The One Thing You Can Do to Feel More Confident About Your Body, According to Plus-Size Model Tabria Majors

You might remember Tabria Majors from her viral Instagram photos recreating Victoria's Secret ads, which proved that plus-size models can sell (and look amazing in) lingerie, too. And while the body-positive influencer said she doubts she'll be a Victoria's Secret angel anytime soon, she's now one of six #SISwimSearch finalists—vote for her here—hoping to earn a spot in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2019 rookie class.

RELATED: The 15 Best Body Positive Moments of 2017

Majors' bold attitude and commitment to self-love makes her an inspiration for other women hoping to feel more confident in their skin. So when we had the chance to catch up with her in an Instagram Story interview, we jumped at the opportunity. Here, she opens up to Health about her favorite fitness moves, how she handles haters, and why it's so important to make body peace and start loving the way you look.

How does it feel to be included in SI Swim?

“It feels amazing to be in SI this year. I still can't believe that I'm here. It's been a long time coming and I'm so excited that everyone finally gets to see the issue.”

What do you love most about your body?

"What I love most about my body is that I'm really strong. If I had to choose a favorite part, it would probably be my legs. I think they really represent my strength and also my femininity as a woman."

How do you work out your legs?

"As far as working out, burpees are my favorite. They're really hard, but they're a great total body workout."

What are your go-to moves for working your core?

"To work my core, I really enjoy playing racquetball, but if you want to do just a movement, I love the leg-ups where you're holding the bar and you're bringing your legs up because it's incredibly difficult."

Why is it important to you to be sex-positive?

"I embrace my sexuality a lot as a woman. I think everybody should be able to express that freely. We shouldn't hold back, we are humans, we are sexual beings, and that's that."

RELATED: Yes, There Are 11 Different Types of Orgasms. Here's How to Have Each

What would you tell young women who don't know how to communicate what they want when it comes to sex?

"Communication is key in any relationship and it will probably be one of the most difficult discussions you ever have with someone, but just communicate with them freely beforehand: your likes, your dislikes, what you're comfortable with, not comfortable with. It's important that you left them know what you're comfortable with and not comfortable with so you can be on the same page moving forward." 

 

What do you do to practice self care?

"For self care, I really enjoy meditating every morning and every night. I begin my day like that, I end my day like that. I think it just provides a nice space of mental clarity."

How did you get into meditation? 

"For me meditation has been very difficult over the past year, but I just started out doing five seconds every morning and every night, and I just work my way up gradually. I'm at one minute now."

RELATED: How to Add Self Care to Your Workout Routine

How do you deal with criticism?

"I used to feed into the negative comments I received, but I find it's best to just ignore it. These people don't know me, they're just judging me from a photo, and they're projecting their insecurities onto me."

What advice do you have for anyone struggling with body image?

"If you're struggling with your body image, I just encourage you to find one thing that you like about yourself and just focus on that. If there's something you want to change, feel free to change it—change is good! And if you want to remain the same, that's good too."

Source: Mind and Body

The Surprising Secrets to Living Longer—And Better

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Old age demands to be taken very seriously–and it usually gets its way. It’s hard to be cavalier about a time of life defined by loss of vigor, increasing frailty, rising disease risk and falling cognitive faculties. Then there’s the unavoidable matter of the end of consciousness and the self–death, in other words–that’s drawing closer and closer. It’s the rare person who can confront the final decline with flippancy or ease. That, as it turns out, might be our first mistake.

Humans are not alone in facing the ultimate reckoning, but we’re the only species–as far as we know–who spends its whole life knowing death is coming. A clam dredged from the ocean off Iceland in 2006–and inadvertently killed by the scientists who discovered it–carried growth lines on its shell indicating it had been around since 1499. That was enough time for 185,055 generations of mayfly–which live as little as a day–to come and go. Neither clam nor fly gave a thought to that mortal math.

Humans fall somewhere between those two extremes. Globally, the average life span is 71.4 years; for a few lucky people, it may exceed 100 years. It has never, to science’s knowledge, exceeded the 122 years, 164 days lived by Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, who was born when Ulysses S. Grant was in the White House and died when Bill Clinton lived there.

Most of us would like a little bit of that Calment magic, and we’ve made at least some progress. Life expectancy in the U.S. exceeds the global average, clocking in at just under 79 years. In 1900, it was just over 47 years. The extra decades came courtesy of just the things you’d expect: vaccines, antibiotics, sanitation and improved detection and treatment of a range of diseases. Advances in genetics and in our understanding of dementia are helping to extend our factory warranties still further.

None of that, however, changes the way we contemplate the end of life–often with anxiety and asceticism, practicing a sort of existential bartering. We can narrow our experiences and give up indulgences in exchange for a more guardedly lived life that might run a little longer.

But what if we could take off some of that bubble wrap? What about living longer and actually having some fun? A Yale University study just this month found that in a group of 4,765 people with an average age of 72, those who carried a gene variant linked to dementia–but also had positive attitudes about aging–were 50% less likely to develop the disorder than people who carried the gene but faced aging with more pessimism or fear.

There may be something to be said then for aging less timidly–as a sort of happy contrarian, arguing when you feel like arguing, playing when you feel like playing. Maybe you want to pass up the quiet of the country for the churn of a city. Maybe you want to drink a little, eat a rich meal, have some sex.

“The most important advice we offer people about longevity is, ‘Throw away your lists,'” says Howard Friedman, professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, and co-author of The Longevity Project. “We live in a self-help society full of lists: ‘lose weight, hit the gym.’ So why aren’t we all healthy? People who live a long time can work hard and play hard.” Under the right circumstances, it increasingly seems, so could all of us.

Marie Ashdown, 90, has lived in New York City for nearly 60 years, in an apartment on the east side of Manhattan. New York has beaten down younger people than her, but Ashdown, executive director of the Musicians Emergency Fund, loves city life. “I have a fire in my belly,” she says. “There’s not one minute of the day that I don’t learn.”

As a classical-music connoisseur, Ashdown organizes two concerts a year at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. When she’s not working, she takes weekend trips outside of the city, and spends her free time binding old books. Like many New Yorkers several decades her junior, she often orders takeout rather than bother with cooking. “We have the best and worst here,” says Ashdown. “We learn to cope, live on the defensive and conquer fear.”

She’s hardly the only senior who loves city living. In the U.S., 80% of people ages 65 and older are now living in metropolitan areas, and according to the World Health Organization, by 2030, an estimated 60% of all people will live in cities–many of them over age 60. You may lose a little sidewalk speed and have to work harder to get up and down subway stairs, but cities increasingly rank high on both doctors’ and seniors’ lists of the best places to age gracefully.

Every year, the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging (CFA) ranks the best metropolitan places for successful aging, and most years, major cities sweep the top 10 spots. No wonder: cities tend to have strong health systems, opportunities for continued learning, widespread public transportation and an abundance of arts and culture. That’s not to say that people can’t feel isolated or lonely in cities, but you can get lonely in a country cottage too. In cities, the cure can be just outside your door.

“We all long to bump into each other,” says Paul Irving, the chairman of the Milken Institute CFA. “The ranges of places where this can happen in cities tend to create more options and opportunities.”

It’s that aspect–the other-people aspect–that may be the particularly challenging for some, especially as we age and families disperse. But there are answers: a 2017 study in the journal Personal Relationships found that it can be friends, not family, who matter most. The study looked at 270,000 people in nearly 100 countries and found that while both family and friends are associated with happiness and better health, as people aged, the health link remained only for people with strong friendships.

“[While] in a lot of ways, relationships with friends had a similar effect as those with family,” says William Chopik, assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University and the author of the study, “in others, they surpassed them.”

If the primacy of family has been oversold as a key to long life, so has the importance of avoiding conflict or emotional upset. Shouting back at cable news is no way to spend your golden years, but passion, it’s turning out, may be more life-sustaining than apathy, engagement more than indifference.

In a study published by the American Aging Association, researchers analyzed data from the Georgia Centenarian Study, a survey of 285 people who were at least (or nearly) 100 years old, as well as 273 family members and other proxies who provided information about them. The investigators were looking at how the subjects scored on various personality traits, including conscientiousness, extraversion, hostility and neuroticism.

As a group, the centenarians tested lower on neuroticism and higher on competence and extraversion. Their proxies ranked them a bit higher on neuroticism, as well as on hostility. It’s impossible to draw a straight line between those strong personality traits and long life, but the authors saw a potential one, citing other studies showing that centenarians rank high on “moral righteousness,” which leads to robust temperaments that “may help centenarians adapt well to later life.”

At the same time that crankiness, judiciously deployed, can be adaptive, its polar opposite–cheerfulness and optimism–may be less so. Worried people are likelier to be vigilant people, alert to a troubling physical symptom or a loss of some faculty that overly optimistic people might dismiss. Friedman and his collaborator Leslie R. Martin, a professor of psychology at La Sierra University in Riverside, Calif., base their book on work begun in 1921 by Stanford University psychologist Lewis Terman, who recruited 1,500 boys and girls born around 1910 and proposed to follow them throughout their lifetimes and, when he died–which happened in 1956–to have successors continue the work. Friedman and Martin have been two of those successors, and they’ve learned a lot.

“Our research found that the more cheerful, outgoing children did not, for the most part, live any longer than their more introverted or serious classmates,” says Friedman. “Excessively happy people may ignore real threats and fail to take precautions or follow medical advice. It is O.K. to fret–if in a responsible manner.”

One tip for long life that is not coming in for quite so much revisionist thinking is exercise–and some seniors are achieving remarkable things. Take Ginette Bedard, 84, of Howard Beach, N.Y.

It was a drizzly morning last Nov. 5, but that didn’t stop Bedard from crossing the New York City Marathon finish line first in her age group. Bedard picked up running decades ago as a way to keep fit, but she didn’t run her first marathon until she was 69 years old. “I was watching the marathon runners on TV and I was so envious,” she says. “I was thinking, I cannot do that, they are all superhumans.”

So she decided to become one of them. She began training daily until she could run the full 26.2 miles, and she’s run nearly every New York City Marathon since. “It takes discipline and brainpower and dedication,” she says. “The running is hard, but the finish line is euphoria.” She now runs three hours every day along the beach.

Few physicians would recommend that all octogenarians pick up a three-hour-a-day running habit, but adding even a small amount of movement to daily life has been repeatedly shown to be beneficial, for a whole range of reasons. “Exercise likely works through several mechanisms,” says Dr. Thomas Gill, director of the Yale Program on Aging. “Increasing physical activity will improve endurance; it benefits muscle strength and balance and [reduces] occurrence of serious fall injuries. It also provides a benefit to psychology, by lifting spirits.”

Exactly how much–or how little–exercise it takes to begin paying dividends has been one of the happy surprises of longevity research. A 2016 study found that elderly people who exercised for just 15 minutes a day, at an intensity level of a brisk walk, had a 22% lower risk of early death compared to people who did no exercise. A 2017 study found that exercising even just two days a week can lower risk for premature death. Researchers from McMaster University in Canada even found that breaking a sweat for just 60 seconds may be enough to improve health and fitness (as long as it’s a tough workout).

Healthy eating is something else that may have a lot more wiggle room than we’ve assumed, and if there’s such a thing as a longevity diet, there may be more on the menu than seniors have been told. “I have my wine and ice cream,” says Bedard without apology. Similarly, 90-year-old Ashdown phones her takeout orders into Tal Bagels on First Avenue, not some trendy vegan joint.

“It really is an issue of moderation,” says Peter Martin, a professor of human development and family studies at Iowa State University, who runs an ongoing study of centenarians. Martin notes that while most centenarians eat different but generally healthy diets, one consistent thing he has picked up from work with his 100-plus crowd is breakfast. “They rarely skip breakfast,” he says. “It’s often at a very specific time, and the routine is important.”

Alcohol has its place too. An August 2017 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that light to moderate alcohol use (14 or fewer drinks per week for men and seven or fewer for women) is associated with a lower risk of death compared to people who don’t drink at all. If you’re a nondrinker, that’s no reason to start, and if you drink only infrequently, it’s no reason to drink more. Still, among the more than 333,000 people in the study, light and moderate drinkers were 20% less likely to die from any cause during the study period compared with their completely abstemious peers.

There’s also an argument for letting go of diet obsessiveness, especially if you’re at a reasonably healthy weight already. A 2016 study found that women over age 50 who were categorized as normal weight, but reported fluctuating (dropping more than 10 lb. and gaining it back at least three times) were 3½ times more likely to experience sudden cardiac death than those whose weight stayed the same. The takeaway: simply stay in a healthy range; striving for a smaller size isn’t necessarily doing you any longevity favors.

Finally, as long as seniors are enjoying themselves with some indulgent food and drink, they may as well round out the good-times trifecta with a little sex. It’s no secret that remaining sexually active has been linked to life satisfaction and, in some cases, longer life. One celebrated study, published in the British Medical Journal in 1997, followed 918 men in a Welsh town for 10 years and found that those with a higher frequency of orgasm had a 50% reduced risk of mortality. Friedman and his colleagues, working with the Terman group, found something similar–though not quite as dramatic–for women. A 2016 study from Michigan State University was less sanguine, finding that older men who had sex once a week or more were almost twice as likely to suffer a cardiovascular event than men who had less sex; that was especially so if the more active men were satisfied with the sex, which often means they achieved orgasm. For older women, sex seemed to be protective against cardiovascular event.

The problem for the men was likely overexertion, but there are ways around that. “Older adults have to realize that it’s intimacy that’s important,” says Dr. Gary Kennedy, director of geriatric psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. “If the focus is on pleasure rather than achieving orgasm each time, it can be fulfilling.”

In this and other dimensions of aging, Kennedy cites pianist Vladimir Horowitz, who died at age 86 and was still performing into his 80s. Conceding the limitations of age, he left the most demanding pieces out of his performances; of those that remained, he would play the slower ones first, making the faster ones seem faster still by comparison. “He would optimize, not maximize,” says Kennedy.

There is an admitted bumper-sticker quality to dictum like that, but compared with the familiar age-related wisdom–take it slow, watch your diet, stay cheerful–it’s bracing. There are, Kennedy says, no truly healthy centenarians; you can’t put 100 points on the board without getting worn out and banged up along the way. But there are independent centenarians and happy centenarians and centenarians who have had a rollicking good ride. The same is true for people who will never reach the 100-year mark but make the very most of the time they do get. The end of life is a nonnegotiable thing. The quality and exact length of that life, however, is something we very much have the power to shape.

–With reporting by AMANDA MACMILLAN

Source: Mind and Body

Two-Month-Old Baby Allegedly Suffers 35 Broken Bones; Foster Father Charged

A 26-year-old foster father is facing neglect and battery charges in Indianapolis, where he is accused of squeezing the limbs of a 2-month-old girl. Doctors allegedly determined that she had more than 35 broken bones.

A probable cause affidavit obtained by PEOPLE confirms the charges against Kyle Rice, who investigators say admitted causing the infant’s injuries.

The arrest comes just weeks after the premature baby, born with traces of marijuana in her system, was left in Rice’s care, according to the affidavit.

The child was taken from her birth mother after the blood test results showed the presence of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

The unnamed baby’s injuries, which also included numerous bruises, were discovered during a visit to the hospital on Jan. 31, the affidavit states. Doctors took X-rays of the child, which allegedly showed fractures in her hands, legs, feet and back.

Rice allegedly told investigators he squeezed the infant in frustration when the child refused to eat and kept crying.

“He tried to give her a bottle, but she was spitting it out,” reads the affidavit. “He then changed her diaper and she pooped while he was changing it. He held her, but she continued to cry and wouldn’t calm down.”

Rice allegedly squeezed her hands and feet, and bent her legs backward, the affidavit states.

Rice’s wife, who works full-time, told investigators she was unaware the baby was being abused.

It was unclear whether Rice has entered a plea or retained an attorney.

A court date is set for early April.

Source: Mind and Body

I Was Blacklisted for Fighting Abuse in Gymnastics

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At age 14, Dominique Moceanu was part of the first U.S. women's gymnastics team to win Olympic gold in 1996, becoming the youngest Olympic gold medalist in U.S history. After years of abuse, she now advocates for the safety of athletes.

I love gymnastics with all my heart. It’s a beautiful sport and has been part of my life as far back as I can remember. It’s that very deep appreciation for the art of gymnastics and the athletes who perform it that drove me to do what was once considered a cardinal sin in my sport: Criticize it in public.

To clarify, it wasn’t the sport of gymnastics itself that I criticized—it was the system and the people running it. About a decade ago, with the U.S. national women’s team at the top of its game, and with the linchpins of gymnastics, Bela and Marta Karolyi—owners of the Texas ranch where the Olympic team trained—basking in public adulation, I chose to speak out about what was wrong. I knew that what I had to say was going to be unpopular with many, including my former coaches and fans of our sport. But I also knew that there were hundreds of young girls dreaming of Olympic gold who deserved to train in safe environments.

RELATED: Olympic Gymnast Aly Raisman Reveals Sexual Abuse By Team Doctor

Coming up through the system and being personally coached and trained by the Karolyis, I knew first-hand what a scary and unhealthy place the famed Karolyi Ranch could be. I knew what it was like to be grabbed by the scruff of my neck and dragged across the room by Marta. I knew what it was like to be so scared to ask to use the bathroom that I peed in my leotard in practice.

It was in this unhealthy environment that at the age of 14, while training for the 1996 Olympics, I was told to continue practicing through severe, nagging leg pain. As punishment for complaining, I was made to do my routine an increased number of repetitions, performing it over and over until I literally collapsed on the mat. Only then was I was given a closer look, leading to the discovery that I had been training on a fractured leg.

RELATED: Aly Raisman Had the Perfect Response to a Body-Shaming Airport Experience

With child athletes living at the ranch for weeks at a time without the supervision of their parents or any adults other than USA Gymnastics (USAG) employees, an atmosphere was created where verbal and emotional abuse became commonplace. I believe this, coupled with fear of retribution for saying anything negative about the Karolyis or their ilk, made abuse possible. It later came out that the ranch was the site where numerous young gymnasts were molested by team doctor Larry Nassar.

In 2006, after a career that included being part of the first U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team to bring home gold and being the youngest gymnast to win a U.S. National Championship, I left the competitive gymnastics world. I was moving on, building a family life, working as a coach to young gymnasts. But I couldn’t stomach the thought of these girls having to go through what I had experienced. With the support of my husband Mike and very few others, I made it a mission to warn people that the gymnastics system under USAG and the Karolyis was not safe.

RELATED: Olympic Gymnast McKayla Maroney Alleges Sexual Abuse by U.S. Team Doctor

So I spoke out—first to HBO. For the first time, in an interview in 2008, I didn’t sugar coat anything. I shared my experiences and was honest. It was liberating and challenging at the same time. I was speaking my truth, which was tremendously rewarding, but I was also shunned, blacklisted, and criticized by the community I had been a part of for so long. Hate mail came—from former fans who didn’t want to hear what I had to say and from high-ranking coaches in the system who accused me of stabbing gymnastics in the back.

To USAG, I became a non-person. I stopped receiving financial opportunities and referrals, I was no longer invited to speak at and attend many events, and very few athletes came to my defense or chose to corroborate what I had to say, even though they had seen what I had seen. It hurt, but I had made a decision and I stuck to my guns. I did more interviews. Then, in 2012, I released my memoir, Off Balance, where I went into greater detail about my experiences. The haters continued to hate, but I couldn’t, I wouldn’t, let them stop me. The safety of young gymnasts was too important. The neglectful and inhumane treatment they often received had gone on too long, and I promised I would never stop sharing my story with anyone who would listen.

RELATED: Meghan Markle’s Personal Essay on Being "Enough" Is What You Need Today

I was fortunate in that I have never been sexually assaulted by Dr. Nassar, but when the first brave women came forward to tell me about having been horrifically abused by him, it was heartbreaking and gut-wrenching—though not surprising. The total lack of regard for athlete safety and wellbeing, the culture of fear, and the never-question-the-Karolyis-or-their-staff mentality created a perfect storm in which a monster like Nassar could thrive.

After all, he was one of the very few adults who was actually “nice” to us. (We've since learned that this is typical grooming behavior, to provide a false sense of security when so many other adults were being either neglectful or abusive: Be a friendly, sympathetic voice to build trust but not offer any actual help or assistance.) That Nassar could engage in his disgusting behavior unchecked for years, sexually assaulting hundreds of young girls, may sound impossible to most, but not to me. You don’t speak out, you never complain, and nobody is looking out for you. How tragically easy.

Testifying about this warped culture before the Senate Judiciary Committee last year was one of the proudest moments of my life. I felt that after shouting in a vacuum for so long, I was finally being heard and actual change was being made. And with the passing of resulting legislation this year, we can now confidently say that future generations of children participating in sports will be safer. It’s a vindication, but there is still much work to be done. While new standards and legislation are set, it is more imperative than ever that we work to protect athletes and provide safe environments for them. Weeding out the abusers, bad actors, and their enablers is a major part of that.

It hasn’t been easy. But I learned long ago that being a champion of anything isn’t easy. I’m honored to have had a voice, to have been able to help bring about positive change, and I know that better days are ahead. I am hopeful that we can now begin to develop safer practices for all youth sports, including the beautiful sport of gymnastics.

The Dominique Moceanu Gymnastics Center with open its doors in Medina, Ohio, this May.

Source: Mind and Body

Gigi Hadid Slams Weight Commenters: 'I Will Not Further Explain the Way My Body Looks'

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Gigi Hadid: 1, cyberbullies: 0.

With New York Fashion Week in full swing, the 22-year-old model took to social media on Sunday to shut down Twitter trolls who are criticizing her for her weight on the catwalk.

“For those of you so determined to come up w why my body has changed over the years, you may not know that when I started @ 17 I was not yet diagnosed w/Hashimoto’s disease; those of u who called me ‘too big for the industry’ were seeing inflammation & water retention due to that,” Hadid began.

She continued, “Over the last few years I’ve been properly medicated to help symptoms including those, as well as extreme fatigue, metabolism issues, body’s ability to retain heat, etc … I was also part of a holistic medical trial that helped my thyroid levels balance out.”

“Although stress & excessive travel can also affect the body, I have always eaten the same, my body just handles it differently now that my health is better. I may be ‘too skinny’ for u, honestly this skinny isn’t what I want to be, but I feel healthier internally and am still learning and growing with my body everyday, as everyone is.”

“I will not further explain the way my body looks, just as anyone, with a body type that doesnt suit ur ‘beauty’ expectation, shouldnt have to. Not to judge others, but drugs are not my thing, stop putting me in that box just because u dont understand the way my body has matured.”

She ended, “Please, as social media users & human beings in general, learn to have more empathy for others and know that you never really know the whole story. Use your energy to lift those that you admire rather than be cruel to those u don’t.”

Hadid was quickly met with support, including from fellow model pal Kendall Jenner.

In Dec. 2016, the model opened up about her Hashimoto’s battle. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition that causes thyroid damage.

“My metabolism actually changed like crazy this year,” Hadid said. “I have Hashimoto’s disease. It’s a thyroid disease, and it’s now been two years since taking the medication for it.”

“It’s now been two years since taking the medication for it, so for the [Victoria’s Secret] show I didn’t want to lose any more weight,” she continued. “I just want to have muscles in the right place, and if my butt can get a little perkier, then that’s good.”

For years, Hadid has shut down critics of her weight because she’s worked hard for her figure.

“I have lost weight and gained weight,” the model told PEOPLE exclusively during her fitting for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in 2016.

“My weight fluctuates so much,” she continued. “I really didn’t mean to [lose weight]. Like I want boobs. I want my a– back. But it’s not my fault. My weight fluctuates and so does everybody’s and I think that if people are gonna judge, that’s the worst you can possibly do because everybody is different.”

Source: Mind and Body

Spirit Airlines Slams Student Who Claims She Was Forced to Flush Emotional Support Hamster Down Toilet

A college student from Florida claims she was forced to flush her emotional support hamster down the toilet after a Spirit Airlines employee allegedly suggested it was one of the only ways she would be allowed to board a flight home.

Spirit Airlines hit back hard against Belen Aldecosea’s claim that she had no choice but to kill her “emotional support animal” Pebbles in order to get home to her family in Florida. In a statement the airline said, “we can say confidently that at no point did any of our agents suggest this Guest (or any other for that matter) should flush or otherwise injure an animal. It is incredibly disheartening to hear this Guest reportedly decided to end her own pet’s life.”

Aldecosea’s lawyer, Adam Goodman, tells TIME that Aldecosea called Spirit Airlines to confirm she could bring her dwarf hamster Pebbles with her on her flight. After arriving at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on Nov. 21, everything seemed to be going as planned until a Spirit Airlines employee approached her saying the animal was not allowed, Goodman says.

The employee allegedly suggested Aldecosea, who was studying at Wilson College 100 miles away, set the hamster free outside or flush it down the toilet, according to the Florida-based attorney.

Aldecosea eventually flushed Pebbles down the toilet after she was unable to find someone to take the hamster or rent a car to drive instead of flying, the attorney says.

Spirit admits an employee initially incorrectly told her the hamster would be allowed to fly with her. However, the airline says it arranged for Aldecosea to board a flight nine hours later so that she could find accommodation for Pebbles.

Spirit’s support animal guidelines say that the airline does not accept rodents.

Goodman tells TIME that he and Aldecosea are planning to sit down and “discuss the legal remedies available,” including a possible lawsuit. Aldecosea reportedly got the support hamster after she developed benign, but painful golf-ball size growth in her neck, according to the Miami Herald.

The news follows airlines like Delta and United cracking down on support animal and a customer who was denied entry onto a flight because of their support peacock. Goodman maintains his client’s situation is different because the hamster is much smaller and less likely to cause problems.

Source: Mind and Body

Why Swearing Might Actually Be Good for You

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Emma Byrne, PhD, thinks it’s a damn shame cursing gets such a bad rap. “We’ve been socialized to believe that swearing is universally really bad, but it isn’t always about being aggressive, or overwhelmingly negative towards people,” says the computer scientist and author of the new book Swearing Is Good For You ($26, amazon.com). In fact, research suggests dropping the f-bomb comes with some legit mind-body benefits. Here, Byrne highlights four surprising ways curse words can boost your well-being.

Unleashing expletives might actually raise your pain threshold

For a 2009 study done at Keele University in the UK, researchers asked college students to plunge a hand in ice-cold water. They found that when the participants repeated a swear word out loud during the chilly experience, they were able to keep their digits submerged for longer, and reported feeling less pain than when they repeated a neutral word. "Their subjective experience of how bad [their hand] hurt was incredibly different when they were swearing," says Byrne. "When they were swearing, it didn’t feel as bad."

One theory is that cursing helps trigger your "fight or flight" response, which raises your heart rate and pumps more adrenaline through your body—two physiological responses that make us more tolerant of pain. So the next time you stub your toe, go ahead and curse out your couch.

RELATED: 3 Stress-Busting Yoga Moves

Well-timed curses can help relieve stress

Struggling to get through a tough task? Go ahead and say how you really feel about it. “Studies show that when you put people in stressful situations and tell them they cannot swear, their performance goes down and their experience of stress is much greater,” explains Byrne. She points to research done in airplane cockpits and operating rooms: Pilots and surgeons who are allowed to swear on the job are better able to recover from stressful events (think: tricky takeoffs, or close calls in surgery) compared to pilots and surgeons who aren't permitted to curse. The takeaway: a string of expletives can be a useful way to blow off some f*cking steam and get the job done.

RELATED: 6 Times Celebs Got Angry in Public (and How They Handled It)

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Using swear words can help you cope with health issues

“For people recovering from cancer, or who have a long-term chronic illness, swearing is really helpful in terms of processing their emotions,” Byrne says. "With respect to cancer patients, the work particularly on male patients—specifically testicular cancer survivors—shows that [swearing] is a way to talk about sadness and loss without losing face as "masculine," by crying or admitting to fear, for example.”

Swearing while you sweat may make you physically stronger

You know those grips you can squeeze to build finger, hand, and forearm strength? Well, they work much better if you curse while you squeeze, according to researchers. “We’ve seen that you can exercise much more force on those objects and also do it for longer if you’re swearing while you hold them,” explains Byrne. “It increases your resilience and strength temporarily.”

Give it a try! As you bang out reps at the gym, repeat a few choice words and see what that does for you. And if you ever find yourself in a situation in which you need to summon extreme strength—say, to lift a heavy object off someone trapped beneath it—swear with all your might, says Byrne.

Source: Mind and Body

11 Letter Board Quotes That Will Inspire You

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Introducing our latest obsession: letter boards

From motivational mantras to relatable phrases, these letter board quotes add a classic, subtle piece of inspiration to our day. With help from Instagram bloggers, Health rounded up 11 of the best letter boards that we've seen all over the past few months. Whether you need a reminder, a good laugh, or the perfect Pinterest Pin, these options have you covered.

Food for thought

Can't bear the thought of setting down your phone? Tend to check who's viewed your Instagram story a few too many times? This quote from Debrosse will remind you to look away from the screen in your palm. 

Be (slightly) wild and free

In bed by 9:30? That's an idea we can get behind. This adorable bit of wisdom from Girls' Night In will encourage you to think more about enjoying the moment, while also making sure you get enough Zzz's. 

Take action

Everyone has (at least) one thing on their bucket list. This post from Popflex is motivating us to choose "day one" over "one day." 

Feel grateful

The holidays aren't the only time to give thanks. This motivational (not to mention gorgeous) letter board from Bethany Grace promotes the idea of appreciating everything you have. 

Seize the day

Whether it's January 1 or the middle of the summer, you can always start fresh. Thanks to this post by Erin Falacho, we're confident all we need is a cup of tea and a gentle push to take more chances. 

A friendly reminder

Never forget your worth. This board from Jenessa Wait is the perfect addition to your office, Pinterest board, or anywhere else you need to remind yourself of your potential. 

Bundle up

When the weather outside is frightful…it's time for a night in. This cozy board from ElskaBody tells us it's okay to embrace our hygge habits and do a little self care. 

Don't worry…

Be happy! Slippers, blush tones, hot cocoa, and marshmallows are just a few of many reasons My Secret Fashion Diary (and we) should make feeling good a priority. 

Find your people

Simple and minimalist, this board from Kaylyn Van Driesum is as beautiful as its message: to surround yourself with your good friends and family. 

Be patient (or at least try)

This hilarious board from DefywithDena is perfect for the ultimate avocado lover. Just like a well-though-out board, good things take time. 

It's never too late

We love this message from the now-viral letter board made by Words & Co. January isn't the only month to renew. Starting February 1 (or 2 or 28…) is just fine. 

Pin these fun, inspirational, and motivational letter board ideas when you go to your own Pinterest board this weekend, and tag us on Instagram to let us know when they're up.

Source: Mind and Body

The World’s Oldest Man Made It to 113 on a Diet of Veggies and Wine

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Francisco Nunez Olivera lived in his native Spain through both World Wars and the entirety of Franco's dictatorship. But Olivera died only this week, as the world's oldest man, at an impressive 113 years of age. And he claimed that the secret of his longevity was a diet "based on vegetables" and a daily glass of red wine.

RELATED: 9 Ways to Get More Veggies When Dining Out

Olivera's family and community have come forward to share the story of his full and happy life, and just how he managed to achieve such an old age. According to the Daily Mail, Olivera was born and raised in southwest Spain, and having lived there all his life, his extended family chalked up his long life to the land, where he grew his own vegetables. Something must be in the water, because Olivera was one of 32 people over the age of 90 among the 2,200 people who call the small village home.

The Daily Mail explains that Spain has one of the highest life expectancies in the world, which many experts and health professionals credit to the fact that Spaniards stick to the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet is characterized by many plant-based dishes, unprocessed whole grains, and healthy fats, as well as the occasional glass of red wine.

RELATED: This Is How to Do the Mediterranean Diet

A 2013 study by the University of Barcelona linked the Mediterranean diet to a healthy heart after studying 7,000 Spanish participants who switched to the diet for 5 years. The researchers behind the study discovered that there was a 30 percent decrease of cardiovascular disease among these high-risk participants following the change of diet.

While red wine is an important aspect of the Mediterranean diet, Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, says that the key to reaping health benefits is moderation—women should enjoy a single 5-ounce glass, and for men, it's two glasses of the same amount.

Olivera's daughter Antonia says that her father enjoyed great health throughout his entire life: despite having reached 113 years of age, Olivera only went to the hospital twice. He rarely experienced pains, aches, or serious illnesses, and up until the age of 107, he enjoyed a daily walk into the fields where he often harvested his own vegetables.

While there's not a single solution to enjoying health at an older age, Olivera's own life just might be a clue of how to get there. In 2015, he told Spain's El Mundo that he wanted to live longer even though his friends had passed, adding: "I know I'm old, but I don't feel old."

Source: Mind and Body