Beyond just birth control: Rollback leaves some women fearful

(CNN)Rachel Jarnagin was on her way to a post-surgical checkup Friday when she heard the news: The Trump administration had rolled back Obamacare’s birth control mandate, opening the door for nearly any employer or insurer with religious or moral convictions against contraceptives to exclude those benefits from their health plans.

The announcement struck close to home: Jarnagin, 30, had an ovary removed because of endometriosis just over a week ago and was prescribed hormonal birth control to keep the disorder in check. Endometriosis is an often-painful condition in which uterine tissue grows outside the uterus.
“My doctor told me, ‘Unless we start you on birth control to manage it, there’s no guarantee that you won’t get endometriosis on the other ovary and lose it, too,'” said Jarnagin, who works at a bath and beauty store in Denver. “It’s a necessity for me.”
    Her reaction to the administration’s decision: “I deserve to have affordable medications for a condition that I have no control over. I have always been an advocate for access to health care, and it’s frustrating that I may have to fight or pay more for health care that I’ve already do.”
    Much of the controversy over providing contraception to women centers on its use for family planning. But many medical conditions also require the use of hormonal birth control methods.
    “I saw this announcement, and it made me really angry,” said Jarnagin’s older sister, Allison Phipps, 32. “Endometriosis is a very common problem. My mom had it when she was 27 and had a portion of both of her ovaries removed. I might even have it, because many women don’t even know it’s there until the symptoms start.”
    Phipps herself was on the pill for 11 years and believes it might have protected her from developing the condition that has plagued the women in her family.
    “Personally, that’s why it’s important to me for birth control to be covered,” said Phipps, who works as an art director in Denver, “but I also believe it’s very important to women as a family planning method.
    “I remember when I was in college and having to pay for it,” she said. “For a generic mini pill, it was $30 a month, and with no job and student loans, that was a big deal. That was ramen noodle packages for a month.”
    Phipps, like many women, took to social media to express outrage, often using the hashtag #HandsoffmyBC.
    Jennifer Lawson, 43, a best-selling author and blogger from San Antonio, used the hashtag to share how she used birth control in her youth to control excruciating cramps.
    Her cramps, she wrote in an email, were “so severe they made me physically sick. A doctor put me on birth control pills to help and it made a big difference. I still had cramps and nausea but they were finally manageable to the point that I wasn’t missing days of school and falling behind in life.”
    Children’s book author Jessie Talbot had an even stronger reaction. “If I didn’t have BC, I’d be dead now,” she posted.
    “My issues came to an abrupt end when I got a hysterectomy 17 years ago,” Talbot said in an interview. “The birth control helped for a while but there was actually too much wrong for it to save the day. At least I had that option at the time.”
    Atlanta interactive designer Deb Nilsen has polycystic ovary syndrome, a hormonal imbalance often treated with birth control. If left untreated, it can lead to serious health issues such as heart disease and diabetes.
    “I think that the idea of the rollback on birth control is ridiculous and shortsighted,” Nilsen posted on Facebook. “Women like me, who have PCOS, typically do not have regular cycles and take birth control in order to get a period and not to prevent pregnancy. If a woman with PCOS doesn’t have access to birth control, I think it could be a risk factor for her.”
    None of these reactions comes as a surprise to Dr. Anne Davis, an OB-GYN in New York who serves as consulting medical director for the nonprofit Physicians for Reproductive Health. After the 2016 election, she says, she heard women warning each other that their access to birth control might dwindle once the president-elect took office.
    But worry is much different from reality.
    Friday, Davis was fitting an intrauterine device for a patient who has a condition that makes it medically dangerous to have more children. “I asked her if she’d seen the news,” Davis said. “She told me that she saw it and it was really hard for her not to cry.”
    Just a decade ago, says Davis, most women in her practice never considered using an IUD. “I would tell them, ‘Your insurance isn’t going cover it, and it’s 800 bucks.’ And people just shrugged their shoulders and said, ‘Well, I don’t have 800 bucks.’ It was completely out of reach financially for most of my patients.”
    One of those patients, she recalls, used a condom for contraception but, due to accidents, ended up having an abortion, and then another.
    “After the Obamacare mandate, she was able to get an IUD,” Davis said. “Years later, she’s planning a family, in a place and time in her life where she can support children. It was a sea change for her.”

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    What’s next for women who find themselves reliant on birth control for their medical conditions?
    “People are feeling deeply unsettled,” Davis added. “They don’t know what’s going to happen.”
    Lawson, the author and blogger, said, “No employer knows me well enough to decide what is or isn’t acceptable for myself, my daughter, or anyone else. And they shouldn’t have to know me well enough because it’s none of their business.”
    Lawson says she no longer has to take birth control pills but would be terrified of how the Trump decision would affect her if she were still suffering as she did when she was younger.
    “But just because it doesn’t affect me personally doesn’t mean I will stop fighting for those who it will negatively impact,” Lawson said. “We’re in this together. Or at least, we should be.”

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    ‘Western society is chronically sleep deprived’: the importance of the body’s clock

    The 2017 Nobel prize for medicine was awarded for the discovery of how our circadian rhythms are controlled. But what light does it shed on the cycle of life?

    The cycle of day and night on our planet is age-old and inescapable, so the idea of an internal body clock might not sound that radical. In science, though, asking the questions why? and how? about the most day-to-day occurrences can require the greatest leaps of ingenuity and produce the most interesting answers.

    This was the case for three American biologists, Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael Young, who earlier this week were awarded the Nobel in medicine or physiology, for their discovery of the master genes controlling the bodys circadian rhythms.

    The first hints of an internal clock came as early as the 18th century when the French scientist Jean-Jacques dOrtous de Mairan noticed that plants kept at a steady temperature in a dark cupboard unexpectedly maintained their daily rhythm of opening and closing their leaves. However, De Mairan himself concluded this was because they could sense the sun without ever seeing it.

    It was only when Hall, Rosbash and Young used fruit flies to isolate a gene that controls the rhythm of a living organisms daily life that scientists got the first real glimpse at our time-keeping machinery that explains how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronised with the Earths revolutions, the Nobel prize committee said.

    Using fruit flies, the team identified a period gene, which encodes a protein within the cell during the night which then degrades during the day, in an endless feedback cycle.

    Prof Robash, 73, a faculty member at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachussetts, said that when his paper was published in the 1980s he had no grandiose thoughts about the importance of the discovery. During the intervening years, the picture has changed.

    Its [now] pretty clear that it has its fingers in all kinds of basic processes by influencing an enormous fraction of the genome, he said.

    Scientists discovered the same gene exists in mammals and that it is expressed in a tiny brain area called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or SCN. On one side, it is linked to the retina in the eye, and on the other side it connects to the brains pineal gland, which pumps out the sleep hormone melatonin.

    Modern lifestyles may no longer be constrained by sunrise and sunset, but light remains one of the most powerful influences on our behaviour and wellbeing. This realisation has fuelled a sleep hygiene movement, whose proponents point out that bright lights before bedtime and spending the whole day in a dimly lit office can dampen the natural circadian cycle, leaving people in a continual mental twilight dozy in the morning, and too alert to fall asleep promptly at night.

    Rosbash welcomes this new awareness. Its been overlooked for a long time as a real public health problem, he said. All of western society is a little bit sleep deprived and, when I say a little bit, I mean chronically.

    There is growing evidence that this decoupling from the natural circadian cycle can have long-term health consequences much more far-reaching than tiredness.

    At first, it was assumed that the brains master clock was the bodys only internal timekeeper. In the past decade, though, scientists have shown that clock genes are active in almost every cell type in the body. The activity of blood, liver, kidney and lung cells in a petri dish all rise and fall on a roughly 24-hour cycle. Scientists have also found that the activity of around half our genes appear to be under circadian control, following undulating on-off cycles.

    In effect, tiny clocks are ticking inside almost every cell type in our body, anticipating our daily needs. This network of clocks not only maintains order with respect to the outside world, but it keeps things together internally.

    Virtually everything in our body, from the secretion of hormones, to the preparation of digestive enzymes in the gut, to changes in blood pressure, are influenced in major ways by knowing what time of day these things will be needed, said Clifford Saper, a professor of neuroscience at Harvard Medical School. The most common misconception is that people think that they do not have to follow the rules of biology, and can just eat, drink, sleep, play, or work whenever they want.

    This discovery explains why jet lag feels so grim: the master clock adapts quickly to changing light levels, but the the rest of your body is far slower to catch up and does so at different speeds.

    Jet lag is so awful because youre not simply shifted, but the whole circadian network is not aligned to each other, said Prof Russell Foster, chair of circadian neuroscience at the University of Oxford. If you were completely aligned but just five hours shifted you wouldnt feel so crappy.

    It is also helps explain the extensive range of health risks experienced by shift workers, who are more likely to suffer from heart disease, dementia, diabetes and some cancers. Theyre having to override their entire biology, said Foster.

    Obesity is also more common among those with irregular sleep patterns. Sapers team has found that animals that dont get enough sleep, but keep their circadian pattern, do not gain weight. But when they are placed on a 20-hour light-dark cycle, they eat more impulsively and develop glucose intolerance.

    I would suggest that for humans, staying up late, watching video screens with high levels of blue light and eating high fat foods, is potentially a major cause of obesity and diabetes, said Saper.

    Evidence is also emerging that our risk of acute illness rises and falls with a predictable regularity. People are 49% more likely to suffer a stroke between 6am and 12 noon than at any other time of the day and a similar pattern is true for heart attacks. This is linked to a circadian rise in blood pressure in the early morning, which happens even if youre lying in bed not doing anything.

    As a result, it makes sense to take certain blood pressure medications first thing, before getting out of bed. By contrast, cholesterol is made more rapidly by the liver at night. So, statins, which lower cholesterol, work best if taken before going to bed.

    Foster said that a failure to consider the circadian influence in past animal experiments may even have led to promising drug candidates being shelved. Toxicity can change from 20% to 80% depending on the time of the day you test a drug, he said.

    As the impact of scientific advance slowly trickles down, the medical profession and society at large are waking up to the power of the biological clock.

    A paper last year showing that jet lag impairs baseball performance, prompted some professional sports teams to take on circadian biologists as consultants on schedules for training and travel. The US Navy has altered its shift system to align it with the 24-hour clock, rather than the 18-hour day used in the old British system. Schools are experimenting with later school days, better aligned with the teenage body clock, which runs several hours later than that of adults.

    As circadian rhythms have journeyed from obscure corner of science to part of the zeitgeist, companies are launching an increasing number of products on the back of a new anxiety around sleep and natural cycles. This is the western world; if somebody can make a buck theyre going to try to do it, said Rosbash.

    The 73-year-old, who describes his own relationship with sleep as borderline problematic, prefers low- tech remedies, however.

    I havent quite figured out how to do better, he said. I try not to take sleep medication. I dont drink alcohol too late in the evening, I read a good book. The common sense things, I think they help.

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    Hedonism is good for your health

    I think I might be a hedonist. Are you imagining me snorting cocaine through $100 notes, a glass of champagne in one hand, the other fondling a stranger’s firm thigh? Before you judge me harshly, I know hedonism has a bad reputation, but it might be time to reconsider.

    What if, instead of a guaranteed one-way road to ruin, hedonism is good for your health? If we think of hedonism as the intentional savouring of simple pleasures — like playing in fallen leaves, moments of connection with friends, or cuddling the dog — then it probably is. Seeking and maximising these kinds of pleasures can boost our health and well-being.
    So where do our ideas of hedonism come from and how can we harness hedonism to improve our health and quality of life?

      The popular view of hedonism

      In broad terms, a hedonist is someone who tries to maximise pleasure and minimise pain. Jordan Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) in The Wolf of Wall Street is probably the popular idea of the quintessential hedonist, where his extreme wealth allows him to indulge his insatiable hunger for all things pleasurable.
      Hedonism Bot from Futurama is another character exquisitely in touch with things that provide pleasure.
      We find these characters so compelling because they seem to reject the sensible, responsible way to live. They indulge their carnal appetites in ways we daren’t, with scant regard for consequences. We wait for their liver to rebel or their life to come crashing down around them, as of course it must.
      But this kind of behaviour is better termed debauchery — extreme indulgence in bodily pleasures and especially sexual pleasures — rather than hedonism.
      Hedonism has its philosophical roots as far back as Plato and Socrates, but ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus is often credited with articulating an early brand of hedonism based not on a life of untamed appetites, but on moderate pleasures and respect for others.
      Today there are multiple views on what hedonism is. This is largely due to some highly nuanced philosophical arguments about how we should conceptualise pleasure.

      What is pleasure?

      It might help to think of pleasure simply as a subjective state of enjoyment. This is a broad perspective, but one easily applied to our everyday lives. So, a lover’s caress gives me pleasure, but so can a piece of music, laughing with friends, or simply sitting still in a comfy chair after a frantic day.
      Just as different experiences can bring a similar shiver of pleasure, the same experience can conjure a range of responses — from extreme pleasure to definite displeasure — in different people.
      There is no single stimulus that elicits exactly the same response in everyone all the time: pleasure is an interaction between the stimulus and the perceiver.
      If you close your eyes and think about a time you experienced a tingle of pleasure, chances are you’re remembering a sexual experience, or something delicious you’ve eaten. Perhaps the memory is of a very good glass of wine, or those last 50 metres of a long, satisfying run.
      And these are good things, right? Sexual pleasure is linked with health and well-being. For example, women who say they are satisfied with their sex life score higher on measures of psychological well-being and vitality. A regular glass of wine is said to have a protective effect against dementia and heart disease, perhaps due to its antioxidant flavonoids. And everyone knows the advantages of physical fitness.
      Well, these activities are good … until they’re not. Many of the things that commonly give us pleasure can also be used in risky or harmful ways.

      When pleasure becomes a problem

      Dependence, addiction, bingeing and compulsive consumption can be thought of as risky or harmful uses of otherwise pleasurable experiences, like using alcohol and other drugs, doing exercise and having sex.
      It can be difficult to pin down the point at which a previously pleasurable behaviour becomes problematic. But, somewhere between enjoying an occasional beer and needing a drink before getting out of bed each morning, we’ve passed the tipping point.
      At this stage though, pleasure is no longer the motivation, nor the result, of the behaviour. The uncontrollable “hunger” has wiped the pleasure away and the best we can hope for is relief. Without pleasure, the behaviour is no longer a hedonic one.
      The single-minded pursuit of one intense pleasure at the expense of other aspects of life that bring meaning and pleasure is also counterproductive to living a rich and enjoyable life. This puts it well outside Epicurus’ idea of moderate pleasures and self-control.

      Let’s be rational about hedonism

      So, when we need to make the mortgage or rent and keep our complex lives on track, what might a modern hedonist’s life look like?
      A practical definition might be someone who tries to maximise the everyday pleasures while still balancing other concerns. I’ll call this a kind of “rational hedonism”. In fact, Epicurus emphasised a simple, harmonious life without the pursuit of riches or glory.
      Maximising pleasure, unlike with debauchery or addiction, need not take the form of more, bigger, better. Instead, we savour everyday pleasures. We relish them while they’re happening, using all our senses and attention, actively anticipate them, and reflect on them in an immersive way.
      So, if my morning coffee gives me pleasure, I might pause and relish it while I drink it: inhale the fragrance of it fully and focus on the nuanced warm, smoky, bitter deliciousness of it. I should fully attend to the warmth of it in my hands, to the feeling of it in my mouth, and to the cascade of sensations and flavours it delivers.
      Not only that, in the morning, before my coffee, I can anticipate it. I can think how lovely it will be. And later, as I go about my day, I can pause and think about that coffee, about just how warm and good it was, how it smelled and tasted.
      In other words, I can immerse myself in these moments, in the anticipation, in the drinking itself, and in the remembering, and bring all my attention to them. This kind of savouring results in a totally different, and richer, experience than if I absent-mindedly gulp down the coffee while dodging traffic and talking on the phone.
      The act of savouring intensifies the pleasure we extract from simple things and delivers greater satisfaction from them. One study found that spending a little time savouring the anticipation before eating chocolate led participants to eat less chocolate overall.
      And attention seems to be key to the link between pleasurable feelings and well-being.

      How do we benefit from hedonism?

      A state of pleasure is linked with reducing stress. So when we feel pleasure, our sympathetic nervous system — that fight or flight response we experience when we feel threatened — is calmed. First of all, the stimulus arouses us, then if we appraise the situation as safe, we have “stress-terminating responses“, which we experience as relaxation or stress relief.
      Studies show pleasurable emotions are associated with broader and more creative thinking, and a range of positive outcomes including better resilience, social connectedness, well-being, physical health, and longevity. So, pleasure might not only help us to live more enjoyably, but longer.

      Hedonism for health and well-being

      Maximising everyday pleasures can be used in therapy and shows promise as an intervention for depression.
      One study of school children showed focusing on pleasurable daily events, in this case recording them in a diary, reduced depressive symptoms, and the effect was maintained three months later.
      Focusing on the pleasurable aspects of healthy foods can also be a more effective way to eat more of them than focusing on how “healthy” they are. Similar approaches are likely to be effective with exercise and other behaviours associated with health benefits.
      What we know about the benefits of this kind of rational hedonism is likely to grow from here. We have only just begun to explore the therapeutic value of shifting focus to fully attend to and maximise pleasure.
      We do know that interventions encouraging individuals to focus on pleasurable experiences are associated with increased self-reported well-being.

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      Promoting well-being in older adults is a particularly promising area. Savouring pleasure is linked to resilience in older adults and positive emotions can help to offset the ill-effects of loneliness. Plus, regardless of physical health status, the ability to savour is associated with higher levels of satisfaction with life.
      And savouring can be taught. One study, looked at the effects of an eight week program promoting savouring for a group of community dwelling adults aged 60 and above. The program reduced depression scores, physical symptoms and sleep problems, and increased psychological well-being and satisfaction with life.
      In the meantime, we should defiantly shake off the idea that pleasure is slightly shameful or frivolous and become early adopters of this rational kind of hedonism. We can think of Epicurus, and intentionally savour the simple pleasures we have learned to overlook.

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      Need motivation to keep exercising? 25 tips from trainers

      If it were easy to stay motivated to work out, then we’d all have rock-hard abs. Alas, the drive to get out of bed for an early morning sweat session is elusive, except for those infectiously positive and perky fitness trainers and instructorsor so you thought. Even they need some encouragement once in a while. We asked four inspiring exercise experts to share what motivates them both in and out of the gym and studio. Their advice could be the extra nudge you need.

      Take a new class

      Your favorite instructors are great teachers, but they’re still students, too. “Just like my clients, I oftentimes need to be told what to do when it comes to my exercise routine,” says Annie Mulgrew, program director at CityRow in New York City. “I’ll take a class at my studio or another studio with an instructor friend,” she says. “I always feel better afterward!”
        Mulgrew says group fitness is more than just a workout, but an opportunity to see what other instructors are doing and get new ideas. “We’re still consumers of group fitness.”

        Treat yourself every day

        To stay on track with a healthy, balanced diet, Mulgrew says she gives in to temptation one time every day. “If I allow myself a treat, I’m way less likely to overindulge or binge,” she says. “One glass of wine is perfect, but a whole bottle? Derailing.”
        This smart eating strategy is the reason many authorities say trendy or restrictive diets simply don’t work. You end up craving the self-banned food even more, increasing your odds of binge eating or falling off the wagon completely.

        Pump up the jams

        Music can be an incredibly powerful mood booster. In fact, research has shown that listening to happy or sad music can actually directly alter the way you perceive the world—powerful stuff!
        Los Angeles-based personal trainer Astrid Swan harnesses the power of music to get her ready to take on the world. “No matter what the situation is—an early wake-up call, sprints on the treadmill, or just having a life moment, music brings me back to me,” says Swan. Need a quick jolt? She says to turn up the dial “on the volume and on your workout.” One song that always works for this fitness pro: “Stronger” by Britney Spears.

        Give yourself a pep talk

        Whether it’s a family member’s words of encouragement that have stuck with you, or lyrics from a familiar song, keeping a mantra, catchphrase or motto handy when you need a boost of confidence or determination can work wonders.
        For Swan it’s simply “Let’s go! I’ve got this.” “If I’m going into a meeting, or totally dying during a workout session, I’ll say it [to myself],” she says. “I say it to my clients, too! ‘You’ve got this. You just have to believe’.”

        Plan a post-workout meal

        Having a food in mind for your post-workout nosh will motivate you to crush your sweat session. Erin Bulvanoski, trainer at KORE New York, says it helps her really work for that snack she’s craving. “I love finding a great smoothie shop after class,” she says. “It’s something I get excited about.” That said, don’t overdo it—remember these tips for avoiding a post-workout binge.

        Connect with friends

        A workout buddy holds you accountable for the time and effort you put into your workouts—research proves it. Plus, socializing as you sweat can make exercise more fun.
        Bulvanoksi says she enjoys staying connected to and touching base with her favorite clients. “I love inviting my friends to join me in class, too,” she says. “The more people I have to look forward to see, the more I feel motivated to be at the top of my game.”

        Practice being mindful

        The art of being in the moment, blocking out all the external day-to-day stressors that can get in the way is sometimes easier said than done, but this kind of mindfulness is something Daniela Iannone, personal trainer and instructor at Prime Cycle in Hoboken, New Jersey truly believes in and follows.
        “For many people in my class, the 45 minutes they spend with me is the only time during their day that they have to themselves,” Iannone says. “I tell them to give that to themselves and focus on the task at hand. Where your mind goes, your energy goes with it.”

        Surround yourself with positive people

        Mulgrew says spending time with positive, hard-working co-workers and friends makes her want to follow their lead. “If I’m having a rough day, my team keeps me focused on the good, and helps me power through,” she says.
        It’s nice to surround yourself with friends who have similar interests, but Mulgrew says it’s just as important to be with people who are doing things you want to be doing. If you see other people living healthfully, those actions could become habits for you, too. “If you have someone helping you to stay consistent, it’s a game-changer,” says Mulgrew.

        Listen to your body

        Your body could be telling you things you may not want to hear. Mulgrew says that sometimes her body wants to push her out of her comfort zone. “So I look around at other people at the gym or in class and tell myself if they can do it, so can I.”
        Other times though, your body might be warning you to stop. “There’s nothing wrong with taking a break, and there’s nothing less motivating than an injury,” says Mulgrew. “If my body feels too fatigued or I feel discomfort in my muscles or joints, I back off. Staying safe and healthy allows for longevity, and that’s really what it’s all about.”

        Get in those steps for the day

        You signed up for spin class only to realize it was at the location across town. Instead of dreading the commute, make good use of that time! “Sometimes to get motivated for class, I force myself to run, walk, or bike there instead of taking the subway as a way to get my blood flowing and endorphins up,” says Bulvanoski.
        Studies have shown that exercising outdoors (or in this case, taking the scenic route to class) offers bonus benefits like improved mood and, weather permitting, an extra dose of vitamin D.

        Think about what you can accomplish right now

        You might have a larger goal in mind—dropping pounds, training for a marathon—but it’s crucial to remember all the baby steps it takes to get there.
        During her high-intensity classes, Bulvanoski asks clients to set goals for themselves that they aim to complete during the hour-long class, and she sets one for herself, too. “Tangible things to achieve are always a stronger motivator to be at your best,” she says.

        Watch yourself

        The floor-to-ceiling mirrors surrounding most studios are not there to torture you. Sure, you may feel a little awkward while you’re getting the hang of a particularly challenging move, but looking in the mirror can help perfect your form over time.
        The mirror helps show Bulvanoski just how hard she’s working. “Seeing my muscles work is a huge motivator,” she says. “The more fun and fitted I can get my workout clothes, the more I can clearly see the goals I’m trying to achieve—and look good [while] doing it!”

        Drink more matcha

        A caffeine jolt before the gym may enhance exercise results. In anInternational Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolismstudy, trained athletes who took in caffeine pre-exercise burned about 15% more calories for three hours post-exercise, compared to those who ingested a placebo. If you’re not much of a coffee drinker but still want a quick caffeine fix, try matcha, a powdered form of green tea. “A matcha green tea latte with almond milk is my go-to,” says Swan. “It’s my only caffeine intake, so I get a surge of energy!”
        The spotlight on matcha has grown brighter recently, and for good reason. Because you are drinking the whole tea leaves (instead of only steeping them) matcha drinks are a more potent source of nutrients than traditional teas. Matcha is rich in antioxidants that may protect against heart disease and cancer, as well as help regulate blood sugar and blood pressure.

        Scroll through your news feed

        “Sometimes I check in on fitness hashtags on Instagram to see what other people are doing,” says Iannone. “Seeing bodies in motion and images of strength motivates me.”
        Remember the point is not to compare yourself to others (everyone’s health journey and physique is different). Instead think about what or who inspires you to get moving and believe in yourself, and then follow instructors, trainers, or studios on social media for some fitspiration. It’s not a bad idea to follow your favorite magazines either (cough, @healthmagazine).

        Think about how you’ll feel after

        “I work out for my sanity, not vanity,” says Swan. “Workouts are my therapy. I know if I don’t get to release those endorphins, I’m not as carefree.”
        Exercise has long been shown to have lasting mental health benefits well after you complete a workout. Activity (even just a walk around the block) is said to reduce stress, boost your mood, and improve self-esteem. Those awesome psychological effects should be motivation enough to get you up and out.

        Be thankful

        It’s all too easy to get caught up in your own problems, frustrations, or never-ending to-do list, but Iannone finds it helpful to back away from complaints and consider what she has to be thankful for. She reminds herself and her clients that they each have the basic ability to move. “Be grateful that you have two legs that work,” she says. “Don’t take that for granted.”
        It’s this gratitude that keeps Iannone moving forward each day. “I think about people who can’t move, and it puts everything in perspective for me.”

        Set the mood

        What wakes Iannone up in the morning? Techno. Admittedly not a morning person, she says she prefers energetic music in the early hours to pump her up. “Music is fuel for your body,” she says. “Feed the excitement and passion to keep going forward.”
        Although the beat gets her moving in the morning, lyrics help maintain her drive. In one of Iannone’s favorite songs, “The Fire” by The Roots, she loves the lyrics “I am the definition of tragedy turned triumph,” which she says remind her of overcoming adversity and not giving up.

        Go shopping

        They say when you look good, you feel good. Sounds like an excuse to go shopping! And Swan is definitely on board, “I’m not going to lie, a new gym outfit gives me motivation,” she says. “Brand new spandex or a killer sports bra is just like buying the perfect little black dress.”
        More than just retail therapy, stepping into fun new workout wear could be just the boost of self-love you need in order to stick to a weight loss goal or rigorous training schedule. And new research suggests that dressing for an activity can actually boost your performance of a task. So hopefully if you dress like a tennis pro, you’ll play like one, too.

        Take a breather

        Sundays are typically rest days for Swan, but if you happen to find her in the gym that day, it’s not because she’s working out seven days a week. “I give my body a full day’s rest no matter what,” she says. “Physically, it’s the best time for your muscles to recover, and it’s so important for your muscles to be able to grow, but a full day’s rest is going to rest your mind, too. Allow yourself to decompress.”
        Schedule rest days just as you would workouts to avoid overuse injuries and ample time for muscle repair. And remember, a good rest mentally and physically prepares you to bring your A game to the next workout.

        Change your mind

        There is no such thing as a quick-fix solution for your health and fitness goals, reminds Iannone, and she believe the first step starts inside you. “It’s not just about working out,” she says. “It’s about working within.”
        The fitness philosophy by which she lives and teaches encompasses this theory: “Change your mindset to change your life!” you’ll often hear her screaming to a packed spin studio. “You have to approach fitness and life from a strong, positive, persistent place. Be brave in all that you do.”

        Eat Often

        You hate being hangry just as much as your friends hate to be around someone who’s irritable from a rumbling stomach and low blood sugar. Avoid that feeling and make sure you have the energy needed to take on your next workout by eating throughout the day. The key is to think small, satisfying snacks, not full, heavy meals.
        Swan says she eats every three hours, which means she prepares for her day and any possible delays the night before. She chops fresh fruit and veggies, and grabs to-go almond butter, Greek yogurt, and raw nuts to put in a cooler she takes in the car.

        Set attainable goals

        Setting an extremely lofty, unrealistic, or unhealthy goal is just setting yourself up for failure or exhaustion, says Mulgrew. “If you don’t make the progress you want to see in the short-term, you could say ‘oh this doesn’t work, so I just won’t do it’,” she warns.
        The key thing for her to remember and what she tells clients is that consistency and longevity are more important than a looming right-now goal. “My goal is to live a healthy lifestyle, and to be an active human,” she says. “Resting for a day or going for a walk, in the long run, doesn’t matter. There’s so much room for breaks.”

        Grab a pen

        A journal is a place for Iannone to hold her sudden inspirations. “I come up with phrases or mantras that pop into my mind, and write them down or create a [digital] poster to share with my followers online,” she says. Feeling unmotivated? Look back all those positive vibes you wrote before.
        You might know that food journaling, or recording your food intake throughout the day can help you lose weight. But did you know regularly jotting down your feelings could have positive effects on your mind as well? Journaling has been shown to help manage anxiety, reduce stress, and prioritize your feelings by acting as a healthy outlet to express emotions.

        Fight boredom

        You’ve probably heard an instructor tell you that if a move or class doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. Not only are they referring to the physiological effects from exercise, but they’re also warning you against complacency.
        Mix things up to avoid the same old routine or you’ll quickly become bored and unmotivated. “If I start to get bored, I know something needs to be adjusted,” says Iannone. “I take it back to the books, the images, and the music because that’s what works best for me.”

        Do what you love

        Although Iannone stopped formally practicing dance by the time she entered adulthood, that passion for movement and activity is what ultimately led her to pursue a career in fitness. “It was health-related and kept my mobile,” she says. “I get to see different people every day and stay moving. This work makes me better.”
        Think about some of your favorite hobbies or activities. Even if you don’t turn that passion into a career like Iannone, it’s important to maintain your connection to what makes the best healthy, happy version of you.
        This article originally appeared on

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        Jimmy Kimmel Blasts GOP Senator Over Obamacare Repeal: He Lied Right To My Face

        After six minutes-plus of monologue on Tuesday, Sept. 19, dedicated to health care policy during the taping of his nightly show, a video of Jimmy Kimmel blasting Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) has gone viral. In the widely-shared video, Kimmel takes issue with Cassidy over the senator’s introduction of the latest GOP effort to overhaul Obamacare. The bill being used to achieve that effort, Kimmel says, proves Cassidy “lied” on national television.

        A few months ago after my son had open heart surgery, which was something I spoke about on the air, a politician, a senator named Bill Cassidy from Louisiana was on my show and he wasn’t very honest.

        Kimmel was later much more blunt about his opinion of Cassidy’s sponsorship of the bill. The host said,

        This guy, Bill Cassidy, just lied right to my face.

        The “lie” to which Kimmel refers occurred back in May, when Sen. Cassidy appeared on CNN to discuss alternatives for healthcare reform. During that appearance, the senator said any repeal bill that the Senate passes would have to succeed what he called the “Jimmy Kimmel test.”

        Cassidy told CNN anchor John Berman,

        I ask does it pass the Jimmy Kimmel test. Would the child born with a congenital heart disease be able to get everything she or he would need in that first year of life … even if they go over a certain amount?

        Here’s a clip showing Cassidy’s May appearance of note:

        Cassidy would later go on to tout the merits of the Jimmy Kimmel test in other interviews, including one on Kimmel’s show itself. Just days before, Kimmel had been at the center of another viral moment, in which he got emotional while talking about his young son’s open heart surgery. During that particular monologue, Kimmel endorsed keeping Obamacare, which at the time had been a subject of priority for the Republican-controlled Congress.

        When Cassidy appeared on Kimmel’s show, shortly after the House passed a repeal bill, the senator said he agreed that — as Kimmel put it — “every American, regardless of income, should be able to get regular checkups, maternity care, etc., all of those things that people who have health care get and need.”

        Now, months later in September, Kimmel has come out strongly against Graham-Cassidy, the repeal bill recently introduced by Cassidy and fellow Republican Lindsey Graham, which Kimmel says betrays what Cassidy told him in May. He said,

        We want quality, affordable health care. Dozens of other countries figured it out. So instead of jamming this horrible bill down our throats, go pitch in and be a part of that. I’m sure they could use a guy with your medical background. And if not, stop using my name, O.K.? Because I don’t want my name on it. There’s a new Jimmy Kimmel test for you. It’s called the lie detector test. You’re welcome to stop by the studio and take it anytime.

        Here’s Kimmel’s full monologue on health care from Tuesday night, Sept. 19:

        For that monologue, Kimmel faced skepticism from critics who questioned — among other things — whether a discussion about complicated health care policy should be taking place on a late night show.

        Kimmel anticipated that criticism before it even came. During the monologue, he said,

        I never imagined I would get involved in something like this, this is not my area of expertise. My area of expertise is eating pizza, and that’s really about it. But we can’t let them do this to our children, and our senior citizens, and our veterans, or to any of us.

        The host later added,

        Before you post a nasty Facebook message saying I’m politicizing my son’s health problems, I want you to know: I am politicizing my son’s health problems because I have to. My family has health insurance we don’t have to worry about this, but other people do. So, you can shove your disgusting comments where your doctor won’t be giving you a prostate exam once they take your health care benefits away.

        Republican senators in support of Graham-Cassidy are looking to pass the bill before Sept. 30, at which point the deadline for repeal Obamacare via a 50-vote threshold ends.

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        6 Bizarrely Insulting Portrayals Of Other Countries In Games

        We don’t play video games for realism. We play to escape into a world where the right hat will make you better at fighting, and hiding behind a crate will quickly heal eight bullet wounds. But if a game takes place in a real country, wouldn’t it be worth it for the developers to spend a few minutes skimming that country’s Wikipedia page? You know, to avoid making something incredibly offensive? Something like …


        Ghost Recon: Wildlands Thinks Bolivia Is a Drug-Lord-Controlled Wilderness

        Among the many gifts the late Tom Clancy left us is the Ghost Recon franchise. It’s a series of Ubisoft games in which you control a team of operators as they massacre confused enemies with an unlimited supply of overpowered gadgets. The tenth installment, Wildlands, takes place in Bolivia, and by the time you finish it, you will have killed more Bolivians than have been claimed by cancer and heart disease combined. Bolivia makes the perfect setting for a killing spree because it is a lawless, drug-filled war zone as far as the eye can see. Except for one detail: It totally isn’t.

        Bolivia, as you might know from geography class or general knowledge or fun facts from a bag of Brazil nuts (they’re not nuts OR from Brazil!), is a country with cities and an economy and a whole population of non-warlords. For example, here’s La Paz:

        However, according to Wildlands, all of Bolivia looks like this:

        Fun Fact: Brazil nuts get their smoky flavor because they’re harvested by gunfight!

        The landscape is nothing but vast, scrub-filled mountains. It’s like the entire country is trapped in a Cormac McCarthy novel, existing only as a backdrop for desperate murder and existential despair. There are bandits in every burned-out church and 80,000 percent more ammunition dumps than wildlife. The game does include some Bolivian cities, where everyone is dressed in bad hats and their economy seems based entirely around soccer balls:

        It seems like the developers invented an entirely new country based on old cowboy movies and cartoon salsa mascots and then accidentally named it after a place that actually exists and is nothing like it. And it wasn’t just a stupid little mistake; the game was so offensive to real Bolivians that the country filed a formal complaint with France (the home country of Ubisoft) over it. And they weren’t only upset about how their country was portrayed as a dusty wasteland of violent soccer ball farmers. The game seems to think Bolivia is filled with Mexican cartels and socialist guerrilla rebels. Remember, Bolivia’s government has a socialist president serving his third term.


        Call Of Duty: Ghosts Has you Fight All Of South America

        Call Of Duty has always had difficulty creating villains that aren’t Nazis. The Modern Warfare subseries has vague Al-Qaeda stand-ins and a Russia inexplicably able to invade the entirety of Europe, whilst Black Ops has Soviets and a Nicaraguan arms dealer who starts a revolution against America before giving up and deciding to join a rock band. Yet for COD: Ghosts, Infinity Ward outdid them all. In that game, the villains are from the “country” of South America.

        In what can only be loosely described as a story, the Arabian Peninsula gets devastated by war. This gives South America a monopoly on the world’s oil supply. Rather than buying skyscrapers and soccer stadiums like normal wealthy countries, the entire continent decides to unite and declare war against the USA. That’s how much money they have. They have “Fuck you” money, and then on top of that they have “Kill the U.S.” money.

        The first problem is the idea that the countries of South America could unite under one flag just because they came into some extra cash. It’s a diverse continent with centuries of history, and all the enmity that goes with that. In the past decade, we’ve seen Ecuadorian, Venezuelan, and Colombian troops facing off, Bolivia wanting its coastline back from Chile, and Argentina trying to start a fight with Britain over a sheep-filled rock.

        And why South America would want to eliminate the USA is a mystery. Not only is America super polite, but the Federation’s power comes from selling oil, and the U.S. would be their best customer. Even heroin dealers don’t intentionally murder their best buyers, and the USA would be that buyer forever. It’s not like we’re going to invest in renewable energy to eliminate our need for foreign oil. That’s a more fantastical idea than the one the game already has.

        Finally, the Federation doesn’t merely cripple and invade America; it also turns our best soldiers to their side with interrogation techniques robbed from the Aztecs. Which is dumb, but also maybe awesome? It’s obvious the developers were throwing in every detail they could think of related to South America, and there’s something almost refreshing about a story written by someone who truly believes there is no such thing as a bad idea.

        Reviews called out this laughable premise, with one critic stating that, “The background to Ghosts reads like a novel from the minds of domestic oil drilling supporters mixed in with some neo-conservative foreign policy, with a few sprinklings of pro-border security sentiment thrown in for good measure … it has arguably has one of the most right-wing premises in video game history.” You know who wrote that scathing review? Fox News.

        Yeah. Fox News was calling this game out for its extreme ideology, and Fox News will devote hours of a broadcast to pretending to love statues in order to defend historical racists. Call Of Duty: Ghosts was more right-wing than THAT. Hell, the most recent COD game has Jon Snow and Conor MacGregor trying to kill rebels, one of whom is F1 racing champion Lewis Hamilton, and it was somehow less ridiculous.


        Uncharted 3‘s London Isn’t Much Like Regular London

        Despite being about a white guy shooting minorities and stealing their wealth in exotic locales, the Uncharted games have portrayed the settings surprisingly well. That is, except for London.

        Uncharted 3 starts with Nathan Drake meeting a well-dressed businessman in a London pub to sell his ancestor’s belongings. Said pub is filled with burly, unshaven roughnecks in traditional working man attire like flat caps and hoodies. They smoke and glare and grunt specifically British words like “geezer” and “bloke.” It is a shithole that would have absolutely had the lowest Yelp score in all of London if bars like it even existed there anymore.

        After a fight breaks out (during which Nate ignores signs of the upcoming apocalypse), Drake makes it outside, where he can admire the London skyline. The scene puts this pub on the southern side of the Thames — to be more exact, somewhere around the district of Southwark.

        Here’s a handy map if you’d like to visit it yourself and try to pick a bar fight.

        For those who don’t have London districts memorized, this isn’t some rundown Dickensian slum. This is the center of London, a stone’s throw from the financial district, and as such is one of the most expensive places in the country and exceptionally multicultural. A shithole pub populated entirely by Cockneys wouldn’t exist there, unless Nate accidentally wandered into some kind of Knight Rider villain cosplay convention.

        To use an American analogy, this’d be the equivalent of having a Manhattan bar overlooking Time Square being filled solely with escaped Harlem zoo animals. Most people familiar with the city noticed the nonsense anachronism, and critics (from Yahtzee to, uh, Red Bull) have been pointing it out since the game was released. If you’re wondering, here is what an actual pub in that area looks like:

        This pub would showcase a wide variety of cultures, with a wide variety of people and a shit-ton of tourists, and prices would be through the roof. They would be drinking fine wines and pretentious cocktails, not scowling at strangers until they punch them. If anyone from the Uncharted 3 sequence showed up, they’d be an ironic hipster or only there to scream how foreigners are ruining the place before they get arrested.


        Street Fighter Has No Idea What Any Place In The World Looks Like

        Through the gaming ages, the Street Fighter franchise has not shied away from jamming as many foreign stereotypes in as possible. You can argue that it’s not hurtful to accuse Americans of shooting sonic booms, but when your Indian fighter has magic yoga stretching powers, breathes spicy curry breath, wears a necklace of human baby skulls, and decorates his fighting arenas with elephants, it starts to get a bit uncomfortable.

        Most of the stage backgrounds are the first thing a poorly educated person would think of if they had one second to describe a place. The Chinese stage is a chicken meat market crowded with bicycles. The Thailand stage is a giant Buddha statue. The Russian stage is a communist factory filled with vodka-chugging workers.

        In the latest outing in the series, Street Fighter V, the developers attempted to go back and redo the Thailand stage from Street Fighter II — the one we mentioned was a giant Buddha statue. It’s not as if Thai people have changed religions since then, so they kept the Buddhist theme. What didn’t make sense is they used a song with Muslim chants for the stage’s music.

        Simple mistake, right? It’s the wrong religious reference in a video game about fireballs and tatsumaki-senpuu-kyakus. Who cares? Well, there’s kind of been ongoing separatist violence between Muslim areas in Thailand and the Buddhist government. Here’s a chart you probably weren’t expecting in a Street Fighter article:

        Oops. Capcom quickly pulled the stage from the game and released a statement apologizing for any offense caused. Which is fine and all, but the minds behind the series don’t exactly have the greatest track record of progressive thinking. When discussing the lone female character from Street Fighter II, Chun Li, designer Yoshiki Okamoto talked about wanting to make her power bar shorter because “women are not as strong.” He said that out loud. To people.

        And it wasn’t even the last of the Street Fighter religious controversy. For the Rio stage, they wanted to use the iconic Cristo Redentor statue that overlooks the city. You probably know it — it’s a 100-foot-tall Jesus.

        Jesus might belong to everyone, but this statue of him is copyrighted by the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro, and they didn’t want him in such a violent game. (Although the statue did appear appear in Civilization VI, a game in which you can eradicate entire nations with nuclear weapons.) So what did Street Fighter replace Jesus with?


        Spanish For Everyone: A Game That Teaches Spanish And A Bit Of Racism

        You probably haven’t heard of the Nintendo DS game Spanish For Everyone, which is absolutely for the best. It’s more or less what it sounds like, except it’s not so much for everyone. It seems designed exclusively for people who want to speak Spanish to threaten to deport their gardener.

        The goal of the game is to teach the user Spanish, but it gets too caught up in cringeworthy material to accomplish that. It also doesn’t help that it isn’t fun and sucks. The game starts with your character (a white kid) sharing his Nintendo DS with a Mexican child. You can watch the entirety of the sequence here:

        The other child runs off with your DS, which means the first Mexican character you’re introduced to is a thief. Not a great start. To its credit, the game mentions that the kid maybe forgot to return your property. However, if the makers of the game wanted this to come across as a simple misunderstanding, why is the kid’s father evilly staring out from the shadows of his limousine?

        “And steal the white child’s property! Steal his jobs!!! Ha ha! Ha ha ha!!!”

        Next, a cop car follows the limo. It’s important to make this clear: The only Mexican characters we’ve been introduced to so far are a boy who steals your DS and a sinister man in a limo being trailed by the police.

        “Get him, officer! He took my DS! And my jobs!!!”

        Later, your aunt takes you to Mexico and just kind of abandons you in front of a building with a random Spanish word on its entry arch: FIESTA. Nearby is a Minotaur in the back of a truck. Good enough for the aunt — have fun, young unattended boy!

        As your truly ill-advised adventure continues, you hitch a ride in the back of the truck. It’s hard to believe a driver would be okay with something this close to kidnapping, but he takes you to the next city, which is nothing but a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Every window is broken and all the trees are dead. You meet a man who looks like Steven Seagal named Tio Juan. Which is maybe a pun? All we know is that no video game protagonist has ever encountered a more certain death than the little boy in Spanish For Everyone.

        Finally, you end up tracking down your “friend” and get your DS back. It was a long and dangerous journey for a toy that costs about $50 used. Along the way, you learn that Mexico and its people are lawless but helpful, which is a troubling lesson to teach a child learning Spanish via video games.

        And while we’re here …


        Call Of Juarez: The Cartel Portrays Sex Slavery The Wrong Way Around

        Call Of Juarez: The Cartel takes place in a topsy-turvy world in which Americans want a war with Mexico, but their president doesn’t. Then the Juarez Cartel blows up the DEA and the government launches an investigation. And one of the early leads is that the Cartel is involved in sex trafficking. It’s pretty much the plot of Spanish For Everyone, but rated M.

        You are sent on a mission to an LA brothel, where you rough up some prostitutes to get information and chase down the villain. After a savage beating, he reveals that the cartel has been kidnapping young women, injecting them with cocktails of various drugs, and storing them in warehouses to be shipped off to Mexico.

        The mission is a success, and you save several American women from being deported as contraband-filled Mexican sex slaves! Yay! Except … every single thing about this scenario is backward.

        As mentioned on Extra Credits, sex slavers don’t, or very rarely, hijack women from America to smuggle across the Mexican border. The exact opposite is what law enforcement fights against every day — women from Mexico and elsewhere are trafficked across the border to work in brothels in the U.S. The game somehow took a reprehensible problem and got every detail about it wrong because they thought it would make the target audience care about it more. (“Cartels stealing our women!?!?”) It’d be like making a news channel that spreads the narrative that white Christians are being racially oppressed. It’s stupid, sure, but it also makes the real problem harder to deal with.

        Nathan Kamal lives in Oregon and writes there. He co-founded Asymmetry Fiction for all your fiction needs. Mike Bedard likes video games, especially if they’re filled with Pokemons. If you follow him on Twitter, he’ll be your friend. When he’s not writing, Sam Hurley co-hosts the funniest movie review podcast you’ve never heard, available now on iTunes, SoundCloud and, Stitcher, He also tweets unrequited appreciation at his fave celebs here.

        Also check out 5 Video Games That Pose (And Reward) Awful Moral Choices and The 5 Most Offensive Attempts at Video Game Marketing.

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        Jimmy Kimmel’s baby may save healthcare for 30 million people

        Image: randy holmes/ABC via Getty Images

        Welcome to 2017, where the American government has ceded its already crumbling moral authority to the former host of The Man Show.

        Don’t you miss the 2016 election now?

        Still, the last few days have produced some of the best material late night television has ever had to offer, and all it’s because of former Man Show star, Win Ben Stein’s Money co-host, and late night host, Jimmy Kimmel. Kimmel has not only taken on the Senate’s practically homicidal Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill, he’s done it without resorting to lies or distortions (how quaint!). He accomplished this by speaking from a place of deep empathy, and by centering on a character that remains untouchable across the political spectrum: his baby.

        Back in May, Kimmel’s newborn son had to undergo an emergency open-heart surgery. It was this hardship that brought America’s perilous healthcare situation into sharp focus for the comedian. And as he’s grown more vocal about the issue, he returns to his own child as the impetus for his outspokenness.

        That’s why every counter-attack by GOP politician and pundits against Kimmel has fallen flat on its face: in the symbolic war between sick babies and man-baby Senators, the sick baby will always win.

        By positioning his baby at his monologue’s heart and center, he’s created the most sympathetic protagonist imaginable and made anyone who opposes that character a hateful antagonist by extension (which, I mean, is accurate). Everyone who attacks Kimmel’s position, is essentially attacking his baby. 

        Not a good position for a politician.

        “Before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there’s a good chance you would never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition,” Kimmel said in May. “If your baby is going to die, and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make … we all agree on that, right? I mean, we do!” 

        Babies work. There’s a reason why every politician is required to take a photo with them at some point in their campaign.

        When I was a social worker, we talked a lot about “worthy victims” and “unworthy victims.” “Unworthy victims” are people a society has collectively decided are victims because of their own poor choices: the poor, victims of sexual assault, the homeless, welfare recipients, people of color, criminals and undocumented immigrants. “Worthy victims,” by contrast, are folks that society has deemed sufficiently worthy of empathy (and consequently, of charitable donations) including sick children, the elderly and people with *certain* disabilities.

        That doesn’t mean that worthy victims are exactly living large in America. Just think of the folks who were cruelly pulled from their wheelchairs by Capitol police while protesting Trumpcare that summer. But it does mean that they, culturally at least, have tremendous worth. I can’t think of a stronger symbolic lead than Kimmel’s son — a sick, wealthy kind with a devastating illness — followed closely by his acerbic father. Is there anything Americans love more than a cynical man, who simultaneously knows his facts and is deeply in touch with his own tenderness?

        Of a Fox and Friends host who attacked Kimmel for his monologues, Kimmel had this to say:

        “And you know, the reason I’m talking about this is because my son had an open-heart surgery and has to have two more, and because of that, I’ve learned that there are kids with no insurance in the same situation,” Kimmel said. “I don’t get anything out of this, Brian [Kilmeade], you phony little creep. Oh, I’ll pound you when I see you.”

        Just look at how these Republican politicians and pundits tiptoed around his attacks, especially as  they relate to Kimmy’s son, and relied on the tired excuse than Kimmel wasn’t smart enough to analyze the bill because’s he’s a late night comedian. 

        Remember: these folks voted for a man who recently made up an African country in front of Africans and didn’t realize that Frederick Douglass was dead, so we’re not exactly dealing with “wonks” here. 

        All late night comedians have in some ways impacted culture and by extension, politics, but Kimmel might become the first late night politicians to have an immediate, substantive impact on policy. There’s a Jimmy Kimmel test Senator Cassidy once told Congress it has to pass. Kimmel even ended his monologue with a screen full of Senator’s phone numbers, amplifying his personal story and turning it into collective action.

        Babies work. There’s a reason why every politician is required to take a photo with them at some point in their campaign. There’s a reason why political ads that include children, like this one of Hillary’s, are far more effective than those that feature rehabilitated criminal — even though both would be endangered by Graham-Cassidy.  Kimmel even admitted that he was “politicizing his baby” for the greater good.  

        Doing anything that might directly harm babies is one the last moral lines we have around these broken parts. Let’s see if one man’s 13-minute monologues are powerful enough to keep us from crossing it.

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        Poor diet is a factor in one in five deaths, global disease study reveals

        Study compiling data from every country finds people are living longer but millions are eating wrong foods for their health

        Poor diet is a factor in one in five deaths around the world, according to the most comprehensive study ever carried out on the subject.

        Millions of people are eating the wrong sorts of food for good health. Eating a diet that is low in whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds and fish oils and high in salt raises the risk of an early death, according to the huge and ongoing study Global Burden of Disease.

        The study, based at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, compiles data from every country in the world and makes informed estimates where there are gaps. Five papers on life expectancy and the causes and risk factors of death and ill health have been published by the Lancet medical journal.

        It finds that people are living longer. Life expectancy in 2016 worldwide was 75.3 years for women and 69.8 for men. Japan has the highest life expectancy at 84 years and the Central African Republic has the lowest at just over 50. In the UK, life expectancy for a man born in 2016 is 79, and for a woman 82.9.

        Diet is the second highest risk factor for early death after smoking. Other high risks are high blood glucose which can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, high body mass index (BMI) which is a measure of obesity, and high total cholesterol. All of these can be related to eating the wrong foods, although there are also other causes.

        causes of death graphic

        This is really large, Dr Christopher Murray, IHMEs director, told the Guardian. It is amongst the really big problems in the world. It is a cluster that is getting worse. While obesity gets attention, he was not sure policymakers were as focused on the area of diet and health as they needed to be. That constellation is a really, really big challenge for health and health systems, he said.

        The problem is often seen as the spread of western diets, taking over from traditional foods in the developing world. But it is not that simple, says Murray. Take fruit. It has lots of health benefits but only very wealthy people eat a lot of fruit, with some exceptions.

        Sugary drinks are harmful to health but eating a lot of red meat, the study finds, is not as big a risk to health as failing to eat whole grains. We need to look really carefully at what are the healthy compounds in diets that provide protection, he said.

        undernourishment graphic

        Prof John Newton, director of health improvement at Public Health England, said the studies show how quickly diet and obesity-related disease is spreading around the world. I dont think people realise how quickly the focus is shifting towards non-communicable disease [such as cancer, heart disease and stroke] and diseases that come with development, in particular related to poor diet. The numbers are quite shocking in my view, he said.

        The UK tracks childhood obesity through the school measurement programme and has brought in measures to try to tackle it. But no country in the world has been able to solve the problem and it is a concern that we really need to think about tackling globally, he said.

        Today, 72% of deaths are from non-communicable diseases for which obesity and diet are among the risk factors, with ischaemic heart disease as the leading cause worldwide of early deaths, including in the UK. Lung cancer, stroke, lung disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder) and Alzheimers are the other main causes in the UK.

        The success story is children under five. In 2016, for the first time in modern history, fewer than 5 million children under five died in one year a significant fall compared with 1990, when 11 million died. Increased education for women, less poverty, having fewer children, vaccinations, anti-malaria bed-nets, improved water and sanitation are among the changes in low-income countries that have brought the death rate down, thanks to development aid.

        People are living longer but spending more years in ill health. Obesity is one of the major reasons. More than a billion people worldwide are living with mental health and substance misuse disorders. Depression features in the top 10 causes of ill health in all but four countries.

        Our findings indicate people are living longer and, over the past decade, we identified substantial progress in driving down death rates from some of the worlds most pernicious diseases and conditions, such as under age-five mortality and malaria, said Murray Yet, despite this progress, we are facing a triad of trouble holding back many nations and communities obesity, conflict, and mental illness, including substance use disorders.

        In the UK, the concern is particularly about the increase in ill-health that prevents people from working or having a fulfilling life, said Newton. A man in the UK born in 2016 can expect only 69 years in good health and a woman 71 years.

        This is yet another reminder that while were living longer, much of that extra time is spent in ill-health. It underlines the importance of preventing the conditions that keep people out of work and put their long term health in jeopardy, like musculoskeletal problems, poor hearing and mental ill health. Our priority is to help people, including during the crucial early years of life and in middle age, to give them the best chance of a long and healthy later life, he said.

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        Mother refuses to allow fat teacher to educate her daughter

        Hilary Freeman, a London-based mom, has decided against enrolling her daughter in a certain nursery school because the assistant was obese.

        “The nursery assistant was clearly a lovely woman: kind and great with children. But as I watched her play with my two-year-old daughter, I felt a growing sense of unease,” Freeman penned in an essay explaining her position.


        “[The assistant] was only in her 20s, but she was already obese—morbidly so. She moved slowly and breathlessly, her face flushed,” Freeman continued.

        But Freeman claims her choice to enroll her daughter in a school with more physically fit teachers isn’t “fatism” or based on looks – it’s about safety.

        “Would she, I wondered, have the lightning reflexes needed to save an adventurous toddler from imminent danger? And what sort of unhealthy habits would she teach my daughter, who would be eating her lunch and tea there each day?” Freeman asked.

        The mom also noticed that the assistant wasn’t the only one at the school who was “extremely overweight.”

        Freeman decided her worries “about the message [the staff] was sending to the children in their care: that being very fat is normal and – when children adopt role models so readily – even desirable” were enough of a concern to place her daughter in another nursery.

        Since Freeman’s personal essay, people have accused her of “fat-shaming.” She notes that she has been attacked relentlessly on message boards about her opinions, as far as being called “anti-feminist” for suggesting that obesity is not a healthy way of life.

        However, her lack of sympathy for larger people is steeped in her own insecurities, she writes.

        “Perhaps I feel so strongly about this because I’m a slim person with a far person inside, wanting to burst out.”

        Freeman is a size 10 now, she said, but was once a size 14 because of a hormonal issue – she suffers with an underactive thyroid that makes it hard to lose weight and can cause severe weight gain. Her grandmother was also morbidly obese – a lifestyle Freeman does not want to hand down to her own daughter.


        “Research has proven that, in many ways, being obese is as unhealthy as smoking. It causes cancer, heart disease and diabetes and can impede fertility. Studies also disprove the notion one can be fat and fit. The heavier you are, the more likely you are to suffer from heart failure or stroke,” she says.

        Regardless of dissenting opinions on the mom’s choice of nursery, Freeman is sticking to her guns about the “rising obesity problem,” and ended her essay with a pointed call-to-action.

        “Discrimination is never good,” she says. “But neither is obesity. So let’s stop celebrating it, and instead offer a bit of tough love.”

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        6 Stupid Things Movie Villains Did (For No Apparent Reason)

        Movie villains are known for talking too much or underestimating the hero or just entering into conflicts they have no hope of winning. Some bad guys are given every opportunity and every planet-smashing super weapon necessary to win and still find a way to screw it up. In fact, looking back on it, it seems like these particular villains went into their dastardly schemes determined to fail — or to at least extend the story to feature length.


        Skyfall‘s Villain Shits The Bed In The First 5 Minutes Of The Movie

        Bond villains are megalomaniacs with huge, insane plans — plans far too large to include petty details like “prevent James Bond from killing me.” Bond villains forget this detail even in movies like GoldenEye where they know about and particularly hate James Bond. The point is, not including an anti-007 section of their plan is where they’ve all gone wrong.

        Which is why it’s strange in Skyfall when the villain Raoul Silva fucks himself over before James Bond even hears about him.

        Unlike the other bad guys in the series who want to ransom the world or cover every woman in gold or whatever, Silva is on a personal crusade to murder Bond’s cranky boss M. And he absolutely could have in the first five minutes of the film when he blew up her office but at the exact time he knew she wouldn’t be there?

        “Oh no, did the office blow up? Right at the start of happy hour?”

        At first one might assume he did this to torture her. But is blowing up someone’s workplace really the best way to do that? Most mornings, if you opened an email that said, “office just exploded. don’t bother coming in today,” you might consider it the greatest news you’ve ever received. But besides the fact that this would be a strange way to torture your enemy, it’s pretty clear Silva really wanted her dead and simply screwed up. Because for the entire rest of the movie, he makes attempt after attempt on her life in increasingly contrived ways. He’s not a man trying to destroy the things M loves most. He’s just bad at murder.

        He continues to fail to kill her while she’s in locations way, way easier to rig with explosives than the headquarters of the most secret division of the British Secret Services. And this long saga of heavily planned assassination attempts ends when M is shot not in a personal confrontation with Javier Bardem’s weird hair, but because of a random stray bullet from a random henchman. It’s like setting up the ultimate laser death trap, waiting for days, then finding out your intended victim died of heart disease and their dying words were about how they didn’t remember you.

        So yes, Silva’s misuse of a surefire way to kill his main target five minutes into the movie was pretty stupid. And all his failures after that were kind of stupid. But there is a silver lining! By underestimating M’s ability to survive random encounters with random henchmen, he succeeded in making Bond the completely disposable sex object in his own movie. Which is maybe the most poetic revenge any 007 villain has ever pulled off.


        The Green Goblin Is Terrible At Picking Out Bombs

        The Green Goblin from the first Spider-Man movie is an enhanced superhuman, which is already more powerful than, say, an overweight normal guy with robot arms. But in addition to his powers, he also has a sweet hoverboard and an arsenal of ludicrously lethal weapons. Seriously, look at this grenade he made:

        Those guys got turned into collapsing skeletons by a bomb so powerful it didn’t even need to explode to turn them into dust. It kills human clothes, human flesh, and absolutely nothing else. It didn’t even get goo on that banner. When you saw that nightmare bomb go off, you knew Spider-Man was doomed. What’s the melt radius on it? Can Spider-Man jump away that fast? Spider-Man is going to die!

        Except he obviously didn’t. Luckily for him, the Goblin is polite enough to never use that super skeleton bomb again in the movie. For the final showdown, he instead goes with a totally ordinary kind of bomb. Except we shouldn’t say ordinary. He used a bomb that absolutely exploded right on Spider-Man’s face and didn’t kill him.

        The crappy firecracker bomb looks like it’s about the same size and weight as the amazing skeleton-making one, so why bother with it? A classic explosion is always handy, but this grenade seems barely able to cleave through a spandex face mask. It’s not like you could use it to blow the door off a bank vault. If it were a regular, not-exploding ball of metal it would have hurt Spider-Man more. Here’s his face mere days after it went off right on it:

        Maybe you’re thinking, “Spider-Man is just really tough!” Well, fine. It seems strange for him to be grenade-proof and also have a special sense that warns him about grenades, but FINE. He should still be nude. Unless Aunt May was secretly sewing Stark Industries-grade fabric into Peter’s face mask and body stocking, it’s hard to explain why that goblin bomb didn’t shred his entire costume off. The conclusion is clear: Science and logic demand a fully nude Spider-Man climax.


        The Kraken in Pirates Of The Caribbean Just Decides To Let The Good Guys Win

        What do you think a normal boat fight is like for a Kraken? We’ll tell you: It comes up from the impossible depths and shatters your puny ship in about two seconds. Then its powerful tentacles crush the life from you the way Dead Man’s Chest crushed your love of pirate movies.

        Maybe it was too late into the scriptwriting process when the writers realized they had created a creature that Jack Sparrow could never even dream of beating? Unlikely odds can be fun, but if Jack Sparrow had six weeks to hack at the Kraken with his cute little sword, there would still be enough Kraken left to turn him into a sack of wet bone splinters and drag into the abyss. The Kraken is so OP they had the villains in the sequel pointlessly kill it off just so audiences didn’t keep asking “Why don’t they just use the Kraken to win everything ever?”

        Along with a line about their world getting less interesting — which we kinda figured out already, thanks.

        But what about before the beast was conveniently killed by a thin premise? It was there and they still had to find a way for Jack Sparrow to deal with the fucking thing for an entire movie. So what did they do? They had the thing get lazier and lazier.

        When the Kraken first appears it’s obvious no one in the ocean can deal with the thing. It wipes out a ship instantly. In its second appearance, the Kraken still takes out a ship in under a minute, but at least takes enough time to show audiences how he performs his disappearing-ship magic trick. But by the final battle, it’s like the Kraken has gone on strike or recently had its monster heart broken. It slowly and lovingly wraps its tentacles around Johnny Depp’s boat as if all the previously destroyed ships were misunderstandings. Maybe over enthusiastic hugs? Maybe something … more?

        “Is the Kraken attacking or giving us a massage … Oh no. Oh dear god, no!”

        The Kraken is just a monster, so it’s hard to believe he was taking longer to crush the ship because he was enjoying watching the heroes (and shitty Jack Sparrow) devise and put into practice a plan so half-assed that not even Sparrow on his drunkest day or Johnny Depp on his most regular day would have ever believed it could hurt the Kraken. A movie really shouldn’t end with the main enemy gently letting the heroes win.


        Voldemort Acts In A Totally Non-Voldemort-ish Way At The Worst Possible Moment

        Lord Voldemort is arguably the deadliest wizard in the world of Harry Potter, especially when he’s in possession of the Elder Wand, which in Deathly Hallows Part 2, he totally is. He has spent his entire life concocting schemes to become immortal which includes eliminating anyone who he considers a threat. He’s not shy about murdering his enemies, very much including children enemies, but in the final deciding battle he suddenly changes his policy.

        Up until then, every spell Voldemort throws at least tries to kill its target. Sure, he does some possession and things like that, but usually just as a more complicated way of killing people. So it’s pretty strange that during the battle of Hogwarts, the showdown of the entire series, Neville Longbottom comes at him with the very sword he’s specifically worried about, and Voldemort decides to use a non-lethal shove spell.

        Weirder still, the books specifically tell us that master wizards like Voldemort don’t need to loudly pronounce words like regular wizards in order to cast spells. So while it makes no sense for him to not kill Neville, it makes even less sense that he’s screaming a bunch of crap while he doesn’t do it. The obvious solution, his trademark green death zap, would have been easier, faster, and more instinctive. It’s the Wizard Finals — get your head in the game, Voldemort.


        Gaston Brought A Bow To A Gun Fight

        We’ve covered before how Gaston managed to get dealt one of the most brutal deaths ever to befall a Disney villain. But, then again, he was basically going up against a gorilla-wolf-bear with the intelligence of a man. He never really had a chance. He couldn’t have killed Beast even with all the skills the townspeople sang about — his wrestling, his biting, his shooting, his expectorating, his antler decorating … wait, what was that middle one? Shooting?

        Yes, in the middle of his musical number about how great he is, we very clearly see Gaston fire his musket three times in a single second without needing to reload. All three bullets go into a beer barrel across the room and he’s such a famously good shot that all of the men, standing right fucking next to it, are completely used to it. This is so normal for them they catch the escaping beer before it splashes onto the counter. So this is a man not only good with a gun, but also willing to shoot it often and for any possible occasion. He uses his gun to open beer. So of course, when it comes time for him to hunt a creature strong and fierce beyond reason, he takes … a bow and arrow?

        Walt Disney Pictures
        You dumbass.

        Are we expected to believe he only uses his gun for serving drinks and not killing supernatural monsters? Let’s assume for a minute it’s some kind of hunter thing — like it’s better sport to use a bow. Fine, hypothetical devil’s advocate. Then how do you explain this painting of him in his chamber of gruesome animal heads? Behold, definitive proof Gaston is just a dumbass:

        Walt Disney Pictures
        Also, where did he find a bald eagle and a turkey to shoot in France?

        He absolutely used that rifle to kill all those animals, and is proud enough of that he had a painting made about it. So it would make no sense to use a bow to hunt the biggest game he’d ever come across? And it’s not like he has any issues about fighting dirty. His own theme song has a line about how he bites during wrestling matches, and he stabs Beast in the back later in the movie. It happens right before he accidentally loses his grip and falls to his death like a stupid bitch.

        If he’d had his rifle with him at any point, he could have shot Beast in the head from across the roof and called it a day. Of course, then it would be a movie about how handsome, clever, popular men are better for women than monstrous kidnappers who talk to furniture.


        In Rogue One, The Empire Prefers To Mess With The Rebels, Not Stop Them

        The Empire’s troops might not be able to hit anything with their lasers or block stick attacks with their armor, but they at least seem to want their enemies dead. That’s not exactly the case in Rogue One. In the final scene, we see Vader himself being sent to deal with the rebels desperately trying to get the Death Star plans to Princess CGI Monster Organa.

        In an awesome, awesome scene, Vader mercilessly wades through the rebels and then suddenly gets stopped in his tracks by an ordinary space door. It’s an obstacle that wouldn’t have stood up to several seconds of casual light-sabering, but it holds him there long enough for the rebels to escape. Not by zipping into hyperspace, but by slowly flying away from Vader as he grumpily watches.

        The pace of the whole thing gave us enough time to notice that the Empire knew exactly what the rebels had stolen, what they were planning to with it, and exactly which ship held it. Why send Vader at all? For a fun light saber fight? Thanks, but why not blow the thing up from space? It’s just a CR90 Corellian Corvette! You think its adorable little pair of turbo lasers are going to hold off a star destroyer? Or even a single TIE interceptor? Fucking Cornelius Evazan and Ponda Baba could have taken out that Corellian Corvette.

        Or, you could have used the Death Star’s laser on it, considering how much it stood to benefit from not getting blown up by information leaks. Instead of, you know, using it on a comms station after it had already served its purpose and been retaken by your own forces. The Empire made so many goddamn willfully bad decisions, and for what? To make sure to set up a sequel that already happened 40 years ago? Have you lost your mind, CGI Monster Moff Tarkin?

        For more bad guys who probably should’ve worked at a Taco Bell or something, check out 6 Villain Plans That Make Absolutely No Sense and 6 Famous Movie Villains Whose Evil Schemes Make Zero Sense.

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