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    The Summer of You: 10 Ways To Upgrade Your Routine for Summer

    While we know summer self-care is important, self-care is not always as easy in the summer as it is in other seasons when everyone is cooped up indoors (and no one’s posting envy-worthy road trip pics). During warmer months, if you don’t live at a beach, crush intense workouts regularly, or go on dreamy vacations every weekend, it’s easy to feel like you’re missing out. I like to call it FOMOOAPS: Fear of Missing Out on a Perfect Summer (maybe a stretch?). But focusing on what you’re not doing is taking away from what you should be doing: caring for yourself. Screw the FOMO and instead, make this the summer you put yourself first. Here are 10 ways to upgrade your routine to make the most of the season.

    1. Switch up your workouts
    If you’re stuck in a rut because you take the same workout class every day, summer is your solution. Consider taking your HIIT circuits or yoga flow outdoors: Bring your mat and sun salutations to the park or go for a walk instead of running on the treadmill. Summer is also a great time to try a workout you’ve never done before: Go for a hike, try an outdoor class, ask a friend to join, or try a totally new type of workout. Bonus: Thanks to the longer days, warmer weather, and brighter sunlight, we often have the most energy in the summertime, so take advantage and up the intensity: Go for a high-energy dance class if you’re usually a relaxing-flow kind of girl or train for the marathon you’ve always wanted to run. Just don’t forget your SPF!

    2. Make your own summer vacations
    Ah, remember childhood (or High School Musical 2) when summer was synonymous with vacation? Summer break meant no school from June to August and weeks of pool trips and popsicles ahead of you. Even if we’re grown-ups now (womp, womp) and don’t get a summer break from work (but like, isn’t that a great idea?), you can still apply the same mentality. Summer serves as the perfect reminder that work should be a part of your life, not your entire life. Take advantage of your PTO, whether that means taking a long weekend for a road trip with friends or a mental health day here and there to sleep in, get outside, and enjoy your life. And if all else fails, turn every weekend into a mini vacation (or staycation) to make the most of the season (and your life). 

    3. “Summer clean” your house
    Why should spring cleaning have all the fun? Let me introduce you to summer cleaning (AKA turning your home into the warm-weather oasis you deserve). Since clutter in the home translates into clutter in the mind, having an organized, clean, and happy home will help you enjoy the warmer months and boost your mood (I mean, how happy does an organized closet make you?). Spend a day organizing your junk drawer, donating clothes you don’t wear, and optimizing the space in your kitchen. But “summer cleaning” doesn’t just have to be the tedious stuff: Update your decor for a happier season by trading darker home accents with more colorful accessories, add a colorful print or two to the wall, and make minor upgrades with of-the-moment trends to brighten up your home. Minor changes like fresh flowers in vases or citrus oil in a diffuser can also make all the difference. 

    4. Eat fresher foods 
    While you may crave hearty dishes and warm meals in wintertime, you’re more likely to crave fresher foods come summer. Healthy eating is easy when the weather is warm. Your body wants lighter foods, herbs are in season, and vegetables on the grill suddenly sound as good as pasta or pizza. Take advantage of grocery stores full of produce in their prime (think: juicy tomatoes, fresh strawberries, and sweet corn), base grocery lists and recipes around the many delicious fruits and vegetables that are in season, and snack on crispy bell peppers or delicious watermelon. Also, make an effort to add more water-rich foods to your diet for bonus hydration points, like watermelon, cucumber, zucchini, and tomatoes. 

    5. Update your skincare for the season
    Imagine this: It’s the middle of summer 2022. You’ve got an effortless glow that even the lifeguards envy, and the disturbing amount of sweat and SPF on your skin at all times doesn’t even break you out. If it sounds too good to be true, know that you can score a killer tan without the harmful rays of the sun (thank you, fake tanning products!), and just because you’re loading up on SPF or sweating more does not mean you have to suffer through acne. Your skin just needs different things in the summer than it does in the winter, so update your routine accordingly. Include exfoliating acids to slough off dead skin, use cooling tools to de-puff and calm inflammation, make sure you have proper sun-care, and, if you’re looking to fake tan, opt for a high-quality faux glow for the summer skin of your dreams.

    6. Take advantage of longer hours
    So you know that days are longer during the summer, but have you ever thought about changing your daily routine to make the most of those long days? Longer days mean more sunlight, and more sunlight means more energy (think about it: waking up at 7 a.m. when it’s already light out is way different from waking up to a dark, cold 7 a.m. that still feels like nighttime). Take full advantage of the extra energy by waking up early for a workout or even just adding 30 minutes to your morning routine for some extra “me” time. And when it comes to staying lighter later, bring your post-work routine outdoors, whether that means eating dinner on your balcony or going on a run instead of opting for the treadmill. 

    7. Go tech-free
    One of the best parts of summer is that there is so much to do that’s not watching TV or staring at your computer screen (winter, I love you, but you forced me into some major Netflix black holes). Commit to going tech-free for at least a couple of hours every week or even a small amount of time every day. Go on a hike, read a book, or spend time with friends sans Instagram posting. No matter how you choose to spend your tech-free time, put down your phone, close your laptop, and turn off the TV to enjoy the screen-free time. If you want more of a challenge, consider going on a social media break for an entire week or limiting social media to one half-hour block a day.

    8. Walk everywhere
    “Fitness” doesn’t have to mean intense, exhausting, hour-long workouts. Instead, it just means simply moving as much as possible and living less sedentarily. True self-care is not about pushing yourself to the limit or reaching exhaustion but rather about just doing more of what you know makes your body feel good. One of the best parts of summer is that walking everywhere is not only possible, but it’s also pleasant. Cue up your favorite summer playlist or a new podcast episode and vow to walk everywhere (at least) within a one-mile radius (bonus: it’s better for the planet). For farther destinations, get creative about your transportation. For example, walk to the farther train stop to get in some extra steps or try bike riding for a quicker method that’s still active. 

    9. Grow your own produce
    Even if you don’t think your thumb is green, the summer season is the ideal time to start growing herbs or vegetables (you can do it, I promise). Let’s talk about why: Growing produce is healthier for you, better for the Earth, and easier on your wallet, and it just feels empowering to be able to whip up a pesto with basil from a pot outside. If you have a yard and the space, start with basics like tomatoes and lettuce (easy-to-grow summer produce). If you’re in an apartment or don’t have space outdoors, grow fresh herbs on a windowsill or with a smart garden.
    10. Remember that social health is self-care
    Community care is not only one of the top wellness trends of the past couple years, but it’s also a crucial part of self-care that we often overlook. I’ve been there: the temptation to skip beach days with friends because you’re feeling insecure or getting stressed about dinner plans because every item on the menu will make you bloated. But having strong relationships (and enjoying them regularly) is not only something we want but also something we need. Instead, remember that laughing with friends is truly better for your health than a green juice, and happy memories affect you way longer than a salty margarita ever could. Yes, you can always take care of your body, but this summer, prioritize taking care of your relationships too.

    How to Change Your Beauty Routine for Summer
    According to our beauty editor More

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    I’ve Tried Everything Under the Sun—These 3 Products Actually Make That Time of the Month 10x Better

    Let me introduce you to the most toxic relationship in my life: the one between me and my period. I had my first period at 12 years old (also the longest relationship of my life), and one month later, I felt my first series of intense, painful cramps so bad that I stayed home from school. Over the next few years, they only got worse. My gynecologist prescribed me prescription painkillers and eventually birth control pills, but neither totally worked and it felt more like I was putting a Band-Aid on the problem by adding more to my body instead of healing my body at the root.
    During this long, toxic relationship, you can bet I tried every supplement, prescription, tea, patch, app, and period relief product under the sun (you name it—I promise I’ve tried it). But there are three MVP products that have stood the test of time (and bad PMS) and worked so well that I keep a regular stock to use every month to make my period so much more bearable. Read on for my must-haves for that time of the month and which to try based on your period symptoms.

    Relief Balm
    Best for: cramps or back pain
    I had to try this period hack for myself to believe it. It all started when The Everygirl team was talking about our universal obsession (AKA Equilibria CBD products), and some people mentioned they use the Relief Balm to ease period cramps. A cream for cramps? Yes, please! TBH, I didn’t think anything topical could make a difference in my intense, painful, long-lasting cramps, but the ingredients sounded alluring. With 500 mg of CBD, coconut oil, shea butter, lavender, and rosemary, the Relief Balm is aptly named for its promise to absorb into the skin for relief of achy joints, soreness, and—you guessed it—period cramps.
    I was an immediate convert after my first time trying. It’s hard to explain how your ovaries feel (I never thought I would type that sentence), but there was a calming, cooling sensation that eased my cramps for about an hour, thanks to fast-acting formula. Even when the cooling sensation went away, my cramps came back a lot less painful, so it seemed to genuinely soothe instead of temporarily mask the problem.

    Relief Balm
    Use code THEEVERYGIRL for 20% off your first order!

    Dynamic Roller Duo
    Best for: fatigue, insomnia, stress
    The genius CBD-infused rollers from Equilibria have been my go-to for everything from de-stressing before bed to energizing before a meeting or presentation (they come in both an energizing and calming formula). But my menstrual game changed as soon as I started adding them into my period symptom arsenal. When that mid-cycle fatigue hits (you know what I’m talking about), I use the Energizing Roller (with essential oils like peppermint, spearmint, and sweet orange in addition to CBD) to wake me up and help me feel inspired before a workout or meeting that my period very much does not want me to do.
    Likewise, the Calming Roller (with essential oils like lavender, rosewood, and chamomile flower infusion in addition to CBD) is my saving grace when I’m having trouble sleeping (anyone else get period insomnia?) or the PMS mood swings start kicking in. I love having a more natural, relaxing, good-for-you solution instead of another cup of caffeine or suffering through mood swings. Simply massage the roller onto your temples, wrists, or any other pulse points for instant and refreshing relief. 

    Daily Drops
    Best for: PMS-related stress and anxiety
    I’ve been adding the mint Daily Drops from Equilibria to my morning coffee for almost two years now (time flies when you’re de-stressing with CBD!) and I’ve noticed a huge difference in how I respond to stress throughout the day and how much better my focus is, but I’ve also noticed less tension and stress that often come with my period. These drops are different from the Rollers or Relief Balm because they’re intended for daily use to build up an increased sense of calm and balance in the face of day-to-day stress (instead of immediate relief), so I love that I’m actually providing lasting change in my body over time to help with the moodiness, stress, or occasional sadness and anxiety I feel around my cycle.
    Hot tip: Take the Daily Drops at the same time or after eating a healthy fat (like nut butter, avocados, etc.) for increased efficacy. I love this ritual because healthy fats are also really good for hormonal health, so I feel like I have a daily habit that helps my body heal in multiple ways and eases period symptoms, no matter what time of the month it is.

    Daily Drops
    Use code THEEVERYGIRL for 20% off your first order!

    How To Heal Your Period Problems Once and for All
    According to a holistic expert

    This post is sponsored by Equilibria, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board. More

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    How To Heal Your Period Problems Once and for All, According to This Viral Holistic Expert

    If I could wave a magic wand and give one gift to all women everywhere, it would be period relief (well, and equal pay, reproductive rights, and ending all sexual harassment to name a few big ones, but that’s another article for another day). Most people who have periods have dealt with issues that take over their lives: debilitating cramps, depressing mood swings, hormonal breakouts, nonexistent sex drive, uncomfortable bloat, or diagnoses like endometriosis or PCOS. According to the Office on Women’s Health, over 90% of women have premenstrual symptoms. Even worse, we’ve been told that it’s totally normal, we’re being dramatic, or to just shut up and take a “magic” pill that will put a Band-Aid on the problem. *Raise your hand if you’ve ever been personally victimized by your cycle.*
    Enter: Alisa Vitti. Vitti is a women’s hormone expert, bestselling author, and creator of an empire centered on helping women heal period symptoms and improve issues like fertility, sex drive, and more. In other words, she’s the hormone queen and your new best friend. She teaches the approach that while period symptoms are common, they are not normal—you can (and should!) heal your body so you’re not suffering every month. “You can take charge of your hormonal health and reduce symptoms naturally so they are not ruining your life anymore,” she said.
    For someone like me who stayed home from junior high and high school every month due to unbearable cramps, has been told for over a decade by health care professionals that I just had to “deal with it,” and has tried various prescriptions from every type of birth control to prescription pain killers that just made me disconnected from my body, finding Vitti’s work felt like divine intervention. To learn more about cycle syncing and healing your own period symptoms, read her bestselling book WomanCode, download the MyFlo app, watch her TED Talk, and read on for all the tips I got from Vitti when I grilled her about how to heal your period problems once and for all. 

    Meet the expert
    Alisa Vitti, HHC, AADP
    Hormone Expert and Founder of FLO Living
    Alisa Vitti is a functional nutritionist and womens hormone expert, the founder of modern hormone health care company FLO Living, bestselling author of WomanCode, and creator of MyFLO, the #1 paid period app on iTunes. She has made expert appearances on The Dr. Oz Show, Women’s Health, MindBodyGreen, and The Huffington Post.

    What causes period symptoms?
    So you already know that any cycle-related symptoms are not normal, even if they are common. But why do we experience bloat, cramps, and PMS in the first place? Vitti explained that all symptoms—including hormonal acne, breast tenderness, food cravings, mood swings, fatigue, irregular periods, low libido, PCOS, and infertility—are all signs of a hormonal imbalance, which is caused by diet and lifestyle factors. “Period symptoms are caused by diet choices, micronutrient deficiencies, eating bad fats, restricting calories, and/or doing the same workout every day,” Vitti said. In other words, we can look to our cycles for insight on what’s going on with our bodies.
    In fact, Vitti considers the menstrual cycle as the fifth vital sign. “It’s just as important as taking your temperature or blood pressure and just as serious when you have abnormal readings,” she said. Therefore, the point of paying attention to cycle-related symptoms is not just to feel better on your period but also because your cycle is communicating important information about the health of your body. I used to detest my period, but now I see my cycle as my greatest superpower: I get critical insight and information that can help me keep my body as healthy as possible when I know how to listen to it. Read on for how Vitti recommends healing your body (once and for all!) and improving cycle symptoms.

    5 ways to heal period symptoms:
    1. Get your hormones checked
    Of course, the first step is to know what you’re working with and gain insight. Vitti recommended asking your doctor for blood work to evaluate hormones, thyroid levels, and vitamin D3 levels, which can all give important insights into hormonal imbalances and can help guide a specific plan moving forward. For example, heavy periods, bloating, and decreased sex drive might be coming from estrogen dominance, or excess testosterone can cause hormonal acne and symptoms of PCOS. When you balance the hormones, you are solving the symptom at the root cause instead of trying to mask it. Start with knowing what needs to be balanced in the first place. 

    2. Pay attention to your sex drive
    If the menstrual cycle is your fifth vital sign, your sex drive is like your fifth vital sign 2.0. While there’s no “perfect” libido or ideal level of sex drive for everyone, feeling “in the mood” is an important tool we can look at to keep the body healthy. In other words, it’s time we stop thinking about sex as something we do for a relationship—it’s a crucial part of our wellness and overall physical health. Vitti explained that your sex drive is cyclical, meaning it varies based on which phase of the cycle you’re in; it’s normal to go through weeks where your sex drive is high and weeks where your sex drive is low. But if you’re experiencing low libido most of the time, it’s probably a hormonal imbalance due to stress, micronutrient depletion, or being on birth control. 

    3. Sync your lifestyle to your cycle
    For women with a period, your hormones may be imbalanced simply because your diet, exercise, and lifestyle are not in sync with your natural infradian rhythm (AKA most of us—there’s a widespread cultural norm that we are supposed to repeat the same rituals every 24 hours, like the same workday schedule or the same workout). But good news: This means you can also balance your hormones by syncing to your cycle.
    “Your infradian rhythm, which we experience over our monthly cycle, causes changes in our metabolism, brain, stress, and other systems. If you are not supporting it properly, you’ll be disrupting your period, and it will also increase stress levels, disrupt blood sugar, and make weight management extremely difficult,” Vitti explained. The Cycle Syncing Method acknowledges that the body is not the same through every four phases of our menstrual cycle; we have different caloric, nutrient, and fitness needs, depending on which phase we’re in. 
    For example, if you’re trying to force your body into an extreme HIIT workout while in the menstrual or luteal phase, the body may respond with hormonal imbalance because it needs gentle movement like light yoga, walks, and stretching. Likewise, if you’re not getting enough calories because the body needs more than in the previous phase (according to Vitti, we need approximately 279 more calories per day in the luteal phase), the body can respond with hormonal imbalance as well. As for more of what the body needs differently during each phase, check out the Cycle Syncing Method. As for a key takeaway, start rethinking your workout routine, diet, and even daily schedule. We should be syncing our routines to our bodies, not the other way around.

    4. Work on gut health
    Your gut health is intrinsically linked to the reproductive system. As Vitti explained, bowel movements are how the body gets rid of the estrogen it doesn’t need to keep the hormones of the body balanced. If you’re not having consistent bowel movements or you have certain microbiome imbalances that are affecting gut health, the body may have a difficult time getting rid of excess estrogen, causing an estrogen dominance and hormonal imbalance in the body. “Microbiome imbalances can lead to excess estrogen that can make heavy bleeding and other symptoms worse,” Vitti explained. Consistently work on gut health by getting enough high-fiber foods (fruits, veggies, legumes, etc.), taking a probiotic or eating probiotic-rich foods, and talking to your doctor if you have gut-related symptoms like chronic constipation, IBS, or chronic bloat.

    5. Talk to your doctor about your birth control plan
    Only you know what’s best for your body, but picking the birth control that’s right for you can be confusing, isolating, and frustrating. If you’re like me and wondering how to sync your cycle while you’re on a method that gives you an artificial or non-existent period (like the pill), bad news: You can’t. “You cannot sync with your cycle if you are on a birth control pill, as it shuts off your ability to have a cycle,” Vitti explained.
    If you’re on the pill to manage cramps, irregularity, or acne, just know it’s like putting a Band-Aid over the problem and might even be preventing you from fixing the problem since it’s stopping your natural cycle. “Birth control does not fix your period problems, so it’s important to learn about all of your options before committing to a course of treatment,” Vitti recommended. Between NuvaRing, shots, IUDs, the patch, and pills, the method that’s best for you is extremely personal—what’s right for your best friend, or even your gynecologist, may not be right for you. Talk to your doctor about a birth control plan and symptom-management plan that fit with your lifestyle, health goals, and reproductive planning.

    How Hormone Health Affects Your Weight, and What To Do About It More

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    11 Expert-Backed Tips To Improve Constipation and Be More Regular

    Stool, bowel movements, poop—it’s the topic that has made us all giggle since our parents first read us Everybody Poops. But it’s true: everybody does, and no matter how much the topic might make you squirm, our bowel movements can give a lot of insight into our bodies. “Your digestive system is responsible for influencing total body health,” explained Heather Hanks, MS, a nutritionist with Instapot Life. “It encompasses most of your immune system, produces neurotransmitters that influence brain health, and houses your microbiome. Regularity is a sign of a properly functioning digestive system.” And if the eyes are the window to the soul, poops are the window to your digestive system. 
    Now that you know why you should be regular, let’s talk about how to be more regular. If you’re not going at least once every 24 hours consistently, you could probably use a little bowel movement makeover (yeah, same). I asked nutritionists, doctors, and gut health experts how we can all get a little bit more regular. Here are 11 things to try for healthier bowel movements and better digestion: 

    1. Drink more water
    Drinking good ol’ H2O is basically a cliché at this point. Hydration seems to be the cure-all for any health woe or wellness boost, so it’s no surprise that it’s also crucial for keeping bowels moving. “When we’re dehydrated, our bodies will pull hydration from the colon to support the body’s processes,” explained Erica Zellner, a certified nutrition specialist and health coach at Parsley Health. “This makes stool harder and more difficult to pass.” In other words, think of water as your body’s flushing system. Without enough water, the digestive system can’t move as efficiently, and stool is harder to pass (AKA that dreaded constipation). Zellner recommended aiming for half of your body weight in ounces per day to make sure you’re drinking enough. 
    2. Eat your fruits and veggies
    “Eat your veggies” is not just the annoying reminder your mom used to repeat at each meal; it’s also the secret to a healthy digestive system and regular stools. “Eating whole foods that contain natural sources of fiber such as fresh fruits and vegetables is key to staying regular and supporting digestive health,” Hanks suggested. Fiber (which is also found in whole grains, legumes, and other plant foods besides fruits and vegetables) is a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest, so it passes through the intestine and helps push waste out of the body. If protein is the key nutrient for healthy muscles, fiber is the key nutrient for a healthy gut. Try high-fiber produce like pears, avocados, berries, artichokes, Brussels sprouts, and chickpeas.
    In addition to fiber, fruits and veggies are powerful foods for the digestive system because they contain many other beneficial ingredients as well. “In addition to being high in fiber, fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants and a high water content that reduce inflammation, flush toxins, and promote digestive health,” Hank said. 

    4. Take (or eat) probiotics
    Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, LD, swears probiotics are the secret to better regularity and overall gut health, and since they’re literally good bacteria for the gut, it makes perfect sense that they affect bowel movements. “By incorporating probiotics into your daily routine, your gut will be happier,” she said. “Consuming products rich in probiotics can support the recolonization of friendly bacteria and may limit the growth of other bacteria in your large intestine.” The gut needs to be in tip-top shape to have healthy bowel movements, and having a good amount of good bacteria in the gut is key to keeping it healthy. Talk to your doctor about taking a probiotic supplement or try foods that naturally have probiotics like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and fermented veggies.

    5. Manage stress
    Now that you know there’s a relationship between the nervous system and regular bowel movements, it’s probably no surprise that stress can be a major factor in any constipation. “When you’re highly stressed, your body will not feel safe enough to have a bowel movement,” Zellner explained. While it may sound silly to think of how safe the body feels when trying to poop, it makes a lot of sense biologically. If we were being chased by a tiger, the digestive system would slow down so that we wouldn’t have to go to the bathroom (or a bush?) while running. These days, the threat of tigers is relatively low, and stress looks more like work deadlines and busy to-do lists, but the body doesn’t know the difference.
    To get curious about how stress is affecting your digestive system, start noticing if your regularity changes, i.e. if you’re more regular on weekends and less on weekdays, or if you go less often during busier times. “Meditation and quality downtime are important to keep the body in the rest-and-digest mode instead of stress mode,” agreed Dr. Alicia Armitstead, BS, DC, of Healing Arts NYC.

    6. Try magnesium citrate
    If you have chronic constipation or consistently struggle with irregular bowel movements, your doctor might recommend taking magnesium citrate. Dr. Alexandra Trevisan, a functional medicine physician and chiropractor based in Los Angeles, recommended a daily magnesium citrate supplement for ongoing constipation. “It works to relax the nervous system and bowels to get things moving,” she explained. “You can only go to the bathroom in a relaxed state (we call this a parasympathetic state), which magnesium citrate helps to facilitate.” As with any supplement or dietary change, talk to your doctor to find out if magnesium citrate would be beneficial for you and what dose is best for your body.

    7. Create a routine
    If your schedule looks different every day, meals are all over the place, and your bedtime or wake-up time is inconsistent, your digestive system might be confused. The truth is that to have regularity with our bowel movements, we need to have regularity in our lives. “Wake up, go to bed, and eat at the same time every day—including the weekend,” suggested Varsha Khatri, MA, SYT, MCMA, FNTP, a nutritionist and gut health specialist. “Having a consistent routine establishes healthier circadian rhythms, which will help to establish a regular time to have a daily bowel movement.” 
    Besides just regular sleeping and eating schedules, you should also have a poop schedule to ensure that your regularity is, well, regular. Zellner suggested finding the same time daily to set aside for a relaxed bowel movement. For example, take some time in the mornings to sit on the toilet and take some deep breaths (even if you don’t feel the need to) so your body starts to understand that it has the time to go.

    8. Incorporate healthy fats
    If you haven’t gotten the gist by now, what you eat is crucial to how regular you are. Unfortunately, it’s not a coincidence if you get a little backed up on vacations while eating unlimited pasta, alcohol, and desserts (guilty). Besides a high-fiber diet with fruits and vegetables, eating enough healthy fats can also help increase regularity. As Laura Zea, MS, explained, healthy fats help your large intestine’s motility. “If you are feeling constipated, a diet too low in fats may be responsible,” she said. Eat healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds with every meal to avoid getting backed up and help promote regular bowel movements. 

    9. Switch to room-temperature water 
    So we’ve already covered that the amount of water you drink is crucial for regularity, but the temperature of the water you drink can also make a difference. “One of the best ways to stay regular is switching to room temperature or hot water instead of ice water,” said Dr. Ellie Heintze, ND, LAc, a naturopathic doctor and licensed acupuncturist. “Ice water can be like a shock to the system and might slow digestion, while the body uses warm or room-temp water more efficiently.” The most important tip is that your body is staying hydrated, so if ice water feels refreshing and room temperature water just isn’t satisfying, drink whatever water feels best for you. But if you enjoy warm lemon water or don’t mind drinking room-temp, try experimenting to see if it makes any difference for your body.

    10. Move your body
    Turns out, digestion is not just about what you put in your body but also about the way you move your body. “Exercise helps constipation by lowering the time it takes food to move through the large intestine,” explained Jennifer Robinson, MD, to WebMD. “This limits the amount of water your body absorbs from the stool.” In other words, bowel movements are more likely to be passed easily when exercising consistently. They will also move through the body more quickly. “A sedentary lifestyle can cause digestion disruption,” agreed Lauren Twigge, MCN, RDN, LD. “An easy way to support healthy digestion (and stay regular) is by staying active.” Remember this: A sedentary life means sedentary stool. 

    11. Don’t forget to breathe
    Yes, your bowel movements might even be affected by the way you breathe. Of course, our bodies know to consistently breathe without having to think about it (thank you, body!). But most of the time, mindless breathing is shallow and doesn’t get into the deep belly breathing that helps relieve tension. “Deep breathing helps relax the body and increase blood flow, making it easier to have a bowel movement,” Zellner advised. This is why diaphragmatic breathing is often prescribed to GI patients, and the 4-7-8 technique has been suggested to help ease constipation. Deep breathing is another way to give your digestive system a little extra love and relieve any stress (even if it’s subconscious stress or tension) that might be contributing to constipation. 

    The Sneaky Thing That Might Be Affecting Your Weight Loss Goals
    And what to do about it More

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    The Sneaky Thing That Might Be Affecting Your Weight Loss Goals and What To Do About It

    We’ve been taught for years that there’s a clear formula for weight: eat less calories and burn more calories. But we now know that scientifically, this basic formula just isn’t true because it’s missing key pieces of the puzzle like hormone health. The body is a living, breathing, digesting organism. The way it works, holds onto weight, and loses weight is much more complex than a system of measurement created in a lab (i.e. calories). So if you’ve been going off of the diet-and-exercise formula with no success, let me introduce you to one of the most critical factors of weight: hormones. 
    “A significant amount of research has suggested a tremendous link between hormones and either weight gain or difficulty losing weight,” explained Dr. Mahmud Kara, MD, a longtime doctor at The Cleveland Clinic and founder of KaraMD. Yes, you can eat a clean diet and burn calories on the treadmill or stationary bike regularly and still not see results. Why? Nutrition and exercise are just the tip of the iceberg—there arer a lot of bodily functions underneath the surface that are telling the body to keep on weight, lose weight, or gain weight. “When it comes to hormones and your weight, there is a big connection,” agreed Cory Ruth, RDN, women’s health expert and the CEO of The Women’s Dietitian. “Elevated levels of various types of hormones can dampen weight loss efforts as well as cause the body to hold onto and store more weight.”
    The purpose of this article is not to make you believe that weight loss should always be a goal (it shouldn’t) or that you need to obsess over your hormones or else you’ll gain weight (you won’t). Instead, this article is meant to show you that trouble losing weight has absolutely nothing to do with your willpower, laziness, or worth. Also, that weight gain is not your body’s way of sabotaging you; it’s a sign that there’s something bigger out of whack (i.e. hormones) that you can fix to be your healthiest. It’s OK to have weight loss as a goal (as long as it isn’t sacrificing your self-love and comes from a place of health, not self-worth), but it isn’t an end goal. Instead, weight struggles are a check engine light from the body that something else needs some attention. Here’s how to know if that “something” is hormones and what to do about it. 

    In this article

    How can hormones affect weight?
    If you have imbalanced blood sugar…
    When we think of hormones, we typically think of estrogen and testosterone or maybe you think of happy hormones like serotonin, but we often forget that insulin is also a hormone, and it’s a crucial hormone when it comes to weight. According to Alisa Vitti, a women’s hormone expert and the founder and CEO of FLO Living, imbalanced blood sugar can disrupt your insulin levels, which interferes with weight management. How does blood sugar become unbalanced? Most commonly, the cause is diet. “When we eat a higher-carb diet and don’t add in enough protein, fiber, and healthy fat, our blood sugars increase,” Ruth explained. “This causes insulin levels to spike, which signals sugars be converted into fat.”
    It’s important to note that carbohydrates are not the enemy (carbs are crucial for energy!)—a diet too low in carbohydrates (especially complex carbohydrates) can cause prolonged periods of blood sugar imbalance too. Instead, it’s about the balance of macronutrients. Make sure you’re getting in complex carbohydrates that are high in fiber like vegetables, lentils, beans, and grains like brown rice or quinoa, in addition to clean protein sources. The combination of protein and fiber will keep blood sugar stable and help with insulin levels.

    If you’re chronically stressed…
    Bad news for the overworked, overstressed, and overanxious people out there (AKA all of us?): Chronic stress (through hormones) is a major factor of weight. “The stress hormone cortisol blocks progesterone production and lowers progesterone levels,” Vitti explained. “Your body uses progesterone to make cortisol to respond to stress, and the more stress you experience, the more progesterone your body will ‘steal’ to make cortisol. This can make you have more unopposed estrogen and make weight more stubborn.” In other words, elevated cortisol for long periods of time is literally causing a hormonal imbalance that tells the body to keep on or gain weight. “When cortisol is elevated, it can make the body want to hold onto weight and not let it go—especially in the abdomen,” Ruth agreed.
    As if the hormonal imbalance isn’t enough, Vitti explained that chronic stress can also deplete the body of the important nutrients it needs to stay healthy (and stay at a healthy weight). “Excess cortisol from stress depletes the body of essential vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients. B vitamins, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids are especially susceptible to stress. Stress causes you to lose the micronutrients you need to have a healthy metabolism.”

    If you have an estrogen dominance…
    Estrogen and progesterone are known as the “female hormones” and the body should release a balanced amount of the two. Estrogen dominance happens when there is increased estrogen levels relative to progesterone levels, and it’s more common than you may think. Vitti said that estrogen dominance can not only worsen PMS or menstrual issues but can also block your ability to shed pounds. “With women, weight is often related to the estrogen/progesterone ratio,” Dr. Kara agreed. “If this is out of balance, it can lead to weight issues as well as other health problems. Abnormal levels of estrogen, which often occurs when taking birth control or with certain conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), can lead to weight gain.” 

    If you have excess testosterone…
    On the flip side, another sex hormone can affect weight too. Testosterone is known as the “male hormone” (because it plays a key role in the development of male reproductive tissues such as testes and prostate), but all genders have a balance of testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone levels. If there’s an excess of testosterone, it can cause weight management issues just like estrogen. “In women, excess testosterone (which is very common in conditions like PCOS) can cause insulin resistance,” Ruth explained. “This leads to weight gain and can slow, or even halt, weight loss efforts.” Bottom line: Hormonal health and balance of the sex hormones is crucial for all functions of the body, including healthy weight.

    If you’re over 30 years old…
    PSA: Your hormones don’t just change when you’re going through puberty. Your hormones are consistently changing, and women go through significant hormonal changes in their 30s and throughout the few decades after. “Women start to lose muscle mass in their 30s (unless actively trying to maintain through adequate dietary protein and exercise),” explained Dr. Adrienne Youdim, MD, FACP, an internist who specializes in weight loss and owns her own weight management practice in Beverly Hills.
    “This process is accelerated in perimenopause (which can precede menopause by up to 10 years) and after menopause as well. The change in resting metabolic rate can result in weight gain. What’s more, the drop in estrogen that occurs during menopause results in a relative increase in testosterone, directing body fat to the mid-section,” she continued. As if the “anti-aging” pressure for women wasn’t bad enough, we’re actively expected to be “young and thin” as we age, while our bodies are literally meant to do otherwise. Cruel gender norms aside, weight gain is a common symptom of changing hormones as we age. 

    If you have thyroid issues…
    Now to get super science-y: The thyroid is one of your endocrine glands that makes hormones, so instead of just a hormonal imbalance or excess, an under or overactive thyroid is dealing with the creation of hormones at the root. The thyroid can—you guessed it—also affect weight.  “The thyroid hormones help control the speed of our metabolism, so low levels of thyroid hormones (or an inactive thyroid) can cause weight gain,” Ruth said. “The thyroid regulates the metabolism of every cell in the body, and thyroid issues can result in inexplicable weight gain (especially weight gain around the middle),” agreed Dr. Carrie Lam, MD, FAAMFM, ABAARM, a physician specializing in anti-aging medicine.

    If you have gut issues…
    So you already know that the health of your gut can affect bowel movements, bloating, and even mood, and it can also affect weight on its own—multiple recent studies have proven a direct correlation between weight gain (or loss) and the gut microbiome. But if you don’t have a totally healthy gut, there’s a good chance your hormones are out of whack, meaning the gut can affect weight in more than one way. “A healthy gut is critically important for any woman who wants to balance hormones and maintain a healthy weight,” Vitti explained. “That’s because the gut flora (specifically a colony of bacteria called the estrobolome) help process and eliminate excess estrogen from the body.” If you’re not making bowel movements consistently or have other signs of poor gut health, odds are, you’re not eliminating estrogen properly and therefore might be dealing with estrogen dominance.

    How do you know if you have a hormonal imbalance?
    Hormonal imbalances can be difficult to diagnose since symptoms can vary, but if anything feels “off,” whether it’s your sleep, cravings, energy, or sex drive, it might be worth looking into. “Hormones impact everything in the body, including (but not limited to) metabolism, sleep, sex drive, blood sugar, and more,” Dr. Kara explained. Talk to your doctor about thyroid levels, diet, stress, testosterone/progesterone/estrogen balance, and how gut issues might be affecting your hormonal health. The #1 way to know the health of your hormones is to get them tested (more on that below). 
    For women with a period, your cycle can offer a lot of insight into the health of the sex hormones. Vitti views any and all PMS or cycle issues (breakouts, cramps, bloating, etc.) as a potential hormonal imbalance because while period symptoms are extremely common, they are not normal. Looking at the pattern of weight gain can provide insights too. Vitti suggested that if weight seems to fluctuate with your cycle (meaning it changes through the month), it’s worth looking into balancing your hormones. Dr. Alexis May Kimble, a urogynecologist and medical director of The Kimble Center, agreed that if you’ve noticed weight gain while staying consistent with caloric intake and activity levels, a hormonal imbalance is likely to blame. 

    Tips to help heal your hormones
    Talk to your doctor and get testing
    Of course, you can speculate about what’s going on in your body all day long, but you can’t know for sure without answers. Talk to your doctor if you suspect a hormonal imbalance or if you’re wondering about your hormonal health and its role in your weight. “Test, don’t guess!” Ruth suggested. “Always start with testing to know if you have imbalanced hormone levels. You can ask your doctor for a full hormone panel as well as fasting insulin/glucose and A1C to get a good look at the current state of your hormones and blood sugar.”
    “If there is an excess or deficiency of certain hormones, checking levels is necessary in order to suppress or replete them to regain balance,” Dr. Kimble agreed. 
    Try cycle syncing and change your exercise routine
    For women with a period, it’s extremely crucial for hormonal health to adapt your lifestyle, diet, and exercise to your cycle, otherwise known as cycle syncing. Let the experts explain: “Your infradian rhythm affects your metabolism, so if you are not supporting it properly, you’ll be disrupting your period, but it will also increase stress levels, disrupt blood sugar, and make weight management extremely difficult,” Vitti explained. In other words, modify caloric intake and workout intensity (as well as other lifestyle factors) based on your cycle phases—you should not be eating, moving, or doing the same things every day.
    We talk more about cycle syncing the diet below, but when it comes to movement, you already know that exercise can help with weight management. However, if it’s done incorrectly (AKA high-intensity workouts during the wrong time of the month or forcing yourself to do the same workout every day), it can disrupt your hormones and lead to weight gain. For more information, check out Vitti’s book In The Flo or download the MyFlo App to track and sync your own cycle. 

    Adapt your diet
    When it comes to nutrition, Vitti explained that the body needs more calories during the second half of your cycle (approximately 279 more calories per day in the luteal phase). Not getting enough calories and nutrients during this time especially can cause hormonal imbalances and hormonal-related symptoms (which kind of puts an end to the myth that eating less and burning more calories is always good for weight loss, huh?). 
    Ruth also said that your diet should be adapted based on which hormones are imbalanced (according to lab results). For example, eat more protein and fiber if you’re dealing with imbalanced insulin levels, drink two to three cups of spearmint tea a day and follow a blood-sugar friendly diet if you have a testosterone dominance, and include plenty of seeds, fish, vegetables, and fruit if you’re dealing with thyroid imbalances. 

    Prioritize stress relief, first and foremost
    After writing for and coaching women for years, my humble opinion is that non-diet-related weight struggles most often have to do with chronic stress. Whether you want to lose weight or not, you need a go-to stress relief plan and should prioritize it before anything else—including work, time with family, going to the gym, or even eating healthy. That means make time for daily meditation, go to therapy frequently, have a nighttime routine that calms you down, get enough sleep, fit in activities that bring you joy, and get rid of habits that don’t. This also means that stress about weight gain is worse than weight gain itself, so while it’s OK to want to lose weight, simultaneously work on self-love and stress relief so they’re not contingent on the pant size your body fits into. 

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    10 Changes To Make to Your Wellness Routine in Your 30s

    So you probably already have a set wellness routine in place: you know to eat your veggies, fit in exercise, meditate to reduce stress, drink a lot of water, and schedule an annual checkup with your doctor. While all of these things are crucial no matter your age, the body needs different things during different periods of your life. Just like when you were changing from a child to a teen and then a teen to an adult, your body is always changing, and your wellness routine should too.
    “As women enter their 30s, they may start to notice changes to their body, whether it’s slower metabolism, looser skin, longer healing times, less energy, etc.,” explained Dr. Cindy Tsai, MD, a board-certified internal medicine physician, mindfulness teacher, and life coach. “It’s more important than ever to stick to a good self-care routine and to listen to your body so that you can stay well.” Maybe your body can’t function off of two hours of sleep like it used to in your early 20s or drinking a few glasses of wine is enough to give you a headache the next day (a far cry from slapping the bag in college).
    And while these changes may make you feel “old,” it’s a good thing—just like you are getting wiser and more confident as you grow up, you are also getting more connected to your body. The body is telling you (more like demanding) what it needs to be healthy, and that’s something that should be celebrated. If you’re not sure what adjustments your wellness routine needs as you enter your third decade, I asked doctors, OB-GYNs, nutritionists, and experts what changes women should make to their wellness routine when they hit their 30s. To quote Jenna Rink, these 10 changes will help you be 30, flirty, and thriving. 

    1. Switch up your gut health routine
    You already know that the health of your gut is important, but as the body changes with age, so does the gut. What kept your gut healthy as a child, teenager, or through your 20s might not do the trick in your 30s. You might even notice new gut issues arise that you haven’t experienced before. Why? “As we age, the gut microbiome changes and we become more susceptible to issues arising,” explained Alicia Galvin, RD, the resident dietitian for Sovereign Laboratories who is known as the functional GI dietitian. If you don’t have a gut health routine (probiotics and prebiotics, etc.), talk to your doctor about how to care for your gut microbiome and bring up any new symptoms. Galvin also recommended women in their 30s add certain supplements like liposomal bovine colostrum, but talk to your doc about what gut health routine is right for you. 

    2. Make eating well your top priority
    So eating healthier is nothing new, but the start of a new decade might be a good time to reevaluate whether your diet is serving you or not and prioritize eating well above late-night junk food binges or boozy brunches (well, most of the time). “If you have been following a ‘student diet’ through your 20s, your 30s is the time to make health your top priority,” suggested Milda Zolubaite, a disordered eating specialist at Nutrition Path. She recommended getting more knowledgable about antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and plant-based fiber (which is especially beneficial for gut health!). “Gradually build up to 30 different kinds of fruits and vegetables a day and aim for organic to reduce toxic load of the body,” she said.
    While Zolubaite advised that your 30s is the perfect time to lay healthy eating foundations for the rest of your life, balance is always key—a few indulgences here and there won’t make a difference. Instead, what matters is that you know how to fuel your body properly, have go-to healthy meals that you can cook for yourself, and maybe ditch or reduce foods that don’t make you feel good.

    3. Focus on anti-aging and skin protection
    If you’re still using the Clean & Clear wash you used to use in middle school, we need to talk. Just like your body, your skin changes by the day, month, and decade. In your 30s, you want to focus your products more on anti-aging and protection instead of acne treatment like you might have in your teens and 20s. Mila Davis, an esthetician at Skin to Smile, explained that cellular turnover slows down significantly as we age. In your 30s, cellular turnover usually occurs every 28 to 35 days, which might accumulate more dead skin cells and cause dullness. The skin also starts to lose collagen and elastin, causing fine lines, wrinkles, and under-eye circles. Davis recommended using an exfoliator one to two times a month and asking your dermatologist about retinol to increase collagen formation.
    Lastly, sun protection is crucial at any age, but hyperpigmentation due to sun exposure becomes more common in your 30s due to the slower cellular turnover. “Although it is important to invest in a good sunscreen even before your 30s, it becomes essential during this decade of life to avoid excess sun exposure that can lead to excess collagen breakdown and accelerated aging,” Davis recommended.

    4. Spend time alone
    So maybe you don’t have the effortless lack of responsibility or ability to pull all-nighters like you did in your 20s, but every decade of your life is only getting better. At this point, you probably are more self-assured and confident than you have ever been and care less about fitting in or being liked (thank God!). While fostering the relationships that make you happy is an important part of wellness, so is spending time alone to foster the most important relationship in your life. “As you get into your 30s, you are more comfortable with who you are—make sure you spend time alone to honor yourself and your needs,” Dr. Tsai recommended. 
    “No matter your relationship status, it’s important to take yourself on dates,” agreed Ani Mirasol, MS, LCSW, CGP, a licensed clinical social worker and certified group psychotherapist. “Spending time alone increases self-love, self-trust, and self-compassion.” During this decade, alone time is probably harder to make time for as you likely have more responsibilities at work and at home, whether it’s with a significant other, kids, roommates, or pets. But it’s also when you probably need alone time the most. Take yourself out for lunch, plan a solo trip, or even just spend an afternoon doing your favorite things. 

    5. Switch up your oral routine
    You get it by now: The body is constantly changing, and every part of it needs different things at different life points and milestones. While it’s not as trendy as gut health or as visible as skincare, your oral health likely needs a change too. And since most of us haven’t updated our routine since we were kids who learned how to brush and floss, it’s not surprising. “Dental care is always focused on maintenance and prevention, and that is still true for women in their 30s,” explained Dr. Marina Gonchar, DMD, owner of Skin to Smile. Besides more frequent dentist visits and the usual brushing and flossing recommendations, Dr. Gonchar recommended women in their 30s consider a mouth guard at night. “The third decade of life can be stressful, and life stressors often lead to grinding and clenching of the teeth that results in broken fillings, chipped teeth, and pain in the jaws and face.”
    Lastly, if you are planning to become pregnant, your oral health might need some extra attention. “One of the main changes that I see women experience in their 30s is pregnancy,” Dr. Gonchar said. “Pregnant women are encouraged to see the dentist for a prophylaxis every three months instead of every six months to prevent pregnancy gingivitis and ensure proper oral health for the mother during fetal development.” Bottom line: Since every part of the body needs different things through different phases of life, talk to all of your doctors, dentists, and specialists about any adjustments you should make based on age, life circumstances, etc. 

    6. Eat breakfast
    I see you: You made it through all-nighters and 8 a.m. classes in college on double espressos, and as you started your busy career, you hit snooze until the last second possible and didn’t have time to prepare a balanced breakfast. Or maybe you lived off of McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches on the go through your 20s or never quite broke the habit of sugary cereal since you were a kid. But as you get into your 30s, it’s time to prioritize getting nourishment in the morning instead of depending on a cup of coffee to get you to lunch.
    “Having coffee for breakfast becomes a norm in our 20s, which can lead to a habit in our 30s, but it’s one of the most important habits that women in their 30s should kick,” warned Paulina Lee, MS, RD, LD, a functional dietitian and founder of Savvy Stummy. “Caffeine might curb cravings in the moment, but you’ll be left with an empty stomach and low fuel to use until your next meal. As a result, you might overeat or choose more unhealthy food choices later in the day.” Of course, properly fueling your body is important at any age, but if breakfast has historically been your last priority, use the decade change to make the time, budget, and energy to provide your body with the nutrients it needs.

    7. Review your fertility and/or birth control plan
    Right now, you and all your friends are likely in totally different phases: Some of you might have three kids or are trying to become pregnant, while others are hoping they don’t or a baby is the last thing on their mind. But getting into your 30s offers you the chance to review either your fertility or a birth control plan if you need one so that you can prepare for your future or reevaluate what is best for your body.
    “One of the most common questions I get from women who enter their 30s is, ‘Will I be able to have children when I’m ready?’,” said Dr. Renita White, MD, a board-certified OB-GYN based in Atlanta. “Even if you are not ready to have children yet, consider a preconception appointment with your OB-GYN to discuss ways to prepare for pregnancy, egg-freezing if you plan on delaying fertility plans, or even an evaluation to see if you are at higher risk for infertility.” In other words? Knowledge is power, no matter what your needs, preferences, and lifestyle look like. 
    “If you are trying to conceive or want to be pregnant someday, living fertility-friendly should be top of mind in your 30s,” agreed Mary Jane Minkin, MD, an OB-GYN and clinical professor at Yale University. “Luckily, making healthier lifestyle habits in general can positively impact fertility.” And if you know pregnancy is not in your future, reevaluate your form of birth control or managing period symptoms with your gynecologist if you haven’t reevaluated since your teens or early 20s like most women. Your hormones have changed a lot over the past 10 to 15 years, and so have our options.

    8. Sleep more and focus on brain health
    Of the doctors, nutritionists, and experts I talked to, many of them mentioned that they pay more attention to sleep hygiene and brain health with women in their 30s. “These are aspects of health that we don’t really think about in our 20s,” explained Danielle McAvoy, MSPH, RD, a registered dietitian with Strong Home Gym. “Once in their 30s, many women become more aware of memory and brain function and may find it harder to sleep through the night.”
    McAvoy recommended focusing on your intake of antioxidants (like blueberries and blackberries) and omega-3 fatty acids (like in salmon, walnuts, and flaxseeds), which both help reduce inflammation and maintain the structure of our brains as we age. As for sleep, if you find that you’re dealing with insomnia more than when you were in your 20s, talk to your doctor about lifestyle changes to help you sleep through the night, like reducing screen time before bed or waking up at the same time every day.

    9. Get annual bloodwork
    So you already know that getting an annual checkup and regular mammograms, pap smears, etc. are important (and #adulting), but getting annual bloodwork is also crucial to know what’s going on in your body. “Having regular insight on what’s going on inside your body is a key way to keep an eye on preventing health diseases,” Dr. Lee explained. “Be sure you ask your doctor to run labs to check in on your sex hormones (estrogen and  progresterone) and thryoid health. As we age, our metabolism may begin to slow down, which could be impacted by our thyroid health, especially if you’ve either been gaining weight or have trouble losing it.” Here’s your reminder that the body is constantly changing, so if you haven’t gotten regular bloodwork panel since you were in your 20s, it’s probably time to start making it more of a routine. After all, the best thing you can do for your health is to be informed.

    10. Add strength training to your exercise routine
    We love our marathon runners and cardio queens, but if your go-to routine consists of only jogging, dancing, or biking, now is an important time to add some weight training into your routine to help your body retain muscle as you get old. “Women reach peak bone mass before the age of 30, which means that after 30, you begin to lose bone mass (which is a predisposing factor for osteoporosis),” suggested Dr. Brittany Robles, an OB-GYN physician and a NASM certified personal trainer. “Resistance training can help mitigate those effects.” Cardio and weight training both have their benefits, so keep up with the routine that feels best for you. But adding in one or two days of weight lifting or getting some at-home dumbbells for movements in between cardio sessions is important for keeping your bones healthy and reducing risk for injury, especially as we age. 

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    Every Question You Could Possibly Have About CBD, Answered

    CBD is like the popular girl in high school: No one can stop talking about it, everyone seems to universally agree that it’s great, but you still have some questions (like what makes it so popular in the first place?). Over the span of a few years, CBD went from a controversial new ingredient on the market to a wellness must-have that almost every member of our team swears by for a variety of reasons. By now, you’ve probably seen the super-ingredient in anything and everything from food to skincare to wellness products. But what really is CBD, what are the benefits, and why, oh why, is every person raving about the once-controversial ingredient?
    Because there’s still so much confusion surrounding the benefits of CBD and uncertainty about whether it is right for you or if it’s just another passing wellness fad, we went to the experts for answers. Beyond our team’s own FAQ surrounding our beloved CBD, we polled you, dear readers, in hopes that we can provide some much-needed clarification by offering answers from a CBD education expert. We talked to Autumn Mehl, the senior manager of Member Education and a CBD Dosage Specialist at our go-to source Equilibria, to find out how to shop for CBD, the real difference between CBD and marijuana, how to know if it’s right for you, and more FAQs. You asked, and we answered: Read on for clarification from an expert for the most frequently asked questions about the sometimes-confusing wellness ingredient. 

    Meet the expert
    Autumn Mehl
    Senior Manager of Member Education at Equilibria and CBD Dosage Specialist
    Autumn has worked at Equilibria for nearly three years as a CBD Dosage Specialist and cannabis educator and is now a Senior Manager of the Member Education Team. She comes by her green roots quite honestly, as her family owns and operates a medical cannabis business in Oklahoma. She’s learned about the business from the ground up and has a particular focus and passion for educating beginners about incorporating CBD and cannabis into their lives.

    What is CBD and how does it work?
    CBD is short for cannabidiol. It is one of over 150 naturally occurring compounds (AKA “cannabinoids”) found in the Cannabis sativa plant. The Cannabis sativa plant is bred and grown in two different ways: either as “industrial hemp” with less than 0.3% THC content (which makes it a completely federally legal agricultural crop in the U.S.) or for “THC-dominant cannabis or weed” that’s bred and grown to contain more than 0.3% and up to 30% THC content. 
    THC is the psychoactive part of cannabis, and a product tends to need about 10% THC content or more to cause intoxicating, “high” effects. Hemp that has lower, federally legal limits of THC has historically been grown for industrial use, such as rope and other materials. The Cannabis sativa plant can also be bred to have higher, more therapeutic amounts of CBD while maintaining the lower, federally legal limit of THC, which is where Equilibria comes into play!

    How do I know if a CBD brand is legit or certified? What makes a reputable brand? 
    CBD products are made from hemp plants, so just like many other products on the market, it’s important to investigate how the source material was treated to determine its overall quality.  
    At Equilibria, we are partnered with an incredible farm just outside Boulder, Colorado that follows rigorous measures to offer our members pure, organic, full-spectrum CBD extract without any surprises. We hand harvest the flower portion of the plant and test its quality throughout the entire process.
    A reputable CBD company will always publish its testing Certificate of Analysis, or its COA. The best COAs test for both potency and purity, meaning they test to determine the percentage of beneficial, therapeutic cannabinoids in the product as well as the purity of the plant, ensuring it is free of harmful levels of pesticides, toxins, metals, or other harmful chemicals.

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    How do I know if it is a quality product before purchasing?
    Quality CBD products will always have a COA testing for both purity and potency. Companies should be transparent about their testing results as well as their farming practices.
    Additionally, full-spectrum CBD contains federally legal, trace amounts of THC (less than 0.3%) and can help induce the entourage effect. The entourage effect happens when THC and CBD are combined to create a synergistic effect, thus the product becomes more potent and powerful!
    Oftentimes, you’ll see smaller dosages with full-spectrum CBD bottles as opposed to other forms such as isolate CBD. Isolate CBD product is exactly that—it contains only CBD and  no key additional cannabinoids to induce the entourage effect, so it takes higher doses to achieve noticeable effects. Because Equilibria has a powerful, full-spectrum product with a variety of cannabinoids to induce the entourage effect, members often see benefits with smaller doses, typically starting between 20 mg to 30 mg of CBD each day.

    Source: Equilibria

    What is the difference between CBD and marijuana?
    When talking about cannabis products, “marijuana” typically refers to THC-containing cannabis at higher levels beyond what is federally legal. Medical dispensaries will offer a variety of medical-grade products with higher levels of THC. Some products include tinctures, gummies, chocolates, topicals, and even the actual flower, or “weed,” itself. 
    A CBD product must have a smaller, federally legal limit of less than 0.3% THC to be sold nationwide. Remember, CBD and THC are both molecules that come from the same type of plant and are both present in each plant, but the percentages differ based on how it was bred. 

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    What is the difference between CBD and hemp oil?
    While oil can be extracted from hemp seeds, this oil—commonly referred to as “hemp seed oil”—is not the same as CBD. It generally contains no CBD at all. CBD oil is extracted from the hemp flower using a different process from extracting hemp seed oil and, in Equilibria’s case, using only the flowers of the hemp plant for the purest CBD possible. The therapeutic compounds that provide benefit are within the flower, which is why it’s important that your product is a CBD oil, not a hemp seed oil.

    Can CBD impact a drug test?
    Everyone’s body chemistry is different, so drug testing is kind of a gray area; we don’t know for sure how your body will metabolize our products. However, it is possible to test positive on a drug test with daily and consistent use of full-spectrum CBD. 
    Think of it like consuming alcohol. If a beer is 5% ABV/Alcohol By Volume (like how our products contain 0.3% THC or less), the amount you consume determines your BAC/Blood Alcohol Level (or in this case, THC level in the bloodstream). So the more you ingest at a time, the more likely it will be detected on a test.
    If you’re worried, I’d recommend grabbing an over-the-counter THC test at your local pharmacy to find out for sure. When possible, we also recommend asking for a blood test rather than a urine test if you have the opportunity, as blood tests tend to be more accurate than urine tests. All of our products are federally legal, so you can also supply your employer with our lab results if they have further questions.

    Does CBD get you high?
    Since all of our Equilibria products are made with full-spectrum CBD, they do contain small trace amounts of THC—but always less than 0.3%, which means they are federally legal! We find the average dosage among our members overall is around 20 mg to 50 mg of full-spectrum CBD per day, which is not considered enough to elicit psychotropic effects (or in other words, won’t get you high!).
    However, if you have a history of being sensitive to THC at very low doses, we always recommend starting slowly and easing into a routine with one of our Regular Strength products that offer dynamic dosing options (Daily Drops or Daily Gummies). This way, we can start low and slow, only increasing when needed. You can always add doses, but you can’t take them away! 
    Remember, the main advantage of including trace amounts of THC is that it will help induce the entourage effect, making your product more powerful and potent.
    Due to each individual’s unique body chemistry, full-spectrum CBD may affect everyone a bit differently. With that being said, any time you plan to try a new product, a new dosage routine change, an increase to your dosage, or any other modifications to a personalized routine, we strongly advise trialing any changes on a day when you can be at home and closely observe how you feel. This will help you better understand how your body is responding and avoid any surprises as you adjust.

    Source: Equilibria

    Where should a beginner start with CBD?
    Before starting your CBD routine, it’s always a great idea to reflect and journal about the benefits you’d like to experience with your CBD routine, like “I’d like to finally get a full night’s sleep without waking up” or “I’d like to feel less stressed and more productive at work.” Being clear about why you’re using CBD will help you determine the best products and the best time of day to take your doses. 
    For example, if you need help sleeping through the night, a slow-release option like a softgel or gummy might be a good option, and taking those closer to bedtime can help support you through the night. If you need help feeling focused and less stressed at work, our fast-acting Daily Drops, which offer flexible, dynamic dosing options, can be useful for small, calming daytime doses and even extra, episodic doses if your workday goes awry! 

    Daily Softgels
    Use code THEEVERYGIRL for 20% off your first order!

    Our members typically find positive benefits by starting a CBD routine with about 20 mg to 30 mg each day.
    If you’ve been trying CBD for about a week and aren’t seeing the results you want, that’s OK! We typically recommend trying your CBD products for around seven days, then meeting with your Dosage Specialist to talk about your experience so far and make any changes. We like to see positive benefits in the first one to three weeks and often see the best results after three months of consistent use.
    The full effects of CBD may only remain in your system for four to 12 hours, so it’sx important to be thoughtful and consistent with your CBD intake. The goal is to maximize the strength and effectiveness of the body’s endocannabinoid system. Consider your health goals to determine the best time of day to take your CBD—you may find it’s best to dose at night before bed and again in the morning during breakfast.

    Roller Duo
    Use code THEEVERYGIRL for 20% off your first order!

    How do I figure out what CBD dose is right for me?
    To get started on your CBD journey, we recommend taking our Get Started Quiz. This quiz will recommend products to address your specific health needs. Once you purchase, you’ll also have access to a personalized routine page that’s designed just for you!   
    Your ideal CBD dose has a lot to do with the amount of stress and cortisol you’ve experienced in your lifetime. Chronic issues like discomfort, stress, or sleep problems over several years can cause our body to deplete its own endocannabinoids, our body’s regulatory molecules. So folks who are under a lot of daily stress or dealing with chronic issues may benefit from a larger CBD dose. 
    When asking yourself, “how much CBD should I take?,” remember to start low and go slow. This means starting with a low dosage of CBD and slowly working up to increase the dosage over time. The best results with CBD come with time, so it’s best not to rush into things. Think of your daily CBD dose as a marathon, not a sprint!
    Most Equilibria members start with a CBD daily dose of 20 mg to 30 mg. This gives us a good starting point to gauge the effects in your body. Here at Equilibria, we want to empower our members to listen to their bodies and tune into the impact they’re experiencing.
    CBD has what’s known as a biphasic response, meaning that if you take too little or too much CBD, your CBD likely won’t provide the effects you’re looking for. Therefore, it’s best to try to find your “sweet spot” dosage, which is the dosage where you’re seeing the benefits you’re looking for without tipping over into feeling groggy or drowsy. Some of our long-term members take anywhere from 20 mg to 50 mg of CBD each day.

    Source: Equilibria

    Do you feel a difference right away?
    CBD does take time to build up in your system, so whether or not you start out with the right routine, this is not wasted time! We love seeing positive benefits in the first one to three weeks but often see the best results after two to three months. 
    Some people may feel the effects of their first few doses more strongly than others. This is typical, especially of those who have never tried a CBD product before. Once the body adjusts and “understands” CBD better, your experience will evolve! Connect with a Dosage Specialist to help you adjust your dosage and routine. 

    Relief Balm
    Use code THEEVERYGIRL for 20% off!

    If I am taking CBD and not noticing a difference, what should I do?
    If you’re taking between 20 mg to 30 mg of Equilibria CBD each day for more than fourr weeks and have not noted any benefits, it may be time to adjust your routine’s dosage and/or timing. Members with more severe, long-term health goals may need more time to see the benefits of CBD. 
    For example, if you’ve been dealing with sleep issues for over 10 years, it will likely take more than 4 weeks to improve with a plant-based product. Give it time to build up! And amplify your results by connecting with a Dosage Specialist to help steer you in the right direction. We are here to help! 

    Source: Equilibria

    Is it possible to use too much CBD?
    Although the World Health Organization (WHO) published a safety report stating that you cannot overdose on CBD, more CBD is not always better! CBD has a biphasic effect, which means that too little or too much could be ineffective. To find your “sweet spot” dose, we always recommend going low and slow with your doses and journaling to record your reaction to your doses.
    Typically, our members start with an average of 20 mg to 30 mg of CBD per day to gently ease into a routine. Overall, our members with more established routines take between 20 mg and 50 mg on average. However, if you notice any of the following signs, you may want to consider decreasing your dose:

    A sustained increase in drowsiness or sedation during the daytime hours that doesn’t taper off after the first five to seven days of starting your routine
    An increase in intensity and/or frequency of headaches that does not lessen after the first five to seven days of starting your routine, even after increasing your daily water intake
    GI upset that does not lessen after the first five to seven days of starting your routine, even after pairing your CBD dose with food and increasing your daily water intake
    Noticing that CBD seems to elicit the opposite effect of what you were hoping to accomplish (e.g. instead of helping you wind down for sleep, you notice that CBD energizes you)

    Can CBD cause long-term health effects?
    Because CBD was made federally legal in 2018, there are not enough long-term studies on CBD and side effects to fully address this. CBD influences the endocannabinoid system, a biological system that works to help our bodies achieve balance. As the body rebalances itself and adjusts to CBD, some members experience side effects at the beginning of their routines, which usually fade with time. 
    The presence or absence of side effects may depend on many variables such as your body chemistry, environmental considerations, health conditions, and any medications you might be taking. Therefore, it’s essential to talk to your health care provider before incorporating CBD into your routine to understand if CBD is a good fit for you.
    Common side effects include drowsiness, nausea, headaches, dry eyes, or dry throat.If you’re noticing some of these effects as you start your CBD routine, you’re not alone! Some of our members tell us that they see some side effects when they first begin their CBD routines and find that the effects typically go away on their own after a few weeks. Cannabis in general can be dehydrating, so when starting a CBD routine, it’s important to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

    Can CBD make you sleepy during the day?
    Drowsiness during the daytime, or anytime when you are normally alert, is an indication that the CBD dosage you’re taking might be more than needed. If you ever find yourself more relaxed in the daytime than intended, consider decreasing your dosage by half and reaching out to your Dosage Specialist for additional support! 

    Can pregnant women use CBD?
    We work with a number of women who are interested in trying CBD while trying to conceive, during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding. At this time, there is simply not enough research in this area on pregnant and breastfeeding people for us to have a strong stance in one way or the other. Ultimately, whether or not you use CBD during this time comes down to a discussion between you and your health care provider in order to make a safe and informed decision before introducing something new, like CBD, into your daily routine. If you decide to take CBD during this time, we are here for you! Otherwise, you can always adjust your subscription to allow for this time.

    This post is sponsored by Equilibria, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board. More

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    6 Changes an OB/GYN Wants You To Make RN

    We’re flooded with health tips on a regular basis (“Don’t eat this!”, “Buy this supplement!”, “Work out more!”), and figuring out how to keep our bodies healthy can feel overwhelming. Between influencers, specialists, and bestselling books, it’s difficult to know who to listen to and what advice to take. At The Everygirl, our mission is to make wellness less overwhelming (because taking care of your body should be easier and feel more natural than asking for a raise or cultivating a killer wardrobe). As the resident wellness editor, I’m on a mission to bring you only the top experts (who know their stuff) and advice that will actually help improve your well-being instead of causing you stress, anxiety, or guilt. 
    While you might know that eating veggies and moving the body are crucial daily habits, so is tending to your sexual health—and most of us aren’t paying enough attention to it. So I asked a leading women’s health expert and gynecologist the most basic tips that everyone with a vagina can adapt today to become a bit healthier by tomorrow. Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, MD, OB/GYN, is basically your neighborhood gynecologist who also happens to be a leading professor at Yale University and has been honored by The Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame for her significant contributions to the care and well-being of women (NBD). Here are six easy changes she recommends everyone can make for better health. 

    Meet the expert
    Mary Jane Minkin, MD, OB/GYN
    Gynecologist and Clinical Professor at Yale University

    1. Relying on “Dr. Google”
    PSA: Call your doctor with questions and concerns instead of typing it into Google. Besides the common WebMD anxiety (Googling a small headache or minor pain can spiral into major health anxiety), Dr. Minkin also warned that there’s a lot of false information that can be damaging. “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet,” she advised. “Googling your questions can be helpful at times, but it’s always a good idea to check with your health care provider instead.” In other words, feel free to search for things like how to naturally improve energy if you’re feeling a slump (eating an apple, getting outside, or moving the body can’t hurt!), but for making conclusions about your health and symptoms? Leave that job for a professional, not a search engine.
    2. Waiting for a reason to see your gyno
    Abnormal symptoms, family planning, painful periods, and switching birth control methods are all great reasons to visit your gyno, but they’re not the only reasons. In fact, you should make regular visits to your doc even when you don’t have a reason at all. “Wanting to be healthy is the only reason you need to see your OB/GYN,” Minkin encouraged. “It is absolutely necessary to schedule routine appointments to monitor your health as you age.” The general rule of thumb is an annual gynecological checkup, but talk to your doctor about what frequency makes sense for your body, symptoms, and lifestyle.
    Minkin also advised that it’s most important to feel comfortable with your provider. While you still need appointments with a gynecologist to receive the recommended pap smears, exams, etc., regular checkups with a knowledgeable physician’s associate, nurse practitioner, or midwife is fine, as long as you feel safe, heard, and comfortable with them.

    3. Using scented soaps, washes, tampons, etc. “down there”
    While vanilla-scented wash or tampons with a “fresh” floral scent might sound alluring, they’re probably not good for you. For one reason, vaginas are not supposed to smell like vanilla or florals—they’re supposed to smell like vaginas (and that’s OK!). If you notice an abnormal scent coming from your period, discharge, or the general “down there” area, Minkin recommended talking to your doctor to rule out infections and evaluating what hygiene products you’re using. “A lot of products (especially scented) throw off the vagina’s pH balance,” she warned. “To balance yeast and bacteria in the vagina, swap the fancy soaps for a non-toxic, unscented, and pH-balancing external wash. A healthy vagina is an acidic vagina!” PS: That goes for toys, condoms, and anything else that might come in contact with your vagina. Unscented is best.

    And start…
    4. Tracking your cycle
    If you don’t have a go-to app or old school calendar method to keep track of your cycle, you need to (even if you don’t think there’s a “reason” to know when you’re getting your period). “It’s important to keep track of your menstrual cycle to know your timing of ovulation, whether or not you are trying to conceive,” Minkin said. “When you are familiar with your cycle, you’re better equipped to recognize when something might be wrong or irregular.” Knowledge is power, and that goes for your fertility cycle too. Use an app like MyFlo to record symptoms like migraines, PMS, cramps, and acne, or simply mark on your calendar the first and last day of bleeding so you can look for any irregularities. And if you don’t get a regular period, tracking any symptoms can help you identify patterns and possible causes. 
    5. Examining your breasts regularly
    Putting on a face mask and dry brushing might be regular acts of self-care you know and love, but I’d like to suggest a new self-care practice to add to your routine: examining your breasts. Whether it’s before bed, any time you’re in the shower, or once a week, turn feeling yo’self into a regular habit so you know what your breasts feel like and can detect any changes or abnormalities early on (for how to perform a breast exam, click here).
    “Although OB/GYNs aren’t supposed to officially recommend breast exams, we do promote ‘breast self-awareness,’ so make sure you know what your breasts feel like and report any changes you notice to your health care provider,” Minkin said. The point is not to worry about every lump, bump, or tenderness but rather to know your breasts so well that you know when you feel something abnormal. Knowing your body is the most powerful tool for our health we have access to, so start practicing self-awareness with regular breast exams. 
    6. Taking safe sex seriously
    I don’t know who needs to hear this, but your use of protection should not be determined by your possibility to get pregnant. Whether you’re on oral birth control, have an IUD, are with someone of the same sex, or cannot get pregnant for whatever reason, you should still use protection when having sex with a new partner or multiple partners (you can never be too safe). If you’re unsure, ask your doctor about what safe sex method is best for you and when a form of protection is necessary. Also, Minkin recommended regularly getting tested for STIs (at least annually if you’re using protection, but the best practice is to both get tested before any new partner). Minkin’s slogan? “There is a Trojan for everything.” Always have some form of protection on hand, just in case. 

    5 Things You’re Doing to Your Vagina That You Shouldn’t Be More