What Your Poop Is Trying To Tell You

There’s virtually no way to have a conversation about poop that isn’t awkward, embarrassing or downright difficult. We all go, but most people — most adults, that is — don’t like to talk about it. The thing is, your poop can offer a wealth useful information about your health.

What the Color of Your Poop Means

If your stool is brown, that’s a good thing. If it’s brown with just a hint of green, that’s a sign that all is well, too. If your poop scoots further along the spectrum, though, it may denote trouble.

Green

Green poop isn’t necessarily worrisome, but it does mean that food is zipping through your digestive system too quickly. Green stool may also be the result of eating certain foods, especially dark, leafy greens that are high in chlorophyll, such as spinach and kale.

Yellow

If your stool is yellow, it may mean its fat content is too high. It could also be symptomatic of celiac disease or an inability to absorb nutrients properly.

White

Poop that’s white, pale or resembles clay in color is often the sign of a blocked bile duct.

Black

Things start getting more serious if your stool is black in color. While it could just be the result of iron supplements or eating black licorice, it could also point to a bleed in the upper part of your intestinal tract.

Red

Like black stool, red stool may indicate bleeding, only this time it originates from the lower intestine. It could also mean hemorrhoids or simply that you dined on beets, Gatorade or other red food and drink recently.

What the Shape of Your Poop Means

Your stool’s shape is just as revealing as its color, if not more so. In fact, it’s so informative that there’s a scientific scale for it called the Bristol Stool Scale. It identifies seven stool types:

Type 1: Hard Pellets

Small, hard pellets that are difficult to pass mean you’re probably constipated, but it should pass soon (no pun intended.) If you’re still blocked up after several days, however, it's important that you talk to your doctor.

Type 2: Lumpy Logs

This also means you’re constipated. Once again, your discomfort shouldn’t last long, but you can help speed things up by snacking on fiber-rich foods and drinking plenty of water.

Type 3: Cracked Logs

Despite the unappealing description, this is one of the two types of “perfect” poop you want. It should be soft, easy to pass and roughly 2 inches long.

Type 4: Smooth Logs

Stool that is easy to eliminate and resembles a snake or a hot dog is also normal.

Type 5: Soft Pellets

Small, soft pellets that are quick and painless to pass often suggest you need to add more fiber to your diet.

Type 6: Mushy Blobs

If your stool is super-soft and disjointed with jagged edges, it usually means mild diarrhea. Be sure to hydrate to replace lost fluids.

Type 7: Watery Nightmare

You have the runs, a.k.a. diarrhea. This happens when stool races through your digestive tract so rapidly that it never has the chance to form into a solid.

What It Means If Your Stool Floats

Stool that floats typically means one of two things: First, it may mean that it’s high in gas or water content, making it light enough to bob on the surface. Second, it could suggest that your body’s not absorbing nutrients well. Malabsorption like this is usually accompanied by constipation.

If watching your preschool grandchildren play a 14-hour soccer game sounds preferable to talking to your doctor about your bowel movements, you’re not alone. You also need to steel your nerves and have that talk. Stool that’s suspect is almost always trying to tell you something important about your health, and having a tête-à-tête about poop is just another part of the job for your physician.

6 Amazing Places on Your Body That Can Relieve Stress

According to traditional Chinese medicine, certain pressure points help restore balance to the body's natural energy flow. In the West, health professionals think that these points may alleviate muscle tension and tell your brain to release endorphins, natural feel-good hormones that help with pain and stress. Here's how to find them.

1. Your Temples (Taiyang)

Many people automatically massage their temples when their head throbs. This point is also used in alternative medicine for helping with anxiety and relieving tension headaches.

Press your index and middle finger gently against one of your temples. Slowly breathe in and out while rubbing this point in a circular direction for 10–15 seconds. At the end, hold your fingers in the center of the temples for a minute and slowly release.

2. The Middle of Your Chest (Shanzhong)

This stress-relieving point is in the middle of your sternum, or breastbone. Both men and women can find it by tracing a line directly from the nipples to the center of the chest.

Use three fingers to press and hold this point. Use firm-but-gentle pressure, taking care not to bruise. Hold this point for three minutes and breathe deeply the whole time.

3. Your Foot Arch (Yong Quan)

In traditional Chinese medicine, this point is called Bubbling Spring. It’s in the middle of the sole of your foot, near the base of your big toe. Put your thumb right where the foot arch begins, about one-third down from the toes and two-thirds of the way up from your heel.

Apply firm pressure and gently move your thumb in a circular motion. This point is believed to provide calming effects and help with blurry vision and dizziness.

4. Between Your Eyebrows (Yintang)

Finding this point is easier if you look in the mirror. It’s located directly between your two eyebrows. Hold this point or massage in a circular motion for 3–5 minutes.

Yintang can calm you down when you’re feeling irritable or worried. It’s also commonly used to help with pain.

5. Your Forearm (Neiguan)

This is one of the most used pressure points for stress. It’s located on your forearm, on the outside of the wrist. Measure about three finger widths from your wrist, tracing a point down from the largest tendon. Neiguan is between the two large tendons.

Gently breathe and hold this pressure point with your thumb for several minutes. Take 10 deep breaths as you move your thumb in a circular motion. This pressure point is easy for anyone to master (it’s one of my favorites), so don’t be surprised if you use it a lot.

6. Between the Thumb and Index Finger (Hegu)

Another easy pressure point to master, Hegu is one many people have heard of but get wrong. You can find it in the webbing between your thumb and forefinger, but to get relief you need to reach a little further down, to the point right in front of where you feel the bones meet. Hold this point for three minutes.

The best way to find out which pressure points help you personally is to try them! It only takes about 10 minutes and you can keep track of the ones that give you the most stress relief. To boost the effect, give these points a gentle massage while listening to calming music or relaxing with positive scents.

Is Dairy Really the Best Way To Get Calcium?

Dairy has gone through a lot of marketing changes over the years. At one point milk was touted in commercials as the solution for everything from achieving smooth skin to fending of bullies (yes, really!) Remember the old slogan “Milk: It Does a Body Good” from the 1980s? Back then, milk could do no wrong.

But more recently, dairy products have started to get a bad reputation. Not long ago, dairy was blamed for a wide variety of problems, including acne, weight gain, digestion issues and more. So which is it? Is dairy a caped crusader or a masked foe? The answer is that it’s likely somewhere in between.

Though milk probably isn’t as miraculous as the 1980s led us to believe, it’s also not as bad as some modern activists try to convince us it is. One of milk’s primary health claims is that it strengthens bones due to its calcium content. While it’s true that dairy products contain calcium, are they really the best source of this important component of bone health? Surprisingly, the answer is no! Here are several foods that contain more calcium than a glass of milk (which contains about 300 mg of calcium).

Almonds

Who doesn’t love to snack on almonds? I know I do! I feel even better about it now that I know ¾ cup of almonds contains 320 mg of calcium. So if you’re trying to get more of this important nutrient in your diet, feel free to enjoy a serving of almonds each day. Just don’t eat too much, since these tasty little nuts are also high in calories and can derail your weight loss goals if you aren’t careful.

Kale

If you weren’t already convinced that kale is a superfood you should consume regularly, consider the fact that it’s packed with calcium. Though it can be hard to consume sufficient kale when it’s raw, cooking it makes it easier to eat more. Two cups of cooked or sauteed kale will provide your body with 359 mg of calcium.

Bok Choy

If you haven’t tried bok choy yet, you’re missing out! This delicious Chinese cabbage is a little reminiscent of broccoli in flavor, but it looks more like lettuce. Just two cups of this vegetable can provide you with 316 mg of calcium. Try chopping it up and adding it to salads or stir-fries.

Tofu

Like it or hate it, tofu is a great source of calcium. But you have to find the type of tofu that’s made with calcium sulfate. Extra-firm or firm tofu provides up to 300 mg of calcium per 6-ounce serving. The firmer the tofu, the more calcium it typically contains.

Calcium-Fortified Orange Juice

It’s usually best to cut back on fruit juices because they contain a lot of sugar and calories. But if you feel the need to indulge occasionally, choose orange juice that’s fortified with calcium. An 8-ounce glass of calcium-fortified orange juice can give you approximately 350 mg of calcium. It contains other healthy nutrients, too!

Canned Salmon (With Bones)

Before you cringe at the thought of eating salmon bones, hold on for just a minute! The bones in canned salmon are very difficult to detect because they’ve been softened by sitting in a moist can. The bones themselves are packed with calcium and are great for your body. Try eating canned salmon on top of a green salad, in rice bowls, or on top of pasta. It’s an effective and tasty way to improve your daily calcium consumption.

What do you think of this list of calcium-rich foods? If you don’t like dairy or are lactose intolerant, these are all great alternative foods to help you meet your daily calcium intake needs.

The 5 Best Vitamins for Your Joints if You’re an Active Senior

Often, I hear people say they’re surprised I’m so “active for my age.” I have to admit, there’s a big part of me that’s proud when I hear such things, and a small part of me that feels a little indignant. Why do people automatically expect the seniors in their lives to become fragile and immobile? I certainly don’t subscribe to that idea!

But I have to be honest. Within the past few years, I’ve noticed more joint pain than usual. So I decided to look into supplements (specifically vitamins) and learn which nutrients can help minimize my joint pain. I found out that these are the best vitamins for the active senior to take for joint support.

1. Vitamin D

I like to call Vitamin D the Captain America of the vitamin world. I mean, this guy is no lightweight! Vitamin D is touted to help all kinds of things, from general immunity to your mood. It turns out that taking a vitamin D supplement can also help relieve joint discomfort.

Vitamin D is great for bone health because it reduces inflammation in the joints and it helps your body absorb calcium (which is one of the most important components in your bones). If you’re not a fan of supplements, try getting more of this important vitamin from fish, whole milk (or fortified milk), cod liver oil, mushrooms, eggs and cheese.

2. Vitamin K

You’ve probably heard of vitamin D and how important it is for your health, but when’s the last time you heard someone say you should increase your consumption of vitamin K? Though it’s talked about much less than most other vitamins, vitamin K is essential for good bone formation.

This unassuming vitamin helps to make bones strong by activating proteins that help with bone mineralization and formation. It’s important to note that vitamin K deficiencies aren’t very common. Most people get enough vitamin K from their diets. Foods such as spinach, broccoli, eggs, liver, and strawberries are all high in vitamin K.

If you think your body could use a boost of this important bone-health ingredient, try supplementing with it. There are no known risks of taking too much vitamin K, but it is best to carefully follow the recommended daily intake instructions on your vitamin K supplement packaging.

3. Vitamin C

Scientists have done some research on vitamin C and its role in bone health, and the results are very interesting. It appears that vitamin C stimulates the cells responsible for building bone. It also enhances the effects of vitamin D on bone metabolism and aids calcium absorption. Who knew?

Vitamin C also plays a role in forming collagen (an important component of bones). Research also shows that this lovely vitamin may help prevent osteoporosis. So load up on these foods that are packed full of vitamin C: bell peppers, cruciferous vegetables, Guava fruit, kiwifruit, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and strawberries.

4. Vitamin E

You probably already know that vitamin E is really great for your skin, but did you know it can help reduce oxidative stress on joint cartilage as well? Some studies show that vitamin E helps reduce joint pain more than nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs!

Foods high in vitamin E include sunflower seeds, nuts, avocado, salmon, mango, kiwifruit, and wheat germ oil. Add these foods to your diet or supplement with vitamin E to boost joint comfort and health.

5. B Vitamins

B vitamins are great for energy, and they can also help reduce joint pain. Vitamin B12, in particular, reduces the amino acid homocysteine (which is usually high in people with rheumatoid arthritis). You can get vitamin B12 from organ meats, fortified cereal, beef, and tuna.

So there you have it! A list of delicious, natural foods that are packed full of joint-healthy vitamins. Try to incorporate these foods into your diet and consider supplementing with the above-mentioned vitamins if you think you’re deficient.

Amplify your fitness routine with these 7 free apps

If you're like me, your smartphone serves as your source of news, your morning wake-up call, and your connection to friends and loved ones. With these seven amazing free apps, your device can also become your guide as you embark on your fitness journey.

Strava

Those who jog, swim or bike can find the motivation to push workouts to the next level with this competitive app. Strava uses GPS to track your route, speed and distance and analyzes your performance for each segment of your course. You can compare each workout to your history to see your progress or compete against friends on the app. Strava gets high marks from new users and serious trainers alike.

All-Out Studio App

With this free app, you can access hundreds of exclusive workouts from sources such as Prevention Magazine, Runner's World and Women's Health. All-Out Studio App allows you to sort by skill level with instruction from professional trainers. Learn new strategies and techniques whether you're a novice or simply looking to shake up your routine. 

Map My Run

Despite the name, you don't have to be a runner to take advantage of the features of this highly-rated app. With Map My Run, previously known as Map My Fitness, you can log more than 600 different types of physical exercises from cross-training to cycling and beyond. Robust data import and analysis features connect with more than 400 different devices, so chances are it supports your smartwatch of choice.

My Fitness Pal

If you want to keep track of both diet and physical activity, My Fitness Pal can help you organize your data in one easy-to-use interface. You can stream more than 350 different workouts and log more than 11 million food items, as well as create and track your progress toward custom fitness goals. You can integrate My Fitness Pal with dozens of other apps and devices. It even allows you to log meals at your favorite restaurants! Set a goal to lose, gain or maintain your weight and then take advantage of the available tools for success. You'll see why this choice has more than a million positive reviews on Apple's App Store.

7 Minute Workout

Do you feel like you never have time to squeeze in a workout? This ingenious app by Johnson & Johnson circuit programs that last just seven minutes and range from high to low intensity depending on your preference and goals. The workouts have been developed and tested by exercise physiologists to thoroughly work each of your muscle groups in the allotted time. With clear instructional videos, 7 Minute Workout is a smart choice for exercise beginners

Charity Miles

If you run, walk or bike, you can feel even better about your workouts when you use the Charity Miles app. Every time you log a workout, the app makes a donation to the charitable organization of your choice, with options such as St. Jude's Children's Hospital and the Wounded Warrior Project. You can also create your own pledge drives to raise even more money for a worthy cause. 

MyZone Workout App

Do you want to keep track of your heart rate during your workouts? If so, strap on your heart-rate enabled smartwatch or monitor and download the MyZone Workout App. You can track the percentage of maximum effort you use during your workout, the number of calories you burn, your beats per minute and other statistics. If you're the competitive type, you can also share your workout data with friends on social media. 

Harness the power of technology when you take these top 2021 workout apps for a spin. 

Maintaining Your Fitness Levels While on Vacation

People tend to view vacations as a time of relaxation, meaning limited activity and stress. Unfortunately, depending on the length of your vacation, your fitness levels can quickly degrade if you ignore exercise and most physical activity. Some reports suggest a decline in aerobic power between 5% and 10% in only three weeks. Additionally, most studies imply the fitter you are, the quicker the reductions can occur. While taking a week off to rest and enjoy might not make much of a difference, you should include some form of exercise to maintain your current fitness levels if you plan on vacationing for longer.

Incorporate Aerobic Exercise Into Your Vacation

Exercise does not have to be torture or consist of miles on a treadmill. You can have fun while incorporating aerobic exercise into your vacation; to demonstrate, consider playing beach volleyball, walking along the shoreline, taking a hike, or going on a leisurely bike ride. People tend to overthink exercise, assuming it has to include strict routines and methods. Still, as long as you can maintain moderate aerobic activity for at least 30 minutes a day, you are good.

A Simple Body Weight Exercise for the Hotel Room

If your hotel has a gym, by all means, take 20 to 30 minutes to do your typical workout. However, if you do not feel like venturing through the lobby in your workout gear, consider doing a simple hotel room workout. The activity relies on body weight, balance, endurance, and your luggage. To increase your heart rate, set a timer for 15 to 20 and see how many circuits you can complete.

You want to start with bodyweight squats. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. With your back straight and your arms fully extended in front of you, squat down slowly into a sumo-like pose. To complete the squat, return to a standing position, keeping your arms in front of you. You will want to do 20 reps before moving onto the next exercise.

Without hesitating, transition into an incline pushup position. Place your hands, palms down, on the edge of the bed or a desk, with your feet on the floor. With your body angled out, approximately 45 degrees, push down then up slowly. Perform 15 reps before moving onto the third exercise.

For the third exercise, grab a piece of luggage. You will be performing one-arm luggage rows. Stand with one leg extended behind you and the opposite leg bent slightly in front. Bend slightly at the waist, keeping your back straight. Whatever leg is extended back, you want to use the same side arm to slowly pick up and then lower the bag, keeping your back straight. Perform 10 reps before moving onto the fourth and final exercise.

For the last exercise, lay flat on the floor with your legs bent, forming a pyramid. Keep your arms extended at your sides with palms on the floor. To perform a reverse crunch, you will use your abs to lift your legs, keeping them bent. Bring your knees above your chest and then bring them back down, being sure to engage your core the entire time. Perform 10 reps to complete the circuit. Then, repeat all four exercises and keep repeating until your timer sounds.

While a vacation is a time to relax, there is no reason you can’t maintain your fitness goals. How do you exercise on vacation? Leave a comment to keep the conversation going.

The Problem With Beach Body Diets and the Unrealistic Beauty Ideal

People commit to losing weight fast every spring and summer using beach body diet plans — not to be confused with specific brands. Consequently, you see many people choosing unhealthy fad diets in the hopes of looking good in a bathing suit.

The Nagging and Unrealistic Pursuit of Ideal Beauty

Before diving into the consequences and problems with fad dieting, it is necessary to discuss the idea of beauty. As women age, they must come to terms with their bodies changing and no longer looking like bikini-clad supermodels. In all honesty, how many women can even live up to those male- and industry-driven preferences even when in their 20s and 30s?

At some point in nearly every woman’s life, she acknowledges a discrepancy between actual and perceived beauty. Natural beauty is attainable, and it is about making your best life through healthy physical, dietary, and mental decisions. Perceived beauty is unrealistic and can encourage negative stigmas and behaviors, including eating disorders and body shaming. Unrealistic expectations and the pressure to be viewed as attractive in a magazine or Hollywood sort of way are the primary motivation behind rapid weight loss and fad diets.

While women typically lead the charge in the beauty debate, men are also affected. The pressure to present outward attractiveness regardless of the methods used to achieve it is a societal problem. People need to take to heart the idea that beauty is more than a number on a scale or flawless complexion; it is confidence and self-respect.

The Unsustainable Fads of Beach Body Diets

Beach body diets are typically focused on restriction and elimination. Dieters are expected to reduce their calories, typically beyond healthy limits, and eliminate specific foods or food groups. Through caloric disparity and nutritional sacrifice, weight loss is inevitable, and when compounded with aerobic routines, it is easy to make promises.

Unfortunately, these fad diets are not sustainable, and their effects are not long-lasting. If a person commits to the four weeks or another timeframe, they will lose weight. However, if they do nothing to alter their relationship with food and exercise, the pounds will return, and in some instances, more than before.

Fad diets tend to wreak havoc on your metabolism, and consequently, it may never return to normal. Instead of choosing a fad for rapid weight loss, select a sustainable diet, focusing on nutrition and healthy activity. True, you may not lose at the same pace as other fad diets, but you will lose healthily and sustainably, resulting in a lifestyle change rather than a temporary fix.

Real Change Starts With Realistic Objectives

If you are ready to lose weight and get fit, restrictive diets and fads are counterproductive. They require too much sacrifice too quickly, leading to motivational issues and potential feelings of inadequacy.

Real change starts with minor adjustments, like eating more vegetables or drinking less soda. You want to build healthy habits. Before starting any new diet, take your time to prepare for the change, allowing you to build confidence in your decision.

What is your experience with fad diets? Leave a comment and let the community know what worked for you and what didn’t. Do you think fad diets are helpful tools in permanent weight loss or sustained weight management?

5 Healthy Snacks Everyone Can Enjoy

Hanger is real, and it is a problem. However, rather than letting your worst angels take advantage of you when you feel ravenous, it is better to save your family and have a snack.

While most people turn to homemade snacks without the preservatives and added chemical ingredients, you will not always have time to make a snack from scratch, which means you will need some store-bought options mixed with handmade selections.

Finding Healthy Options

When looking for healthy snacks, you will still need to focus on ingredients, even if you resort to store-bought selections. There are several things you will want to keep an eye out for, including:

  • Added Sugars
  • Calories per serving
  • Low-nutrient value

When selecting your snacks, look for items high in protein and fiber. Both items ensure the snack is filling, especially when several grams of each are included. Additionally, you want your snacks to have whole grains and complex carbohydrates, which are satiating and provide energy.

Selecting the Best Snack Options

When it comes to healthy snacks, you will receive a decent balance of nutritional balance and satiation. There are at least four healthy snack options for you and your family to enjoy.

1. Fruit

One of the best snacks for any diet is fruit. Fruit packs a powerful nutritional punch, and it often pairs well with grains or nut butter. For example, snacking on apples or bananas with a bit of peanut butter or almond butter provides a well-rounded and filling snack. Or, you can try upping your intake of antioxidants by choosing berries and pairing those with almonds.

2. Granola Bars

Not all granola bars are created equal. When looking for options at the grocery store, be sure to read the ingredients and nutrition label. Many companies sell granola snacks under the guise of healthy food, but when you review the labels, the items are swimming in added sugar and preservatives.

Some of the best commercial granola bar options include brands like Kashi, KIND, and RXBar. However, if you would rather make your own, there are plenty of recipes online — peanut butter granola bars are delicious.

3. Yogurt and Granola

An excellent combination snack, yogurt and granola is often reserved as breakfast food, but why? It is a readily available mix that you can grab from the fridge at a moment's notice. Additionally, it is a protein-powerhouse.

As with most snacks, however, you want to be careful when buying yogurt, watching the labels for added sugars. If you don't mind a bit of extra work, you can look for plain yogurt and add your own sweetness using maple syrup or honey.

If you are interested in making your own granola, you can, again, look online. There are so many health-conscious people out there putting up healthy granola recipes, some using crockpots and other more traditional or quick methods.

4. Roasted Chickpeas

Chickpeas are a high-protein snack on their own, but roasting these tiny beans creates a crispy, crunchy, addictive delight. While you can roast your own chickpeas, there are many brands, like the Good Bean, that sell crunchy chickpeas in a variety of flavors.

The beauty of this snack is one serving is equivalent to the fiber intake of two cups of broccoli, the folate intake of three cups of spinach, and equal to the protein of a serving of almonds — all that nutritional power in an on-the-go snack.

Do you have a favorite healthy snack? Leave a comment below explaining your answer.

The Significance and Advantages of Stress Journaling

Stress is a constant companion. Nearly every day, the body and mind find something to tense up or worry about. Understanding how and why stress affects you is an insightful exercise, but the only way to get to the bottom of your anxiety and worry is to track it like you would steps.

Obviously, tracking stress is not as straightforward as tracking steps. While wearable devices can alert you to stress waves in your body or increased heart rates, those tools do little to help you understand the moment.

The most beneficial tool you can use to track your stress is a journal. However, do not treat it like a regular journal. You want to come at the writing process more stoically, analytically. For example, write down the date and time of your stressful experience, even as it is happening. Take note of how you are feeling; try to be specific. Additionally, write down everything that is happening and did happen before the start of the stress attack.

By restricting emotional responses, you can begin to look at your problem logically. Most likely, as you continue stress journaling, you will notice one or several recurring characteristics of the events, providing a potential diagnosis or cause of the stress events. Having such realizations provides a roadmap to managing stress and can offer several distinct advantages.

Improved Self-Awareness

Stress and anxiety often separate the individual from experiences. For example, if hit with a significant amount of pressure or an anxiety attack at work, the individual often feels unable to focus or continue with work. The same can happen if stressed outside of work at a family event. Your mind locks in on the stress and does not allow you to enjoy or interact with family or the occasion.

By committing to a stress diary or journal, you can free up space in your mind, allowing yourself to take charge of your feelings and life. After some experience with your journal, you will likely find you are more in-tune with your emotions and aware of your surroundings.

Release of Trauma

A stress journal is a safe place to acknowledge hard truths. Many experts recommend using such journals to write about traumatic events, fully exploring all emotions.

The writing process engages both hemispheres of the brain. In doing so, journaling helps to integrate the experience in the mind, making it more palatable for the individual without overwhelming them.

Proven Health Benefits of Stress Journaling

Researchers are only now beginning to scratch the surface of the many health benefits of journaling. For example, many experts already suspected writing could counteract the adverse effects of stress. Still, through more studies, researchers are showing incredible proof of improved cognitive functioning, strengthened immune system response, and decreases arthritis, asthma, and other health condition symptoms.

Various Journals and Track Methods

You are not only limited to tracking stress and anxiety. While stress journals are excellent tools, many experts also recommend gratitude journals, emotional release diaries, and personal planning or bullet journals. But, primarily, any diary or writing exercise that allows you to vent and focus on your life has shown significant benefits for mental health and growth.

Have you ever used a stress journal or any other mindfulness practices? Leave a comment below explaining what worked and didn't for you.

Why I Won’t Be Fascia Blasting

Fascia blasting is one of the most popular health and beauty trends of the past five years. It’s also one of the most mysterious, one that picked up steam after making a cameo on “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” and one that I don’t intend to try anytime soon.

What Is Fascia?

Fascia is a thin layer of fiber-rich tissue woven throughout your entire body. It's what puts the “fasciitis” in “plantar fasciitis.” In that instance, the fascia found beneath the arch of your foot is inflamed, which causes pain. Fascia exists all throughout your body, though, including around both muscle and soft tissue areas. Some of these soft-tissue areas are fat, and that’s where fascia blasting comes in.

What in the World Is Fascia Blasting?

The basic idea is this: When your fascia gets too tight, it can cause discomfort (see sore arches above), and it can also encourage the growth of cellulite. Loosen up that fascia, the theory goes, and you’ll curb pain and reduce the appearance of cellulite.

The name for that process is fascia blasting, and it's performed in a variety of ways. The most common method involves warming up the area and then rolling or rubbing a fascia-blasting device across it for several minutes. These tools can take assorted shapes as well, but the most popular design looks like a baton with rubber claws on it. These claws do the actual “blasting.”

Does Fascia Blasting Work?

If an end to dimpled thighs sounds too good to be true, it’s because it probably is. Scientists have only scratched the surface when it comes to understanding what fascia is and what it does. They know that it’s primarily collagen and that it both gives your body its shape and helps its various parts move. Some evidence suggests that it may play a role in cellulite as well.

When it comes to actual fascia-blasting results, however, science is split. Some physical therapists and other health professionals feel that fascia treatments do improve the flexibility of your fascia, which, in theory, could decrease cellulite. Others disagree.

Interestingly, one of the biggest issues with any form of fascia treatment is the fact that fascia is virtually impossible to handle in isolation. In other words, since it’s wound all throughout your body like a giant net, it’s difficult to study or to say with any certainty what its exact role is in a given health condition.

Should You Try Fascia Blasting?

Probably not, and I’ll give you three reasons why. First, much more research needs to be completed. The evidence that suggests fascia blasting works for both cellulite and pain is promising, but it’s just a start.

Second, many physicians strongly recommend that any manipulation of the fascia be done by a trained professional. Experts know better which areas to target and how to handle them (literally in some cases).

Third, there are safer and gentler ways to relieve pain and potentially bust up cellulite-boosting tissue. Commercial fascia blasting tools are often extremely rigid. Add a well-intentioned but total lack of expertise into the equation, and you have a recipe for lasting damage. In fact, one of the most popular fascia-blasting devices has been subjected not only to FDA complaints but also to multiple class-action lawsuits by parties claiming blaster use led to inflammation, violent bruising and altered menstrual cycles.

I’d be lying if I said that I wouldn’t like to have the same figure that I had when I was 22. The thing is, I’m not willing to literally beat myself up to get it! If you’re considering fascia blasting to remove cellulite, do your homework first. Better still, learn to love yourself. Those aren’t dimples, those are battle scars, and you’ve done some incredible things to earn them.