TIME Exercise/Fitness

How to Stay Motivated When You Can’t Work Out

Pregnant woman walking
JGI/Jamie Grill—Getty Images/Blend Images

At one point or another, many of us will be sidelined by something that prevents us from working out. Whether it’s an injury, an illness, or a pregnancy restriction, it can be tough to stick to your usual healthy habits (like eating well and drinking plenty of water) when your exercise routine isn’t what it used to be.

Not being active can really throw you for a loop, so here are five ways to help keep you motivated.

Figure out what you CAN do

Ankle injury? You can you work on your upper-body strength. Just had a baby? Ask when it’s OK to start taking walks with the stroller. You might not be able to exercise like you used to, but with your doctor’s consent, you can work together to decide how you can stay active.

Health.com: How to Recover From an Injury in Less Time

Dial back your diet

If you can’t exercise, it’s especially important to pay attention to what you’re eating. Someone who’s used to burning a few hundred calories per day from working out will likely gain weight if they don’t cut back when it comes to food. Some ways to keep yourself accountable: track your calories (I love MyFitnessPal), invest in a fitness tracker, and search online for nutritious, low-calorie recipes.

Health.com: 24 Food Swaps That Slash Calories

Surround yourself with healthy inspiration

You might feel like you’re out of the game when you can’t exercise, but you can still keep yourself in the right mindset by surrounding yourself with all things healthy. Read health and fitness magazines, watch health-inspired documentaries, create a motivational Pinterest board, or cook some new nutritious recipes. Whatever you do, make sure it inspires you to stay healthy!

Set some goals for the future

You can’t work out right now, but you know you’ll be back to your favorite activities soon enough. Get yourself excited for your comeback by creating some goals for yourself. Do you want to run a half-marathon? Start looking at training plans online. Thinking about trying CrossFit? Check out some “boxes” in your area. Setting some goals for yourself will help keep you motivated until you can get back into the swing of things.

Health.com: The 13 Weight-Loss Goals You SHOULDN’T Make

Stay busy

When all else fails and you’re still itching to exercise, try being active in some other way, such as volunteering, taking up a new hobby, or enrolling in a class to learn something new. Keeping yourself busy will help pass the time until you can work out again.

Health.com: 15 Diseases Doctors Often Get Wrong

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME

6 Veggies You Only Think You Don’t Like

Brussels sprouts
Tonic Photo Studios, LLC—Getty Images

Brussels sprouts, broccoli, beets—yuck! Not so fast. Using a different cooking technique can totally transform the vegetables you thought you hated into mouthwatering sides you’ll want to make again and again. Here are 6 nutrient-packed vegetables you can instantly make taste better with a little know-how.

Brussels sprouts

Why you should eat them: These baby cabbages contain just 38 calories per cup and are packed with cancer-preventing phytonutrients and fiber.

Yuck-factor: An organic compound can cause Brussels sprouts to give off a stinky, sulfurous smell. “Boiling can make them seem slimy and even leach some of the nutrients into the water,” says Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, Health‘s contributing nutrition editor.

Make them delicious: Roast Brussels sprouts to seal in nutrients and flavor. “Just slice in half, mist with a garlic and herb infused olive oil and roast on a baking sheet at 400 degrees,” Sass says.

Health.com: 13 Comfort Foods That Burn Fat

Broccoli

Why you should eat it: Broccoli, another cruciferous veggie, is high in vitamin C and fiber and racks up just 33 calories per cup.

Yuck-factor: Broccoli can taste quite dry when eaten raw, and watch out if it’s overcooked—you’ll end up with some very mushy florets.

Make it delicious: Broccoli tastes best blanched—a cooking technique where you dunk veggies into icewater after boiling them for two to three minutes. “This helps broccoli retain its crunchiness,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD, wellness manager for Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute. It also ensures the nutrients won’t get zapped from the food. After you’ve blanched the broccoli, you can pair it with an edamame dip for some extra fiber or top with lemon juice for an added kick, Kirkpatrick says.

Health.com: 20 Best Foods for Fiber

Peas

Why you should eat them: A cup of raw split peas has 50 grams of fiber and still contains 16 grams after being cooked.

Yuck-factor: “If you’ve only ever had the canned peas, then you are probably used to them being mushy,” says Tanya Zuckerbrot, RD.

Make them delicious: Peas are another food you will love after blanching. “Peas boiled very fast are going to have a nice snap to them,” says Zuckerbrot. Just make sure to follow the blanching times suggested by the National Center for Home and Food Preservation. The heat makes it easy for chlorophyll in the peas (or really any vegetable) to lose magnesium, leading to a chemical change that will leave them a yucky olive green if overcooked, Zuckerbrot says. When done just right, blanching will help your peas maintain ultimate freshness.

Health.com: 16 Ways to Lose Weight Fast

Spinach

Why you should eat it: At seven calories a cup, this superfood is filled with lutein, folate, potassium, and fiber, all nutrients vital to keeping your heart going strong.

Yuck-factor: Some people find raw spinach too bitter, while overcooking the leafy green leaves a soggy, mushy mess.

Make it delicious: Adding fruit to your spinach salad cuts the bitter flavor, Sass says. With a drizzle of olive oil for seasoning, it will taste even better. “When I cook it, I often lightly sauté in a little bit of hot chili oil, along with minced garlic and chopped sweet bell pepper.”

Cauliflower

Why you should eat it: Cauliflower is high in vitamin C, with more than a day’s worth of your daily intake, and has lots of water for extra hydration. Beyond that, it has phytonutrients that have been shown to lower cholesterol and fight your risk of cancer.

Yuck-factor: Boiling cauliflower can leave it soggy, bland, and smelly.

Make it delicious: Roasting cauliflower gives it a nutty, sweet flavor and creamy texture. Or, try Kirkpatrick’s favorite recipe: “Sauté them in olive oil then add in some walnuts, turmeric, and tomato sauce.”

Health.com: 26 Quick, Healthy Juice and Smoothie Recipes

Beets

Why you should eat them: Beets are rich in iron, fiber, folate, and potassium, and also full of disease-fighting antioxidants.

Yuck-factor: Beets contain the compound geosmin, also found in carp and catfish, which gives them an earthy flavor. Unfortunately it can also make beets taste like dirt. “That compound is most concentrated in the skin of fresh beets,” Zuckerbrot says. “That’s why you have to peel them first.”

Make them delicious: After peeling, drizzle the beets with a bit of olive oil and roast them like a potato. Or you could try pickled beets, which have a crispy texture. “When they are pickled with a combination of vinegar, sugar, and spices, it gives them a similar taste to sweet pickles,” Zuckerbrot says.

13 Veggies You Only Think You Don’t Like originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME

5 Ways to Beat Stress-Induced Weight Gain

I think we can all agree that stress is bad. Excess stress can cause headaches, muscle tension, digestive problems, sleep disturbances, depression, and now new research shows it may also wreak havoc on metabolism.

We’ve known for some time that stress is connected to weight gain, because a high level of the stress hormone cortisol has been shown to up appetite, drive cravings for “junk” food, and make it oh so much easier to accumulate belly fat. But now, an Ohio State study shows that stress may also result in burning fewer calories—yikes!

RELATED: 25 Surprising Ways Stress Affects Your Health

In the study, researchers questioned women about stress they had encountered the previous day. The ladies were then fed a meal containing a very generous 930 calories and 60 grams of fat. After eating, scientists measured the womens’ metabolic rates and took blood samples. In the seven hours after eating the mondo meal, those who had reported being stressed out within the previous 24 hours burned less of the fat they consumed, and had higher levels of insulin, a hormone that contributes to fat storage. They also torched 104 fewer calories. That may not sound like much, but it’s enough of a difference to account for a weight gain of almost 11 pounds in one year’s time.

I understand that reports like this can be discouraging, but knowing this info actually offers a huge advantage. Even if you can’t fix the causes of your stress, you can make small changes to offset the effects. Here are five daily tweaks to help you beat stress-induced weight gain.

Choose your fats wisely

If stress causes your body to burn less of the fat you eat (making it more likely to be stored) aim to include some healthy fat in your meal—but avoid “doubling up.” For example, many clients tell me they order a healthy salad for lunch, but the toppings include both olive oil and avocado. Or they might snack on nuts alongside popcorn that’s been cooked in oil. I’m not saying you should eat low-fat meals: fat is important for satiety and it’s one of your body’s key building blocks. But to keep it in balance, choose only one high-fat item per meal. For example, if you want avocado on your salad, dress your greens with balsamic vinegar rather than an oil-based vinaigrette.

RELATED: A Guide to Healthy Fats

Adjust your meal proportions

If there’s a chance that you’ll burn fewer calories in the hours after eating due to stress, shift your servings a bit to slash calories without having to eat less food. For example, eating one and a half cups of mixed veggies and a half cup of brown rice instead of one cup of each can save you 60-75 calories. Or instead of 1 cup of quinoa, mix half of that with half a cup of spinach to save about 100 calories. I think you see where I’m going with this—trading in a portion of your dense grains, even healthy ones, for low cal, fiber- and water-rich veggies is the easiest way to accomplish a quick calorie savings that doesn’t require sacrificing volume.

RELATED: 13 Veggies You Only Think You Don’t Like

Add metabolic boosters

Certain foods truly have been shown in research to raise your metabolic rate, and while the effects aren’t astronomical, they may just counter some stress-induced metabolism slumps. One of my favorite natural metabolic boosters is hot peppers. One study from Purdue University tracked 25 adults who consumed either no pepper, their preferred amount (half liked spicy food and half did not), or a standardized amount, which was about a half teaspoon of cayenne for six weeks. Overall both groups burned more calories when they ate spiced-up meals, and those who had been infrequent eaters of fiery food also felt less hungry and experienced fewer cravings for salty, fatty, and sweet treats. Try adding chili pepper or cayenne to steamed or sautéed veggies, or if you can handle a little more heat, garnish your dishes with a sliced jalapeno. Bonus: hot peppers have also been shown to boost immunity and lower cholesterol.

RELATED: 9 Foods That Boost Metabolism Naturally

Breathe before you eat

We continuously breathe without thinking about it, but recent Spanish research showed that relaxed, controlled breathing can effectively reduce cortisol levels. Before each meal, take a few minutes to sit comfortably in a chair, and spend a few minutes focusing on breathing, slowly and deeply, in through your nose and out through your mouth. You may be amazed how quickly this technique can help relieve muscle tension and shift your mindset.

Take a quick post-meal walk

Whenever possible, try to build in a brisk 15-minute stroll after meals. A recent study from George Washington University found that this habit helped normalize blood sugar levels for up to three hours after eating. Can’t fit in 15 minutes? Go for 10, even five—just breaking a sitting pattern and getting your blood pumping can shift your metabolism. A post-meal walk can also serve as a little “you time” to unwind, clear your head, connect with nature, or catch up with a walking buddy—all of which can help reduce feelings of stress.

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Her latest New York Times best seller is S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME

8 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism Right Now

Feel like your metabolism is stuck in slo-mo? Coaxing your body to burn calories more efficiently doesn’t require daily Spinning sessions or hours at the weight rack (though being in shape and building more muscle definitely helps). From adding an extra ingredient to your smoothie to watching a funny YouTube video, you can fan your metabolism’s flames in just minutes a day by adopting these research-backed habits.

Add whey protein to your smoothie

When you’re tossing fruit, ice, and other smoothie mix-ins into your blender, take an extra second to add one more metabolism-boosting ingredient—whey protein powder. “Whey protein increases calorie burn and fat utilization, helps the body maintain muscle, and triggers the brain to feel full,” says Paul Arciero, a professor in the Health and Exercise Sciences department at Skidmore College who has studied whey’s effects on the body. All types of protein rev up your metabolism—protein has a thermogenic effect, meaning it makes your body produce more heat and, in turn, burn more calories—but whey may be the most effective non-animal protein. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that fat oxidation and the thermic effect was greater with whey than with soy or casein.

Health.com: 26 Smoothie Recipes You Need to Try

Drink before you eat

Drinking two glasses of water before every meal helped dieters lose an average of 15.5 pounds (five pounds more than the non-water drinkers) over three months in a study presented at the American Chemical Society’s annual conference. Taking quick hydration breaks throughout the day also boosts your metabolic machinery, says JJ Virgin, celebrity nutritionist and author of The Virgin Diet Cookbook, and research shows staying properly hydrated keeps you feeling energized. Try to consume half your body weight in water ounces, Virgin suggests; a 150-pound person would drink 75 ounces a day.

Don’t stop yourself from fidgeting

When your annoyed coworker tells you you’re bouncing your leg, perhaps you can explain that you’re just doing some non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT)—the expert term for fidgeting. Research shows that NEAT may help you burn an additional 350 calories a day. “Small bursts of activity, like running up stairs, pacing while you’re on the phone, or shifting around in your seat all count,” says Tom Holland, an exercise physiologist and author of Beat the Gym. “It adds up quickly, so take advantage of any chance to move more throughout your day.”

Health.com: 24 Fat-Burning Ab Exercises

Brew a cup of coffee

Caffeine’s ability to speed up the central nervous system makes it a powerful metabolism booster. “In addition, coffee beans provide antioxidants and real health value,” says Amy Goodson, RD, a dietitian for Texas Health Ben Hogan Sports Medicine. “Provided your cup is not laden with cream and syrup, coffee can be a great way to give you energy as well as some antioxidants.” Coffee has been shown to improve energy levels during exercise, especially endurance activity, and help people work harder longer, which therefore burns more calories. Drinking coffee after a workout can also be beneficial. Consuming caffeine after exercise increased muscle glycogen by 66% in endurance athletes, enabling them to more quickly replenish energy stores used through exercise, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

Need more caffeine? Swap in green tea

If you’re like an average American and drink three cups of coffee a day, consider swapping in green tea for one of them. In addition to giving you the metabolism-boosting caffeine jolt you crave, green tea is a rich source of antioxidants called catechins. And, in a study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, drinking green tea combined with a total of three hours of moderate exercise a week reduced abdominal fat in subjects over a three-month period. “Unsweetened, brewed green tea was shown to increase calorie burn by about 100 calories per day,” says Michelle Dudash, RD, author of Clean Eating for Busy Families. For best results, Dudash recommends fresh-brewed green tea only—it takes just a couple minutes to make. “Bottled green tea tends to have a lower concentration of the beneficial compounds,” she says, not to mention that many are loaded with added sugar or artificial sweeteners.

Health.com: 12 Surprising Sources of Caffeine

Snack on yogurt

Probiotics, the healthy bacteria found in yogurt, pickles, and other fermented foods like sauerkraut, may help you lose weight—if you’re a woman, shows a new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition. Overweight men and women followed a 12-week weight loss diet; half of the volunteers also took a probiotic pill every day. Women in the probiotic group lost more weight than those in the placebo group and continued to lose weight during the 12-week maintenance period afterward (the probiotic didn’t make any difference for men).

Consuming probiotics in food form has other waist-friendly benefits: “Yogurt, like other full-fat dairy, also has a fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) that studies show can improve fat burning,” says Virgin. Avoid fruit-on-the-bottom varieties, which can have as much sugar as a candy bar.

Take a laugh break

Go ahead, minimize your Word documents and Excel spreadsheets. Taking a quick break to look at funny cat videos on YouTube or take a Buzzfeed quiz doesn’t just feel good—you’re also burning calories in the process. A study from the International Journal of Obesity showed a 10 to 20% increase in energy expenditure (calories burned) and heart rate during genuine laughter. This translated to an increase of 10 to 40 calories burned within 10 to 15 minutes of laughter.

Health.com: Best Superfoods for Weight Loss

14 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism Right Now originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Healthcare

10 Nervous Habits That Hurt Your Health

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Bad habits harm your health Marili Forastieri—Getty Images

Nervous habits are often more annoying to the people around you than to yourself, but some types of fidgeting and fussing can do real harm. Here, experts reveal the reasons why nail-biting, hair-twirling, and other seemingly harmless habits can be hazardous to your health.

You bite your nails

It’s one thing if you nervously bite your nails only during scary movies, but when it becomes a regular habit, it can damage both your nails and the skin around them, says Michael Shapiro, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist. Germs from the mouth get transferred to the skin, and vice versa. “Bacteria under the nails may also be transferred to mouth, causing infections of the gums and throat,” Dr. Shapiro says. Painting your nails may discourage you from chewing. No dice? Try tape to break the habit.

You twirl and pull your hair

Twisting and twirling a piece of hair around your finger can lead to damage to the root over time, says Ariel Ostad, MD, a dermatologist based in New York City. “This can result in temporary or permanent areas of hair loss as well as infection,” Dr. Ostad says. Obsessive hair pulling may be a sign of a psychiatric impulse control condition called trichotillomania, which requires psychotherapy and medication.

Health.com: 20 Reasons You’re Losing Your Hair

You crack your neck

Twisting your head forcibly to one side releases gases built up in the the joints between vertebrae and creates a popping sound. Although this may feel good, repeatedly cracking your neck can make the surrounding ligaments hypermobile and more susceptible to injury, says Michael Gleiber, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and affiliate assistant professor at Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine in Boca Raton. In addition, this excessive motion on the facet joints themselves can cause wear within the joints and may result in arthritis over time. In rare cases neck cracking may trigger a stroke, says Dr. Gleiber.

You touch your face

Repeatedly touching your face or picking at acne can damage the top very thin microscopic layers of the skin, says Jessica Krant, MD, board certified dermatologist and founder of Art of Dermatology and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York City. “If you bleed, you may have just created a permanent scar,” she says. “Do not pick at pimples or itchy areas. Treat them gently with topical creams and plenty of moisturizer.”

Health.com: 20 Things That Can Ruin Your Smile

You grind your teeth

Clenching and grinding your teeth (bruxism) when you’re under stress can wreak havoc with your oral health. Grinding can cause teeth to crack or break, which may require repair with crowns or root canals. It can also result in damage to the jaw joint in the form of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), says Justin Philipp, who has a dental practice in Chandler, Ariz. “People clench or grind their teeth as a response to stress. However, most cases are a result of pathology such as misaligned or missing teeth and a ‘bad bite.’” Treatments include orthodontics to improve the bite and even Botox injections in the muscles, which can reduce the amount of force and, therefore, the potential damage.

You suck on hard candies

Sucking on hard candies bathes your teeth in sugar, which can lead to cavities, says Philipp. Bacteria feed off the sugar, which creates a perfect environment for tooth decay. Chomping down on hard candy can also risk damaging teeth or dental restorations, says Jack Ringer, president of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. “Sucking on candies in moderation is fine provided the candies are sugarless and low in acidity,” Dr. Ringer says.

Health.com: Best and Worst Foods for Your Teeth

You lick or bite your lip

Nervously licking your lips exposes them to your mouth’s digestive enzymes, says Whitney Bowe, MD, a New York board-certified dermatologist. “These enzymes chew away at the skin and can lead to dermatitis and cheilitis (inflammation), which make lips appear dry and cracked,” she says. Biting your lips when under stress can cause the development of fibromas, firm flesh colored growths, that may require surgical removal, says Coyle S. Connolly, MD, dermatologist and president of Connolly Dermatology in New Jersey. Relax in a healthier way with these expert-approved stress-busting solutions.

You gnaw on the inside of your cheek

Like biting your nails, cheek-chewing can also become a nervous habit. “Often the inside of the cheek gets swollen and it then becomes easier to continue biting the same spot,” says Ringer. “Even after it heals the habit continues.” Over time this can result in chronic inflammation, possible bleeding, and scarring of the area.

You chew gum

All that snapping and popping does more than annoy your coworkers. It may also put you at risk for TMJ from overuse of jaw muscles, says Philipp. Sugarless gum presents a different set of problems, mainly digestive ailments. Sorbitol, an artificial sweetener, produces an unpleasant laxative effect when eaten in excess (18 to 20 sticks a day). Swallowing excess air while chewing also increases risk of a gassy stomach, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). “It is usually easier to try to replace the habit with another one than it is to quit, so try something a healthier switch such as drinking water,” says Philipp.

Health.com: 27 Mistakes Healthy People Make

You nibble the ends of pencils and pens

Germs can lurk on the ends of pens so this habit can expose you to nasty pathogens including cold viruses, says Ted Myatt, director of research compliance at the University of Rhode Island. “An infected person likely has the virus on his or her fingers and spreads it through pens as well as computer keyboards and telephones.” And aside from the embarrassment of ink on your mouth from an exploding pen, chewing on writing instruments can damage teeth and dental work as well as injure the soft tissue and gums inside the mouth, says Ringer.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Natural Cures

10 Amazing Home Remedies You Can Find in Your Kitchen

ginger
Paul Williams - Funkystock—Getty Images/Imagebroker RF

You're in luck. Relief is a trip to the kitchen away

You already know that consuming the right foods can boost your intake of minerals, vitamins, and nutrients. But there are a few out there that could also alleviate some of your most pesky daily problems, like hiccups or even rashes like eczema. Though it’s important to keep in mind that serious conditions need the attention of a doctor, it might not hurt to reach for one of these 10 items the next time you have a minor health problem.

Ginger for menstrual cramps

Traditional Chinese medicine has relied on ginger for more than 2,000 years. “Ginger can improve blood flow and reduce inflammation in your muscles, including those in the uterus where cramps originate,” says Mary Rosser, MD, PhD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, New York. A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine even found that ginger was as effective as ibuprofen for relieving period pain. To make your time of the month a little more bearable, try brewing up a cup of warm ginger tea.

Health.com: 31 Superfood Secrets for a Long and Healthy Life

Cranberries for urinary tract health

Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins, a compound that fends off the bacteria that cause urinary tract infections (UTI). “E. coli is one of the top offenders in triggering a UTI,” Dr. Rosser says. “This substance has been shown to prevent infection by keeping the bacteria from attaching to the bladder walls.” If you already have a UTI, cranberries probably won’t cure it, but consuming cranberries daily may help protect against future infections. About 20% of women who get a UTI will contract another one, so drinking one to two glasses a day of 20% pure cranberry juice will help prevent recurrence, Dr. Rosser says.

Calcium-rich foods for PMS

Prone to irritability and mood swings before your period? You’re not alone. About 85% of menstruating women experience at least one PMS symptom each month. The good news is tweaking your diet might help lessen your symptoms. “It’s been shown that people with PMS have lower blood calcium levels than those without PMS,” Dr. Rosser says. The National Institutes of Health recommends adults consume about 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day. You probably already know that dairy products are rich in calcium, but so are almonds, broccoli, leafy greens, and sardines.

Oatmeal for eczema

Calm itchy, inflamed skin using this breakfast food. Oatmeal soothes rashes because it’s packed with phytochemicals that have anti-inflammatory properties. Create a soothing bath by grinding 1/3 cup of plain oatmeal (no flavors!) into a fine powder using your blender; pour the powder into lukewarm water and stir in evenly with your hands until the water is a milky color, suggests Kavita Mariwalla, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist. Another option: use 1/4 cup of oatmeal and enough water to make a paste that you can apply directly to the skin for 10 minutes, she says.

Health.com: 13 Foods With More Salt Than You Realize

Sea salt for dry skin

You don’t need an expensive skincare product to treat rough patches on your knees, elbows, and heels. A sea salt scrub made at home will work just as well. “Sea salt is a good exfoliator because it has thicker grains that do a good job of clearing away dry skin,” Dr. Mariwalla says. Just mix one cup of sea salt with 1/2 cup of a light massage oil. “Use a bowl to make sure the mixture stays moist, like wet sand, and not runny,” Dr. Mariwalla says. It’s best to keep this scrub away from your more sensitive areas like your face and the back of your arms, though. It can be harsh on skin that doesn’t require as much exfoliation.

Cucumbers for puffy eyes

Laying cold cucumber slices over your eyes may look a little silly, but the age-old beauty trick really does reduce puffiness. Cucumbers, which are 95% water, offer a nice cooling sensation and the cold temperature causes blood vessels to constrict and reduce inflammation. And there’s a reason why cucumbers in particular work even better than ice packs. “Cucumber slices perfectly fit to the contours of your eyes to help reduce swelling,” Dr. Mariwalla says. You’ll only need to leave them on for 10 minutes for fresher-looking eyes.

Prunes for constipation

Dried plums are rich in insoluble fiber, a key nutrient to help fight constipation. “Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water and creates more bulk so waste can push through the digestive system,” says Wayne Andersen, MD, medical director of Take Shape for Life, a weight loss program from Medifast. Prunes also contain two substances that act as natural laxatives, sorbitol and dihydrophenylisatin, which will work much better for your system over time than drugstore constipation aids. “The body can become desensitized over time to over-the-counter laxatives,” Dr. Andersen says. Start with just one prune a day first and bump up your intake to two if you don’t see a response.

Health.com: 10 Easy Ways to Slash Sugar from Your Diet

Sugar for hiccups

When you hiccup, the diaphragm undergoes a series of spasms, but you can fool your body into stopping that reaction by putting a teaspoon of sugar underneath your tongue. The sweet sensation is strong enough to stimulate the vagus nerve. That’s the longest cranial nerve in your body, starting at your brain stem and extending as far down as your diaphragm to control the stomach. “Keep the sugar under your tongue until you stop hiccupping, and then swallow to fill the back of your throat with even more sensation,” Dr. Andersen says.

Apples for heartburn

Avoiding trigger foods like soda, high-fat beef, and anything fried is the best way to deal with acid reflux. One food that should keep in your diet: apples. “Apples have pectin, a soluble fiber that’s really great at absorbing stomach acid,” says Dr. Andersen. Plus, the fruit contains two types of acid (malic and tartaric) that work to beat back any juices that flow up from your stomach. “Buy organic red or golden delicious apples that are sweeter than the tart granny smiths,” Dr. Andersen suggests. “Sweet apples are considered alkaline foods that work at a cellular level to restore pH balance and prevent GERD.”

Health.com: 13 Foods That Fight Acid Reflux

Turmeric for infections

Turmeric is revered in India as a “holy powder” that can be used to prevent infections and treat wounds. That’s thanks to a compound called curcumin. “Foods with curcumin have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties so they can help with cleansing and healing,” says Dr. Andersen. A study in the Biochemical Journal even found that curcumin has the ability to stop bacteria from multiplying. If your medicine cabinet is running low on antibiotic ointment, try dabbing a little turmeric on your cut or scrape instead, but only for minor or superficial wounds. Dr. Andersen suggests using half a teaspoon of turmeric powder with a drop or two of water to make a paste, or if the wound is still bleeding a bit, you can apply the powder without water. After the area is dry, cover with a dressing and let the healing begin.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Drugs

7 Signs You’re Drinking Too Much

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mattjeacock—Getty Images

Actors Shia LaBeouf and Robin Williams both announced last week that they’re seeking treatment for alcoholism: LaBeouf as an outpatient following an outburst in a New York City theater and Williams in a rehab facility. A representative for Williams, 62, told People that the comedian is still sober—as he has been since a 2006 relapse—but wants to “focus on his continued commitment” to recovery.

Now, not everyone who drinks too much starts hitting strangers at a Broadway play like LaBeouf did. They could be having a more silent struggle like Williams. Regardless, alcohol problems are more common than you think. About 15% of people who drink go on to become alcohol dependent, says Carlton Erickson, PhD, director of the Addiction Science Research and Education Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

“Those who recognize the problem before they develop full-blown addiction have a greater chance they’ll be able to cut down and minimize the role alcohol plays in their life,” says John F. Kelly, PhD, director of the Recovery Research Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

So how can you tell if you’re developing a problem? Not all the clues are the same for all people, but here are common signs you could be headed for trouble—and how to turn it around.

Health.com:27 Mistakes Healthy People Make

You set limits…but can’t stick to them

If you always try to limit yourself to a certain number of drinks and fail every time, you could be struggling with alcohol. “If you find yourself repeatedly going over your self-defined limit, that’s a common early sign you’re losing control over your drinking,” says Kelly, who is also president of the American Psychology Association’s Society of Addiction Psychology.

What to do about it: Figure out what triggers your desire to drink and try to avoid these people, places, and situations. This drinking analyzer card from the National Institutes of Health is a good place to start; the NIH also has a 4-week tracker to see how well you can stick to your limit. If you can’t avoid a trigger, keep a list of reasons not to drink nearby, as well as a list of trusted confidantes you can call.

Your friends comment on your drinking

One of the first signs your drinking is spiraling out of control is when friends or acquaintances express surprise about how much you’re drinking or how “well” you “handle” your alcohol. “People start to get feedback from [other] people long before they realize it themselves,” says Kelly. “That’s a sign.”

What to do about it: Compare how much you drink with the limits for “low-risk” drinking, which, for women, is up to 3 drinks on any single day and no more than 7 drinks per week. The National Institutes of Health says that only about 2 in 100 people who drink within these limits have alcohol problems. But remember that “low risk” still doesn’t mean “no risk.” While alcoholism can derail your entire life, even smaller amounts of alcohol can raise the risk for pancreatic, liver, esophageal, and even breast cancer.

Health.com: How Alcohol Affects Your Body

The majority of your plans involve alcohol

If drinking becomes the center of your social and home life, if you’re the one urging others to order another round, or if you find yourself cutting back on activities that you used to enjoy that don’t involve drinking, you could be in dangerous territory.

What to do about it: Instead of meeting for drinks, ask friends to do things that don’t involve alcohol, like meeting for coffee, taking a yoga class, going to the movies, or lacing up for a run.

You reach for booze whenever you’re stressed

Everyone experiences stress, from a serious break-up to a biting comment from a colleague. Alcohol can give you some short-term relief from the upset but it can also backfire pretty quickly, leaving you with the stress of everyday life AND the stress of a drinking problem.

What to do about it: Find other ways to handle stress such as breathing deeply, taking a walk, or logging a workout (hey, playing basketball helps President Obama unwind).

Health.com:25 Surprising Ways Stress Affects Your Health

You worry about your own drinking

Your alcohol use could be problematic when your first thought in the morning is of how much you drank the night before. “You wake up concerned that you’ve broken your self-defined limit. You wake up thinking, ‘I didn’t stick to it’,” says Kelly. “The worry comes from the innermost part of yourself. That’s a sign of beginning of alcohol dependence.”

What to do about it: Confide in someone you trust. And get a reality check and personalized feedback on your drinking patterns with the Drinker’s Checkup, an online screening tool which also provides strategies on how to moderate your drinking.

Your doctor says you’re drinking too much

Doctors’ visits often involve answering questions about your lifestyle, including how much alcohol you drink. If you’re honest and if your doctor comments that the amount seems excessive, you should pay attention.

What to do about it: A doctor’s remark is not only a sign but also the start of a solution. “It has been shown that when physicians are astute enough to find out more about a person’s drinking behavior, if they make a statement like ‘I think you’re drinking too much,’ patients tend to listen,” says Erickson.

Health.com:15 Signs You Have an Iron Deficiency

You frequently wake up with a hangover

Even a sometimes-drinker gets the occasional hangover but if it starts to happen more and more often, you could be headed for trouble. “If you’re waking up three to four times a week with a hangover, that’s indicative,” says Kelly. And if you can’t remember what happened when you were drinking or you have only a hazy recollection, that’s a not-so-subtle clue that your drinking is out of control.

What to do about it: Monitoring your intake can help you stop before you go too far. Track how much you drink with the note function on your phone or an app—try IntelliDrink ($1.99, itunes.com) or AlcoDroid Alcohol Tracker (free, play.google.com). Just record the drink before you actually imbibe, which can help you slow down if necessary. You should include both the number of drinks and the size of each drink.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME

These 5 Yoga Moves Will Save You From Back Pain

Yoga forearm plank
Trista Weibell—Getty Images

The key to preventing back pain is to strengthen your core and release tension and tightness in the muscles around your upper and lower back. Plus, back pain can often be the result of stress. Yoga will help you relax and unwind mentally and these poses will continue to keep your core strong, your back supported, and your muscles lengthened and released.

Health.com: 15 Natural Back Pain Remedies

The first three yoga poses below connect us to our deep core muscles, which act as an inner girdle. When we tighten and tone our core, it helps us hold everything in and prevents us from straining our back. The last two are great for releasing tension in the upper and lower body. Tight shoulders can cause an achy upper back and tight hips pull on the lower back.

Try incorporating these poses regularly to keep your spine healthy, back strong, core engaged, and joints flexible.

Bird Dog

Start on hands and knees and imagine you have a glass of water on your lower back and one between your shoulder blades. Without spilling any water, reach your right arm forward and your left leg straight back behind you. Hold here for 30-60 seconds bracing your core. Come back to all fours before switching sides. Repeat 3 to 5 times on each side.

Health.com: 12 Yoga Poses for Non-Flexible People

Boat

Sit tall your knees bent and your feet on flat on the floor. Hinge back without rounding in the lower back as you lift your legs out in front of you at a 45-degree angle. Keep drawing our lower abdominals in and up and lengthen out of your lower back. Hold here for 5 to 8 breaths. Lower down and repeat 2 more times.

If this is too challenging with your legs straight, you can bend your knees so the shins are parallel to the floor.

Forearm Plank

If you only have time for one pose, this is the ultimate core move. It really works the entire midsection, deep core muscles and the back, waist, hips, legs, buttocks, arms, and shoulders.

Lie on your and place your elbows under your shoulders, tuck under your toes and press firmly through the back of your legs and heels. Engage your lower abs and tighten your core as you lift your body up off the floor coming in to one straight line of energy from head to toe. Don’t let your ribs splay open or your butt sag or lift too high. Hold for 45-60 seconds then lower down. Repeat 2 to 3 more times.

Health.com: 25 Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

Cow Face Pose

Start on all fours and slide your right leg over your left leg high at the upper thigh. Sit back between your heels and adjust your hips so they are even distance from each foot. Lift your left arm overhead and bend the elbow so the hand comes down between your shoulder blades. Reach your right arm behind your back and up towards the left hand try and touch the fingers or clasp the hands. If you can’t connect your hands, use a towel or strap. Recline forward over your legs and hold for 5 to 8 breaths. Come up move back on to all fours and repeat on the opposite side.

This pose will stretch out tight external rotators, hips, and buttocks as well as shoulders and upper back.

Camel Pose

Tight hip flexors can pull on the lower back and are often the result of sitting for too long of periods. Camel is an excellent counterpose to the slouched forward position we often assume. Camel opens up the entire front body while stretching the shoulders and front of thighs, hip flexors, quads and psoas muscles.

Health.com: Which Type of Yoga is Best for You?

Come in to a kneeling position with your toes tucked under. Place your hands on your lower back and try and slide your tailbone down towards the floor to lengthen your lower back. Lift your chest up and drop your head back as you reach for your heels (if this places any strain on the back keep your hands on your lower back). Hold and breathe for 5 breaths then lift up. If you want to challenge yourself further repeat the pose with the toes flat on the floor. The goal is to open up the chest and stretch the front of the body while lengthening out of the lower back. Use the strong abdominal muscles you found in the first three postures to support the backbend.

Kristin McGee is a leading yoga and Pilates instructor and healthy lifestyle expert based in New York City. She is an ACE certified personal trainer who regularly trains celebrity clients in New York and Los Angeles. She serves as Health’s contributing fitness editor and is frequently seen on national TV.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

5 Tricks to Avoid Being Hungry All the Time

Woman drinking water
Daniel Ingold—Getty Images/Cultura RF

Once, one of my clients half-jokingly requested an exorcism from the demon possessing her body: hunger. Kind of a gruesome analogy but, truth be told, it’s fairly accurate considering how out of control she felt. When my clients struggle like this, I often say I wish I could wave a magic wand to make it all better, which of course I can’t. But what I can do is offer some tried and true advice to effectively rein in appetite and help regain a sense of balance. The five strategies below are tops for doing just that, and each also has the power to enhance your overall health. Win-win!

Make sweating fun

Have you ever found yourself hungrier after working out, and then “ate back” more calories than you burned exercising? It’s a common phenomenon, and the trick to breaking the cycle may just be choosing ways of being active that feel like fun. In a recent Cornell University study, researchers asked two groups of adults to take a two kilometer walk before lunch or a snack. Those who were told they had been on an exercise walk wound up eating 35% more chocolate pudding for dessert at lunch and 124% more M&Ms at snack time than those who were told they had been on a fun, scenic walk.

Health.com:25 Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

Other research shows that intense exercise—sweat sessions that are perceived as work—can lead to eating more overall. In other words, a “no pain, no gain” mentality may wind up wreaking havoc with your appetite. If you’re in a similar boat, try mixing things up. Trade grueling workouts for activities that get your heart rate up but seem like play. Think dancing, hiking, roller skating, and swimming. Many of my clients find that even if they burn fewer calories, engaging in recreational activities often helps them lose more weight, because they don’t experience rebound hunger spikes.

Get enough sleep

Catching too few ZZZs is notorious for not only ramping up hunger, but also increasing cravings for junk food. One study from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center found that too little sleep triggered excessive eating and weight gain, and getting more sleep slashed the consumption of carbs and fat, leading to weight loss. Another from the University of Chicago found that getting 4.5 hours of sleep (rather than 8.5) ups hunger and appetite, especially in the early afternoon.

In addition to causing appetite craziness, sleep deprivation has been tied to a number of health problems, including weakened immunity, and a greater risk of type 2 diabetes, depression, and heart disease. For these reasons, in my opinion, making sleep a priority may even be more important than exercise for weight loss. If you’re falling short like most people, read up on ways to improve your slumber.

Health.com:14 Reasons You’re Always Tired

Drink more water

Research backs what I find to be true for myself and my clients: drinking plenty of water can help manage appetite. One study found that people who drink about seven cups of water per day eat nearly 200 fewer daily calories compared to those who gulp less than one glass. Another found that when adults drank two cups of water right before meals, they ate 75 to 90 fewer calories. A second study by the same researchers showed that when two groups of people followed the same calorie-limited diet for 12 weeks, those who downed two cups of water before meals lost about 15.5 pounds compared to about 11 pounds for the water-free bunch.

Finally, a German study showed that a 16-ounce dose of water resulted in a 30% increase in metabolic rate within 10 minutes. The effect peaked 30 to 40 minutes after consumption, but was sustained for more than an hour. To take advantage of the benefits, drink about 16 ounces of H2O four times a day. If you dislike the taste of plain water, spruce it up with wedges of lemon or lime, fresh mint leaves, cucumber slices, fresh grated ginger, or a bit of mashed fruit.

Eat on a schedule

Your body loves consistency, which is why in my own personal experience, as well as my clients’, eating at the same times every day can go a long way in regulating appetite. Try eating breakfast within one hour of waking up and spacing your remaining meals about three to five hours apart. In addition to consistent meal times, strive for a steady meal structure in terms of the foods and proportions you include.

Health.com:15 Ways to Lose Weight Without Trying

For example, I recommend always including: produce, lean protein, plant-based fat (like avocado), and a small portion of a healthy starch. I’ve seen that mixing up the foods you choose within these categories, while keeping the types and quantities comparable, can have a huge impact on regulating hunger, supporting sustained energy, and creating a predictable return of hunger, almost like clockwork. In other words, when your meals are all over the place, it’s much easier to feel hungry all the time or confuse true hunger with boredom or other emotions.

Learn how to deal with stress

For most of my clients, stress is the number one eating trigger. And research backs the old adage: “stressed is desserts spelled backwards.” One recent animal study found that female monkeys chronically exposed to stress overate calorie-rich foods, unlike their calm counterparts. They also ate more throughout the day and evening, while the chilled-out chimps naturally restricted their noshing to daytime hours only. This behavior parallels what I see in so many people, and until they find effective ways to reduce stress, emotional eating is a difficult pattern to break.

Health.com:25 Surprising Ways Stress Affects Your Health

The best place to start: stop beating yourself up. Instead of berating yourself for not having enough willpower, acknowledge that when your stress hormones are surging, you’re programmed to reach for chips or chocolate. Speak kindly to yourself, and shift your energy toward testing out positive ways to cope, like listening to guided meditation, venting to a friend, spending time outdoors, reading, stretching, drawing, or whatever gives you a mini-vacation from the intensity of your emotions. That strategy, rather than “dieting,” is a much better way to set yourself up for successful weight control and better overall health.

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME

6 Weird Scientific Facts About Love

Bride and groom couple
Cultura RM/Mallon Industries—Getty Images/Collection Mix: Subjects RM

Sure, you know the basics about the birds and the bees, but how much do you really know about what goes on in your body—and your mind—while you’re falling head over heels or doing the deed? Here are some fascinating facts about love and sex that may surprise you.

Health.com: 15 Everyday Habits to Boost Your Libido

Spouses may have similar DNA

Scientists already knew that people tend to choose romantic partners with similar characteristics, such as age, race, religion, income, and upbringings. But a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science found that people also tend to marry others with similar DNA. When researchers studied the genetic material of 825 white American couples, they found fewer differences in the DNA between married people than between two randomly selected individuals within the same race. In fact, they calculated that the tendency to pair up with a genetically similar spouse is about one-third as strong as the tendency to do so with someone with a similar education.

Health.com: Best and Worst Foods for Your Sex Life

Watching rom-coms may help strengthen marriage

Watching movies may be one key to marital bliss, says Matthew Johnson, PhD, director of the Marriage and Family Studies Laboratory at Binghamton University. In his study, couples attended counseling or watched relationship-themed movies and completed discussion guides together. Both strategies cut the groups’ divorce rate in half after three years—but the movie-watching activity took 50% less time and took place almost entirely at home. “The key is to talk with your partner about your relationship in the context of a movie,” says Johnson.

Women can make their voice “sexier,” but men can’t

In a 2014 study, Albright University researchers found that women were able to deliberately manipulate their voices—while counting from one to 10—to sound more attractive. But, sorry guys: When men tried to be sexier, they were actually rated as sounding worse! When a woman intentionally drops her voice to make it sound low and breathy, she’s often perceived as more attractive—but not exactly for the reasons you might think. Men tend to prefer women with higher, more feminine voices, says co-author Susan Hughes, PhD, associate professor of psychology. But when a woman lowers her voice to “sound sexy,” she’s signaling her interest in a potential mate—a clue that men are able to pick up on.

Health.com: 8 Reasons Why Sex is Better After 50

You’re less likely to get grossed out when aroused

Sex can be a messy activity with lots of fluids and smells, but in the heat of the moment, none of that (usually) seems to matter. According to a study from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, that’s because sexual arousal overrides the body’s natural “disgust response.” When researchers asked women to watch either an erotic film, a sports video, or a “neutral” video of a train, and then perform a series of unpleasant acts (like drinking out of a cup with a bug in it), they found that those who’d watched the sexual acts rated the tasks as less disgusting—and were also able to complete more of them. Previous research has suggested that sexual arousal has a similar impact on men, as well.

Love is good for your bones

Marriage appears to strengthen men’s skeletons, according to a University of California Los Angeles study, especially if they wait until after age 25 to tie the knot. Researchers aren’t sure why, but they point out that it’s not the first time marriage has been linked to health. Other studies, for example, have suggested that married people live longer, are more likely to survive cancer, and have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Health.com: 10 Reasons You’re Not Having Sex

Old people do it, too

Sexual interest and sexual function do both decline with age—especially as adults begin to take more medications—but that doesn’t mean that senior citizens aren’t still getting it on. “Many people do continue to have sex into their old age, often until death,” Garcia says. And they’re not always careful: “Besides teenagers and young adults, the elderly is the biggest population for sexually-transmitted disease spikes,” he adds. “They’re not worried about getting pregnant, so they’re not using condoms.”

READ MORE: 20 Weird Facts About Sex and Love on Health.com

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