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11 Celebs on Why Photoshopping Seriously Needs to Stop

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Vocal powerhouse Meghan Trainor is known for her hit songs about self-love and female empowerment, so when she realized last week that producers had digitally whittled her waist in her new music video “Me Too,” she pulled it from the Internet immediately. The next day, Trainor’s video was re-released, un-retouched. “The real #metoo video is finally up! Missed that bass,” she wrote in a caption of an Instagram post that showed side-by-side pics of her photoshopped body and her natural curves.

Trainor isn’t the only star outraged by the incessant photoshopping that makes it that much tougher for women to feel joyful and proud in their own skin. Here, 10 more celebrities vent how they really feel about digital nips and tucks.

RELATED: Chrissy Teigen Shares Her Honest Makeup-Free Selfie

On the importance of being honest

If any magazines want to guarantee they’ll let my stomach roll show and my reddened cheek make an appearance, I am your girl Friday. Anything that will let me be honest with you. But moreover, I want to be honest with me. This body is the only one I have. I love it for what it’s given me. I hate it for what it’s denied me. And now, without further ado, I want to be able to pick my own thigh out of a lineup.”
—Lena Dunham, Lenny Letter, March 2016

On being “enough” just the way you are

“I was very taken aback and very uncomfortable about looking at an image that I did not recognize as myself…. That is not OK with me because that echoes that little girl who thought, ‘I wasn’t enough.’ I know that I’m enough. So don’t make me feel like I’m not enough by changing me to fit some idea of what you think I’m supposed to look like. What I look like is OK.”
—Kerry Washington on her Adweek cover, Oprah Women’s Network Super Soul Sessions, April 2016

On models photoshopping themselves

“It’s gotten to the point where they’re not smoothing their skin anymore, they’re actually changing the shape of their body. Nobody can compare to that when you’re fixing yourself so much. It’s so unfair…. It started with Botox and everything, of course, but now it’s just grown into this photoshop phenomenon—and I’ve seen these women in person—they are not like that. Please know that. I’ve shot in barely anything with them, and it’s just amazing what people do to tweak themselves.”
—Chrissy Teigen, The Meredith Vieira Show, April 2015

On creating unrealistic ideals

“Had a new shoot come out today and was shocked when I found my 19 year old hips and torso quite manipulated. These are the things that make women self conscious, that create the unrealistic ideals of beauty that we have. Anyone who knows who I am knows I stand for honest and pure self love. So I took it upon myself to release the real pic (right side) and I love it.”
—Zendaya, Instagram, October 2015

RELATED: The Powerful Message Behind This Fitness Blogger’s Photoshopped Selfie

On baring it all

“For someone who’s had body image issues since they were a child, I went from hating every inch of my body to showing every inch of my body to the entire world and without touching up anything… A lot of times I get frustrated because people will, without my consent, Photoshop my body and it doesn’t look like my own body. Like, no no no, my thighs are bigger than that, can you put them back to the way they were? I’ve literally done that before where I’m like, ‘No, put my legs back on me. Those aren’t my legs.’”
—Demi Lovato on her nude and unretouched photo shoot for Vanity FairE! News, October 2015

On accepting your “flaws”

—Lorde, Twitter, March 2014

On the impact of media

“The media plays such a big role in how women measure themselves against other women, so I can be in a position where I can say beauty comes from within, we’re not all perfect, and the covers of magazines are of course retouched. We do not look like that… I have wrinkles here, which are very evident, and I will particularly say when I look at movie posters, ‘You guys have airbrushed my forehead. Please can you change it back?’ I’d rather be the woman they’re saying ‘She’s looking older’ about than ‘She’s looking stoned.'”
—Kate Winslet, Harper’s Bazaar, July 2009

On body pride

—Amy Schumer, Twitter, April 2015

RELATEDThe Most Powerful Body-Positive Celeb Selfies We’ve Ever Seen

On being unique

“I love that feeling of, you know, we are women, we are so different, our imperfections are what make us unique and beautiful.”
—Gisele Bundchen on her makeup-free campaign for BLK DNM, Fashionista, May 2013

On how extreme editing can get

Saw this floating around…hope it’s not the poster. Our faces in this were from 4 years ago…and we all look ridiculous. Way too much photo shop. We all have flaws. No one looks like this. It’s not attractive.”
—Ashley Benson, Instagram, December 2013

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New to the Gym? Make It Less Intimidating With These Tips

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Prior to this year, I had never set foot in a gym. Weird, right? I know, I know. Though fitness is now a part of my everyday life, I started with running, then yoga, then studio fitness . . . I was always intimidated by the gym. Would it be full of super meaty, ripped dudes pumping iron and side-eyeing me and my five-pound hand weights? Or super sculpted and svelte babes with some kind of crazy strength routine their personal trainer made just for them? What do I even do with the machines? They look like torture devices!

I’d consider myself to be a pretty awkward person in general, so as a complete newbie, I anticipated a lot of social anxiety vibes when I stepped into Equinox for my first gym day (not to mention a huge fear of having ZERO idea about what to do once I actually got to the gym). Fortunately, my experience this year was far less scary than I had predicted, and I learned some things along the way.

If you’re nodding your head saying, “Yes, that’s me,” and “They really ARE torture devices!” then I’ve got you. These tips will help you feel more prepared so you can get the most out of your experience. You’ll be a gym rat pro in no time!

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Pump yourself up. Before you even leave your house, remind yourself of your goals and why you got this membership in the first place. A few words of intention and a quick pep talk can clear your mind of any anxiety or jitters that may be making you feel intimidated. Remind yourself: you are STRONG! Your decision to start working out means you’re stronger than you know.Bring a buddy. This one doesn’t need much explanation — bring a friend! Whether they’re new to the gym as well or an expert who can take you under their wing, it’ll help so much to have a pal there with you (and know that if you don’t have a friend to bring with you, that’s OK, too!).
Make a game plan. Going in with zero idea of what you’re going to do won’t end well; this is one of the aforementioned lessons I learned, but I learned it the hard way. If you have no idea how to use the machines, and no one has ever taught you a gym routine, you’ll end up on a treadmill — walking — and if you’re like me, you’ll be really mad at yourself. Do a little research: use one of POPSUGAR’s printable workouts, or bring your favorite workout program with you on your phone (like BBG or Tone It Up), and follow one of those routines. Knowing what you’re going to do ahead of time and having that intention makes you feel less aimless, lost, and insecure.
Pump the tunes. Headphones are everything in the gym, in my opinion. You need your music to pump you up and make you feel strong — and more comfortable! A good gym playlist can help ease tension and fuel an awesome workout.
Try a trainer. Some gyms offer you a free personal training session when you start your membership (Equinox is a prime example of this). I used this time to pick up some tips and tricks and learn how to use the machines. See if you can book a session or just ask a trainer how to use a machine — one quick lesson could set you up for so many more workouts so you can optimize your gym membership.
Start with classes. If your gym offers group fitness, this is an awesome way to get into the swing of things (and definitely how I started!). You’ll have a trainer telling you exactly what to do, and the benefit of the group fitness experience.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t waste your time feeling afraid or nervous. Ask someone who looks like they know what they’re doing, or anyone on the gym staff — that’s what they’re there for! Their end goal is for you to get healthy and love the gym, which you obviously can’t do if you’re floating around aimlessly or too intimidated to come back.
Snap a selfie. Before you roll your eyes, let me explain (then you can go back to rolling your eyes). For many women, a gym selfie has nothing to do with vanity — in fact, it can be quite the opposite. Taking a picture before or after your workout can inspire confidence, build up your self-esteem, and keep you accountable for your workouts going forward. In fact, these pictures can be so effective, trainers actually encourage gym selfies!

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How to fast-track fat loss

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Want to know the key to fat loss? Master trainer Daniel Tramontana shares his tips for guaranteed fat loss.

 

To fast-track coveted progress such as greater fat loss, Tramontana says you need to get back to basics.

Cardio is not ‘hardio’

With a combination of higher intensity interval training (HIIT), low-intensity steady state (LISS) training, body weight training sessions and a nutritious diet, Tramontana ensures his clients are given the best formula for their body.

“My cardiovascular programming is based around a 75/25 split of LISS and HIIT. So based on the available amount of time for a client to add in cardio on top of resistance training would determine the amount of each they conducted,” he says.

Here’s what your cardio program could look like:

2 hours per week for cardio training = 30 minutes of HIIT over two to three days + 90 minutes of LISS over one to two sessions.

Be wary, if HIIT was all you did, you may encounter the downside of too much stress on your body, which can ironically turn HIIT into a fat retention tactic.

So what about weight training?

“For fat loss, I structure everything around two to three full bodyweight training sessions – two sessions based on linear periodisation macro cycle of 16-to-24 week programming, altered every four to six weeks,” he explains.

Translation? A program that begins by incorporating high-volume and low intensity weight training, and progressively moves into phases when the volume decreases and intensity increases.  Tramontana is a strong advocate for women to hit up the weights rack, “I find a lot of women are lifting nowhere near their capacity. Don’t be shy to lift heavy weights and test your ability regularly.”

The importance of rest

All this talk of intensity may have you thinking full pelt should be the only gear you work in, but without adequate recovery, you may be undermining your fat loss chances at the dumbbells. Both injury and overt fatigue can see you performing at less than 100 per cent over multiple sessions.

“Recovery begins with the post-workout meal. I advise at least 25 to 50 per cent of overall carbohydrates be included in this meal – either using complex carbohydrate sources or a combination of simple and complex carbs,” says Tramontana. “I also recommend at least one body therapy session per week.”

Think physiotherapy, massage, sauna, steam, floating, dry needling, sleep in, meditation, yoga, grounding – or something as simple as reading a book.

How to fuel your body with the right food

For Tramontana, eating for fat loss should focus on controlling hunger, which translates to better portion control and craving management.

“I ask that protein be included in every meal upon waking, generally an even or slightly escalating amount each meal depending again on habits and hunger patterns,” he says.

“For fat loss, I personally urge the exclusion of high-energy carbs even post workout – with the exception of competitors in the later stage of preparation.”

Supplementation may also give you an edge in the health and results stakes. Depending on your goals and needs, Tramontana advises the use of creatine, glutamine, vitamin C, branch chain amino acids, fish oils, whey protein, vitamin D, magnesium, zinc and a good-quality greens supplement to aid recovery, general wellbeing and lean muscle growth.

Read the full article in the August 2016 edition by journalist Katelyn Swallow. 

NEXT > Discover ways to boost your metabolism.

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Can Virtual Reality Meditation Get You Closer to Mindfulness? I Tried It to Find Out

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I’ve been meditating, off and on, for the past 14 years. The technique I learned in meditation class many years ago is old-school and austere: Find a place to sit, close your eyes, feel your feet on the floor, and focus on the in-and-out breath at the tip of your nose. No music, no mantras, just the moment-by-moment struggle of bringing your attention back to breathing every time your mind wanders away (which is just about every time you breathe). The point, and the challenge, is to train your mind to let go of distraction, to detach from thoughts, to simply “be here now.” 

Mindfulness meditation is a welcome (some say necessary) respite from the hustle and stress of modern life, and from the incessant pings, buzzes, and chimes of personal technology.

So I was intrigued when I received an invitation from the folks at Oculus, the virtual reality shop at Facebook, to test out the latest application for this booming technology: guided meditation. I wondered: If being mindful requires disengaging from the diversions of modern life, can we truly meditate while mind-melding with state-of-the-art computer processing power? Is it possible to “be here now” if that “here” is a digitally-synthesized someplace else?

At Oculus’ pop-up showroom in New York City, I was first given a quick tour of the capabilities of their high-end Rift system.  I was menaced by a life-size Tyrannosaurus Rex (cowering in virtual terror as the beast stomped past/through me) and dropped onto the ledge of an 80-story Times Square skyscraper (dropping reflexively to hands and knees and crawling backwards to safety). 

RELATED: A Meditation to Start Your Day

After the stress test warm up, I strapped on the Samsung Gear VR, for a downshift into Oculus’ meditation offerings.

The Guided Meditation VR app, developed by Cubicle Ninjas, gives you a choice of environment, voiceover, and chill-out music. I picked a fall foliage setting called "Autumnshade" to start, and the "Relaxation" audio track. 

The 360-degree view was splendid: Crisp brown leaves floated from trees between shafts of golden sunlight. In the narration, an English woman likened our thoughts to hummingbirds, and indeed, my mind was flitting from voice to scene (with multiple perspectives available at the push of a button) and back again, with nary a thought of my breath.

I switched to a tropical seaside setting ("Costa del Sol"), with waves sloshing on the shore, then toggled again to an icy mountain ("Snow Peak"): Blood red sky reflected in an iridescent blue lake. Somewhere behind me I heard a crunching sound, like the calving of icebergs (or the footfall of a hungry snow leopard). Each time I picked a new setting, the device asked me to press my finger to a sensor to measure my heart rate, part of the app's biofeedback feature. I started out around 76 beats per minute, and hovered in that range throughout the experience.

RELATED: Wait, Congress Has a Meditation Guru?

I shifted one last time to a sunny bamboo grove ("Hanna Valley"), leaves swaying in a gentle breeze, a pagoda in the near distance. There was even a pudgy panda dozing on the rocks behind me to add to the snoozy vibe.

Now that I’d found a calm setting, I turned on the lulling “Loving Compassion” voiceover, which was much more conducive to  relaxation than the hummingbird talk, and more in keeping with my own experience practicing loving-kindness meditation. A voice urged me to think about a loved one with the following recitation:

May you be safe / May you be peaceful / May you be healthy / May you live with ease and wellbeing.

Good food for thought, yet I still found myself dazzled by the scenery, looking out and around rather than inward.

My Oculus friends urged me to try another app, so I dove into Perfect Beach, developed by nDreams, which offers a choice of four seaside views with an audio track. The most interesting feature here is that the app lets you select a lower torso (customizable by sex and skin tone) as part of your view, presumably to help you locate your floating head in the VR space. That idea makes sense, given that groundedness is one of the starting points of most any meditation practice, though I found it gave me yet one more thing to look at: undulating waves throwing flecks of golden sun, plus a pair of nicely tanned legs and muscular pecs, just below my line of sight. 

RELATED: Meditation Might Work Better than Painkillers for Chronic Low Back Pain

After an admittedly brief tour, I yanked off the headset and defogged my glasses. The verdict: Is virtual reality immersive?  Of course. Diverting? For sure. Is it relaxing? It would be, if you had enough time to steep in the experience.

Is it meditative? That's a tough one, and it depends on one’s definition of meditation. If by “meditation” you mean getting outside of yourself for a few minutes to zone out, decompress, and escape, then virtual reality would do the trick. If you’re new to meditation, and don’t have access to a class or a teacher, and you’re looking to learn some of the basics of a guided practice like loving-kindess, an app like Guided Meditation VR (as a kind of jacked-up audio program) would help.

But if you’re trying to meditate in the more orthodox, hard-way-in style—to tune in rather than out; to be here, right now; to wake up into reality—you run into something of a conundrum. It seems that a technology that pries your eyes and ears wide open to absorb as much sensory input as possible is working at cross-purposes with a discipline that asks you to forgo distraction, to close your eyes and direct your attention inward.

RELATED: Memory Failing You? Study Suggests Meditation May Help

Oculus’ VR meditation is a fun trip, no doubt, but if I could design a setting, it might look and sound like the classroom where I first learned how to sit: careworn wood floors, mismatched chairs, a rattling air conditioner, with a teacher at the front of the room offering terse instruction and then… silence.  Maybe this dazzling technology, confident enough in its verisimilitude, could also be humble enough to slip into the background, so you'd have no qualms about missing out if you just closed your eyes, and tuned in to the real.

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The Crazy Thing That Happened When I Tried Floating in a Soundproof, Lightproof Tank

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It is pitch black, and eerily quiet. I am floating in a foot of salt water, inside a light-proof, sound-proof tank. The air and the water are about the same temperature as my skin, and I realize I’m not sure where my body ends and my surroundings begin. I suddenly feel dizzy, and a wave of nausea washes over me.

Two minutes down, 58 to go.

I am here, belly up in this pod, to see what floatation therapy is all about. In the last five years or so, the practice has grown wildly in popularity, with float centers springing up across the country. Devotees claim floating transports the mind and body, offering profound relaxation, and a variety of other benefits, from pain reduction to enhanced creativity and better sleep.

RELATED: Yoga Moves to Beat Insomnia, Ease Stress, and Relieve Pain

A few more minutes into my session, I start to get why people do this: As I focus on my breath—in and out—my tension melts away. I close my eyes and imagine myself drifting on a cloud.

When I hear the signal that the session is over, I can’t believe an hour has passed. I know I didn’t nod off. But my brain had somehow slipped out of its regular rhythm into an altogether different state where I lost track of time.

As I climb out of the pod, I feel a deep sense of calm, and incredibly refreshed—like I just woke up from the best nap of my life.

“The majority of people that achieve that restful state, they report the same type of effect,” says physical therapist Robert Schreyer when I tell him about my float. He is co-owner of the Aspire Center for Health and Wellness in New York City, which allowed me to float for free as a journalist in one of their two pods. (The usual price is $90.)

Schreyer and his staff often recommend that their physical therapy patients float before an appointment. “When they get out, their muscles are more relaxed, and our interventions can be much more effective,” he explains. That benefit may have something to do with the 1,000 pounds of Epsom salts—or magnesium sulfate—dissolved in the bath to make the water denser, and thus floaters more buoyant. “There’s a lot of theories that magnesium provides muscle relaxation,” he says.

RELATED: 15 Natural Back Pain Remedies

“But floating seems to be beneficial for everyone," he adds. “It’s the ultimate way to detach.”

Out in Tulsa, Oklahoma, clinical neuropsychologist Justin Feinstein, PhD, is trying to understand that mental piece of the float phenomenon. Feinstein is the director of the only float lab in the U.S.—the Float Clinic and Research Center at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research. His team has been using wireless, waterproof sensors and fMRI scans to collect data on what happens in the brain while people float.

“Our preliminary analyses are showing that the stress circuits of the brain are shutting off post-float,” Feinstein tells me over the phone. Once he finishes this current study, he plans to explore the therapeutic potential of floating for people who suffer from anxiety, especially PTSD. (To avoid triggering claustrophobia in subjects, the lab has a specially designed open tank in a light-proof, sound-proof room.)

“So what is it about floating that makes it so restorative?” I ask him.

“It’s most likely a combination of a lot of variables,” he explains. For one, you’re in a near-zero gravity state, he says, which gives your body a chance to relax. “You’re also reducing external sensory input to the brain—reduced light, reduced sound, reduced proprioception, or how you feel your body in space.”

This is why people refer to floating as a form of sensory deprivation. But Feinstein says that’s actually a misnomer.

“What we’re finding in our research is that floating is a form of sensory enhancement,” he says, because it allows you to tune into your own body—especially your heartbeat and your breathing.

“It becomes an ideal environment for mindful meditation,” Feinstein points out. “For anyone who may have trouble focusing on their breath outside of the tank, floating makes it lot easier to enter into a meditative state.”

RELATED: This Easy meditation Method Will Help Clam Your Anxiety

What he says explains so much about my experience: I must have reached a meditative state during my float without even trying. I have never been able to meditate before. It had always seemed impossible to quiet the incessant chatter in my head. But inside the pod, it seemed to happen automatically.

Feinstein believes floating can help many other people like me—which could be a powerful thing, considering the proven health benefits of meditation.

As for me, my float has inspired me to try again to meditate the traditional way. Now that I know what’s possible, I’m determined to learn. If I could start every day with that same calm and centered feeling of zen that I had when I climbed out of the tank, it would be life-changing.

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