Category Archives: Health & fitness

Health & fitness

When Should I Take a Rest Day?

The following post was originally featured on Fit Bottomed Girls and written by Alison, who is part of Collective Fitness.

Image Source: Fit Bottomed Girls

To work out or not to work out … sometimes that’s a legitimate question you have to ask yourself.

Much of the time the answer lingers somewhere in the gray area but with experience you get better at figuring out what the right answer is for you. However, there are circumstances when you absolutely should prioritize rest over a workout.

While I fully endorse consistent badassery as a means to reach your goals, here’s a breakdown of a few times when less is definitely more.

I’m not sure if this is a cold or if I’ve contracted the plague. With colds, I generally follow the “above-your-neck rule” — if your symptoms are all above your neck (runny nose or sneezing), you should be fine to do low- to moderate-intensity exercise, but if any of your symptoms are below your neck (chest congestion, fever, etc.), rest. Higher intensity workouts have been shown to negatively impact immune system functioning, which could mean that you’re sick for longer. Also, no one else wants your cold, so maybe skip spreading your germs by showing up for a group class or touching all the gym equipment.

I’m so tired I can’t even. It may seem noble to drag yourself out of bed every morning to go to your workouts but sometimes it’s counter-productive. Whether your exhaustion is due to work, home stuff or overtraining, dragging yourself through workouts is a recipe for disaster and places your already stressed-out body under more stress and that’s just mean. Chronic fatigue can be an important signal that something’s wrong — either with your health or your schedule. Light movement can be helpful in getting your energy levels up, but skip the high-intensity stuff … your body will thank you. Not wanting to get out of bed because it’s so cozy under your blanket that you don’t want to move is an excuse; not wanting to move because you can’t physically pry your eyes open is a completely different thing.

Lunch? Ain’t nobody got time for that. Look, stuff happens. We all have those times when lunch hour is a luxury we just don’t have. Maybe you’ve been running all over, barely eating or drinking for the better part of the day. You’re not doing yourself any favors by taking a starving, depleted and dehydrated body to a workout. Instead, use the time to replenish so you can get back to your workouts tomorrow. The same applies for times when you’ve had a stomach thing that prevents you from being able to eat properly and stay adequately hydrated — even after the nausea and squirrelly stomach go away, your essential organs (heart and lungs) need calories, nutrients and water to operate efficiently. Cut the intensity of your workouts way back for a while to allow your body to catch up.

I’ve got this “knee (or other body part) thing” happening. If you’ve got an injured or tweaky body part, it’s time to rest it. There is nothing to be gained from pushing your injured parts through yet another workout. They aren’t going to suddenly and spontaneously heal because you insisted that they keep going when they don’t want to. Take a few workouts off (or do something that doesn’t require that part of your body to work for a while) so that you don’t have to be out of commission for weeks later on. My general rule of thumb is that if three days of rest doesn’t make it feel better then it’s time to see a doctor.

I’ve been totally killing it in the gym lately. In order to maintain higher intensity during your workouts, you need to rest so that your body can rally for the next workout without breaking down. If you’ve been following a progressive program, increasing your training volume or smashing PRs in the gym, it’s important to cut back every few weeks to give your body a chance to catch up and adapt to the work. Without a lighter week in there every once in a while, the risk is that you’ll eventually out-train your body’s ability to self-heal — which can lead to frustrating plateaus, burnout and overuse injuries.

Ouchie, my everything hurts. It’s totally normal to experience some delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) a day or two after a tough workout. But if you can’t move your joints through their full range of motion smoothly and without pain, skip it. Doing otherwise can cause you to compromise form which wreaks havoc on your joints, ligaments and tendons. Use the time to let your body repair and rebuild so it gets stronger rather than breaking down — risking longer stretches of time off due to an injury.

Image Source:  Sheila Gim

Via: When Should I Take a Rest Day? 

Signs You’re Dealing With An Emotional Manipulator 

Emotional manipulators defy logic. They derive satisfaction from controlling you and creating chaos. Dr. Travis Bradberry shows you how to spot them and keep your distance.

We all know what it feels like to be emotionally manipulated. It can be extremely effective, which is why some unscrupulous individuals do it so much.

A few years ago, Facebook, in conjunction with researchers from Cornell and the University of California, conducted an experiment in which they intentionally played with the emotions of 689,000 users by manipulating their feeds so that some users only saw negative stories while others only saw positive stories. Sure enough, when these people posted their own updates, they were greatly influenced by the mood of the posts they’d been shown.

Facebook caught a lot of flak over the experiment, primarily because none of the “participants” gave their consent to join the study. Perhaps more frightening than Facebook’s faux pas was just how easily people’s emotions were manipulated. After all, if Facebook can manipulate your emotions just by tweaking your newsfeed, imagine how much easier this is for a real, live person who knows your weaknesses and triggers. A skilled emotional manipulator can destroy your self-esteem and even make you question your sanity.

It’s precisely because emotional manipulation can be so destructive that it’s important for you to recognize it in your own life. It’s not as easy as you might think, because emotional manipulators are typically very skillful. They start out with subtle manipulation and raise the stakes over time, so slowly that you don’t even realize it’s happening. Fortunately, emotional manipulators are easy enough to spot if you know what to look for.

1. They undermine your faith in your grasp of reality. Emotional manipulators are incredibly skilled liars. They insist an incident didn’t happen when it did, and they insist they did or said something when they didn’t. The trouble is they’re so good at it that you end up questioning your own sanity. To insist that whatever caused the problem is a figment of your imagination is an extremely powerful way of getting out of trouble.

2. Their actions don’t match their words. Emotional manipulators will tell you what you want to hear, but their actions are another story. They pledge their support, but, when it comes time to follow through, they act as though your requests are entirely unreasonable. They tell you how lucky they are to know you, and then act as though you’re a burden. This is just another way of undermining your belief in your own sanity. They make you question reality as you see it and mold your perception according to what is convenient to them.

3. They are experts at doling out guilt. Emotional manipulators are masters at leveraging your guilt to their advantage. If you bring up something that’s bothering you, they make you feel guilty for mentioning it. If you don’t, they make you feel guilty for keeping it to yourself and stewing on it. When you’re dealing with emotional manipulators, whatever you do is wrong, and, no matter what problems the two of you are having, they’re your fault.

4. They claim the role of the victim. When it comes to emotional manipulators, nothing is ever their fault. No matter what they do—or fail to do —it’s someone else’s fault. Someone else made them do it—and, usually, it’s you. If you get mad or upset, it’s your fault for having unreasonable expectations; if they get mad, it’s your fault for upsetting them. Emotional manipulators don’t take accountability for anything.

5. They are too much, too soon. Whether it’s a personal relationship or a business relationship, emotional manipulators always seem to skip a few steps. They share too much too soon—and expect the same from you. They portray vulnerability and sensitivity, but it’s a ruse. The charade is intended to make you feel “special” for being let into their inner circle, but it’s also intended to make you feel not just sorry for them but also responsible for their feelings.

6. They are an emotional black hole. Whatever emotional manipulators are feeling, they’re geniuses at sucking everyone around them into those emotions. If they’re in a bad mood, everyone around them knows it. But that’s not the worst part: they’re so skillful that, not only is everyone aware of their mood, they feel it too. This creates a tendency for people to feel responsible for the manipulator’s moods and obliged to fix them.

7. They eagerly agree to helpand maybe even volunteerthen act like a martyr. An initial eagerness to help swiftly morphs into sighs, groans, and suggestions that whatever they agreed to do is a huge burden. And, if you shine a spotlight on that reluctance, they’ll turn it around on you, assuring you that, of course, they want to help and that you’re just being paranoid. The goal? To make you feel guilty, indebted, and maybe even crazy.

8. They always one-up you. No matter what problems you may have, emotional manipulators have it worse. They undermine the legitimacy of your complaints by reminding you that their problems are more serious. The message? You have no reason to complain, so shut the heck up.

9. They know all your buttons and don’t hesitate to push them. Emotional manipulators know your weak spots, and they’re quick to use that knowledge against you. If you’re insecure about your weight, they comment on what you eat or the way your clothes fit; if you’re worried about an upcoming presentation, they point out how intimidating and judgmental the attendees are. Their awareness of your emotions is off the charts, but they use it to manipulate you, not to make you feel better.

Overcoming Manipulation

Emotional manipulators drive you crazy because their behavior is so irrational. Make no mistake about it—their behavior truly goes against reason, so why do you allow yourself to respond to them emotionally and get sucked into the mix?

The more irrational and off-base someone is, the easier it should be for you to remove yourself from their traps. Quit trying to beat them at their own game. Distance yourself from them emotionally, and approach your interactions with them like they’re a science project (or you’re their shrink if you prefer that analogy). You don’t need to respond to the emotional chaos—only the facts.

Maintaining an emotional distance requires awareness. You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognize when it’s happening. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in situations where you’ll need to regroup and choose the best way forward. This is fine, and you shouldn’t be afraid to buy yourself some time to do so.

Most people feel as though because they work or live with someone, they have no way to control the chaos. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Once you’ve identified a manipulator, you’ll begin to find their behavior more predictable and easier to understand. This will equip you to think rationally about when and where you have to put up with them and when and where you don’t. You can establish boundaries, but you’ll have to do so consciously and proactively. If you let things happen naturally, you’re bound to find yourself constantly embroiled in difficult conversations. If you set boundaries and decide when and where you’ll engage a difficult person, you can control much of the chaos. The only trick is to stick to your guns and keep boundaries in place when the person tries to cross them, which they will.

Bringing It All Together

Emotional manipulators can undermine your sense of who you are and even make you doubt your own sanity. Remember: nobody can manipulate you without your consent and cooperation.

Via: 9 Signs 

5 Best Butt Exercises

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / THEM TOO
Your tight pants are impatient. They want to look good right now and don’t want to waste time in the gym making it happen. So we’ve rounded up the top five most effective exercises, just for your butt. They’re all you need.

Via: 5 Best Butt Exercises 

Scientists May Have Figured Out Why Olive Oil Is So Healthy 


(Reuters Health) – A traditional Mediterranean diet with added olive oil may be tied to a lower risk of heart disease at least in part because it helps maintain healthy blood flow and clear debris from arteries, a Spanish study suggests.

“A Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil improves the function of high-density lipoproteins, HDL, popularly known as `good’ cholesterol,” said lead study author Dr. Alvaro Hernáez of the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute in Barcelona.

This type of diet typically includes lots of fruits and legumes that are rich in antioxidants as well as plenty of vegetables, whole grains and olive oil. It also tends to favor lean sources of protein like chicken or fish over red meat, which contains more saturated fat.

“Our hypothesis is that these dietary antioxidants may bind to HDL particles and protect them against different kinds of attacks,” Hernáez said by email. “As HDLs are more protected, they can perform their biological functions more efficiently and, therefore, they are able to remove cholesterol from arteries or contribute to the relaxation of blood vessels for longer.”

High levels of low density lipoproteins (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol and fats known as triglycerides are associated with an increased risk of heart and blood vessel diseases. HDL, or “good,” cholesterol is associated with a lower risk because it helps remove excess LDL from the bloodstream.

For the current study, Hernáez and colleagues examined data on 296 older adults at risk for cardiovascular disease who were randomly assigned to one of three diets: a Mediterranean diet supplemented with one liter per week (about 34 fluid ounces) of extra virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with 30 grams (1 oz) of nuts a day, or a low-fat diet.

Participants were 66 years old on average, and they were asked to follow their assigned diet for one year.

Only the low-fat diet was associated with reduced LDL and total cholesterol levels, researchers report in a paper scheduled for publication in the journal Circulation.

None of the diets increased HDL levels significantly.

But blood tests and lab work showed better HDL functioning in the group assigned to the Mediterranean diet with extra olive oil.

While some previous research has linked a Mediterranean diet to weight loss and a reduced risk of heart disease and some cancers, scientists haven’t conclusively proven that the diet itself is responsible, instead of other lifestyle choices made by people who eat this way.

Limitations of the current study include the fact that all three diets were relatively healthy, making it difficult to detect meaningful differences in outcomes, the authors note.

Still, the findings add to a growing body of research suggesting that HDL function may influence cardiovascular disease risk, Dr. Daniel Rader of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia writes in an accompanying editorial.

“We know the Mediterranean diet reduces risk of heart disease but still don’t know exactly why,” Rader said by email. “There is probably more than one reason, and this study suggests that one mechanism might be that the Mediterranean diet improves the function of HDL.”

Even without clear evidence explaining why the Mediterranean diet may help the heart, eating this way can still make sense, Rader added.

“For people who are interested in reducing their risk of heart disease, the Mediterranean diet is probably the best proven diet to reduce risk,” Rader said. “I think the majority of people who don’t have other major dietary concerns should look toward the Mediterranean diet as a heart healthy diet.”

Via:  Olive Oil 

Intense Fear Of Guilt May Be At The Heart Of …

Nobody likes to feel guilt. But when a fear of doing harm to others and feeling guilty as a result gets too severe, it can become pathological.

Excessive fear of guilt can lead a person down the road to developing obsessive-compulsive disorder. An intriguing new theory suggests that in certain cases, an extreme sensitivity to the emotion may be an operative factor in a person’s vulnerability to OCD.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder affects roughly 2 percent of the population. People with OCD get caught in a cycle of unwanted, intrusive thoughts, performing ritualistic behaviors in an attempt to ease the distress. These unwanted thoughts often revolve around a fear of losing control, harming others, being exposed to germs or contamination, or having inappropriate sexual desires. The individual then looks to compulsive behaviors ― like repeatedly reciting a mantra, counting or washing one’s hands ― to rid oneself of the disturbing thoughts.

A study by Italian researchers published last month in the journal Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy suggests that individuals with OCD may perceive guilt to be more threatening than most people do, leading them to find it intolerable. Any thought or impulse that might inspire guilt, then, is met with extreme anxiety and with attempts to “cleanse” oneself of the mental intrusion.

There are mixed research findings about whether being prone to guilt puts you at a higher risk for developing OCD, but the new study suggests that it’s being highly sensitive to guilt, rather than simply being guilt-prone, that’s important.

“Most of the previous studies focused on guilt-proneness and failed to support its specific role in OCD,” Dr. Gabriele Melli, the study’s lead author, told The Huffington Post. “In our opinion, OCD patients are not more prone to guilt than other people but they fear feelings of guilt, and many rituals and avoidance behaviors are motivated by the need to avoid this emotion in the future.”

Melli also suggests that fear of guilt is involved in OCD the way fear of fear is related to panic disorders.

The Fear of Guilt


For the study, researchers first developed a new scale to measure guilt sensitivity. The test featured 20 statements ― including “Guilt is one of the most intolerable feelings” and “The idea of feeling guilty because I was careless makes me very anxious” ― for which participants could rank their level of agreement.

Then, 500 adults were asked to complete the guilt sensitivity test and also fill out a questionnaire measuring their tendency to experience guilt and tests of OCD, anxiety and depression. The results suggest that guilt sensitivity is a distinctly different trait from being prone to guilt and is more closely linked to OCD symptoms than to depression or anxiety.

In a second experiment, 61 people with OCD and 47 with other anxiety disorders completed the new guilt sensitivity test as well as tests of anxiety and depression. The results showed that guilt sensitivity was highly correlated with checking-related OCD behaviors ― things like repeatedly making sure that the door is locked or the stove is turned off. Guilt sensitivity was especially high in individuals for whom ritualistic checking is a main OCD symptom. These behaviors may be part of a strategy for avoiding potential guilt, according to the study’s authors.

“Guilt sensitivity may cause individuals to be vigilant and sensitive to ways in which actions or inactions could potentially cause harm, performing checking compulsions in order to avoid, prevent, or neutralize the feared feeling of guilt,” Melli said. “An individual who has high guilt sensitivity may feel driven to checking actions because he or she is not able to take the risk of being responsible for harm, injury or bad luck.”

Somewhat related, studies have also shown “fear of self” to be a major predictor of OCD symptoms. It’s possible that a distrust of oneself ― which could play out as a fear that deep down, you are dangerous and potentially harmful to others ― and the extreme fear of guilt may work hand-in-hand to create the conditions for OCD to take root.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is currently the most effective treatment for OCD. Melli suggests that therapists with patients who may have high guilt sensitivity should help them focus on strategies for challenging their feelings of excessive responsibility to others and cultivating a greater acceptance of guilt.

“When checking rituals are primarily involved,” he said, “cognitive behavioral therapists should target also beliefs concerning the intolerability and dangerousness of experiencing guilt.”

Via: Intense Fear Of Guilt 

Where you live affects your personality.

By Natalie Jacewicz

Galway has one of the best food scenes in Ireland. It also hosts the World Oyster Opening Championships, where teams from around the world compete to shuck the most oysters in the quickest amount of time.

When people move across state lines, they usually think about what their new place will be like, their new neighbors, their new town — in short, all the other changes that come with a change of address. But what most people don’t consider is the way that the move will change them, too.

Studies show that character traits, like anxiety and extroversion, vary from one state to another. There’s not only a New York state of mind; there’s also a Montana mentality and an Idaho id. But what does that mean for someone who’s spent much of their life bopping from place to place (like, say, this writer, who’s spent chunks of her life in both New York and Tennessee)? Can we transport an intact personality from place to place, like a piece of furniture? Or does each new move add a fresh coat of paint?
To set the stakes, it helps to understand which personality traits are more prevalent in different parts of the country. So far, several studies have zeroed in on different aspects of how people approach interpersonal relationships; a paper in the Journal of Research in Personality’s February issue, for example, outlines state-based differences in attitudes about romantic relationships.
New Yorkers should brace themselves for the results: From a survey of more than 127,000 adults, the study authors found that citizens of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic are, on average, more anxious in their romantic relationships than West Coast dwellers.
Utah, meanwhile, has one of the least anxious and most relationship-inclined populaces in the country, despite a trend in other mountain states to be less interested than average in forming romantic relationships.
“We have these stereotypes about places, and it turns out that a lot of those are confirmed,” says lead author William Chopik, a psychologist at Michigan State University.
To a certain extent, other studies of character variations among states support this idea. Research has shown that Northeasterners and Southeasterners tend to be more neurotic than Westerners, for example, while people in the Southeast, Midwest, and Utah tend to be more agreeable than other Americans. (New York ranks as one of the most neurotic and least agreeable states.) Openness to new experiences, on the other hand, hopscotches across the country — New York, Colorado, Nevada, and all of the states along the West Coast rank highly in this quality.
But this doesn’t necessarily mean New Yorkers should pack their bags for California or Utah to become better adjusted: The degree of influence that place has on an individual can depend on what’s driving that place’s personality to begin with. Jason Rentfrow, a psychologist at the University of Cambridge, has reviewed three different potential factors that may, together or separately, drive state and regional variation: migration patterns, ecology, and social influence.
The migration-pattern explanation goes like this: Once a place gains a certain reputation — for example, as an enclave for artists or people of a particular religious tradition — others with similar inclinations move there themselves, thereby helping to cement that place’s character. And that character can stay somewhat consistent from generation to generation: To the extent personality traits are genetic, selective migration to a certain region means that its gene pool may reflect some personality traits more strongly that others. Where you move, in other words, may be a better reflection of who you already are than of who you will become.
An alternative explanation suggests that ecological influence plays an important role in shaping people. Depending on environment, “any kind of personality trait, at least in terms of how it plays out, is probably going to have certain costs and certain benefits,” says Mark Schaller, of the University of British Columbia. For example, in a series of studies, Schaller found extraversion to be less common in countries that have traditionally had a higher prevalence of infectious diseases. “If I’m extroverted, I’m going to be coming into contact with more strangers, and that makes me more likely to come into contact with disease,” he says. In these same countries, which are often close to the equator, societies are also more likely to stress conformity.
If ecology does play a strong role in personality, it follows that something as simple as weather could change someone. A pleasant spring can lead to improved moods and better memory, according to one study, while aggressive behavior (PDF) increases with temperature.
Join the conversation
But the most powerful influence on someone who moves may be good ol’ peer pressure. Cultural institutions and values span generations and inculcate newcomers through “social contagion,” and people tend to absorb practices and values of those around them. Schaller says social susceptibility may be one of the strongest forces in encouraging new residents to dial up some personality traits while toning down others. For example, a network of happy people can make a person happier; on the other hand, adults who move to new areas where they are in the ideological minority often feel isolated and become less able to take the perspective of others.
Educated guesses abound about how moving might change personality, but Chopik and Schaller, as well as most of the studies on the subject, highlight the need for more research. In the meantime, geographic transplants may have to do some research of their own. When does a Tennessean know New York has changed her? Maybe when she starts throwing elbows on a crowded subway car.

Via: Where you live 

People With This Condition Literally Feel What Others Are Feeling 


When you think of synesthesia, you probably think of someone who “hears” colors or “sees” sound.

But the brain’s unusual cross-wiring can take on some more surprising forms, too. People with mirror-touch synesthesia, for example, feel as if their own body is being touched whenever they see someone else being touched.

Mirror-touch synesthesia might sound a lot like empathy, which allows us to imagine ― and sometimes even have a physical reaction to ― what another person might be feeling. But the condition goes way beyond that.

Roughly 2 in 100 people have mirror-touch synesthesia, which occurs when the visual and tactile senses get mixed up, according to a study published in the March issue of the journal Cortex.

And here’s the kicker: Most people with the condition have always assumed their reactions were universal ― because how would they know otherwise?

“This reveals the wonderful variability in sensory experience that we as humans have,” Jared Medina, a psychologist at the University of Minnesota and the study’s lead author, said in a statement. “It’s easy to assume that my sensory experience is exactly the same as everyone else’s. However, people who feel what they view, or see letters as having colors, or other synesthetes show us how variable and unique sensory experience can be.”

It was almost as if they were a part of the movie, feeling touch, pain and other physical sensations that the characters were experiencing.Carrie DePasquale, study co-author

For the study, neuroscientists tested 2,351 students to see if they had the condition. The participants were asked to sit with their palms either face-up or face-down on a table while they were shown a series of videos featuring actors being touched on different parts of their hands. The students were then asked if they felt anything (and if so, where and how strongly). A second experiment tested their reaction times to confirm these claims.

Based on the results, 45 students were identified as having mirror-touch synesthesia. They felt sensations very similar to those of the person whose hands they saw in the films ― and when their hands were in the same position, they felt the sensation in the exact same place.

“It was almost as if they were a part of the movie, feeling touch, pain and other physical sensations that the characters were experiencing,” study co-author Carrie DePasquale, a Ph.D. candidate in neuroscience at the university, said in a statement.

For most, the sensation was related to their own hand position.

“If they saw a hand facing palm-up, they were more likely to experience a synesthetic perception if they were palms-up versus palms-down,” Medina said. “The brain is comparing the synesthete’s own body to what they see, and their experience is modulated based on this own-body other-body correspondence.”

Researchers know these synesthetes process tactile information in a manner different form others, but they aren’t yet sure how. Medina said it’s possible that somatosensory brain regions, which are normally activated when we see someone else being touched, are hyperactive in people with the condition.

“We all experience ‘vicarious tactile processing’ of some sort ― when we see someone being touched, our tactile systems are being activated as well,” he explained.

“When you and I see someone being touched, we typically don’t feel it as touch,” he added. “It is thought that mirror-touch synesthetes have an ‘overactive’ vicarious touch system, such that they actually experience viewed touch as sensation on their own body.”

Some experts have actually suggested that you can teach yourself synesthesia. But before you try to teach yourself to become a mirror-touch synesthete, be warned: You may not really want to feel it when you see someone else get slapped or hit on the head.

Via: People With This Condition