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These Boys Adopted An Orphaned Baby Owl, and Maybe You Should Too

These Boys Adopted An Orphaned Baby Owl, and Maybe You Should TooReminisce Magazine

One summer day, my husband came home to our western Minnesota farm with a little fur ball the size of an apple. It was a baby owl. My two young sons, Charles and Clem, and I immediately fell in love. We named the owl Rosco Lonnie.

We wanted to do our best to take care of him. I was worried because he wouldn’t eat. Finally, I thought, What do I like to eat when nothing else tastes good? Bread and warm milk. So I put a little in a teaspoon, and he happily ate it. This new diet let him know we loved him and wanted to help.

Our back porch became the little fur ball’s home. We kept his food there, and that’s where he learned to fly. He flapped his wings and went from one step to the next. Little by little, he flew farther and farther, but he always came back to us.

Rosco was very fussy with whom he let hold him. He liked me, my mother, and his favorite, Charles. He didn’t like Clem too much, because he would squeeze Rosco too hard.

People didn’t believe that he would come to me when I called for him. One morning, Paul, the man we were working for, wanted to show Rosco off to some friends. So I called for Rosco and opened the front door, and he came flying in and skidded across the linoleum floor in the living room. We were so proud!

After having so much fun that summer, we had to move and could not take Rosco with us. We shed many tears for our family owl. But anytime I look at this picture, I’m reminded of the many happy memories we had with our beloved Rosco Lonnie.

MORE: Warning: You Will Want to Adopt an Orphaned Baby Squirrel After Reading This

The Heartbreaking Reality of a Brother and Sister Split Apart By Racism

The Heartbreaking Reality of a Brother and Sister Split Apart By RacismReminisce Magazine

Back in North Dakota, my mother and her sister, Elsie, rented an apartment with another girl they’d befriended at an orphanage. The girl was black, but because of her light skin, she “passed” for white. Her younger brother, whom they also knew from the orphanage and whose skin was darker, got a job in a bakery. The owner let him sleep in the back and gave him the leftover bakery goods. At night, he would come by the apartment to share his baked items, and the girls shared dinner with him.

Mom said that when the four of them got together, there were always a lot of stories and laughter. He was a loving brother who gave a portion of his meager salary to his sister so she could save up for nursing school.

One day, Mom’s landlord came to the door. He was angry. Neighbors had complained that the girls were having parties with black men, he said, and they would have to move out.

It was at this point in the story that my mom would tear up.

After the three girls moved to another apartment, the brother sat his sister down and told her that he would never cause her any more trouble, because he would no longer come around to see her.

My mother’s friend was inconsolable, but her brother kept his word. The siblings were never in contact again, except for the money he continued to send her so she could become a nurse.

And she did become a nurse.

MORE: The Psychology of How We Learn Prejudice

“I Was the Florida State Posture Queen, and Here Are the Photos to Prove It”

“I Was the Florida State Posture Queen, and Here Are the Photos to Prove It”Reminisce Magazine

Here I am, your 1960 Florida State Posture Queen! Back in those days, Florida seemed to have beauty contests for almost everything. My girlfriends and I entered as many as we could to get the goodies that were given away—bathing suits, trips, maybe even a scholarship. All Posture Queen contestants were required to have their spines X-rayed. As a result, to this day I try my best to stand tall and straight.

“I Was the Florida State Posture Queen, and Here Are the Photos to Prove It”Reminisce Magazine

 

MORE: 20 Secrets Massage Therapists Know About Your Body

“I Was a Switchboard Operator During the Attack on Pearl Harbor”

“I Was a Switchboard Operator During the Attack on Pearl Harbor”Reminisce Magazine

In summer of 1941, I was hired for my first job as a switchboard operator at the Illinois Bell Telephone Co. in Waukegan. My family never had a telephone, so I had much to learn about headsets, plugs, and jacks.

On Sunday, December 7, 1941, suddenly the whole switchboard lit up with hundreds of signals to be answered. I wondered, as the other girls did, why there were so many signals all at once.

At break time, we were told that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.

The telephone became essential at the onset of war with Japan. The personnel lines of the Naval Station Great Lakes were part of the exchange in Waukegan, and we were very busy connecting their calls. I began to see just how important my job was to the safety of America. Many men were enlisting.

I took pride in my job when I realized it was my way of joining the war effort.

MORE: 8 Emotional Moments Perfectly Captured by a Soldier’s Salute

8 Genius Habits Your 80-Year-Old Brain Will Thank You for Doing Today

How do you keep your brain young?

8 Genius Habits Your 80-Year-Old Brain Will Thank You for Doing TodayiStock/SilverV
A rich new area of science is analyzing which healthy habits best keep your mind and memory blithely unaffected even when a brain scan would reveal the inflammation, free radical damage, and weakened synapse connections that often cause “senior” moments in the 40s and beyond. Kenneth S. Kosik, MD, codirector of the Neuroscience Research Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has studied which habits most powerfully boost our cognitive function. Here he shares the most up-to-date research from innovative labs plus the best brain-boosting tips from his book Outsmarting Alzheimer’s. These are daily habits of people with impressive memory.

Play games with your frontal lobe

8 Genius Habits Your 80-Year-Old Brain Will Thank You for Doing TodayiStock/xijian
Whether you’re deliberating a chess move or bluffing at cards, you’re also giving the frontal lobe, the area of your brain that handles executive function, a workout. “The frontal lobe is particularly vulnerable to degeneration and the effects of aging,” says Dr. Kosik. According to a 2014 University of Wisconsin study, older adults who routinely worked on puzzles and played board games had higher brain volume in the area responsible for cognitive functions, including memory, than those who didn’t play games. These weird brain exercises can help you get smarter.

Stay young with saa, taa, naa, and maa

8 Genius Habits Your 80-Year-Old Brain Will Thank You for Doing TodayiStock/PeopleImages
Dharma Singh Khalsa, MD, president and medical director of the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, has spent many years studying the meditative tradition called Kirtan Kriya and has found that daily 12-minute sessions of the practice can improve blood flow to the brain and possibly even increase levels of telomerase, an enzyme that slows cell aging. The practice is simple: While breathing deeply, chant the Sanskrit words saa, taa, naa, maa (which mean “my divine self”) while moving your thumb to touch your index, middle, ring, and pinkie fingers with each new sound. Like any meditation, it may help to lift anxiety and fatigue. Here are other compelling health benefits of mediation.

Protect your mind from your heart

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Scientists surveyed volunteers on seven familiar heart-health factors and tested their cognitive performance at two points over eight years. The results found that the more heart-healthy habits people had, the less cognitive decline they exhibited. A stronger cardiovascular system means a stronger pipeline of nutrients to the brain, says lead author Hannah Gardener, ScD, an epidemiologist in the Department of Neurology at the University of Miami. The seven heart-health ideals to strive for may be familiar (if they seem overwhelming, Gardener points out that “each one helps”): Not smoking (or quitting); healthy body mass index (under 25); physically active (for at least 150 minutes a week); healthy total cholesterol (under 200 mg/dL); healthy blood pressure (under 120/80 mmHg); healthy blood sugar (under 100 mg/dL); and balanced diet (rich in fruits, veggies, and whole grains; low in sodium and sweets).

Lift the quality of your white matter

8 Genius Habits Your 80-Year-Old Brain Will Thank You for Doing TodayiStock/PeopleImages
As the brain ages, its white matter often develops small lesions because of disrupted blood flow, leading to impaired cognitive function and mobility. Researchers at the University of British Columbia wanted to determine whether strength training might offer protection. Women ages 65 to 75 who already had lesions were divided into three groups: once-a-week strength trainers, twice-a-week strength trainers, and those who did other exercise. The results: Women who strength trained twice a week showed significantly less progression of white matter lesions than the other two groups did. Key moves you can try at home (using soup cans for weight): biceps curls, triceps extensions, calf raises, mini squats, mini lunges, and lunge walks; aim for 45 minutes a session. Here’s how to get stronger arms without lifting weights.

Make moves directly against Alzheimer’s

8 Genius Habits Your 80-Year-Old Brain Will Thank You for Doing TodayiStock/Christopher Futcher
Exercise benefits the brain by improving vascular health—but newly published research suggests it also combats the chronic neuroinflammation observed in Alzheimer’s, depression, and other brain diseases. In such neurological conditions, the inflammation that normally clears tissue damage doesn’t shut off and starts to interfere with communication between neurons. Exercise has proven anti-inflammatory effects against diseases like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, so that could be why exercise protects brain health as well, says assistant professor Jonathan Little, PhD, in a review article in Brain Research Bulletin. “Any type of moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking, cycling, and swimming, can have anti-inflammatory effects,” says Little. Aim for about 30 minutes a day. This is what your exercise style says about your health.

Get brain circuits singing

8 Genius Habits Your 80-Year-Old Brain Will Thank You for Doing TodayiStock/RapidEye
Listening to or playing music can activate the motor cortex (touching a piano key or guitar string), the auditory cortex (hearing the notes you make), and the emotional center, or limbic system (feeling moved by a beautiful passage). “Circuits and networks are stimulated by these activities, which help keep the brain healthy,” says Dr. Kosik. Older adults who had at least ten years of musical experience did better on cognitive tests, according to a 2011 Emory University study. Listen to these incredible health benefits of music.

As Jon Lovitz would say, “Acting!”

8 Genius Habits Your 80-Year-Old Brain Will Thank You for Doing TodayiStock/Jodi Jacobson
Learning lines for a production or an acting class engages the hippocampus, the temporal cortex, and the frontal lobe, says Dr. Kosik. So follow the lead of one of Jon Lovitz’s Saturday Night Live characters, Master Thespian: In one study, those who went to acting classes twice a week for four weeks boosted their ability to remember words, numbers, and short stories. A follow-up study found they improved word fluency by 12 percent and word recall by 19 percent.

Draw out your neural connections

8 Genius Habits Your 80-Year-Old Brain Will Thank You for Doing Today
When you draw, paint, or sculpt, you have to make spatial calculations and focus attention on details, Dr. Kosik says. Engaging in these activities (even doodling has health benefits!) helps protect octogenarians from mild cognitive impairment, according to a 2015 Mayo Clinic study. Also, 60- and 70-year-old art-class participants boosted scores on psychological resilience tests; MRI images showed their synapses had formed new connections. Here are more science-backed reasons adults should use coloring books.

Outsmart Alzheimer's!

8 Genius Habits Your 80-Year-Old Brain Will Thank You for Doing Today
Protect your brain from dementia and stay sharp for life with the 75-plus tips in Outsmarting Alzheimer’s by Kenneth S. Kosik, MD. Learn more and buy the book here.

22 Words and Phrases You Had No Clue Originated in the Military

Bikini: Named after the site of atomic bomb testing

22 Words and Phrases You Had No Clue Originated in the MilitaryEmma Kapotes/Rd.com
In the summer of 1946, the United States tested its new atomic bomb on the Bikini atoll in the Marshall Islands. At the same time, French swimwear designer Louis Reard decided he needed an attention-grabbing name for his two-piece swimsuit invention. Reard likely chose the term “bikini” because he believed the style would be just as explosive as the bombs that were tested on the island of their namesake. These are common swimsuit mistakes you make, and how to fix them.

Deadline: A Civil War threat

22 Words and Phrases You Had No Clue Originated in the MilitaryEmma Kapotes/Rd.com
Now a synonym for “due date” or “time limit,” the word “deadline” was originally used much more literally. During the Civil War, prisoners at one camp were confined to a pen and surrounded by a “deadline”; so called because if a prisoner crossed it, he would be shot dead.

Run amok: From Malayasian warriors

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To “run amok” is to “go wild.” The phrase originated in the 18th and 19th centuries, when European explorers to Malaysia caught wind of a Javanese and Malay warrior class called the Amuco. This group of fighters believed those who lost a battle and survived would be punished with dishonor and death. Unsurprisingly, this belief led to maniacal and frenzied fighting tactics. For western onlookers, to act with disregard for consequences was to “run amok.”

Blockbuster: Named after a bomb

22 Words and Phrases You Had No Clue Originated in the MilitaryEmma Kapotes/Rd.com
During World War II, this modern-day term for a box-office hit had a more sobering definition: A bomb big enough to take out an entire city block.

Bitter end: Coined by John Smith

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This term first appeared in Captain John Smith’s 1627 publication, Seaman’s Grammar: “A Bitter is but the turne of a Cable about the Bits, and yeare it out by little and little. And the Bitters end is that part of the Cable doth stay within boord.” Basically, a bit is a post on the deck of a ship to which rope is wrapped around. When a rope is pulled out to the “bitter end,” it means there is no more rope left to be used.

Cup of Joe: The Navy's drink of choice

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When Josephus Daniels was appointed Secretary of the Navy in 1913, he abolished the idea of alcohol being served aboard ships. From that time on, coffee was the strongest drink available to sailors; over time, the drink became known as a “cup of Joe.” These are signs you’re drinking too much coffee.

Avant-garde: Troops that lead the pack

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With a literal French translation to “forefront,” this term refers to the small party of troops sent out ahead of the main body of troops in order to plot a course and develop a plan of action.

SOS: Began with Morse code

22 Words and Phrases You Had No Clue Originated in the MilitaryEmma Kapotes/Rd.com
While you might already know that SOS is a universal military distress signal, there are a few notable details surrounding it. First used by the Germans in 1905, this code isn’t actually an acronym. The letters were chosen for their striking Morse code transcription: dot-dot-dot-dash-dash-dash-dot-dot-dot. These are other common acronyms you’d never figure out.

Pea coat: Sailors' coats

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When sailors stood watch in the blistering cold, they often wore heavy coats made of pilot cloth, a course, twilled material. The fabric was sometimes referred to as p-cloth for short, and the coat that was made of it a p-coat; later, a pea coat. This classic coat is just one of many style secrets of women who always look put together.

Wallop: Comes from a huge defeat by a British admiral

22 Words and Phrases You Had No Clue Originated in the MilitaryEmma Kapotes/Rd.com
After the French burnt down the town of Brighton, England, in the 1500s, King Henry VIII sent Admiral John Wallop to retaliate. Wallop is said to have sailed his fleet to Normandy and burnt down 21 towns and villages along the coast. Ever since, a “wallop” has meant a good beating.

Taken aback: A ship in the wind

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When a ship gets caught in a sudden shift of wind, it is “taken aback.” The ordeal is particularly hazardous when the sails blow back against the masts, putting them in danger of breaking off.

Bite the bullet: How soldiers coped with pain

22 Words and Phrases You Had No Clue Originated in the MilitaryEmma Kapotes/Rd.com
To decide to begin an unpleasant yet unavoidable experience is to “bite the bullet.” But rest assured knowing your predicament is likely not as nasty as the soldiers’ with whom this phrase originated. Before anesthetics and painkillers were invented, wounded fighters would literally bite down on a bullet to cope with the pain of a surgical procedure. Why a bullet? The lead they’re made of is more malleable than stones and other battlefield finds, and therefore less likely to break the patient’s teeth.

With flying colors: A victorious Navy ship

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If a Navy ship returned to its home port after battle with its flags—or “colors”—flying, it indicated that the ship had been victorious. Now, the phrase means to do something well.

Scuttlebutt: Sailors' water-cooler talk

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Meaning to gossip, the word “scuttlebutt” is a sailor’s version of water-cooler talk. Aboard ships, a scuttlebutt is a drinking fountain used by the crew. The chatter that goes on around it led to the word’s modern definition.

Murphy’s Law: From a pessimistic captain

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“If there’s more than one way to do a job and one of those ways will result in disaster, then somebody will do it that way,” said Captain Edward A. Murphy to his assistant after testing a rocket sled at Edwards Air Force Base in 1948. The exchange led to the use of “Murphy’s Law”: If anything can go wrong, it will. On the other hand, this is what optimistic people do every day.

Hot shot: Heated cannonballs

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In modern usage, a “hot shot” is someone of great importance. One possible origin of the term could be the use of heated cannonballs—a hot shot—and the men who loaded them. The task would have required great skill and been an important role in battle. Another origin could be someone who shoots recklessly.

Chewing the fat: Vintage food for men at sea

22 Words and Phrases You Had No Clue Originated in the MilitaryEmma Kapotes/Rd.com
Before ships were equipped with refrigerators, salted beef—which was cheap and would keep well—was standard fare for men at sea. One piece of the jerky could often be chewed for hours. Now, the phrase means to have an informal chat with someone—something the sailors likely did whilst “chewing the fat.”

Feeling blue: When a ship lost an officer

22 Words and Phrases You Had No Clue Originated in the MilitaryEmma Kapotes/Rd.com
If a ship lost its captain or one of its officers during its voyage, it would fly blue flags and have a blue band painted along its hull while returning home. Now, the term means to feel sad.

Over the top: Bold in battle

22 Words and Phrases You Had No Clue Originated in the MilitaryEmma Kapotes/Rd.com
To be “over the top” is to act in an excessive or unnecessary manner. The term was originally much more literal. In battle, being over the top meant to launch an attack by climbing over the sandbag parapet in front of a trench. It soon became synonymous with any dangerous venture.

Loose cannon: Potential danger on a ship during a storm

22 Words and Phrases You Had No Clue Originated in the MilitaryEmma Kapotes/Rd.com
President Theodore Roosevelt was the first to use this term when he told a journalist he didn’t “want to be the old cannon loose on the deck in the storm.” His reference was spot on: Before ships were equipped with fixed-turret guns, cannons were mounted on wheels and rolled between gun ports. A “loose cannon” could break free in choppy waters, potentially harming sailors. Check out these surprising talents of U.S. presidents.

Devil to pay: Annoying chores at sea

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On a wooden ship, the “devil” was the longest seam on the ship’s hull, and caulking was done with a type of tar called “pay,” or pitch. No one wanted the dangerous and miserable job of caulking this seam. To have the “devil to pay” was an unpleasant task.

Know the ropes: Basic sailors' knowledge

22 Words and Phrases You Had No Clue Originated in the MilitaryEmma Kapotes/Rd.com
This phrase was originally written on sailors’ discharge papers to show they had only a basic understanding of the names and uses of the main ropes onboard. Now, the term is used to denote expertise.

Make Your Manicure Last a Week or Longer: 10 Tips You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner

Wipe with acetone-based remover before you polish

Make Your Manicure Last a Week or Longer: 10 Tips You’ll Wish You Knew SooneriStock/NemanjaMiscevic
One major trick to keeping a manicure intact is to strip the nail of as much oil prior to applying polish. Keep away from lotion or oil-based moisturizer just before polishing as well. Try these 14 tips for healthy nails.

Bring your own polish to the salon

Make Your Manicure Last a Week or Longer: 10 Tips You’ll Wish You Knew SooneriStock/hlphoto
“Taking your own polish is definitely a good idea, especially when going to a regular neighborhood salon,” says Mabelyn Martin, a nail artist at Paintbox Nail Studio in New York City. “Lots of those salons use thinner, which makes polish chip quicker.”

Wear gloves when doing the dishes

Make Your Manicure Last a Week or Longer: 10 Tips You’ll Wish You Knew SooneriStock/gilaxia
“Keeping your nails out of warm/hot water is also key in keeping a mani longer,” says Martin. Hot, sudsy water is a recipe for manicure disaster. This is what you nails can reveal about your health.

Use a base coat

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Head to the local drug store and buy a base coat. The base coat protects your nail and clings to polish, making it last longer than if you simply applied polish first.

Apply topcoat every two days—focusing on the tips

Make Your Manicure Last a Week or Longer: 10 Tips You’ll Wish You Knew SooneriStock/iprogressman
Apply an extra layer of topcoat every couple days to keep polish from chipping. Then apply an additional layer of topcoat to the very tips of your nails, where the most everyday manicure trauma occurs (think texting, scratching, cooking).

Softer nail shapes last longer

Make Your Manicure Last a Week or Longer: 10 Tips You’ll Wish You Knew SooneriStock/iprogressman
Consider a round to oval shape, according to the nail pros over at Essie. Nails with square edges chip a bit quicker than softer, curvier edges. Here’s what to eat for pretty nails.

Seal the nail edge with polish

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Close up the nail edge, where it’s been clipped or filed down, with polish and topcoat. This keeps water out and provides a barrier against everyday bangs and dings that would cause a manicure to chip.

Choose a neutral color

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If you know you need the manicure to last late into the week, consider a polish color that is close to your skin tone. This way, if it does chip, it’s less obvious than a really bright, eye-catching color. This is what your nail polish color reveals about your personality.

Apply cuticle oil throughout the week

Make Your Manicure Last a Week or Longer: 10 Tips You’ll Wish You Knew SooneriStock/iprogressman
Brittle nails chip quickly; cuticle oil will prevent the nail from drying out. These are other proven home remedies for dry hands and feet.

Get your chores done before the manicure

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Dinging your hands while you wash dishes or tidy up around the house is a quick way to chip a fresh manicure. Finish up your chores and then get or give yourself a manicure as a reward. When it’s done, flip through a magazine and relax to provide even more time to dry.

9 Little Diet Tricks to Eat Less Fat (Without Missing It)

Step away from the stovetop

9 Little Diet Tricks to Eat Less Fat (Without Missing It)iStock/M_a_y_a
Grilling and roasting don’t take extra oil or butter like pan-frying does. Throw meats and veggies on the grill or in the oven for all of the flavor but none of the extra fat. When reheating, a microwave oven is a good bet. Don’t miss these healthy food swaps that save money.

Pick the right cookware

9 Little Diet Tricks to Eat Less Fat (Without Missing It)iStock/Robert Ingelhart
If you do decide to cook on the stove, use a nonstick pan. With less chance of sticking, you can use little or no oil. Find out where to keep those pans by avoiding these kitchen organizing mistakes.

Sautee the right way

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To get back some of the flavor you’re missing on the stove without oil, try using another liquid. Cooking wine or vegetable stock will make your vegetables flavorful and tender. If oil is your only option, use nonstick vegetable oil spray instead of your regular pourable bottle. These are chef secrets for cooking with vinegar.

Find new veggie condiments

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If you wrinkle your nose at plain steamed vegetables, don’t assume butter is the only way to make them more appetizing. Squeeze on lime or lemon juice, or add a splash of seasoned rice vinegar. Here are cooking tricks to make veggies you hate taste way, way better.

Thicken soups without cream

9 Little Diet Tricks to Eat Less Fat (Without Missing It)iStock/Joe Gough
You can still get that creamy consistency without your go-to dairy add-in. Toss in instant mashed potato flakes or a cooked and mashed potato, then make it smooth with an immersion blender. Don’t worry, potatoes aren’t the starchy, empty calories you think—they’re just one of many “unhealthy” foods you should stop demonizing.

Tweak dessert recipes

9 Little Diet Tricks to Eat Less Fat (Without Missing It)iStock/Dean Mitchell
A lot of times, the butter and oil that cake recipes and other baked goods call for are fairly arbitrary, meaning you can reduce the amount without majorly changing the texture or taste. Try cutting the suggested amount of half—if it’s too thick, add a bit more liquid. You can also experiment with subbing in applesauce, canned pumpkin, or mashed banana for some of the fat.

Bake open-top pies

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Skip the top crust on pies (apple pie! peach pie! yummm) to immediately cut out butter or shortening. With a delicious fruit filling and a tasty bottom crust, you won’t miss that extra layer on the top. These are other healthy ingredient substitutions you never thought to try.

Choose homemade salad dressing

9 Little Diet Tricks to Eat Less Fat (Without Missing It)iStock/Dirk Rietschel
Even homemade salad dressings and vinaigrettes can be chock-full of oil. Sub out all or some of the oil for vegetable stock, bean cooking liquid, or seasoned rice vinegar. For a thicker consistency without mayonnaise or sour cream, heat a tablespoon of cornstarch and a cup of water over the stove, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick and clear.

Don’t go nuts

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Depending on the recipe, an overload of nuts could be adding a ton of extra calories to an already high-fat dish. To keep that crunch you crave, replace excess nuts with crisp diced vegetables, fruit chunks, or a low-fat cereal like Grape-Nuts. But don’t cut all your good fats quite yet—these are clear signs you need more healthy fats.

Big portions, big weight loss

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Dr. Barnard is a physician and founder of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit that advocates changing federal nutrition policies. His eating program aims to help you choose foods that will boost your metabolism and drop pounds. To learn more about it, check out his book Foods That Cause You to Lose Weight: The Negative Calorie Effect.

Don’t Get Sick or Robbed on Vacation! 22 Tips for a Better Hotel Stay

Stay between the third and sixth floors

Don’t Get Sick or Robbed on Vacation! 22 Tips for a Better Hotel StayiStock/DragonImages
Hotel thefts are most common on the first and second floor, so staying on a floor above those will reduce your chance of having belongings stolen. Another consideration: Most fire engine ladders can’t reach the seventh floor. Rest easier by requesting the third, fourth, fifth, or sixth floor. These other little mistakes make traveling unnecessarily stressful.

Skip the historic stays

Don’t Get Sick or Robbed on Vacation! 22 Tips for a Better Hotel StayiStock/Nikada
A Victorian B&B might be charming, personal, and romantic—but it also probably has allergens and dust hiding in the rooms and lounges. A clean, modern hotel is a better option if you’re worried about getting sick. These natural allergy remedies provide relief.

Opt for hotels over motels

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It’s easier to steal from a room when thieves don’t have to go through a lobby first. Plus, if your bedroom opens to the outside, you’re literally opening your door to dirt and allergens. This is why shouldn’t trust the hotel safe in your room.

Book an allergy-free room

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Some hotels offer rooms designed to reduce the amount of allergens like dust mites. Even those without allergies could benefit if you tend to catch colds and flus easily. If your hotel doesn’t offer a separate room, check if it stocks allergy packs with items like mattress covers, special pillows, and face masks.

Keep your room number secret

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Avoid physical attacks by making sure the person at the front desk doesn’t announce your room number out loud. Request that the employee write the number down instead. You should also test whether the hotel gives out room numbers. Use your cell phone to call the front desk, then pretend you’re a friend asking what room number they gave you. If they give it out freely, that’s a red flag. These are secrets hotel receptionists won’t tell you.

Check for bedbugs

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Even the best hotels can end up with bedbugs, especially with growing pesticide resistance. Avoid those itchy bumps by examining for the bugs before you unpack. Quickly pull away the comforter, and watch for brown bugs that are about the size of an apple seed scampering away. Take a close look at the pillows, mattress liners, and mattress seams for bugs or bloodstains. If you see anything questionable, ask for another room, and do another search there. Check out these expert tips for avoiding and getting rid of bed bugs.

Protect against bedbugs

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Even if you don’t see any signs of bedbugs, take a moment to protect your bed, just in case. Move the bed out from against the wall, and tuck in the blankets so they can’t touch the floor.

Double check for bedbugs at home

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When you get back from your trip, head to the laundry room to check your luggage for signs of bedbugs. If you see any signs, toss the clothes straight into the wash, and follow up in the dryer on high heat for at least 15 minutes. Items that can’t be washed can be put in the freezer for a couple of days. Those nasty bugs won’t be able to survive the extreme temperatures. These are other non-food ways to use your freezer.

Pack your own sheets

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Hotel sheets could be crawling with dust mites, allergens, and germs. Throw your own sheet over the bedspread so you’re not exposed to those irritants. Check out these bizarre travel items that will change your life.

Wear long sleeves

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Another easy way to avoid contact with the bedding is to pack pajamas with long sleeves and long pants. A pair of light socks will help even more. This is the fascinating reason you always sleep worse on vacation.

Use your bed only to sleep

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If you’re watching TV or working on your laptop, shift over to the desk or chair in your hotel room. It’s more hygienic, plus you’ll probably have an easier time falling asleep once bedtime rolls around.

Put up the “do not disturb” sign

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A sign with “please make up room” is basically an announcement to thieves that you’re not there. Hang the “do not disturb” one instead to fake it that you’re still around. Call housekeeping to let them know they should still make up your room while you’re out.

Use the main entrance

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Instead of using side doors when you return to your room at night, go through the main lobby. You might be farther from your room, but you’ll have the extra security of employees’ eyes on you and anyone who follows you in.

Don’t forget the fitness facilities

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If you’re staying longer than a few days, make sure your lodging has a workout room or pool. Now promise yourself you’ll take advantage so you can reduce the stiffness you get when traveling. Plus, you can indulge at the breakfast buffet or with wedding cake without stressing about added pounds. Here are more ways to lose weight on vacation.

Light a candle

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A fragrant candle will smell much more pleasing than that stale hotel room scent, giving you some stress-busting aromatherapy. Just blow it out before you leave the room or fall asleep so you don’t risk causing a fire.

Use a makeshift humidifier

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The air in hotel rooms can be notoriously dry. If your room has a kitchen area, fill the teakettle with water and heat it on the stove. Let the steam escape into the room until the water has almost all evaporated. These beauty tricks will keep your skin fresh when traveling.

Bring a pair of flip-flops

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Wear rubber flip-flops in the bathroom and on the carpet in your sleeping area. They’re especially important in the pool area, where you could end up with a nasty fungal infection. But don’t bother packing these space-wasting items on vacation.

Don’t rely on the hotel alarm

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Pack your own battery-powered alarm clock or use your phone to wake you up in the morning. You’ll rest better if you don’t have to worry about whether you set the hotel’s clock right. Read this to find out how to squeeze more in your luggage.

Avoid the hot tub

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There’s a chance that hot tub is a breeding ground for bacteria such as the one that causes folliculitis, an infection that creates itchy red bumps. Even the air can be disease-causing if bacteria in the water have contaminated it—some people have contracted pneumonia or bronchitis from it. Take a soak if you want, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Check who’s at your door

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Stranger danger! When you hear a knock, look through the peephole or ask who’s there before opening your door. If you didn’t order room service or the drop-in seems like an odd time, double check that the hotel sent someone by calling the front desk.

Pack a nostalgic photo

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If you’re on a business trip, you might end your days feeling lonely or stressed, and a long vacation could start to get exhausting. Anchor yourself by looking at a photo of someone you love to remind yourself of home. Here’s how to stay connected to your partner when you’re away from each other.

Bring back recess

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Spend just half your breakfast and lunchtime eating. When you’re done with your meal, take the rest of the time to stroll outside and enjoy your surroundings while you let your food digest. It’s a great habit not only for traveling, but also to continue during your lunch break at work. Here’s what else healthy people do on their lunch breaks.

The 12 Absolute Worst Things You Can Do to Your Hair

Washing your hair too often—or not enough

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Okay, you got the memo: Cleansing your hair more than you need to can strip away the natural oils that keep it healthy, thus making it more brittle and prone to breaking. And while the trend of washing less and less often is catching on, experts warn to tread lightly. “The pores on your scalp can become congested from excessive oil, which will attract even more dirt and debris,” says Lauren E. Hack, hair stylist and co-founder of LAUREN+VANESSA salon in New York City. Your best bet: Reduce the number of times you shampoo to three to four times a week. “In between shampoos, soak up oil with a light coat of dry shampoo on your roots and use a boar bristle brush to distribute hair oils from root to tip for extra natural shine and conditioning,” suggests Nick Penna, owner and lead stylist at SalonCapri in Boston. If dandruff is your problem, don’t miss these natural treatments.

Rinsing with steaming hot water

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That same damage caused by flat irons and hair dryers can also happen when you turn the temperature dial up too high in the shower. “Think if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to put in your hair—in fact, it can be incredibly damaging,” warns Jenna Mast, a New York-based hairstylist. “It’s fine to use hot—not steaming—water to rinse out your shampoo. This allows your hair cuticles to open up and ensures your strands are clean from the inside out.” But once you condition, rinse with cold water to seal the cuticle closed. This adds a healthy shine that will last until your next wash. Check out these home remedies for dry, damaged hair.

Not using a color-safe shampoo

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If you color your hair—even just a few times a year—using a color-safe shampoo is a must. “Without it, your color will fade very fast and your hair can become dry,” says Hack. Her favorite: Pureology Hydrate, ($20, amazon.com). “It gently cleanses without stripping color and provides the proper moisturization colored hair needs.” If you’re a blonde, be careful when it comes to the purple shampoos that promise to brighten your color. This shampoo is not intended to be used everyday or every time you wash your hair. “If you overuse purple shampoo, your hair may start to look dull and even begin to have a grey or purple tint—and not the pretty pastel kind either,” says Hack. “If you feel your hair is starting to look brassy, try Schwarzkopf Bonacure Color Save Silver Shampoo ($18, ulta.com)—it reduces unwanted warm tones and brings back that cool color you intended for.” These are 38 secrets your hair stylist won’t tell you.

Conditioning from your roots

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When applying conditioner, it’s best to start at the midshaft of your hair toward the ends. “The ends of the hair are the oldest, meaning they’ve been on your head the longest, contain the least amount of moisture, and are the most dead, so this is the area that needs the most conditioning, ” says Mast. Using the right amount is also key. “How much you need really depends on the length, thickness and texture of your hair, so be sure to ask your stylist the correct amount you should be using,” says Penna. Don’t miss these genius tips for taming frizzy hair.

Brushing just-out-of-the-shower wet hair

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Wet hair is not only heavier, but more elastic and delicate, so stretching it out with your brush will cause the strands to break. Instead, brush your hair before you hop in the shower—especially if you have product in it (hair spray, texturizer, sea salt spray, etc.). “Giving your hair a nice detangle before you get it wet is the key to avoiding detangling afterward,” says Mast. Once you’re out, use a brush created specifically for detangling gentle, wet hair, like the Wet Brush ($20, thewetbrush.com). “These are a lot gentler on the hair and specifically made to not break, pull or damage your hair whether it’s wet or dry.” This is what your hair is desperately trying to tell you about your health.

Rough-drying your hair with a bath towel

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Most people are used to taking a towel to their whole body—hair included—immediately after hopping out of the shower. But that’s a major no-no, says Mast. “It doesn’t matter how low-maintenance you are—don’t stretch and pull that wet, delicate hair!” Instead of aggressively tousling it, twist it up in a nice, not-too-tight towel-turban. This you can do upside down, rightside up—whichever way you’re comfortable with. The idea is to get the moisture out of your hair. These are nighttime habits that ruin your hair.

Putting wet hair in a pony tail

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Always let your hair dry a bit before stretching it into a tight pony or bun. If you can’t wait, Mast suggests using a little serum or leave-in treatment into your tresses—she loves Oribe Lightweight Moisturizing Cream ($49, oribe.com)—concentrating on the mid lengths and ends. “Then you can braid your hair into a loose braid and save your hair from over-stretching and snapping.” This is what your go-to hairstyle says about your personality.

Styling with the wrong kind of hair brush

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There are different types of brushes out there for all different types of hair textures. Choosing the right one for your particular hair type is the best thing you can do to keep your strands healthy. “Natural boar bristle brushes are best for curly and straight hair,” says Vincent Sideli, hairstylist at the Yves Durif salon in New York City. “The boar bristle is gentle on the hair, smooth cuticles, moisturize hair and create a beautiful, glossy finish.” Paddle brushes are especially great for those with straight hair of all lengths and ideal for day-to-day brushing. “The rubber cushion on the paddle brush is designed to bend with your scalp and minimize damage from pulling or breaking.” Next time you have a hair appointment, ask your stylist to prescribe you the perfect brush. Trust us, you’ll notice the difference!

Overdosing on dry shampoo

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There’s no denying that dry shampoo is one of the greatest beauty creations of all time. Just a few sprays greasy, oily unwashed hair instantly looks more voluminous, thick and grease-free. But piling on too much of the stuff can do more harm than good. “Oil and dirt build up naturally each day and need to be removed from the scalp and hair so your follicles remain clear and balanced,” says Sideli. Dry shampoos actually don’t remove any of these impurities—instead they clog hair follicles, which leads to hair loss and loss of growth of the hair.” Try limiting your use to once a week—twice max. “On days when you’re not using dry shampoo, but need a quick root fix, massage your scalp with your fingertips to loosen and break up any buildup,” suggests Mast. “Then, take a paddle brush—preferably a bristle brush and brush your scalp from roots to end while distributing your scalp’s natural oils through your strands.” This will give your hair a healthy shine without the oily residue on top of your head.

Coloring or highlighting too often

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Listen up shade-shifters: It might be fun to constantly switch up your look, but coloring your hair is a chemical process that can wreak havoc on your strands. “Take breaks between your color ‘relationships,’” says Kim Vō, BLONDME global ambassador and celebrity colorist. “If at-home temporary hair color isn’t enough of a shade shift, hair extensions can do the trick of transforming your tresses, adding dimension without the color commitment.” If you’re covering up gray strands, learn the sneaky reasons you might be going gray prematurely.

Skipping the heat-shield step before applying a hot tool

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Think of a heat shield like a sunblock. You’d never lay in the sun without putting sunblock on first, right? “Heat shields don’t only help protect your hair from the damage caused by heat, but they also help your hair look smooth and shiny,” says Hack. “I love Oribe Balm d’Or ($43, oribe.com) because it makes your hair easier to manage and gets rid of any flyaways.” If you’re using a heat protector, make sure it’s fully absorbed into your hair before applying the hot tool, says Mast. Here are other simple tricks to keep hair healthy when you use heat on it.

Cutting your own hair at home

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This is one to leave to the professionals. “A proper haircut requires a class in the principles of haircutting at the very least,” says Sheenon Olson, creative director of ATMA Beauty in Miami. “I’ve never seen this done successfully and would recommend people avoid it at all costs, otherwise even your stylist might not be able to fix it or achieve the style you were hoping for.” Also, frequent trims are essential if you want your hair to grow, says Hack. “The longer you go without cutting your hair, the higher the split ends grow, so if you want to grow your hair out, be sure to have your stylist give you a quick trim at least every three months.”