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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Do You Fix Your Mood With Food?

There's a good reason you might have the urge to scarf an entire tub of ice-cream when you’re feeling down: certain foods can temporarily boost your mood. That's because your body and brain are ruled by a complex group of chemicals and hormones, many of which influence appetite, emotions and energy levels, according to research scientists. Natural fluctuations of these compounds - like those that occur during the week before your period - can make you feel anxious, annoyed or blah. Similarly, when you're upset, say because some loser guy dumps you, those feelings can trigger changes in those same body chemicals. Enter yummy food. Some research shows that certain foods - particularly high-fat goodies such as cheese, ice-cream and chocolate - stimulate your body to produce endorphins, magical mood boosters that give you an instant high. If you're anxious, for instance, you may crave carbs such as bread, potato chips, pasta and soft drinks. These contain ingredients that trigger your brain to release serotonin, which has an uplifting, yet calming effect. High-protein foods, including peanut butter, yoghurt and chicken, do the opposite: they release a chemical that pumps up mental alertness. That may explain why you're more likely to grab a handful of peanuts when you're up studying late at night. As for those cravings many girls get before their periods, there's biology behind those too.

During this time, the chemical that regulates your desire for fat surges and levels of happiness-producing serotonin are super-low. Voila! You're suddenly hungrier, and cravings for foods such as chocolates, muffins and biscuits may feel stronger than usual. That's because your body is trying to prepare for a baby, which would need lots of fatty nourishment to grow. Because these foods are so good at lifting your spirits, you get hooked on treating yourself with them. And the very next time you need a pick-me-up, you may crave those self-same snacks. But if you're chowing down when you're not hungry - and eating fattening stuff - you could pack on pounds. Plus, the food makes you feel better only for a short while; once the cake is gone, the problems or bad feelings remain. Of course, there's nothing wrong with an occasional treat if you're feeling blue. Eating only becomes a problem when you "swallow" painful feelings instead of facing them.

What's Your Food Attitude?

Answer true or false to the questions, then read on for the scoop on your gut reactions.

1. I often munch on junk to help me get through studying or work I've taken home from the office. (True / False)

2. Sometimes I find my hand at the bottom of a family-sized bag of chips, or see that I've eaten a whole packet of biscuits, and I don't know how it happened - it's like I totally zone out or something. (True / False)

3. When I get great results on an exam or kick butt at the gym, I indulge in my favorite treats. I deserve it after all the hard work! (True / False)

4. When I'm a bit down, I tend to think about or plan out what a great meal I'll have next - it really gives me something to look forward to. (True / False)

5. Whenever I have my friends over to chat, I make sure there are plenty of snacks on hand. Gossip's just not as fun without plenty of munchies! (True / False)

6. If I get into a fight with my parents or a guy breaks my heart, the first thing I do is grab a bag of sweets or an extra-large serving of French fries. (True / False)

7. In between all my stressful activities - for example, going right from work to the gym, then rushing home to clean the house and crash - I sometimes scarf something to calm myself down. (True / False)

8. When I'm depressed, I eat - even if it's my weight that's making me depressed. (True / False)

Fixing feelings with food, unfortunately, is mainly a girl thing. Many of us are taught to smile and not to complain, and we learn not to express negative feelings. Instead, we drown our sorrows in a slice of cheesecake or leftover noodles. The food comforts us, and will never think we're whiners.

So how do you break that feeding of frenzy/feelings cycle? If you're upset, before you reach for eats, find a way to vent. Try talking things through with a friend or parent, or try keeping track of your eating patterns in a diary. You may think you're bugging people by spilling your guts, but in fact, confiding in others makes them feel needed. Expressing yourself is like anything else - you get better with practice. Try to label your feelings and be direct.

It's also key to tune in to your tummy as well as your mind before you munch. Next time you find yourself marching zombie-like towards the fridge, ask yourself, "Am I really hungry?" Do this out loud, which may knock you out of that snack stupor. If the answer is no (and you've got to be honest!), there's a good chance something's bugging you, even if it's not at the front of your mind.

Try jotting down your feelings in a notebook. Once you start seeing trends in your diary (are you a total sucker for ice-cream at deadline time?), you can learn to stop eating for the wrong reasons - and find non-food ways to satisfy your emotional needs.

Cure Your Mood Munchies!

Instead of pigging out when cravings hit, try these healthy alternatives to alter your body chemistry and lift your mood even better than food.

When you're sad or depressed

You might crave:
cake, biscuits, muffins
Instead, try: working out - with headphones on. Both exercise and music increase levels of the same happy chemicals that these foods trigger. In fact, studies show that 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise, performed three times a week, can actually make people who are mildly depressed feel better.

When you're broken-hearted

You might crave:
Instead, try: calling a funny friend or inviting your friends over to watch your favorite comedy movie. Just like eating chocolate, laughing releases endorphins, body chemicals which instantly lift our spirits. Curiously, having a good cry on a friend's shoulder can do the trick as well, since sobbing also releases endorphins.

When you're stressed, angry or anxious

You might crave:
loads of pasta, noodles, bagels, pretzels, crackers, potato chips
Instead, try: taking a warm bath. Carbohydrates like these encourage your brain to release serotonin, which helps to reduce the levels of the chemicals your body produces under stress. A hot soak can work the same magic by encouraging your muscles to relax. Also calming is meditation, which can convert stress hormones into feel-good endorphins. Studies also show that prayer - or just thinking good thoughts for 15 minutes - can reverse levels of stress hormones.

When you're feeling tired, blah or unable to concentrate

You might crave:
jelly beans, hard candy, sugary drinks
Instead, try: eating an apple, an orange, a banana or some grapes. Experts say that candy and soft drinks that are high in sugar make you tired, since they spark a sharp rise in blood-sugar levels and then make you crash. Fruit also gives you a boost, but the effects last longer thanks to nutrients and fibre, which help keep blood-sugar levels steady.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

#25: Smooth Operator

With images of Gisele in a G-string, Kylie and Liz in split-to-whoa Versace dresses, and teen songbirds showing off their midriffs, sleek skin has never been more in-your-face. Fact: hair removal is a drag and it hurts. So you need to know the right techniques to suit you. Read on... and take off.


What's the deal: Waxing yanks the hair clean from the roots

What's good: Your state of hairlessness can last up to six weeks. Plus, the hairs will eventually grow back softer. There are also cases of hair eventually become non-existent on some individuals - but whether or not it does, depends on the individual's genes and chemistry.

What's a drag: One word - ouch! Tip: avoid waxing just before your period. The best time to wax is five days into your cycle. Aspirin can also help. Also, DIY-ing with warm wax can be really messy, but while cold wax strips are more user-friendly, they're not as effective at removals because warm wax grips the hair better.

What's new: Salon-style, beeswax-based hot wax - it hardens as it cools, and is then peeled off without the need for cotton strips. Also, sugar-based waxes are big again. They arrive gooey, require less heating, and the residue can be washed away.

Works best: Before a DIY wax or a session at the salon, it is advisable that you try some dry body brushing plus wet exfoliation and, immediately prior to waxing, sprinkle on a layer of talc to absorb perspiration and help the wax to grip. Therapists will apply a post-waxing antiseptic and soothing lotion.

Salon advantage: You can be guaranteed that the hairs are pulled out in the right direction, which prevents ingrown hair. Plus, there's less pain because it's quicker, and with two pairs of hands you can keep the skin taut.

Watch out: If you're using Retin-A, AHAs, or taking Roaccutane or tablets for high blood pressure, waxing will thin your skin too much. Avoid waxing on cut, sunburned or acne-prone skin, or if you've recently had a laser peel. For varicose-vein sufferers, a therapist should use a self-peel wax, which is more gently.


What's the deal: Razor blades cut the unwanted hairs off just exactly at the surface of your skin.

What's good: The sexy, shiny, silky-smooth finish it gives you. Plus, it's exfoliating.

What's a drag: The morning-after prickly feeling. Shaving also makes a fake tan fade faster.

Works best: On primed skin. Exfoliating first will help to prevent ingrowns, and soaking for a couple of minutes before shaving will soften the hairs, making them easier to cut. For the tricky areas, such as the underarms, you may need to shave in two directions.


What's the deal: Lasers target the pigment in the hair. They heat up the follicle and destroy the hair, sub-surface. You feel a pin-prick sensation.

What's good: After two years, there has been found to be an 80 percent permanent reduction of hairs.

What's a drag: The cost, which can range from $200 - $500 per session; you'll need between two to six sessions of them. Plus, it's only effective on dark hair, and can cause discoloration in darker skins.

Works best: Unwanted facial hair and the bikini line are popular targets. Avoid if you're pregnant, taking skin-sensitizing drugs or Roaccutane, or using Retin-A.


What's the deal: A needle is inserted into the follicle; an electric current fries the hair at the root.

What's good: The hairs never return, so after you've had a series of treatments, you're fuzz-free.

What's a drag: It's near torture. And, in the wrong hands, you risk scarring and burning.

Works best: On small areas of dark, coarse hair such as the bikini line or upper lip.


What's the deal: Epilator heads feature rows of rotating discs that work like tweezers, grasping hairs and plucking them out.

What's good: They're easy to use - you sweep them over your skin like an electric razor. Plus, they work well on shorter hairs.

What's a drag: It's definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Works best: Do it after dry body brushing and granular exfoliation, to prevent in-grown hairs.


What's the deal: A depilatory cream will dissolve hairs just below the skin's surface.

What's good: The smoothness lasts slightly longer than shaving, and it's particularly handy for the bikini line.

What's a drag: Most creams still have that underlying smell of rotten eggs. Plus, some skins react to the chemicals in the creams.

Works best: When removed with a flannel, which doubles as an exfoliator, and helps to nip those ingrown hairs in the bud.


What's the deal: You bleach the dark pigment out of the hairs. This can be a more carefree alternative to other forms of hair removal.

What's good: It lasts two to three weeks, until the hair drops out - but it can actually last longer if the hair is exposed to sun (sometimes six to eight weeks).

What's a drag: It can sensitize skin (and skins being treated with Roaccutane, Retin-A and AHAs are no-gos). And it's not advised for dark skins - unless you want a coating of white or yellow fuzz.

Works best: On fair skins and shorter, thinner hairs. It's also great for the stomach and thighs.

Hairy Issues

Let's get to the roots of all evil to make sure that all your hairy dilemmas are (un)covered.

Nipple Hairs: No, it's not just you that has them! Stray, dark nipple hairs are actually a very common phenomenon. All you need to do is pluck them out - but do so very carefully, to avoid the problem of ingrowns. If they're not too dark, simply trim the hair off at the surface of the skin, with a pair of curved nail scissors.

Snail Trail: There's nothing you want to see less above your hipsters than a line of dark hair. If you're fair-skinned and have medium-hued hair - or only a few dark ones - bleaching will airbrush it out. Depilatory cream and waxes are also safe to use on this area.

Furry Arms: They're a fact of life for many women, particularly those with Mediterranean backgrounds. Some (like Penelope Cruz, no less), see their hairy arms as being natural and very sexy, but for others they're a major issue. If so, bleaching these hairs is a cinch - but is only effective on light skins and fairer hairs - otherwise, an at-home or salon wax is your best sleeveless bet.

Toe Tufts: Why spoil the effect of those meticulous pedicures and summer's sexy sandals with... hair toes? De-fuzz your digits by shaving or waxing with cold-wax strips.

Follicle Flare-Ups: Follicles aren't always too happy about having their hairs ripped out and can sometimes flare up in response. When you get these pimply-looking spots, resist all temptations to pick, squeeze and exfoliate, which could lead to further infection. Instead, use an antiseptic cream or lotion until the skin calms down.

Stubborn Ingrowns: You go to all that de-fuzzing effort and... all you get are in-grown hairs! If you're ingrown-prone, you're probably not exfoliating properly, so start to dry body brush and shower-scrub regularly (keep this up post-wax, but go gently). Regular moisturizing will also help. You do all this and still get the bumps? Either go back to your beauty therapist, who should lance out the trapped hair for you at no cost, or treat it yourself with a dead-cell dissolving lotion (anything with salicylic acid in it should do the trick). When the hair starts to peep out from the bump, carefully flick it out with sterilized tweezers, and dab on antiseptic.

Face Facts

Got a five o'clock shadow to rival your man's? Here are a few face-saving solutions...

"Witchy" hairs: Tweezers can be employed on finer hairs but if the strands are dark and coarse, plucking could lead to ingrowns. In this case, brace yourself for electrolysis. If the hair sprouts from moles, see a doctor.

Major mo: If the hairs aren't too dark and your skin is fair, you can bleach them. Wax is best left to salon therapists, unless you're really confident (in which case, use cool wax strips, or a sensitive-skin hot wax).

Bushy brows: Get a professional shaping from the start. After that, if you're happy with the line, you can maintain it at home by regularly tweezing the regrowth.

"Peach-fuzz" face: De-fuzzing strategies include using facial depilatories and pre-waxed strips. But these methods generally have fast regrowth; you may want to consider longer-lasting methods (laser or electrolysis).

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

New Blog Address

The new blog migration is ready. For those of you who only logged onto the Internet like once every week or month (or maybe... a year), the new blog URL is http://puniaopuniao.blogatize.net/. Following us is still easy to manage too!

On your BlogSpot Dashboard, scroll all the way to the bottom and you'll see a Reading List, and there'll be 2 blue tabs namely Add and Manage. Just click on Add and enter the new blog URL manually and voila!, you'll be following our blog at the new URL in an instant!!

And as said on the previous post, Missy Yuuko won't be migrating with me and the blog, so it'll be a one woman show and the next new post will be coming up a.s.a.p while I try to figure out the buttons that control Wordpress...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

10 Great New Reasons To Get Fit

10 Great New Reasons To Get Fit Flat abs? Better biceps? That's just the beginning. Exercise is the best natural fix for life's problems according to the latest cutting-edge research.

You'll stay younger, for much longer
Astonishing but true: new research shows that by lifting weights you can actually slow the rate at which your body ages. Researchers discovered that compared with a group of sedentary people, those who strength-trained three times a week had limited damage from free radicals, harmful molecules that have been implicated in the ageing process, heart disease and some cancers. "You don't have to be in the gym all day. In this study, participants did one set each of 12 exercises, such as leg presses and seated rowing, which took as little as 15 minutes," says a lead researcher.

You'll sleep better
Dreamy news for insomniacs: performing some cardio-vascular workout, such as walking or running, for about 30 minutes in the late afternoon will help you get peaceful zzz's at night, according to researchers at the Respiratory Sciences and Sleep Disorders Centre at the University of Arizona. Exercise, they found, ensures sounder shut-eye by upping oxygen consumption and raising body temperature y a few degrees. That's enough to lull even a night owl to sleep.

You'll be a quitter
Smokers who exercise are twice as likely to kick the habit as those who lounge about doing nothing, according to a study published in Archives Of Internal Medicine. Women who did 40 minutes of cardio exercises three times a week also gained half as much weight after quitting. The natural drug effect of exercise - its stress, mood and weight control abilities - helps maintain abstinence from smoking.

You'll have a healthier pregnancy
Consistent cardio exercise, such as jogging for three hours a week, may cut the odds of miscarriage by 40 percent, say researchers at Columbia University School in New York. While the reason is still unclear, regular exercise may help fend off hormonal changes, cutting the risk of uterine contractions, which cause miscarriages. Rigorous exercise also makes sense for expectant mothers because it limits the chance that you'll have a low-weight or premature baby or suffer from postpartum depression. Discuss your exercise plan with your doctor.

You'll hit 100
Workouts will give you some immediate payoffs - say, the right to eat another donut. But they also pay off in the long term, by influencing your longevity. The reason: shapeups help ward off dangerous cholesterol highs, strengthen arteries and can significantly slash your risk of stroke. The amazing stats: 30,000 men and women in Denmark who exercise at least five minutes a week were significantly less likely to die in the following 14 years than their couch-bound counterparts. The landmark study, conducted at the University of Copenhagen, also showed that women benefitted from doing physically demanding jobs - such as cleaning or nursing. These actually seemed to decrease the risk of early death by 10 percent.

You'll toss out those painkillers
Exercisers swear by a good sweat to ease pain from backaches, cramps and more. Now, new research shows that 25 minutes of biking (or any cardio workout) can dull pain, and that the effect can last up to 30 minutes post-work-out.

You'll think faster
What's the best way to be a quick thinker? A study from the University of Illinois showed that just 45 minutes of rapid walking, three days a week can speed up your ability to reason and make decisions. Why? While the brain accounts for only 2 percent of your body weight, it uses a huge 20 percent of the glucose and whopping 23 percent of all the oxygen you take into your body! Exercise improves circulation, and the obviously, the more efficiently your body delivers oxygen, the better nourished your brain cells will be.

You'll have hot sex
Don't bother with fancy chemical and mystical herbal sex aids. Studies show that exercise may help you to do it better. Why? A healthier physique can boost a woman's self-esteem, making her feel sexier. But exercise's benefits aren't purely psychological. Physical activity improves circulation and mediates stress hormones - so that your body feels better, even sexier.

You'll feel happier
A daily 30-minute walk or antidepressant medications - which is more effective at beating depression? Powerful news for sufferers: both work equally well to relieve short as well as long -term symptoms of depression, according to a study from Duke University in North Carolina. Symptoms of depression include sleeplessness, appetite loss and lack of energy. Exercise has a feel better effect because it boosts feel-good chemicals called endorphins and gives people a greater sense of self-confidence. Lowering your pill bill might also bring on a smile.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

#23: Best Friend Bust-Up

Best Friend Bust-Up Why do many of us insist on keeping a friend we no longer - to be honest - really like? Sometimes, you just have to make a break. Here's when you should and how to do it gracefully.

It was a pretty odd time for someone to be drunk - 6am - but as soon as I heard Cass slurring over the telephone, I knew she'd been at the bottle. Again. She was deliriously drunk and happy; I was at one of my lowest ebbs. My father had just died and I'd been sorting through his things with my family. I told her it wasn't a good time for me to talk. "What you need is a drink," she bellowed. I didn't want to tell her what happened. It was only a week until Christmas and I had no desire to depress her. Besides, had she ever really listened to my troubles? Then she said, "Don't tell me something terrible has happened. Don't tell me one of your parents had died. Ugh, I don't need to hear that now." Well, she'd guessed what was wrong, but she'd also let me know just what kind of a friend she'd be if I needed solace. I did, of course. But not from her. So I switched my cell phone off and ignored her remorseful SMS messages. I knew if I logged on, my e-mail would be bulging.

What Kind Of Pal...?
This wasn't the sole reason I decided I no longer wanted her to be my friend. It was simply the culmination of what had been a sham of friendship for years. I could share the good times with Cass, but, hey, please - no misery around her. Why had I kept on seeing her when I knew there were plenty of other women in my life who were much more nicer, warmer, kinder and better friends? Experts says that at the age of 66 she no longer has anyone in her life that she doesn't want. Sounds fab but how does she do it? "As you get older you realize that you just can't waste your precious time with people who aren't pleasant. But it takes a long time to get there. Well, it's nice to know that in a few decades, we might be able to tell Cass to get lost. But experts urges us not to wait. Women are raised to put others' needs before their own, and that includes other women. We feel guilty and selfish if we don't. It's the same with relatives. So many women go on seeing people they just don't like because it's expected and we think it looks good to other people. A lot of women would rather be good than happy. Which do you want? Harsh words but so true.

It's all about our precious, precious time. A mature women can shift out the dead wood from her life because she doesn't know how much longer she'll be around. But we younger women don't have the luxury of time either. So much of our time is crammed full of working, sleeping, eating and traveling - there isn't really a whole lot of time left to spend with the people you care about. So why spend time with people who are hateful or anything less than damn good mates? "Because sometimes you find that a friend has got you in a bind," says Krissie who has for years been trying to offload a former childhood friend. She says: "My mother says I’ve always attracted 'lame ducks'. I'm the one who always gets the nut sitting next to me on the bus. That's how it was with Millie. "We met in elementary school and she clung to me like a leech. When she attempted suicide, I couldn't just dump her, could I? She has real problems and I do sympathize. But this isn't a true friendship, is it?"

Chum Convenience
We often become friends through circumstances more than choice. The best example is the work colleague who becomes a pal because you share so much. Then one of you leaves the firm and you realize all you had in common were shared experiences and now they've gone, so has the basis for your friendship. A simple test to work out whether a friend is really a friend, or just someone you see out of duty. Does she always ring you? How do you feel when you hear her voice on the phone? If your heart sinks or you don't pick up when you see her number on ID caller, it's time to reassess. Think about what you don't like about her. Maybe one of you has changed, but the friendship hasn't. Friendship need to move on, as much as people do. You could also find yourself gradually facing the fact that this so-called friend of yours has actually spent the entire relationship subtly putting you down. Now, with a bit more confidence and self-assurance, you may well think it's time for you to say "enough".

Of course it's never easy to tell someone that you think they're using you, or just that you find them boring. So most of us just let the friendship tail off, we don't return calls, we make sure we're always busy. Eventually, she gets it. Few of us front-up about it, unless of course there's been a fight. Jenni loved putting Christine down whenever they were with other friends. So why did Christine put up with it so long when her other friends couldn't stand Jenni? Christine knows why Jenni behaves like that: she's insecure and nervous in crowds. So she gets drunk and goes over the top. But she can be really sweet and Christine is basically the only friend Jenni has. They say you're stuck with your family but you can choose your friends. Sometimes though, you can feel just as stuck with friends. I'd find it very hard to drop Jenni and, yes, Christine have tried confronting her over the way she belittles her - but all she does is cry, promise never to do it again and then does. What can Christine do?

Making The Break
Sometimes an open fight or frank discussion will change a friendship that isn't going well. But in many cases, as with Christine and Jenni, your friend feels attacked and just defends herself. If you have the kind of friend who just says, 'I'm perfect, leave me alone' then all the frank talk in the world can't change a thing. So the only thing might be to withdraw. It's worth trying to change it... but if you can't, do you really have the energy and time for a friendship that doesn't do it for you? Long-term friendships are what make life worth living. And the longer you know people, the more you've shared together, the greater the understanding. You even speak in a kind of shorthand that both of you understand. That's the kind of friendship worth having. Why have any other?

Why indeed. This is why it's common for women in their 20s to start weeding people out of their lives and sifting out is healthy. You may find yourself in a friendship that's no longer functional so you have to get out of it. It's unrealistic to think that all the friends we ever make can last forever, because they can't - nor should they. Friendships change because we change, leaving to let go is important. We all tend to have transitional people in our lives, people who're there for us at a specific time and help us move from one stage to another. But it’s usually mutual and beneficial for both parties to move on. It's unhealthy not to let people go. If you cling onto old friends, no matter what, you're probably a bit insecure. This is usually rooted in a fear of abandonment, which goes back to early childhood. If you think that's why you hang onto all friendships, even bad ones, it might help for you to work out why you fear losing people. Professional counseling can be a help, but for most women, all that's needed is a good, emotional stock-take. Just realizing what's going on may be enough to help you make the break.

Time To Let Go
Why hang onto all the flotsam and jetsam that attaches itself to you? There's nothing wrong with being selective. Listen to your feelings: if they're telling you that a friend has not only outlived her role in your life, but she's actively taking energy and emotion from you, it's time to let her go. However, it's much harder for some women to be assertive in personal relationships than in, say, a restaurant. He says letting things drift may be crueler than telling someone straight out. It's easier just to be unavailable but the problem is that you're not giving someone a clear message; wouldn't that be kinder? After all, if this so-called friend were a boyfriend, you'd soon get rid of him, wouldn't you? Sure, it's much harder with our girl friends because they've usually seen us through so many painful, experiences with and without men. Yet this is precisely why friendships are too important to throw away on someone who isn't worthy. We often make bad friendships at a time when we're not very sure of ourselves: new job, new man, starting at university. But once you become a bit more self-assured, and know what you want from life, there really is no need to hang onto someone who isn't really there for you/

And if telling a bloke who's been a real bastard to get lost can boost your confidence, there's nothing quite like saying a final goodbye to a cruel friend, as Christine discovered: "It's not as if I hadn't warned Jenni that I didn't like the way she kept putting me down. So I just said to her one night, enough is enough. I didn't want her around anymore. I felt guilty at first as she switched on the inevitable tears but then I was angry. I realized she was just manipulating me. Always had been. Once I stood back and saw this 'friendship' for what it really was, I no longer felt emotionally bound to her. It was such a relief. I feel ready for anything." And so can you, if you let that unworthy friend go. I'm telling Cass tonight...

How To Ditch A Bitch

» Tell her that you've been promoted so you will have very little time for any friends for the next six weeks/month/years.

» Say you're too preoccupied with your own problems to be a decent friend to anyone.

» Explain that you want a six-month break from her because your friendship is so intense, it's taking too much out of you.

» Confess that you don't think that you've been able to be a good friend to her and you want her to find someone else to befriend her.

» Tell her straight that you don't think the friendship is working out, but stress that it's no-one's fault. It's just one of those things.

» Gradually withdraw, don't answer her calls and don't initiate any contact. She'll assume that you've just drifted apart. If she's still too thick-skinned, change your number.

» Decline every invitation she extends to you, no matter how entertaining it is.

» Be honest and kind: say that you feel you've grown apart and that you could both find better friendships elsewhere.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Is Your Star Sign Making You Fat?

Is Your Star Sign Making You Fat? Ever wondered why you'd sell your mother for a Mars bar, while your best friend would rather scoff Big Macs? Well, it turns out our food weaknesses are governed by our star signs. But there is a way to beat your cosmic cravings.

Aries: March 22 - April 20
You're always on the go, so you tend to grab any greasy snack you can find! It's not that you have a fatty-food fetish, but french fries make such a convenient fuel when you want to keep your energy level up as you run around. Since you find cooking boring - why slave over a hot stove when you could be out having fun? - you need to take the time to plan your meals ahead, experiment and try popping a healthy snack in your groovy bag to beat those hunger pangs.

Cosmic cravings: Strong-tasking foods such as sinfully rich curries and disgustingly gorgeous deep-fried chicken.

Healthy Alternatives: Appeal to your fashion-conscious nature by snacking on stylish foods - lots of Zen-style stuff like sushi with pickled ginger and tofu burgers with chili sauce.

Eat More: Cooling foods such as melon, cucumber and salad. Also, stock up on carbohydrates such as pasta and rice for extra energy while you're racing around town.

Taurus: April 21 - May 21
You love luxury, which means indulging yourself with the best comfort food money can buy. Unfortunately, that means you often struggle with those extra pounds. Your ruling planet is Venus, who is also the ruler of honey - so you have a sweet tooth, too. When you suspect an attack of misery (and therefore a binge) is coming on, get out, make a point of eating with others and copy what that health freak is doing!

Cosmic cravings: Comfort foods like cakes, biscuits, chocolates and creamy sauces.

Healthy alternatives: Trick that sweet tooth with low-fat chocolate drinks, low-fat milks and luxuriously sweet fruits.

Eat more: Fiber and energizing foods such as broccoli and mangoes.

Gemini: May 22 - June 22
You have loads of get up and go, and your naturally high stress levels usually keep you slim! For you, food has to be interesting and you are drawn to contrast in flavors, but as you're impatient, you can be a total fast-food junkie. You're a people person - to really enjoy cooking, your kitchen needs to be packed full of friends! Never shop when hungry; better still, with your natural talent for computers, log on and go for home shopping (and delivery) instead.

Cosmic cravings: Loads of sweets, crisps and chips.

Healthy alternatives: Pack dried fruit and low-fat crackers into your handbag for low-fat, healthy snacking.

Eat more: Fresh fruits and salads.

Cancer: June 23 - July 23
As the material moon rules your sign, you love taking care of others, and that includes feeding them with wholesome-but-yummy dishes, which you'll happily pick at when cooking! You love cream, but your body finds it hard to digest, so you should buy low-fat dairy products - especially sweet yoghurts for a quick dessert. You have a weakness for fine wine (which has loads of hidden calories) so try to keep it down to one glass a night.

Cosmic cravings: Anything creamy, as well as indulgent munchies such as fried fritters.

Healthy alternatives: Fat-free yoghurt with honey and low-fat soya substitutes will give you that creamy fix, without all the calories and fats.

Eat more: Citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables.

Leo: July 24 - August 23
You don't have the patience or inclination to spend hours cooking, but you love going to glamorous restaurants - for you, food is yet another reason to celebrate. Eating until you're ready to burst is probably one of your biggest downfalls, but pigging out - then skipping meals - isn't the path to good health. Try to eat smaller meals more often to keep your energy levels even and the calories down.

Cosmic cravings: Fried food, luxurious desserts and anything that looks good.

Healthy alternatives: Choose stir-fries over deep-fried foods, slurp on steamboats, and make your own glamorous desserts with tropical fruits.

Eat more: Strawberries and root vegetables.

Virgo: August 24 - September 23
You're health conscious, but when stress hits, you often find it difficult to eat and your digestive system becomes sensitive. Your diet obsession means you can sometimes be a little too strict and sometimes a naughty treat would give you the buzz you need. Also, avoid fad dieting and cutting out whole food groups - you'll just stress yourself out more over that. Do your research and supplement your diet with multi-vitamins.

Cosmic cravings: Cheese snacks and high-energy drinks that are often full of sugar.

healthy alternatives: Skip the sports drinks for water or fresh fruit juices; and try low-fat cheese.

Eat more: Foods rich in vitamin B, such as dark green leafy vegetables.

Libra: September 24 - October 24
Your indecisiveness can make cooking a tricky business - you'll often give up almost before you turn on the stove! But you love good food and getting anyone to cook for you brings a sense of excitement, especially if you know you're in for a luxurious and stylish feast. To resist bingeing on comfort foods, stock up on quick but healthy alternatives and don't even buy those biscuits in the first place!

Cosmic cravings: Cheesecake, chocolate and exotic sauces.

Healthy alternatives: Exotic doesn't have to mean sugar-filled; try snacking on low-fat frozen yoghurts, fruit, yoghurt with honey or pureed fruit.

Eat more: Cereals and other fiber sources.

Scorpio: October 25 - November 22
Being ruled by transforming Pluto, your food needs to be full of variety and taste. For you, eating just isn't about fuelling your body - it's a chance to indulge yet another one of your senses. However, sometimes you fall into the trap of being erratic about your eating habits without even realizing what you're doing, so keep an eye on your eating patterns. Regular meals will nurture and give you a sense of well-being - don't underestimate your needs.

Cosmic cravings: Chocolate, rich desserts, strong flavors, rich dishes with peppers, cream and wine.

Healthy alternatives: Indulge your sensual side with low-fat aphrodisiacs such as oysters and strawberries.

Eat more: Raw fruit, cereals (rather than fried noodles for breakfast), and drink more water to flush out your system.

Sagittarius: November 23 - December 22
You often treat food as a refueling pit stop, gulping on the go. You're social, but fancy restaurants don't do it for you, you'd rather share a burger or hot dog with friends at the park or an outdoors event. You need to slow down and realize what you're eating. Foods with interesting herbs and spices will appeal, if you just take some time out to taste them properly!

Cosmic cravings: Greasy pizzas and rich oriental sauces.

Healthy alternatives: Make your own pizza instead, with low-fat cheese, and skip the coconut milk-based curries in flavor of nice veggie stir-fries.

Eat more: Vegetables and carbohydrates - especially brown rice - for sustenance.

Capricorn: December 23 - January 20
You're so practical and busy that you don't often fuss about food. But you have a soft spot for familiar foods - traditional family recipes that you enjoyed as a child are often favorites. While you rarely put on weight, it doesn't necessarily follow that you're a healthy eater! Those family favorites are often dripping with oil. Always buy the best cuts of meat and never skimp on lots of healthy vegetables.

Cosmic cravings: Chips, fried rice, rich sauces and creamy desserts.

Healthy alternatives: Little changes make a big difference - eat those family favorites with steamed rice instead, and choose vinegar dressing for your salads.

Eat more: Salads, raw vegetables, healthy carbohydrates, and make time to enjoy!

Aquarius: January 21 - February 19
One day you'll e preaching about food additives and genetically modified food and the next, grabbing a fast food burger! But the human body is sensitive and doesn't like having fat and gristle pumped into it after being "clean" for so long. Balance your diet and think about how you're mixing your foods. Stock up on basics like tinned fish, frozen veggies, noodles and rice for fast nutritious meals (though watch that starch!)

Cosmic cravings: Ice-cream, sticky desserts, starch.

Healthy alternatives: Foods that are packed with flavor as well as nutrients, such as frozen yoghurt, pureed and frozen fruit, and experiment with pulses.

Eat more: Fruit and fish.

Pisces: February 20 - March 21
Being an emotional sign, when stress hits, the weight tends to pile on. However, you can also forget about basics of eating! This see-saw confuses your body, making it hard to build up fitness or lose weight. Bring your eating habits into line and start your day well, with a good breakfast; also, eating smaller meals more often will stop your binge/starving tendencies. You enjoy the romance of eating with other people - particularly friends - but usually find cooking boring. Try a vegetarian restaurant instead of a pizza parlor.

Cosmic cravings: Vodka Red Bulls, avocados, wine.

Healthy alternatives: White wine spritzers, gin and tonic, fruit drinks and salads (hold the salad cream).

Eat more: Fiber and drink more water.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Act Like A Man

Act Like A Man People talk about getting in touch with their inner child, but what about releasing your inner man? Take your cue from male behavior and put yourself first... for a change. Trust us, you'll love it!

It was at my niece's birthday party that I discovered how useful it is to "play it like a man". We watching the happily screaming kids, and their party food was laid out for them, while we adults were due to eat our "grown-up" meal a couple of hours later. I was starving. I could have eaten a whole child, with or without sauce. What to do? Sneak away to the cafe and order a quick sandwich? Carry on starving stoically? See if anyone else was hungry too, take orders from them and nip down to the nearest hawker stall?

In a guy's shoes
"What would a guy do?" I asked myself. I knew the answer: forget the rest of them, forget etiquette. I'd been up since the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning to help my sister prepare this party, skipped breakfast and missed lunch. So I simply walked to a nearby cafe, ordered a sandwich, came back and ate it. No explanation. No "Oh I'm so sorry to eat in front of you all, it's just that..." Didn't bother with any of it. It wasn't a crime. Why should I explain? All I did was put my needs first. Further, I didn't explain myself nor hope that everyone still loved me despite my refusal to self-sacrifice, to think of others, to empathize, assume some of them might be hungry too. And this is how women are conditioned to act. Even if we're the main earners in our families, most of us are either expected to, or take on, an additional caring role. We may do the same job as men now, but we've kept the essentially "female" roles too. Don't you ever find it truly exhausting?

If we're to occupy the same place as men in the workplace, or at least strive to, shouldn't we also have some of their privileges? The best one being the right, occasionally, to put yourself first? To think of your own needs and not bother charging around, trying to please others all the time? Of course this can sound dangerously self-centered. But there's a Chinese proverb too, isn't there? If I am not for me, who will be? Men find this much easier to adhere to, I think, than women. We're taught to please, and we're afraid to court disapproval; terrified of being too selfish. It makes some kind of sense too because we do bear children - so perhaps some of this need to nurture others is innate. But most of us are way off bearing children, so there's no need to constantly put others first in the way that we'll have no choice but to do once we have given birth. Why not take advantage of our childfree state while we can? Why not take a cue from men?

Feel guilty? Naah!
"It's like asking a man if he feels guilty for eating too much chocolate or drinking too many beers on a night out," says my friend Lil. "They look at your like you're crazy or something. What? Me, a man feel guilty? What on earth for?" In fact, time spent in male company can be quite a tonic after too many girlie nights moaning about the size of your thighs (yawn) the number of calories consumed (even bigger yawn) and whether he loves you or not (zzzzzz). Lil again: "Men just don't angst like this. They are far more straightforward in their dealings with their bellies and their wallets. "Okay, maybe they worry a bit about someone they really like and whether she likes them too, and should they make a move now or leave it because she might think they're a bit too keen... That sort of thing. But they wouldn't dream of beating themselves up the way we women do for eating too much or drinking too much."

Men put themselves first because they're allowed to. Not all men are raised by male-worshipping mothers who teach them to expect the best because they deserve it. But many are. And if you have brothers, you'll know how infuriating it can be that you can do three hours of household chores a day that don't even get noticed, but he only has to offer to wash up once in a blue moon to be showered with gratitude. It's like the story of the brother and sister, both busy executives who have moved away from home. The woman visits her parents every weekend, carries out chores for them, bring gifts, is in every way the dutiful daughter? The man comes home for the odd holiday, doesn't do a chore, doesn't offer any financial help and forgets to bring a gift. His mother is always overjoyed to see him but thinks her daughter an ungrateful, selfish child who only visits once a week. No wonder man rarely feel guilt and find it easy to put themselves first. They've been trained to be No. 1 in their world from day one.

Too much empathy
Why should we women act that way sometimes, too? One gift we females tend to have over the boys is empathy. We can feel our way into someone else's soul. We've frequently been taught to think of others first, to imagine how they feel, so why not turn these lessons to our advantage for a change? Let's say they're looking for volunteers at work, to put in a few extra hours on the weekend because there's a big audit due and it'll really help the company. You're planning to move. This is a going-nowhere company and you've already had offers. There is nothing to gain from working over. It might make you feel good to do a good deed but this is work we're talking about. The cut-throat world of commerce, not a friend or family member who needs you. As a woman, the appeal would undoubtedly be directed straight at your heart. It's hard to refuse. Why not duck and let that arrow miss your heart and hit your head instead? Look at it with cold logic. What's in it for you?

"It sounds so selfish to put yourself like this but it's what men do, isn't it?" says Janice, a fellow friend. "And it doesn't seem to fo their careers any harm." Janice is tired of watching the men skive as much as they can at work, ducking the difficult tasks, while taking praise for ideas not their own. "Women will work far harder than they need and waste much time trying to please people - instead of just getting on with the job," adds Janice.

Feminizing men
Men are frequently exhorted to act more like women. We're told that the world of work is becoming more feminized, what with the "knowledge-based" industries like IT booming. Men must get in touch with their softer sides if they're to succeed, goes the mantra. Otherwise, they'll be left behind. Hello? I haven't noticed the world suddenly becoming woman-shaped and orientated, have you? Yes, men could use a few softer skills, the so-called feminine traits. But why should they? If they've nothing to gain from it, believe me, they won't bother. They'll still prefer beer-and-leer nights to sweet talk'n'empathy. They won't become more like us unless they perceive a reason to. And the only time they might be is when they want to get close to a woman. Then they cheerfully admit they'll "play the game" as Thomas candidly told me one night.

"Look, all men know the score: you have to do the touchy feely stuff, and I don't mean physically, unfortunately. Girls like talking and they like you to listen. But to be honest, this is going somewhere really special. I only pretend to be a sweet sensitive guy. I'm there for what I can get, I see no reason why women shouldn't act the same sometimes?" Some men claim we do just that. We pretend to care because we want the diamonds and furs some guys will shower on us. But that's not taking it like a man. Taking it like a man, rather than a gold-digging hussy is being straight, up-front and honest. "I wish women would be more like men," adds Thomas. "It'd sure make life easier if a girl would tell you straight-up whether she was interested or not. Or even when doing something simple, like trying to choose a film to watch together. I hate it when girls say, 'I don't mind. You choose.' You should mind. You should have an opinion. And chances are, you do. Why not come out and say it?"

Say it like a man
Being a man does not mean stomping over everyone else. It just means using your feminine nous to know there are times when saying straight out what you think or want, is far better than namy-pambying around. So the next time your boss calls you for an appraisal ask yourself, "How would a man handle this?" If you're asked to do more than your share at work or at home, think: "Would they ask this if I were a man?" Getting in touch with the inner male warrior inside us all is an excellent way to refuse to be treated like second-class citizens just because we happened to be born with a different set of chromosomes to the guys. Men aren't perfect but nor are they the enemy. We can learn from their straight-talking ways. So if you're ever in a bit of a fix and can't think of a way to deal with it, take a breath and think "man". It might just give you the answer your crave.

How To Do It Like A Man
You're asked to work late with no notice, and you have plans for that night.
A woman's way:
Reluctantly agree and cancel your carefully laid plans. Moan ceaselessly or mutter under your breath about "inconsiderate people".

A man's way: Say you have plans for that night so no, just can't do it. No more explanation offered. No great, crowd-moving speeches. Just a simple statement of fact: "Sorry, I can't. I have plans."

Your mother asks you to clean the house for the fifth time this week. You think that you're already doing more than your share.
A woman's way:
Complain, have a go at the homework, say it's not fair, and why doesn't everyone else do their share, look how much I've already done.

A man's way: Point out you've done plenty already and refuse. No more explanation. To the point. And repeat it, if necessarily, to show you mean it.

You need to take a faulty item back to the store. You know that you have rights but you're not in the mood for any kind of fight.
A woman's way:
You stutter and practically apologize to the sales person or manager because they sold you something that doesn't work.

A man's way: You point out that the goods are faulty, have your receipt to hand and demand a full refund. You refuse to leave the shop till you have it. Employ the stuck CD method where you keep saying what you want over and over again, until you get it.

Your love partner seems to be cooling towards you. You want to know where you stand but all attempts to sort this prove futile. He simply says, "Everything's fine."
A woman's way:
You assume it's all your fault. You must have done something wrong. You jump through fire-rimmed hoops, do whatever it takes, to try and please this person and win back the affection you know they once felt for you.

A man's way: You produce the evidence. You point out this person has been "out" several times recently when you called and appears to show little interest. You want to know, one way or another, is this still a going concern or not? (If the answer is not, you walk away head held high, then bawl your eyes out when no-one else can see.)

A friend owes you money. You're flat broke and need it back. Your friend shows no signs of repaying, despite frequent hints, but clearly could afford to repay.
A woman's way:
You go on and on about how broke you are. You ask ever-so-nicely if they could repay the loan and then meekly accept it when they say that they can't... yet, somehow, have funds for a $800 new dress.

A man's way: You say you want the money back and you want it now. You add the threat that if they don't repay, you go to their parents or employers for that sum. And you never call this person a friend again.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

#20: 5 Ways To Make A Man Commit

5 Ways To Make A Man Commit How come all your friends seem to be meeting Mr. Forever and you're stuck with Mr. Maybe? Could be you're breaking one of these five relationship sins.

"It's not you. It's me."
"I've met someone else."
"It's getting too serious."
"I don't love you anymore."

Those are the top excuses he'll give for leaving, as sung by that commitment-phobic bastard formerly known as The One. It was hearing those painful phrases over and over that made me curious as to why some men cannot commit and others don't. For most of us, it's the same old story. You meet, you date, you introduce him to your parents. In the beginning he goes out of his way to make you like him - he laughs at your jokes and "blames the dog" for you. For 18 months it isn't exactly Brad and Jennifer but it's not Tommy and Pammy, either. Then, one fateful day, a friend gets engaged and you decide it's time for "the talk". Will he commit or won't he? Well, go back to the list of excuses above and circle the pathetic reasons he gave. It hurts, of course, because you couldn't understand why. You know plenty of women in long-lasting, loving relationships, so what's their secret? Why won't it happen for you? Chances are, if you've been breaking even one of the five relationship rules listed here, you'll have found your answer.

The 1st commandment:

Thou shalt retain thy independence

Men love independence women - the type of girl who can fend for herself, spend nights alone or with friends (without him), and not have to rely on him for everything. He wants to know that, if he ever did have to leave (heaven forbid), you'd be able to get along without him. After all, one of the first things that turned his head in your direction was that wily mind of your own. Remember when your opinion was your own, and his opinion was his? He doesn't want to make love to, or live with a carbon copy of himself. Especially if you were two different peas in very different pods in the beginning. Oh, and there's something else. Does he manage your bank account, decide where you go on weekends and what videos you watch? If you leave everything up to him, he'll get bored of being your personal assistance and move on. As a 25-year-old man who wishes to remain anonymous puts it: "I want someone who can keep me on my toes. Which means she'd have her bags packed and be out the door within half an hour if I started expecting that everything would go my way or if I took too much for granted."

Spontaneity is a huge plus in any relationship. Keeping your relationship new and fresh will keep him coming back for more. Don't be at his beck-and-call. If he rings you on a Friday night and you've already arranged cocktails with the girls, keep your plans. You can always spend the rest of the weekend in his arms. Sure, a guy needs to know you're into him, for the relationship to work but if he thinks he's the only person in your address book, he'll start to wonder why. Think about the couples that you love and endure. The most stand-out thing about any good relationship is that both people in them have strong identities of their own. Men want a girlfriend who won't lose her sense of self, her ambitions, her desires and her values simply because she fell in love. She won't be dominated, controlled or relegated to second place to keep someone else happy. And she knows that giving up her identity is the quickest way to make her man lose interest!

Warning: Don't swing between ice-princess and a roll of cling film just to keep him interested. No-one likes a game-player and if your man doesn't feel some genuine emotion in those come-here-go-away vibes, you'll be left waiting for the phone to ring for a very long time.

The 2nd commandment:

Thou shalt keep him guessing and guessing

Men get restless if you deal them the same cards day in, day out. If he can guess your response to any situation, you'll both sink into a rut any sane person would want to escape from. Think about it: how does your man react when he gets the same aftershave from grandma every Christmas? Sure, he might not ask to be written out of her will, but she's family - he doesn't have to put up with the "same old thing" from you. If your relationship is predictable, you can bet the outcome will be as well. If you are spontaneous and carefree, you'll both have a wonderful time. By proving you are an unpredictable, caring, beautiful person, you'll earn your boyfriend's love and respect. When it comes to our relationships with men, we often focus on our physical stimulation, expecting good sex to be enough to make our men love us forever.

But men can get sex anywhere; what they can't get is a woman who respects them enough to care about their happiness. The brain is the largest sex organ of all. We need to learn how to satisfy each other mentally; to arouse each other's curiosity to tap into our partner's sense of adventure. Of course, sex is important, too, but it's just as important to know how to blow his mind, as his.. well, you get the picture. A relationship needs change to keep it hot. Don't be afraid to try new things. You wouldn't want you guy to have the same silly beard and moustache for years, now, would you? Go to the football match with him, take him out to dinner once in a while. Surprise him, keep him guessing. Broaden your horizons and he'll be there with you for the entire journey.

Warning: Be interesting and surprising, not shocking and disturbing. Showing up at his workplace dressed as his favorite porn starlet may be taking things too far.

The 3rd commandment:

Thou shalt let him come to his own conclusions

You've been together for an all time personal record and you know him so well, you could easily speak on his behalf. In fact, you do. Someone asks if you've seen the latest movie. You say: "We loved that!" A friend sees you guy eyeing a pretty waitress: "Oh, he wouldn't do that. He doesn't find tall girls attractive." Someone asks what your boyfriend would think of you flirting with a male colleague. Your response: "Oh, he wouldn't mind." You've planned the future as one half of an "us" for a while now, and you think he feels the same - about everything. You assume his tastes are a perfect match for your own. You've instilled your man with a taste for culture ("We love going to the theatre!" and weaned him off the footy ("Oh, no, we'd hate to sit at home all day watching TV.") Then, out of the blue, the man who never found fault with your cooking/driving/taste in music, puts your mother to shame with his ability to pick you apart. Mr.-Agrees-With-Everything-You-Do is now Mr. Au Contraire. If, all of a sudden, he's become the personification of everything you hate in a man - a heavy-metal listening, women-hating, tracksuit-wearing, pub-after-work, fart-out-loud kind of guy - ask yourself why. How, in the space of mere months, could Mr. Perfect have turned into a disagreeable stick-in-the-mud?

Perhaps it's because you're taking credit for everything he does or says. Does this list of oft-said girlfriendisms sound familiar? "You should have seen how he dressed before he met me!"; "We both love anything with Gwyneth Paltrow in it..."; "Oh, I cut his hair for him.."; "He doesn't like going anywhere without me." If so, it's time to back off, baby. Give the guy a break. He's allowed to have his own tastes, interests and feelings. He's even allowed to flirt occasionally. If he's griping about the relationship, complaining about commitment and whining about his freedom, it's probably because he feels suffocated by you. And the only sure way to get him to come around is to give him some breathing space to be himself. Don't force the issue. Take a deep breath and step aside. If he sees that you are respectful of his boundaries, he'll loosen up and feel like he can agree with you on certain things again, while maintaining his own views on others. Which means, when he says, "I hate anchovies on pizza," you can say, "Oh, okay. we'll just get them on my half, then." And you'll both be happier for it.

Warning: If you really let him be himself, you'll probably find the house infested with beer-guzzling mates on days football is on (a good time to hit the shops?). And you may have to feign amusement at the occasional fart joke.

The 4th commandment:

Thou shalt keep the faith

Here's a late-breaking news item: men want the same things women want from a relationship. They may act like they reside on the fourth rock from the sun, but if you believe you're the only one who wants love, peace and commitment, he'll think you're not interested in what he wants, thinks or feels. Don't subscribe to that "gender-specific traits" argument. If you go into a relationship believing men are programmed to cheat, you'll never trust him - and he'll know it. If you can't trust him, he'll wonder why you're with him in the first place, which will make him think you want to "change" him, a definite turn-off. Like us, guys want to be accepted for who they are.

Couples with successful relationships have managed to negotiate the minefield of infatuation, pursuit, seduction and conquest to finally establish a loyal, committed partnership. And the only way you can do that is via your parents' favorite word: compromise. It's all about appreciating each other as friends, as well as lovers, and respecting that you each have the right to be happy. Unfortunately, we don't always agree on what will be best for us as a couple, so you sometimes have to bite your tongue and let your man have his way, or vice versa, for the ultimate good of the relationship. Most "happy couples" find peace through trial-and-error, but you may be able to hurry things along if you stop seeing him as the enemy and appreciate that you might just have different ways of reaching the same end result. If you encourage each other with genuine love and support, it should be plain sailing.

Warning: To know what you both want, you need to talk. But be careful: you may hear a few nasty home truths. If you want "two kids, one of each" and he wants to remain rug-rat free forever, you'll have to admit he isn't the man of your dreams, after all.

The 5th commandment:

Thou shalt not expect too much of him

So he doesn't buy you flowers every day. He forgot to tell you he loves you this morning. He doesn't remember the anniversary of the day you first met. Lighten up: if you hadn't written down the exact time and date of your first kiss, you wouldn't remember, either. The old gender-difference argument actually does ring true once in a while, and that time is now. Women put great importance on what time of the day the sun first shone on the broad, naked shoulders of their sexy new beau - but men generally couldn't care less. The important thing to your guy is that you are with him at all. You know all those times when you asked your boyfriend, "Do you love me?" and he answered, "I'm here, aren't I?"... well, think about that for a minute. It may just be the simple, honest truth. Single male life is a beautiful thing, full of football, beer, buddies and casual dating. Why would he forego all of that if you meant nothing to him? Trust him, give him a chance to show his appreciation of you in his own way, and you might find you have nothing to complain about.

Warning: Don't give him too much rope, or he might hang himself. All that lack of caring may actually be just that - maybe he doesn't give two hoots if you stay or go. But, deep down, you'll know the answer to that yourself, anyway. Bottom line is, there's a difference between forgetting the occasional anniversary and not celebrating your birthday year after year. If he constantly makes you feel bad about yourself, leave.

The Wrong Reasons Men Stay

These two men will say with you no matter what, Unfortunately, you won't want them to.

The settle-for-second-best guy:
After spending several years at the international buffet of womanhood, some guys get heatburn and decide to stick with what they know best. Yes, now and then, men get tired of chasing - it's just too much hard work (so to speak) - and come to the conclusion that the girlfriend they're with now (you) is probably just as good as anyone they're likely to meet. Avoid these men at all costs. You don't want to spend the rest of your life with someone who sees you as anything less than the best. He'll say things like "I don't believe in love", only to reveal later, that he does - with another woman.

The if-I-wanted-to-work-I'd-be-doing-paid-overtime guy:
Some men think the right relationship is one that doesn't require any work. He wouldn't dream of buying a car, then not filling it with petrol, but this same guy will believe that it's possible to be the perfect couple without any effort. Which means he's quite content in the honeymoon phase of a relationship; but he's out the door the first time you disagree about whether tax is a good or bad thing. Don't fall for it. You've got better things to do than tip-toe around someone who'll ditch you the first time you put a foot wrong.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Back To Basics: How To Choose A Bra

How To Choose A Bra Hands up those who had themselves measured the last time they bought a bra! If you did, give yourself a pat on your back. Many women make the mistake of buying lingerie that's too small, which is not only uncomfortable but can cause breathing difficulties. A woman's figure is constantly changing, and by measuring herself every time she buys lingerie, she can be sure of buying the right size and type. When correctly fitted, lingerie should:

» support your body

» flatter your figure

» buffer your body from heat and cold

» help protect your clothes

Buying lingerie isn’t something that should be rushed, simply because you need time to try out several different styles before deciding what is best for you. The first step is to get a trained expert to take your measurements whenever you buy a bra. All lingerie outlets should have someone who is trained to take your measurements. A woman's body is distorted when she measures herself, and the expert who does this countless times a day is more likely to get a more accurate figure. She will measure your bust (the highest part of your breast) and your underbust (the area just below your bust). Armed with these figures, you can start trying on items. Once you have the bra on, raise both arms, and try moving to see how comfy it is. No lingerie store should have a problem with you trying on bras; if they do, go elsewhere.

Here's a rundown of some of the types of bras that are available

» Plunging: This type of bra has a deep front centre-cut, suitable for plunging v-necks, so that your bra won't play peek-a-boo.

» Strapless: Like its name, it comes without straps so it's suitable to wear with spaghetti straps or tube tops/dresses. You'll need to choose your strapless carefully. Let's just say, it's far less embarrassing to be caught jumping up and down in the dressing room to test the strapless, than to have your bra slip down... in the middle of a crowded bus or train.

» Push-up bra: There are people who swear they can spot a push-up bra from across the room, then there are others who can't live without them. At worst, they can look, well... exactly like what they are; but at best, they can help fill out the tight sweater look.

» Underwire: Contrary to belief, underwire bras aren't just for the better-endowed girls. The underwire cradles your breasts and provides definition for the more petite girls too. What is important in an underwire bra is getting the right fit, or it may pinch - ouch!

» Minimizer: Regular-sized girls may be wondering what this would be used for. But those of us who are generously endowed know certain clothes look better when your assets are minimized. T-shirts and singlets for one, and luckily minimizer bras not only starting to have more sex appeal but, with wider straps, they support better as well!

The Bra: Where It All Began...

Here's a brief look at the tumultuous evolution of the bra in the last century.

1900: The painful, unhealthy corset began losing favor and a less restrictive undergarment named "brassiere" appeared. The word was derived from the old French word for upper arm (yeah, we don't get it either!).

1914: Birth of the first patented brassiere. Invented by a New York socialite, Mary Phelps Jacob, it was called the "backless brassiere".

1917: The US War Industries Board requested women stop buying corsets in order to free up metal for the war! Thus the bra gained ground.

1920s: This was the era of the "Flapper", and the flat-chested boyish look was all the rage. The function of the bra became to flatten breasts.

1930s: The return of the bust. The bra's function once again is holding and supporting breasts.

1950s: This was the decade of decadence Ds (cups, babe)! "Falsies" were hot property! The heavy padding evolved into push-up bras and bras with stiffened cups with underwire. Strapless bras also became popular at this time.

1960s: Time to burn those bras. The women's liberation movement saw many bra-burning rallies as bras were seen as a symbol of conformity and servitude.

1990s: Bras are back, and they're baaad! From Madonna and her Jean-Paul Gaultier outfits, to Elle and her lace numbers, underwear is increasingly used for self-expression. And the Wonder Bra appears, the ultimate push-up.

Bare Necessities

Keeping Abreast

» Go braless if your outfit calls for it (i.e. something backless, bikini-cut, halters, etc), but do wear a bra under outfits that you can fit one under, as often as possible. It provides support against gravity, plus, you'll get fewer rude stares from men on the public transport.

» Use stick-on breast support cups if you're uncomfortable about your nipples showing through, or for support if you're a C cup and over.

» Good strapless bras are few and far between. So when you find one that fits, buy in bulk. You'll need at least one each in nude, black and white.

» Please leave those see-through plastic straps where they belong - at the back of your cupboard. They're tack. And yes, everyone can see them.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

#18: Work It Out

Work It Out We all have some body bits that need more work than the others. And aerobic classes may not hit the target area enough to make a difference. Here's how to tailor your workout to your problem spots.

Best for shapely legs...
In-line skating
What it does: In-line skating (or rollerblading) works virtually every muscle from the hips down, to give you a shapely, toned legs and a firm, tight butt. Unlike single-plane activities such as walking, running, jogging and cycling, in-line skating is two-plane: that means there's a side-to-side movement as well as forward motion, so those hard-to-isolate inner and outer thighs are given just as much of a work-out as the backs and fronts of your legs. Blading up and down hills helps tone the bottom and quadriceps: long, fast rides strengthen the back of the legs and burn up more kilojoules. Carry small hand weights when you're blading to increase upper-body strength. Rollerblading is also said to be a terrific mood enhancer.

Sweat factor:
In-line skating will work up a good sweat, so wear clothing that is cool and comfortable. A slow ride burns around 900kJ for each 30 minutes; whereas a fast ride including hill work burns around 1200kJ each 30 minutes and gives a reasonably vigorous cardiovascular work-out to boot.

How do I get started?
As well as blades, you'll need a helmet, wrist guards and knee and elbow pads.

How often should I do it?
Aim for at least three 30-45 minutes sessions a week to really tone up your thighs, calves and bottom fast. Try to alternate long, fast, flat rides with spurts of uphill work.

Tips: Squeeze your buttocks slightly as you blade, and concentrate on using your legs. Keep your head high and look forward, rather than down at the ground. For best results, keep your back straight and bend from hips and knees when you want to pick up speed.

Best for trim, toned arms...
What it does: It's the best way to build shapely shoulders and it increases upper-body strength without lifting weights, especially if you add hand paddles. Swimming may seem easy and effortless, but water offers 12 times the resistance of air, so it's good for the cardiovascular system too. Work your legs by doing a few laps of the pool with a kickboard. Better still, take up scuba diving - not only does it offer the same upper-body benefits as swimming, but the kicking action exercises the fronts and backs of the thighs, as well as the hips and stomach muscles.

Sweat factor: You won't sweat much in the water, but you will get a vigorous workout, burning between 800 and 1500 kJ per 30 minutes!

How do I get started?
Lessons are held at most pools, just ask around your local swimming pool.

How often should I do it?
Swim at least three times a week for 20 minutes; dive as often as practicable (try taking a holiday to a destination with great dive sites).

Tips: Vary your strokes so that you work out all the muscles in your arms, back and chest; trying doing 10 laps freestyle, 10 breaststroke and finally, 10 backstroke. It's also important to keep your head in the water to avoid back strain, so try breathing in on one stroke, then exhaling over the next four.

Best for upper body...
What it does:Hook, jab and uppercut your way to a super-strong and toned upper body. Working out on the heavy punching bags builds arm, chest and back muscle, while speed balls (the small ball-like bags on springs) plus footwork are excellent for co-ordination and concentration skills. A boxercise work-out also includes a session of skipping to increase speed and cardiovascular fitness, and to burn off those kilojoules, so it's an excellent total body workout.

Sweat factor: A 45-minute class will have you in a lather of sweat. Both concentrated punching and skipping burn up around 1200kJ per 30 minutes.

How do I get started?
Most gyms provide boxing gloves, but if you don't fancy wearing someone else's sweaty mitts, buy your own. It's best to get medium weight gloves that can be used for both heavy bags and speed bags.

How often should I do it?
Two 45-minute classes a week are enough, but you should also skip for at least 20 minutes, three times a week, at home.

Tips Learn how to punch correctly or you could end up hurting your hands, wrists as well as shoulders.

Best for smaller butt...
What it does: Cycling is a great toning workout for the gluteals (buttock muscles) and hip flexors, as well as the thighs and calves. It tones and build muscles, is excellent for cardiovascular fitness and can help to increase lung capacity. If you find road-traffic too daunting, try working out on a stationary bike at the gym. To get the best bottom work-out, adjust the bike seat so that the balls of your feet just reach the pedals at full stretch, pedal on grass rather than a hard surface for more resistance, and lift your butt off the seat as much as possible when you ride.

Sweat factor: The more hilly the route you choose, the more sweat you'll raise. An easy flat cycle will burn around 700kJ per 30 minutes, while a very fast ride burns around 1500kJ per 30 minutes and gets the cardiovascular rate jumping.

How do I get started?
On a mountain bike - they're sturdy, easy to ride and the upright body position when riding them means there's less stress on your back.

How often should I do it?
For best results, hop on your bike for half to one hour, three times a week.

Tips: To prevent back problems, don't wiggle from side to side when you ride. Remember, long, flat rides tone muscles and hills help to build muscle.

Best for a flat stomach...
What it does: Pilates exercises are based on the premise that the stomach is the center of bodily power and that all strength and balance flows from there. If the stomach isn't strong, other muscles will clench up to compensate. In every Pilates exercises - there are around 500 of them, plus variations - the stomach is held in tightly and the shoulders are relaxed. Pilates is designed to stretch and elongate muscles, rather than bulk them up. Classes are often silent to assist concentration, and Pilates is good for mental energy as well as physical strength and flexibility. It's also said to improve your sex life.

Sweat factor: While the exercise do not appear difficult, they can be extremely strenuous when performed correctly. Pilates is designed to change the shape of your body, rather than give you a vigorous cardiovascular workout, so you'll only burn around 500kJ for every 30 minutes.

How do I get started?
Because special equipment is used, you will need to attend a Pilates studio. Pilates usually involves one-on-one instruction so it's a little more expensive than most other exercise sessions.

How often should I do it?
To get the full body-shaping benefits of Pilates, you'll need to attend a minimum of three sessions per week. Each session lasts from one to one-and-a-half hours.

Tips: Do not be put off by the equipment... even though it looks as though it belongs in some kind of medieval torture chamber!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Wanna Be A Sex Bomb?

Wanna Be A Sex Bomb? Mars N Venus... Actually asked (anonymously) 30 men to tell us their most explosive sexual experiences. Here are their suggestions for making the best bed-rocking moves known to man.

Once you've been in a loving relationship for a long time, the sex can become a little, well, routine. It'll be OK, good even, but nothing either of you would describe as the missing chapter of the Karma Sutra. In fact, it's probably similar to the time before, and the time before that... So we thought we'd ask some sexpert guys for advice on how to spice things up. Once you've read the article, you'll be thinking: "I can't do that." Well, we're not suggesting you incorporate every single one of these tips in your bedroom book of tricks. What we are saying is that - and studies back us up on this - making one small variation to your standard routine can make sex an unforgettable experience all over again, because no doubt he'll want to reciprocate in kind. Just remember that you should try something new at least three times - the first time you'll be worried about whether you're doing it right, the second time you'll be thinking about how to make it work for you as well, and by the third, you'll be able to make it your own. So, here we go:

1 My ex used to flash parts of her body at me when we were out in pulic, like a bit of inner thigh. It used to get me so horny.

2 Guaranteed to get me hot is a phone call at work from my wife telling me exactly what she wants to do to me that night - or what she wants me to do to her. I have to pretend I'm talking to a client, so I try to act all cool and collected, but by the time I meet her, I'm almost ready to burst.

3 If she decides to swallow, it's best if she doesn't make a big deal out of it by groaning or quickly wiping her mouth on the pillowcase or the sheet. She should extend the moment instead, by slowly making her way up to my face with little kisses. That way, I can also feel her breasts brush against my body.

4 I used to love it when my ex would spiral her tongue up and down the side of my torso. I wish more women would do it.

5 Tell him you're not wearing underwear when you go out. I guarantee that he won't be able to think about anything else.

6 This move doesn't have a name, but it's a real treat watching my partner rub herself with oil, and then use her naked body to massage mine by rubbing up and down it. I'm instantly ready for business.

7 Don't underestimate the power of a good hand job. Even if she's not sure how fast or how slow, when to loosen her grip and when to tighten it. I'm more than happy to show her how. Just remember, we don't produce a natural lubricant, so make it smoother with a bit of saliva.

8 Men are visual creatures, so I love it when my partner strips for me, teasing me by taking each item off slowly and sexily. I just go wild.

9 You know how multi-tasking is about doing two or more things at once? Well, I like a woman who can do that in bed. So, if she's sucking on my nipples, she might also be cradling my balls, or, if we're having sex, she'll continue to kiss me. It's hot.

10 I don't know many women who like the way they look, but that doesn't mean sex should always be in the dark. So me tip is: let us leave the lights on occasionally. It's great to see her body and it's even better to watch her react to what I'm doing.

11 My nipples are incredibly sensitive, so there's no better sensation than having them licked and then gently blown on - alternating between hot and cold just sends shivers up my spine.

12 Ear-piercing orgasms and creaking beds are great but, for a change, I occasionally like to try doing it as quietly as and with as little movement as possible. It reminds me of sneaking girls into my bedroom when I was young and hoping my parents wouldn't hear. It still has the same illicit thrill.

13 You know what's cool? When my baby wakes me up in the middle of the night because she's gotta have it and she's gotta have it now.

14 Nothing gets me hornier than a woman undressing without saying anything. My partner once did that while I was on the phone, and I just kept losing track of the conversation.

15 My partner once pretended it was her first time, saying we could do anything but 'the deed'. We were so hot and sweaty by the end of it, we both reached orgasm - without intercourse.

16 You know that line of hair from the belly button to the pubic bone? Well, it's called the 'happy trail', and nothing makes me happier than having my wife licking it quite hard down to the base of my penis, before moving back up again.

17 One night I'll never forget is when my partner rubbed some strawberry-flavored lubricant on my nipples. She blew on them and it felt like I was on fire from them being all hot and tingly. Even now, when I smell strawberries...

18 Bring me to the edge then stop, then doing it all over again. It's like taking two sensual steps forward and one back, but I know my final climax will be incredible.

19 Look at me in the eye just as I'm about to orgasm.

20 It's simple: ask for seconds. That tells me how much she wants me.

21 I'm not vain, but a compliment now and then doesn't go astray. Sure, it's no whizz-bang move, but it always make me feel great.

22 Most girls don't realize how good it feels but, if she can squeeze her vaginal muscles when I'm inside her, it just blows my mind - especially when she starts out squeezing slowly, and then gradually speeds up.

23 Women are paranoid about how they smell but I don't want to taste soap and perfume when I'm down there, especially as her natural flavor is so incredibly sexy.

24 It may sound weird, but I melt when she licks, tickles and darts her tongue in and out of my ear, and it's great when she alternates the tempo and stops what she's doing and I can hear how excited she is from her heavy breathing.

25 I love it when my partner keeps her clothes on. Feeling something smooth and soft graze my body makes me desperate to get underneath it. Every now and again, she even keeps her G-string on. I pull it aside and we just go for it.

26 There's nothing better than a woman who's willing to take complete control and direct every one of my moves, telling me exactly what she wants me to do, when and who. It's really sexy to feel like I'm some kind of extra in our own personal pleasure show.

27 It's not just the foreplay and sex for me... what happens afterwards is just as important. When we're just lying there and she runs her fingers over me really gently. It keeps that loving feeling lingering for just a little bit longer.

28 My partner once put a ribbed condom on me inside out, and the sensation of those ridges along my penis during sex was absolute heaven. I've got a warning though: I wouldn't recommend it unless you have a back-up form of birth control, because unless you're ready to embrace parenthood, it's not a risk you want to take.

29 A woman who can make putting on the condom part of foreplay has my vote. My wife has even mastered the technique of slipping it on with her mouth by using her tongue to unroll it over my penis. It gets me hot just thinking about it.

30 Trim each other's pubic hair. The sensation of an electric clipper against my skin does amazing things a little further south.

Monday, February 16, 2009

#16: Watch TV Get Fit

Watch TV Get Fit Do this workout three times a week for six weeks and you'll drop a dress size (without missing a single episode of CSI or The Ellen Show!). By Mars N Venus... Actually.

Sounds too good to be true, but it works! We got a workout that enables you to tone your body to perfection in the comfort of your own living room. And because watching your favorite program is an important part of this workout, you'll be distracted from any of the usual exercise discomfort. So now you can be slim and sexy (not to mention healthy!) without missing any of your favorite shows - this won't work if you scoff packets of chocolate biscuits in between, of course.

The Preparation Kit
Carefully study the TV guide for a 30-minute program you like. Just before it's about to start, put on some comfortable, loose clothes that you can move around in easily. Clear a space on the floor. Push the sofa away from the wall so that you can get behind it, and keep a pile of cushions nearby.

The Warm-Up Bit
When the TV show's intro music kicks in, start warming up. March briskly on the spot for 30 seconds.

The Stretching Bit
Stretch 1
In a standing position, take a deep breath and stretch up towards the ceiling with both arms, then exhale as you relax your arms down again. Repeat four times.

Stretch 2
Reach up towards the ceiling with one arm and slowly bend over sideways towards the side of the resting arm, until you feel a stretch through the side of your body. Repeat twice on each side.

Stretch 3
While keeping your upper body facing forward so you can see the screen, and your arms outstretched, walk your feet round to the right so the side faces the screen and you are twisting at the waist. Repeat four times, to the right and left.

Stretch 4
Keeping your legs straight, rise up and down on your toes, lifting your heels off the floor. Repeat 12 times.

Stretch 5
Circle your shoulders four times forwards and four times backwards. Do the same with your arms, windmilling them four times forwards and four times backwards.

The Work It, Work It, Work It Bit
You can follow this sequence of simple exercises and work your muscles without missing a dramatic twist or hilarious punchline. Try to do 20 repetitions of each exercise. If you can't imagine 20 when you first start doing these routines, do as many as you can and build up by one or two each time you do the workout. If you get carried away with the show's plot and forget to count, stop when your muscles ache or when two minutes have passed. As you get faster, try to do a circuit of these exercises before the ad break, then repeat them in the second half.

Slow Squats
Stand just in front of the sofa, legs slightly apart and feet pointing towards the TV and very slowly sit until your bottom just touches the seat (but before you put any weight on the cushion), the slowly stand up. Make sure your knees bend in line with your feet.

Bunny Hops
Start in the same position as for the push-ups. While pushing away from the sofa back, straighten your arms and jump, keeping hold of the sofa. As you land, bend both knees. Try to stay in the air as long as possible and land quietly.

Side bends
Lie on the floor on your side. Stretch your bottom out on the floor in front of you at a right angle to your body, and bend the underneath leg so it's at a right angle to your body, with your knee forward. Keep your top leg straight and put your top hand to your temple like a salute. Take a deep breath and, as you exhale, pull your tummy in, press down on the floor with the lower arm and curl up sideways at the waist, just a little. Breathe in and relax onto the floor. Remember to do the other side.

The Bit During The Ads
Grab a drink of water, stretch out a little and, if you're feeling energetic, run upstairs or jog on the spot. Stay moving and resist the temptation to flop on the couch.

The Bit Where You Go For The Burn
Do 10-1 repetitions of these moves.

Directory squat lifts
Start in a squat position (knees bent, back straight, leaning forward as if you're lowering yourself onto a chair). Hold two directories out in front of you. As you breathe out, stand up straight and raise the books over your head with straight arms. Try to make it all one smooth movement, so that everything happens together and the body feels stretched all the way from your toes up to your fingers. Caution: don't let your lower back arch as you straighten up. Breathe in and return to the beginning squat position.

Pelvic tilts
Lie down on the floor on your back, with a few cushions propped under your head so that you can still keep watching the TV. Take a deep breath and, as you exhale, pull the lower stomach towards the floor and tilt the pelvis (as if it is a bowl and you're tipping it towards your stomach). Hold for 10 seconds before you release.

The winding-down bit
Stretch out
As the credit rolls, streeeetch. Repeat the stretches from the start of the workout, holding each for 20 seconds, then add these stretches (remembering to do both legs).

Stretch 1
Stand, holding on to a stationary object for support, then grasp the ankle of one leg and bend the knee back, keeping the other leg bent slightly. Draw your heel towards your bum while keeping your hips forward - you will feel the thigh stretch.

Stretch 2
Sit down on the sofa and stretch one leg out straight in front of you. Stick your bottom out so your back arches, then lean forward until you feel the back of the leg stretching. Slowly flex the foot to take the stretch down to the calf.

Stretch 3
Stand up and link your hands behind you and pull them up to lift your chest up. Then bring your arms in front of you, link your hands and reach forward, rounding the upper back and dropping the head. Now grab a drink of water and relax - you deserve it!

Note: Push Ups
Make sure the sofa can't move if pushed, then stand behind it and rest your hands on the back, shoulder-width apart. Keep your arms straight. Take a step back, lift your heels off the floor and lean forwards so that your body weight is supported through your arms. While keeping your back perfectly straight and still, breathe in and bend your elbows to lower your chest towards the sofa back. Exhale as you straighten your arms and push yourself away.

Note: Crunches
You need to be near a coffee table or a foot rest for this one. Lie on your back and place the balls of your feet gently on the low surface, bending your knees slightly. With your arms reaching forwards, breathe out and curl your head and shoulders off the floor keeping a good grip on the coffee table or foot rest. Make sure you draw your chin into the chest as you curl up.


Made by Grumpy Cow