You’ve probably been on this planet long enough to know by now that businesses want to make money. While they might tempt us and tell us that we need something, the truth of the matter might be a bit different. And you might have realized too late that you’ve wasted your money on something you didn’t need to buy. It happens.
If it has happened to you and you’re now a dubious consumer who thinks that brands often look for ways to make money, you might be skeptical about whether the dates on condom are things you actually have to follow or whether they’re just something companies but on as some sort of ploy to make more money. Here’s the deal on why condoms have expiration dates and whether you need to follow them.
So, do I really need to pay attention to the date on condoms?
The short answer is yes you do. And no, I’m not saying that because I own a condom company or I have a friend that does. I’m thinking about your safety, girl. After all, there are some things that you don’t want to mess around with, and safe sex is one of them. Do you really want to risk STDs and pregnancy because you’re trying to get out of buying a new box of condoms? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Why do they have expiry dates in the first place?
Nothing lasts forever. Things breakdown or become not as effective as they used to be. Beauty products are a great example of this. It’s pretty much the same philosophy with condoms. Over time, they can start to degrade, especially if they’re formulated with things such as lube and spermicide.
How long do condoms typically last?
It will vary from product to product but generally speaking condoms should last four to five years. (The expiry date should be written on the box as well as on the package of the individual condom.) And that’s in regards to manufacturing not when you open a box of condoms and start using them. Durex reports that its condoms normally have a shelf life of 5 years. But, it reports that some products have expiry dates of three to four years. If the condoms have spermicide, their expiry date will be about one to two years, according to Intelligent Mother. What’s more, there are some exceptions to the rules.
Exceptions? What do you mean?
As you’ve probably discovered with food, expiration dates are guidelines. There are factors that can impact the life of a product so it can expire sooner or later. With condoms, storage can change how long a condom lasts. Condoms should be kept in cool, dark environments. So, if you’re keeping them somewhere hot, like say a sunny shelf in your bathroom or in your car, they likely won’t last as long as the expiration date says because heat will cause them to break down. Of course, it’s not like you can *test* a condom out to see if it’s okay, but there are things to lookout for.
How can I tell if a condom is expired?
You’re going to have to use your judgment and be aware if there any rips or holes or if it breaks when you’re opening up the package. KidsHealth.org reports that if a condom feels dry, stiff, or not very flexible when you take it out of the package, it’s time to get a new one. Same goes if it feels weirdly sticky.
Women’s Health Mag reports that using any condom (even if it’s expired) is still better than using nothing. But, as I’ve previously mentioned, using an expired one doesn’t offer as much protection against STDs and pregnancy. So, it’s in your best interests to wait until you have a new package before hooking up. Because, really, how long does it take to pop to the store to buy condoms?
Do you check the expiry date on condoms before using them? Let us know in the comments!
Do you ever feel like the worst things come up at the very worst times? For example, do you ever feel like you have to burp right before you’re supposed to make a big school presentation? Or, does it always seem like you have to cough or sneeze when you’re in a very, very quiet room? Another irritating thing that happens is with our bladders and having to pee at the most inopportune moments. Sometimes that’s 10 minutes into a long car journey other times it’s when we’re wearing a jumpsuit and there’s only a tiny pubic bathroom. Another time you might feel you have to go number one is during sex. Here’s the deal on whether it’s normal to feel you have to pee during sex?
Help! What’s going on? Do I really need to pee during sex?
It depends on the situation. You might actually have a full bladder. But, if you just went to the bathroom and didn’t guzzle 10 gallons of water, it’s likely that you are just feeling like you have to pee.
So, why do I feel like I have to? It kills the mood.
I get it. Feeling like your bladder is about to burst isn’t exactly the definition of sexy times — nor is running to the bathroom in the middle of things “just in case.” For one thing, the feeling could be stemming from nerves. Think about some other times you’re a bit nervous and feel that you have to pee. If you go pee at least four times before an exam, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Another thing is that your anatomy can be the cause of it. Shape points out that the bladder is right behind the vaginal cavity. During sex, the penis can “push right on your bladder.” That might not seem like the sexiest visual, but it’s true. And if it continually does that with each thrust, the need to go to the bathroom can be really real.
Guh. Are there positions that make it worse?
If you want to avoid feeling like you have to pee, you might want to consider giving doggy style a break. It has many benefits thanks to the deep penetration and the angle, but the con of those is that the position make bladder pushing easier.
What if I think that I really have to go during sex? I don’t want to pee myself!
Another thing that could be happening is female ejaculation, aka squirting. If you’re in a deeper position and get the urge to pee, bae could have hit the G-spot or the Skene glands which will then produce the ejaculation. Yes, it’s reported that there’s a bit of pee in there, but it’s a normal thing.
I’m very concerned that I’m going to pee during sex.
Don’t be so worried because that will prevent you from enjoying yourself and getting everything out of it. I get that you’re freaked out, but unless you have an incontinence problem, it’s unlikely that you’re going to be peeing yourself during sex. To alleviate any fears, go to the bathroom shortly before hooking up and use it again afterward.
What other things about sex surprised you? Let us know in the comments!
Sunscreens are essential all year round, they protect the skin from the damaging UV rays from the sun. However, during the summer season when the sun is at its hottest, it is an absolute must have. If you’re not quite sure what kind of sunscreen you should choose, we’ve rounded up 10 great options for different skin types.
Since this one is SPF 30 it is best paired with a moisturizer that also contains sunscreen to ensure maximum protection. This vegan, non-chemical sunscreen is perfect for those with sensitive skin. It is lightweight, non-sticky and is also infused with anti-oxidants.
Another great option for those of you with dry skin and most importantly, sensitive skin, since this one is chemical free. This broad spectrum spf30 sunscreen from mad hippie, contains carrot seed which helps with hydration, red raspberry seed, avocado and antioxidant vitamin C and E.
It’s very rare to find a primer with SPF 50 so we have to give Nars Kuddos for this one! This smoothing primer prepares skin for makeup by minimizing fine lines, wrinkles and pores, while protecting your skin from dangerous UV rays.
The great thing about this sunscreen is that so far its the only one that protects the face and body from the sun. This SPF 50+ sunscreen has a soft matte finish and is water resistant for up to 80 minutes; perfect for the beach. It also comes with a spray on nozzle for easy application, and it goes on clear.
5.La Roche-Pose -SPF 50
One of the pricier options on the list, but totally worth it. This activewear lotion sunscreen contains spf 60 which is quite rare. It contains antioxidants and vitamin C, and can be used on your face and body.
Doing anything for the first time is intimidating. One of the best ways to make it seem less scary is to be prepared. It applies to doing a presentation in class, baking a complicated recipe, and it applies to trying butt stuff for the first time.
Butt stuff — whether we’re talking about anal fingering, fisting, anal sex, eating booty, using sex toys, or something else — is probably one of the most intimidating things out of all the sex stuff because it has a mysterious reputation, it involves back there, and it’s not talked about as much as other stuff. Here are Gurl, we’re down to talk about anything and everything so hopefully we can take some of the mystery out of booty stuff. That way you can feel more confident about it and know what to expect.
Have a look at seven things to know if you’re new to butt stuff:
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You Will Need A Lot Of Lube
This isn't a time to be cheap. If you're used to lube during other sexy stuff, get ready to use a lot more than you would for putting the P in the V. Lube up everything including the butt hole, fingers, condoms, sex toys, and anything else that is going near that butt. And don't be afraid to add more later. There's really no such thing as too much. Image source: Instagram/pr_lynn_cc
Communication Is Soooo Important
The butt hole is a sensitive area. If you thought that having vaginal sex for the first time was difficult, putting things up your butt can be more intense. That's why you need to ensure that you and bae are completely open with each other. You should feel confident in taking the lead of the situation and telling bae whether he/she is going too fast or being too hard. After all, it's your butt that is involved here. Image source: Instagram/aturnwin
Going Slow Is Key
Slow and steady wins the race. If you're in a rush, it's not the best time to try butt stuff. You need lots of time and patience. Even then you might not get a toy, finger, or penis all the way in. That's okay. Some people never do. Just go with what you feel comfortable with. And if bae is going too fast, make sure you speak up. Remember the last point. Image source: Instagram/hollycrandall
Good Hygiene Is Essential
Because you're dealing with a butt, it's paramount that you keep things clean. Having a shower or bath before you do anything never hurts. Secondly, you will want to make sure that the other person's hands are clean. And safe sex is essential. Another thing to remember is not to put anything that has been up a butt in another hole. Image source: Instagram/cocoongeneva
It Will Feel Very Different
It's hard to really describe what butt stuff is like until you've tried it. It's a bit different than everyone, but one thing is for sure, it will definitely feel different than anything else you've ever done. That includes vaginal sex. Some people like to describe it as intense, deep, or filling. Hello. Image source: Instagram/thedundeecake
You Might Feel That You Have To Go To The Bathroom
You might have heard the stories about people who have tried anal and have had to go to the bathroom in the middle of it. A lot of the stories are usually exaggerations, but there is some truth to it. It makes sense. If you're inserting anything back there, you're putting pressure on a sensitive part which can give you the impression of having to go to the bathroom. If you recently went, don't stress, you should be fine. Image source: Instagram/i.shomeinteriors_bylauren
It's Important To Try And Relax
I know, I know, it's a lot easier said than done, but try to remember it. When you're stressed and/or nervous, you will find the experience less enjoyable. What's more, you will find it more difficult to get comfortable and open up. Take a few deep breaths and know that if you don't like it or you find it too painful, you can ask bae to stop. To help you relax further, you can have a talk about what's going to go down with bae beforehand. Image source: Instagram/real_gaby_mt
Does bae want to try butt stuff? Let us know in the comments!
Have you ever been so busy that you don’t even want to stop and break to eat? Are you so focused that you don’t even want to take two minutes to eat a bowl or cereal or an apple? You might feel this way when you’re studying for exams or when you have eight deadlines looming over your head and a to-do list that’s a mile long.
You might think that you’re being very focused and disciplined, but you aren’t doing your body any favors. While you might think skipping eating is benefiting you, it’s likely going to cost you in the long run. Skipping meals is no bueno in any situation. It doesn’t matter whether you’re too busy, lazy, or don’t have anything good in the fridge. It’s important to eat. Yes, I’m including breakfast in that, too.
Here are six reasons why skipping meals is actually the worst.
1. You Will Have Difficulty Concentrating
If you’re someone who frequently *doesn’t have time for breakfast* then you’re probably familiar with this. How many days do you feel lightheaded and cannot focus on anything that your teacher is saying when it gets to around 11 o’clock? It’s not just because your teacher is droning on about integers. Food is brain power and when you don’t have enough — or any at all — your ability to concentrate goes way down. Eating regularly will prevent your brain from going foggy. Image source: Instagram/call_me_mrs_walker_x
2. You Will Get Hangry
Hangry isn’t just a favorite phrase of the internet. It’s a legit thing. Seventeen reports that a person’s mood plummets along with their blood sugar and attention span when they skip meals. The body basically goes into survival mode which puts you on the edge. To prevent you from biting someone’s head off when you’re majorly angry, try to eat regularly. Image source: Instagram/seamasterhiro
3. It Can Mess Up Your Blood Pressure
You might think that blood pressure is something only your parents and grandparents have to worry about, but skipping meals can throw your blood pressure out of whack. When you don’t eat, it can put a strain on all sorts of body functions, including blood pressure. High blood pressure isn’t good because if it gets very high, it can weaken the blood vessels, and in extreme cases cause blood clots and even strokes. I’m not saying you’re going to have a stroke if you skip breakfast, but know that regularly skipping meals can impact blood pressure and having high blood pressure for a long period of time can have a negative impact. Image source: Instagram/mskathy0724
4. Your Risk Of Some Diseases Could Increase
I bet I have your attention now, right? According to Prevention, one study found that those who skipped breakfast regularly had a 20 percent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The issue is that our bodies fast at night when we sleep. If we don’t *break the fast* in the morning, it strains out bodies and can throw our levels out of whack. Image source: Instagram/sandie_march.ceramique
5. It Makes You More Likely To Overeat
Some people who are dieting might consider skipping meals. First of all, it’s not a healthy way to eat. You should be focused on choosing wholesome foods that nourish your body and not be concerned about restrictions. Secondly, skipping meals makes you much more likely to overeat later — and you normally end up eating the wrong stuff. The thing is that when you get beyond hungry, it’s likely you will start scoffing down as much food as possible. And you’ll probably keep eating even after you’re already full. Image source: Instagram/confetti.potsandpans
6. It Makes You Tired
This is why you shouldn’t consider skipping meals, especially if you have things to do. Food is fuel and what happens when things don’t have fuel? They burn out. So, keep feeding your body to keep yourself energized. Instead of always reaching for coffee when you feel tired, try having something nourishing to eat. You’ll likely feel revived and you won’t have to deal with the caffeine crash later. Image source: Instagram/bri_theedgelord
Do you often skip meals? Let us know in the comments!
There are some things that are so outrageous you know that they’re definitely not true. Then there are some things that sound so crazy, that you think that they have to be real. Because really, how else could someone ever come up with an idea like that unless it was legit?
One thing that you’ve probably heard is that if you drink cranberry juice, it can prevent urinary tract infections. If you’re wondering whether it’s a big fat crazy myth or whether it’s crazy but it actually works, I’m here to debunk whether drinking cranberry juice will really prevent UTIs.
So, should I be swigging cranberry juice to prevent urinary tract infections?
If you’ve done your own research, you will see that there are some conflicting reports about it. If you look at legit sources and the most recent research, sorry to say, you might as stop drinking cranberry juice now if you’re just drinking it for UTI prevention. The reports suggest that it will not help treat infections nor will it help prevent them.
Guh. I knew it was too good to be true. Why?
Long story short, there’s basically not enough evidence to prove it. Cosmopolitan reported that a 2012 review of cranberry-UTI literature and a 2016 study from Yale found no statistically significant reason to believe cranberries prevent urinary tract infections. What’s more, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence reported that there is not enough evidence to support the statement that cranberry juice prevents, lowers, or treats UTIs.
What about cranberry supplements?
The Cleveland Clinic points out that the evidence for cranberry supplements can be conflicting for cranberry supplements. Without getting too science-y, there’s an active ingredient in cranberries that basically coats the inside of the bladder to stop bacteria from getting in the blood stream. The thing is that it doesn’t stop bacteria from growing.
What’s more, supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so it’s not known how much of the active ingredient each product contains. Therefore, many of the products may not have enough of the active ingredient to be effective in preventing bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall. To top it all off, there’s really not conclusive evidence of cranberry juice or supplements treating, stopping, or reducing UTIs.
So, should I give up drinking cranberry juice?
If you’re guzzling it in the hopes it will stop UTIs, know that it’s not going to harm you. Will it stop them? Meh. Cranberry juice is still beneficial because it does have antioxidants. Just note that if you’re drinking large quantities of juice, especially ones with added sugar, you have to think about that. In general, it’s normally best to practice moderation.
Are there other ways I can prevent UTIs?
There are a few different things you can do to prevent UTIs. The good news is that they’re all pretty simple and don’t involve adding large quantities of random foods to your diet. First of all, if you have to pee, make sure you go. If you’re sexually active, try to pee after hooking up. Make sure that you’re wearing the proper underwear (read: a pair of breathable panties that aren’t too tight), and that you’re wiping front to back. It might seem obvious, but you should also avoid douching kits as they can cause all sorts of problems down there.
If you find that you’re constantly getting UTIs, it can be worthwhile speaking to your doctor. He/she can assess your lifestyle and see if there are any things you’re doing that could be causing the issue.
Have you ever had a UTI? Let us know in the comments!
Snacking on nuts or trail mix seems like a healthy choice. But if weight loss is your goal, these comparison photos posted by Leanne Ward, a sports dietitian known as the_fitness_dietitian on Instagram, show why a healthy snack like trail mix could actually cause you to gain weight.
Leanne wrote, “So many of my clients can’t understand why they can’t meet their weight loss goals but this picture demonstrates that even healthy foods can be over eaten.” If you eat nuts straight out of the container or grab handfuls of trail mix without measuring, a “snack” could quickly equal the amount of calories in a small meal! Instead of grabbing a big handful of nuts, dried fruit, or trail mix, try a calorie saving swap such as mixing a smaller portion with some air-popped popcorn. It’ll feel like a larger portion but for fewer calories!
Here’s Leanne’s tip: “If you’re trying to lose weight, I recommend weighing or measuring your portions for a day or two to see how much you may ‘overestimate’ without even realising.” She said foods like nuts, nut butter, seeds, avocado, and dried fruit are healthy foods, but are also quite energy dense (i.e., high in (good) calories). If losing weight is your goal, don’t eat them mindlessly! Know what an appropriate portion size is of these energy-dense foods and stick to it!
“You can still enjoy all your favorite things as part of a healthy lifestyle but understanding quantities & portion sizes can help you achieve your goal,” she reminded her readers. Keep measuring cups, spoons, and a food scale on hand just to be sure!
Did you know that there are small, nearly mindless things you can do every single day to live longer? If you’re looking for a healthier, extended life (meaning more time doing the things you love), then age gracefully with these simple tips. Something as small as walking a little more or drinking more water (even sleeping!) can help improve your health and your body’s ability to fight off disease.
Did you know that 10 percent of all deaths are from being sedentary? Sitting can be as lethal as smoking. If you’ve got a desk job or tend to sit a lot, make sure you hone in on how much you’re moving, standing, and walking. Add steps to your day — every day — and get a fitness tracker if you need reminders to move.
POPSUGAR Photography / Maria del Rio
Harvard proved that the secret to not just a longer life, but a happier one as well, was deep and meaningful relationships. Nurture your relationships with friends and family, and spend some time in conversation daily.
4. Skip the Cigs
POPSUGAR Photography / Sisilia Piring
This includes e-cigarettes! The bottom line is, cigarettes are gross, nothing about them is good for you, and when you smoke, you’re deliberately and intentionally shaving years off your life — and possibly the lives of those around you with secondhand smoke!
Obviously you’ll die if you don’t drink water. But even if you’re simply not drinking enough water each day, the effects can still be severe; latent effects of dehydration include brain swelling, seizures, and kidney failure. Avoid the scary side-effects by guzzling H2O all day long.
POPSUGAR Photography / Sheila Gim
It’s no secret that exercise can improve your cardiovascular health and help you live a longer life. Need some ideas? Try running — it’s also been proven that runners live longer.
9. Strength Train
POPSUGAR Photography / Kathryna Hancock
Aside from daily exercise and some cardio work, science also shows that weight training can help you live longer. You don’t have to be a CrossFit champion to add years to your lifespan: start with small weights and build your way up to be strong, unstoppable, and healthy enough to live a very long life.
POPSUGAR Photography / Maria del Rio
Another way you’re potentially sabotaging your plan to live to 100? Not sleeping enough. Lack of sleep can shorten your life and increase your risk of death. Just get some zzz’s, people! It’s so easy to add to your daily routine, and it’ll help you stick around on this planet a little longer.
Protein is an important macronutrient that will help you build lean muscle and keep you feeling fuller. Sure, you can get your protein fix with a chicken breast or protein shake, but what about something sweet? Turns out, it’s totally possible to enjoy dessert and also load up on protein at the same time.
With these 25 protein-packed desserts, you don’t have to choose between eating something with protein and eating something to satisfy your sweet tooth. These healthy dessert recipes won’t blow your macros and will leave you feeling satisfied. Plus, they’re damn delicious.
Eating healthy but still not seeing the scale budge? It could be a matter of making a few simple tweaks. As Instagram user Amanda Meixner (@meowmeix) proved, there are some so-called “healthy” foods that could actually be adding to your overall daily calories and halting your weight-loss progress.
Instead of eating banana chips, which are more concentrated and easy to overeat, she suggests eating a regular banana. “A medium banana is about 105 calories while 8.5 banana chips are 105 calories,” she wrote in her caption. “You could easily eat a couple handfuls of banana chips in one sitting but it’s a lot harder to eat 3 bananas.”
Rather than eating a high-calorie bagel, opt for a couple rice cakes – she suggests eating them topped with almond butter and a few slices of fresh banana. “Some bagels contain 14+ ingredients and often have added sugar. If you’re trying to lose weight, a rice cake is a much better, low calorie option,” she wrote in the caption.
And even though store-bought bottled smoothies may seem like a healthy choice, they are usually packed with sugar, sometimes more than 50 grams, and up to 270 calories. Instead, sip on kombucha, which only has about 12 grams of sugar and is 50 calories.
Remember: just because a food is marketed as healthy doesn’t mean it’s always the best choice, especially for weight loss. By making a few easy swaps, you could save hundreds of calories and reach your weight-loss goals in no time.
If you’ve never used a kettlebell before at the gym, you’re about to fall in love with the unconventional fitness tool that’s rising in popularity. Eric Leija, a kettlebell expert at Onnit Academy (known as primal.swoledier on Instagram), passed along a few of his favorite kettlebell exercises for beginners to try out. “Taking the time to master the kettlebell techniques can help you take your overall training to the next level,” he told POPSUGAR. “With quality technique, you can have more fun and challenging workouts by seamlessly combining workouts together into kettlebell flows and complexes.”
But why pick up a kettlebell in the first place? “Kettlebells have various grips and ready positions that allow you to add load to more positions than dumbbells,” Eric explained. “When you get more comfortable with kettlebells, they are a great tool for working on your coordination by implementing more dynamic movements and exercises combinations into your training.”
Start in a standing position, with your feet about hip width apart, and grip the kettlebell by the horns.
Try to stack your elbows underneath your wrists, and imagine you are trying to rip the handle over your chest. Do this to help engage your lats, and pull your shoulders back and down to help maintain a tall spine and proud chest.
Plant your feet firmly into the ground and actively press into the outside edges of your feet to help activate your hips and lateral lines of tension.
Initiate the squat by bending at the knees first, and sit your hips straight down in between your heels and get your knees out.
Keep your elbows inside your knees and your chest proud. “I like to go down slow into the hole and then come up and out hard and fast with an explosive hip lockout,” Eric said. This counts as one rep.
Be sure to keep your back straight and core tight throughout the entire movement.
Do four sets of eight to 12 reps.
3. Kettlebell Halo
In a standing position, hold the kettlebell upside down by the horns, with the bell facing upward, and rotate it around your head from shoulder to shoulder. The bell will face down as you circle the weight behind your head. Keep a tight core and focus on loosening up your shoulders.
When you return to the starting shoulder, this counts as one rep.
It may not be a secret that the best way to a six-pack is a healthy diet (even if it’s no diet at all) and regular exercise, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to get a flat belly. Read on for the ultimate guide to getting flat abs.
Getting flat abs in time for Summer isn’t about starving yourself or living at the gym. Reducing belly fat involves a mix of smart eating and effective exercise. Make sure you eat enough food to keep your body from experiencing hormone imbalances; eating too little (fewer than 1,200 calories a day) reduces the amount of the fat-burning hormone leptin in your body, which will slow down weight loss. And if you’re just exercising without changing your diet, you’ll spend a lot of time at the gym with little result.
Having too much stress can lead to higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your body, which can increase the amount of fat you store around your belly. Can’t seem to de-stress? Take a few minutes each day to relax with these tips on how to de-stress.
5. Start With Oatmeal
POPSUGAR Photography / Lizzie Fuhr
The secret to getting flat abs includes a diet that helps shrink that midsection. The best things to eat include foods high in fiber and other foods that help you beat the bloat. Swap your normal breakfast for a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries, for example; the fiber in the oatmeal will aid in digestion and the antioxidants in blueberries may help you shed ab fat. Find out more on which foods you should be eating to bust that belly here.
6. Drink to Detox
POPSUGAR Photography / Nicole Perry
It’s not just in the foods you eat — what you drink can help debloat and flatten your tummy as well, so bottoms up! Drinking a glass of water with lemon every morning, for example, will help you alkalize your body, which helps you burn fat and detox your system. Besides lemon water, here are more drinks to add to your routine so you can regularly detox every day.
7. Stay Away From These
POPSUGAR Photography / THEM TOO
There are those foods that help slim your middle and those that make you feel like a bloated balloon. As you continue your ab-flattening workout plan, be sure to avoid foods that cause bloating, like broccoli and cabbage, when things start getting serious. Find more foods that can cause belly bloat here.
8. Choose Full-Body Exercises
POPSUGAR Photography / Kat Borchart
If you’re looking for killer abs, don’t waste your time focusing solely on crunches, since they tone just one muscle group and exacerbate bad posture, especially if you sit with a rounded spine at a desk all day. Instead focus on full-body exercises, like squat to overhead press. Not only do these types of exercises save time by working multiple body parts while engaging your core, they also do so without the posture-wrecking position of a rounded spine. Check out our video on full-body workouts here.
9. Work All Layers
POPSUGAR Photography / Kat Borchart
If you’ve only go one type of ab workout in your routine, your midsection is missing out. Working your core involves exercising all your abdominal layers, not just the top part that you can see. The inner muscles help pull in your belly for a slimming look, so be sure to work all of your ab muscles with this workout!
10. Don’t Forget the Muffin Top
POPSUGAR Photography / Ericka McConnell
Getting rid of a muffin top involves many of the same strategies you’re employing when it comes to washboard abs, but if you’ve got a little extra padding all around your waistline, there are a few more tricks you should have up your sleeve. Read labels carefully, for example; lurking trans fats in your favorite foods can increase the amount of fat you hold around your waist. And while you’re focusing on your abs while you work out, don’t forget back exercises like the Superman or the side bridge if you’ve got a muffin top to lose. Find out how to get rid of that muffin top here.
11. Go MUFA
POPSUGAR Photography / Nicole Perry
Foods high in monounsaturated fatty acid burn fat, especially of the belly variety. Go for MUFA-rich foods like avocados, almonds, olive oil, and pistachios to help you keep your belly full.
Salt, sugar, and fatty foods can all add to bloat, while fresh fruits and veggies and whole grains do just the opposite. Pay attention to labels as you shop and train your taste buds to prefer fresh produce; read more tips on how to eat clean here.
14. Practice Portion Control
POPSUGAR Photography / THEM TOO
Even if you’ve been working on your abs, no one will see your strong, defined midsection if you’ve got a few extra pounds covering it. Keeping portions under control can help you lose weight; make it easy with these portion-control tips.
15. Add Weights
POPSUGAR Photography / Kat Borchart
Think weights won’t help you get a six-pack? Think again. Grabbing hand weights for your ab work will increase the difficulty and challenge your ab muscles further. Try these ab exercises with weights to change up your workout.
16. Find Your Balance
Another way to challenge your abs is to make your workout a little unstable. Do planks on a rocker board or stand on a BOSU while you do bicep curls to make almost any exercise an ab-working move. Find more balance exercise ideas here.
A strong back will make you look taller and slimmer and especially helps in that pooch area. Do these back exercises regularly to help you stand strong.
19. Eat Lean Protein
POPSUGAR Photography / Nicole Perry
Lean protein burns fat and helps keep you full so you don’t overeat. Whether you opt for fish, turkey, or tofu, make sure your diet includes enough lean protein to keep you satisfied and your belly flat.
20. Plank It Up
Planks are an amazing ab-defining move to incorporate into any workout. The plank focuses on your entire core, helping you work the muscles that tighten your midsection while also strengthening your arms and legs. Learn these plank variations so you can drop and do a plank anytime!
If you rely on sleeping pills for a good night’s sleep, take note: a recent study found that those who took sleeping aids like Ambien and Lunesta had a higher risk of dying sooner or developing cancer. While the jury’s still out on whether the study found merely a correlation between being sick and taking sleeping pills (rather than the medication being the cause of the early deaths), why not play it safe with a natural fix? If you’re a restless sleeper, try eating any of these foods a few hours before bedtime and be ready for a personal visit from Mr. Sandman.
Add a drizzle of honey to warm milk or herbal tea a few hours before you plan on heading to bed. That little bit of glucose lowers levels of orexin, a neurotransmitter that raises your level of alertness.
2. Whole Grains
POPSUGAR Photography / Nicole Perry
If you’re feeling a little restless before bedtime, reach for a piece of whole grain bread or toast. Whole grains encourage the production of insulin, which helps neural pathways get tryptophan — an amino acid that acts as a sedative — to the brain.
POPSUGAR Photography / Grace Hitchcock
Skip the Ambien; reach for a banana instead. Bananas are high in potassium, a mineral that is essential to a having a deep night’s sleep. Bananas also contain tryptophan and magnesium, making this fruit nature’s little sedative.
POPSUGAR Photography / Jenny Sugar
B vitamins have long been used to treat insomnia and help alleviate stress and anxiety. If you’re looking for a natural vitamin B complex, try beans — they contain a nice smattering of different B vitamins like B6, niacin, and folate.
POPSUGAR Photography / Jae Payne
It’s true — that warm glass of milk your mom gave you when you were a kid does help you sleep better. Dairy is a natural source of sleep-inducing tryptophan, and the calcium content of dairy has a nice booster effect on the amino acid.
POPSUGAR Photography / Nicole Perry
A handful of nuts are a great bedtime snack because they help boost serotonin levels in the brain and are an excellent source of magnesium and tryptophan. Walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds contain the highest levels of the natural sedative.
POPSUGAR Photography / Lizzie Fuhr
Melatonin is a hormone that helps to control the body’s sleep/wake cycle. Oats are a natural source of melatonin. If you need a snack before bed, have a small bowl of oatmeal or a healthy oat cookie.
POPSUGAR Photography / Susannah Chen
It’s not just turkey that contains sleep-inducing tryptophan; all poultry does. If I’m hungry before bed, I’ll nibble on a piece of chicken or put sliced turkey onto a piece of whole wheat bread. Both are great foods to help you sleep!
POPSUGAR Photography / Nicole Pery
Chickpeas may just be the miracle legume. Not only have chickpeas been proven to help you eat less, but they’re also high in vitamin B6, which plays an important role in helping your body produce serotonin, the feel-good hormone that boosts your mental health and helps you rest easy. If you’re not in the mood for hummus, check out a few of our healthy chickpea recipes here.
POPSUGAR Photography / Anna Monette Roberts
A small bowl of yogurt with a few of your favorite toppings added in may be just what you need to fall asleep. That’s because yogurt contains calcium, which is needed for processing sleep-inducing hormones trytophan and melatonin.
11. Cherry Juice
Cherries are high in melatonin as well, and a recent study found that regularly drinking cherry juice or eating cherries may help people with insomnia regulate their sleep cycles for better sleep.
12. Leafy Greens
POPSUGAR Photography / Nicole Perry
Leafy greens contain high levels of calcium, important for producing sleep hormones. Craving something salty and crunchy before you go to sleep? Make some kale chips (watch our video for directions) for a nutritious, sleep-inducing snack.
POPSUGAR Photography / Jae Payne
The tried-and-true mug of chamomile tea before you go to bed is effective for a reason. The herb has calming effects, and drinking a warm cup of (noncaffeinated) tea before bed may be just the bedtime routine you need to help you drift off to sleep.
POPSUGAR Photography / Nicole Perry
A 2006 study found that popular grape varietals used to make wine, like Merlot, Sangiovese, and Cabernet, contain high levels of melatonin. The study tested the actual fruit, not wine, but the researchers say that melatonin levels in wine may be possible. Don’t take this as a good excuse to imbibe before bedtime, however, since alcohol can make it harder for you to stay asleep throughout the night.
POPSUGAR Photography / Nicole Perry
Eggs are also a good source of tryptophan, so have a hard-boiled egg alongside a cup of tea or a poached egg on whole grain bread to combine the power of your favorite sleep-inducing foods.
How do I clean sex toys? I threw away the box and never bothered to read anything on it…
Don’t worry, it’s not that complicated. What you need to know is that it will vary depending on the toy(s) in question. If you have anything with electronics/batteries/motors/whatever like, a vibrator, you do not want to be submerging it or running it under water. That also applies when the toy is shut off. It can majorly mess up the toy and put you at risk of a shock. (It’s also why you don’t want to be masturbating in water with the toys.) To clean these types of toys, you can wipe them down with a wet rag and soap or you could use a cloth with some rubbing alcohol.
If you’re using a toy made out of wood, follow the instructions above.
If the toy doesn’t have any motorized or electronic parts, you should be fine with submerging it in water and giving it a bath with some soap.
Some people suggest that if you have toys made out of glass, Pyrex, or pure silicone to stick them in boiling water for a few minutes.
Do I need to use one of those fancy sex toy cleansers?
It depends. If you find a sex toy cleaner that works with the type of toy you have, there’s no harm in trying it out. Some will likely prefer to stick with soap and water as it’s cheaper, you don’t have to buy anything specific, and it’s likely something that you always have.
How often should I clean them?
You should clean your sex toys on the regular and by that I mean after ever use. Yes, really. It really doesn’t require that much effort. Before you complain, think about it this way: You spent good money on those toys so you probably want to keep them in top shape for as long as possible. What’s more, you don’t want any bacteria growing on them. Ick.
Are there toys that cannot be cleaned?
The vast majority of sex toys will be accounted for in the answer to the first question. But, be aware that there are toys made out of porous materials that won’t ever be completely clean. Porous materials are things like hard plastic and they can still contain bacteria even after using soap and water on them. If you are using these types of toys with a partner, it’s recommended that you use condoms.
Is it really bad if I forget to clean a toy sometimes or I do it later?
It’s ideal if you clean the toy after you used it, especially if it’s something porous. Of course I get it might not be the sexiest thing to break away from spooning to clean a toy. But, try to do it ASAP so you don’t forget.
What about drying toys?
Before putting your toys away or *putting them to use,* you should make sure that they’re completely dry. Using a paper towel to dry toys is often a better option that your bathroom towel, especially as your bathroom towel can harbor a surprising amount of bacteria. Also, think about storage. Some sex toys come with bags or cases. Don’t throw them out; use them. They protect toys and keep them clean from bacteria and dust.
What else do you want to know about sex toys? Let us know in the comments!
Many people would jump up and down in excitement if they saw the scale taking a drop. But weight loss isn’t always a good thing, especially if you’re not taking the steps to actually make it happen. Health conditions and related factors can cause weight loss at a rapid pace. Everyone’s body is different, but losing five percent of your body weight after six months is generally a cause for concern in medical reviews. However, if you notice that you’re losing weight much quicker than indicated in your weight-loss plan, talk with a clinician.
Keep in mind that there are many reasons someone could be losing pounds, but these are just a couple of the more familiar ones. Brian Secemsky, MD, an internal medicine physician at OneMedical, filled us in on some of the reasons you could be experiencing unintended weight loss.
“Some people are stress eaters, but some people are the exact opposite,” Secemsky said. “They will eat less and avoid foods that give them pleasure because they feel they need to hold off on it until they’re happy.” People who get stressed – from work, family, etc. – may drink a lot of caffeine, which is an appetite reducer.
However, it can go beyond stress. People with depression, anxiety, and mental health conditions may experience loss of appetite. Many of these people lose interest in things they love, and that can include food.
2. Thyroid Issues
An underactive thyroid is linked with making it extremely difficult to lose weight. On the other hand, an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can cause just the opposite reaction. Each condition also causes other issues, so you’ll want to talk to your doctor about any major weight problems.
One of the best things you can do is keep a symptom journal, Secemsky said. If you notice unintended weight loss, keep track of other changes, even if you don’t think they’re related. Telling your doctor about your fever, hair loss, changes in urination, and even a cough can have bigger implications than you realize. For example, sensations of cold or heat could be linked to thyroid issues.
People with celiac disease can’t eat gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley (basically your favorite carbs). When they do eat gluten, the body sends a response that attacks the small intestine. “You can’t digest certain foods and you also have this chronic inflammation going on,” Secemsky said. This can defer eating and cause other stomach issues, leading to weight loss. Consider gluten-free desserts your new best friends!
“Medications, recreational and prescribed, can also cause unintended weight loss for various reasons,” Secemsky explained. Some cause nausea or dry mouth, and others directly cause unintended weight loss. So look at what medications you’re taking, as well as your medication history, if you’ve noticed a drastic weight change.
Type 1 diabetes (specifically when it’s undiagnosed) can cause rapid weight loss. The glucose in the bloodstream doesn’t get into the cells of someone with the condition. Therefore, their body isn’t getting those nutrients. That extra glucose can also cause a patient to urinate more and become dehydrated, Secemsky explained. All of this can cause a lower number on the scale.
6. Substance Abuse
“Particularly, if patients are using stimulant medications like cocaine, unprescribed use of ADHD medications, and even caffeine, they can be appetite inhibitors,” Secemsky said. For some recreational drug use, the addiction is so strong that people forgo eating, whether it be financial reasoning or they just use the time to do more drugs. Researchers from the University of Cambridge even found that cocaine may reduce the body’s ability to store fat.
Many of us could say that we would love to lose a couple of pounds; however, only you truly know your body’s “normal.” So if it seems off, always reach out to your doctor. And, yes, that includes when you think you’re losing weight a little too quickly!
I was always athletic growing up, and even after I left graduate school and started working full-time, I maintained a pretty fit physique. But 2016 was a rough year for me, to say the least, and all the trauma and stress I experienced caught up to me. Before I knew it, I had gained more than 30 pounds, and I was suddenly living a life in which I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror.
For me, this weight gain wasn’t about the number on the scale. I just felt awful. I would wake up every morning feeling extremely lethargic, and I barely got through the day without feeling like I needed a sugar or caffeine boost to help me feel like I was engaged with my surroundings. Overall, I didn’t feel like myself anymore, and I hated the feeling of being so unhealthy.
The first time I went vegan was in 2011, after I saw the documentary Forks Over Knives, but I didn’t maintain the diet for more than a year. I remembered all the positive benefits that came along with it, and when I thought about all the ethical and environmental implications, I decided to try the diet again. This time, though, I decided to go plant-based vegan, which means my diet would consist of whole foods, and I wouldn’t eat things like white flour, sugar, and packaged foods, even if they were vegan.
You can’t successfully change your diet without really learning about what you’re eating every day. I already knew the basics of good nutrition, like how much protein, carbs, and fats I needed to consume each day, and the importance of eating fresh greens. But I was stuck in a pattern of thinking that things like packaged granola and protein bars were healthy foods, so I would eat them in large quantities. Plus, I would still eat all the packaged junk food, totally convinced it was OK because it was labeled vegan.
I wanted to do veganism the right way this time, so I read a lot and researched the subject, and I discovered just how effective the plant-based diet could be. I gave up things like oil, sugar, and flour, and I significantly cut down on packaged snacks, no matter how “healthy” they seemed. I learned how to cook all my own meals. I developed a much more in-depth, intimate relationship with food, and I learned how to listen to my body when it was trying to tell me when it was full or hungry. This helped me control my portion sizes and make smarter choices with my food.
I Was Able to (Finally) Stay Consistent With My Diet
After I initially decided to lose weight, I tried just about everything: the Paleo diet, juice cleanses, saltwater flushes, counting my macros, and even carb cycling. None of it worked, because all of these were just trendy diets or fads that were hard to sustain in the long run. What I love about being plant-based vegan is that it’s a lifestyle, not a diet. This made it extremely easy to follow, and I never felt like I was deprived or missing something major.
I Inadvertently Ate Fewer Calories
It’s ironic when you think about it. As soon as I stopped counting calories and macros was the second I started losing weight. By adopting a plant-based diet, I was naturally eating fewer calories, and that’s because a lot of meat and dairy are calorically rich foods. I found I could eat the same amount of, if not more, whole grains, beans, soy, and vegetables and fruits, and I still would be in calorie deficit. This allowed me to really enjoy the food I was eating without worrying about whether it would put on any extra pounds.
I Had More Energy to Work Out
One of my favorite benefits of going vegan is how much more energy I have every single morning. I never wake up feeling tired or sluggish, which makes it that much easier to get to the gym and crush my workouts – and actually have fun doing it. Because I had all this extra energy, I was ready to change up my workouts. Last year I started strengthening more. I used to do two sessions a week, but I started working with a trainer and eventually worked up to six strength-training sessions each week. Additionally, I upped my cardio to three to four times a week. This helped speed up my weight-loss process a lot.
Another positive side effect of eating plant-based is having a lot less inflammation in the body. I was recovering from workouts faster, any minor injuries I had healed quicker, and even though I was working out a lot, I continued to feel energetic and strong. Before I knew it, I was gaining muscle and shedding fat faster than I ever had before – even when I was doing CrossFit six times a week and eating a strict Paleo diet!
The cleaner I ate, the clearer my mind was. My menstrual health also improved drastically. After suffering from PMDD for years, my symptoms gradually disappeared with each passing month because I was no longer putting additional hormones into my body from the animal products I used to eat. Now I rarely suffer from cramps or mood swings, and my period is such a breeze to deal with.
This surprisingly had a huge impact on my weight loss. I was able to work out when I was PMSing and on my period, and simply having a clear mind made it easier to make smart decisions throughout the day. I never expected a plant-based diet to affect my life so positively, and now I wonder why I didn’t try it sooner.
With beach season nigh, we’ve already begun listing down the best fitness workouts in toning our muscles. Have your workout plan ready and achieve that head to toe toning you’ve been dreaming! Here are 17 of the best workout routines to get your sweat on.
17 Best Fitness Workouts for Head to Toe Toning
1. The 3-Week Plan
Who needs a personal trainer when you can do exercise at home? This easy 3-week plan will bring a big surprise in toning your muscles.
2. 30-Day Summer Abs Challenge
Determined to get those abs but don’t have time to hit the gym? Don’t worry, this abs challenge got you covered. All it takes are crunches, leg raises and planks to keep you moving with this challenge.
3. Walker to Runner
Who says walking and running doesn’t help you get fit? According to fitness gurus, running is in fact, one of the top forms of exercises to be the most effective of all time.
4. 5-Minute “Almost No Work” Plank Workout
This five-minute exercise will make the workout a piece of cake and makes you feel like you haven’t exercised at all. Make sure to try this out and see how your body gets fitter.
5. 6-Week, 4 Minutes/Day Workout
Exercises don’t have to be extra especially when you only have a couple of minutes to spare every day. Try this 4-minute for six days workout routine and see the results for yourself in just six weeks.
6. At-Home Bubble Butt Workout
Achieving that beach body has never been easy with these at-home bubble butt workout. This exercise does not only improve your lower body but also makes your tummy flatter so those abs will finally show!
7. How to Achieve Lean Thighs
8. 30-Minute Boot Camp Workout
9. Flat Tummy Workout
10. Killer Kardio Exercise
11. Short Everyday Workout Plan
12. Standing Workout for Flat Abs
Pick up those dumbbells and challenge yourself with these easy standing workout. This 4-step workout program helps you easily gain flatter abs.
13. The One Song Workout
Burning those calories you ate over the weekend can be easy. You can even achieve weight loss via this one-song workout. Make sure to add this workout plan to your routine and get ready to see a fitter you.
14. The 20-Minute No Excuses Workout
15. 21-Day Learn to Run Challenge
Running is fun and while most people find it hard, there is actually a secret to it. Try out this 21-day running challenge to improve your breathing and running techniques!
16. 7-Day Morning Workout Challenge
Waking up early to work out is hard. But, do you know that morning workout is more effective than exercise done during other times of the day?
17. 7-Minute Belly Sculpting Challenge
Getting rid of those belly fats is the hardest of all. This 7-minute belly sculpting challenge will make it easier. It suits skills of all levels — beginner, intermediate, or advanced.
Looking for workout videos to help you with your daily workout routine? Watch this video by Fitness Blender for 32-minute cardio workout you can do at home:
Your confidence not only depends on having a gorgeous exterior but a fit and healthy mind and body, too. Find the best fitness workouts to start with and print them out for motivation! You can see a lot of exercise program or workout apps over the internet nowadays. All you need is a goal and the motivation to get that physical activity started. Have fun working out!
Whew, did you break a sweat or what? The workout I’ll definitely be incorporating into my daily routine is the Short Everyday Wake-Up Workout. What about you? Share your healthy lifestyle tips with our readers in the comments below or via Facebook!
There are a plethora of reasons that veganism is becoming increasingly popular. Even athletes and celebrities (like Beyoncé and Miley Cyrus) have turned to a vegan lifestyle. Not only does becoming vegan help save animals and the environment, but it also touts many health benefits, helps clear skin, and increases fitness performance. Several people have also turned to a vegan diet to promote weight loss.
Losing weight isn’t always easy, but documenting progress by uploading pictures on Instagram has helped everyday people share their personal journeys and success stories to keep themselves and others motivated. We’re definitely feeling some serious inspiration from these Instagrammers who have shown us their transformations after following a vegan diet.
When you take a look around the weight room, men almost always take up the space. We’ve been conditioned to believe that guys like to pump weights while women go for a run or do yoga. This is a dangerous stereotype to believe; there are some serious benefits to be earned from lifting weights on the regular, especially if you’re a woman. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or grow some lean muscle, it’s time to get friendly with that barbell. Let’s start by debunking some common myths.
Myth 1: Weightlifting Makes You Bulk Up
“Most women don’t have enough testosterone production in their body to put on huge muscle gains and ‘get big,'” explained Lauren Clare, personal trainer and certified holistic health coach. That’s because women have way less testosterone in their systems than men do (20 times less, to be exact), and testosterone is one of the primary hormones that promotes muscle growth. So when you see those big, bulky guys at the gym, don’t panic, because it’s not physically possible for you to turn into the Hulk from a strength-training routine.
Similarly, Clare discourages us from believing the photos you might see in bodybuilding magazines. The buff women you are seeing are taking supplements and training extremely hard, she told POPSUGAR. You won’t end up anything like that, even if you lift weights several times a week.
Myth 2: Weightlifting Doesn’t Burn Fat Like Cardio Does
If you’re only running on the treadmill or hitting the StairMaster, you’re not giving your body the tools it needs to burn fat efficiently. The secret to losing weight is gaining lean muscle mass, because this will spike your metabolism throughout the day and help your body burn excess fat. However, sticking to a cardio-only fitness program won’t give you the chance to build that necessary muscle, which is why weightlifting is so crucial to overall weight loss.
“When women start strength training for the first time, they usually turn their fat into lean muscle and their body changes in overall composition in a positive way,” Clare confirmed. “They become leaner, burn more calories, and most importantly feel much stronger.”
Myth 3: It Won’t Improve Your Cardiovascular Health
You may have been conditioned to think that women aren’t meant to lift heavy weights, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Your body is built to do amazing things, and more importantly, it’s built to be strong. “Weight training is one of the best ways to get your body toner, stronger, and increase your energy levels,” Clare said. This is true no matter what gender you are.
Myth 5: It’s Better to Lift Light Weights For More Reps
While there’s nothing wrong with lifting light weights for higher reps, keep in mind that the only way you actually gain muscle in your body is by consistently introducing your muscles to change. In other words, if you stick with the same low weights over and over again, your body will plateau out and you won’t see any significant weight loss. The more you shock your muscles into getting stronger, the leaner you’ll look in the end.
When we first get our periods, we have so many questions, are freaked out about what’s going on with our bodies, and don’t feel prepared enough. What makes things harder is that we can be embarrassed to ask questions or talk about Auntie Flo coming to town with our friends, especially if we think that we’re one of the first to get our periods. It can leave us feeling alone and having to deal with PMS symptoms all by ourselves.
First off, girl, you’re not alone. There are countless people going through the exact same thing as you. If you still don’t feel comfortable talking to friends and family about it, people of the internet are here for you. And I’m here for you, too. If you’re looking for some relatable period talk, the Whisper app is just the thing. People always keep it real on the app, and that definitely applies when talking about menstruating. Here are 15 Whisper confessions about periods being the worst that will have you nodding in agreement.
Earlier this week, many Facebook users were posting red hearts in support of breast cancer awareness, but one woman is opening up about why a “cute heart” isn’t going to help save lives. Erin Smith Chieze posted the photo above on Facebook, giving an explicit description of how breast cancer can look and feel, and it’s going viral for all the right reasons. In response to all the red hearts Erin has seen on Facebook, she explained the importance of these lemons.
“In December of 2015 when I saw an indentation that looked like one of those pictures, I instantly knew I had breast cancer,” she wrote. “I tried to feel for a tumor, but my tumor was non palpable. I was diagnosed with breast cancer 5 days later and with stage 4 the following month. A heart did nothing for awareness. I knew what breast cancer was. I knew all about self exams, but a picture of what to look for keyed me into knowing I had a terminal disease.”
She continued, “We need to give REAL information, not cute hearts. Without having seen a picture randomly with real information, I wouldn’t have known what to look for. Do us a favor, stop playing games with my life and start truly helping people. Metastatic breast cancer treatment research and real awareness.”
After feeling frustrated by the red hearts on Facebook, Erin decided to take matters into her own hands and post her touching story in an effort to help save lives the way a similar photo helped her. This image is part of the Know Your Lemons campaign started by the Worldwide Breast Cancer organization. It’s an incredibly informative graphic that both men and women should use for self-exams.
“PLEASE, stop playing games that do not actually promote awareness, they often cause people to tune out anything that might even mention the word awareness,” Erin wrote. “So if you truly want to help people WITH cancer, or those who will GET cancer, share photos like this one.”
Watching your calories and limiting your carbs? Still want to enjoy a cold drink on a warm Summer day? We have you covered! Skip the beer for one of these carb-free, lower-calorie options.
Below is the average number of calories contained in the most common liquor brands at a standard 80 proof, 1.5-ounce serving at 40 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). To maximize you efforts, be sure to cut out all the sugary mixers and additives, like soda, sweetened juices, and artificial syrups. Stick with soda water and fresh fruit or herbs, like mint and lavender (if that floats your boat). If you like a stiff drink, enjoy it neat or on the rocks to really cut the calories. Whichever you choose, just remember to be mindful and drink in moderation! And don’t forget to double up on water. It’ll keep you hydrated and help prevent a hangover.
The game of weight loss looks different for everyone, but there are a few constants that remain pretty similar across the board. One thing we know we need to get closer to weight loss is exercise, including cardio. We talked to celebrity trainer Simone De La Rue, who was one of the headlining trainers at the Propel Co:Labs Fitness Festival, about how much cardio women should be doing if they’re trying to drop a few pounds. Prepare to take notes.
“When I was working with the Revenge Body contestants when they had a lot of weight to lose, we were doing strength training and cardio like every day,” Simone told POPSUGAR. “When you are trying to lose weight, we do want to focus on getting the heart rate up, getting to a calorie-burning state.” She says you should aim to do “20 to 30 minutes of intense cardio” nearly every day to see results.
“Also, it’s important [what kind of] cardio you do,” Simone added. “You want to be at sprinting level. You don’t want to just go for an hour walk. Like anything, you have to put in the work.” However, “for someone who’s just trying to maintain,” your cardio schedule might look a little different. “You could set aside one to two days of cardio, as opposed to just strength training,” she recommended.
You can choose whatever cardio you like, from running to cycling to HIIT cardio sessions. Don’t forget that dancing counts as cardio too, which is what Simone offered in her classes at the Propel Co:Labs Festival. “We want to make people learn to love and appreciate dance because it’s a fabulous form of cardio and works the entire body,” she told POPSUGAR. “You’re having to learn choreography, so you’re using your brain and stimulating your mind; it’s keeping you present. People don’t realize that if you go for a run or a jog, your brain can wander off, but with dance you have to be present in the moment, otherwise you can screw up the next step.”
So choose whatever cardio works for you, and put in the work. Simone says you’ll see the results you’re looking for if you dedicate yourself. And don’t forget that your diet is just as important as your workout schedule, if not more, so stick to whole foods and make sure you’re in a calorie deficit if you’re trying to lose weight.
Simone will be leading a workout at POPSUGAR Play/Ground, which is happening June 9-10 in NYC. So round up your best gym buddies, grab some tickets, and get ready to dance the calories away. In addition to connecting with fellow fitness-lovers, POPSUGAR Play/Ground will be a place for you to shop, try new products, attend panels, listen to live music, and a lot more!
If you’ve seen one smoothie recipe, you’ve seen them all, amiright? Nope! This smoothie recipe is different because it literally tastes like melted ice cream, but is dairy-free and has only 19 grams of sugar. It comes out perfectly sweet and satisfying every single time. Grab your blender and whip up this refreshing, indulgent, silky smooth mango coconut vanilla smoothie.
While your taste buds will be screaming at your straw to get in the glass already, your brain will be thinking, “Damn, I made a smart choice!”, because this 340-calorie smoothie can help you lose weight. With almost 25 grams of protein and a whopping 11 grams of fiber and 11.4 grams of fat, this trifecta is perfect for helping you stay satiated all morning, in order to consume fewer daily calories.
The almonds not only offer creaminess, but calcium, healthy fats, and protein as well. Why is this smoothie green, you ask? There are also two cups of raw spinach in this recipe, because we could all use extra greens. The spinach offers calcium, folate, a little bit of iron, magnesium, and surprisingly, vitamin A. You can’t taste it at all, though, we promise. All you’ll sip on is sweet, rich and creamy, mango-coconutty goodness.
Mango Pineapple Protein Smoothie
From Jenny Sugar, POPSUGAR Fitness
1/2 cup frozen mango
1/2 frozen banana
2 cups raw spinach
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (can use soy or almond instead)
1 serving plant-based vanilla protein powder (I use Orgain)
5 raw almonds
Place all the ingredients in a blender, and mix until smooth.
Last summer, unfiltered pictures of women of all ages and sizes wearing swimwear went viral. Judging by the sheer volume of shares and comments, these images struck a chord because they helped many feel more confident about wearing a bikini or swimsuit (which can be daunting).
We spoke to inspiring women to find out how they learnt to feel comfortable wearing a bikini—whether at the beach or in front of 3.3 million people on Instagram (as it is in the case of model and social media star Iskra Lawrence). Each of these inspiring women also revealed the swimwear pieces they always lean on and make them feel their best. Keep scrolling to see how Charli Howard, Iskra Lawrence and others feel confident in swimwear.
Iskra Lawrence is one of the models leading the body-positive movement, as she constantly reminds her 3.3 million followers on Instagram of the trickery that goes into those perfect bikini models shots you typically see. “I’ve always loved wearing swimwear,” she tells us. “I was actually a national swimmer in my teens, so I got comfortable quickly. I’m a huge fan of swimwear that makes me feel comfortable and supported, so that started off with my one-piece Speedos, and now I enjoy wearing bright colours, bold prints and have even been experimenting with ruffles. I also love a high-leg and high-waisted style for the bottoms. As for labels, nearly all of my swimwear is Aerie,” says Lawrence.
As for what makes her feel more confident on the beach, Iskra adds, “Knowing that everyone else is feeling the same way and not letting my body hold me back from enjoying myself and living life to its fullest—especially at the beach—which is one of my favourite places to have fun and relax.”
Two summers ago, an image of 60-year-old Gillean McLeod modelling a black swimsuit for H&M went viral. “People loved the fact that I—or anyone at the age of 60—would feel fine in front of a camera,” says McLeod. According to her, the photo was proof that “anyone can be in a swimsuit and enjoy themselves at the pool or beach. What if you woke up one day and felt terrible that you didn’t swim on your holiday because you thought your thighs or hips were big? It’s ridiculous, and no one cares. I received messages from women all over the world about that one image, all saying how it inspired them and that they were going to go to the pool.”
“I have always loved swimwear, both performance swimwear and fashion bathing suits. My school holidays as a child in Malaysia saw me either at the beach or at someone’s pool, and so it was what I wore every day,” says McLeod. “At 50, I joined a masters swim team at my local pool. Our workouts were gruelling, and because the focus was on the swimming and not body image, all insecurities were washed away. The plus side of swimming hard was a much more toned body. However, having been a swimmer my whole life, wearing a suit in public is totally normal to me.”
As for her favourite swimwear brands, Gillean tells us, “There’s a swimsuit line in L.A. called Robin Piccone that I love, Norma Kamali two-piece suits fit well, and a few months ago I bought one from Trina Turk. For practice swimwear, I buy Tyr, as that brand fits me so well and has a great selection of styles and sizes.”
In 2015, model Charli Howard wrote a powerful open letter on Facebook about being dropped from her agency when she was a size six. Since then, Howard has been fighting for wider representation in the industry. Last year, the model, who is now represented by Muse Models NYC, launched the All Woman Project, which created a campaign starring 10 diverse models wearing swimwear.
“Throughout my teens, I never wore a bikini. Not once,” Howard tells us. “If I went to the beach, I’d wear a costume with a T-shirt on top. It didn’t help that I’d constantly see perfect bodies in magazines or online, and if a celebrity had cellulite or wasn’t 100% in shape, gossip magazines would point those flaws out and make fun of them. These pictures didn’t encourage me to go out and do the same—if anything, it made me more self-conscious,” she says.
Howard says that her journey to confidence in a bikini wasn’t quick. She says, “I only began feeling comfortable wearing swimwear last year when I started the All Woman Project and had to wear a bikini in the photos. I realised my body wasn’t all that bad in a bikini and that life’s too short to worry about what other people think.”
Howard posts lots of unfiltered images on Instagram of her wearing swimwear. “I think that it’s very common to see beach perfect bodies on Instagram, and whilst these women are quite clearly beautiful, they don’t represent other women out there,” Charli tells us.
“I’ve been told that my bikini pictures are refreshing for a lot of women to see. It makes them feel ‘normal.’ None of us is perfect, but that doesn’t mean you can’t rock your body in a bikini! Don’t get me wrong—sometimes you get a mean comment and it can totally ruin your day. I’m only human, and it’s human nature to want to be liked. But then I remember that my worth isn’t based on what others make of me. If I like how my body looks, then that’s all that matters,” says Howard.
As for the swimwear that always makes her feel confident, she says, “I love a new swimwear brand called Phylyda, which is where you can mix and match different styles to flatter your unique body shape. This is great, as a lot of low-cut bikini styles just don’t suit me and give me a muffin top or make me look bigger than I am. I’ve started wearing a lot more high-waisted styles, which give me curves in the right places and—most importantly—more confidence.”
French model and blogger Clémentine Desseaux, who launched the All Woman Project with Charli Howard, tells us of her relationship with swimwear: “It used to be a very traumatising experience like it is for most women. I felt like I always needed to hide my body that society didn’t qualify as a ‘beach body.’ I felt ashamed.”
“Now I love my body in any swimwear and am able to walk around proudly in it wherever I am. It all comes with time but also practice. You have to decide that you’ll wear whatever you love regardless of other people’s opinions or sometimes even your own judgments. I learned to take myself by the hand and say, ‘Yes, you are worthy and sexy, and you can wear that,'” says Desseaux.
“Modelling really helped my confidence and moving to Miami was the best thing for me,” she adds. “I saw women of all shapes wearing tiny bikinis, which was mind-blowing for me, coming from France where we’re so, so self-conscious!”
As for the swimwear that makes her feel most confident, Clémentine tells us, “I love brands that understand my curves without trying to hide them. I am a big fan of one-pieces, not because I can’t do a bikini, but because they are super comfy and I don’t have to think twice about jumping waves, running, doing yoga or anything else. It’s also chicer.”
Swimwear has become a career for fashion editor Lily Russo, as she is the co-founder of swimwear shopping site Beach Flamingo. “When I was in my early teens, I was always much taller than my friends and had wider hips than them, which meant I was always aware of being ‘larger,’ even though I was probably still quite a small dress size,” Russo says of her relationship with swimwear.
“Ironically, my most body-confident moments and memories are from my summer holidays in Puglia, Italy, on the beach in a bikini. In warmer countries, it is so normal to have your body on show—no matter your size—so I found it very liberating compared to London where I would always cover up. I’ve always been very active on the beach too, whether swimming in the water or playing bat and ball on the beach,” says Russo.
“My mother always gave us body confidence and always told us we had great bodies,” she adds. “She would always say enjoy your body now, as this is the best it will ever be. Which is so true. When you’re young, you can get caught up comparing yourself to others who have a completely different body shape, but I accepted a long time ago that there will always be someone both thinner and larger than me, so I should be happy with the way I am.
“Finding a way to exercise that’s fun is how I’ve dealt with turning 30 and realising you need to do more exercise and take care of your fitness as you get older. I’ve always danced, but three years ago, I started doing Brazilian Samba dancing and it has completely changed my body shape. I used to dance when I was younger, and after so many years taking a break, you don’t realise how rigid your body becomes despite going to the gym or swimming. Dancing is all about using every part of your body—it makes you feel invigorated,” says Russo.
Since Russo is a swimwear expert, I had to ask about the styles that make her feel the most confident. “Italians love wearing skimpy bikini bottoms, and like I said, having wide hips means there’s more bottom to cover. However, it was my mother who taught me that wearing a great-cut bikini bottom with a scoop cut is far more flattering than hiding under swathes of fabric,” she says.
“Buying swimwear, for me, was as important and as fun as buying any other item of clothing in my wardrobe, which it should be. My mum was all about the full outfit on the beach—bikini, kaftan, pretty sandals and earrings … the works. When I choose a bikini or swimsuit, it’s like I’m choosing any other outfit. A combination of all these factors is what has made the beach the positive place for me it is today,” says Russo.
As for brands, she advises, “Some of my favourites are Camilla, Eberjey and Lazul. Each of these pays a lot of attention to how they are cut and if they stay in place when worn, which is a must-have with swimwear. The last thing you want to be doing is worrying if you’re going to expose yourself when you’re meant to be relaxing in the sun.”
When it comes to finding a bikini that’ll make you feel confident, Russo says, “Don’t follow trends; just wear what you like and what best suits your shape. If you aren’t familiar with many swimwear brands, I always recommend buying a few to try on in the comfort of your own home. Trying on swimwear in department stores can be really depressing, as the lighting is always far too harsh.”
She also stresses the importance of doing research on swimwear before purchasing: “Familiarise yourself with the different cuts of different brands, and when you find one you love, stick to it. Part of my job is to try out every new brand before we decide to stock them on the site, so I can give advice and make sure we love the brand before we start selling it to our customers. Our team’s always on hand to give customers bikini-buying advice.”
This post was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.
Meet Brooke, an empowered, strong, and inspiring woman from San Francisco, who is taking her health into her own hands and turning her entire life around with her conscious choices and habits. So far, Brooke has lost over 100 pounds.
Multiple factors have contributed to Brooke’s awe-inspiring success – she does the Kayla Itsines BBG workouts and Pilates, goes hiking, and preps her meal. But what she most wanted to share about her journey – in which she went from a size 22 to a size 12 – is that “changing behavior through healthy habits and real food are imperative for sustainable weight loss.”
A Lifelong Journey: From Obese to Healthy
Her journey started at an early age. When she lost her grandmother to cancer, she turned to food as a source of comfort . . . at the age of five. “One of my earliest memories is hiding under a table and eating at my grandmother’s wake,” said Brooke. “I don’t ever remember a time in my life when I wasn’t losing weight, gaining weight, or desperately trying to maintain my weight.”
The lifelong battle had begun. She turned to food, then turned to diets. “I have done every diet out there, probably twice, each with varying degrees of success,” Brooke told us. Each time she’d stop the diet, she’d gain even more weight back.
Hitting a Low Point
She started trying more extreme methods, like fasting, juice cleanses, and purging – and her struggle only worsened as she battled bulimia and food addiction. “Those periods of control would inevitably be followed by periods of being out of control. I was trapped in the cycle of restricting and binge-eating.”
It wasn’t until she hit a breaking point that she realized she needed to change something fundamentally. At nearly 300 pounds, Brooke said, “I realized I was slowly killing myself. . . . I finally took a step back and realized how insane my behavior was.” At that point, she turned to others for support and realized she wasn’t the only one going through this struggle.
“I carried around a tremendous amount of shame about my weight,” said Brooke. “It was liberating to let go of that and realize that I wasn’t alone.”
Alone she is not. Through this awakening and “peeling back the layers of shame,” as she puts it, Brooke discovered the thriving BBG community on Instagram. Scrolling through hashtags like #BBG and #KaylasArmy, she wondered “who is this Kayla person and why does she have an army?”
Brooke’s use of social media as a support system ended up being a pivotal move in her journey and opened her up to a community that would change her life. After losing some significant weight, Brooke started through the BBG programs with millions of women around the world and turned to the community for strength. “It’s empowering to be vulnerable about our flaws, share our goals, and cheer each other on.”
A Fitness Journey Begins
Brooke weighed nearly 300 pounds just four years ago. She had debilitating plantar fasciitis and said she could hardly walk a few blocks. Her first goal? Get a FitBit and go for 10,000 steps per day. “It was a way to start moving,” she said.
This positive step (10,000 steps, actually) snowballed into greater choices. “It was more about becoming active rather than calories burned.” And her consistency has been key. She committed to this goal every day for four years, and her four-year average is now 11,000!
When Brooke wanted to push herself further, she got into hiking. “I really started noticing the mental benefits of exercise and fell in love,” said Brooke.
Her new love for movement was taken to another level with the BBG program, which has only intensified her overall love for fitness and a healthy lifestyle. Today, Brooke combines hiking, BBG, and Pilates.
In the past four years, Brooke has made huge fundamental behavioral changes. She knows from research that permanent lifestyle changes – not diets – are what works for sustainable weight loss and has since learned that extreme physical exertion and starvation aren’t going to work.
Brooke’s approach to food has completely 180-ed. Her golden formula? Mindful eating, meal prep, and greens at every meal.
“Being obese, the priority was changing my eating habits and beliefs about food,” she said. “For so long I viewed food as a moral issue, like certain foods were ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and if I ate them I was ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ . . . But that’s warped” (seriously). “Food is food and it can be used for fuel or pleasure, but it doesn’t define my character.”
This honesty helped her focus on the bigger picture and identify which foods triggered overeating – this led to mindful eating. She cut out the trigger foods, “not because they made me fat or I wanted to lose weight, but because I wanted to feel good.”
And that’s what the big picture is about: feeling your best and living your best life.
Brooke also shared some relatable advice: don’t try to cook supercomplicated recipes based on a restrictive diet – you might crash and burn (like she did) and end up at a drive-through because you’re so frustrated (and hungry)! Instead, turn to meal prep.
“Preparing meals at home is one of the most effective ways to manage weight, but it has to be easy and enjoyable or it won’t happen consistently.”
She also loves adding greens to every meal, because “it’s universal and can be applied to any diet.”
Brooke tells us that it’s much easier to create a new positive habit than to break a negative habit. One positive choice (like adding in vegetables) can have a snowball or ripple effect, leading to healthier, better choices in other areas. It’s helping her stay on a healthy track and meet new goals.
What are those goals? What does a goal look like for someone who has already lost so much weight? “More love and acceptance of my body.” Her journey will never end, and she challenges herself to be a little bit better every single day.
Brooke’s advice for someone just beginning their weight loss:
“Just start. Then don’t stop. Everything else is just details. It’s a lifelong journey and it won’t be linear, but it will be worth it. Get brutally honest with yourself, and if you can, with another person. Question the excuses that are holding you back, and never, ever give up.”
She noted that if you too are “in the thick of it,” she would love to hear from you. You can reach out on her blog, or send her a comment on Instagram.
As I write this, I am experiencing brain fog, heightened anxiety, uncomfortable bloating, and the kind of irritability where even the slightest excess of noise is making me want to hide from the world. No, I am not in the throes of PMS, otherwise known as premenstrual syndrome, but am instead experiencing postmenstrual syndrome, the lesser-known symptoms that a small percentage of people may experience directly following their periods that tend to last for a couple of days to a couple of weeks.
What Is Postmenstrual Syndrome?
Although not as well-known as the similar premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder – a quick google search of “postmenstrual symptoms” will lead you down a rabbit hole of articles and message boards of individuals seeking help and advice – it is still something very real that some people may deal with every month.
“Postmenstrual syndrome is certainly not as well-known as its sister premenstrual syndrome,” explains Nicole Jardim, also known as The Period Girl, certified women’s health and nutrition coach, “but I’ve seen it anecdotally and increasingly in a number of my clients over the past two to three years. Still not nearly as many as women with premenstrual syndrome – I’d say about 10 percent of my client population has reported this issue to me.”
“The symptoms are quite similar to the symptoms of of premenstrual syndrome, but I have found they tend to be more emotional,” she adds, “Anxiety – sometimes severe, low mood, moodiness, or severe mood swings – sometimes actually feeling depressed, snappiness, impatience or irritability, anger and sometimes rage, teary or crying very easily, or feeling like meltdowns are a regular occurrence.”
Nicole goes on to explain that the physical symptoms of postmenstrual syndrome can commonly include vaginal dryness, pain during sex, and physical pain – such as abdominal or joint pain, headaches, and sometimes even migraines.
After developing these post-period symptoms a few years ago, I knew something had to give. Instead of looking forward to my period ending each month, I would dread it, afraid that these ailments, that were sometimes so severe that they would alter my daily life, would make an appearance. Abdominal pain, nausea, tension headaches, anxiety, and depression – you name it, I felt it (and sometimes still do). But what exactly causes this to happen?
“In my experience, a lot of women who have postmenstrual syndrome also have PMS or PMDD leading up to their periods,” Nicole shares. “I think it is important for us to understand that in actuality, what underlies all of the symptoms associated with PMS is hormonal imbalance, and the two main hormones involved are estrogen and progesterone, the key female sex hormones. In addition to regulating the reproductive system, these hormones also heavily influence chemicals in the brain, including serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, which all affect mood and even gastrointestinal health. The thing is, hormones don’t exist in a vacuum. If there is imbalance with one or two hormones, there’s likely an imbalance with other key hormones like thyroid and adrenal hormones, too. Further, these imbalances are not going to only be apparent through symptoms at just one time of the month. In many cases, you see evidence of the imbalances at different times of the month. Hence why lots of women suffer from both PMS and postmenstrual syndrome.”
Nicole also explains one of the main root causes for these imbalances: “A root cause for these imbalances comes from insulin dysregulation or resistance,” she notes, “Insulin secretion is directed by how much sugar is in our blood. When we’re in a state of constant high blood sugar because of too much sugar or refined carbs and chronic stress, we end up riding a blood sugar rollercoaster. Unfortunately, insulin is a powerful hormone that dictates how other hormones operate. Our sex hormones – estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone – are all affected, which leads to menstrual cycle abnormalities.”
“If your symptoms are severe and not responsive to this treatment, see a physician,” urges Dr. Tania Elliott, allergist and the chief medical officer at EHE. “Hormonal imbalance can play a role in postmenstrual symptoms, just as it may in premenstrual syndrome, and it’s important to identify what’s happening with your body before taking more significant action. It’s also critical to determine whether what you’re experiencing is linked to your menstrual cycle or something else entirely.”
Suggestions to Treat Postmenstrual Syndrome Symptoms Naturally
Motivated to not feel horrible post-period every month, I began exploring different ways that would help to alleviate the dreaded symptoms and improve my health overall. Much to my surprise, I found that altering certain aspects of your life, no matter how small they may seem, can make big, positive changes. Of course it is important to always consult your doctor, and these suggestions are by no means meant to act as medical substitutes, but here is what helped me.
Acupuncture: As someone who has always been afraid of needles (I hate getting blood taken!), I never would have thought that acupuncture and I would get along so well. For a year straight, I went to a naturopathic doctor who also performed acupuncture on me. “Acupuncture and herbs balance the body by ordering the internal architecture of the body through the use of points on the meridians,” explains Isobeau Trybula, clinical director of WorkSong, a neighborhood acupuncture clinic in NYC. “There are several methods we use to do this – needling, moxibustion, massage.” After a few months, the intensity of my post-period symptoms lessened, and I was able to function much better overall.
Natural Supplements to Balance Hormones: I always have had an affinity for natural supplements. I am loyal to Source Naturals’ Herbal Resistance Liquid for avoiding colds, and I take cinnamon tincture often to help balance insulin levels. Turns out, there are also a bunch of natural supplements to help with hormonal issues, such as HUM Nutrition’s Moody Bird, which is designed especially for the menstrual cycle. “The key nutrients in Moody Bird have shown in clinical studies to interact with the body’s hormone production, helping to increase progesterone levels during the luteal phase of the cycle,” says Sarah Greenfield RD, CSSD, HUM’s director of education. “This helps to alleviate symptoms associated with PMS, such as mild mood changes, cramps, and breast tenderness.”
“Get your hormone levels checked, and make sure your doctor is looking at subtle levels,” adds Prudence Hall, MD, and founder of The Hall Center and author of Radiant Again & Forever, “Herbs can also help – vitex, chasteberry, and shatavari.”
And, Very Importantly, Be Gentle on Yourself: If hormonal issues occurring at any time of the month have you feeling less than your best, be sure to be easy on yourself. If you are experiencing anxiety, take some time to meditate while diffusing some essential oils (Vitruvi’s Eucalyptus Essential Oil is a personal favorite) to help calm your mind and body. If a pre- or post-period headache strikes, Saje Wellness’s Peppermint Halo can naturally and quickly alleviate the pain. Exercise, whether it is a long walk, some cardio, or yoga, can also help diminish the symptoms around hormonal imbalance. And if you are looking to find some relief from hormonal acne, a quick trip to the spa (such as Joanna Vargas‘s Spa for her Power Peel), can be a time not only to pamper your skin but also yourself.
And please always remember: you are not alone in this!
When your low back is feeling cranky, tender, and tight, you might think it best to just sit there and do nothing. I can tell you from experience that sitting is one of the worst things you can do for a sore back. You need to get your spine mobile and then stretch – and I am not talking about anything dramatic like touching your toes with a deep forward bend. Here are some simple exercises and stretches that, when done in this prescribed order, will help relieve low back pain.
This is a classic active back stretch and is a great place to start. Rounding and arching the back warms up the spine and primes the back muscles for stretching.
Begin on your hands and knees. Exhale and round your spine up to the ceiling, pulling your abs toward your spine while simultaneously tucking your tailbone in and drawing your chin toward your chest. This part is known as Cat.
Inhale, letting your belly soften as you arch your back, lifting your head and tailbone toward the ceiling. This part of the stretch is called Cow.
Flow back and forth between the two positions for five to 10 reps.
2. Side-to-Side Cat
The spine moves in multiple directions, and it’s important to warm up the spine in the lateral direction too. This variation on the Cat primes the spine to move side to side while stretching the muscles on either side of the spine.
Begin on all fours; keeping your spine in neutral, bend sideways to the left to look at your butt. You’re making a “C” shape with your spine that’s parallel to the floor.
Reverse directions and bend right. Repeat for five to 10 reps.
3. Twisted Cat
Twisting the spine is a great way to relieve low back pain and stretch the entire back. Doing this movement on your hands and knees is incredibly safe, so start twisting in the position before twisting on your back or seated.
On all fours, reach your right arm toward the ceiling on an inhale.
Exhale and rotate through your ribs to reach your arm toward the left. Repeat for a total of five reps, then switch sides, reaching your left arm to the ceiling for five more reps.
4. Child’s Pose
POPSUGAR Photography / Louisa Larson
After mobilizing your spine in all directions with active stretching, it’s time for a passive stretch and to focus on your breath, lengthening your back.
Kneel on your mat with your knees, and lie your torso down onto your thighs. Lengthen your neck and spine, and rest your forehead on the mat. If this is difficult for you, place your palms on the mat under your forehead.
With your forehead on the mat, you can rest you hands on either side of your pelvis with your palms up, or for a bigger stretch, extend your arms out in front of you.
In this position, focus on breathing into your back ribs, feeling your back muscles open and stretch with each inhale.
Stay here for five breaths, or longer if needed, then walk your hands to the right, so your spine is making a crescent shape, increasing the stretch on the left side. Stay here for five breaths, then walk your hands to the left side to stretch the right side of your back.
5. Supine Twist
Twisting the spine can offer relief for your entire back. Once you’ve warmed up your spine with all those Cat/Cows, a little rotation will likely feel good.
Lying on your back, extend your arms out to your side as an anchor. Bend your knees, keeping your feet flat on the floor.
Starting the movement from your core, rotate your knees to the right, allowing them to come to the floor. It’s OK if your left shoulder comes off the floor. Hold for 30 seconds, about five full deep breaths. Then, slowly bring the knees back to the center.
Reverse directions and twist to the left. Repeat as needed.
6. Knee-to-Chest Stretch
This stretch is great for resetting the spine and waking up your abs. Pulling the abs to the spine should help increase the stretch in your back.
Lie on your back with your legs extended.
Gently bend your right knee into your chest. Clasp your hands in front of your shin, and gently pull down to increase the stretch. Increase the stretch by bringing your head toward your knee while pulling your abs toward your spine.
Focus on the front left hip lengthening and relaxing into the floor.
Hold for 15 to 20 seconds and then repeat with the left knee bent. Do the stretch at least twice on each side.
Dieting doesn’t necessarily have to equal eating less. Although weight-loss success is largely dependent on your total caloric intake, eating high-volume foods can help you hack your diet. Not only would you be consuming fewer calories, but it’ll also allow you to eat more. Marci Nevin shared a photo on Instagram showing simple food swaps that will make dieting easier. Instead of cereal, opt for oatmeal; rather than chips, reach for popcorn.
“Eating lower calorie, higher volume can be a dieter’s best friend,” she wrote. Choosing energy-dense foods will leave you feeling more satisfied without breaking your day’s worth of cals. It’s a win-win! Sure, these swaps may not be exactly what you want, but they’re at least similar in texture and flavor.
Katie Gallagher’s weight-loss story doesn’t have any big twists or turns. She didn’t follow a diet fad or jump on board with a popular workout regimen. She simply put the time and effort into cleaning up her diet and revamping her fitness plan – all on her own. Here’s how she got her health on track and lost a total of 40 pounds.
“I achieved my results from doing both cardiovascular and weighted exercises consistently and eating healthy foods consistently,” she told POPSUGAR. “Consistency is key to seeing results.” Katie had been through her fair share of “temporary fad diets and failed attempts of getting in shape.” In 2015 she’d had enough. She was going through a breakup and was moving across the country for a new job, so she “saw it as the perfect opportunity to finally do what I had always wanted to do.”
“I mostly researched the internet for new workouts to try.”
She started with what she was eating every day. “I did not follow a specific diet or really even count calories,” Katie said. “I cut out the processed food, the sugary drinks, and started actually setting foot in the vegetable section of the grocery store.” Sounds simple enough, but those small changes made all the difference in the world.
“I ate a lot of chicken, fish, and eggs – anything that was high in protein,” she continued. “I had to drastically reduce, but not eliminate, the amount of carbs I had been regularly consuming. I switched to foods like sweet potato, quinoa, and brown rice for my carb sources.” Rather than using a measuring cup or scale to count every gram of food she was eating, “I literally guessed on portion sizes, put together balanced meals for myself, and destroyed my workouts in the gym every single day.”
Speaking of her workouts, Katie didn’t waste an exorbitant amount of money to hire a personal trainer or join an expensive gym. “I mostly researched the internet for new workouts to try,” she explained. “I followed a ton of fitness accounts on Instagram for ideas, because I was so eager to try anything new to challenge my body. I saw what kinds of things these fitness people were doing in the gym, so I figured if I did their workouts too, my body was bound to change.” Her body did indeed change.
Katie used to go to the gym and just work out her whole body, but she found much better results from scheduling her strength-training workouts in a different way. One day she’ll work on back and biceps, another day she’ll do shoulder and triceps, the next she’ll do chest and abs, and legs are a separate session as well.
“You shouldn’t wait until you’re ready, because I truly believe there is never one moment in time where you feel that kind of readiness.”
“I finish each workout with 15 minutes or more of some type of cardio, like walking uphill on the treadmill, sprints, cycling, or the StairMaster,” she said. “I really never stick to just one type of workout or routine. If you do, you are more likely to hit plateaus with your progress.”
Having been through such a transformation herself, Katie has a lot of advice for women who are looking to turn their lives around. “If your mind is only focused on immediate satisfaction for results, you are already setting yourself up for failure,” she said. “It’s the little things you do each day that eventually add up over time and bring you exactly what you worked for.”
Katie admitted that it was a challenge to adopt this new lifestyle. She “couldn’t just carelessly go out to eat all the time and order whatever sounded tasty,” and there were even some friends who stopped inviting her to hang out altogether. But her true friends stood by her side and helped her reach her goals.
“You shouldn’t wait until you’re ready, because I truly believe there is never one moment in time where you feel that kind of readiness,” she advised. “You honestly just have to dive into it fearlessly and wholeheartedly.” She says when your desire to change is strong enough, you’ll do whatever it takes to reach your goals, no matter how hard it may be along the way and how unmotivated you may feel at times.
Finally, Katie wants others to know that she didn’t deprive herself of the foods she loved most. “I did not give up any of my favorite foods indefinitely, and that’s not what I’m saying that anyone should do,” she said. “I still eat pizza and macaroni and cheese, because what is the point of working so hard if you aren’t happy?” Amen to that.