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Hannah Connors

should I take collagen

Should Women Take Collagen?

Collagen is a buzzy word in the wellness industry, but you might be wondering, should I take collagen? You’ve probably heard about people putting it in their smoothies or taking it in a daily pill that promises to give their skin a new glow. With so much hype, it can be difficult to know what’s real. We’re here to distinguish fact from fiction when it comes to this wellness trend. Read on to learn what collagen is, its health benefits, and how to decide if you should start taking a collagen supplement.  What Is Collagen? “Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body,” says Fiona Lawson, Registered Associate Nutritionist. “It’s found in your tendons, bone, cartilage, and connective tissue.” Collagen is also found in organs, blood vessels, and intestinal lining. It’s made up of various amino acids, and your body also needs the proper amount of vitamin C, zinc, copper, and manganese in order for these amino acids to form protein fibrils in a triple helix structure. Collagen helps to make tissues strong, resilient, and able to withstand stretching. Some of its other specific roles in the body are: Different Types of Collagen There are over 25 different collagen types that have been identified. Each type is used differently in your body and the molecules are assembled differently.  The main five types of collagen and their functions are: Most collagen supplementation types contain types I, II, and III, in a digestible form of collagen called collagen peptides. Why do Collagen Levels Decrease? As we age, our bodies make less collagen, existing collagen breaks down more quickly, and the collagen produced is also lower in quality. Though it’s normal for everyone to experience a decrease in collagen production after age 60, women in particular experience a bigger drop in collagen production after menopause. As we age, collagen in the deep skin layers transforms from a tightly organized network of fibers to something closer to a disorganized maze.  In addition to age, there are other risk factors that can lead to decreasing collagen levels in your body. They include: There’s no way to measure your body’s amount of collagen, but there are signs that could point to decreasing collagen levels. They include: Foods That Contain Collagen Collagen is a protein produced by the body, however, there is a lack of research to show that eating collagen directly benefits skin or joint health. Collagen can’t be absorbed by your body in its whole form; instead, your body breaks down the collagen proteins you eat into amino acids. Because of this, eating a well-balanced diet collagen-rich foods doesn’t necessarily result in higher collagen levels in your body. That said, you still may choose to eat a healthy diet of collagen-rich foods or foods that provide the raw ingredients that support collagen production, as part of a balanced diet. Collagen-rich foods include: Some of the amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that support collagen production include: Potential Benefits of Taking Collagen For Women As the most abundant protein produced by the body, collagen is essential to our well-being. But does taking a collagen supplement, in the form of a capsule, liquid, powder, or gummy, provide real health benefits? The results are mixed, and more research is needed to provide a definitive answer. “Collagen research is contentious because collagen manufacturers fund a lot of it! But anecdotally, a lot of people swear by it,” says Lawson. So while it’s helpful to go in with tempered expectations, you may want to give collagen a try to see what it does for you personally. Some of the benefits you might experience include: Should I Take Collagen? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements, such as collagen, the way they do with medications. Because of this, the research that exists is mostly funded by the supplement industry. That doesn’t mean collagen intake doesn’t work, but you might have to try it for yourself to find out if it can deliver the effects you’re hoping for. “If you want to try it, commit to taking it for at least three months before judging if it works for you,” says Lawson. Different Types of Collagen Supplements Collagen supplements come in various forms, each offering unique benefits and catering to different preferences and needs. Here are the most common types of collagen supplements: How to Choose a Collagen Supplement As long as you buy your supplements from a reputable source and consult your doctor before starting to take them, collagen is low-risk. Side effects are rare—though if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s probably a good idea to wait, as there’s not enough research to conclude if they’re safe to take during this time. When it comes to selecting a collagen supplement, Lawson says, “Look for type 1 collagen peptides, also known as type 1 hydrolyzed collagen. Your skin mainly contains type 1, and research shows that peptide form is easier for your body to absorb and use. The research-backed dose is 2.5–5g daily.” Finally, while you might want to take collagen to address a specific issue, like your hair, skin, or nails, be wary of products that promise to work their magic on one body part specifically. Once you take collagen, your digestive system breaks it down into amino acids, which then forms new proteins that your body uses however they need. Because of this, collagen supplements can’t target benefits to particular areas of your body, no matter what their marketing says. How to Take Collagen Supplements Taking collagen supplements can be a versatile and enjoyable part of your daily routine. Collagen can be taken on an empty stomach and can also be taken any time of day, so it’s great for putting in drinks, but there are plenty of other options. Here are different ways to incorporate collagen powder into your diet: 1. In Beverages 2. In Food 3. In Baking and Cooking 4. With Other Supplements 5. Creative Recipes Final Takeaways As a low-risk supplement, there’s little harm in giving collagen products a try if you’re curious, as long as your healthcare provider gives the OK, especially if you have any existing health conditions. After

ZO Skin Health Gentle Cleanser Review (2024)

In the world of skincare, where choices for various cleansers, creams, and serums are abundant, finding a brand that aligns with your skin’s needs can feel daunting. Enter ZO Skin Health, a name that has steadily gained recognition for its commitment to innovative skincare solutions. This article will delve into one of ZO Skin Health’s essentials—the Gentle Cleanser.  What sets ZO Skin Health apart, and what does their Gentle Cleanser claim to bring to your daily skincare regimen? We’ll answer these questions through uncovering the science, philosophy, and impact behind the brand and product. Plus, we’ll hear from a few dermatologists who provide their insight into the ingredients and efficacy of ZO Skin Health’s Gentle Cleanser. Let’s get started and see if this cleanser has the potential to be a new staple in your skincare routine!  What is ZO Skin Health?  ZO Skin Health is a trailblazing brand at the forefront of the skincare industry, founded by Dr. Zein Obagi, a world-renowned dermatologist. Driven by a passion for advancing skin health science, ZO Skin Health is dedicated to providing comprehensive skincare solutions that bridge the gap between therapeutic treatments and daily care. The brand’s philosophy revolves around the concept of “creating and maintaining healthy skin for life,” an ethos that has become synonymous with ZO Skin Health’s mission. At its core, ZO Skin Health is committed to pushing the boundaries of skincare innovation, with a focus on science-backed solutions that deliver tangible results. The brand’s approach is rooted in a comprehensive understanding of the skin’s biology and physiology, allowing for the development of products that address a spectrum of skin concerns. ZO Skin Health emphasizes the importance of customized skincare regimens, recognizing that each individual’s skin is unique and requires tailored care. A cornerstone of ZO Skin Health’s methodology is the belief that truly transformative skincare involves a continuum, spanning therapeutic treatments provided by skincare professionals to at-home maintenance. This holistic approach is reflected in the brand’s product range, designed to support users at every stage of their skincare journey. From cutting-edge formulations to meticulous attention to detail, ZO Skin Health strives to redefine the standard for effective and results-driven skincare. What is the Gentle Cleanser?  The ZO Skin Health Gentle Cleanser is a daily face wash for all skin types, developed to deeply clean your skin and remove oil, makeup, and other impurities. Like the name suggests, it’s a gentle cleanser with a silky gel formulation, leaving your skin feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. It’s a part of the brand’s Getting Skin Ready line, a collection of basic skincare products designed to bring skin back to its most healthy, balanced state.  ZO Skin Health recommends using the cleanser in both the mornings and nights, and massaging a small amount on your damp face and neck as the first step in your skincare routine before any serums or moisturizers. At night, it can serve as your makeup remover in addition to cleansing.  The cleanser is $49 for the full size option (200 mL), or $20 for the travel size (60 mL).  How Does It Differ From Other ZO Skin Products? While ZO Skin Health offers a variety of products for different skincare needs, the Gentle Cleanser stands out due to its universal appeal and mild formulation. Unlike the vitamin C cleanser or the enzyme powder cleanser, which target specific skin concerns such as brightening or exfoliating, the Gentle Cleanser is suitable for all skin types. It’s a versatile product within the ZO Products range, making it an ideal option for those who seek simplicity and efficacy in their cleansing routine. Who Can Benefit from This Cleanser? One of the most remarkable aspects of the ZO Skin Health Gentle Cleanser is its broad applicability. Our team of 5 tried the cleanser, and we each had a great experience despite the differences in our skin health. Whether you have dry skin, oily skin, or a combination complexion, this product caters to your needs. It is perfect for individuals looking to clean and refresh their skin without inducing dryness or irritation. Those struggling with acne will find that this cleanser helps to remove impurities efficiently, contributing to clearer skin over time. Potential Side Effects While the ZO Skin Health Gentle Cleanser is designed to be mild, it’s essential to be aware of potential side effects. Some users might experience slight tingling upon application, which usually subsides quickly. If you have extremely sensitive skin, you may want to perform a patch test before using it on your entire face. Overall, customer reviews highlight a favorable tolerance profile with very few adverse reactions reported. What a Dermatologist Thinks  What do skin experts think about the ZO Skin Health Gentle Cleanser? The dermatologists we spoke to noted a few things to consider when deciding whether to give the cleanser a try.  “While there is nothing harmful in their ingredients list that I am aware of, it is not a product that I would recommend for my patients with multiple allergies,” says Dr. Ali Al-Haseni, MD. “The main reason for saying this is that it has both a fragrance and a dye. Two chemicals that I advise my patients with sensitive skin to avoid in their cleansers to reduce the possibility of further skin irritation.” Similarly, Dr. Kelley Redbord, MD noted that many of the ingredients in the formula, including citronellol, hexyl cinnamal, limonene, linalool, camellia sinensis leaf extract, and fragrance/parfum, have the potential for allergy or irritation, though they’re “generally well tolerated”.  Finally, Redbord flagged that it was positive to see that the extracts in the product are antioxidants. Is the ZO Skin Health Gentle Cleanser For You? With its fusion of advanced technology, botanical elements, and a commitment to overall skin well-being, the Gentle Cleanser encapsulates ZO Skin Health’s philosophy—creating and maintaining healthy skin for life. Finding a skincare routine that works for your unique skin is a personal journey. While the ZO Skin Health Gentle Cleanser might not be for everyone, it could be

Top 13 Sunscreens of 2024 — By Derms

Sunscreen should be worn year-round, whether it’s summer or winter, sunny or cloudy. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends regular sunscreen use to protect against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays and prevent skin cancer. In general, when selecting a sunscreen, it’s recommended to look for a “broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 30 or above,” says Dr. Ali Al-Haseni, MD, a dermatologist at the Dermatology Institute of Boston. “Always look for non-comedogenic (oil-free) sunscreens for the face to prevent acne, as thicker products can cause or worsen acne.” But with so many different skincare and sunscreen brands on the market, choosing one you love and will use daily can be difficult. That’s why we’ve rounded up 13 of the best sunscreens of 2024, approved by dermatologists. From mineral formulas to sprays and sticks, there’s something for everyone. Our first pick is not just sunscreen but also a moisturizer. “It has an SPF 30 sunscreen added,” says Dr. Al-Haseni. “So you will use one product in the morning instead of a moisturizer and separate sunscreen.”  On top of simplifying your skincare routine, this product is well-loved because it contains hyaluronic acid to retain skin moisture, plus niacinamide to help calm skin. It’s fragrance-free and oil-free, and suitable for all skin types. And just like all CeraVe products, it’s formulated with three essential ceramides to help restore and maintain the skin’s natural barrier. All this plus a micro-fine zinc oxide sunscreen for UV protection, and we have a winning sunscreen moisturizer combo you’ll reach for every morning. Developed with dermatologists, this sunscreen lotion absorbs easily and provides water-resistant, broad-spectrum SPF. It’s a physical sunscreen, also known as a mineral sunscreen. “Mineral sunscreens protect the skin more reliably than chemical ones, and they cause less irritation and allergic reactions than chemical ones,” says Dr. Al-Haseni.  The Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen is suitable for even the most sensitive skin, as it contains no skin-irritating chemical sunscreen ingredients, parabens, or fragrances. Plus, it’s affordable and contains no Oxybenzone or Octinoxate in order to protect coral reefs. While there are many benefits to using a mineral sunscreen, there is one common complaint about they: they can leave a white cast. For people who prefer a chemical sunscreen, the Banana Boat Light As Air Sunscreen Lotion is a great option that rubs in totally clear and breathable. True to its name, it leaves a light, barely there feeling.  Many chemical sunscreens contain oxybenzone, but not this one. This is good news for many families, because the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents avoid using sunscreens containing oxybenzone on kids. This face sunscreen is a cult favorite, and for good reason. While it’s a bit pricier, people rave about how lightweight and invisible it is, often saying it feels more like a makeup primer than a sunscreen. It’s great for wearing under makeup or for people looking for absolutely no white cast.  This sunscreen is also chock full of skin-loving ingredients, like red algae, which helps increase skin moisture and protects against all visible light, and frankincense, which can provide a soothing effect. It also contains a complex derived from meadowfoam oil, which helps increase hydration levels and can lead to a more even skin texture. Keep one little bottle in your bathroom and one in your purse to be maximally sun-protected. Owned by the Japanese cosmetics company Kao, Bioré is a popular drugstore skincare brand best known for its beloved pore strips. But this sunscreen deserves just as much attention because it’s seriously lightweight and effective. Like a gel/cream hybrid, it rubs in immediately and leaves your face feeling fresh, dewy, and hydrated. It also has the highest possible protection grade of UVA (PA) rating, which is what the PA++++ refers to. (PA ratings are used in addition to SPF ratings on sunscreens approved for sale places outside of the US). The only downside is that since it is an imported sunscreen, it can be a little trickier to find or you might have to deal with longer shipping times. But for the cool, fresh feeling it leaves and the strong protection, it might be worth it! Another international pick, the UK-based brand Australian Gold, developed a bestselling tinted face sunscreen with mineral SPF and a matte finish.  “This sunscreen is water resistant and comes in 3 different shades of light to dark brown to match your skin tone without leaving a white cast or film. This is very convenient if you have a tan or darker skin type,” says Dr. Al-Haseni. Perfect to use underneath makeup or on its own as a tinted moisturizer, the tint blends seamlessly into your skin and minimizes the appearance of uneven skin tones. Plus it contains kakadu plum, a native Australian fruit that’s high in vitamin C and a great antioxidant. Those looking for an affordable, non-greasy sunscreen need look no further than this Neutrogena product from their Ultra Sheer line. It’s formulated with NeutrogenaMD’s Helioplex® technology, specifically engineered to deliver broad spectrum, superior protection from UV damage. The dry-touch technology means this sunscreen is also super fast-absorbing and ultra-light, leaving an invisible finish that won’t clog your pores or feel heavy throughout the day. Neutrogena claims to be the #1 dermatologist-recommended brand, and it’s easy to understand why—their products are well-researched, tested, and have stood the test of time.  This hypoallergenic sunscreen is perfect for sensitive and acne-prone skin. It’s fragrance-free, paraben-free, and non-comedogenic. Thanks to the niacinamide it contains, it can even help reduce the appearance of discoloration on your skin. In addition to its calming formula, safe for all skin types, this sunscreen provides stellar protection from the sun’s rays by utilizing micronized zinc oxide. The Skin Cancer Foundatio even recommended it for daily use to prevent skin damage that can lead to skin cancer. With this sunscreen in your beach bag, you can enjoy the sun’s rays with some more peace of mind. For those who prefer the convenience of a sunscreen

feeling guilty for not exercising

When Skipping Your Workout is Perfectly Okay, and Why Not To Feel Bad About It

It’s no secret that regular exercise offers numerous physical and mental health benefits. But what happens when you find yourself in an exercise regimen so strict that you start feeling guilty for not exercising one day? As great as working out can make us feel, in the long run there are many valid reasons to take a day off, and you should be able to do so without spiraling into negative self-talk. It’s easier said than done, which is why we’re here to walk you through where some of the unrealistic expectations around exercise come from, plus how to reframe your thinking and develop a healthier relationship with physical activity. With some mindfulness, you’ll be able to discern when taking rest days is exactly what you need, and how to enjoy it without feelings of guilt. Where Does Feeling Guilty for Not Exercising Come From? Exercise guilt is feeling guilty about skipping a workout, doing an “easier” workout than you normally do, not hitting your fitness goals, or any other guilt surrounding doing exercise “wrong”. While guilt can sometimes be a motivating factor, inspiring us to make healthy choices, oftentimes it can spiral into shame and have the opposite effect. Guilt can leave us paralyzed, turning our rest day into something not particularly restful and creating a longer road to feeling better and getting moving again. Where does this guilt come from? Alex Bryson, NASM Certified Personal Trainer and CEO and Founder of Mooh says she believes societal influences play the biggest role.  Diet Culture and the Media “With fitness pages and models on social media constantly advertising “fit” individuals, it can truly impact how we view ourselves and our changed bodies,” Bryson says. “Women posting gym videos only “x” amount of weeks or months after a baby can make you feel like you’re not doing enough.” Fitness culture can breed fertile ground for comparison, making you believe if you’re not constantly exercising and monitoring your body, you’re doing something wrong. Depending on the media you consume and the people you surround yourself with, the pressure to be fit and never miss a workout can feel extremely strong. So when you’re feeling guilty about not exercising, even for a single day, remember the bigger picture. It’s likely your guilt is informed by larger cultural narratives and not necessarily coming from a place of objective truth or wisdom.  Normal Resistance vs. Bigger Issues So, when is it a good idea to skip exercising? Most of us are familiar with feeling resistant to working out, despite all the evidence we have that we’ll feel better afterward. Many times, you go to bed with every intention of going to the gym the next morning, but when your alarm goes off, sleeping in an extra hour sounds extremely enticing. “Normal” exercise resistance is all about where our priorities are placed. Everyone struggles to find balance between work, family, our favorite TV show, etc. but the difference lies with those who are willing to put their physical fitness first,” Bryson says. “The goal is to get yourself moving even when other things might sound more appealing.” Skipping Exercise for Your Physical Health That said, there are many valid reasons to forego exercise that go beyond the standard hump of resistance many of us have to get over. According to Bryson, almost all of these reasons are medical in nature. “If your doctor has told you that exercise should be avoided due to a preexisting condition or some other reason that can be exacerbated by elevating your heart LISTEN,” Bryson says. “He/she might be able to prescribe you something or refer you to a specialist that can help get you moving again.” Dealing with an injury is another issue that can, and often should, keep you from exercising. Additionally, overtraining to the point of severe pain is a sign you may need to take an extra few days off to give your body proper time to recover. “Listening to your body can be very important in the recovery process,” Bryson says. “If you are not allowing your body to heal you won’t be able to maintain your activity level over long periods of time.” Discerning the Issues Next time you find yourself wanting to skip a workout, take a few moments to tune into where this thought is coming from. Is it a familiar sense of resistance, one you often feel better once you push through? Or does it feel like something bigger and out of the ordinary, perhaps a sign from your body to take it easy today? With time, distinguishing the difference will become easier. And remember, you can always end a workout halfway through if you start it and realize your body and mind are not in the right space for exercise.  Consistency, Flexibility, and Fun Working out consistently and the endorphins released by doing so, make us feel better, but within that consistency, there has to be some room for flexibility. When your body is sending you signals to not follow your normal workout routine, listen and make adjustments accordingly. This could mean taking a rest day or finding a more gentle form of movement to engage in, like walking or light yoga. It’s not giving up, it’s keeping a healthy mindset and granting yourself the flexibility to keep going in a way that works for you. Additionally, Bryson suggests finding the forms of fitness you most enjoy, so exercise doesn’t end up being something you have to constantly coerce yourself into doing. “Activity should be fun and not everyone opts for the gym. Maybe you prefer cycling over weight training or joining a group class over swimming. If you love to be outdoors, stick to hiking,” she says. “Learning what makes you excited to get moving is the best place to start. The point is to stay active, not to force yourself into something you’re dreading. Plus, a lot of the time you can meet other like-minded individuals who are in

Why I Started Incorporating More Plants In My Home

I’ve always enjoyed spending time in nature, from big mountain hikes to leisurely walks through the forest. But living somewhere with long winters, plus working from home, I inevitably spend a ton of time inside, too. That’s where houseplants came in. My journey into the world of houseplants began as a simple desire to bring a touch of nature indoors, but it soon transformed into a passion that enriched my life in many ways.  You probably intuitively know that incorporating more houseplants in your home could benefit your well-being, and I’m here to share with you the truths behind that intuition. From improving air quality and enhancing mental well-being to the sheer joy of nurturing living organisms, houseplants offer many advantages that make them an essential addition to any home. I’ll also provide valuable plant care tips to ensure your leafy friends thrive. Join me in rediscovering the beauty and serenity that nature can bring you right at home. Benefits of Having Houseplants On top of being beautiful and making your home more aesthetically appealing, there are tons of benefits to having houseplants around. Here are some of the ways your space, plus your physical and mental health, can be enhanced after taking a trip to the plant nursery: The NASA study, or the Clean Air Study, demonstrated that houseplants can significantly reduce the number of airborne volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in the air. Other studies have corroborated these findings, showing that plants can improve indoor air, increase oxygen levels in the air(simultaneously reducing carbon dioxide), and make interior breathing spaces healthier. They do so by absorbing pollutants through their leaves and transmitting the toxins to their roots, then converting them into a food source. Other research has called these conclusions into question, so it’s unclear exactly how potent the effects are or if you must have a large quantity of plants in a completely sealed environment to reap the air quality benefits. That being said, bringing more plants into your home won’t hurt the air–it can only improve it, even if just slightly. Many of us have experienced finding a sense of peace when immersed in a beautiful natural landscape. You can bring a piece of that experience into your home by caring for indoor plants, which one study showed can reduce physiological and psychological stress. In the study, participants suppressed sympathetic nervous system activity and diastolic blood pressure, promoting comfortable, soothed, and natural feelings while working with plants. Another study showed that participants were less nervous or anxious when in an office with plants than those without. It might just be that the smell and sight of some leafy green plants can provide a soothing, calming effect, bringing welcome energy into your space.  Having plants around has been shown to increase focus and productivity, which is especially helpful if you work from home or take care of many administrative tasks for your family. One study found that brain scans of students in a classroom with a real plant were more attentive and better able to concentrate compared to students who were in classrooms with a fake plant, a photo of a plant, or no plant at all.  In another study, participants instructed to complete a task in a computer lab performed 12% faster when plants were in the room. Those in the room with plants also reported feeling more attentive than the participants in the control group.  5. Working with plants is therapeutic “Horticultural therapy”, or the use of plant-based activities to promote healing, gained popularity and credibility in the 1940s and 50s. It’s used to treat a wide variety of ailments and can be used as a way to increase feelings of well-being in people who struggle with various mental health issues.  Taking care of plants can also cultivate feelings of pride and a sense of achievement, helping you to get out of a slump. There’s just something ultra satisfying about watching a live organism grow and flourish under your care!  6. Recover from illness more quickly  Having plants around may offer physical health benefits, like speeding up recovery time following an illness, injury, or surgery. Some research found that people recovering from various surgeries required less pain medication and had shorter hospital stays when there was greenery to look at in the hospital.  While this research focused exclusively on patients recovering inside hospitals, similar benefits may exist when recovering from ailments at home.  Plant Care Tips Once you’ve brought some new plants into your home, you’ll want to take excellent care of them so they stay alive and thrive. Read on for some indoor plant care tips to keep your plants healthy and flourishing: Providing adequate light is paramount to indoor plant success. Just like sunlight fuels us, it’s the lifeblood of plants. Understanding your plant’s light requirements and placing it in the right spot ensures vibrant growth. Different plants have varying light requirements, so place low-light plants in shaded areas and high-light plants near windows with ample sunlight. Rotate plants regularly for even growth. Watering is a delicate balance in indoor plant care. Overwatering drowns roots, while underwatering leads to thirst. Every plant will have different watering needs, so consult with the employees at the plant store to understand your specific plant’s watering schedule. One way to determine if your plant needs water is to check the soil moisture before watering–stick your finger an inch into the soil; if it’s dry, water the plant. Proper drainage is the safety net for indoor plants. It allows excess water to escape, preventing soggy soil and root rot. To prevent water from accumulating at the bottom, ensure your pots have proper drainage holes. Use pots with saucers to catch excess water. Choosing the right potting mix is the foundation of plant prosperity. It allows for optimal aeration, drainage, and nutrients. Use the appropriate potting mix for different types of plants, such as a cactus mix for succulents and a well-draining mix for tropical plants.  Humidity control

How To Keep Your Relationship Vibrant During Empty Nesting

There comes a time in every parent’s life when the last child leaves home, stepping out to start their journey of living independently—be it for university or to start a career. This pivotal moment can spark a range of emotions for parents, from excitement to what is often termed “empty nest syndrome”. This feeling stems from the sense of loss and emptiness one might feel as the hustle and bustle of active parenting winds down. Empty nest syndrome is a complex mix of emotions, including sadness, loneliness, and a sense of purposelessness, which can significantly affect your personal relationships. With your home quieter and your roles changing, you might find yourselves missing the chaos of parenthood while struggling to find new common interests with your partner. However, this new chapter also offers a fantastic opportunity for personal growth and rekindling your relationship. With the right activities, you can inject new energy and joy into your life together. Here are some engaging ways to enrich your relationship and personal life post-parenting. Engaging in volunteer work with your partner can be incredibly rewarding and can strengthen your bond as you work toward a common goal. Choose activities that suit both of your interests, like working at a local shelter or joining environmental efforts. This shared commitment can bring a renewed sense of purpose and togetherness. Now is the perfect time to explore those places you’ve both dreamt of visiting. Without needing to coordinate with your kids’ schedules, you can spontaneously book trips or plan elaborate getaways just for the two of you. Whether it’s a road trip or an international adventure, traveling together can create exciting memories and bring fresh perspectives into your life. If one or both of you stepped back from careers or personal projects to focus on raising your family, now might be the time to re-enter the workforce or start a new venture together. Whether it’s consulting or starting a craft business, pursuing your passions can be both fulfilling and exciting. A quiet house offers the perfect opportunity to declutter and simplify your living space. Take some time to do a big clean out and donate or sell items you no longer need, creating a more peaceful and functional environment. A bonus of decluttering is you may find some forgotten treasures, allowing you to reminisce on some of the memories you shared with your children. Plus, taking the time to declutter brings a sense of order and cleanliness and allows you to more fully let go of the past and embrace the present.  Use your newfound time to nurture your relationships with friends and each other. Regular date nights, social gatherings, or even joint hobbies can help maintain social connections and improve your relational dynamics, making your partnership feel more vibrant and connected. Joining a dance class, starting a garden, or even learning a new sport together can invigorate your lives. Shared hobbies provide fun ways to spend time together while learning new skills and meeting new people. Tackling a new language or skill can be a thrilling challenge for couples. Set goals to learn something new in tandem, and enjoy the journey of growth and discovery as a pair. This can also expand your cultural horizons and add an interesting element to your conversations. Just because you have no children in the home anymore doesn’t mean you have to give up mentoring and teaching others. Having a wealth of knowledge and life experience you can pass on to the next generation can be gratifying. See if your community has a local Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter where you can be paired with a child from age 5 to young adulthood, or another community organization that’s looking for adults with expertise in certain areas. Rediscover each other romantically without the interruptions of parenting. Plan regular date nights, intimate getaways, or simple cozy evenings at home to deepen your connection and enjoy each other’s company in new ways. Engage in creative activities like painting, writing, or playing music together. Creative expression is not only therapeutic but also a fantastic way to explore and appreciate each other’s artistic sides. Now that you have fewer people to cook for, why not expand your culinary repertoire? Take some time to experiment with different cuisines, flavors, and cooking techniques. Explore cookbooks, online recipe platforms, or cooking classes to discover exciting dishes that cater to your tastes. Getting creative in the kitchen and trying out exotic ingredients is a great way to (quite literally) spice things up, and once you’ve made something you’re proud of you can also invite friends and neighbors to join you for a delicious meal. 12. Appreciate Relaxing Moments Don’t feel like you need to fill every single moment of your new free time. Remember, it’s perfectly fine to enjoy quiet moments together without a packed schedule. Relaxation can be profoundly satisfying and beneficial for your relationship. Stay Connected Lastly, keep the lines of communication open with each other and with your kids. Regular updates and visits can help ease the transition and enrich your relationship, keeping the family bond strong even as you enjoy your new freedoms. By embracing these activities, you can thrive during the empty nest phase, keeping your relationship vibrant and fulfilling. This time of change is not just an end but a new beginning for both of you to grow together and individually.

should I take a multivitamin

Should You Take A Multivitamin? Here’s What We Know

An estimated 49% of adults in the United States take dietary supplements, with the most common type of supplement being a multivitamin. There’s tons of information out there about multivitamins, which can make it difficult to determine if they’re really effective or necessary for good health, and more importantly, if taking one is right for you. On top of that, there are loads of different multivitamin brands all boasting different ingredient formulations.  There are no magic answers, but in this article, we’ll walk you through what a multivitamin is, some of the populations who might benefit from taking one, and things to look out for when choosing a particular one. Armed with this information, you’ll be much better equipped to make a decision on multivitamins that works for you and your body.  Disclaimer: All content within this site is not intended as medical diagnosis or treatment and should not be considered a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any health or nutritional information obtained is accurate.  What Is a Multivitamin?  A multivitamin is a dietary supplement that has a variety of vitamins and minerals, and sometimes other ingredients like herbs, amino acids, and fatty acids. “Multivitamin” usually refers to a nutritional supplement that contains lots of different vitamins and minerals, as opposed to a supplement that only contains one (i.e. an iron supplement). All of the ingredients are packed together into one form, such as a tablet, capsule, chewable gummy, powder, or liquid.  While the best way to get these nutrients is from real foods, the benefit of multivitamins is they can help fill in any gaps you have in your diet. Some of the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs include vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin C, folate, vitamin D, vitamin E, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and more.  There is no single standard multivitamin. Instead, there are many different types of multivitamins out there, as each brand decides which and how many vitamins and minerals to include in their specific product. The amount of nutrients you need depends on several individual factors—which is why, searching the supplements aisle at the grocery store, you’ll likely find multivitamins formulated for many specific populations, such as men, women, children, older adults, pregnant women, and more.  “Multivitamins can be very beneficial when used appropriately, as they provide essential nutrients to help fill in nutrient gaps and address specific nutritional needs,” says Valerie Agyeman, R.D., dietitian and host of women’s health podcast, Flourish Heights. Who Might Benefit From a Multivitamin or Supplement Healthy adults who eat a balanced diet full of nutrient-dense food may have little need for multivitamins. However, specific populations are at greater risk of not getting all the vitamins and minerals they need from their food, or might be in a stage of life where it makes more sense to introduce supplements. Some groups of people who might benefit from taking a multivitamin include: How Often To Take a Multivitamin Most multivitamins are formulated to be taken once or twice per day. When starting multivitamin use, you should read the packaging carefully and follow its instructions regarding how often to take it. Set a reminder on your phone that you check off each time you take it, or consider a weekly pills organizer. This can help you avoid forgetting whether you’ve already taken the pill on any given day, leading to an accidental double dosage.  Choosing the Right Multivitamin  Before choosing a multivitamin, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about your reasons for wanting to take one. They can help determine if there’s a bigger issue to address, run blood tests if necessary, and possibly determine if you are deficient in any specific vitamins or minerals. They can also help you determine if any medications you’re currently taking could interfere with a multivitamin. Once you’ve done so, look for a multivitamin targeted towards your specific population (men, women, pregnant women, etc.) Don’t worry about expensive brand names, as generic brands that have the USP seal of approval (more on that below) will still deliver results. And be wary of multivitamins that advertise promises such as increased brain health or healthier skin and hair, as these are generally statements not backed by research specific to the supplement.  “Check for high-quality ingredients without unnecessary additives, fillers, or artificial colors or flavors,” says Agyeman. “If you have known allergies or sensitivities, choose a multivitamin that is free from common allergens, such as gluten, dairy, or soy.” Precautions To Taking a Multivitamin While taking a multivitamin is generally low risk, there are still several things you should look out for when starting to take a new one.  So, Should You Take a Multivitamin? Ultimately, when it comes to getting the vitamins and minerals your body needs to optimally function, prioritizing whole, nutrient-rich foods will always pay dividends. That said, a multivitamin can be an option to supplement your diet and is generally low-risk when chosen carefully and taken as directed. Remember to talk to your doctor before trying a new multivitamin, and to keep them updated if you experience any new symptoms. 

15 Budget-Friendly Yet Stylish Gray Couch Living Room Ideas

Many living rooms have a gray couch as their centerpiece–they’re sleek, easier to clean than a white couch, and can pair well with all different types of decor. The sky’s the limit when it comes to living room decor ideas with a gray couch, from natural color schemes to more adventurous design choices that infuse your personality into your space. This piece of furniture may be simple, but with our list of affordable ideas for gray couch interior design, it’s anything but boring. Read on to find the gray couch inspiration you need to create your dream living room. Opting for a natural color scheme when styling a gray couch creates a calm and timeless atmosphere. Earthy tones like greens, browns, and muted blues blend well with the neutral gray, providing a classic and inviting look that makes it one of our favorite gray couch color schemes. This simple approach allows for versatility, making it easy to integrate with different design elements while maintaining an enduring aesthetic in your home you won’t get tired of within a few years. Integrating patterns into your living room alongside your gray couch brings dynamism and visual interest to the space. Whether through throw pillows, rugs, or accent decor, patterns inject personality and energy into the neutral palette. Decide if you’d like to go more modern or classic, and choose patterns that match your taste, whether that be geometric shapes, stripes, or floral motifs This approach allows you to easily experiment with patterns as you decorate, creating a lively and stylish atmosphere that complements the understated elegance of the gray couch. Adding a pop of color to your walls amps up the style in a room, and complements gray couches well. Vibrant colors like deep blues, rich greens, or warm yellows create an engaging and lively vibe, and the contrast enhances the neutral gray, making the space visually appealing and modern. It’s a straightforward yet very impactful way to transform your living area into an inviting and dynamic space. For a cool and calming vibe, opt for a blue-gray aesthetic in your living room. This subdued color palette creates a cohesive and contemporary look, blending the soothing tones of blue with the neutrality of your gray couch. From navy accents to light blue hues, alongside dark and light grays, this aesthetic choice allows for a harmonious range of shades. The result is a stylish and tranquil living space that feels both modern and serene.  One of our favorite grey sofa living room ideas is to pair the couch with natural wood elements, introducing warmth and a touch of nature into your living space. The combination of cool gray tones with the warmth of wooden furniture or accents creates a balanced and inviting atmosphere. Whether it’s a coffee table, bookshelves, or flooring, the natural textures of wood elevate the entire room, providing a timeless and cozy feel to your home. This simple yet effective blend of materials is sure to add depth and character to your living room. When it comes to grey couch accessories, you can’t go wrong with colorful throw pillows. These vibrant accents instantly inject personality into the neutral backdrop, offering an easy and budget-friendly way to refresh your living space. Go for a mix of bold patterns and contrasting hues to create visual interest. With the freedom to experiment, colorful throw pillows provide a dynamic and simple solution to transform your grey couch, adding a splash of energy and style to the space. Avoid a cold and clinical feeling gray couch by adding dreamy lighting around it. Install soft and well-placed fixtures like floor lamps or pendant lights for a cozy and inviting atmosphere, enhancing the overall look and bringing warmth to your living room. By choosing the right lighting, you can easily establish a relaxed and dreamy setting around your gray couch, turning it into a welcoming focal point in your home. Pairing your gray couch with a rounded coffee table makes for a chic and functional living room arrangement. The soft curves of the table complement the clean lines of the couch, creating a balanced and visually appealing space. This choice not only adds a touch of contemporary style, but also ensures a smooth flow in the room. The rounded edges also enhance safety for little ones and ease of movement around the furniture, making it a practical and stylish addition to your living room setup. Decorating with a gray couch is extra exciting when you incorporate a gallery wall behind it.  Curate an array of art, photos, and mirrors above the couch to infuse personality and style into the room. This doesn’t have to break the bank as there are tons of treasures to find at thrift stores and garage sales, and it allows you to showcase your unique taste, creating a personalized and visually dynamic focal point. Mix and match frames and artwork sizes for added interest, making the gallery wall a conversation starter while complementing the neutral backdrop of the gray couch. Make your gray couch a more inviting place to sit down with textured throws and blankets, selecting some chunky knits, faux fur, or woven textiles to add depth and coziness. These budget-friendly additions provide warmth and introduce tactile variety, creating a visually appealing and inviting space to relax. Whether draped casually over the back or neatly folded, textured throws and blankets are an easy and effective way to elevate the comfort and aesthetics of your living space with minimal effort and expense. Transform your living room by creating a striking accent wall with peel-and-stick wallpaper behind your gray couch. This simple solution offers endless design possibilities without the commitment of traditional wallpaper. Choose a pattern or texture that complements the neutral tones of the couch, instantly elevating the room’s visual appeal. The peel-and-stick feature simplifies the application process, making it an accessible DIY project to enhance the style and character of your space without needing to spend much. Breathe life into your living

We Did The Research — Here’s the Best Athleta Joggers for All Women, Ranked

We love joggers, and we bet you do too–they strike the perfect balance between comfort and style, and there are so many different types, from work-appropriate pants to something closer to sweatpants. Whether you’re chasing after your little ones, conquering your daily to-do list, or squeezing in some well-deserved me time, the right pair of joggers can make all the difference. In our quest to find the perfect blend of comfort, functionality, and fashion, we dove into the world of Athleta joggers, a brand known for its commitment to empowering women through activewear.  While you may be familiar with the workout clothes from Athleta, the jogger selection is for all sorts of activities. With an array of options catering to diverse body types and lifestyles, we’ve sifted through the options to bring you the ultimate guide to the best Athleta joggers for all women. Join us as we break down our top picks of Athlehta athleisure, considering everything from fabric and fit to versatility and on-trend designs. Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast, a supermom on the go, or someone who simply values the intersection of style and comfort, this ranking is your roadmap to find your next favorite pair of joggers. When it comes to conquering the great outdoors or simply conquering your daily to-dos, the Trekkie North Jogger, our favorite joggers on the list, emerge as the ultimate versatile companion. Designed with a focus on functionality, these joggers are a game-changer for anyone with an active lifestyle, be it hiking, long-distance treks, short sprints, or trail running. Crafted from a sleek, lightweight Ripstop fabric, the Trekkie North Joggers offer a remarkable 2-way stretch, ensuring you enjoy unrestricted mobility no matter the activity. The high-rise fit, combined with a Powervita waistband, provides gentle compression for a secure and comfortable feel. They’re also super stylish, with sleek zipper details and a tapered hem.  The thoughtful inclusion of front zip pockets and a side cargo pocket on these joggers ensure you have ample space for all your essentials. Whether it’s your keys, phone, or a small snack, these pockets have you covered. They’re crafted from a blend of 69% recycled nylon, 26% nylon, and 5% spandex, making them not only functional but also environmentally conscious. The wicking technology pulls sweat away from your body, promoting a quick-drying process that keeps you comfortable throughout your adventures, and with a UPF 50+ rating, these joggers provide excellent protection against the sun’s rays. The Trekkie North Jogger comes in a variety of colors like classic black, nature-inspired Aspen Olive, vibrant Berry Rose, and earthy Big Sur Brown, They’re available in sizes 0-26, offered in regular, tall, and petite lengths, and run slightly big. Review: “I purchased the pink pair this summer and after traveling wearing those, I knew I needed a black pair! Placement of the side pocket is genius for airplane travel. Having easy access to my phone eased travel. The weight of the fabric was great from cooler temps in the NW to the 100+ temp in AZ. Waistband is super comfortable!” – Anonymous (reviewed on athleta.gap.com)  Next up is the Venice Mid Rise Jogger, also offering ultimate comfort while helping you look fashionable. They’re made from SCULPTEK Light fabric, offering full coverage and an all-way stretch that adapts seamlessly to your every move. Best for commuting, work, or travel, these joggers can keep up with your dynamic lifestyle.  As part of the Venice collection, these joggers embody a contemporary aesthetic that seamlessly transitions from work to play. The semi-fitted design skims easily over the body, and the mid-rise waistband is flattering and comfortable. Like the Trekkie Norths, these joggers have easy-access secure pockets, providing a stylish solution to stash your essentials on the go. No more fumbling for keys or digging through your bag—these joggers keep everything you need within arm’s reach.  Crafted from a blend of nylon and spandex, these joggers offer wicking technology that pulls sweat away from your body, ensuring you stay fresh and comfortable throughout your busy day. The breathable fabric allows airflow to move easily through the garment, while the quick-drying feature ensures ultimate comfort, even during unexpected sweat sessions. The Venice Mid Rise Joggers come in seven beautiful colors: Seaweed Snack (green), Chrome Blue, Hematite Grey, Toasted Brown, Navy, Abalone Grey, and Black. The size chart for these joggers is XXS-3XL, offered in regular, petite, and tall lengths, and runs true to size.  Review: “These fit me great ! I am 5’0 and was concerned about the length being too long. The XS/P is perfect. They also were featured on GMA as a cut above other brands of jogger, and after how flattering they are on me, agree! Love the back pockets!” – Anonymous (reviewed on athleta.gap.com) Introducing the Salutation Jogger, which, according to Athleta, is for “life both on and off the mat”. If you’re a mom who’s constantly transitioning between yoga sessions, errands, and family time, these joggers are about to become your new best friend. Crafted with precision and comfort in mind, the Salutation Joggers are some of the softest pants out there.  At the heart of these joggers is the luxurious Powervita™ fabric, offering a buttery-soft feel that envelops you like a second skin. The support it provides is akin to a gentle hug, making it the perfect choice for your yoga practice or those days when you need a little extra comfort. The curved seam on the bottom is a thoughtful touch that flatters your form, adding some style to your athleisure wardrobe. Made from a blend of nylon and Lycra, the Salutation Jogger boasts wicking, breathable fabric that allows sweat to move through easily, and a UPF 50+ rating for protection against the sun’s rays when you take your activities outside.  Plus, the semi-fitted design, coupled with a high-rise waistband, provides not only a flattering silhouette but also the support you need during your various activities. Available in sizes XXS-3XL and offered in regular, petite, and tall lengths, the

The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Different Coffee Types

Even if you’re a daily coffee drinker, there might be a lot of questions you have about this caffeine-filled beverage. Like, where does coffee come from? What’s a cortado? And does it matter which type of beans you buy?  We’re here to answer these questions, from exploring the origins of coffee beans to the differences between various brewing methods, with our ultimate guide to all things coffee.  Coffee Bean Types and Their Origins Coffee beans aren’t exactly beans–instead, they’re the seeds of the coffee plant, known scientifically as Coffea. Your morning cup of joe begins with the coffee plant producing small, cherry-like fruits, often referred to as coffee cherries. Inside each cherry are two seeds, which are commonly known as coffee beans. After harvesting, the coffee beans undergo processing to remove the outer layers of the cherry and extract the seeds. The extracted seeds are then dried and roasted to develop the flavors and aromas we associate with coffee. Ever wondered why different cups of coffee can taste so different from each other? There are many different coffee bean types on the market, and they’re cultivated in different places all over the world. Let’s break down the basics of common types of coffee beans and where they originate. Arabica Arabica coffee beans reign supreme in the coffee world, prized for their exceptional quality and nuanced flavors. Originating in the high-altitude regions of Ethiopia, these beans are cultivated from Latin America to Africa, and are characterized by a mild and aromatic profile.  Arabica beans boast a smoother, less acidic taste compared to their robusta counterparts, and are also usually more expensive. Connoisseurs appreciate the diverse flavor spectrum, ranging from fruity and floral notes to hints of chocolate and nuts. With lower caffeine content and a penchant for thriving in specific climates, Arabica remains the choice for specialty coffees. Robusta Robusta coffee beans offer bold, robust flavors and a higher caffeine punch. Originating in West Africa, these hardy beans have spread to tropical regions worldwide. Renowned for their resilience against pests and diseases, robusta plants thrive at lower altitudes in warmer climates.  The resulting coffee is distinctly strong, often described as earthy, woody, and with a hint of bitterness. Popular in instant coffee and espresso blends for its rich crema and affordability, robusta provides a caffeinated jolt appreciated by those seeking a more intense and straightforward coffee experience for a lower price tag.  Brewing Styles Beans aren’t the only aspect of your coffee that contribute to how it tastes–the brewing method makes a big difference, too. Read on to discover the many ways coffee can be brewed, each style influencing the final cup in its own unique way.  Drip Drip coffee is a classic and widely popular brewing method that involves pouring hot water over ground coffee beans, typically using an automatic drip coffee maker. This method allows for a convenient and consistent way to brew larger quantities of coffee. The water slowly drips through a filter containing coffee grounds, extracting flavors as it passes. Drip coffee is appreciated for its simplicity, ease of preparation, and the ability to produce a satisfying cup with a balanced flavor profile.  Espresso Espresso, a concentrated coffee shot brewed by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee under high pressure, is the bold powerhouse of the coffee world. The result is a small but intense and flavorful shot, often forming the base for various coffee beverages. Characterized by a rich, full-bodied taste and a layer of crema on top, espresso is a quick, vibrant pick-me-up enjoyed on its own or as the foundation for drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, and Americanos (more on those later!) French Press The French Press is a manual coffee brewing method celebrated for its simplicity and ease of use at home. Coarse coffee grounds steep in hot water within a cylindrical glass or stainless steel container. After a few minutes, a plunger fitted with a metal or nylon mesh filter is pressed down, separating the grounds and leaving a full-bodied, flavorful coffee. The French Press allows for control over brewing time and is favored for its ability to highlight the nuanced flavors of coffee. Its straightforward design makes it a popular choice for those who appreciate a hands-on approach to their coffee ritual. AeroPress The AeroPress is a compact and innovative coffee brewing device that has gained a cult following among coffee enthusiasts. Similar to the French Press, it uses a combination of immersion and pressure, producing a concentrated and smooth cup of coffee. Coffee grounds and water steep together before a quick press forces the brew through a filter. This method allows for versatility, enabling you to experiment with grind size and brewing time for a customized coffee experience. The AeroPress is admired for its portability, ease of use, and the ability to produce a rich and flavorful coffee reminiscent of espresso. Pour Over Pour over coffee brewing is a meticulous, hands-on method that involves pouring hot water over coffee grounds in a controlled manner. This technique, often executed with a cone-shaped dripper and paper or metal filter, allows for precise control over variables like water flow rate and brewing time. The result is a clean, aromatic cup of coffee with a distinct flavor profile. Pour over enthusiasts appreciate the craftsmanship involved, as well as the ability to highlight the unique characteristics of different coffee beans. It’s a favorite for those who savor a more personalized coffee experience. Moka Pot The Moka pot, also known as a stovetop espresso maker, is an iconic brewing device that originated in Italy. It’s a compact, three-chambered pot that uses steam pressure to brew strong and flavorful coffee. Water in the bottom chamber is heated, creating pressure that forces it through finely ground coffee in the middle chamber. The result is a coffee with a rich, bold taste, often referred to as stovetop espresso. The Moka pot offers a convenient and affordable way to enjoy an espresso-like beverage without the need for an expensive espresso machine,