These 5 Apps Can Help You Achieve Your New Year's Resolution

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It's New Year's resolution time, and you know how it goes: You stock up on new cookbooks, restart that gym membership, buy blackout shades so you can score quality sleep, and take other steps to prep you for making your healthy pledge happen. But before January is over, you drift back to your old ways.

Instead of going down this same path this year, we suggest using your smartphone to help you achieve your goals (hey, you already use it for everything else, right?). Here are five apps to download that can make 2018 the year your resolution sticks.

RELATED: 8 Amazing SWEAT App Workouts From Kayla Itsines, Sjana Elise, and Kelsey Wells

If your resolution is to lose weight

App: MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal isn't new, but with a database containing the calorie counts for more than five million foods, it's an essential tool for anyone hoping to keep track of what they eat. And if your meal is homemade from an online recipe, just paste in the recipe URL and the app will give you the calorie count. Log your eating habits and physical activity (the app has 350 exercises loaded on it) while sharing tips and advice with your friends.

Get: Free, IOS and Android

If you want to be more productive and organized


The app is like having personal assistant in your pocket. Keep track of events and tasks with this easy-to-use reminder tool. We love this app because you can share your lists and chat about your to-dos with your family and friends. Another bonus, the Any.Do Assistant uses robot technology to accomplish those mundane and tedious responsibilities you put off for as long as possible, like online shopping and scheduling appointments.

Get: Free, IOS and Android 

RELATED: 7 New Year's Resolutions That Put Your Mental Health First

If your goal is to feel calm and centered

App: Pacifica

Manage your stress and anxiety with this free psychologist-designed cognitive behavioral therapy app. Pacifica provides users with relaxation techniques, mood tracking devices, and self-help audio lessons to help you feel less overwhelmed and more relaxed. You also have access to a community of other users dealing with mental and emotional health issues.

Get: Free, IOS and Android 

RELATED: 15 Everyday Habits to Boost Your Libido

If you want better sex

App: IKamasutra/IKamasutra Lite

A healthy sex life means trying new things, and this sexy app has that covered. IKamasutra features more than 100 different sex positions in nine categories, and it's always suggesting new ones for you. Swipe right ones you like, and the app moves them to a to-do list that includes how-to and descriptions. 

Get: IKamasutra Lite is free; the regular app is $2.99 IOS, Android 

If you hope to run a marathon

App: Couch-to-5K

If making it to the finish line of a 5K is your 2018 goal, this app is the running coach that'll get you there. This training program is designed to take users from couch potato to in-shape runner in just nine weeks. Select your own trainer, sync it with your music playlists, and track your daily progress . . . and imagine how awesome you'll feel when you've completed those 3.1 miles.

Get: $2.99, IOS and Android 

Source: Mind-Body

This Is The One Thing Meghan Markle Can't Fly Without—And It’s Pretty Genius

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Before Meghan Markle was engaged to the dapper red-headed royal, Prince Harry, she was an actress in the hit show, Suits; a lifestyle blogger with her site, The Tig; and a global ambassador for World Vision Canada and women’s advocate for the U.N. So, needless to say, she’s done her fair share of jet-setting from place to place for her work and passions, and we find it quite intriguing that her glowing complexion withstands those countless hours in cold, dry airplane cabins.

Traveling can be taxing on your health, both for your skin and immune system. Packed tight in a confined space with a bevy of strangers isn’t an ideal spot to hang out when it comes to being exposed to unwelcome germ and bacteria encounters, making it especially hard over the holidays to arrive bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on the front door of your in-laws. Not to mention, you don’t want to be nursing the sniffles or hiding a mounting face blemish at the morning meeting after returning from yet another business trip. It seems unavoidable, yet we’re determined to find a way this year (that isn’t a human-sized humidified bubble to cut us off from those mouth-breathing, stuffy-nosed seat neighbors).

That’s when the happy occasion of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal engagement gave us a light at the end of the tunnel. It had us coveting the bride-to-be’s beauty routine not just because she’s about to become a Duchess, but because she’s absolutely stunning. Whatever she’s doing—hair, skin, nails, or wardrobe—it’s working; and we were leaning in hard.

Amidst this very serious research, we found an Allure interview with Markle that delved into her best beauty tips, including her must-have travel product she never boards an airplane without. It’s natural, it’s versatile, it’s cheap—it’s tea tree oil.

Markle stated: “The one thing that I cannot live without when I'm traveling is a small container of tea tree oil. It's not the most glamorous thing, but if you get a cut, a mosquito bite, a small breakout, no matter what it is, it's my little cure-all.”

Tea tree oil is an essential oil that acts as an antiseptic, meaning it helps keep germs at bay. For instance, many savvy travelers will rub a small amount of tea tree oil around their nostrils while on a flight to keep germs from entering the sinuses. It’s also great to have on hand to soothe and disinfect a small cut or bug bite. We were already privy to the fact that it makes for a great spot treatment for face blemishes, but for some reason didn’t think it would be smart to travel with? Trust us, we’ve learned our lesson. It’s not often you find a product that can cover so many health-centered bases, and we’re confident that our post-flight skin and immune system will thank us for it.

You can buy a small (TSA-approved) bottle of pure tea tree oil for about $7 on Amazon, making this do-it-all travel product a bargain buy, too. (Talk about a cherry on top!)

WATCH: Prince Harry Is Engaged to Meghan Markle

We’re making sure to snag a bottle of tea tree oil for our holiday travels this year. Thank you, Prince Harry, for proposing—because now we have our next skincare hack on standby.

Source: Mind-Body

Here's Why I Don't Want to See Your Before-and-After Photos in My Social Media Feed

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From all the comments you see on before-and after-pics posted on social media, many people seem to find them applause-worthy and inspirational. I’m not one of them.

As a person with a history of binge-eating disorder and the author of a book about young women’s messed up relationship with food and body size, I rarely see these side-by-side photos in my social media feeds. Instead—in addition to pictures of friends’ kids and pets—my feeds feature a lot of plus-size fashion bloggers, health-at-every-size activists, and inspirational messages from dietitians who don’t focus on weight loss.

RELATED: Subtle Signs of Eating Disorders

So when a real live before-and-after photo popped up on Twitter awhile back, I felt like I’d been hit in the gut with a brick. It was a split-image picture of a good friend in workout gear, a typical bit of fitspo. In the tweet, she mentioned that posting the picture was her way of acknowledging herself for bringing fitness back into her life, for making herself a priority, and for challenging herself athletically. In today’s busy and sedentary world, those feats are admirable and deserving of celebration. I mean, I get it: I feel like Rocky Balboa when I simply make it to the gym three times in one week!

But why the photo? Why did the illustration of her hard-earned pride in her dedication and her healthy actions have to take the form of a head-to-toe picture highlighting the changes in the size and shape of her body? Because she, like most of us, has internalized society’s idea that the ideal (read: good/acceptable/worthy) woman’s body is slim and looks “fit.”

RELATED: The 15 Best Body Positive Moments of 2017

I felt like crying—for a couple of reasons. First, far from being inspirational, the post made me feel bad about myself. A 2015 study from Australia found that looking at fitspiration posts on Instagram led to worse mood, body dissatisfaction, and lower self-esteem in the women who viewed them. And, as you might expect, the negative effects of fitspo images were most pronounced for women with a preexisting tendency toward body image concerns and/or disordered eating. Like me.

Second, I’ve done pretty much the same thing. We often hate in others what we despise in ourselves. Back in 2008 before social media was everything, I wrote an ongoing blog about how I lost 20 pounds for a magazine website. I thought I was inspiring readers, but I shudder now to think of some of the hurtful and just plain false messages (such as “thinner bodies are better and/or healthier,” “you should try to lose weight, too,” and “if I can do it, so can you”) I sent to readers. I posted pictures of myself at my lowest-ever adult weight with captions like “Does this dress make me look fat?”

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Fitspiration posts on social media—even those that talk about looking “strong” and “healthy” rather than “skinny” in the captions—reinforce the belief in that the ideal body is one that is thin and looks “fit,” studies like the one above have shown. Internalizing that belief leads many people to an effed up relationship with food and their bodies.

We’re more than our bodies. Health is more than size. And the real “wins” in life have nothing to do with the shape of your ass.

Sunny Sea Gold is a health journalist and the author of Food: The Good Girl’s Drug. 

Source: Mind-Body

The Case for Skipping Parties and Making New Year's Eve a Night of Self-Care

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New Year's Eve is a time of festive celebration—of dressing up, hitting a dance floor or crowded bar, and counting down to midnight, all to the sounds of music blasting and champagne corks popping. It's about being with friends and loved ones, and waving good-bye to the old and welcoming in the new.

Well, we're totally on board with the out with the old, in with the new part. Which is why we're making the case for skipping the party scene and instead staying in and treating yourself to a night of self-care TLC. Doing these moves can help you breathe a sigh of relief, restore your spirit, and get in the right headspace so you launch your get-healthy resolutions on a strong note.

RELATED: 7 New Year's Resolutions That Put Your Mental Health First

If you have big hopes coming up for 2018—such as losing weight, running a half marathon, doing a digital detox, getting more sleep—you’ll stack the cards in your favor if you’re physically and mentally prepared to tackle the challenge. Once you’ve made that mind shift, you can be on your way toward crushing your new year goals. These four self-care ideas for New Year's Eve will set you up for success.

Plan your first move for January 1

So your plan for 2018 is to build muscle, or learn to cook, or start practicing meditation. Now's the time, in the quiet of your home, to figure out what your first step will be toward making that goal happen. Don't aim too high—come up with something realistic that will launch you on your way. In other words, instead of an 8 a.m. run, plan it for a more doable 10 a.m. or 3 p.m. Think of one thing you can do every day that will help you make your resolution a reality. Write it down, and vow to stick to it.

“Figure out what is one minimum change you can make for your well-being,” advises says Stacey Morgenstern, certified health coach and co-founder of Health Coach Institute. Is that eating a nourishing breakfast? Taking a brisk walk with a pal? Stashing your phone away after work so you cut that digital cord? “Drastic changes won’t last, and you’ll set yourself up for self-bullying or failure," she says. "It’s the mini habits that make a big, positive impact over time."

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Reach out to your support team

Even if you’re riding solo this December 31, that doesn’t mean you can’t be with loved ones. Reach out—call, text, leave a sweet message on their Instagram. Connecting with the people who know you and support you can give you the feels, but it’ll also clue you into who you want as part of your support team as you tackle your 2018 goals. Tell them what you're up to, so they can cheer you on as the year moves along.

“Setting a resolution is easy. Keeping it is hard, unless you have the right support and accountability,” says Morgenstern. Who’s going to cheerlead you through the rough days or check in? “That is really what will make this year different,” she adds.

Clear the clutter

We get it, going through your closets and pantry and deciding what to keep and what to junk doesn't exactly sound like an ideal New Year's Eve. But hear us out: There's something very empowering about cutting yourself free from things you don't use or need. Cleaning up and clearing out helps you feel in control and organized, and when your home is clutter-free, you'll feel less mentally cluttered as well.

Plus, others might need some of the things you're tossing more than you do. So look into local charities you can donate clothes, books, and other items. You'll like the way it feels to start the new year by giving back—stronger and more connected, and that ultimately will help you with your goals.

RELATED: 15 Inspiring Things Celebs Have Said About Anxiety

Treat yourself to indulgences

Self-care is all about doing what nourishes you. Feel like a glass or two of pinot, or making brownies, or hanging on the sofa doing pretty much nothing? Or maybe hitting the spa for a bunch of treatments or ordering in dinner from a decadent but delicious restaurant? Ignore the judgy voice in your head that's second-guessing or criticizing what you want and just enjoy yourself.

“Give yourself permission to have it your way and not feel guilty about it,” says Morgenstern. Indulgence doesn't always mean spending big money or lazing around—even turning in before midnight to score a few hours of extra sleep or popping in a yoga video is a way to treat yourself well and feed your soul. The positivity boost will help you make the changes you're planning and 2018 a success.

Source: Mind-Body

These Best Friends Had a Photoshoot to Make an Important Point About Body Positivity

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This article originally appeared on

There’s this sort of unspoken thing in our culture that seems to imply that best friends should somehow look alike, because people’s personalities are visible in how they look, right? Wrong! Who we are runs so much deeper than our looks, and these best friends had a body positive photoshoot to prove just that.

Body posi fashion Instagram fave Glitter (@glitterandlazers) and BFF Nikki (@tattooedyogimama) joined photographer Ashley Flaig to create a project that we really, truly adore. Because the beautifully empowering photoshoot encourages us to challenge our own perceptions of each other (and ourselves!) and recognize that personality is deeper than appearance.

Glitter shared the shoot on Instagram, and the results are absolutely gorgeous. But it’s not just about the photos themselves. It’s about the words behind them, too.


Glitter explained,

"This is my best friend. She's wears the smallest size in this bralette set and I wear almost the largest. We are very very very different. And people often only see our differences. But all I can see when we're together is how similar we are. We both love to dance. We both love to make up elaborate backstories to tell drunken strangers. We both love to play dress up. We both love animals and treat them like people. We both have to keep a weird diet to make sure our bodies feel their best. It makes me sad how many amazing women miss out on knowing each other because they let something so simple as physical appearance cloud who they think a person is."

Glitter continued, writing that our perceptions of each other based on appearance hardly matter. After all, we don’t have to look like twins to love our friends!

"Sure Nikki and I don't look alike. Heck we don't always think alike, but the things that we have in common have bonded us forever and I am so so grateful to have her in my life. Take chances in getting to know others, move past your perceptions, and I promise you will be rewarded with some amazing friendships you never thought possible. "

We just love that these best friends had a body positive photoshoot, and we’re feeling inspired AF. Thanks, ladies!

Source: Mind-Body

8 Self-Care Habits That Will Help You Feel Less Stress and More Joy in 2018

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What if we told you that there's a way to dial back the stress you deal with in your daily life, to feel more joyful and less overwhelmed? That's the premise behind self-care—a buzzy term you've probably heard a lot about or even tried to practice. The trick to making self-care pay off is to incorporate it into a regular part of your life. With 2018 upon us, make this the year you do just that. 

“Self-care is something we tend to forget about because it can almost seem as if you’re being selfish," says Apryl Zarate Schlueter, author of Finding Success in Balance: My Journey to the Cheerful Mind. "But we need to give to ourselves. Otherwise, you can run low on energy and put negativity out there instead of positivity.” These are the expert-backed self-care suggestions to take on this year—and find more happiness over the next 12 months.

RELATED: 10 Superfoods for Stress Relief

Take vacations

You always tell yourself you're going to do it—pack a bag, book a flight, and head somewhere exotic or so far off the beaten path, you can breathe and just be. In 2018, start planning. “People forget to take advantage of having a vacation from work," says Schlueter. "It allows you to slow down so you can speed back up when you get back." No paid time off at your company? Steal away for a long holiday weekend, then and milk every minute of your time away so you come back refreshed and restored.

Try workouts outside of your comfort zone

We don't have to tell you about all the benefits of regular sweat sessions. And while you might have found a specific routine that works for you, stretching your boundaries with something new can fill you with pulse-pounding adrenaline, challenge your skill set, and give you another reason to make it to the gym every day. For Schlueter, checking out a flying trapezes class was her fitness self-care. “That was my zen place where I could socialize, work out, and have fun,” she says. 

RELATED: 6 Times Celebrities Got Real About Masturbation

Masturbate more

Sexual activity and orgasms have lots of legit health benefits, from easing stress to relieving headaches and boosting brain activity. Considering that just 20% of women reported masturbating in the past month, according to research in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, you may find that you have some catching up to do in the self-love department. No disrespect to sex with a partner, but sometimes going solo is the simplest way to snag those body benefits.

Start saying 'no'

This one little word has a whole lot of power over your mood and happiness. “Saying no to someone or something is a great form of self-care. Not only is it allowing you to avoid something you don’t want to do, but it gives space in your life to say yes to something you do,” says Schlueter. While it may be difficult at first, you’ll notice it gets easier to speak up and voice your needs as time goes on.

Splurge on more events or experiences

Sure you’ve heard that money can’t make you happy. But actually, there is a way that it can, according to research: Spend your dough on experiences rather than stuff. That’s why a great self-care move is to plunk down cash on something that feels indulgent yet you’ve always wanted to do or see. Maybe it’s finally catching Hamilton, booking a luxurious spa day, or signing up for a yoga retreat. It’s completely up to you as long as you know it will bring you joy.

RELATED: Big Perks: Coffee's Health Benefits

Wake up with gratitude

Maintaining a happy, lighthearted perspective on the day can be tough, especially when there’s a million things going on. But a positive outlook is a gift you can give yourself by pledging to start or end each day reminding yourself about all that's good in your life. “Thinking about one thing you’re grateful for reinforces a positive mindset, which prevents you from defaulting to the negative,” says Schlueter. It takes less than a minute to score this mood boost.

Set regular coffee or wine dates with a friend

One misnomer about self-care is that you should be alone while doing it. Not so. Connections with friends and family are the foundation of a happy life. In a 2014 study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, feeling satisfied with your friendships was what mattered most when it came to being content. These days, most of us rely on social media when it comes to keeping up with friends. Make a point in 2018 to carve out more face time.

To get our best wellness tips delivered to you inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter

Soak up the sun

Mother Nature may be just the therapy you need. Getting outside can ease a bad mood or anxiety, suggests a study in the journal Proceeedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Day trips for long hikes or beach strolls are always restorative, but even a walk through some local woods or time spent on a bench in a garden can make you feel calmer and more at peace—and perhaps more aware of beauty, magic, and wonder.

Source: Mind-Body

What Is Homeopathic Medicine, and Why Is the FDA Cracking Down On It?

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced yesterday that it will take a new approach to regulating homeopathic drugs. This comes after the agency issued several warnings in recent years about products, marketed as homeopathic, that have been linked to serious side effects and even a few deaths.

The proposed new approach will focus on “risk-based enforcement,” according to an FDA press release, which means the agency will pay closer attention to homeopathic treatments that are marketed for serious diseases without supporting evidence, that contain potentially harmful ingredients, or that don’t meet standards for manufacturing.

Of course, it’s good news that the FDA wants to protect us from harmful or ineffective products. But what does the agency’s announcement say about homeopathic remedies as a whole? And what does it mean for the millions of Americans who use them on a regular basis?

To learn more, Health reviewed the FDA’s position on homeopathy, and spoke with Michelle Dossett, MD, a staff physician and researcher at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. (Dr. Dossett is not involved with FDA policy, but she studies homeopathy and is board-certified in both internal medicine and integrative medicine.) If you’re concerned—or just curious—about homeopathic medicine, here are a few things you should know.

RELATED: 19 Natural Remedies for Anxiety

Homeopathy has been practiced for more than 200 years

Homeopathy is a form of alternative medicine that was developed in Germany in the 1700s. “The idea is that you can take a substance that, in large doses, would cause a certain set of symptoms in a healthy person,” says Dr. Dossett. That substance gets diluted down to barely detectable amounts, she explains. Then, the thinking goes, “you can use that same substance to treat those same symptoms in someone suffering from them.”

These substances can include plant extracts, minerals, chemicals, and human and animal excretions or secretions. Some of the most well-known homeopathic remedies on the market today include arnica (a plant-based gel used to treat bruises and sore muscles) and zinc (a mineral used to treat respiratory symptoms and the common cold).

The evidence on homeopathy is limited

Some studies have suggested that homeopathic remedies can be effective forms of treatment, says Dr. Dossett, for conditions such as upper respiratory infections, allergies, and sleep problems. Many of these products are available over-the-counter, she says, but her research suggests that seeing a homeopathic provider—who can do a thorough assessment of your symptoms and make specific recommendations—may be more effective than self-medicating.

However, most rigorous scientific studies have concluded there's little evidence to support the use of homeopathic medicine, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. A 2015 review from the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia concluded that studies showing homeopathy’s effectiveness have been too small or too flawed to consider reliable and that there is “no good quality evidence to support the claim that homeopathy is effective in treating health conditions.”

The FDA may be responding to “a few bad apples”

In 2016, the FDA warned parents against using homeopathic teething tablets and gels containing belladonna, a toxic chemical, after it received several reports of seizures or deaths in babies who had used them. An FDA analysis later confirmed that some tablets did contain levels of belladonna that could be harmful, although the American Institute of Homeopathy has argued that the agency’s research was incomplete and misleading.

The FDA has also issued warnings about homeopathic zinc nasal sprays that may damage users’ sense of smell, and various products whose labels include potentially toxic ingredients—like nux vomica, marketed for a variety of ailments, which contains the poison strychnine.

Not every homeopathic product is necessarily dangerous, however. “I think the FDA is really responding to a few bad apples out there in the last few years, and really wants to protect the public’s health with respect to those few products,” Dr. Dossett says.

Other products the FDA has issued warnings about may have made health claims that aren’t supported by science and that aren’t allowed on over-the-counter products—for example, that they can treat serious conditions like asthma or cancer.

RELATED: 10 Alternative Therapies for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Most homeopathic products won’t be affected

The field of homeopathy has grown exponentially in the last decade, becoming a nearly $3 billion industry, according to the FDA. That growth has come with an increase in safety concerns, the agency notes, as well as an increasing number of poorly manufactured products that may pose health risks.

Homeopathic products are subject to federal requirements that prohibit adulteration and mislabeling. But these requirements haven’t been enforced since 1988, says the FDA—and thus, products currently on the market “may not meet modern standards for safety, effectiveness, and quality.”

That’s one reason the FDA is reviewing its enforcement policy, but it doesn’t mean that all homeopathic products will be affected. Many products will likely fall outside of the risk-based categories defined in the new policy and will continue to be available, the agency says. “We respect that some individuals want to use alternative treatments,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottleib, MD, in the agency’s press release. “But the FDA has a responsibility to protect the public from products that may not deliver any benefit and have the potential to cause harm.”

When in doubt, ask your doctor

The FDA will encourage public feedback on its new draft guidelines during a 90-day comment period, and it always encourages doctors and patients to report any side effects or quality problems associated with homeopathic products or any other type of supplement or drug to its MedWatch database.

Dr. Dossett says she supports the FDA’s decision to focus more closely on products that may pose a danger to the public. But she also believes that homeopathy—when used responsibly—can be a helpful form of complementary alternative medicine.

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“My advice is to go with large and well-known manufacturers of these products that have a good track record for safety and to communicate with your health-care provider about what you’re using,” she says. “Like with any drug, it is important to be careful about what you’re taking.”

Source: Mind-Body

#MeToo Creator Tarana Burke Will Kick Off the Countdown to New Year in Times Square

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This article originally appeared on

Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, will kick off Times Square’s iconic New Year’s Eve ball drop in New York City.

“I am delighted to be participating in this momentous occasion,” Burke said in a statement shared on Twitter. “I think it’s fitting to honor the Me Too movement as we close a historic year and set our intentions for 2018. With the new year comes new momentum to fuel this work and we won’t stop anytime soon.”

Burke is a social activist who has worked with victims of sexual assault for more than a decade. Following sexual assault allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, Burke and actress Alyssa Milano launched the #MeToo movement on Twitter in October to encourage victims to come forward with their stories of sexual harassment.

The hashtag has since unleashed a torrent of accusations and confessions all over the world, leading to a wave of resignations and dismissals mostly of men accused of abusing positions of power.

Read more: The Silence Breakers Are TIME’s Person of the Year for 2017

“New Year’s is a time when we look at the most significant cultural and political moments of the last year, when we look for inspiration by honoring and giving a global platform to those who have made a difference,” Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, told amNewYork. “Tarana Burke’s courage and foresight have changed the world this year, and, we hope, forever.”

Last year, an estimated 2 million people flocked to Times Square to celebrate the New Year.

Source: Mind-Body

People Who Live to 100 Have These Traits in Common

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This article originally appeared on

If you’re looking to live to 100, you may want to watch more than your diet. A study of people in remote Italian villages who lived past 90 found that they tended to have certain psychological traits in common, including stubbornness and resilience.

The study, published in International Psychogeriatrics, analyzed the mental and physical health of 29 elderly villagers, ages 90 to 101, from Italy’s Cilento region — an area known for the prevalence of people older than 90. The participants filled out standardized questionnaires and also participated in interviews on topics such as migration, traumatic events and beliefs. Younger family members were also asked their impressions of their older relatives’ personality traits.

The younger adults tended to describe their older relatives as controlling, domineering and stubborn. But the 90- and 100-somethings also displayed qualities of resilience and adaptability to change, the authors wrote. One respondent who recently lost his wife told interviewers, “Thanks to my sons, I am now recovering and feeling much better … I have fought all my life and I am always ready for changes. I think changes bring life and give chances to grow.”

The research demonstrates how adults who live to 90 or 100 have learned to balance these somewhat contradictory traits, says Dr. Dilip Jeste, senior associate dean for the Center of Healthy Aging at the UC San Diego School of Medicine and senior author on the study. “These people have been through depressions, they’ve been through migrations, they’ve lost loved ones,” he says. “In order to flourish, they have to be able to accept and recover from the things they can’t change, but also fight for the things they can.”

The oldest adults had other qualities in common as well, including positivity, a strong work ethic and close bonds with family, religion and the countryside. Most of the older adults in the study were still active, working regularly in their homes and on their land. This gave them a purpose in life, wrote the study authors, even after they reached old age.

The researchers also compared the health of these older residents with 59 of their younger family members, ages 51 to 75. Not surprisingly, the oldest adults had worse physical health than their younger counterparts. But they had better mental well-being, and scored higher on measures of self-confidence and decision-making skills.

Jeste calls this the paradox of aging: Even as physical health deteriorated, mental health quality, at least for the people in the study, remained high. (Volunteers for the study had to sign a consent form and participate in an hour-long interview, he says, which would have ruled out anyone with significant dementia or age-related cognitive decline.) “Things like happiness and satisfaction with life went up, and levels of depression and stress went down,” Jeste says. “It’s the opposite of what we might expect when we think about aging, but it shows that getting older is not all gloom and doom.”

There have been plenty of studies on populations known for their longevity, many from areas called the Blue Zones — in Italy, Greece, Japan, Costa Rica and California — where people, on average, live much longer than normal. But most research has focused on these groups’ genetics, diet and physical health, says Jeste, rather than their mental health or personalities.

Studying adults who live long and healthy lives can help enhance scientists’ understanding of the aging process, says Jeste, and help them determine how age-related health issues can potentially be mitigated or avoided. It can also give adults of any age — anywhere in the world — more insight into what traits may help extend their own lives.

“There is no one way to get to 90 or 100, and I don’t think it requires a radical change in personality,” Jeste says. “But this shows that there are certain attributes that are very important, including resilience, strong social support and engagement, and having confidence in yourself.”

Next, the researchers plan to compare specific biological associations, like insulin resistance and biomarkers for inflammation and oxidative stress, with the participants’ physical and psychological health. “There’s no single factor that contributes to longevity,” Jeste says, “and we want to know how the different aspects of lifestyle — like personality, diet and daily activities — influence each other and affect overall health.”

Source: Mind-Body

Noted U.K. Surgeon Admits Burning His Initials Into 2 Patients' Livers: Reports

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A noted transplant surgeon in the U.K. this week admitted that he had burned his initials into the livers of two patients in 2013, according to multiple news outlets.

Appearing in Birmingham court on Wednesday, Dr. Simon Bramhall pleaded guilty to two counts of assault by beating, the Associated Press, the BBC and The Guardian report. He pleaded not guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm, a more serious charge, according to these reports.

Both incidents to which he confessed occurred during transplant operations in 2013 — on Feb. 9 and Aug. 21 — when Bramhall, 53, was working at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham as a consultant surgeon, according to The Guardian.

He is free on bail and scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 12, the AP reports. PEOPLE could not immediately reach him or his defense for comment on Thursday.

After being suspended in 2013 from the hospital where he had operated, he told the BBC he made “a mistake.”

Prosecutor Tony Badenoch reportedly said in court on Wednesday that the case was “highly unusual and complex” — “both within the expert medical testimony served by both sides and in law.”

“It is factually, so far as we have been able to establish, without legal precedent in criminal law,” he said.

“The pleas of guilty now entered represent an acceptance that that which he did was not just ethically wrong but criminally wrong,” Badenoch said. “They reflect the fact that Dr. Bramhall’s initialling on a patient’s liver was not an isolated incident but rather a repeated act on two occasions, requiring some skill and concentration. It was done in the presence of colleagues.”

Fellow prosecutor Elizabeth Reid said Bramhall abused his patients’ trust: “It was an intentional application of unlawful force to a patient whilst anesthetized.”

Bramhall acted “with a disregard for the feelings of unconscious patients,” Badenoch said, according to the BBC.

His behavior first came to light in December 2013, when another doctor who was performing follow-up surgery on one of Bramhall’s patients discovered he had initialed “SB” into the person’s liver using an argon beam coagulator, the AP reports.

The electric device is typically used to seal blood vessels and can also be used to highlight the area of an operation. The marks it leaves are believed to fade with time and not be painful for patients, according to the BBC.

Bramhall — who made headlines in 2010 when he successfully transplanted a liver that was saved from a crashed plane — was suspended before the end of 2013 and resigned the following year amid a disciplinary investigation.

“I was not dismissed,” he said at the time, according to the BBC. “I made the decision … I would hand in my notice. It is a bit raw and I have to move on.”

In February, the U.K.’s General Medical Council, which oversees the registration of the country’s physicians, issued Bramhall a formal warning, according to The Guardian, noting his conduct “risks bringing the profession into disrepute and it must not be repeated.”

The organization told the paper on Wednesday it was standard to investigate doctors’ criminal convictions. (Neither the GMC nor Bramhall’s former hospital could immediately be reached for comment.)

Speaking out in February 2014, one of Bramhall’s former patients defended him even in light of the accusations against him.

“Even if he did put his initials on a transplanted liver, is it really that bad?” Tracy Scriven told the Birmingham Mail. “I wouldn’t have cared if he did it to me. The man saved my life. It seems a bit silly, banning him from work. He’s a really good man who can do a really good job.”

Source: Mind-Body