- Here’s the Best Time of Day to See Your Therapist
- What to Buy at Trader Joe’s, According to Food Experts
- What to Know About Kratom—A Plant Some Scientists Say Could Solve the Opioid Crisis
- More American Women Want to Have Children
- Soylent to Customers: Throw Away Our Food Bars
- The 6 Biggest Mistakes Trainers See You Making at the Gym
- How to Survive a Quarter-Life Crisis and Find Your True Purpose
Posted: 13 Oct 2016 09:28 AM PDT
If you see a therapist for anxiety or a phobia, you might make more progress in sessions scheduled for the morning hours. Cortisol, a hormone that regulates stress and fear, is highest at this time of day—and a new study suggests this could make a real difference in overcoming emotional difficulties.
The new research, conducted by researchers at Southern Methodist University and the University of Michigan, focused specifically on a treatment known as exposure therapy. During exposure therapy, patients work with mental-health professionals to put themselves in situations that would normally cause panic or fear. The goal, with repeated exposures, is to diminish those stress responses over time.
“For example, a patient may think that standing in an elevator could cause him or her to lose control or faint, suffocate, or may create physical symptoms that would be intolerable,” explained Alicia E. Meuret, PhD, director of the SMU Anxiety and Depression Research Center, in a press release. “By having them stand in an elevator for a prolonged time, the patient learns that their feared outcome does not occur, despite high levels of anxiety. We call this corrective learning.”
Not all patients benefit equally from exposure therapy, though. And Meuret and her colleagues suspected the hormone cortisol—which is thought to help suppress distressing memories and facilitate corrective learning—may influence how its effectiveness varies from person to person. They knew that cortisol levels tend to be highest early in the day, so they set out to test whether morning sessions worked better to help people overcome their issues.
Their study involved 24 people with panic disorders and agoraphobia, a fear of public places. The men and women received weekly sessions over three weeks, during which they were exposed to situations such as tall buildings, highways, elevators, supermarkets, movie theaters, and public transportation.
Overall, the participants showed improvement no matter what time of day their sessions were held. But, as suspected, they made the biggest gains during appointments that started earlier in the day.
When patients came back the week after a morning session, they scored lower on measures of threat misappraisal, avoidance behavior, and panic symptom severity. They also felt that they had greater control over their panic symptoms.
The authors point out that factors besides cortisol levels—like natural circadian rhythm or quality and quantity of sleep—could certainly influence the effectiveness of early-morning therapy.
But higher cortisol levels were also related to better outcomes in the study—above and beyond the time-of-day effects. (Saliva samples were taken during each session.) This suggests that the hormone is at least partially responsible for the a.m. bump, they say.
Drugs to mimic cortisol’s fear-extinction powers are being investigated, says Meuret, but so far they’ve produced mixed results. For now, she offers another suggestion. “The findings of our study promote taking advantage of two simple and naturally occurring agents—our own cortisol and time of day.”
The study, published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, notes that it’s not always possible to schedule therapy sessions for the morning. But exposure therapy also involves “homework” between meetings, the authors say, which can be practiced with more flexibility.
Meuret also cautions that her study looked at a very specific type of psychotherapy. Without further research, she can’t speculate how much the findings would apply to other types—like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT, sometimes known as talk therapy) held in a practitioner’s office.
But she does say that most therapies for anxiety “target the learning of new and corrective information,” and that’s a good sign.
“Our data, along with data from learning and memory studies, suggests that there should be a benefit in practicing CBT skills in the morning hours,” she told Real Simple, although studies are needed to confirm this idea. “Evidence-based psychotherapy is about learning of new information, and memory studies generally suggest that learning is better in the morning.”
Posted: 13 Oct 2016 09:00 AM PDT
“Healthy food is so expensive!” I often hear this complaint from people when I tell them what I do for a living. And it’s true; organic produce, pastured eggs, high-end cooking oils—all of these things can really add up. But you don’t have to take out a second mortgage to eat well. There are healthy deals to be had. As I’ve written before, I rely on my local Trader Joe’s for amazing prices on my favorite good-for-you staples. Read on for a few of the Trader Joe’s products I shopped for this week, as well as top TJ’s picks from other food experts.
($2.49 for 16 oz.)
“You already know cauliflower rice is super-trendy, and for good reason: It’s loaded with fiber, potassium, and vitamins C, K, and B6—all for around 25 calories per cup, compared to more than 200 for a cup of brown rice. Now, it’s even easier to enjoy it. I recommend using it to make a healthier rice pudding!”
Trader Joe’s Red Pepper Spread with Eggplant & Garlic
($2 for 12 oz.)
“It’s super versatile; I spread it on crackers, use it as a dip, or mix it into a stir-fry. I also love adding it to leftovers to give them a new flavor profile.”
—Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, author of Eat Clean, Stay Lean
Trader Joe’s Raw Sauerkraut with Persian Cucumbers
($3.99 for 14 oz.)
“If you’ve had sticker shock buying sauerkraut in the refrigerated section of your supermarket, good news: TJ’s has containers for just $3.99. In my local health-food store, I’ve seen smaller jars that cost nearly three times as much.”
Trader Joe’s Go Raw Trek Mix
($6 for 16 oz.)
“This trail mix contains no added oils or salt. I like to portion it into single-serve bags and keep one in my purse for a quick snack that’s filled with protein and fiber.”
—Erika Horowitz, RDN, a dietitian in New York City
Trader Joe’s 10 Minute Barley
($1.79 for 8.8 oz.)
“This one gets points for price and convenience. Barley is a whole grain, loaded with fiber, protein, and tons of minerals. You might pay less for barley in a bulk bin, but you’d have to fully cook it, which can take 40 minutes or longer. Here you get pre-cooked barley, so it’s ready in 10 minutes, but still super-cheap. And Trader Joe’s sells 10 Minute Farro, too!”
Trader Joe’s Gone Bananas
($2 for 8 oz.)
“Chocolate-covered frozen banana bites are great when you’re craving a sweet but low-calorie snack.”
—Leah Cohen, chef and owner of Pig & Khao in New York City
Trader Joe’s Just Almond Meal
($14.99 for 1 lb.)
“Whether you’re avoiding grains and using it for baked goods, or adding it to up the protein, you already know how pricey almond meal can be. Except at Trader Joe’s, where a pound is only $6.99. What’s that? You only use blanched almond flour (lighter and more delicate because the skins have been removed)? No problem; TJ’s has it for $7.99 a pound. My local supermarket sells another brand for—wait for it—$14.99 for that same pound.”
Trader Joe’s Fig Butter
($2 for 11 oz.)
“I like to spread it on a grilled sandwich with fresh mozzarella, arugula, prosciutto, and balsamic dressing. Delicious!”
—Molly Martin, culinary director at Salt & Vine in Nashville
Trader Joe’s Pomegranate Seeds
($3.99 for 5.3 oz.)
“I buy the prepped pomegranate seeds from Trader Joe’s. While they’re more expensive than a whole pomegranate, the time commitment (and stain potential) often deters me from peeling the fruit myself. A handful of these little seeds adds sweet, tart flavor to Greek yogurt, salads, or a veggie stir-fry. And they’re so nutritious!”
Posted: 13 Oct 2016 08:47 AM PDT
Federal regulators reversed a decision Thursday to ban the use of a plant that some scientists say could help address the opioid crisis. Called kratom, the plant is seen as a non-addictive alternative to opiates.
The Drug Enforcement Administration’s decision opens the door for supporters and opponents of kratom to make arguments on the future regulation of the drug over the next two months, after which the DEA will make a decision.
Here’s what to know about kratom:
It could help solve the opioid crisis
Humans who ingest kratom—a plant from southeast Asia—experience many of the same effects as they would if they ingested opiates, like heroin. Those effects have made the plant an effective tool to help people overcome opioid addiction. Some researchers are developing next generation painkillers to replace opiates that rely on kratom, which is not addictive.
Safety questions remain unanswered
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has claimed that the drug continued to 15 deaths between 2014 and 2016, according to an NPR report. But 14 out of the 15 people who died also had other drugs in their system. A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) evaluation of its safety remains ongoing and could answer questions about what role exactly the drug played in those deaths.
Its legal status remains an open question
The DEA announced in late August that it intended to list the plant as a Schedule I substance among some of the most dangerous and addictive drugs like heroin and LSD. But the proposal drew harsh criticism from many public health advocates, including a group of U.S. senators. This week’s announcement means the DEA will take comments on the future legal status of kratom until December. The DEA will then make a decision.
Posted: 13 Oct 2016 08:12 AM PDT
A new report from the National Center for Health Statistics at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that 50% of American women between the ages of 15 to 44 say they expect to have a child. In 2002, 46% of women said the same.
On average, U.S. women expect to have about two kids. The vast majority of women who already had two or more children said they did not expect to have more.
The researchers don’t provide reasons for why more women expect to have children now than in the past, but they do note that birth expectations are influenced by sexual activity, contraceptive use and fertility. Progress in infertility treatments may give women more confidence in their likelihood of having children. It’s also possible that people feel more confident in the economy, as STAT reports, and that the economic climate is stable enough to have children.
Posted: 13 Oct 2016 07:14 AM PDT
Future-of-food startup Soylent is cautioning customers to avoid eating its new snack bars amid reports they were making people sick, the company announced Wednesday.
“It has recently come to our attention that a small number of our customers have experienced gastrointestinal issues after consuming Soylent Bars,” reads a statement on Soylent’s website. “As a precautionary measure, we are halting all Soylent Bar purchases and shipments and are advising our customers to discard any remaining bars in their possession.”
Customers who already received their snack bars are entitled to a refund, Soylent says.
Soylent, known for its pre-mixed drinks and powders meant to replace traditional meals, began selling the snack bar about a month ago. “With only 250 calories, Soylent Bar makes an excellent snack or small meal,” reads Soylent’s description of the Soylent Bar. “Our newest product offers the same complete nutrition, but in a lighter, more portable form factor. Soylent Bar provides one eighth of an average adult’s recommended dietary needs.”
The issue may increase skepticism of Soylent’s other offerings, though they are not affected by the recall.
Posted: 13 Oct 2016 05:00 AM PDT
Tips from trainers
Ever wish you could eavesdrop on the personal training session taking place across the weight room and snag some inside “gym-formation”? Then listen up: We asked five top-tier fitness experts what mistakes they see many of us making. It turns out, the adjustments they recommend are surprisingly easy. Adapt these simple improvements for a cranked-up calorie burn (no extra gym hours necessary) and pain-free workout—you’ll see results fast.
You lean on the machine too much
Nope, not figuratively. If you’re literally resting on the handles while you pedal up a dust storm, your lower body isn’t working as hard as it could be—and that means fewer calories torched, says Michele Olson, PhD, professor of exercise physiology at Auburn University in Alabama. Plus, you won’t effectively engage your glutes and core.
Worse, you could be setting yourself up for injury, because the muscles and joints in your shoulders and neck are forced to support much more weight than usual. “When you lean on the machine, you’re transferring about 30% of your body weight to your arms, shoulders, and neck,” says Olson. “If you weigh 145 pounds, that’s nearly 50 pounds.” Touch bike or treadmill rails with your fingertips for balance, and actively pump your arms if you’re on an elliptical.
Health.com: Another Good Reason to Work Up a Sweat
You’re breathing all wrong
“Most people’s breaths are too shallow, at rest and during a workout,” says Beth Jordan, a personal trainer and spokesperson for the American Council of Exercise (ACE). Deep breathing recruits more of the oxygen your muscles need to function efficiently while exercising. With shallow breathing, you’ll notice that your chest rises and falls; deep breathing moves your belly. The timing matters, too: Breathe out on the exertion part of the movement. The exhalation helps push, pull, or rotate the body. “People have a tendency to hold their breath at strenuous points,” notes Jordan. “This limits oxygen delivery to the brain and can cause dizziness or a spike in blood pressure.”
On a run? Exhale as your foot strikes the ground, not before. Your diaphragm relaxes when you breathe out, so your core isn’t as stable, says Jordan—and you don’t want to land at your body’s least stable moment. Change up which foot hits the ground as you exhale. Otherwise, “it’s like wearing a heavy backpack all the time on your left shoulder instead of equally across both shoulders,” explains Jordan.
You shouldn’t “HIIT” it hard every day
HIIT (high-intensity interval training) melts lots of calories in a short amount of time. But like most wondrous things in life (Louboutin heels, ice cream), it’s better in moderation. HIIT requires powerful effort—think 8 or 9 on the exertion scale—leaving your muscles stressed afterward. Do HIIT days back-to-back and your muscles will remain in a broken-down state (and more susceptible to a longer-term injury). “Your muscles repair and strengthen during the hours after the workout,” says Cris Dobrosielski, a spokesperson for ACE. “You should wait about 48 hours before doing another HIIT session.”
Health.com: What to Eat Before, During, and After Running
You’re only working your mirror muscles
Don’t neglect muscles like the erectors, which help lengthen the torso, and the rhomboids and external rotators of the shoulder. “Skip these and it’s only a matter of time before you get a back or shoulder injury,” warns Dobrosielski. Do “pulling” moves (like bent-over rows) at least as often as you do “pushing” ones (think chest presses), which target your front.
Also, add back extensions to your routine: Lie face facedown, arms by sides and slightly off the ground, palms up. Raise your trunk a few inches and rotate your palms to face down; pause, then slowly lower. Do two sets of 15 reps.
That cardio rut is bad for your body
Spin may be your true love, but you should have mini affairs with other heart-pounding workouts. “Most of the cardio we do is only forward and backward,” explains Fantigrassi. “When muscles on one side of a joint are strong and the opposing muscles are weak, it can destabilize the join”—and lead to injury.
The fix: Combine cardio workouts that put your body in different plans of motion; for example, jog for 10 minutes, row for 10 minutes, and then do a few minutes of plyometrics, like jump lunges. Mix it up and your joints will thank you.
You should baby your hip flexors
Sitting for long hours tightens your hip flexors (the muscles above your thighs that let your legs bend toward your body). The tension is a precursor to posture problems and an achy back, says Mike Fantigrassi, director of professional services at the National Academy of Sports Medicine.
Loosen your hips using this kneeling hip stretch: Kneel on left leg, with right leg bent at 90 degrees in front of you; place right hand on right hip and raise left arm (A). Contract glutes and shift forward, then rotate hips to the left until you feel a stretch in the front of pelvis (B). Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
Health.com: Hydration and Exercise: How to Get It Right
There’s a reason why you’re not losing weight
Your boot-camp class won’t change the number on the scale if you’re committing these errors outside of your sweat sessions:
You think about burn only in the gym: “You get strong in the gym—but you get lean in life,” says celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak, who encourages his clients to wear pedometers and log more than 10,000 steps per day.
You aren’t food-focused: A recent study in Current Biology suggests there’s a limit to how many calories we burn through physical activity; after torching more than a moderate amount, our bodies make it hard to let precious energy go. The fix is in the kitchen: “To drop 1 to 2 pounds a week, cut about 2,000 calories weekly through diet and exercise,” says Jordan.
You’re not as active as you think: One study out of York University in Toronto found that even when people were told what “vigorous” exertion should feel like, they still underestimated how much effort a physical activity actually required. A heart-rate monitor can help give you a more realistic idea of your effort and burn.
Posted: 12 Oct 2016 11:00 AM PDT
During my quarter-life crisis, I felt paralyzed to make a change. I felt like I was at the intersection of hopeless, stuck, and FOMO (or fear of missing out).
I said to myself, “I hate my job and I want to do something else, but I don’t know where to start. I’m interested in so many things, but none of them seem perfect. All my friends on Facebook are so happy and successful. My friend is a Forbes 30 Under 30. My buddy is traveling around Thailand. My friend just got engaged. I’m tired of being single. I’m a failure.”
Everything feels impossible during a quarter-life crisis, even small decisions like which shampoo to buy, or which show to watch on Netflix.
But the five simple steps below helped me get through that period of intense confusion—and eventually, find my true purpose. I hope these tips will be helpful as you discover yours.
Stop the comparisons
Social media has made it all but impossible to avoid comparing yourself to others. We see only the coolest parts of our friends’ lives, like when they get a new job, fall in love, or travel somewhere beautiful. We think, “Wow, I really need to get my act together.” All of us are figuring it out, even our friends whose Instagram grass looks really green. All of us are on different paths, with no right or wrong answer. Comparing yourself to others is a waste of time. Stop worrying about what other people think and start figuring out what you want.
Pursue what’s meaningful to you
If you want to turn your quarter-life crisis into a breakthrough, you have to stop focusing on everyone else’s noise, and start asking yourself why you’re here. What do you care most about? What do you want to do for the world? What are you really good at? What types of people do you want to surround yourself with? How much money do you need to live your desired lifestyle? I call this finding alignment between who you are and how you’re spending your days.
Turn your doubt into action
When I was stuck in my old job, fear of the unknown often kept me up all night. This doubt never really goes away, but I’ve learned that we can turn our doubts into research, into positive energy that takes us closer to our next lily pad. If you write your doubts and fears on paper, you can begin to take tangible action steps toward figuring out what’s next in your life. This might mean reading a book that interests you, signing up for a class, launching a crowdfunding campaign for a creative project, starting a blog, attending a cool conference or event, traveling somewhere you always wanted to go, having coffee with a mentor, or pursuing an apprenticeship or volunteer opportunity that excites you.
Find a community of people who believe in the beauty of your dreams
Surviving a quarter-life crisis is the result of both hard work and finding the right people to support your journey. You can’t do it alone. Building a community of believers is the difference between your breakthrough being a dream and a dream come true. So, start finding people who make you better. People who inspire you; who are creative, who are living for others, who hold you accountable. Depending on where you live, believers might be easy or incredibly difficult to find. Attend conferences, ask your network for ideas, and use social media to find local meet-up groups based on your interests.
Health.com: 8 Promises Every Woman Should Make to Herself
Practice weekly self-care rituals
When I was stuck in my quarter-life crisis, overworked and stressed, I definitely wasn’t taking care myself—and I got shingles! I didn’t give myself time to eat well, see friends, meditate, write in my journal, or exercise. If you don’t take care of your body, it’s nearly impossible to reach your goals or help anyone else reach theirs. Finding your purpose doesn’t translate to applying to as many to jobs online as you possibly can. Finding your purpose means spending time doing the things you love, with the people you love most. It also means learning how to be kind to yourself. So, what are three things you can do to be kind to yourself this week? Think about ways you can treat yourself, take care of yourself, and create yourself.
If you’re lucky, practicing self-love might even bring you closer to the purpose you’ve been searching for.
Adapted from The Quarter-Life Breakthrough: Invent Your Own Path, Find Meaningful Work, and Build a Life That Matters by Adam Smiley Poswolsky, available from TarcherPerigee/Penguin Random House. Subscribe for more career resources atsmileyposwolsky.com.
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