Instagram Post


Sebastian Stan stays covered up while playing the Winter Soldier in Marvel’s Avengers franchise, but as it turns out, he’s been rocking a six-pack under all that armor. 

Stan showed off his physique in a recent Instagram post, and we can’t help but be impressed. It’s no surprise that he’s in good shape considering he’s been working with celebrity trainer Don Saladino—co-host of the Muscle & Fitness web series, Reps for years now, but he’s not typically a “gym selfie” guy. 

Check out the post below:




A post shared by Sebastian Stan (@imsebastianstan) on Aug 9, 2019 at 8:56am PDT


“After 7 years with @donsaladino I caught a good day, sucked it up and finally posted this,” Stan wrote on the post. “Been working with this guy through years of self judgement and mental wars when it comes to fitness and LIFE, and TODAY I’m giving myself a break and acknowledging the hard work we’ve done for @355movie (and this other small thing we got comin’)!”

That “small thing” is presumably the Disney+ original series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which is set for release in fall 2020. It’ll be the first streaming series to debut in Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it sees Stan and Anthony Mackie reprising their roles as Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier and Falcon, respectively, from the Avengers.

As anyone who’s ever tried to chisel a six-pack out of their core knows, abs are tough to get and maintain. Despite a seemingly constant flow of projects, Stan clearly makes time to get workouts in and keep his diet on track. Follow him at @iamsebastianstan to keep up with his latest films and shows, and follow Saladino at @donsaladino to get a glimpse at the workouts he runs his celebrity clientele through.  


Science backs rituals as an empowering strategy to help you bounce back from failure


Chances are, you have some kind of ritual that makes you feel better about life. Maybe you like wearing yellow socks to function as a good-luck charm when your favorite basketball team plays, or dry-brushing before bed, or taking a slightly longer route home sometimes because it just feels right. Or really, anything else in the world; rituals meaning anything in your life can manifest in innumerable ways.

The rituals we adopt range from mundane to bizarre and intentional to subconscious. In practice, they can function as a close cousin to superstitions (an unfounded belief in the causal relationship between certain actions and results), and pragmatists may characterize them as random, pointless or, even irrational. But, they’re indisputably powerful; research suggests they can help reduce anxiety, boost confidence, aid in the grieving process, and even improve performance. They can help us navigate challenges—and beat them.

So naysayers may be wise to stifle their eye rolls and consider the useful function that rituals can actually serve in their life.

The anatomy of a ritual

Though, as noted, rituals are often conflated with superstitions, that’s a misnomer. “The way I see it, every ritual will have a superstitious element, but not every superstition will manifest itself as a ritual,” says behavioral scientist Nick Hobson, PhD. Consider the pre-match rituals Serena Williams once recounted to the Evening Standard: “I lost because I didn’t tie my shoe the right way and…I have to use the same shower, I have to use the same sandals, I have to travel with the same bags.” Undeniably, there’s a superstitious component at play here, but there’s also more. As Dr. Hobson says, rituals meanings are distinctive from superstitions because they’re made up of three distinct elements: behavior, symbolism, and irrationality.

“Every ritual will have a superstitious element, but not every superstition will manifest itself as a ritual.” —behavioral scientist Nick Hobson, PhD

First, a ritual is a repeated stereotype or a formal set of behaviors, like facing west when you work, or Williams’ example of tying your shoes a specific way. Second, it carries some level of symbolic meaning. “That’s what separates it from a routine or a habit, which don’t carry very much meaning,” Dr. Hobson says. “We do those for an outcome, but a ritual carries some level of importance.” Finally, there’s a magical quality to a ritual, an irrationality, as Hobson put it. “With a routine, there’s a clear link to an outcome. But in ritual, that link is unclear,” he says.

In other words, there’s no logic behind a ritual, but we engage anyway for a number of reasons. In religious services, rituals meaning anything in a community can facilitate a sense of belonging. In the case of grief, rituals, like burying a loved one, for instance, can provide a sense of closure.

In the 1920s, anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski observed behaviors of residents in what’s now Papua New Guinea and noticed their specific rituals they turned to when finishing in shark-infested waters. When fishing in calmer waters, they skipped the rituals. Malinowski suggested that humans perform rituals in situations in which the outcome is uncertain.

In other words, in a world where so much is seemingly out of our hands—like winning and losing, life and death, and potential shark attacks—rituals can provide a sense of control.

How rituals really work

According to Dr. Hobson’s research, rituals help to ease our anxiety and make us less sensitive to failure, which in turn leads to improved performance on certain tasks. To test the hypothesis, he and his team of researchers had study participants engage in a completely made-up ritual at home, once a day for a week. After that week, participants’ brain activity was measured in a lab while they performed a task with and without the ritual. “We found those participants who had the ritual-like experience showed a part in the brain consistent with a reduction in anxiety. And that anxiety reduction helped them feel less anxious and perform better,” Dr. Hobson says.

What’s more is that when the subjects made mistakes, their stress response to the failure was reduced when they completed the ritual. They weren’t overwhelmed with their errors, Dr. Hobson says, and they didn’t collapse under the pressure of their mistakes.

“Rituals, or something expected, certain, and largely controlled by us, offer us a bit of structure and predictability in what may appear to be an otherwise chaotic and unpredictable time.” —Victoria Tarbell, LMHC

“Anytime a person makes a mistake, commits an error, or experiences some kind of uncertainty, there’s this sharp inflection that fires off in the mid-frontal area of the brain,” he says. But when subjects completed the ritual, that signal was muted. So in a way, rituals meaning can function as a placebo for our own instinctive ability to recover when faced with adversity.

To be clear, life is full of uncertainty and rituals won’t clear them up, says therapist Victoria Tarbell, LMHC. “What rituals can do is support us in becoming more skilled in navigating our way through that uncertainty,” she says. So, while it’s true that if you don’t know the answers on the test, your pre-exam pencil-sharpening ritual won’t effectively compensate, the practice can help you feel more confident and better focused, which can in turn help you take the exam at your sharpest. “Rituals, or something expected, certain, and largely controlled by us, offer us a bit of structure and predictability in what may appear to be an otherwise chaotic and unpredictable time,” Tarbell adds.

How to implement rituals in your everyday life

To build your own ritual from scratch, remember the three ingredients that make one: behavior, symbolism, and irrationality. Dr. Hobson suggests starting with symbolism. “When a behavior has no bigger, broader meaning, that’s when it becomes compulsive,” he says. “So ask yourself, ‘How is this ritual situated in the bigger picture of my life and direction I’m heading and the goals I have?’” For example, before you board a plane, you might tap the outside of it—a slightly irrational behavior that’s symbolic of a good, safe flight.

Or perhaps before taking the stage at a public-speaking event, you repeat a mantra that helps you calm down. “Having a supportive statement or two that we can ground ourselves in at the start or end of our day can be immensely helpful,” Tarbell says. “It can be just one word, maybe it’s a short saying.” And while she reminds that using a mantra to guide you through your day won’t remove the factor of uncertainty, it does help you cope with it. It’s a simple behavior that grounds you when your nerves seem unmanageable.

And since rituals certainly do pose a threat of becoming counterproductive to your health and happiness, thus no longer serving their purpose, Dr. Hobson suggests turning to common rituals shared with others. “This is because you have the ability to make sense of the ritual with others and attach it to a larger narrative,” he says of adopting rituals that are part of an existing community. This practice helps safeguard a rituals from dominating rather than empowering.

And really, that’s the point of rituals—to empower. Whether they’re turned to for the intent of winning a game or reaching a goal, feeling even the tiniest bit more powerful can go a long way.

Want more rituals intel? Here at the ones that the healthiest people in the world swear by. And if you need some inspo for a ritual to spark your love life, check out Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman’s morning routine.

Why I Refused to Succumb to the Pressure of Losing Weight Before My Wedding


It feels like my entire life has been impacted by diet culture. The first time I remember thinking I needed to lose weight was when I was 6 years old; I sucked in my tummy at a Girl Scouts meeting and told a friend I wanted to be “this skinny.” Four years later, my mom took me to my first Weight Watchers meeting (we carpooled with my fifth grade teacher . . . I should set up a GoFundMe for the amount of therapy I’ve needed afterward). My family constantly talked about diets and wanting to lose weight. I was a voracious magazine reader, and women’s magazine covers were splashed with gorgeous size-0 models and cover lines promising to help you shed those unwanted pounds – it was all I had ever known.

It didn’t take long for that message to consume every thought; I started obsessively weighing myself and restricting my food my freshman year of high school and lost a significant amount of weight. After an intervention from my parents, which included regular appointments with a doctor, a psychologist, and a dietitian, I started to get back on track, but I still struggled with a negative body image. I never thought I was thin enough and had a hard time accepting my body for what it was. In college, I was eating enough calories, but I started exercising two hours a day and still never felt comfortable in my skin.

My weight has fluctuated the entirety of my adolescent and adult life. Thanks to my PCOS, my prescription medication for bipolar disorder, the lovely genetics I inherited (thanks, Mom and Dad!), and my unabashed love of weekend cocktails (I can’t say no to a mezcal margarita!), I carry a little bit more weight on my 5’3″ than a BMI chart would deem healthy. But I also eat a low-sugar, whole-food-based diet, exercise five days a week, and get about seven hours of sleep a night. I spent more than 20 years obsessing over my weight and my size, and I refused to let that overtake what should be the happiest time of my life: being engaged and getting married.

Why I Didn’t Try to Lose Weight For My Wedding

I was engaged for 18 months before I got married on Nov. 5, 2016. Most women feel the pressure to take that time to transform their bodies and get in the best shape of their lives. Blogs and magazines are filled with prewedding diet tips and advice, juice bars offer 10-day cleanses, and gyms promote packages and boot camps for brides-to-be. I’m calling bullsh*t on all of it.

Sure, I did a Whole30 in January of 2016, but that was mostly to discover if I had any food intolerances, heal some PCOS-related issues I was experiencing, and see if it would help with some digestive issues I had. (Turns out I am sensitive to gluten and dairy, my skin cleared up, and my GI health improved.) I weighed myself before and after my Whole30 and didn’t step on the scale again the rest of the year.

Since I had been plagued by disordered eating in the past, I knew if I gave myself a hard deadline to lose weight, it would just stress me out. I’m an emotional eater, so this would have only resulted in me eating more, feeling guilty about it, restricting, and starting the whole cycle over again. I also knew if I put a set goal weight number in mind and didn’t meet it, I would be incredibly disappointed in myself, starting a string of negative self-talk (“You’re so fat and disgusting,” “Why are you such a failure,” etc.) I had worked a lifetime to undo. Not to mention, planning an out-of-town wedding with two big Catholic families is stressful enough (How do you tell your cousins for the 10th time kids aren’t invited? Where you do sit the aunts and uncles who hate each other?); I didn’t need to add another layer.

I joined Orangetheory Fitness in the months leading up to my wedding because I wanted to improve my fitness overall – I could feel my workouts getting stale and I wasn’t pushing myself – and I also wanted to feel more confident on my wedding day. But for me, that meant wanting more energy and stamina, and possibly toning up my arms. I didn’t care about dropping a dress size or fitting into an ideal body type. In fact, in the year that I had my wedding dress, I needed minimal alterations.

Did my body image issues and negative self-talk completely disappear during the year-and-a-half I was engaged? Of course not. But I felt beautiful on my wedding day and was so excited to marry my husband and be surrounded by all our friends and family. As someone who let diet culture and negative body image rule most of her life, I was proud of myself for not succumbing to the pressure of brides-to-be to lose weight, and instead enjoyed my engagement and wedding. I hope other engaged women are kind to themselves and don’t carry the burden to try to fit some unrealistic mold on what should be the happiest day of their lives.