6 Essential Weight Lifting Moves for Beginners


When you are new to strength training, the weight room can feel really intimidating. Whether you’re completely baffled about which weights to use for which exercises, or confused about how to contort your body to fit into a machine, there’s a lot of unknowns to figure out. As a certified personal trainer, I’ve noticed that for many women, those unknowns are enough to send them running right back to their favorite indoor cycling class and give up on lifting weights altogether.

Many women that I work with express that they feel this overwhelming sense of self-doubt and fear about weightlifting—that all eyes are on them or that they are not in good enough shape to work out among people who clearly frequent this area of the gym. This gymtimidation can be very real, but letting it get the best of you means you’ll miss out on all the benefits weightlifting has to offer.

Building muscle will not only make you stronger, but it also helps boost confidence and self-esteem as you see what your own body is capable of achieving. Shifting your focus from the weight on the scale to the weights you hold in your hands is empowering. Not to mention, strength training also keeps your bones strong, and research suggests it can have other health benefits like helping to reduce anxiety and improve heart health. You’d be doing yourself a real disservice by letting fear stop you from cashing in on all the benefits.

The best approach to weight lifting as a beginner is to start with a combination of functional exercises that mimic movements you use in everyday life and compound lifts, which are exercises that engage multiple large muscle groups at once. Most functional exercises fall within one of the following movement categories: squat, push, pull, hip hinge, and hip extension. Learning these movement patterns is key for establishing a foundation on which you can build more complex exercises. The exercises I’ve outlined below (and demo in this video on my Instagram) are great for beginners, because they get you moving according in these functional ways. Mastering them will help you get comfortable with lifting and prepare you to progress safely as you get stronger.

When you’re just starting, choose a weight you can lift 10 to 12 times for 2 to 3 sets. This is generally 5 to 15 pounds, depending on the muscle group (you will probably be able to use a heavier weight for your lower body versus upper). As a beginner, you will quickly outgrow these weights, and will know it’s time to move up when the last 2 to 3 repetitions feel easy to lift.

If you’ve never done bodyweight versions of the Goblet Squat, Romanian Deadlift, and Glute Bridge, start by mastering each movement first without weights. Using just your bodyweight will help you establish proper technique and form—reducing your risk of injury—before you add weights into the mix. I recommend practicing these movements two to three times within a week to feel comfortable enough to pick up a pair of dumbbells.

Here are six essential weightlifting moves that beginners should do:

Goblet Squats


Goblet Squats

  • Hold a weight at your chest in both hands, elbows close to your body, and stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
  • Bend your knees and drop your butt back and down to lower into a squat. Keep your chest high and core tight.
  • Push your knees out and make sure to keep the weight in your heels.
  • Push through your heels to stand back up, and squeeze your glutes at the top. That’s 1 rep.

Savanna Ruedy


Shoulder Presses

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, or kneel with your back straight and core tight (as pictured above). Hold a pair of dumbbells and start with you arms raised to shoulder-height, elbows bent so the weights are in the air. Rotate your wrists so your palms are facing forward.
  • Press the dumbbells overhead. Keep your elbows facing forward during the press.
  • Pause at the top once your arms are fully extended. Then, slowly return the weights to starting position. That’s 1 rep.

Savanna Ruedy


Basic Stiff-Leg Deadlifts

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Hinge at your hips and bend your knees slightly as you lower your body. Think about pushing your butt back.
  • Hold the dumbbells close to your legs as you descend. Pull back on your shoulder blades and do not let your back arch.
  • Keeping your core tight, push through your heels to stand up straight. Keep the weights close to your shins as you pull.
  • Pause at the top and squeeze your butt to complete 1 rep.

Savanna Ruedy


Bent-Over Rows

  • Hold a dumbbell on one hand. Step the opposite leg forward so that you’re standing in a staggered stance. Hinge forward at the hips so your torso is angled toward the floor and your back is flat.
  • Keeping your body in this position, lift the dumbbell up to chest level, keeping your elbow close to your side.
  • In a controlled motion, lower the dumbbell back down to the starting position. That’s 1 rep.

Savanna Ruedy


Chest Presses

  • Lie on your back on the floor or on a flat bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Rotate your wrists forward so that the palms of your hands are facing away from you.
  • Hold the dumbbells at the sides of your chest, elbows bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Press the dumbbells up and together. Think about using your chest muscles to initiate the movement.
  • Bring your arms back down to starting position. That’s 1 rep.

Savanna Ruedy


Glute Bridges

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and dumbbells resting on your hips. Your feet should be about hip-distance apart with your heels a few inches away from your butt.
  • Push through your heels to lift your hips up while squeezing your glutes. Try to create one diagonal line from your shoulders to your knees.
  • Pause for 1 to 2 seconds, then slowly lower back down to the ground. That’s 1 rep.

Cassie Lynn Lambert is a NASM-certified trainer and army veteran based in Fort Irwin, California. She offers virtual personal and group training programs on her site, CassieLynnLambert.com.

Model Selena Watkins is wearing MPG Sport Elliptical 2.0 Medium Support Bra, $48, mpgsport.com; Under Armour HeatGear Color Blocked Printed Ankle leggings, $55, underarmour.com; New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi sneakers, $70, newbalance.com.


Laptops Are Great. But Not During a Lecture or a Meeting.

Step into any college lecture hall and you are likely to find a sea of students typing away at open, glowing laptops as the professor speaks. But you won’t see that when I’m teaching.

Though I make a few exceptions, I generally ban electronics, including laptops, in my classes and research seminars.

That may seem extreme. After all, with laptops, students can, in some ways, absorb more from lectures than they can with just paper and pen. They can download course readings, look up unfamiliar concepts on the fly and create an accurate, well-organized record of the lecture material. All of that is good.

But a growing body of evidence shows that over all, college students learn less when they use computers or tablets during lectures. They also tend to earn worse grades. The research is unequivocal: Laptops distract from learning, both for users and for those around them. It’s not much of a leap to expect that electronics also undermine learning in high school classrooms or that they hurt productivity in meetings in all kinds of workplaces.

Measuring the effect of laptops on learning is tough. One problem is that students don’t all use laptops the same way. It might be that dedicated students, who tend to earn high grades, use them more frequently in classes. It might be that the most distracted students turn to their laptops whenever they are bored. In any case, a simple comparison of performance may confuse the effect of laptops with the characteristics of the students who choose to use them. Researchers call this “selection bias.”

Researchers can solve that problem by randomly assigning some students to use laptops. With that approach, the students who use laptops are comparable in all other ways to those who don’t.

In a series of experiments at Princeton University and the University of California, Los Angeles, students were randomly assigned either laptops or pen and paper for note-taking at a lecture. Those who had used laptops had substantially worse understanding of the lecture, as measured by a standardized test, than those who did not.

The researchers hypothesized that, because students can type faster than they can write, the lecturer’s words flowed right to the students’ typing fingers without stopping in their brains for substantive processing. Students writing by hand had to process and condense the spoken material simply to enable their pens to keep up with the lecture. Indeed, the notes of the laptop users more closely resembled transcripts than lecture summaries. The handwritten versions were more succinct but included the salient issues discussed in the lecture.

Even so, it may seem heavy-handed to ban electronics in the classroom. Most college students are legal adults who can serve in the armed forces, vote and own property. Why shouldn’t they decide themselves whether to use a laptop?

The strongest argument against allowing that choice is that one student’s use of a laptop harms the learning of students around them. In a series of lab experiments, researchers at York University and McMaster University in Canada tested the effect of laptops on students who weren’t using them. Some students were told to perform small tasks on their laptops unrelated to the lecture, like looking up movie times. As expected, these students retained less of the lecture material. But what is really interesting is that the learning of students seated near the laptop users was also negatively affected.

The economic term for such a spillover is a “negative externality,” which occurs when one person’s consumption harms the well-being of others. The classic negative externality is pollution: A factory burning coal or a car using gasoline can harm the air and environment for those around it. A laptop can sometimes be a form of visual pollution: Those nearby see its screen, and their attention is pulled toward its enticements, which often include not just note-taking but Facebook, Twitter, email and news.

These experiments go only so far. They may not capture positive effects of laptops in real classrooms over the course of a semester, when students use their typed notes for review and grades are at stake. But another study did just that.

At the United States Military Academy, a team of professors studied laptop use in an introductory economics class. The course was taught in small sections, which the researchers randomly assigned to one of three conditions: electronics allowed, electronics banned and tablets allowed but only if laid flat on desks, where professors could monitor their use. By the end of the semester, students in the classrooms with laptops or tablets had performed substantially worse than those in the sections where electronics were banned.

You might question whether the experience of military cadets learning economics is relevant to students in other settings — say, community college students learning Shakespeare. But we’d expect the negative effects of laptops to be, if anything, less at West Point, where all courses are taught in small sections, than it is at institutions with many large lectures. Further, cadets have very strong incentives to perform well and avoid distractions, since class rank has a major impact on their job status after graduation.

The best way to settle this question is probably to study laptop use in more colleges. But until then, I find the evidence sufficiently compelling that I’ve made my decision: I ban electronics in my own classes.

I do make one major exception. Students with learning disabilities may use electronics in order to participate in class. This does reveal that any student using electronics has a learning disability. That is a loss of privacy for those students, which also occurs when they are given more time to complete a test. Those negatives must be weighed against the learning losses of other students when laptops are used in class.

Students may object that a laptop ban prevents them from storing notes on their computers. But smartphones can snap pictures of handwritten pages and convert them to an electronic format. Even better, outside class, students can read their own handwritten notes and type them, if they like, a process that enhances learning.

The best evidence available now suggests that students should avoid laptops during lectures and just pick up their pens. It’s not a leap to think that the same holds for middle and high school classrooms, as well as for workplace meetings.

5 tricky morning routines that are hard to adopt but will pay off for life

As the popular saying goes, “The early bird catches the worm.” But we prefer the more inspirational line: “The early bird will inherit the earth.”

And the science backs it up: a 2009 study from the University of Leipzig found that people who consider themselves morning people are generally much more proactive than their late-night counterparts.

But it’s more than just setting your alarm for five, six, or seven in the morning and getting yourself to bed before the clock strikes midnight.

It requires adopting the mentality that early risers have over late sleepers—doing things now, being positive, and getting everything important out of the way as soon as possible.

If all you do with your morning is lie in bed and scroll through social media feeds, you’re not the type of morning person that the studies refer to.

Becoming a productive morning person means adopting the right habits, some of which can be extremely hard to get into.

Here are 6 tricky morning routines that are guaranteed to improve your quality of life.

1) Plan Out Your Day Before You Go To Bed

While this is less of a “morning routine” and more of a “night before routine”, this step is just as important as anything else you can do in the morning.

To ensure that you have a successful morning, you need to write down a plan that can knock you out of the groggy, sleepy early-morning vibe.

When you know exactly what you have to do, how much time it will take to do it, and what you can accomplish if you use your time effectively, you will be inspired every morning to just stand up and get those things done.

If you want to take the extra step, then include what your breakfast will be and lay out your clothes on a table or chair. Your morning self will have no excuses to stay in bed.

2) Wake Up Earlier Than The Sun

As much love as night owls get for being smarter and having higher IQs, it might actually be better to turn into an early riser. Why? Because almost all hugely successful people wake up at the crack of dawn.

Laura Vanderkam, author of the book, “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast” and time-management expert interviewed several CEOs of giant worldwide corporations, and over 90% of them all share the same single characteristic: they wake up before six in the morning on the weekdays.

The CEO of PepsiCO wakes up at 4; CEO of Twitter is already jogging by 5:30, and the CEO of Disney finds himself buried in a book as early as 4:30.

For many of you reading right now, this probably sounds like hell. You might not have woken up earlier than 5am since highschool.

But habits are all about creating a routine: if you adjust the rest of your life to fit it in—such as sleeping earlier—you’ll see that waking up early isn’t as bad as you thought.

3) Shake Out the Sleep With Morning Exercise

Sure, the body doesn’t care what hour it is: as long as you burn the calories, pump the weights, and eat healthy, you’re guaranteed to see fitness gains in no time.

But working out doesn’t come naturally to many of us. It’s as much a mental exercise as it is a physical one, in that we have to convince ourselves to hit the gym or go for a run every single day.

The best way to beat this test is to cut out the stress and anxiety that comes with knowing that you still have to hit the gym today.

When you wake up and exercise as soon as possible, you free yourself from an entire day of that added responsibility of still needing to squeeze in a workout.

There’s absolutely no reason you can’t find the time to workout on aa daily basis. If the most important and occupied leaders in the world can find the time to keep their body healthy, you can too.

4) Prioritize Important Projects and Side Hustles

The great part about waking up early is that it gives you several hours before daily life begins.

The peace and quiet of knowing that you have two or three hours to work on your projects with no interruptions or daily responsibilities offers you a kind of freedom that just isn’t possible at any other part of the day.

After you’ve hit the gym or gone for a run, the rest of your early morning should be dedicated to your projects.

Whether these projects are important high-priority work-related assignments or creative side hustles that stoke your passion, it’s crucial that you put these uninterrupted hours to good use.

Don’t believe us? Hundreds of famous artists, musicians, and authors have all spent their mornings wrapped in their masterpieces, including Victor Hugo, Kurt Vonnegut, Ludwig Beethoven, Maya Angelou, and Jon Milton.

5) Embrace the Peace

The modern world is a circus of noise, stress, and overstimulation. The only way to escape it? Wake up before everyone else, and give yourself the time and peace to ease yourself into the day.

It is so difficult to achieve a sense of calm when you know you only have a half hour to get ready for work, five minutes to eat, five minutes to prepare yourself, ten minutes to get out of the house, and so on throughout the day.

By freeing your time up in the early morning hours, you allow yourself the time to achieve a certain mindfulness, getting ahead of all your responsibilities before their deadlines come ticking down.

These 7 Buddhist monk habits are hard to adopt but they’ll change your life forever

What’s the secret to feeling calm and focused?

It’s not an easy question to answer.

So why do Buddhist monks appear peaceful and present all the time?

How do they do it? Do they know some hidden secret that you don’t?

Actually, yes they do!

For thousands of years, Buddhist philosophy has focused solely on how to reduce human suffering and keep the mind focused on the present moment.

And today, we’re going to go through Buddhism’s most important principles and habits that we can all adopt in our daily lives.

While they may appear difficult at first, if you keep at it, they’ll benefit you for a lifetime.

Habit 1 – Outer de-cluttering

Buddhist monk life of a Buddhist monk

Did you know that the Buddha was born a prince? Yep, he could have spent his life in a big, beautiful palace where everything is done for him.

But he didn’t.

He abandoned everything when he realized the frustrating nature of materialism.

2300 years later, Buddhist monks do the same. They keep material possessions to a minimum and only hold what they need to live their life. Usually this will all fit in a small backpack.

They completely de-clutter their life.

Habit 2 – Inner de-cluttering: taking care of others

Buddhist monk life of a Buddhist monk

In many Buddhist circles, monks learn to do things not for themselves, but for the whole world.

When they meditate, it’s for the sake of everyone. They attempt to attain enlightenment to reach their full potential and help those in need.

When you can develop this kind of selfless attitude, you focus less on your personal problems. You get less emotional about small things and your mind becomes more calm.

This is what’s called inner de-cluttering: making room for others and dumping selfish habits.

Habit 3 – Meditating A LOT

Buddhist monk life of a Buddhist monk

One of the main reasons you become a monk is to have more time to meditate. Most monks wake up early and meditate for 1 to 3 hours and do the same at night. This kind of practice changes the brain. If you’ve read any articles on the benefits of meditation, then you know what I mean.

You don’t have to adopt this kind of rigorous schedule, but what if you started the day with 30 minutes of meditation?

Habit 4 – Following the wise

Buddhist monk life of a Buddhist monk

In western society, we have an unhealthy relationship with old age. But for Buddhist monks, they see elder people as having wisdom. They seek elder spiritual guides that can help them on their path.

If you look around, there are always insightful people to learn from. Older people have more experience which means they can offer countless life lessons.

Habit 5 – Listen mindfully and without judgment

Buddhist monk life of a Buddhist monk

Our brains naturally judges others. But according to Buddhists, the point of communication is to help others and ourselves suffer less.

Criticizing and judging obviously doesn’t help.

What’s wonderful about mindfulness is that it’s judgment-free. The main goal of mindful communication is to take in everything that someone is saying without evaluating it.

So many of us pre-plan our answers while we’re listening but the main goal here is to simply take in all that they are saying.

It leads to more mutual respect, understanding and chances for progress in the conversation.

Habit 6 – Change is the only law of the universe

Buddhist monk life of a Buddhist monk

According to Buddhist master Suzuki, a crucial principle we all need to learn is to accept change:

“Without accepting the fact that everything changes, we cannot find perfect composure. But unfortunately, although it is true, it is difficult for us to accept it. Because we cannot accept the truth of transiency, we suffer.”

Everything changes, it’s the fundamental law of the universe. Yet, we find it hard to accept it. We identify strongly with our fixed appearance, with our body and our personality. And when it changes, we suffer.

However, Suzuki says we can overcome this by recognizing that the contents of our minds are in perpetual flux. Everything about consciousness comes and goes. Realizing this in the heat of the moment can diffuse fear, anxiety, anger, grasping, despair. For example, it’s hard to stay angry when you see anger for what it is. This is why Zen teach that the moment is all that exists.

Suzuki says: “Whatever you do, it should be an expression of the same deep activity. We should appreciate what we are doing. There is no preparation for something else”

Habit 7 – Living the moment

Buddhist monk life of a Buddhist monk

As humans it can be tough to simply embrace the present moment. We tend to think about past events or worry about what the future holds. Our mind can naturally drift.

But mindfulness encourages us to refocus. Practising mindfulness enables us to get better at redirecting our thoughts back to what we’re actually engaged in.

Without judging ourselves for getting lost in our thoughts, we simply acknowledge that we lost our attention and direct our focus to our senses or any task we’re engaged in.

It takes discipline but it’s what we need to do if we want to be present for the miracles of life.


Researchers say 3-day work week is better for people over 40

Feeling tired, frustrated and more frazzled than before? It’s not in your head; most people over 40 seem to be getting more stressed out each year and it could be because of our work habits. A recent study done in Melbourne found that working more than 40-60 hours a week can be worse than not working at all.

Studies Show That You May Be Working Too Hard

The study was conducted on participants over 40 drawing from conclusions of the HILDA (Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia) survey along with a series of three tests to challenge their cognitive function. 3,000 men and 3,500 women were asked to read aloud, recite numbers backward and match numbers and letters under the pressure of a time restriction.

What they found was those who worked an average of 22-30 hours a week received the best scores with an average of 18% higher than the rest. Based on the results professors at Melbourne believe that too much work can lead to stress and fatigue which is a key factor in the decline of their cognitive skills (no surprise there, right? But this is the first time researchers see such a definitely pronounced effect between part time and full time adults).

The results of the study support the “use it too much and lose it” hypothesis. Professor Colin McKenzie who worked on this study explains that “Work can be a double-edged sword, in that it can stimulate brain activity, but at the same time, long working hours and certain types of tasks can cause fatigue and stress which potentially damage cognitive functions.” Working isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is important to have a balance in your life to avoid getting burnt out. (1)

10 Ways That Can Help You Relax and Improve Your Cognitive Function

Exercise: this is a great way to combat stress. It is most effective when you exercise regularly as it helps to relieve mental stress and improve your quality of sleep. (2)

Essential Oils: Aromatherapy is a way to treat your mood using scents. Lighting a candle or using essential oils such as lavender, rose or bergamot are great ways to help you relax. (2)

Chew Gum: this one is super easy and works right away. Studies show that chewing gum helps people to have a greater sense of well-being and lowers stress. (2)

Don’t be Afraid to Say No: learn your limits and take control over the parts of your life that are causing you stress. Be selective on what you take on to avoid juggling more than you can handle (2)

Practice Mindfulness: this means anchoring yourself to the present moment which by doing so can help fight negative thinking that leads to anxiety. There are several ways to do this such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. (2)

Get Support: when you feel like life is becoming overwhelming it is a good idea to get an outsider’s perspective on your workload. This can help you to clarify expectations and work more efficiently. You might also benefit from talking to your boss for advice on how to deal with your heavy workload. (3)

Talk to Your Boss and Provide Solutions:  if you feel like you are struggling to manage your workload talk to your boss offering a possible solution such as an extension or if a colleague can help you with a time-consuming project. (3)

Set Priorities: at work organize your projects by priority and when assigned more tasks then you can handle communicate to your boss what your priorities are. It also helps to ask them what they feel is most critical to finish fish. Communicating with your boss is the best way to make sure you that both on the same page and creates an understanding of each other’s responsibilities.

Avoid Procrastination: once you figure out your priorities it’s important to stay on top of them. People who procrastinate often find themselves scrambling to catch up at the last minute which can be very stressful. To avoid this create a to-do list with clear deadlines to help you stay on track.

Spend Time With the Ones You Love: when dealing with a stressful situation the support of family or friends can help release a hormone called oxytocin which naturally relieves stress. (2)

Overall make sure that your mental health comes first. Balancing your work and personal life can be hard so it is important to be able to take a step back, focusing on your needs and what is right for you.

9 Odd Morning Rituals That Will Supercharge Your Day

Would you like to get out of the starting blocks faster when your alarm clock sounds?

If so, you need a morning ritual or routine you adhere to without question. Beethoven, for example, went for an early morning walk each day with a pocket notebook to capture ideas before composing.

He did all right.

In The Creative Habit, American choreographer Twyla Tharp explained, “It’s Pavlovian: Follow the routine, (and) get a creative pay off.”

So what rituals can you follow to rise up and start the day the right way?

1. Leave A Note To Yourself

Write a single sentence on an adhesive note, and affix it somewhere where you’ll see—for example on your keyboard.

That way when you sit down to work each morning, you’ll see immediately what you have to do before checking your feeds. Think of it as a mental queue to get to work!

2. Build A Personal Library Of Inspirational Quotes

Keep your personal library of quotes from writers, business people and others that inspire you, and scan it each morning.


If you read on Kindle you can access all of your notes using the Kindle Cloud Reader.

You can also use a website like Brainyquote.com to find inspirational quotes and ideas. I like to file these in Evernote.

3. Shorten Email To The Point Of Rudeness

Fun fact about email: Many recipients don’t like receiving long emails because they take time to decipher.

Another fun fact: Your emails are probably read once or twice before being archived.

Maybe being direct isn’t rude, but why waste your recipient’s time? Shorten your emails to a sentence or two, a series of bullet points or a quick summary.

If you’ve more to convey, record a video, write it up as a blog post or update your company wiki or documentation. This way, you can refer people to your work instead of writing a similar email a week or a month later.

4. Consume 30 mg of Protein

As recommended by Tim Ferriss in The Four Hour Body, eating this much protein first thing will help you avoid hunger pangs and sugar slumps during the morning.

Consuming protein will also help you lose weight and recover from an early morning workout session faster.

5. Tidy Up

Is your workspace covered in papers, cups and trinkets from yesterday’s work? Put away your notes. Rearrange your tools. Clear off whatever’s on your desk that you don’t need.

Give yourself a clear space to start afresh. Tidying up acts as a mini-reset for moments of procrastination.

6. Complete This Sentence…

“I’m grateful for…”

If you wake up and you find yourself in a black mood (It’s been known to happen to me!), reflect on what went well during the previous 24 hours.

You could express gratitude for a tangible experience like the taste of your morning coffee. Or it could be something high-level like a kind gesture someone did for you.

7. Turn Off Wireless For An Hour

Several years ago, I was a member of a creative writing group in Dublin.

A writer struggling with procrastination explained she liked to leave her modem in the attic to avoid distractions.

If you work in an office, your colleagues won’t thank you for disconnecting their internet! However, you could turn off your wireless for 30 to 60 minutes and focus on one important task before life interrupts.

8. Add One Task Each Day To Your Not-To-Do List

I keep a running tally of things that I don’t want to do or have no plans to do.

Cultivating this list helps me unload my subconscious. It’s also a great way of pruning my To Do list if it feels overwhelming.

I like re-reviewing my not-to-do list on Fridays to see if I missed something important.

Create Your Ritual

Remember these daily rituals might sound odd, and what works for one person might not work for you. The trick is to experiment to find and create a daily ritual that helps you get out of the starting blocks faster.

5 Mistakes You’re Making When Applying Liquid Eyeliner

Mastering a cat eye is easier said than done.
woman putting on liquid eyeliner

Not to brag or anything, but I know a thing or two about doing my makeup. My brows are always on point, and I get actual compliments on my just-so blush application technique. However, I’m not going to claim that I’m an out and out pro when it comes to applying liquid eyeliner. In fact, I’d probably consider myself a novice at best, as much as I really hate to admit it.

For one reason or another, I can never quite make a straight line across my eye with liquid liner. I blame an unsteady hand, overactive eyelid, or both. When I do manage to draw a decent (read: not weirdly diagonal) line, nine times out of 10 I end up smearing it so that my attempt at winged liner looks more like a Rorschach inkblot.

What am I doing wrong? I posed the question to beauty blogger Felicia Walker-Benson, creator of ThisThatBeauty.com, and Kat Von D artistry collective artist Steffanie Strazzere. Here’s their list of the top five mistakes that will turn your cat eye into raccoon eyes—and how to fix them.

1. You’re using the wrong type of liquid liner.

“One thing that I think is very important is to choose a product that feels comfortable for you,” says Walker-Benson. There are different types of liquid liners, and if one feels more natural to use, then you’re going to find it easier to control. “Does a liquid felt tip pen feel comfortable to you? Does a gel liner pencil work? I would recommend playing around in a Sephora or Ulta and try all of those different tools—I think a lot of times people try to get a look with the wrong tool, or a tool that doesn’t feel comfortable for them.”

Walker-Benson swears by the E.L.F Cosmetics Intense Ink Eyeliner explaining that it’s, “so good. It’s really the only one I wear. It’s super rich, which is great for darker skin tones, plus, the felt tip gives me great precision and control.”

2. You’re trying to draw one even line across your lid.

“A common mistake that I see so many people make it that they think their liquid liner is meant to be one line,” says Strazzere. “I can never do one line for a cat eye! What I do are lots of little lines—it’s almost like sketching it out—then I’ll connect them. Once I have a pretty straight line, I’ll go back with a little more of a heavy hand and really perfect it.”

Walker-Benson advises testing a variety of application techniques in order to lock in which ones work best for you. “I think in addition to trying out different liquid eyeliner tools, it’s also important to try out different techniques,” she tells SELF. “Maybe it is drawing dashes and then connecting them, maybe it’s a free-handed stroke coming from the outside in. The fun part of makeup is that it wipes off so you can just experiment with different ideas.”

3. You’re trying to line your lashes and create a cat eye flick in one stroke.

In my experience, it’s almost impossible to draw a seamless line and classic cat eye flick at the exact same time. Strazzere agrees, saying it’s best to do it in two steps. You should actually draw the outline of the wing you want before lining your lid. Start by drawing a line up and out from the outer edge of your eyelid, where your lashes end. That’s the outer edge of the wing. Then, move the tip of the liner slightly inward along your lash line (toward your nose) and make a second line connecting to the first, meeting it to form a point. You’ll be left with an open triangle shape. Repeat on the other eye. “Next,” she explains, “draw a line across your lid directly on top of your actual lash line. Finally, go back and fill in your flick outline, and you’ll have the perfect cat eye that’s symmetrical to your eye shape.”

4. You’re holding your liner brush too close to your eyelid.

The amount of pressure used during liner application can dramatically change the type of eye look you end up with. “Say I’m doing a liquid liner and I want like a really perfect end,” says Strazzere, “the further away you hold it the less product will come out, and the more tapered of a line you’ll get.”

The closer you hold your liner tip, the more pressure you’ll have when drawing a line, which equals more product on your lids—which is not always ideal. Strazzere advises holding your brush closer to its end rather than at its base for a more precise and intentional line. “It’s almost like holding a baseball bat—the further down you hold it, the further the ball goes,” she says.

5. You’re closing your eye and tugging at the corner of your eyelid.

Another common eyeliner mistake is pulling on the corner of your eye to hold your lid taut. Strazzere explains that tugging on your eyelid will actually cause your makeup to look worse. “What you don’t realize is when you close your eyes, your eyelid contracts so your skin sort of goes together more,” Strazzere tells SELF. “When you’re doing that, a lot times when you open your eyes there’s that skipping, almost heart monitor [look]—that’s because your eyelid is closed.”

According to Strazzere, if you look down while you’re putting your eyeliner on, it helps to expand the eye skin which in turn allows your liner to go on more evenly. “If you look down, your eye naturally has this smoothness to it, so you don’t have to pull or tug at all,” she says.

Walker-Benson says, “What I like to do is throw my head way back to the point where my nostrils are super high, then I can see my eye area better. It’s best to find ways to apply without pulling on your eye—if you try straight on in the mirror, it’s more difficult to see your eye, which is why so many people tug their lids.”

Why 13 Minutes Pumping Iron Might Be Better Than Spending Forever at the Gym

New research shows a short gym session can help endurance athletes gain strength—minus that unwanted bulk.

Close-Up Of Woman Lifting Weight

For decades, many endurance athletes like cyclists have avoided lifting weights for fear of gaining unwanted muscle mass that would weigh them down rather than speed them up.

Now, new research shows that not only can the right kind of resistance training put more power in your pedals, but also you can start gaining strength in less time than it takes to set up a pair of tubeless tires—just 13 minutes a session, according to the study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

In the study, researchers at CUNY Lehman College in the Bronx and other institutions set out to determine the impact various set and repetition combinations would have on muscle strength, endurance, and hypertrophy, or how big their muscles grew.

After taking baseline measurements, the researchers divided 34 resistance-trained men into three groups and had them all perform an exercise routine, which included 8 to 12 reps of seven upper and lower body exercises. One group performed five sets of each exercise, with about 90 seconds of rest between sets—a high volume approach that had them in the gym for over an hour. The second, medium-volume group performed three sets of each exercise, which took about 40 minutes to complete. Finally, a low-volume group performed just one set of each exercise, getting them in and out of the gym in just 13 minutes.

Each group performed their assigned workout three times per week for eight weeks. At the end of the study, all three groups got stronger and improved their muscular endurance. Surprisingly, there were no significant difference among the groups in strength and endurance gains: The quick-hit lifters enjoyed the same improvements as those who were in the gym five times as long.

The only difference between the high volume and low volume lifters was muscle size. While all the men experienced some increase in muscle size, those lifting higher volumes saw the most significant gains. In short, the more sets the men lifted, the bigger their muscles got. But again, the burlier men weren’t stronger, just beefier.

That’s good news for endurance athletes who benefit from increased strength, but can pay a weight penalty for too much mass. The factor that matters most is lifting to failure—pushing hard enough that you truly can’t eek out another rep. If you do that, one set is all you need to reap the rewards of strength training, without sweating unwanted gains in size.

How Walking Benefits Your Health and Longevity

Story at-a-glance

  • Inactivity is the fourth biggest killer of adults worldwide, responsible for 9 percent of premature deaths. Walking more, ideally daily, can go a long way toward reducing this risk
  • Walking for 20 to 25 minutes per day has been found to add anywhere from three to seven years to your life span. Smokers may also increase their life span by nearly four years by walking regularly
  • Walking can be tremendously beneficial for those struggling with chronic diseases such as obstructive pulmonary disease and cardiovascular disease
  • Walking has also been shown to lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes, depression, dementia, hormonal imbalances, arthritis, PMS, thyroid disorders, fatigue, varicose veins and constipation
  • British research suggests that when it comes to weight management, regular walking can be just as beneficial, or more, than working out in a gym

By Dr. Mercola

While a regimented fitness routine is certainly part of a healthy lifestyle, what you do outside the gym is equally important. Most adults spend 10 hours or more each day sitting, and research1,2 shows this level of inactivity cannot be counteracted with a workout at the end of the day. To maintain health, you really need mild but near-continuous movement throughout your waking hours.

One strategy that has been shown to have a positive impact is simply to stand up more. Increasing your daily walking is another key strategy that pays significant dividends, both short term and long term. According to the World Health Organization, inactivity is the fourth biggest killer of adults worldwide, responsible for 9 percent of premature deaths,3 and walking more could go a long way toward reducing this risk.

Walking Produces Beneficial Biochemical Changes in Your Body

The short video above reviews what happens in your body while walking. For starters, when you take your first few steps, your body releases chemicals that give your body a quick boost of energy. Once you get going, your heart rate will increase, from about 70 to about 100 beats per minute. This boost in blood flow will warm up your muscles. As you move, your body will also increase production of fluid in your joints, thereby reducing stiffness.

Walking for six to 10 minutes can raise your heartbeat to about 140 beats per minute and trigger your body to start burning up to six calories per minute. While your blood pressure will rise from the exertion, this increase is counteracted by chemicals that help expand your blood vessels, such as nitric oxide. This expansion in turn allows greater amounts of oxygen-rich blood to reach your muscles and organs, including your heart and brain. Over time, taking regular walks will help lower your blood pressure if it tends to be high.

Walking for 11 to 20 minutes results in an increase in body temperature and sweating as blood vessels closer to the surface of your skin expand to release heat. At this point, you start burning about seven calories per minute. The increase in heart rate also causes you to breathe deeper. Epinephrine (adrenaline) and glucagon also begin to rise at this point to boost muscle activity. Epinephrine helps relieve asthma and allergies, which helps explain why walking and other exercises tend to have a beneficial impact on these ailments.

At 21 to 45 minutes, you’ll start burning more fat, courtesy of a drop in insulin. This is also when you’ll start experiencing greater physical and mental relaxation as your brain starts to release “feel good” endorphins. Walking has also been shown to boost memory and creative problem-solving,4 so taking a walk when you’re puzzling over a problem may allow you to come up with better solutions. One Stanford University study found walking increased creative output by an average of 60 percent, compared to sitting still.5

After 30 to 45 minutes, you’re really oxygenating your whole body, burning more fat, strengthening your heart and cardiovascular system, and boosting your immune function. Provided you’re walking outdoors and the weather complies, an hour of sunshine will also help boost your mood and provide a number of beneficial health effects associated with vitamin D production.

Those struggling with depression would do well to get out of the concrete jungle and into nature, as nature walks have been found to be particularly beneficial for your mood by decreasing rumination — the obsessive mulling over negative experiences.

Walking Boosts Health and Longevity

Several studies have confirmed that walking boosts health and longevity. For example:

In one, walking for 20 to 25 minutes per day (140 to 175 minutes per week) was found to add anywhere from three to seven years to a person’s life span.6

Research7 published last year found that as little as two hours (120 minutes) of walking per week may reduce mortality risk in older adults, compared to inactivity. Meeting or exceeding the activity guidelines of 2.5 hours (150 minutes) of moderate activity per week in the form of walking lowered all-cause mortality by 20 percent.

Research published in 2012 found brisk walking improved life expectancy even in those who are overweight.8

Smokers may also increase their life span by nearly four years by engaging in physical activity9 such as walking. Former smokers who kept up their physical activity increased their life expectancy by 5.6 years on average, reducing their all-cause mortality risk by 43 percent.

Smokers who were physically active were also 55 percent more likely to quit smoking than those who remained inactive, and 43 percent less likely to relapse once they quit. A Norwegian study10 also showed that regular exercise is as important as quitting smoking if you want to reduce your mortality risk.

About 5,700 older men were followed for about 12 years in this study, and those who got 30 minutes of exercise — even if all they did was light walking — six days a week, reduced their risk of death by about 40 percent. Getting less than one hour of light activity per week had no effect on mortality in this study, highlighting the importance of getting the “dosage” right if you want to live longer.

Walking Is Good for Whatever Ails You

Other studies have shown walking can be tremendously beneficial for people struggling with chronic diseases such as obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cardiovascular disease. In one, COPD patients who walked 2 miles a day or more cut their chances of hospitalization from a severe episode by about half.11,12

Another study13 found that daily walking reduced the risk of stroke in men over the age of 60. Walking for an hour or two each day cut a man’s stroke risk by as much as one-third, and it didn’t matter how fast or slow the pace was. Taking a three-hour long walk each day slashed the risk by two-thirds. Walking has also been shown to lower your risk of:14,15

Type 2 diabetes Depression and anxiety
Dementia and Alzheimer’s Arthritis
Hormonal imbalances PMS symptoms
Thyroid disorders Fatigue
Varicose veins Constipation

So, while walking might not seem like it would be “enough” to make a significant difference in your health, science disagrees. It makes sense that walking would be an important health aspect considering humans are designed for walking. And, in our historical past, before conveniences such as automobiles and even the horse and buggy, humans walked a lot. Every day.

Walkers Generally Weigh Less Than Other Exercisers

Research16 from the London School of Economics and Political Science suggests that when it comes to weight management, regular walking can be just as beneficial, or more, than working out in a gym. To reach this conclusion, the researchers assessed the effects of a number of different workouts, comparing health markers in more than 50,000 adults who were followed for 13 years. Activities were divided into:

  • Brisk walking
  • Moderate-intensity sports (examples: swimming, cycling, gym workouts, dancing, running, football, rugby, badminton, tennis and squash)
  • Heavy housework and/or walking with heavy shopping bags
  • Heavy manual work (examples: digging, felling trees, chopping wood, moving heavy loads)

The big surprise? People who regularly walked briskly for more than 30 minutes generally weighed less than those who hit the gym on a regular basis and/or exclusively did high-intensity workouts. According to the press release, these results were “particularly pronounced in women, people over 50 and those on low incomes.”17 According to the authors:

“Given the obesity epidemic and the fact that a large proportion of people … are inactive, recommending that people walk briskly more often is a cheap and easy policy option. Additionally, there is no monetary cost to walking so it is very likely that the benefits will outweigh the costs.

It has also been shown by the same authors that walking is associated with better physical and mental health. So, a simple policy that ‘every step counts’ may be a step toward curbing the upward trend in obesity rates and beneficial for other health conditions.”

Indeed, walking has been a longstanding recommendation to meet fitness guidelines, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association have all recommended getting 30 minutes of brisk walking several days a week for general health and disease prevention.18,19

Walking Can Also Be a High-Intensity Exercise

While taking daily walks forms a great foundation upon which to build your health, research also shows that to really maximize health and longevity, higher intensity exercise is called for. Based on two large-scale studies20,21 the ideal amount of exercise to promote longevity is between 150 and 450 minutes of moderate exercise per week. During the 14-year follow up period, those who exercised for 150 minutes per week reduced their risk of death by 31 percent, compared to non-exercisers.

Those who exercised for 450 minutes lowered their risk of premature death by 39 percent. Above that, the benefit actually began to diminish. In terms of intensity, those who added bouts of strenuous activity each week also gained an extra boost in longevity. Those who spent 30 percent of their exercise time doing more strenuous activities gained an extra 13 percent reduction in early mortality, compared to those who exercised moderately all the time.

Besides doing high-intensity exercises on an elliptical, bike or treadmill, super-slow strength training is another excellent high-intensity exercise worth considering. That said, if you’re out of shape and/or overweight, the idea of high intensity interval training can seem too daunting to even attempt. The elderly may also shy away from high intensity exercises for fear of injury. My recommendation? Don’t allow such concerns to overwhelm you and prevent you from getting started.

Once you’re walking on a regular basis, you can easily turn this activity into a high-intensity exercise simply by intermittently picking up the pace. Japanese researchers, who developed a walking program designed specifically for the elderly, have shown that a combination of gentle strolling and fast walking provide greater fitness benefits than walking at a steady pace.22,23

The program they developed consists of repeated intervals of three minutes of fast walking followed by three minutes of slow strolling. Completing five sets of these intervals, totaling 30 minutes of walking, at least three times a week, led to significant improvements in aerobic fitness, leg strength and blood pressure.

Everyone Can Benefit From Walking More Each Day

As mentioned, walking can be an excellent entry into higher intensity training, regardless of your age and fitness level. Personally, I typically take an hourlong walk on the beach every day that I’m home. As you’ve probably heard by now, chronic sitting is the new smoking — it actually has a mortality rate similar to this toxic habit.24 It even raises your risk of lung cancer by over 50 percent. What’s worse, it raises your risk of disease and early death independently of your fitness and other healthy lifestyle habits.

According to Dr. James Levine, codirector of Obesity Solutions at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix and Arizona State University, you need at least 10 minutes of movement for every hour you sit down. I recommend limiting your sitting to less than three hours a day, and to make it a point to walk more every day. I suggest aiming for about 10,000 steps per day, over and above any other fitness routine you may have.

A fitness tracker can be a very helpful tool to monitor your progress and ensure you’re hitting your mark. Just be sure that you are using one that does not have Bluetooth enabled (the Oura ring and Apple Watch are the two that I know of that allow you to turn off the Bluetooth). Tracking your steps can also show you how simple and seemingly minor changes to the way you move around at work can add up. For example, you can:

  • Walk across the hall to talk to a co-worker instead of sending an email
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Park your car further away from the entrance
  • Take a longer, roundabout way to your desk
  • Take a walk during your lunch hour (importantly, this habit has been shown to reduce work-related stress25).

Watch the video. URL:https://youtu.be/A7vk13pOn4s

8 Ways to Get More From Fitness Trackers

These days, chances are good that you’ll spot someone sporting a fitness band or watch on their wrist wherever you go. Maybe you even have one of these activity trackers yourself.

So have you thought about getting them for your kids? Though they’ll have different goals than you or your adult friends, your children might be motivated to move more when they wear a tracker. (Just 15% of kids get the 60 minutes of daily exercise that they need.)

Try these tips to help your kids get the most from these gadgets.

1. Get a wearable when they’re ready. Just because they’re walking or heading off to preschool doesn’t mean your little ones are ready to record their every movement. Kindergarten or first grade is a good starting point for using a tracker. Earlier than that, and they’ll probably be too young to get the point.

2. Choose the right device. Although they might envy the colorful wristband or fancy screen on your device, your kids might be better off with a tracker specifically made for them. Wearables made for children display stats more simply (they’ll light up when kids have been moving for a certain number of minutes, for instance). That makes them easier for young kids to use and understand. Bonus: They’re also generally less expensive than trackers for adults.

3. Don’t focus on steps too early. In kindergarten and first grade, kids aren’t old enough to really comprehend big numbers — so a goal of 10,000 steps a day, which is the general recommendation for grown-ups, can be overwhelming. Instead, have them aim to be up and moving for 60 minutes a day. Then remind them of all the ways they can get to that goal — running around the backyard, playing basketball in the driveway, or having a dance party in the den.

4. Save steps for middle school. Tracking steps can also be a question of anatomy: Little kids generally take more steps a day because their legs are shorter. So the 10,000-steps-a-day goal doesn’t make sense for them. Don’t focus on that target until they’re around 13 or 14 and have longer legs.


5. Make it fun! Once your kid has gotten the hang of his device, you may need to keep him interested in racking up steps or minutes of activity. Create a family challenge where everyone sets a goal and tries to beat it. You can track everyone’s progress through a smartphone app or a chart on the fridge. Or how many minutes or steps would it take to walk across your town, to the next state, or to Disney World? Help your kids figure it out, and see how far they can go.

6. Set separate goals. Give each of your kids their own challenge to make competition fair and more fun. If your 10-year-old is competing with your 6-year-old, they’ll probably hit very different numbers throughout the day — and you don’t want your little one feeling down because she can’t keep up.

7. Go over their numbers nightly. Set aside some time every evening to talk about the activity your kids got throughout the day and what they might do differently tomorrow. If they only exercised for 30 minutes, for instance, you can suggest that they take a 20-minute bike ride after school and a 10-minute study break to shoot hoops or do stretches. Ask for their ideas about what they’d like to do to up their activity — if their goals involve stuff they like, they’ll be more inclined to go for it and get moving more.

8. Track together. If you want your kids to track more moves, get yourself off the couch, too! Plan time every day to move together as a family, whether it’s taking a walk together or kicking around a soccer ball after dinner. You’ll rack up more activity on your devices and teach them that moving is a fun part of everyday life.


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