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Is Weight-Loss Hurting Your Relationship?

Weight loss is tricky business, especially when you're in a relationship. After all, many people fall in love because they share common interests, such as watching the same sitcoms every Thursday night, going out for rich Italian food or playing video games together. However, what happens when one person in the relationship swaps his or her Thursday night TV-watching for group cycling? Or decides that ordering roasted chicken and steamed veggies is a better option than creamy fettuccine alfredo? Or that the Wii Fit is actually more fun than Super Mario Brothers? I smell relationship trouble a-brewin'. Losing weight and adapting to a healthy lifestyle requires a lot of change—change that your partner may not be ready for. In fact, according to some recent SparkPeople polls, 34 percent of respondents said that their spouse, partner or significant other sabotages their weight-loss efforts more than anyone else in their lives, and 43 percent said they their significant other negatively influences their eating habits. On the flip side, 24 percent say that they would be bothered if their partner gained weight, and 55 percent said they might be bothered, depending on how much weight he or she gained. Overall, it's easy to see that weight can play a heavy role in your relationship If you feel like your relationship may be under strain because of your weight-loss efforts, there are some general warning signs to look for. Typically, these types of actions are rooted in something larger than the direct issues, so it's important to understand them fully to know where your partner's or your feelings are coming from. In general, the "why" of a behavior comes from deep-seated emotion of which you or your partner may not even be aware. For just that reason, we've added an "emotional why" section to each warning sign exploring the emotion that might be behind these behaviors. Because we know how important support is to reaching your goals, we've included some action tips on how to improve whatever situation you may be facing. This way, you can find a way to maintain your healthy lifestyle without sacrificing the health of your relationship. 5 Signs Weight Loss is Hurting Your Relationship (and What to Do about It) 1. Your partner makes negative statements about you changing. SparkPeople member SULYLE admits that weight loss has affected her marriage. At 5 feet 6 inches, she's 13 pounds from her goal weight of 140 pounds (that's a BMI of 22.6, considered a "healthy" range for her height). Still, she says that she gets comments from her husband and his family that she's "skinny" and needs to stop losing weight. She's from the Dominican Republic, where curvier women are considered beautiful, but she doesn't feel attractive at her current size. SULYLE's story isn't that unusual. Your significant other may make other negative comments about your own weight loss or changing body because it signals change. And change is scary for your other half. The emotional why: Fear is behind this type of behavior. SULYLE's partner is afraid of losing her and life as he knows it. While she may be ready to change, he may be afraid and reluctant to take the first step, and he may be insecure that she will leave him, so he comments negatively about her changing body in hopes that things will go back to the way they once were. What to do: Create new rituals together so that your loved one is involved with your new lifestyle. You don't have to give up Friday date night. Try dinner at a restaurant with healthier options, or when you go to the movies, order a smaller size of popcorn (no butter) and a diet soda. See if he or she will walk around the block with you (take the kids if you have them) to catch up after dinner. Be sure to include your partner in as many ways as you can, and reassure them that you love them for who they are. If the behavior becomes overwhelmingly negative, do not be afraid to talk to your partner about how those comments make you feel. After all, a relationship is a two-way street and open communication helps prevent a head-on collision. 2. Your partner makes you feel guilty. Does your partner make you feel guilty about the success you've had with weight loss? Does he or she complain that you're not around as much or give you the guilt trip when you skip cuddle time or dessert to hit the gym? Whether your partner makes you feel guilty on purpose, or you just feel guilty for taking time for yourself, it's not a good feeling to have, and it can be detrimental to a relationship if it goes on too long. SparkPeople member THREADIE-LISA had a similar issue with her fiancé when it came to her gym membership. She says that he would grumble to his friends about how much time she spent at the gym or "jokingly" say that she spent more time with the elliptical than with him. The emotional why: Nostalgia. Your partner loves you and wants to spend time with you. He or she may miss what used to be rituals in your household and relationship. These comments may also reflect some of the fear of change mentioned above. What to do: Compromise. THREADIE-LISA ended up quitting the gym for financial reasons but has kept up with her exercise by using workout videos at home. "We are both happier, and I am more fit and less stressed for time. So, in the end his complaining helped!" she says. Don't be afraid to compromise when you can! However, remember that you deserve to be healthy and happy. If your loved one is putting a guilt trip on you, encourage him or her to join you. Couples workouts allow you to spend time together and exercise at the same time. And if it's just you feeling bad, then remind yourself that being fit is what you worked for and you deserve to feel good about your accomplishments. 3. Your partner tries to sabotage you. Sabotaging behavior can run the gamut, from your partner picking up your "favorite" fast-food burger on the way home (even though she knows you're trying to cut back) to begging you to sleep in when you have a date with that Spinning bike at 6 a.m. One very common example is having a partner who brings junk food into the house and then eats it in front of you, especially if the junk food is your favorite and one you have trouble avoiding. The emotional why: Jealousy and fear. Although it may not seem like it, your partner may actually be very jealous of your progress and is sabotaging your efforts to keep you exactly as you are. He or she may be afraid that if you lose weight, you'll get more attention from the opposite sex and possibly leave the relationship for someone else. What to do: Reaffirm your partner that you're still the same loving person you were before. Then read this entire SparkPeople article on how you can defend yourself from saboteurs, and follow the fantastic tips! 4. Your partner starts gaining weight as you're losing weight. If you've noticed that your partner has gained a few pounds during the time you've lost weight, this could be cause for concern. Your partner may be upset with your weight-loss success and may be rebelling against you—consciously or not-- by eating more, higher-calorie food. If this is the case, tread lightly. This will probably be a very touchy subject for your partner. He or she may also be eating emotionally for comfort as a way to deal with the deep-rooted emotions (fear, anger, jealousy) about your positive changes. The emotional why: Resistance and guilt. Your partner is probably feeling resistant to change and guilty about his or her own body and unhealthful habits. They may even be worried that as you get healthier, you won't love him or her as much anymore. SparkPeople member Amy says that her husband has been "self destructing" and views all of her positive changes as threatening to him. In fact, she says that she's been sleeping in an extra bedroom for the last few weeks because of his constant resistance to the positive changes she's trying to make in her life. What to do: If you're in a situation as Amy is, talk to your partner openly and regularly. Your partner may be very, very sensitive about this issue, so you may not want to bring the weight gain up directly, but rather ask how he or she is feeling during this time of change. Reassure your partner that you're still the same person and still love them. And invite them to join in some of your small changes or start something as simple as a SparkStreak! And if it's more serious than that or your attempts are ignored, consider getting a relationship counselor involved. 5. You look down at your partner. If you're a few pounds into your weight-loss journey and overhauled your lifelong habits, yet can't understand why your partner hasn't done the same, then honestly ask yourself: Do you look down on your partner? Do you feel like the changes you've made are going to create lasting friction between the two of you? Whether you indicate these feelings to your partner (directly or indirectly) or keep them to yourself, he or she can probably sense how you're feeling. Everyone wants their partner to be proud to be with them. When you stop being proud of your other half, it can really hurt your relationship. The emotional why: Pride and fear. Right now, you may be very proud of yourself for your changes—and you should be! But it's important to respect everyone's journey and realize that you can't force someone else to change. You may also find yourself being harsher on your loved one because he or she may remind you of where you started (a place where you don't want to return). What to do: You may not agree with all of the choices your partner makes, but try to be as understanding as possible. Remember how hard it was for you to change in the beginning? Remember how you had to decide to do it for yourself, not for someone else? Revisit that time in your past and treat your partner how you would have liked to be treated then. Recognize the reasons for your emotions. You don't have to encourage unhealthy habits, but try to be as understanding and encouraging as possible. If you're faced with many of the issues above, don't despair. A relationship may get rocky from your new dedication to a healthy lifestyle, especially in the beginning of your weight-loss journey, but many say that getting in shape and eating right actually helps their relationship in the end. Take SparkPeople member XCSARAH, who said that her weight loss has both hurt her relationship and improved it. Even though she says that she sometimes gets annoyed when her husband wants to do something that cuts into her workout time or gets frustrated when he eats an entire bag of chips in front of her, getting healthier has improved their relationship. "Any annoyances that have come from this journey have certainly been outdone by the benefits," she says. Now that's an inspiring and encouraging statement to anyone who is struggling with weight-related relationship issues. At the end of the day, your significant other should be one of the biggest and most supportive allies you have in getting healthy. However, you can't expect others to change over night. Getting healthy and losing weight is an incredibly personal journey, and it can't be started by telling someone what to do; it has to start with the person wanting to change. So be as nice and supportive to your partner as you'd like them to be to you. Follow the tips above and recognize what's really behind you and your partner's actions to continue on your weight-loss journey and keep your relationship strong. After all, leading by example is one of the most powerful ways to influence others in a positive way!Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/motivation_articles.asp?id=1187

5 Mind Games You Need to Stop Playing

Motivation is like cold hard cash: You can never have too much! And when you’re trying to lose weight (for the umpteenth time for many of us) you know that you need a wealth of motivational strategies you can count on. But, with so many motivational tips and tricks to sift through, why are we so often losing our motivation rather than reaping the rewards?   One reason is that some of the most popular motivation strategies people use are mind games—games that don't really work for the long term. At first glance, they all seem helpful, but most are actually bound to fail. Instead of playing Russian roulette when you’re choosing a weight-loss strategy, read on to find out how you can beat the odds and pick a winner.   Mind Game #1:  Going for the Gold You have your perfect weight and pants size in mind. With a big, bold goal to aspire to, you start biking to work, cooking lighter, packing your lunch, skipping that morning latte, and taking the stairs. Then, three busy, butt-busting weeks later…the scale hasn’t really budged and you’re trying on the same size in the dressing room. Deflated, you start snacking a bit here and slacking a bit there, and your dream of a whittled waistline slowly fades from view.   Motivation Makeover: Going for the gold is a great way to start your weight-loss plan; setting a long-term goal can help you to keep an eye on where you’re headed. But it’s also important to remember that your goal weight is far from the only benefit of incorporating healthy eating and exercise—and it could be a long ways off. Taking note of smaller, more subtle changes (more energy, better sleep, lower cholesterol, better mood, etc.) can help you stay motivated, even if the pounds aren’t coming off as quickly as you’d hoped. Setting some shorter-term goals (1 pound, 5 pounds)—especially ones that aren't based on the scale (like getting to the gym 5 days a week) can also help you stay on track.   Mind Game #2:  Starting Out Super Strong It’s Sunday evening and you realize that you spent the weekend indulging on brews, barbeques, and binges. A twinge of guilt has you psyched to start speeding down the road to wellness first thing Monday. So you restock your pantry with healthy eats, download a hardcore training app to your phone, and plan out the next month's food and workouts. You figure that going full throttle is the way to reach your weight-loss goals as quickly as possible. And why not? You're excited for it! But two weeks into your overhaul, your muscles are so sore you have trouble rolling out of bed, you’re sick of salads and you’re already thinking about throwing in the towel.   Motivation Makeover: Maintaining motivation is like running a marathon. Instead of starting at full speed and running out of steam, it is better to focus on simply putting one foot in front of the other. Set small, achievable goals so that you can build momentum and feel successful in the beginning, and pat yourself on the back when you conquer each one. No matter how long it takes to reach the finish line, you’ll be reaping the rewards for years to come.   Mind Game #3:  Taking the Road Less Traveled There will always be a new diet or exercise program that promise fast progress and fantastic results. Reading about the latest food fad or watching a perky personal trainer push sweat-drenched clients through an infomercial workout can definitely spark your motivation. Who wouldn’t want to try an effective 4-minute workout or slim down fast with a celebrity-backed diet supplement? Deep down, we all know the truth: People are getting paid for those advertisements and whatever motivation you’ve mustered up during the commercial break will fade fast if you don’t get those "as seen on TV" results that were so motivating to you. Trying every new fad that comes on the market may leave you broke and brokenhearted.   Motivation Makeover: If you want a plan that works long term, stick with the tried and true. Keep your eating close to the earth with whole fruits, veggies, grains and lean meats. Get up and moving with whatever activity suits your style and schedule. Remind yourself that following through with real nutrition and fitness habits is a process: It takes the proper planning and commitment that can’t be found in a book, a box or a bottle.   Mind Game #4:  Flying Under the Radar You’re already feeling self-conscious about losing weight, so you certainly don’t want your friends and family making more of a fuss. Besides, you’re confident that you can do this all on your own! So what if your plan to be stealth has you skipping out on lunch with friends and sneaking veggies to parties in your purse? Going it alone may seem like a good idea, but it is actually counterproductive. Soon enough, you’ll be feeling lonely and left out, and that’s no way to maintain success in the long run.   Motivation Makeover: Call in the recruits! Whether it’s a neighbor down the street, a fellow play group parent or a Facebook friend, get someone to join you on your weight-loss journey. Studies in behavior science show that changes that you make in the public eye have a much better chance of sticking in the real world. Plus, sharing your weight-loss goals with friends opens you up for great personal payouts like counsel, camaraderie, and accountability from the people who know you best. SparkPeople Community, anyone?   Mind Game #5:  Staring Down the Scale There’s a scale in your bathroom and one next to your treadmill. You check in twice a day and diligently track your weight on a chart on the fridge. Still, even though you’re eating well and exercising, some days the numbers just don’t show it! Seeing real, objective results can be super motivating but being tethered to the scale often becomes a burden. Even though you know that body weight fluctuates throughout each day and hydration (or lack thereof) is usually responsible, unpredictable digits can be deceiving and downright disheartening. If you find yourself frowning at your feet during morning weigh-ins, then your scale is likely sapping your mojo.   Motivation Makeover: Stick that scale in the closet and find inspiration in other numbers (besides your weight). Track specific behaviors to gauge your progress; how many push-ups you can do in a minute, how many miles you walk or bike each week, how many flights of stairs you take each day at work. Keep tabs on a variety of positive results and you won’t be left wanting for fitness focus.     Making use of motivational mind games can really boost your fitness morale. But sometimes, techniques that seem perfectly logical can end up leading you astray. Mastering your own motivation doesn’t have to be a crap shoot. Bet on the time-tested strategies above to get your mind right and you’ll be sure to cash in on long-term wellness!Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/motivation_articles.asp?id=1676

Finding Inspiration In Your Biggest Temptations

Getting motivated--and staying motivated--can be difficult, and when temptations abound, it seems like the world is conspiring to keep you indoors, on the couch and stuck in your unhealthy life. Instead of viewing temptations as roadblocks, think of them as motivators--the devil on your shoulder, if you will. Their presence in your life should be just what you need to keep you from losing momentum, standing still or taking a break from your healthy journey. If you stop, they'll get you; if you stay one step ahead, you'll always come out on top. Temptations are like misunderstood Muses. They give you the chance to be creative while reaching your goals. Temptation No. 1: Sleeping in or hitting the snooze alarm. Inspiration: Taking care of your body. Get your eight hours a night. If you're consistently sleeping through your alarm or hitting the snooze bar more than twice, consider changing your sleep schedule. Try to head to bed earlier--even just 15 or 30 minutes can make a difference. To help you stay healthy and manage your weight, you need adequate sleep. Sleep loss affects the levels of certain hormones, which can in turn affect your metabolic processes and adversely affect your health. Sleep experts say most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimum performance, health and safety. When we don’t get adequate sleep, we accumulate a sleep debt that can be difficult to "pay back" if it becomes too big. The resulting sleep deprivation has been linked to health problems such as obesity and high blood pressure, negative mood and behavior, decreased productivity, and safety issues in the home, on the job, and on the road. Sleep loss also can cause a lack of desire to achieve goals because you feel fatigued and "run down." Sleep is also important in developing lean muscle tissue. When you work out, you are actually tearing your muscles – sleep and proper nutrients help rebuild the muscle so that you get stronger. Temptation No. 2: Grabbing takeout or stopping at a drive-thru. Inspiration: Making smart choices. Ideally, you should drive by the drive-thru and cook healthful meals at home every night. However, not all takeout is created equal, and you can find some healthful options at chain restaurants and even your neighborhood deli. See this temptation as a challenge to be creative and bring home a healthful meal when you're in a hurry. Plan ahead if you can, build a meal around vegetables and choose small portions to keep your takeout from taking away your self-control. (Find hundreds of tips and strategies to help you make smart, healthy choices when you're away from home here.) Follow the same rules at a restaurant that you would at home: Choose whole grains when possible, fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit, and opt for lean cuts of meat and low-calorie preparations. Baked potatoes, side salads, fruit cups and milk are ubiquitous at fast food restaurants these days. See this as an opportunity to stare French fries in the face--and win! Temptation No. 3: Grazing on junk food all night long. Inspiration: Getting to the root of a problem. Before you start chastising yourself for blowing your calorie budget after a good day of healthy, mindful eating, think about why you are snacking. Mindless munching is usually anything but. Are you thirsty? Many hunger pangs are actually just thirst in disguise. Drink a glass of water and wait 20 minutes. If your hunger subsides, you weren't really hungry after all. What did you eat for dinner? If you tried to save calories or reduce your carb intake by having a green salad or just a plate of veggies, it's no wonder you're hungry. Your body needs a bit of variety to stay happy. Protein takes longer to digest and helps keep you fuller longer. Toss some grilled chicken chunks, a small can of tuna or a half-cup of beans on your salad tomorrow night to give it some staying power. In the meantime, reach for a small servings of whole-grain crackers with a tablespoon of nut butter. The combo of fat, protein and carbs will tide you over until morning. Are you stressed or upset about something? Instead of reaching for the chocolate bar or the chips, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Eating your feelings leaves you feeling worse than when you started. Go for a walk, get out of the kitchen, remove trigger foods from the house--whatever it takes. To get a handle on emotional eating, you first need to understand it. Learn more about this common food problem, which is the cause of 75% of overeating, according to experts. Once you know your food weaknesses, you'll be prepared to confront those evening cravings instead of surrendering to them. Temptation No. 4: Vegging out on the couch. Inspiration: Taking time for you. You get home from work and gaze longingly at the sofa. You had a long day, and a bit of rest sounds much better than socializing or spending time with others. You just want to be alone with your feet up, mind empty and the TV on. Devote a chunk of time each week or each day to yourself. Maybe it's 15 minutes, or maybe it's two hours. Put yourself first as often as you need to. Instead of punishing yourself for being lazy, use this "me" time in a productive way. Do a crossword puzzle, read a book, watch a movie, call a friend, pick up knitting, or cuddle with your child or partner. Anticipate this respite from the hustle and bustle of your life and plan for it. Watch your favorite TV show, paint your nails, ask your partner to give you a foot rub. Reward yourself for being motivated, sticking with your healthy lifestyle plan and working out regularly. A bit of time spent doing nothing can help carry you through the rest of your hectic and action-packed life. (Read our Rest & Relaxation articles for more tips.) Temptation No. 5: Skipping your workout. Inspiration: Changing up your workout. You know how great you feel when you finish a workout: refreshed, revived and rejuvenated. You feel strong, confident and happy. So why would you want to skip exercise? Quite often, the reason is boredom. Does your workout schedule run on repeat? Do you do the same thing at the same time and in the same place every day? Now that you've made fitness a part of your life, try shaking up your routine from time to time. Instead of walking laps around the park in your neighborhood, try taking a new route. Instead of doing the same-old pushups and crunches, check out SparkPeople's free library of exercise demos. If you belong to a gym, trade the Stairmaster for the elliptical or the treadmill for the stationary bike. Tired of your DVDs? Trade with a friend or head to the library. Take a new class: Zumba, cardio dance, Pilates, yoga or Spinning are fun ones to try. Ask a trainer at your gym or a fit friend for suggestions. Speaking of which, one of the best ways to shake up your workout is to enlist a friend to blast calories with you. You can catch up on each other's lives while you firm up. When temptations step in your path, don't cower. Confront them and enlist them as your allies. Soon you'll be stronger and more determined and will have traveled a little farther in your healthy living journey.Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/motivation_articles.asp?id=1356

These Stunning Looks Show What Anxiety and Depression Feel Like

By nature, most of our battles with anxiety and depression happen in our heads—and it’s really, really tempting to keep them hidden there. But beauty blogger Yasaman Ghedi wants to make those mental health struggles visible. That's why she started the #InsideOutChallenge on Instagram, which encourages people to use makeup to give a face (literally) to those struggles.

Yasaman’s formula is simple: Apply your everyday makeup to half of your face, and then depict what living with mental illness feels like on other half. Here's Ghedi's finished product:

The results are, of course, as haunting as they are beautiful. (Check out examples of other people's take on the #InsideOutChallenge below.) Most importantly, though, they’re a reminder that the stigma and secrecy that so often surround mental illness are both major issues we need to fight.

7 Pieces of Relationship Advice That Go Against Everything You Assume

When a couple comes to see me for relationship counseling, most of the time it's for help with communication, either in general or surrounding a specific event. Asking for help with communication within your relationship doesn't mean it's doomed to fail; it means you're a normal human couple. Of course, my partner and I are both mental health therapists, so we communicate perfectly 100 percent of the time... just kidding. We have our own issues, like every other couple.

In working with couples and in my own relationship, I've found that a lot of relationship advice tends to be ineffective and unrealistic. Since we're all imperfect humans, we're going to make mistakes, require time to cool down, and need to ask questions of ourselves and our partners in order to grow together. I've rounded up some of my favorite communication pointers that can genuinely help you out the next time you find yourself in a misunderstanding with your partner.

1. Go ahead and go to bed angry.

Chances are, you've heard someone say "never go to bed angry" when talking about fighting within a relationship. I'm here to tell you that you should absolutely go to bed angry. Arguments at the end of the day are often exacerbated by built-up irritations or small miscommunications. Rather than trying to communicate when you are tired and spent, get a good night's sleep and tackle it together in the morning. Many times, with a little rest, you'll find the situation seems more manageable in the light of day.

2. It's good to let each other get away with stuff.

OK, we shouldn't encourage one another to become inconsiderate monsters, but we also need to remember that no one is perfect. For example, my partner leaves his shaving stuff on the bathroom sink, and I leave my shoes in the middle of the entryway. We're both absent-minded at times, and we're working on that, but it's not OK for me to fly into a rage at him over his razor, especially since he is kind to me despite tripping over my ballet flats on more than one occasion. A more content and loving partnership is built through gentle reminders and patient understanding, rather than passive-aggressive comments and constant criticism.

3. Don't hit that send button! Fighting over text is terrible...

Fighting over text message often leads to further miscommunication and misunderstanding. When we text, we can't fully interpret the messages we receive; the clues that normally help us decode our partner's true intent (like body language, voice tone, and eye contact) are absent in text messages. So as we attempt to understand these messages—not only the words, but the meaning behind them—our imaginations fill in these blanks. This is why text message disputes can blow out of proportion, leaving both parties baffled by how a small disagreement could end in a huge fight.

4. ...but writing out your thoughts before talking is pretty great.

When you take the time to write out your thoughts, especially your responses to topics that you know may get heated during communication, you're able to process difficult feelings before you discuss them. This gives you the opportunity to approach the subject at hand more calmly, rather than attacking your partner out of anger or hurt. By writing about your feelings, you may also be able to identify exactly what causes you to feel intense negative emotions and why. For example, if your ex used to compare you to other people, that might explain why you become upset when your partner praises another person's accomplishments. Being able to identify that issue and communicate it to your partner can increase trust and closeness.

5. Express your needs… even if you think you sound "needy."

When a client says to me, "Lauren, I need something, and my partner isn't doing it!" I ask, "Have you told your partner what you need?" The response is often a resounding no, followed by, "I don't want to seem needy," or "They should know what I want without asking."

Having needs does not make you needy; it makes you a human. And while I understand that directly asking your partner to, say, massage your shoulders after a long day may not be as romantic as them automatically knowing what to do, your partner isn't a mind reader. Ask direct questions and make clear requests so that your partner knows exactly what you want and need without the guessing games. There is something incredibly sexy about having your needs met by the person you love... even if you had to give them a little guidance.

6. Don't cook for your partner.

When I say "don't cook for your partner," I mean, "don't cook for them unless that's something that's important to them." Let's extend this food analogy: Say you take the day off work to spend a whole day making cookies for your partner. We're talking about that from-scratch, special-occasion kind of baking. Your partner gets home, the kitchen is a mess, and there's a smudge of flour across your face. "Look, honey!" you say. "I spent all day making cookies for you!"

Your partner looks puzzled and says, "Thanks, but... I really don't like cookies. I like pie." It's a nightmare scenario. You've exhausted your resources, but neither of you have your needs met. Instead, everyone gets a helping of hurt feelings and frustration. How could your partner not appreciate your cookies? How could you not know your partner prefers pie?

I'm here to tell you that you should absolutely go to bed angry.

This is why communicating is so important. A helpful model that I use on a regular basis is called The Five Love Languages, developed by Gary Chapman. The Five Love Languages are five ways to experience and communicate love to a partner, which are: Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, and Quality Time. There's a quiz you can take to discover your love language; most people have a primary and secondary love language.

My love language is Quality Time. I need someone to give me eye contact, to hang out with me without distractions, to go places with me, and to simply spend time together. In a previous relationship, I was with someone who communicated through Acts of Service. Instead of listening when I said I needed time together, he would bring up all the times he did the dishes or took my car to get the oil changed. True, he had made an effort and was helpful in that way, but it wasn't what I was asking for or what I needed. My needs weren't being met, he felt his efforts were unappreciated, and we were both frustrated.

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Maybe your partner would rather eat takeout than a home-cooked meal, but wants a cheesy Hallmark card. Maybe your partner can wash their own car but needs to spend four uninterrupted hours with you on a Saturday. Or maybe your partner would pass on a bouquet and would rather you go to the grocery store so they don't have to. Avoid spending time and energy on efforts that won't fulfill your partner, and instead communicate with one another about specific wants and needs so that the time and energy you do spend is productive and meaningful.

7. Disagree with each other.

So often, disagreements are seen as threats to the stability of the relationship—some couples will avoid a disagreement at all costs, even if it means stuffing their feelings down and being quietly unhappy. Rather than seeing disagreements negatively, issues can be seen as natural, normal, and part of any healthy relationship. Disagreements are an opportunity to communicate, understand, listen to your partner, and grow together. Disagreements can lead to healthier communication patterns and a stronger relationship overall.

One of my favorite communication tools to use in the midst of an argument is called the I-Message—no, not the blue bubbles on your phone screen. In this context, an I-Message is a type of communication that places the focus of the conversation on the feelings of the person speaking, rather than using accusations to communicate their discontent.

The standard formula for an I-Message is as follows: I feel [feeling word] when [talk about scenario that made you feel this way, then talk about the result you would prefer.] For example, "I feel overwhelmed and exhausted when I do the cooking and the cleaning. Is there any way we could work together to get it done?"

If you've been the one doing both the laundry and the cooking, and it's been frustrating you, this format might not be your first thought. You'd probably be more tempted to say, "You never do anything around here!" or even "It would be nice to get some help in the kitchen for once!" But framing the situation like this can make your partner feel attacked, leading them to become defensive. Formatting these feelings of frustration into an I-Message may feel counterintuitive at first, but it does increase the likelihood of a more positive response from your partner, and can help you both grow closer through stronger communication.

While a perfect relationship is impossible, a healthy, fulfilling relationship is something each of us can achieve with a supportive partner and the right communication tools. When two people work to fight fairly, express their needs, and foster understanding, the result is a strong and happy relationship built on trust and open communication.

Lauren Hasha is a writer and mental health counselor living in San Antonio, Texas. Visit her website or connect with her on Instagram and Twitter.

7 Homemade Tomato Sauce Recipes That Would Make Your Grandma Proud

So, you’re not exactly a Top Chef in the kitchen... no biggie. We’re all about the small wins, anyway. One fairly painless (and healthy!) way to own dinnertime? Swap out that jar of spaghetti sauce for a homemade version. We’ve rounded up recipes to suit every taste—spicy, sweet, vegan, meaty—that are, as always, super simple to make. Sure, it takes a little more work than just opening a jar, but you’ll wind up with way fewer preservatives and salt than the store-bought kind, and get the satisfaction of a truly homemade meal. Serve over pasta, zoodles, grilled chicken, roasted vegetables, or even scrambled eggs (yep, try it, it’s great).

1. Vegan Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Vegan pesto? Yes please. This fresh sauce could be spread on toast and still enjoyed—it’s that flavorful. Don’t be intimidated by the homemade vegan Parmesan; it only requires four ingredients (cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and sea salt). 2. Chickpea Tomato “Meat” Sauce Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, or just trying out Meatless Mondays, this pasta sauce has just enough texture to make you feel like you’re eating a hearty meat sauce, minus the meat of course. Blended chickpeas are the main substitute, while carrots, onions, and crushed tomatoes up the veggie count. 3. Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce Purists, this one’s for you. It’s a no-frills, only-the-good-stuff kind of recipe. All you need are tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, fresh basil, salt, and pepper. This recipe makes a pretty big batch, but it keeps in the fridge for a week, or in the freezer for up to four months. Yay, meal prep! 4. Meat Sauce With Peppers and Carrots Puréed veggies are kind of a genius way to get an extra serving or two into picky eaters (kids, husbands, yourself… ). This recipe blends carrots, celery, red bell pepper, onion, and spinach, then adds the mix to crushed tomatoes and lean ground beef. Swap the marinara sauce for fresh or more crushed tomatoes to cut down on the sugar and sodium. 5. Crock-Pot Veggie Tomato Sauce Crock-Pots are major time-savers and a perfect compromise for a lazy Sunday (you’re making dinner for the week, sort of!). Throw all the ingredients in the pot and cook on low for four hours… just enough time to get some laundry done, clean the kitchen, or binge-watch half a season of your fave show. 6. Turkey Bolognese Sauce Ground turkey takes pasta sauce up a notch in both the protein and taste departments. We love that this recipe uses cinnamon instead of sugar (one of our favorite healthy swaps) and chicken stock for even more flavor. 7. Puttanesca Sauce This classic Italian dish is best served over pasta, but also works great on top of a plain ol’ piece of chicken breast—trust us, it’s far from short on flavor. Anchovies are a bit of an acquired taste, so feel free to leave them out if they’re not your thing. Olives, capers, garlic, and plum tomatoes make up the rest of the salty-sweet sauce.

I Spent 20 Years Following My Dream… but Quitting Made Me Happier

From the last batch of headshots I ever took, when I was clearly totally miserable and exhausted. I spent almost two decades pursuing my dream of becoming a working actress. In my bleaker moments, such as driving home from an audition in which I had to dance like a chicken in a bikini, I imagined what it would be like if I quit. In my fantasy, walking away from acting felt monstrous and fittingly movie-moment climactic: a grand proclamation ("I AM GIVING UP ON MY LIFELONG DREAM"), a grief-filled packing of my car, a defeated retreat to my parents' basement in suburban Virginia. But like so many potential dramas, quitting acting was nothing but an almost imperceptible shift of gravity. It didn't happen in an instant. It was gradual: missing a class, the quiet tucking away of headshots, letting my IMDBpro membership lapse.

I think a lot about my 13-year-old self, full of that uniquely 13-year-old psychotic fervor. At that age, I'd proclaim to anyone who might seem like they were listening that I would never, ever give up on my dream of being an actress, that this was my destiny, that I was that one in a million! According to 13-year-old me, I would star in The X-Files, get married to Leonardo DiCaprio, and do Maybelline commercials ("Maybe she's born with it, maybe it's Maybelline… NOPE, SHE'S MARRIED TO LEONARDO DICAPRIO. SHE WAS TOTALLY BORN WITH IT.")

I did not get cast in the X-Files, however. / Illustration by the author, Mikayla Park. Now I wish I could creep on my 13-year-old self, a la A Christmas Carol (Ghost of Christmas That's Totally Creepin' on You), and tell her that all those years equating her worth with her work would wear her down and strip her of everything she valued about herself. I would tell her that the time she spent worrying that she wasn't pretty enough or thin enough or appealing enough would come at a terrible cost to her sense of self-worth. I'd explain how uncomfortable she would be promoting herself, how dirty she would feel befriending people who might be able to help her get ahead.

I'd like to note here that I don't mean to denigrate my actor friends; it's bold and gutsy to believe in yourself enough to survive in that industry. I've just never had that particular brand of moxie, and that's totally OK too. I have other very nice qualities.

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For me, the grind of auditioning slowly suffocated my love of the art until it was gone, but I still pushed on, terrified to acknowledge the loss. My latent depression sensed the blood in the water and surfaced, feeding off every rejection, every perceived failure, turning me into someone my 13-year-old self would barely recognize, someone fearful and jealous and bitter and sad.

I still don't regret any of those very difficult years; they shaped me into a much wiser—and gentler—person. We are so many different people in a lifetime; we change so very much, things affect our lives in ways we can't anticipate, and it doesn't make any sense to maintain some sort of token loyalty to a dream to which we pledged ourselves a million selves ago.

And it is. / Illustration by the author, Mikayla Park.

Being an actress was never my identity; being an actress isn't an identity at all. But it was only when I stopped defining myself that way that I rediscovered all of the things that I actually am: loyal and funny and strange, and surprisingly resilient.

If I were to go back to that 13-year-old, I'd encourage her to be kind, because I wasn't very understanding at 13, and the decision to give up acting didn't come without a cost. I watch the people from my former life in movies and on TV, living the dream I wanted so long for myself. I wonder how long it might have taken, if I would have gotten there myself had I just pushed on for a little longer. I once heard that when a great love is over, it takes half the length of the affair to truly heal from it. But I'm not worried, because I've also learned to be patient.

Best. Makeup. Ad. Ever. / Illustration by the author, Mikayla Park.

I know I've been acting like I really wish I could tell my former self all of these things, but I'm pretty grateful I don't have to because, as I said, I wasn't super understanding back then, and I don't know that as a teenager I would have truly understood exactly why being a grown woman dancing like a chicken in a bikini is so disheartening. I would probably just give her a big hug and tell her everything is going to be just fine, because that's really what you need to hear when you're 13. I know that because now that's what I tell my dreamer students at a job that I love that pays for an apartment all my very own.

It's been difficult for me to come to terms with the fact that I have fallen out of love with my dream, and I think that, if maybe I had read something honest and (hopefully a little) comforting, maybe it would have made it easier to face. So if you're facing, or trying not to face, something similar, I hope you can pat yourself on the back, and give your poor little heart a huge break. I hope you can remind yourself that we should all feel incredibly grateful that we are not held accountable to every dream we had when we were kids. But some dreams, of course, are timeless (Leo, I'm looking at you.)

Mikayla Park is a teacher/nonprofit creative person residing in the slums of Beverly Hills. Find her, and her two charming rescue dogs, everywhere at @mikaylapark.

35 Bean Recipes for All Your Plant-Protein (and High-Fiber) Needs

“Beans, beans, they’re good…” OK, we all know how that ends. But cheeky rhymes aside, it’s true that beans are some of the best foods you could be eating, not only for their high protein count—15 grams per cup—but also for all the other nutrients they supply, including fiber, potassium, and cholesterol-lowering antioxidants. Best of all, their versatility means there are plenty of delicious ways to enjoy them.

Moral of the story: Whether you’re staying away from meat entirely or simply looking to switch up your weekly meals, beans are the answer. To get you started, here are 35 bean recipes you're gonna love.

Black Beans 1. Pita Tostadas With Butternut Squash, Black Beans, and Avocado Photo: Camille Styles While tostadas usually mean deep-fried tortillas and lots of cheese, this recipe makes a few simple switches to give them a nutritional stamp of approval: The pitas are baked for a similar crunch, butternut squash and yogurt lend creaminess, and black beans add heft. 2. Black Bean “Meatballs” With Coriander Sweet Potato Salad Photo: Thoroughly Nourished Life There’s no hint of actual meat in these baked balls, but they’re still incredibly hearty thanks to the protein-rich quinoa and black beans at their base. Served on a pile of herb-coated sweet potato chunks instead of spaghetti, the dish is also a great way to up your gluten-free cooking game. 3. Spaghetti Squash Black Bean Bowls Photo: The Glowing Fridge This lower-carb answer to a burrito bowl replaces the rice with strands of spaghetti squash but hangs on to the black beans for the fiber and protein. Serve right in the squash shells for minimal cleanup, and plop on a generous helping of the simplified guacamole. 4. Black Beans and Cauliflower Rice Photo: Nutritionicity Cauliflower rice is usually served as a side, but add black beans and a sprinkle of red peppers, and it’s both wholesome and colorful enough to eat as a main. For an even more filling meal, wrap in inside a tortilla for a homemade burrito. 5. Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes Photo: B Britnell While stuffing black beans into sweet potatoes is a pretty popular idea by now, this recipe includes red onions, plenty of chipotle spices, cool avocado cubes, and a generous squeeze of lime for an especially lip-smacking result. 6. Black Bean Feta Quinoa Salad Photo: Dash of Herbs We’re not going to lie: On their own, black beans can be a bit lacking in flavor. But they’re also so easy to jazz up. Here, all it takes is some chunks of feta to add a savory flavor and creamy texture to the bean and quinoa mixture. You don’t even need extra salt or spices. 7. Black Bean Chocolate Protein Balls Photo: Emilie Eats Conventional wisdom suggests loading up on protein and carbs after exercising. Why not do it in the most delicious way possible, with these bite-size chocolaty treats? Crammed with black beans, protein powder, and nut butter, they’re so easy to transport, and just a couple will go a long way as post-workout fuel. Kidney Beans 8. Creamy Curry Slow Cooker Beans Photo: Chef De Home A rich kidney bean curry, often found at Indian restaurants, gets lightened up and slow-cooked in this home-style version, which nixes the heavy cream and goes easy on the oil. It also uses curry and cumin powders, both easily found at any grocery store, so that you’re not stuck hunting for exotic spices. 9. Kidney Beans and Garlic Spinach Tacos Photo: Garlic Matters Just because you’re short on time to make lunch doesn't mean you need to deprive yourself of taste or nutrition. These tacos, tucked with kidney beans, Brie cheese, and lots of veggies, take only 15 minutes to make... and five minutes to devour. 10. Pasta With Kidney Bean Sauce Photo: Green Evi Vegan pastas often suffer in the protein department given that there’s no meat or dairy in the picture. But this one aims to fill that void, using a whole can of kidney beans in the sauce for a Bolognese-like result. 11. Red Beans and Rice Photo: My Whole Food Life Whether you’re looking for comfort food or just a really easy yet nourishing (and inexpensive!) meal, this one-pot dish fits the bill. The combination of beans and rice makes for a complete protein, and this recipe goes a step further by using brown rice to up the fiber count. 12. Mushroom Kidney Bean Koftas Photo: Amuse Your Bouche Koftas are usually beef- or lamb-based, but these use kidney beans and mushrooms to get that meaty texture while staying entirely vegan. Baked and drizzled with a simple homemade pesto, they make for one of those impressive-looking dishes that are secretly really easy to make. 13. Vegan Stuffed Peppers With Kidney Beans, Sweet Corn, and Cashews Photo: DIY Bites Meatless and dairy free, these stuffed peppers stay protein packed with a kidney bean and cashew filling. They also take all of five minutes to prep before going in the oven, so tuck this one away for those days where heavy-duty cooking is the last thing you want to do. 14. Cashew Kidney Bean Chocolate Brownies Photo: The Foodie Lovers If black bean brownies can be a thing, why not stick kidney beans into a chocolaty batter too? This recipe goes a step further in the unconventional ingredient department, adding cashews for extra crunch and white chocolate chips for an extra-sweet touch. Garbanzo Beans 15. One-Pot Chickpea Shakshuka Photo: Minimalist Baker While shakshuka is usually made with eggs, in this recipe, it’s chickpeas swimming in a richly spiced tomato sauce. Sop up savory gravy with crusty bread, serve it on top of rice, or simply eat it on its own—it’s perfect any way you like it. 16. Chickpea Broccoli Buddha Bowl Photo: Hummusapien Just about anything covered in peanut butter is bound to be pretty good. But this savory mix of roasted broccoli, chickpeas, and brown rice lends itself especially well to the slightly sweet nut butter sauce. Simple and satisfying, it’s one of the easiest and tastiest ways to get a well-balanced meal into your system. 17. Sheet-Pan Chickpea Fajitas With Cumin-Lime Crema Photo: Veggie Tot Take fajitas to the next level by baking instead of skillet-cooking them. Not only do the veggies get that fantastic oven-roasted char on them, but the chickpeas, standing in here for the meat, become crispy and totally addictive. In fact, we’d recommend making an extra batch of them just to have on hand for a snack. 18. Coconut Chickpea Curry Photo: Jessica in the Kitchen If making curry sounds intimidating to you, start with this recipe. No exotic spices needed: Just simple, store-bought curry and cumin powders, and coconut milk are all it takes to get chickpeas tasting like haute cuisine. 19. Mediterranean Chickpea Casserole With Spinach and Feta Photo: Natural Girl Modern World Drenched in a spiced tomato sauce, stirred with spinach, sprinkled with feta, and baked until bubbly, this chickpea casserole is practically the Mediterranean (and gluten-free) version of lasagna. This blogger uses dried garbanzos for an even better texture, but if you’re in a time crunch, canned beans will do just fine. 20. Roasted Chickpea, Almond, and Potato Salad Photo: Tasty Mediterraneo Putting to rest any lingering perceptions that salads are puny, this recipe packs in complex carbs with potatoes, protein from the chickpeas, and healthy fats from the almonds. There’s no way you’ll still be hungry after a hearty plate of this. 21. Buffalo Chickpea Salad Sandwich Photo: Happy Healthy Mama Who needs chicken when you’ve got chickpeas? In this healthified take on a flavor combination usually reserved for wings, the beans get the Buffalo treatment with the addition of blue cheese, Greek yogurt, and hot sauce. The results are just as addictive as the original but with a fraction of the saturated fat. 22. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Dessert Hummus Photo: The Wannabe Chef You read that right—dessert hummus. A sweet, smooth blend that contains chickpeas but tastes like peanut butter and chocolate, one bite will have you forgetting there are beans in here at all. Think of it as unbaked cookie dough that’s actually safe to eat. White Bean 23. Zucchini Noodles With White Beans and Tomatoes Photo: Yummy Mummy Want a lower-carb meal but don’t want to give up those starches entirely? Go with this recipe, which replaces half the pasta with spiralized zucchini, and throws in white beans for added protein. An olive oil drizzle, cherry tomatoes, and chopped basil keeps the dish light and refreshing but still satisfying. 24. Kale, Sweet Potato, and White Bean Skillet Photo: Tasting Page Curry powder gives this heart-healthy blend of kale, sweet potatoes, and white beans a kick, while coconut milk offsets the spice with its mild sweetness. Eat this as a breakfast hash to wake up on a dragging morning, or a quick, convenient one-pan lunch or dinner. 25. Golden Beet, White Bean, and Orange Salad Photo: Hello Fun Seekers Golden beets, white beans, and orange segments piled on top of leafy greens—talk about eating the rainbow! This colorful salad isn’t just fun to look at—simply dressed with white balsamic vinegar and topped with pistachios, it’s freakin' delicious too. 26. Smashed White Bean, Basil, and Avocado Sandwich Photo: Pumpkin and Peanut Butter Give an avocado sandwich even more oomph by mashing the green fruit with white beans and a spritz of lemon. You’ll be amazed at how far the simple addition goes in terms of making the dish more filling. 27. Garlic Parmesan White Bean Hummus Photo: The Busy Baker Swapping out chickpeas for white beans and adding in Parmesan for a salty, nutty flavor, this hummus is off-the-charts tasty. Scoop it up with veggies, slather it on to bread, or eat it with a spoon—no judgments here. 28. White Bean Blondies Photo: New to the Table Cannellinis and ground walnuts stand in for the flour to make these blondies gluten-free, while an extra egg yolk keeps them as chewy as ever. With each serving packing in five grams of fiber and nine grams of protein, this may become your new favorite way to eat beans. Soybeans / Edamame 29. Edamame Soba Noodle Salad Photo: Cooking With a Wallflower Edamame and soba noodles are a natural fit—but when you add sautéed mushrooms and onions, then toss everything in a lemony soy dressing, it’s a combination made in heaven. 30. Spicy Farro Salad With Edamame and Carrots Photo: Becky's Best Bites Beans are a fantastic addition to grain-based salads, adding more volume, protein, and fiber to the bowl. Here, robust kernels of edamame hold up especially well to the chewy, antioxidant-rich farro. 31. Pesto Edamame Toast Photo: Girl Adulting Need to switch it up from endless servings of mashed avocado on bread? Try this updated version of beans on toast, where pesto-coated edamame and feta get tumbled onto a thick slice of whole-grain, and topped with a runny egg. It’s the perfect single-serving brunch. 32. Corn Edamame Salad With Balsamic Vinaigrette Photo: The Culinary Compass We’re all about lettuce-free salads over here, and this corn, edamame, and cherry tomato one is a kaleidoscope of colors, flavors, and nutritional benefits. Lightly tossed in a balsamic dressing, it works great as an easy side or even a portable lunch. 33. Tofu With Peas and Soybeans Photo: This Girl's Recipes This variation on scrambled tofu goes for Indian-inspired spices to pack a serious flavor punch. The crumbled tofu actually does take on the texture of scrambled eggs, while the soybeans (or edamame beans) throughout add a crunchy bite. 34. Edamame Rice Burgers Photo: Veganoisty A far cry from veggie burgers made with processed soy, this one uses whole edamame, cooked rice, and spinach for added color. Flaxseeds instead of eggs act as the binding agent, making these light green protein patties 100 percent vegan. 35. Crostinis With Arugula and Edamame Pesto Photo: Kelly's Ambitious Kitchen In just 15 minutes, whip up this speedy green appetizer. Edamame adds lots of body to the peppery arugula pesto and thickens it up just enough so it can be slathered onto crispy slices of baguette. (We think it’ll work great on just about anything else though, from eggs to grain bowls to spoons.)
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