TIME career

What Not to Include on Your Resume

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Refinery 29

This post originally appeared on Refinery 29.

When putting together a résumé, we usually wonder what to include — not what to omit. To start, don’t include a picture of your cat.While that might seem obvious, recruiter Kelsey Brown counts that image as one of the wackier things she’s witnessed in her job hiring for Trunk Club. She also says she’s seen driving capabilities listed as well as a “rap” a candidate submitted by mistake, neither of which helped the potential employee.Other résumé killers may not seem as obvious. Here’s what to leave off your résumé to best snag a recruiter’s eye.

Your Entire Life Story
A résumé is not the story of your life. Do not include every single internship, job, volunteer experience, extracurricular activity, class or skill in this document. Instead, tailor it to each specific job opportunity. Include the most relevant and recent work experience. Think about which activities and volunteer roles best demonstrate the skills needed for the position. And, consider breaking up your résumé into sections: Professional Experience, Education, Volunteer Activities, Leadership Experience, Skills and Interests are some examples.

Bland Vocabulary
Lose the boring action verbs and break out the thesaurus. Recruiters review tons of résumés every day and you need to make your accomplishments stand out with compelling language. Did you help put together an annual report? Great! Consider writing, “Designed and edited a 20 page annual report that was distributed to senior executives, the board of directors, funders and partner organizations.” Tell your unique story with strong action verbs and vocabulary.

(Related: 7 Cliché Phrases to Avoid on Your Résumé)

Fancy Formatting
Simplicity in formatting is key. “Sometimes candidates go slightly overboard with pictures, designs, and, oftentimes, ‘fluff’ in order to make their résumé look more aesthetically pleasing. Instead, this can easily become a distraction,” Brown says. Job seekers should focus on the content of the résumé and the value they will add to a company, rather than developing a fancy format. The exception: for highly visual positions like graphic designers, photo editors, or front-end developers, your résumé will help establish your individual brand identity. Keep it simple but unique to stand out.

Give yourself more real estate on the page by leaving off your references. Most of the time, employers do not even think about references until after the initial interview. Instead, use those extra inches to dive deeper into a job responsibility or showcase your skills and interests, which Brown says is her favorite part of a résumé. She once interviewed a female student who played hockey for the men’s hockey team. Those few lines conveyed a great deal.

An Objective Section
Old résumé wisdom says to include an objective line at the top of your résumé; however, it really is unnecessary unless you are changing career paths. Objectives are rarely that captivating and are often skipped over in favor of reading the professional work experience. A great place to include an objective-like section is not on your paper résumé but rather on your personal website or your LinkedIn summary. You don’t have that much space on a résumé to share your unique accomplishments, so be selective and thoughtful about what you choose to include. Other things to consider? Brown says to leave out the headshots and artwork — and definitely that picture of your cat.

(Related: How To Make Your Résumé Really Stand Out)

Whether you’re fresh out of college or just looking for a new adventure, the best thing about career-forming years is deciding what we want to do and how we’re going to get there. Fortunately, the resourceful folks at Levo League are full of advice & inspiration for forging your professional path. The social start-up promises to provide a backdrop for figuring it all out — no matter how you define success.

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TIME Dating

How Men and Women Should Behave on a First Date

woman-hands in lap-Refinery 29
Refinery 29

This post originally appeared on Refinery 29.

Does it pay to play nice in the dating game? It does if you’re a lady, according to a new study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Plenty has been written about what behavior men and women like to see on a first date or in the early stages of a relationship. While we’re inclined to recommend behaving like, well, yourself, this recent study sheds fascinating light on how different sexes perceive “responsiveness.” The researchers defined responsiveness as a trait “that may signal to potential partners that one understands, values, and supports important aspects of their self-concept and is willing to invest resources in the relationship.”

“Sexual desire thrives on rising intimacy, and being responsive is one of the best ways to instill this elusive sensation over time,” explains the study’s lead researcher, Gurit Birnbaum, PhD. She and her team of researchers from the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, the University of Rochester, and the University of Illinois hypothesized that responsiveness might be perceived differently by different sexes and in different contexts, and so they devised a series of scenarios to investigate.

(More From Refinery 29: Women Are Threatened By Women Wearing Red)

In their first study, designed to assess whether men and women tend to view a “responsive” person of the opposite sex as attractive, individuals were assigned partners and instructed to interact with them. (The study was limited to heterosexual singles — specifically, 112 undergraduate students.) Men, it turned out, evaluated conversation partners who had been coached to be “responsive” — to exhibit concern, understanding, and support — as the most “feminine” and sexually attractive. But, women did not associate responsiveness with “masculinity,” and even found more-responsive men (marginally) less desirable.

In a second study, participants chatted online with either responsive or non-responsive different-sex strangers. Beforehand, each participant viewed a photo of his or her partner. The catch: Each woman was given the same photo of a man, while each man was given the same photo of a woman. Participants were then instructed to share problems in their lives with their virtual-conversation partners via chat. The responses were predetermined: Non-responsive virtual dates glossed over their partners’ feelings (with replies such as “Doesn’t sound so bad to me”) while responsive partners offered more comfort and understanding (e.g. “You must have gone through a difficult time”).

(More From Refinery 29: Are You Settling In Love?)

After spilling their guts to online strangers, unwitting participants evaluated how sexually attractive they found those virtual dates. Again, while men rated responsive women as more desirable than non-responsive women, a significant number of women reacted negatively to responsive partners, viewing them as less-desirable than non-responsive men. “Some women may interpret responsiveness negatively and feel uncomfortable about a new acquaintance who seems to want to be close,” Dr. Birnbaum says. The researchers admitted that while the relationship between responsiveness and men’s sexual preferences appeared to be fairly straightforward, women’s desires seem to be more complicated. Are we surprised?

Trying to parse the reasons people find one another appealing is obviously difficult, since so many of our desires are culturally constructed. We’re used to media depictions of women as caring and nurturing, while men are far less often portrayed this way, and these representations influence our real-world expectations. What’s more, there are plenty of reasons why women might be skeptical of men who seem overly attentive. But, as long as it’s done without a hidden agenda, there’s nothing wrong with responding to others with empathy and encouragement — values that should have no gender.

(More From Refinery 29: Dating 101: The New Rules)

TIME advice

10 Tips Every Introvert Should Know

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This post originally appeared on Refinery 29

Lately, we’ve been talking a lot about what it means to be an introvert, kicking off with Susan Cain’s landmark book Quiet and culminating most recently in a New York Timesop-ed debunking the Myers-Briggs personality test (which may be the reason, flawed or not, that many people self-identify as introverts in the first place).

But, as much play as the topic of introversion has been getting, the original (though perhaps whispered) war cry of wallflowers everywhere hasn’t seen much action. That’s right, we’re still not talking much about simply being shy. And, maybe we should be.

“Being shy and being introverted are not necessarily one and the same thing,” says Harvard-trained psychotherapist and author Katherine Crowley. Shy people tend to be the observers, the listeners, and sometimes the hardest workers among us — and yet, the very qualities that make them especially valuable can hold them back.

So, what’s a shy girl to do in a be-agressive, ask-for-what-you-want world, when she feels a little lost in the crowd? Well, not change dramatically, for starters. We chatted with a couple of experts to find ways for you to work within your personality type and achieve professional and personal success — and also know when to challenge yourself so that shyness doesn’t hold you back. Read on for pro tips about how to speak up and stand out.

(Related: The Yes-Woman’s Guide to Being Assertive)

Learn To See Your Shyness As A Strength

Being shy is often described as a drawback, but it’s actually a really valuable quality and — especially when you’re a shy person who might be a little self-conscious about it — it’s important to understand why.

“Shy people are very good observers, not busy being known or making sure everyone sees them, so they’re usually very aware of others and good at picking up on themes in a meeting, and figuring out what other people’s motivations are,” says Dr. Crowley. And, this isn’t just the case in the office: Shy people have an advantage in their personal lives with social groups, because they intimately understand the dynamics at play — which often allows them to avoid missteps, faux pas, and other things that less-observant people might not be aware of, so that they can set themselves up to get what they want. Plus, when they say something, people tend to actually listen, since shy people don’t always assert an opinion.

Another great thing about shy people, says relationship expert and author Andrea Syrtash, is that they tend to be excellent listeners — so, people feel like they can come to you to help solve problems. And, being the person who others look to is a highly prized leadership quality that can easily work in your favor.

But Figure Out When It’s Holding You Back

Okay. We’re all on the same page; being shy can be a really good thing. But, it can also be something that keeps you from being noticed, even when you’re doing things that are unequivocally trophy-worthy. What to do in those cases? Determine what’s holding you back and find workarounds — even if it means going out of your comfort zone.

As Dr. Crowley points out, recognition isn’t doled out based on fairness. “The reality is that shy people are often the workhorses in the office,” she says. But, we live in an age where personality is king, and sometimes it’s the loudest voice that gets all the attention rather than the one that’s doing most of the work.

So, here’s how you make yourself heard. First, figure out which channels make it easier for you to assert yourself, whether that’s scheduling a one-on-one meeting with your boss every week to go over the progress you’ve made, or sending out a regular wrap-up email or to-do list.

On a personal front, you might be tempted to hold back from telling a partner how you really feel about something. Syrtash cautions against that impulse, saying that it often manifests in passive aggression that will ultimately hurt every kind of relationship. So, figure out what setting makes you most comfortable, and then be brave and try to discuss the tough stuff under those conditions.

(Related: A Hollywood Producer Dishes On How To Be Confident At Work)

Bring Back The Buddy System

Remember the days when going somewhere alone seemed like the scariest possible thing, and how adding a friend into the mix immediately helped? Well, it still works. If you won’t know very many people at a social gathering or are headed to an ever-dreaded networking event (where you’re expected to mingle with unfamiliar folks and also manage a little self-promotion in the process), think about bringing the buddy system back.

Dr. Crowley says it works the same way as it did in our younger years: Knowing someone is there with you really helps to set you at ease, and a friend or colleague who knows that you might have a little bit of a tough time warming up socially is the perfect cheerleader.

Of course, this trick doesn’t totally work when it comes to dating. Whether you’re out at a bar or just chilling in the park on a sunny afternoon, it’s just a fact that groups are less approachable than people flying solo. So, challenge yourself to do something on your own, suggests Syrtash — but make sure you’re in your literal happy place. “In spots that make you comfortable,” she says,” you’re going to be the less shy version of yourself, giving a suitor the opportunity to swoop in and say hello.”

Breathe. No, Seriously.

Yes, this might seem a little yoga-teacher-y. But music therapist Maya Benattar regularly recommends it to clients who feel a little panicky in highly visible social or professional situations. Her tips include mindfulness exercises like noticing the top of your head and the bottom of your feet, and just getting into your body. It’s a good way to ground yourself in the present and remember that everything is just fine.

This works when it comes to public speaking and presenting, too. She recommends “keeping it short and sweet… and being gentle with yourself.” If you know you’re projecting a chilled-out persona, that will help you to feel calmer. It’s a self-fulfilling cycle.

Memorize the First Rule of Improv

If you’ve never taken an improv class, that’s okay. We’re going to tell you the most memorable takeaway right here: Never ask a question that might elicit a “no.”

Why not? Because it shuts down the conversation, and that makes everyone uncomfortable (shy people especially so, because then you have to figure out how to navigate over to the next subject). This is pretty easy to master in the workplace, where it’s easier to de-personalize…but what about when it comes to dating?

Great news: Being a shy date, when you go about it the right way, can actually be an awesome experience for the other person. Lots of people have what Syrtash calls the “opera singer complex” — where everything is about “Me! Me! Me!” (say it out loud, you’ll get it) — and if you pair two of these people, they’ll both walk away feeling like their date didn’t put enough focus or attention on them. So, you can mask your shyness a little by asking questions, remaining curious, and really listening to the person sitting across from you while talking to them about their life and keeping the conversation going.

“Being a shy dater really allows your date to shine,” she points out. But, she also cautions against asking questions all night without answering any yourself. Sure, it’s good to be a little mysterious, but dating is a two-person game, not a one-way interview, and in order to make an impression you have to do more than listen: You have to share.

Know When You Have To Speak Up For Yourself

This is admittedly the toughest thing for shy people to do; but sometimes you have to have your own back to accomplish your goals. And, that can come at the cost of your own comfort.

All three of the pros interviewed for this piece emphasized that sometimes putting yourself out there is the difference between getting what you want — whether it’s a promotion, a job, or the significant other of your dreams — and not. So, make a practice of knowing the best ways to make yourself stand out at work, get things off your chest with your friends, and tell your partner what’s in your heart and mind. It’s your job to find the microphone in the way that’s most manageable for you. You don’t have to do it all the time, but you should be able to pull it out when it matters.

(Related: The “Confidence Gap” That’s Holding Women Back)

Face Your Fears

No matter what you need to say, or to whom, sometimes you just need to face your fears. The good news is, practice makes perfect.

Because, here’s the thing about shy people: They’re like old-fashioned Edison bulbs. It might take some time to warm up, but once they do they burn just as brightly as anything else. Think of dealing with a tough situation as a warm-up to help you handle it when it comes around the next time. Practice, in this case, can make (almost!) perfect.

One more thing: Confidence often comes from fulfilling the commitments you make to yourself — and trusting yourself to keep the pact — so if you want to be less shy, commit to it and deliver, and you’ll become more comfortable over time.

Let Your Passion Drive You

“It’s important to remember that people will connect with the intention behind your words, so if you stumble a bit when you speak, or get nervous, simply let your passion shine through,” says Benattar. “Passion doesn’t need to be perfect.”

How does that actually work? For one thing, try asserting yourself in situations where you already feel passionate. If you love working with animals, volunteer at a shelter with a group, where it might be easier for you to take the lead because you’re doing something you care about. And, translate it to your love life by guiding plans to play to your strengths and interests. If you’re doing something you enjoy instead of just sitting at a restaurant where you have to make conversation, communication will come more naturally, and the awesome parts of your personality can take center stage.

Channel Your Vacation Self When All Else Fails

This is an amazing Syrtash-ism and we love it. “When you’re on vacation, you’re a little more open,” she says. “You’re not in your head the whole time, and you tend to be more present.”

Basically, you’re a breezier you on vacay-mode — and why not? Suddenly, the everyday bullsh*t is suspended and you only have to think about the “now” instead of next week and the week after that. “We’re not in our heads as much on vacation, and we just let things happen in the moment,” she says. Vacation brain is a good thing to hold onto, when you’re trying to meet new people, especially, because it helps to offset the pressure.

An added bonus? “The next time you see someone you met as ‘vacation you,’ you might be comfortable enough to take a few more risks and show more of yourself.” Cheers to that.

When You Need Help Get Help

Sometimes — even with a full toolkit to help you deal — shyness just holds you back and there’s nothing you can do about it, even with the help of friends, coworkers, partners, and support networks. That’s when it’s time to call in the pros, Dr. Crowley says.

“The most important thing is to check your interpretation of reality. You might feel almost stuck inside yourself, inside of the box” — and that makes dealing with situations head-on next to impossible. In this case, you might want to explore your options for career or executive coaching, which will equip you with the skills to get out of your head and achieve your goals.

If you’re not quite ready to go the coaching route, talking about your personality quirks and communication needs with friends, coworkers, or even your boss can work. If you ask for help, people are usually more than happy to come to your aid. All you need to do is take the first step, but remember: Getting past your shyness will require admitting out loud that you’re shy. But, you can totally do that.

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TIME health

6 Major Myths About Hydration

Louise Morgan—Getty Images/Flickr
Louise Morgan—Getty Images/Flickr

Summertime, and the living is…sweaty. As the temperature rises, our bodies lose more water (thanks, miracle of perspiration!). So, it becomes increasingly important to chug lots of liquids and stay hydrated throughout this ever-sweltering season.

Why Hydrate, Anyway?
Millions of your body’s core metabolic processes rely on water; it helps regulate temperature control, fluid volume, and overall lubrication. Staying hydrated also helps your system flush out waste and maintain proper blood pressure / heart rate. Water can even aid your body in keeping up a healthy metabolism. How (and when) to hydrate, though, is the million-dollar question — and the stuff of some often-overheard health myths.

Myth #1: Drink Eight 12-Ounce Glasses, Every Day
One thing people tend to get wrong about hydration is that eight 12-ounce glasses per day is the ideal requirement for everybody. Humans are all different, and eight (glasses of water, hours of sleep) is a variable number. The amount of water you actually need per day depends on climatic conditions, what type of clothing you’re wearing (yes, really), and your exercise intensity and duration (every pound of sweat you lose is a pint of water you’ll need to re-supply). Generally speaking, The Institute of Medicine recommends about 91 ounces of water per day for women and 120 ounces for men. Still, the Institute suggests that in everyday life, most folks can meet their bodies’ hydration needs by simply following their thirst.

Myth #2: Just Drink When You’re Thirsty
Thirst can be a sign of dehydration, but not always — sometimes it can just mean you’re craving a soda. Drinking when you’re thirsty is all well and good, but don’t hold out for a thirst-alert when you’re working up a sweat; exercise can actually blunt your thirst mechanism, causing you to feel un-thirsty even when your body is screaming for water. So, stay on the safe side and drink up during physical exertion.

Myth #3: A Sports Drink Is Your Best Bet
What to drink depends on what you’re doing. If you’re engaged in high-intensity outdoor exercise like distance running, a beverage containing sodium and electrolytes (such as Gatorade) can be replenishing. But, it’s even healthier to stick with good old-fashioned water and then nosh on a nutritious, post-workout snack that’s rich in sodium or potassium: bananas, orange slices, or unsalted nuts are great options.Other (non-alcoholic) beverages can contribute to your body’s daily hydration needs, too. In news that’s sure to thrill coffee snobs worldwide,The Institute of Medicine has determined that a few daily cups of caffeinated beverages can help you meet your daily water requirement. We repeat: It’s been proven that moderate amounts of caffeinated drinks do NOT negatively affect your hydration levels, hallelujah. Still, plain water is your best bet when it comes to hardcore hydration. Research shows that water can be digestion-boosting; plus, it’s calorie-free (because who needs sugary sodas, anyway?).
Myth #4: There’s No Such Thing As Too Much Water
Celebrities and laypeople alike have claimed that consuming extra water can improve your skin, help you sleep, and boost overall health by “detoxing” your body. But, it’s not necessary. “There is no evidence that excess water makes your body more clean,” saysStanley Goldfarb, M.D. of the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.Also, water poisoning is actually a thing: You may have heard about the risk of hyponatremia (a.k.a. low sodium levels), which can result from drinking too much water. Though hyponatremia is rare, it’s a dangerous condition that can develop when athletes dilute their bodies’ natural sodium content by downing excessive H20 — causing their water levels to rise and their cells to swell. Prolonged-endurance athletes, like the ballsy folks you see at marathons and triathlons, tend to encounter this ailment most frequently; it’s generally not something you need to stress about during barre class or a power-walk through Central Park. No need to go overboard and try that extreme-water-drinking thing that was hyped for a minute.

You’ve probably heard that proper hydration leads to completely-clear pee. That’s true for the most part, but you can cut yourself a bit of slack; a healthy urinary hue can range from fully clear to a light, lemonade-ish yellow (mm, refreshing!). Dark urine does indicate dehydration, though, so pay attention to what’s in your toilet bowl, especially during the summer — and drink more water if your pee is more deep-gold than pale-yellow (you should be drinking enough to make you hit the bathroom every two to four hours, by the way).
Myth #6: Severe Dehydration Is An “Old-People’s Problem”
Although dehydration is a bigger risk for children, older folks, and people with chronic illnesses, it can and does happen to healthy adults, too — especially those who live in high altitudes or who exercise vigorously in hot, humid weather. Other than thirst, signs to watch for are heightened temperature, a flushed complexion, rapid pulse, fast breathing, dizziness, and overall weakness. If you notice any of those symptoms, stop what you’re doing and replenish your fluid levels, ASAP.
You’ll want to seek out immediate medical care, though, if you notice signs of extreme dehydration, such as: super-dry mouth, skin, or mucus membranes; sunken eyes; little to zero urine output; pinched-looking skin; low blood pressure; and confusion, delirium, or unconsciousness. Complications of this kind of dehydration can be frighteningly severe: seizures, brain swelling, kidney failure, coma, and even death, to name a few.
Sounds Scary — Here’s How To Deal
The best way to deal with dehydration is to drink enough liquids to prevent it from happening in the first place. Other ways to stay hydrated this summer are to eat water-rich fruits and veggies such as celery, pineapple, watermelon, kiwi, citrus fruits, and carrots; they won’t meet your hydration needs on their own, but they can help give a boost. Coconut water is great, as are some forms of dairy, such as yogurt and kefir. Soup, oatmeal, and smoothies are also good choices.
No matter how you opt to keep your body fluid-filled this July, make hydration a priority. The summer months may be all about fun in the sun, but there’s nothing more fun-squashing than having to hide out in your apartment (or beach house, or hotel room, or cabin in the woods) with a bad case of the dehydration blues.


5 (Good) Reasons to Skip Your Workout

Here’s a fitness rule you shouldn’t follow: “Never skip a workout.”

Forcing yourself to stick with an extreme program that tells you to “never, ever deviate” (we’re looking at you, restrictive diets and aggressive fitness plans) isn’t sustainable. And, at R29 Wellness, we believe that living healthfully and staying active is a lifestyle — not just a month-long commitment.

With any regular training program, you should be taking one to two days off per week to allow your body to recover, explains performance coach and exercise physiologist Pete McCall. This helps prevent burnout and ward off injuries by giving your muscles time to heal. As McCall points out, a rest day doesn’t have to mean spending hours on your couch; you can recover actively by taking a low-intensity walk or scheduling a restorative yoga class.

But, there are times when doing nothing at all is your best bet for mental and physical health. (Unfortunately, having just bought a bottle of wine doesn’t quite make the cut.) Ahead, five common scenarios where sleeping in (and/or eating the damn cookie) will leave you more refreshed and energized than pushing through your regularly scheduled sweat session would.

This post originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

TIME career

10 Tips For Being Happier at Work

It’s Thursday. Meaning: Only two more days between you and the weekend. But, there are probably a thousand meetings, deadlines, and co-worker spats between here and there. Awful, we know. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. In an alternate universe, you could be happy at work — even on the days when your boss is being unreasonable and you’re stuck in the office absurdly late.

We hit up Nataly Kogan, cofounder and CEO of Happier (a wellness company that’s all about helping people get happier and healthier in every part of their lives), for a no-BS guide that could legitimately change the way you see your job. Because, here’s the thing: It’s all about perspective, and finding a smarter way to deal with the mundane stuff.

Sure, if you’re truly miserable, you should find a new gig. And, if you’re medium-unhappy, maybe you should still be looking. But, until you find that next job, you’re most likely stuck with this one. Even if you love your job (like we clearly do — after all, we have balloon hats at our company meetings), some days are harder than others. Which is where our handy-dandy guide comes in.

The 10 simple tips to upgrade your daily grind, right this way.

This content originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

TIME health

How Dieting Changes Friendships

Dinner table illustration
Illustrated by Sydney Hass

Diet, whether we like it or not, plays a role in our social lives. Think about the culture of your office lunch — there’s the gluten-free faction, the microwave Easy Mac-ers, and those February Fridays when everyone just goes crazy and orders burgers because it’s snowing again?? Remember that one group dinner when no one could tell if anyone else wanted dessert, so you all just stared each other in silence while the waiter stood, clutching menus, hating you harder by the second? And, how about the dietetic minefield that is brunch?

Food has a way of drawing lines between friends, and it sucks. How many times have you started a diet with a friend in the hopes that you’d support each other and keep each other honest? Sometimes it works, and you spend a few weeks hitting the gym together, reporting every froyo skipped and every cocktail made “skinny.” And then, someone starts to deviate. Here’s a semi-true text I’ve both sent and received on more than one occasion: “My back is really bugging me. I think I need to skip yoga tonight. I’m so, so sorry! Are you mad?!” (Side note: My 30th birthday present to myself and all my friends was to quit it with the “are you mad” stuff.) Sometimes their response is “Thank God, I WANT WINE NOW PLEASE,” and then you just bring your mats to the wine bar and everyone is happy. Other times, you’re not on the same page. That’s when you’re no longer cheating on the diet, you’re cheating on your friend. At least, that’s what it feels like. And, it feels like that because that’s how you set it up.

(MORE: 10 Buzzy Superfoods That Work)

Okay, that’s not entirely fair. (Man, is anything fair with this food stuff?) Even when we’re not doing the buddy-diet thing, the way we eat always seems to be a part of the conversation. It’s a natural social inclination to discuss this kind of stuff, but it’s certainly been perverted by the diet-centric culture in which we live. Our great-great-grandparents might have sat around each other’s kitchens discussing food in different terms — the best recipes, the nutritional content, the economic value — and we might as well, to a degree. Goodness knows I get pretty excited when I find an avocado for less than $3. But, I’m pretty sure my great-great-grandmother never boated ‘cross the fjords to tell her bestie she’d found a sick recipe for low-carb smørrebrød.

(MORE: The Mindful Eating Trick That Saves Me)

People often say that it’s hard to have a social life when you’re on a diet: You can’t go out for cocktails because of the cals, you go home early so you can hit the gym early, you opt out of your own birthday cake. It sucks. The rude awakening I’ve had over the last six months is that giving up dieting is the opposite side of the same sucky coin. Have another cocktail, sure. Have a mudslide, if that’s what you really want! But, be prepared for raised eyebrows — even if you’re only imagining them.


Dinner table illustration
Illustrated by Sydney Hass
Illustrated by Sydney Hass

Food-related socializing can be challenging now. Even trickier? I’m finally realizing just how many of my social interactions are food-related. In the old days, I had friends with whom I was “bad” — those friends I’d associate with cheeseburgers and a back-up bottle of wine in the fridge. Then, I had friends that spoke the language of food-fear, and together we made guilt-free soups and counted out portions of baked chips. In all these relationships, we had more in common than food, thankfully. Though, because food was the axis I spun on, it became the center of these interactions, too.

(MORE: The Science of a Perfect Relationship)

But, the more I become an intuitive eater, the less food is my anchor. I don’t “cheat” anymore, and so gone is the thrill of the “cheat night.” I don’t constantly crawl the internet for low-point guacamole recipes, and now guacamole is just the thing we eat while we hang out, not the entire reason for hanging out (spoiler: that’s kind of the goal). Sometimes it’s as simple as not being hungry at the same time as my friend. I know, call Dr. Phil, how will we ever get through a crisis of this magnitude?

When you go against the grain, you will be challenged. Your usual support system might take a while to adjust. The one in your own head is what you really need to focus on. Because there will always be naysayers. There will always be moments when a friend might set you off on a diet-minded tailspin with her no-cheese, no-yolk omelet, accompanied by salad with the dressing firmly on the side. Faced with your perfectly acceptable pancakes in those moments, there’s no other back-up but you. And, you, if you’re me, is the toughest nut to crack.

My friends have been there for me from day one, but some of them didn’t necessarily get it. If I’m honest, I think some of them still don’t. But, what a relief to discover that that’s okay. My friends, my coworkers, my boyfriend and I don’t necessarily need to be on the same track about absolutely everything. Just because I’ve jumped off the bridge doesn’t mean my friends have to, too. This feels like something I should have learned in middle school, but I’m glad I’m getting it now.

This post originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

TIME career

6 Ways to Become a Better Communicator

Gchat isn't always the best way to talk

I grew up in a pretty blunt household — we said what was on our minds and no topic was off-limits. This level of candor meant no silent treatments, no hiding behind slammed doors, and no letting things stew. While honesty has certainly helped me in personal relationships as well at the office, there are times when my dose of truth serum can be a little too potent. Why does talking (something most of us have been doing since infancy) become so difficult sometimes?

“Communication is, above all, a skill — and very few people know how to communicate effectively, naturally. It takes thoughtfulness and a lot of practice,” says Carl Alasko, PhD, a California-based psychotherapist and author of Say This Not That: A Foolproof Guide to Effective Intrapersonal Communication.

This basically means you need to strategize and practice if you’re going to successfully confront your roommate about her less-than-stellar cleanliness skills (or tell a coworker he isn’t pulling his weight on a project). No worries if your eloquence isn’t quite Brian Williams-level; we’ve tapped top communication experts for their tricks. Get ready to master the art of conversation.

This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

TIME Travel

3 Sneaky Ways Your Vacation Is Costing You Extra

Nothing can ruin your vacation more than getting charged excessive fees that drain your bank account — or worse, losing your credit card and falling victim to identity theft. Why risk ruining your vacation? With careful planning, you can protect yourself from both theft and unnecessary expenses. Here are three tips to help keep your bank account financially sound and your finances running smoothly on your summer vacation.

This post originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

TIME technology

Burnt Out? 7 Mindfulness Apps To Help You Refocus

Your smartphone doesn't always have to be a distraction

I kind of want to marry my iPhone, day planner, and computer. But, as with any relationship, sometimes I need a break. The other night I decided to leave my to-do list and phone upstairs for the night, and I had trouble sleeping. I worried about the incoming emails and Tweets that would go unanswered until morning. And, I fondly thought about a time when my phone was anchored to the wall with a cord and my sleep was uninterrupted by thoughts of hashtags, @ symbols, and perfectly crafted subject lines. Yes, life was simple then. My nights were spent reading a good book, or with my mom doing a guided meditation to help me snooze. As I thought about her telling me to inhale the spirit of the universe and to exhale stress, my mind flashed to my app store: I bet there was an app that could do that! I quickly jumped out of bed and began searching for relaxation apps and videos. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the thing that usually makes me super-productive and connected with the world could also help me meditate and block out the business (that could wait) around me. So here you go — my top 10 apps, videos, and tools for you to just be you.

This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

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