Listen in as I speak with journalist Esther Honig about her fascinating “Before and After" project, the power Photoshop images have to impact our self-esteem and mental and physical health, and the freedom of finding beauty in authenticity.
"Find your inspiration in people whose lives and goals have some relevance to your own. Also remember that most of the pictures you see of celebrities and fitness models have been extensively retouched."
So happy to feature this interview with talented young journalist Esther Honig about her “Before and After” project on our microsite, RevolutionaryAct.com.
5 Ways to Start Digging Out of Debt
Ready to be debt-free? Here are five ways to get started.
1. Operate on a cash-only system. Set a budget for your weekly expenses, such as groceries and toiletries, and withdraw that amount of cash from the bank each week. Then spend only what you have in hand. “If you don’t have the cash, you don’t buy it,” says Stephanie Smith, a psychologist in Denver, Colo., who specializes in debt counseling. “We’ve become so accustomed to credit cards, we’ve lost all perspective of what cash can buy and of what we can and cannot afford.”
2. Drive a wedge between looking and buying. To help curb impulse shopping, make a list of things you want to buy, then wait, says Kelly McGonigal, PhD, a Stanford University health psychologist. The act of putting the item on a list gives you the warm fuzzies that come with the promise of reward, she says. “But, two weeks later, you’ll be amazed at how much has fallen off the list because you’re no longer under the spell of the product’s advertisement or fantasy.”
3. Reduce your wants. Think of emails and catalogs from retailers as “want generators,” says Kelly McGonigal, PhD. Contact these companies and ask to be removed from their mailing lists, or subscribe to a service that will do it for you, such as GreenDimes.com. Toss unsolicited coupons directly into the recycling bin. “When you are trying to save money, nothing excites the brain more than the idea that you are getting a bargain,” she says. “But, obviously, you’re not saving money if you’re spending it — even if it sounds like a deal.”
4. Don’t ignore debt. People don’t realize that the seed of the stress response is rooted in the unknown, says McGonigal. So trying to keep stress at bay by not opening the bills or balancing the checkbook is bound to fail. “Your mind will keep trying to solve this problem, and the less information it has, the more it’s going to worry,” she says. “That puts you in a never-ending stress response and takes a huge toll on your health.”
5. Establish a pay-off plan. Having a clear strategy for paying your debts each month and knowing when you’ll be debt-free is great for peace of mind — and motivation. For tools you can use to start your own step-by-step payback plan.
More tips for “Escaping the Burdens of Debt Stress.”
A recent Northwestern Medicine report shows that the debt of young adults takes a major toll on their physical and emotional well-being.
The study, published in Social Science & Medicine, reveals that participants between ages 24 and 32 who have heavy debt report higher levels of depression and stress than young adults who owe less. They also have worse general health and higher diastolic blood pressure — a precursor to heart attacks and strokes.
Gardening for Beginners
For many aspiring gardeners, the first step is the hardest. They fret about planting seeds that never germinate, overwatering until soil disintegrates, or being so neglectful that any plant droops in surrender. But successful gardening is easier than you think.
- Start small with a collection of herbs. These grow well in window boxes, porch container gardens, indoor pots, and backyards, so you can keep them going for some time.
- Choose your spot. Although it seems counterintuitive, select a spot for your container first. It will help you figure out what herbs to grow. For example, marjoram does best in full sun, while mint likes a mix of sun and shade. Determining sunshine needs for particular plants is as easy as browsing the website of a seed vendor like www.johnnyseeds.com.
- Pick your herb varieties based on that location. Most herbs prefer a sunny spot, so if you’re going that route, a nice mix is marjoram, oregano, rosemary, and sage. Not only does that collection blend well in terms of flavor, but the different textures of the leaves make it a pretty combo.
- Get the correct potting soil and the right pot. Because dirt from your backyard has creepy crawlies (the bad kind) and potential plant diseases, always use potting soil, which is available at any greenhouse or garden store. Your best option is soil that’s specific to organic vegetable growing. Most pot types are fine as long as there are drainage holes in the bottom, which help prevent overwatering.
- Use transplants instead of seeds. Obtaining herbs from a local greenhouse or garden store isn’t cheating; it’s just moving your starting line to a better spot. To plant: Put some potting soil in the pot, then carefully take the transplants out of their containers and nestle them into their new home before adding a bit more potting soil to about 2 inches below the rim.
- Water appropriately. Once you put the transplants in the soil, water thoroughly and put the container somewhere appropriate for drainage. After that, determine watering needs by putting a finger into the soil to test for dryness. If it’s feeling moist an inch down, skip the spritz. Otherwise, water lightly. Herbs are prone to root rot, which happens when they sit in water for too long, so it’s better to skimp on watering most of the time.
- Fail, laugh, and learn. This might be the most important step of all, because not every project is going to work. For some gardeners, herbs are challenging but roses are a snap. Every failed project will give you some insight into what went wrong, and you can use that knowledge for the next round. Once you’ve got a thriving herb container, indoors or out, it’s possible that you’ll feel ready for more gardening adventures. Nice work, green thumb!
Elizabeth Millard is the co-owner of Bossy Acres CSA in Dayton, Minn., and author of Indoor Kitchen Gardening.
When the best weather of the year arrives, you want to be out there soaking it up. Here’s what you need to know to make your outdoor workouts as effective as they are fun.
Suggestions for a safe, comfortable open-air workout:
- Pack plenty of water. In the heat, you’ll need about 8 ounces for every 15 to 20 minutes of exercise. Keep about 16 ounces of water in an athletic water bottle for immediate use and another 24 to 48 ounces in a thermos to keep it cool. You can also opt for a water carrier that fits like a backpack.
- Choose an area with a bathroom nearby.
- Use a sports watch with a stopwatch function to keep track of your exercise intervals and water consumption.
- Wear a wristband or bring a towel to mop up sweat.
- Dump the baseball cap. Most are made from heavy cotton that keeps heat from escaping and absorbs sweat like a sponge.For better sun protection, go for a runner’s cap made of breathable material like CoolMax with mesh sides for better ventilation. Keep the colors light: white, yellow or blue.
- Always wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. You may want to invest in a wraparound style to keep the glare out of your front view and peripheral vision. Look for brands with rubber ends, since they prevent slippage when you sweat.
- Apply sunscreen on your face and any exposed skin, such as arms and legs, if you are going to be outdoors for more than 15 minutes. Getting a little sunshine will probably do you good, but you don’t want to risk a burn.
- Pin your house key and car keys in your pocket so you won’t lose them.
- Stuff a washcloth or rag into a backpack so you can wipe your face and sunglasses as needed.