TIME Exercise/Fitness

24 Fat-Burning Ab Exercises

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No, you don't have to do crunches all the time

When most people think “abs,” they think the muffin top that blooms over the top of too-tight pants. But abdominals, a set collectively known as the core, includes the many interconnected muscles that run up the back and stretch down to the butt and the front and inner thighs, says Michele Olson, PhD, professor of physical education and exercise science at Auburn University–Montgomery, Alabama.

Here are 24 moves, from simple to killer, that will keep your daily core workouts interesting.

Get more from your core

You’ll get more from your Pilates, yoga, or core-focused moves—meaning a slimmer, flatter belly—by following these tips:

  • Move from your waist. Whenever you twist, make sure the movement happens from your bottom rib up. Keep hips still.
  • Tighten up. Throughout each move, you should feel a tightening, similar to zipping up a pair of tight jeans, from one hip bone to the other.
  • Exhale deeply. To help strengthen your abs and protect your lower back, be sure to exhale thoroughly with every breath.

A new kind of crunch

Try this two-in-one abs-and-obliques move from David Barton Gym owner David Barton. 

Here’s how: Sit so thighs and upper torso form a V shape, with lower legs crossed and lifted.

Hold a 5-pound medicine ball (or dumbbell) between both hands. Swivel left to right and back, bringing ball across body while maintaining the V shape.

Do 3 sets of 15 reps 3–4 times a week.

Bridge opposite arm-leg reach

Take inches off your waistline with this do-anywhere move from fitness expert and teacher Jessica Smith.

  1. Lie faceup with your left knee bent, left foot flat on the floor, and right leg extended toward the ceiling. Reach toward the ceiling with your the left arm and keep your right arm down by your side.
  2. Without moving your hips or shoulders, open your raised leg to the right and raised arm to the left. Now, concentrating on your abs, return your raised leg and arm to the center. Do 10–12 reps, then switch sides and repeat.

Low-belly leg reach

Targets corset and six-pack. 

Lie faceup with knees bent to 90 degrees, hands behind head, and abs contracted. Keeping knees stacked over hips, lift shoulders and crunch up; inhale and hold for 3-5 seconds.

Exhale and extend legs to 45 degrees; hold for 3-5 seconds while squeezing lower belly. Do 2 sets of 10-15 reps.

Teaser

An advanced Pilates-inspired move. Lie on your back with knees bent to 90-degree angles and feet lifted. Tighten abs as you inhale, and lift arms up and back over head.

Exhale and swing arms forward, straightening legs so your body forms a V. If needed, put hands on the floor for support.

Roll down slowly, bending knees and bringing arms overhead. Do 15 reps.

Donkey kickbacks

A killer move that will torch calories as it works your core. 

Kneel on all fours, toes tucked under, keeping your back neutral. Draw your belly in toward your spine as you contract your abs and lift both knees about 2 inches off the ground.

Keeping abs engaged, bring right knee to nose (shown). Then kick right leg straight out behind you, squeezing your butt (shown); keep lower abs contracted and hips facing the ground to protect your back.

Repeat 8 times; switch legs and repeat.

Advanced leg crunches

A get-ready-for-swimsuit season move from celebrity trainer Eduardo Dias.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and a 3-pound dumbbell between your feet. Place your hands, palms down, beneath your sitting bones.
  2. Concentrating on your lower abs, use them to bring your knees in toward your chest while lifting your hips, head, and shoulders slightly. Return to the starting position; that’s 1 rep.

Do 15–30 reps 3–4 times a week; you should see results in 4 weeks.

Ana Caban’s belly blaster

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent in toward your chest. Hold 1 (3-pound) dumbbell with both hands.
  2. Extend your left leg to 45 degrees, keeping your right knee bent. Lift your head and shoulders and move the dumbbell to the outside of your right knee, pressing into a crunch with a twist (shown above).
  3. Pull your left leg in to meet your right leg and reach the weight up toward the ceiling, keeping your shoulders and head elevated off the floor. Now repeat step 2, but this time extend your right leg and keep your left knee bent. That’s 1 rep.

Do 8 reps 4 times per week, and you should see results in 3 weeks.

Oblique driving-knee crunch

Lie on your back on a stability ball with your feet hip-distance apart on the floor and knees bent to 90 degrees. Place your right hand behind your head and your left fingertips on the floor for balance. Brace your core and lift your left foot off the floor. Extend your left leg, foot flexed.

Crunch up, twisting your right shoulder and rib cage toward your left knee while simultaneously stretching your right leg straight (keep your foot on the floor). Return to starting position (left leg lifted and right leg bent); that’s 1 rep.

Do 15 reps, then switch sides and repeat.

Scale Pose

“I’m a fan of this efficient move not only for its core (and arm!) strengthening but also because it’s a great way to strengthen your pelvic floor—and that helps in everything from better sex to better posture.”

Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position with hands on a mat next to your hips. Tighten your pelvic floor (as if you have to pee and are holding it in), push into your hands, and lift your entire lower body off the mat.

Hold for 3 breaths, then lower back down. This is a pretty challenging move, so if you can’t lift your whole lower half, keep your feet on the floor and just lift your butt. Do 3 reps.

Boat pose

Sit with your feet on the floor, knees bent, hands beneath your knees for support. Keeping your chest lifted and shoulders back, engage your ab muscles and raise your lower legs until they are parallel to the floor (your knees should still be bent) and you are balancing on your sitting bones.

If this feels comfortable, begin to straighten your legs (stop if you feel any discomfort in your back) and stretch your arms forward. Hold for 5–15 breaths, then release. Repeat up to 5 times.

Cross-leg diagonal crunch

Lie on your back with your legs straight and feet on the floor. Keeping your torso still, lift your hips and move them a bit to the right; lower and straighten your legs again.

Bend your left knee and cross it over your right leg, placing your left foot on the floor near the outside of your right knee. Crunch up, then come back down.

Do 50 reps, then switch sides and repeat.

Tone-it V hold

Uses fast-twitch muscle fibers (the ones that contract during high-intensity moves and help improve muscle tone)

Sit with knees bent and feet on floor. Clasp underside of thighs with both hands, hinge back, and lift feet until lower legs are parallel to floor; release hands. Straighten legs and reach for your toes; hold for 8 breaths. Repeat 3 times.

Plank

“I’m all about this one-stop-shop move: It not only tones my entire core but also strengthens and sculpts my arms, butt, and thighs.”

Kneel on a mat on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders. Stretch your legs back one at a time to come into plank position (the “up” part of a push-up); engage your ab muscles. Your body should be long and straight; don’t let your hips sag or lift your butt too high. Imagine there’s a seat belt tightening around your waist, drawing your lower-ab muscles inward.

Press your hands firmly into the mat, and press strongly back through your heels. Hold for 1–2 minutes (or as long as you can), then drop back to all fours. Do 3 reps.

Body-weight squat

Stand with feet hip-width, knees bent slightly, hands crossed over chest. Squat down, pressing weight into feet. Make sure feet are pointing straight ahead and knees are over your toes; keep bum tucked. Return to standing.

Do 5 sets of 5 reps.

Swan dive

Lie on your stomach, stretch your arms overhead, point your toes, and lift your arms and legs about 6 inches off the ground. Hold for 1 count, imagining your legs being pulled out and back, away from your hips.

Next, circle your arms out to the sides and behind you. Exhale and reach your arms toward your toes, palms facing in (shown). Hold for 1 count, then bring arms back to starting position and relax entire body to ground. Repeat 6–8 times.

Windshield wiper

Lie on your back with knees bent to 90-degree angles. Straighten your arms by your sides, and lengthen your fingertips. Press the backs of your shoulders against a mat, and slide them down away from your ears. Focusing on the deep waist muscles, inhale and slowly move your knees to the right, then exhale and return to starting position. Repeat on the left; that’s 1 rep. Do 5–8 reps.

Plank on the ball

Kneel in front of a stability ball, draping your abs and hips over the ball. Place your hands on the ground in front of you and walk them out until the ball rolls beneath your thighs (as shown above).

Once your body is straight (with a slight arch in your back) and you’re stable, hold for 30 seconds. Focus on lifting belly button and squeezing thighs.

Jumping jack reach

While seated, hold the ball and jump legs apart, then together, then apart again. Stand and reach left hand to the right (use right hand to keep ball in place). Sit back down, jump legs together, and repeat sequence on the other side; that’s 1 rep. Do 4 reps, then do Basic Bounce for 1 minute. Repeat sequence 3 more times.

Standing side crunch

Stand holding ball overhead, elbows bent and out to sides, and feet shoulder-width apart. Lift right knee to side; pull right elbow down to meet it. Return to starting position; repeat on other side. Bounce ball for 1 minute. Repeat sequence 3 more times.

Basic pump (for abs)

  1. Stand with one leg forward and the hoop around your waist, holding it against the small of your back. Bend knees slightly, then spin the hoop by giving it a big push around in one direction. (Be sure the hoop is level.)
  2. Shift your weight between your forward and backward legs to move your hips forward and backward (as opposed to around), pushing and pulling to keep the hoop spinning.

Circles in the sky

For core, inner thighs, outer hips, butt.

Lie on your back with hands behind your head. Contract abs, lifting upper body slightly off the ground. Raise right leg 5 inches (or keep it on the ground if that’s too challenging) and left leg straight up toward the sky.

Keeping your core engaged and hips stable, trace 4 softball-size circles clockwise with your entire left leg; reverse, circling 4 times counterclockwise. Lower both legs, switch sides, and repeat.

Side incline with a twist

For triceps, biceps, core, waist

.

Lie on your right side with forearm directly under shoulder, hand perpendicular to your body, and legs stacked. Engage your abs and the right side of your waist, lifting your hips so your body forms a straight line from head to feet.

Extend your left arm toward the sky, staying engaged through your core (shown). Now scoop your left arm in front of your body and reach under the space between your chest and the ground, twisting only from the waist up.

Come back up; repeat 4 times, then lower body to the ground. Repeat on the opposite side.

Supine twist

  1. Lie on your back with legs stretched out straight. Inhale as you bend your right knee and bring it in toward your chest; hug it tightly with both hands.
  2. Exhale as you use your left hand to gently press your right knee over to the left side, allowing your torso to twist. Stretch your right arm out to the right at shoulder height.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

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TIME Diet/Nutrition

27 Best Superfoods for Weight Loss

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So-called superfoods are nutritional powerhouses that help build bones, prevent chronic diseases, improve your eyesight, and even keep your mind sharp. But did you know new evidence suggests these foods can also help you get—and stay—slim?

Read on for the top superfoods for weight loss, and how to pack them into your daily diet!

Black beans
A cup of black beans packs a whopping 15 grams of satisfying protein and doesn’t contain any of the saturated fat found in other protein sources, like red meat.

Try this recipe: Spiced Black Bean Hummus With Marinated Peaches

Oats
Oats are rich in fiber, so a serving can help you feel full throughout the day. Just a half cup packs 4.6 grams of Resistant Starch, a healthy carb that boosts metabolism and burns fat.

Try this recipe: Dark Chocolate and Oat Clusters

Avocados
There’s no reason to be afraid of eating fats—as long as they’re the right fats.

Oleic acid, a compound in avocados’ healthy monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), may trigger your body to actually quiet hunger. Stick to a quarter or a half of an avocado and watch that belly fat melt away. The creamy fruit is also packed with fiber and protein.

Try this recipe: Avocado, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwiches

Salmon
Lean sources of protein help you feel full without adding fat. However, 50% of women ages 18 to 50 don’t know if they get enough of this essential nutrient.

Up your intake with salmon; it’s a leaner choice than red meat and is chock-full of MUFAs to boot. A 2001 study found that dieters eating a MUFA-rich diet lost an average of 9 pounds, while their low-fat diet counterparts gained, on average, 6.

Try this recipe: Pan-Grilled Salmon With Pineapple Salsa

Blueberries
Best known for their anti-aging effects, blueberries, while tiny, are a powerful figure-friendly eat: A 1-cup serving sets you back only 80 calories, and helps you feel full with 4 grams of fiber.

Try this recipe: Blueberry-Lemon Sorbet

Broccoli
Cooked or raw, this cruciferous veggie is well-known for its cancer-preventing powers, but with a punch of filling fiber in less than 30 calories a serving, it’s bound to prevent weight problems too.

Try this recipe: Broccoli Salad With Sesame Dressing and Cashews

Brown rice
Brown rice is a heartier, fiber-packed alternative to less-than-super white rice. A half-cup serving contains 1.7 grams of Resistant Starch, a healthy carb that boosts metabolism and burns fat.

Plus, brown rice is a low-energy-density food, meaning it’s heavy and filling but low in calories. One study found that women who ate a higher-energy-density diet gained three times as much weight over six years than women eating a low-energy-density diet.

Try this recipe: Wild Salmon and Brown Rice Bowl

Pears
Just one pear packs 15% of your daily recommended amount of fiber. One study found that women who ate three pears a day consumed fewer calories and lost more weight than those who didn’t. Ditch the peeler though; the skin is where all that filling fiber is hiding!

Try this recipe: Warm Pear With Cinnamon Ricotta

Wine
Resveratrol, the famed antioxidant found in grape skin, stops fat storage. Studies show that moderate wine drinkers have narrower waists and less belly fat than liquor drinkers. Downing a glass can boost your calorie burn for a good 90 minutes.

Try these: Best Bargain Bottles of Wine

Grapefruit
Even if you changed nothing else about your diet, eating half a grapefruit before each meal may help you lose up to a pound a week!

A compound in the tangy fruit can lower insulin, a fat-storage hormone, and that can lead to weight loss. It’s also a good source of protein, and because it’s at least 90% water, it can fill you up so you eat less.

Try this recipe: Ginger-Citrus Fruit Salad

Kidney beans
One of several varieties of beans to make the list, red beans offer protein and fiber (more than 5 grams per serving!). Kidney beans are also rich in Resistant Starch; a 1/2-cup serving packs nearly 2 grams of this slimming carb.

Try this recipe: Red Bean and Poblano Chili

Almonds
Nuts are another superfood rich in healthy fats that help you slim down.

Almonds in particular can help you shed pounds: In one study, people who added a daily helping of the nuts to a low-cal diet lost more weight than people who followed the same diet but swapped almonds for a carb-heavy snack like crackers.

Try this recipe: Almond-Ciabatta French Toast

Green tea
This steamy sip hydrates like water, which can help fill you up and shed pounds. Plus, the antioxidants in green tea will up your fat burn and calorie burn. One study found that five cups a day could help you lose twice as much weight, most of it around your middle.

Try this recipe: Minty Iced Green Tea

Lentils
Lentils are a great source of satiating protein and fiber. A half-cup serving delivers 3.4 grams of Resistant Starch, a healthy carb that boosts metabolism and burns fat.

Try this recipe: Gingery Lentil Soup

Bananas
Bananas are a slimming superfood at the heart of Health‘s CarbLovers Diet. A slightly green, medium-size banana will fill you up and boost your metabolism with its 12.5 grams of Resistant Starch. Even a ripe banana still ranks high on the list of foods containing RS, with almost 5 grams.

Try this recipe: Chocolate-Dipped Banana Bites

Eggs
Eggs get a bad rap when it comes to weight loss. But the breakfast staple is loaded with protein that will curb your appetite. One study found that overweight women who ate egg breakfasts lost twice as much weight as women who started their days with bagels.

And don’t worry about cholesterol: The study found that egg eaters don’t have higher bad cholesterol or lower good cholesterol than bagel eaters.

Try this recipe: Scrambled Egg Burritos

Dark chocolate
Chocolate lovers, rejoice! A nibble of dark chocolate here and there can slow down digestion so you feel full longer and eat less at your next meal.

Dark chocolate is full of MUFAs; studies show eating a diet high in these healthy fats can rev your metabolism to burn fat and calories. It may also help by curbing cravings for salt, sweet, or fatty diet-wreckers.

Try this recipe: Light Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Oranges
At only 59 calories, you may not expect much from an orange, but thanks to a hefty dose of fiber, it ranks highest among fruits on a list of 38 filling foods put together by Australian researchers. Feeling full can help you eat less throughout the day.

Try this recipe: Blood Orange and Duck Confit Salad

Potatoes
True, potatoes are high in carbs, but they are three times as filling as a slice of white bread, and top all the foods on the same satiety index as oranges. Plus, potatoes are also rich in Resistant Starch, which helps your body burn fat.

Try this recipe: Two-Potato Salad With Mustard-Chive Dressing

Pine nuts
Nut lovers don’t have to stick to almonds. These tiny bites pack the same heart-healthy fatty acids that quell hunger hormones and burn belly fat. One study found that swapping healthy unsaturated ones like those found in nuts for saturated fats helped overweight people lose weight without reducing calorie intake or upping their exercise.

Plus, at only 95 calories for more than 80 nuts, you can enjoy them guilt free.

Try this recipe: Sautéed Brussels Sprouts With Parmesan and Pine Nuts

White beans
One-half cup of these fiber-packed beans contains almost 4 grams of fat-blasting Resistant Starch, a healthy carb that boosts metabolism.

Try this recipe: Ravioli With Tomatoes, White Beans, and Escarole

Cheese
Fresh goat cheese and feta contain a fatty acid that helps you feel full and burn more fat. Look for cheeses labeled “grass-fed,” as those will have the highest content of this healthy fat.

Try this recipe: Olive–Goat Cheese Bruschetta

Milk
The same fatty acid is found in milk, and milk’s proteins can keep you feeling satisfied. The added calcium may also help; in one study, women burned more fat and calories when they had 1,000 to 1,400 milligrams of calcium per day.

Try this recipe: Very Chocolate Milk Shake

Garbanzo beans
Also known as chickpeas, these slimming beans pack more than 2 grams of Resistant Starch per half-cup serving. They’re also a great source of fiber, protein, and healthy fats.

Try this recipe: Pancetta and Chickpea Soup

Pearl barley
This starchy side makes a slimming complement to a low-cal meal by adding some satisfying fiber and nearly 2 grams of Resistant Starch in just a half-cup serving.

Try this recipe: Spicy Sausage, Barley, and Mushroom Stew

Quinoa
Another diet-friendly whole grain, quinoa is rich in hunger-fighting protein. You’ll stay full longer on fewer calories and avoid overeating at other meals.

Try this recipe: Toasted Quinoa With Chiles and Corn

Plantains
A half cup of cooked plantains packs almost 3 grams of Resistant Starch, a healthy carb that boosts metabolism and burns fat.

Try this recipe: Honey-Lime Plantains

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME psychology

How Birth Order Will Shape the New Royal Princess

It's never easy being a second-born—especially when your big brother is going to be king

Dear Royal Princess:

You’re having some kind of week—what with labor and birth and the entire planet waiting for pictures of you so they can smile and swoon and make strange smoochy noises at the mere sight of you. It’s all good, and the last thing I want to be is the skunk at the monarchical picnic, but there’s one detail folks may have neglected to mention and you might as well learn about it now. His name is George—or Georgie as all those smoochy people call him—and he’s got plans for you.

George is your big brother. He’s only 20 months old and the world finds him adorable, but you won’t—for a lot of reasons. For starters, at some point in your childhood he will sit on your head. Actually, at a lot of points in your childhood he will sit on your head—and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

The main problem with George is not that he’s third in line to the throne and you’re fourth. That just happens to be one of the downsides of your family business. The problem is one that’s familiar to the rest of us serfs and colonists: he’s the first born, and you’re not.

Your mom and your dad—lovely people, by all accounts—are no different from other parents when it comes to baby-making; they’re ruled by their genes and genes are greedy. The only thing they want is to be reproduced over and over and over again. That makes moms and dads want to have lots of babies, which is good, but they don’t treat all those babies exactly the same.

The first-born—Georgie in your case—gets a head start on food, attention, medical care, education and more. Before the second-born—you, in your case—even comes along, that makes the big sibling a better bet to survive childhood, grow up and have babies of his own, which makes the genes smile. In your family, of course, there’s plenty of food, money and other resources to go around, but back in the days of one of your many royal grandpas—let’s say Edward III, who had the rotten luck to be in office in 1348 when the black plague was making its rounds—surviving childhood wasn’t such a sure thing.

So moms and dads, who have already invested a lot of resources in the first born, tend to favor that child, with later ones getting what’s left over. Corporations call this sunk costs (you’ll learn about this at Eton). In the case of the monarchy, it’s called “an heir and a spare”—but you didn’t hear that from me.

This is an arrangement that suits that first product just fine, which is why big brothers and sisters tend to play by the rules. Your job—and the job of any littler royals who may come along after you—will be to try to upset that order. It’s why later-borns tend to be more rebellious and to take more risks than first-borns. You’ll be likelier to play extreme sports than big bro George. Even if you and he play the same sports, you’ll choose a more physical position—say, a catcher instead of a pitcher in baseball (which is a sport like cricket except the bat is thinner and the ball moves faster and there’s this thing called the infield fly rule and…never mind). In the event you ever become Ruler of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of other Realms and Territories around the world—and a whole lot would have to go wrong in your family for that to happen, so don’t start getting measured for the cape yet—you’d be a more liberal, less conventional monarch than your big bro will be.

Later-borns are more inclined to be artists too, and if there is a comedian in the family, it’s likeliest to be the very last-born. This makes sense, since when you’re the smallest person in the nursery, you are in constant risk of getting clocked by someone bigger, so you learn to disarm with humor.

As you get older, other perils await—ones that are especially problematic for royal families. You don’t really know your grandpa Charles yet, but you’ll find he’s a pretty well-behaved guy (OK, there was the thing with grandmum Camilla, but that’s for him to explain to you). The same is true of your dad. How come? Because they’re both going to be king one day.

As for your Uncle Harry? Ask him about what he wears to Halloween parties (not good) or to play pool in Las Vegas hotel rooms (not much). And if he hasn’t always been the picture of royal reserve, well, neither have your great-grandpa Phillip or your great uncle Andrew. (One day, ask Uncle Andy about a special friend of his named Miss Stark—and if you really want to get a laugh, call her Auntie Koo.) That’s what comes from having lots of money, too much free time, and being really, really close to the throne but never getting to sit on it.

In fairness, it’s not just you royals who get up to mischief when a big sib is the star and you’re not. Something similar has happened here in the colonies. Ever heard of Donald Nixon or Billy Carter or Roger Clinton or Neil Bush? Probably not, but trust me, don’t be those guys.

None of this is for you to worry about yet. Even royal babies are just babies, so for now sleep in, fatten up and hang with mom as much as you can—especially if it keeps your dad away from her. Trust me, the middle-child gig is even worse.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Kids Overeat When They’re Stressed, Study Says

Especially if their parents use food as a reward

Next time you watch Bambi with your kids, you may want to hide the ice cream: A new study shows that 5-to-7-year-old children tend to eat more when they’re sad.

According to a new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, kids are more likely to overeat when they are upset, especially if their parents have used food as a reward in the past. The study notes that stress eating is a learned and unnatural behavior, since stress and emotional turmoil usually reduce appetite, rather than increasing it. The fact that children were found to have stress eating tendencies at this age suggests that emotional overeating is something children learn in early childhood, perhaps because of the way their parents feed them.

The researchers divided the kids into two groups, asked them to color a picture, and then told them they would get a toy once the coloring was done. With one group of kids, the researchers withheld a crayon that was needed to complete the drawing, which meant the kids couldn’t get their prize. This was a “stressful situation” for the children. While the researchers pretended to look for the crayon so the kids could complete the drawing, kids snacked on a few different items around the room. Afterwards, the researchers found that the kids in the “stressful” situation ate more than the kids who were able to finish their drawing and get the toy, especially if their parents said they had used food as a reward in the past.

The study found that children were much more likely to stress eat if their parents over-controlled their eating, by doing things like using food as a reward or withholding food for health reasons. According to the researchers, these practices can override children’s natural hunger instincts, instead making food into a reward or an emotional comfort.

But because the sample size is relatively small (41 parent-child duos) more research is needed before we’ll get a clearer picture of how exactly parents’ feeding practices affect the way kids think about stress eating.

 

 

TIME Addiction

Health Experts Angry FDA Still Doesn’t Regulate E-Cigarettes

TIME.com stock photos E-Cig Electronic Cigarette Smoke
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Prominent medical groups are asking the government to hurry up

A year has passed since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed new regulations for e-cigarettes, cigars and waterpipe tobacco, to prevent them from being sold to minors and to require manufacturers to add health warnings to labels—but the new rules still haven’t gone into effect.

Now, public health experts are urging action, arguing it’s unacceptable that it’s taken so long given data shows use of these products among minors has spiked.

Earlier this week, 31 health and medical groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Heart Association wrote a letter to President Obama asking for the federal government to finalize the “long-overdue” regulation. The medical groups say cigar and e-cigarette brands are using marketing tactics that they feel appeal directly to young people, like promoting candy and fruit-flavored products, and they want regulations to put an end to it.

“It’s no wonder use of e-cigarettes by youth has skyrocketed,” the letter reads. “This process has already taken far too long. We cannot afford more delays that allow tobacco companies to target our kids with a new generation of tobacco products.”

Health experts are concerned over a recent U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that showed e-cigarette use among middle school and high school students tripled between 2013 to 2014 and hookah use doubled. The report showed that e-cigarette use among high schoolers increased from 4.5% in 2013 to 13.4% in 2014, which is a rise from approximately 660,000 students to 2 million.

“My concern is always the first-time users,” says Shyam Biswal, a professor in the department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “It’s bad it took so long to make a dent in [conventional] tobacco users, and we are now starting something else, and we are just waiting and waiting and waiting. We don’t have the data that e-cigarettes are a gateway [to other tobacco products], so we just wait. It should not be like that.”

In a statement sent to TIME, the FDA said it “remains concerned about the significant increase in e-cigarette and hookah usage among youth.” The agency wrote:

These staggering increases in such a short time underscore why FDA intends to regulate these additional products to protect public health. Rulemaking is a complex process, and this particular proposed rule resulted in more than 135,000 public comments for the agency to review and consider. FDA is committed to moving forward expeditiously to finalize the rule that will extend its authority to additional tobacco products such as e-cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, and other currently unregulated tobacco products.

Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco Center for Tobacco Control Research & Education, said he hopes that when the regulation is finalized there are no loopholes. “Given that the White House has blocked eliminating menthol from cigarettes for years despite strong evidence—including from the FDA’s own analysis that doing so would protect public health—I am not holding my breath,” he said.

Several states and local governments have regulated items like e-cigarettes on their own. Data shows at least 42 states and 1 territory currently prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes or vaping/alternative tobacco products to minors.

“I just hope that the final FDA rule does not do anything to make that process more difficult,” said Glantz.

The medical groups concluded in their letter that “further delay will only serve the interests of the tobacco companies, which have a long history of using product design and marketing tactics to attract children to harmful and addictive products.”

When asked for a comment about the letter, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget referred TIME to the FDA.

TIME Boxing

Why Models Are Addicted to This Fitness Trend

Adriana Lima spotted at the gym today in NYC boxing with her trainer.
Lenny/Max—Splash News/Corbis Adriana Lima spotted at the gym today in NYC boxing with her trainer.

Experts agree that boxing benefits the body and mind

Nine out of 10 people who learn that boxing is part of my fitness regimen find it strange. Why would someone my size—I’m 5 feet—put on sweaty Everlast gloves and throw punches at a bag? Boxing, despite the stereotypes, isn’t just a man’s game, and as the world buzzes about boxing’s big night in Vegas this weekend, as Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao finally face each other in the ring, many women who like to box will be watching.

Some will even be in attendance. The model Adriana Lima, for one, fell in love with boxing 13 years ago after hating most other exercise, and she will be at the match with her trainer Dino Spencer. “It’s very empowering because you learn how powerful and strong you can be,” Lima says. “It’s the best exercise that exists because you can get really ripped, but not too big.”

Models like Karlie Kloss, Gigi Hadid, Chanel Iman and Joan Smalls have all been seen throwing jabs and crosses with trainers, and Gisele Bundchen joined Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want” campaign with a fierce video of her training with a punching bag.

And all for good reason. Dr. Jordan Metzl, a sports medicine doctor at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery, says one boxing class could burn around a thousand calories. “Boxing builds full-body strength, which is super helpful for both genders, but especially for women who want to do other sports,” he says. For instance: “The risk of a woman tearing her ACL is six times more than a man doing the same sport because the angle between the hip and knee is wider in a woman. Boxing can help counter balance that by building strength to protect the knee.”

Another benefit is building up bone mass, as women have a bigger risk of osteoporosis and bone density issues than men. Sports with repetitive pounding can build bone mass, Metzl says.

Jonathan Fader, a sports psychologist who works with professional athletes, says this: “It’s super helpful for women in this sport to overcome whatever adversity they’re facing,” he says. “There’s even a benefit when you’re defeated—if you have the resilience to overcome that defeat because so much of life in anything we pursue is about how we come back.”

Women may bring some innate advantages to the sport, too. Daniel Glazer, founder of New York’s boutique boxing gym Shadowbox—which has been called the SoulCycle of boxing—says he’s noticed women are much more loyal and dedicated to fitness as a part of their daily lives. “Women have so much passion when it comes to the way they exercise, and boxing is a very passionate sport,” he says.

The model Smalls tells TIME that what sold her on it is the fact that it’s fun, too. “It’s fun to feel your own strength,” says celebrity trainer Lacey Stone, who thinks Hilary Swank’s role as boxer Maggie Fitzgerald in Million Dollar Baby jumpstarted the craze for women.

“I’ve had two children and I’m almost 34 years old, and I believe that thanks to boxing, I’m still a model,” Lima says. She mentions her trainer’s 70-year-old mother, who hits the gym every single day doing the same exercises as Lima. “Boxing, it’s just perfect.”

TIME toxins

These 9 Common Products May Contain a Potentially Dangerous Chemical

PFASs are in goods like pizza boxes and outdoor clothing

Health officials and advocates called for new research on the group of chemicals known as PFASs (or PFCs) on Friday, raising concerns that the substances could pose health risks.

The chemicals can be found in a wide range of consumer goods that require durability, from camping tents to pizza boxes. DuPont, one of the major manufacturers to use these chemicals, says multiple studies have proven they are safe. But advocacy organization Environmental Working Group (EWG) says animal studies have shown links to birth defects and low birth weight.

Here are 9 products that often contain PFASs, according to the EWG:

1. Takeout containers such as pizza boxes and sandwich wrappers

2. Non-stick pots, pans and utensils

3. Popcorn bags

4. Outdoor clothing

5. Camping tents

6. Stain-repellant or water-repellant clothing

7. Stain treatments for clothing and furniture

8. Carpeting and carpet treatments

9. Certain cosmetics

Linda S. Birnbaum of the Department of Health and Human Services and Philippe Grandjean of Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health wrote in a National Institutes of Health journal that more research is needed to better understand the risks this group of chemicals might pose. “The question is,” they asked, “should these chemicals continue to be used in consumer products in the meantime?”

EWG consultant Bill Walker told TIME he believes consumers should err on the side of caution, saying there is no reason to “wait 10 or 15 years” for regulators to make safety changes.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Here’s Your Health Excuse to Have a Mint Julep

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Getty Images

Mint is one healthy herb

The Kentucky Derby is this Saturday, and that means mint juleps will be on the menu. While there’s really no great health benefit imparted by bourbon, mint certainly has its qualities. If nutrition is what your after, mint soaked in booze may not be the best source, but if you need an excuse for a second mint julep, we’ve got a few.

“Without a doubt, the mojito is my favorite way to enjoy the fresh flavor of mint, but it’s mint in its natural state that I truly love,” says registered dietitian Tina Ruggiero. “Mint is available as a tea; you can buy peppermint oil and, of course, there’s the mint leaf itself.”

Ruggiero says that used in all these forms, mint has the ability to calm an upset stomach, relieve nasal symptoms from cold or allergies, and it’s a good source of Vitamins C and A. Some studies have even found that peppermint oil can be an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome.

“While mint has trace amounts of potassium, magnesium and calcium, you’d have to eat quite a bit of it to garner any particular benefit,” says Ruggiero. “Instead, use it liberally as an ingredient where appropriate, since it doesn’t add fat, calories or sodium to your meals.” (That probably means mint crushed in your Derby drink isn’t doing you much good).

Besides mint juleps or mojitos, mint can add an extra kick in the kitchen. Try adding some chopped mint to salads or smoothies, or as Ruggiero suggests, infuse cold water with mint for a refreshing and healthy drink.

Gardening enthusiasts also take note: mint is also a great addition to an herb garden.

TIME public health

Pit Bull Spreads Largest U.S. Outbreak of Pneumonic Plague in 90 Years

Four people got sick in the plague outbreak

The largest outbreak of pneumonic plague in the U.S. in 90 years started with an infected pit bull, according to a new government report.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday that four adults contracted the plague last summer after a middle-aged man’s 2-year-old American pit bull terrier fell ill with a fever and was coughing up blood. The man had the dog put down but a few days later he developed similar symptoms and checked himself into a hospital. After his condition worsened, he was transferred to another medical facility and spent 23 days hospitalized in all before recovering.

Researchers contacted 114 people who had come in contact with the dog or his owner and found three others who had gotten sick. Two were employees of the vet clinic that euthanized the pit bull and the other person had “close contact” with the owner and got the dog’s blood on her hands after it died. All of them reported getting a fever but none became as sick as the owner.

If the fourth case, the woman who had close contact with the owner, was caused by the man and not his pet, it would be the first time someone has contracted the plague from another human since 1924, according to the CDC, and the Colorado cases compose the largest outbreak since then. The illness is very rare in the United States; only 74 cases were reported from 1900 to 2012.

 

TIME Diet/Nutrition

What a ‘Chopped’ Judge Thinks About McDonald’s New ‘Artisan’ Sandwich

Food Bank For New York City Can Do Awards Dinner Gala - Arrivals
Bryan Bedder—2015 Getty Images Chef Scott Conant attends the Food Bank For New York City gala on April 21, 2015 in New York City.

TIME convinced Chopped judge Scott Conant to visit a McDonald's for the first time in years

It’s not every day that you can convince a celebrity chef and owner of multiple highly rated restaurants to grab a meal with you at McDonald’s. But that’s just what TIME did when we heard about the fast food chain’s new Artisan Chicken Sandwich.

The sandwich offering, unveiled this week, is a far cry from the days when the company marketed simplicity in the form of “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.” But is it really an upgrade? We asked celebrity chef Scott Conant to test it out and assess the “artisan” claim.

Conant, who attended the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, says he hasn’t eaten at McDonald’s in years. “What happened to the yellow and red?” he asks as he looks around at the restaurant’s modern decor.

He arrives at a New York City McDonald’s after a meeting assessing potential items for his own restaurant. “What a funny contrast,” he says. A main course at his restaurant Scarpetta in Los Angeles, Miami, New York or Las Vegas can easily set you back $35. The McDonald’s sandwich costs $5.22 with tax.

When the Artisan Chicken Sandwich arrives, the chef approaches it much like he might judge a contestant’s concoction on the television show Chopped, on which he’s a judge. He opens the sandwich and makes a quick appraisal of each ingredient: chicken, tomato, lettuce and a vinaigrette on a roll. He takes a bite and whips out his phone.

Artisan,” he says, reading from the screen. “‘A person or company that makes a high-quality or distinctive production in small quantities, usually by hand or using traditional methods.’ So, by definition, I’m pretty sure it’s not artisan.”

Conant takes the bread and smells it. “Chemicals?” he says with a bit of a scrunched face.

“I think of the artisan who spent 50 years of his life in the bakery kneading dough and has arthritis in his hands ,” he says. “How do you think he feels about calling the product ‘artisan’?”

The rest of the sandwich is mostly unremarkable to Conant. The lettuce is wilted, but that’s a normal byproduct of the heat applied to it, he says. “It’s a real piece of chicken,” he says when prompted about the quality of the sandwich.

He puts it down after a bite, and a generous thought strikes him: “It’s a business,” he says. “I have a huge amount of respect for growth like that. I just can’t do that.”

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