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Challenge Yourself

Many times, I find myself in a rut; I am a part of a routine that consists of eat, work, sleep, repeat. I find myself trapped in this routine, and get bored. If you can relate, then surely you can appreciate my tips to challenge yourself every once in a while in order to break that routine, spice up your life, and learn something new about yourself.

In late June, I ran the Rugged Maniac 5K obstacle course in Brooklyn, New York. I signed up for it a few months ago with the expectation that this race would motivate me to get in shape for summer. I also felt like challenging myself physically in a way I had never done before.

I started going to the gym, attended spinning and yoga classes, and getting in shape. But then finals week came, and I fell into a deep hole of late night snacks, endless hours spent on my laptop, working on the multiple research papers I had to hand in, and studying endlessly. My sleep patterns were unusual, my eating habits more than unhealthy, and my workouts went out of the window.

So when I got to the Aviation Center at Floyd Bennet Field that Saturday morning, I felt horrible. I was not in any way, shape, or form prepared for this race and in the distance, I could already see some of the tricky obstacles I would have to conquer.

It was hard. Running was one thing (I hadn’t gone for a run in longer than I wanted to admit), but the obstacles were the real challenge. I am slightly afraid of heights, and many obstacles consisted of climbing pretty high. I pulled myself through muddy pits, ran through water pools, balanced on planks, and lifted weights on my shoulders while I ran.

And I made it! My time was not the best, but I finished the race, and all of the obstacles.  Afterward, I felt like I was on top of the world. Adrenaline was rushing through my body when I conquered that last obstacle and slid into a pit of mud, jumped up, then ran the last bit towards the finish line.

I did it, I ran the Rugged Maniac, and I am now a “rugged maniac!” I felt so exhilarated, happy, and proud of myself. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and it was worth every second. The throbbing in my thighs, each scrape on my knee and elbows, it was all worth it. Next year, I will do it again– this time with the proper training, so I can actually time myself, and do better than this year.

I learned a lot about myself from this experience. Sometimes, even if you are totally unprepared, you have to challenge yourself. Challenge yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s hard, and oftentimes you are stepping out of your comfort zone, but it is more than worth it.

In the near future, when you find yourself stuck in a rut and bored, challenge yourself! There are many ways to challenge yourself other than physically, like a race. How about picking up a book from the library that isn’t just an easy read but actually a challenge to get through? If you dislike long books, challenge yourself to finish one long book this year. It will be rewarding and prove to yourself that you can do anything.

If you are generally a shy person, another way to challenge yourself is to approach total strangers and try and start up a conversation with them. Talking to strangers might be the worst thing you could imagine doing but, guess what? It will give you a nice boost of confidence that will show in the next similar situation.

I am still excited I finished the race and am looking forward to the other challenges that await me in the future. If I can run a 5K obstacle course with no training whatsoever, you too can challenge yourself to do something you’ve never done before!

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Elephant Trade – A Cruel Way to Keep Up Tourism in Thailand

Over the past few months, more news about ivory trade in South East Asia has made headlines, as elephants are cruelly treated and exploited for their tusks. The elephant population is threatened both by the illegal ivory trade as well as the capturing and trading of elephants for the tourist industry.

Elephants are a large part of Thailand’s tourist attractions. People from all over the world visit Thailand to go on trekking tours on elephants.  Riding an animal as big and beautiful as that is imaginably an amazing experience. I myself  have always wanted to ride an elephant. What tourists often do not realize is the horrific conditions these elephants are held in and the cruel manner in which they have been captured and transported from Myanmar, also known as Burma. One elephant ride might threaten the whole existence of elephants in South East Asia. What tourists fail to realize is that these beautiful animals are also wild animals, nonetheless. In order for the elephants to be ridden, they first and foremost need to be tamed.

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Taming elephants has becoe a cruel process in South East Asia. Since tourists prefer younger elephants, they are caught at a very young age and held captive under horrific conditions. They capture the wild elephants by using domesticated ones to lead them into pit traps. The older elephants are shot, and the younger ones held in these pits and beaten until they submit and are tamed. They are then smuggled across the border from Myanmar to Thailand, where they are used to entertain in the tourist industry.

There have been efforts to improve the laws at the border and against the illegal elephant trade. Nonetheless, the illegal activities are still going on. There have been cases where elephants were seized, but the guilty were not prosecuted for their actions.

I think it is important to further raise awareness about the illegal elephant trade. Myanmar’s elephant population is at great risk of extinction. Before tourists travel to Thailand they must be made aware of the horrific conditions these elephants were captured and tamed under.

There are sancturaries within Thailand that have rescued abused elephants from these horrible situations; some places offer visitation. When researching a trip to Thailand, make sure to visit a rescue center for elephants, rather than further adding to the problem of the elephant trade in South East Asia.

Fall Into Fall

Fall Into Fall’s Hottest Beauty Trends

Ah… Fall. Pumpkin spice lattes, crunchy leaves, and crisp, cool air. I love Fall for a variety of reasons, one of which is Fall fashion! I love to watch coral lips transition into dark, vampy berries, and bronze glows transition into artful contours. Certain trends always come back in the Fall, but there are also plenty of new ones that I’m looking forward to this year.

We’ve compiled a list of the top new trends and the best ways to wear them. Try out some of these new trends ASAP!

Larger than Life Lashes

This season, big lashes are back! I’m a complete mascara junkie, so I’m looking forward to everyone rocking larger than life lashes. From falsies to voluminous mascaras, lashes are key for the new season. I’ve got a few mascaras that I’m looking forward to pulling out for Fall. Some of my favorites are Urban Decay’s new Perversion Mascara and the Revlon Lash Potion. If you’re into false lashes, try Velour’s new #WINGing lashes. And, don’t forget your lower lashes! Load your lower lashes up with some volumizing mascara to really jump on this trend’s bandwagon.

Eye-Popping Eyeliner

Classic black pencil liner is making a comeback this season! Liquid wings can take a step back, because thick pencil liner on top and bottom lash lines are taking over the liner trend. My favorite pencil liners are the Too Faced Perfect Eyes Eyeliner and Maybelline Define-A-Line. These liners have a smooth and velvety applicator and don’t smudge all over the place! I’m obsessed with these two for the waterline or along the lash line. Try out some thick pencil liner this Fall!

Major Metallics 

Metallics are super in this season, which I’m really excited for. I love metallic finish shadows! Try some gold or bronze shadows this Fall and hop on this trend. Some of my favorites come from the Maybelline The Nudes Palette. These shadows have a beautiful metallic finish and have awesome pigmentation. Plus, this palette runs for about $10 at drugstores, so it’s a great value. Bring out your metallic side this season!

Get Your Glow On

Say goodbye to matte skin from last year—this season is all about skin that glows! Go grab those dewy foundations in winter shades because dewy skin isn’t going away just yet. I’ve been loving L’oreal Paris True Match Lumi foundation to get luminous skin. Plus, this foundation comes in a bunch of shades, so you are sure to find your perfect match! Also, try out some new highlighters this season! I like NARS Albatross and Wet N’ Wild Fergie Shimmer Palette. I love both of these highlighters for creating a subtle shimmer along the cheekbones and down the center of the face. Get your glow on this season!

Luxurious Lips

Just like seasons past, berry lips are on trend. The perfect shade this season is “sangria,” which is a deep berry color that looks amazing on all skin types. I’m a huge fan of Maybelline lipsticks— I love their Super Stay line and their Color Sensational line. Try out some of their inexpensive lip colors this Fall for some colors that are sure to please!

This fall, new trends are sure to be seen not only on the runways, but on street corners as well. Be sure to try out some of these new trends and earn some major style points!

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Recipes To Be Pinterested In

It’s hard to come up with your own creative and healthy recipes, but that doesn’t mean eating ice cream for dinner (again) is really justifiable.

Using one of humankind’s most helpful creations, Pinterest, here are some easy and delicious recipes for all of your cravings. As a bonus, all of these recipes come from websites loaded with other great options that you might be interested in!

First things first, you crave ice cream, I crave ice cream, seriously, why can’t we just have ice cream? Whatsgabbycooking.com has heard our stomachs rumbling and has given us “Grilled Peaches with Vanilla Ice Cream.” This recipe is super delicious, and only takes 5 minutes to make. All you need is peaches, canola oil, and vanilla ice cream. It’ll give you a fix for your sweet tooth, with the addition of a serving of fruit, part of your daily “Strive for 5″ (fruits and vegetables). If, by chance you aren’t an ice cream lover, swap the ice cream out for some frozen vanilla yogurt.

Check out the recipe here.

When cooking just isn’t an option, salads can be an easy and refreshing choice. Greenkitchenstories.com has a wide and unique variety of salad recipes to choose from.  To mix it up, try their “Mango & Walnut Salad” recipe. This salad is made with arugula, mango, avocado, sprouts, walnuts, and walnut dressing. This salad has pretty much everything you could ask for in a meal. It provides you with leafy greens, fruit, protein from the nuts, and healthy fats from the avocado, and the walnut dressing is homemade. The recipe is also super easy to follow, but, if you’re a bit picky about your dressing try a lite alternative, like a lite balsamic vinaigrette.

Check out the recipe here.

If your idea of cooking is boiling water, this recipe is right up your alley. Tastwiththeeyes.com has a section devoted to heart healthy recipes, and its “Spinach and Chickpea in a Bengali Mustard Sauce” is both healthy and delicious.  The recipe calls for spinach, chickpeas, rice, olive oil, mustard seeds, and a few other spices. Warning: you will have to sauté the spinach and chickpeas in oil, but this is only one step up from boiling water, so give it a try. This recipe is a great way to incorporate spinach into your diet, especially if you can’t stand the taste of raw spinach; spinach is a great source of potassium and iron, which does you wonders! 

Check out the recipe here.

Ever notice how many random pieces of produce you have left in your fridge at the end of the week? Well, thediva-dish.com noticed and came up with a great solution with the “Clean Out Your Fridge Pasta Sauce” recipe. This recipe is a bit lengthier, depending how many leftover vegetables you have, but it is a fun and flavorful way to clean out your fridge. Plus, the more vegetables you add, the better. Homemade vegetable pasta sauce is a great way to get in all those vegetables you are supposed to eat each day. Try canning some of the sauce and save it for later in the week.

Check out the recipe here.

These recipes are healthy and delicious, but there is no need to stop here. There are many more salad, main course, and dessert recipes on these sites, so try some of their other options for a little variety in your diet!

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Quotespiration: Dream Chasing

Words have a powerful way of changing our outlook, inspiring us to do something, or pushing us to go after our dreams. They can help mold and expand our potential, and help us develop passions we never thought we had.

We hear words every single day of our lives, but sometimes we don’t really listen to what they’re saying. We’re so used to hearing them that the message behind each one or their meanings can become lost. They are our foundation, and are what builds us up each and every day.  Words help us create our own style, voice, and give us strength to help spread the word of what we’re all about.

Whether it’s by our words or someone else’s, we realize that words not only inspire us, but motivate us too. There are words and phrases that can help lift us up on a bad day, make us laugh when we are feeling down, or inspire us to follow our dreams. There are even words out there to describe each and every one of us: You are all beautiful, intelligent, bold dreamers. Take each of those words for what they are. Let them sink in as you read them and settle into who you believe you truly are. Find a word that fits you. You are happy, positive, daring, silly, curious, kind.

“Quotespiration” encourages us to chase our dreams. Each of us has a dream that we want to make a reality one day.  Sometimes the journey of making that happen can be a tough one, but when it is, just take a moment to reassure yourself by reading these inspirational quotes — which are all fit to help you follow your dreams. Just believe that you are wonderful, extraordinary, unique, and creative and that your dreams will be a reality. Read on, and get ready to get inspired!

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Keep on dreaming!

 

How to Embrace Every Part of Yourself

As women, we often have a love-hate relationship with our mirrors. While they can help us look our best or show off the feature we love, we also use them to criticize ourselves. Looking into the mirror, we see a reflection of every body part we hate. I can remember so many times I’ve stared into the mirror and zeroed in on each imperfection — and I know I’m not alone.

But, here’s the thing: A mirror’s only purpose is to reflect what stands in front of it. And, it doesn’t just show us physical objects, it also reflects our mindset. It’s possible — difficult, but possible — to look in the mirror and like what you see. You can feel happy about yourself instead of focusing on everything you think is wrong.

But how can you do that?

It’s not an overnight task, that’s for sure. It’ll take time, and even still, you’ll have bad days. But, take it from someone who’s done it: It’s possible.

To start, make a list of things about yourself. Aim for 30 different things — that might seem like a stretch, but they’ll actually come easier than you think if you get really detailed. If you can’t think of everything at once, that’s fine; add to your list as things come to mind. Whether it’s your eye color, the way you stand up for others, or even your laugh, write down everything you can come up with.

Then, when you have a negative thought, write a positive one to contradict it. For example, if you begin to criticize your thighs, remind yourself that your legs allow you to run and walk. Admire the strength and ability of your body. Keep these reminders on your mirror, door, or wherever else you’ll see it.

And, as for the bigger picture, we need our community of women to support each other. Instead of tearing someone down for fashion choices, facial features or anything else, pay her a compliment. Tell her you like her shade of lipstick, or that her shirt brings out her eyes, or that you admire her sense of humor. If you think of something nice, just say it! Even if you get a weird look in return, at least you’ve lifted someone else up.

With small steps, you can completely transform the way you see yourself. Remember: You are so much more than what you see in the mirror. Don’t sell yourself short.

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Taylor Swift’s Top Ten Breakup Songs

There’s one undisputed truth about Taylor Swift: homegirl can write a darn good breakup song. Taylor uses some sort of musical sorcery to create insanely personal tracks that always end up being universally relatable to the masses. And just one week from today, we’ll get to hear her new album, 1989, in its full glory.

Will more epic breakup songs be in our future? Probably. But either way, what better way to pass the time than to reminisce with Taylor Swift’s greatest hits? Here’s our take on Tay’s top ten breakup songs:

10. “You’re Not Sorry”

Because sometimes he’s just not sorry, and T. Swift knows how it is.

9. “I Knew You Were Trouble”

Shoutout to Harry Styles for inspiring this “I-want-to-slap-myself-in-the-face-for-not-realizing-he-was-an-awful-guy-for-me” song. We’ve all been there.

8. “Picture To Burn”

Every angry ex-girlfriend’s theme song circa 2006.

7. “Back To December”

I bet Taylor Swift herself still ugly-cries when she listens to this song.

6. “Teardrops On My Guitar”

(Anyone else wonder what Drew is up to these days?)

5. “Forever And Always”

Because if Joe Jonas broke up with me in a 27-second phone call, I’d write a song about it too.

4. “I Almost Do”

How you feel on those nights when you want to drunk dial him after last call at the bar, depicted in a song.

3. “All Too Well”

If a song warrants a performance at the Grammy’s, it’s gotta be good.

2. “Red”

I may not know what it’s like to drive a new Maserati down a dead-end street, but I dig the metaphor, Tay.

1. “Last Kiss”

If you’re a T. Swift fan and you say you’ve never ugly-cried to this song, you’re lying. The universal nostalgia is just too real.

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We Don’t Care Who Out of the Woods Is About

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As soon as I found out that Taylor Swift’s new song Out Of The Woods from her upcoming album 1989, came out this week, I quickly Googled it to take a listen. All I found were articles talking about which celebrity ex-boyfriend it may be about. I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that this was what all the magazines were concentrating on.

I do understand the curiosity of wanting to know who a song might be about—especially with someone like Taylor, who is known to be very open and explicit about who she writes her songs about. But I feel like this takes away from the song, and it makes me wonder whether people are actually interested in the music or just the gossip.

I am not going to lie, I do believe Taylor has helped a lot with this every time she takes out a new song. She has always been known in the past to either give out a bunch of hints or just blatantly tell us who her songs are about.  I am not saying this is a bad thing, but I am not saying it’s a good thing either, because now the first question people ask whenever she comes out with a new song is: “Which guy is this one about?” And they will then write about that, instead of about the actual quality of the song.

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The song, which was written with Jack Antonoff — from the band FUN — is actually quite amazing and definitely wasn’t what I was expecting! Honestly, it had an 80’s vibe to it, and Taylor’s vocals just shined right through. When talking about the song, Taylor said she wanted people to feel the emotions she was going through, and I have to say, she definitely succeeded in doing that.

I do believe the story of the song is important, and that it makes the record. And I completely admire Taylor for being so honest with her lyrics and telling these amazing stories. I just wish the media would stop concentrating on the subject of the song and actually concentrate on the amazing writing and production of the song. But for now, I’ll just keep replaying Out Of The Woods until the entire album comes out on October 27th.

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Why You Should Wear What You Want

Why do you feel like you can’t wear the clothes you want?

There aren’t any laws concerning what patterns you can and can’t wear. There are no punishments for wearing clothes that show off your arms. Unless there’s a dress code at work or school, you’re free to wear whatever you please.

But still, something holds you back.

At some point, every girl has felt like she has absolutely nothing nice to wear. Every one of us has at one time or another had so little confidence that we wished we could walk around in a sack to hide our imperfections. We have all been there.

When you don’t feel your best, you think everyone is watching you, judging you, or waiting for you to mess up. You feel like the people on the train are all staring at the frizziness of your hair, or the color of your shoes. You’re self conscious. Every one of us has felt this way.

Most of the time, we dress to impress other people instead of dressing to feel good. We see clothes as an opportunity to make others like us, rather than a way to express ourselves.

We should aim to see style and fashion as working for us and making us feel good, rather than working against us and making us self-conscious.

So what if you don’t have Michelle Obama arms, or your legs aren’t tan? Don’t be afraid to wear short sleeves and skirts if you want to. Use your personal style as an opportunity to flaunt what you’ve got and show people that you love yourself.

When you get dressed in the morning, think about what you want before thinking about anyone else — in fact, try not to think about anyone else at all! It might seem like people are staring at you, but most of the time they’re too absorbed in their own lives to notice your fashion choices.

Dress appropriately for where you’re going, but pick out an outfit that makes you feel like yourself. There’s always a little wiggle room, too, like wearing your favorite statement necklace or even a cute bra that makes you feel confident.

Rather than trying to fit into a fashion trend, go for pieces that complement your body. Wear clothes that make you look and feel great; you deserve to be confident in your own skin. After all, you’re the only one that has the privilege of living in it.

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Don’t Buy It – DIY Your Favorite Snacks!

Grocery stores can be both the pinnacle and the pitfall of convenience – it is so easy to just grab your favorite foods and go. But sometimes these snacks can get expensive, and who has the money to splurge on these foods every single week? Plus, packaged snacks can contain all sorts of wacky ingredients that aren’t so good for you. Consider this fun alternative to buying all your favorite snacks — try making your own! You’d be surprised at how easy it can be to make some of them. Plus, making these goods at home will give you a fun activity to take on with your friends, a learning experience in the kitchen, or just the simple knowledge of knowing exactly what’s going into your food.

Larabars

These fruit-and-nut bars come in a variety of dessert flavors. If you’ve ever checked out the ingredients label on the packages, you may have noticed that the ingredients in the bars are all familiar and pronounceable. It’s easy to make your own: buy nuts (such as almonds or cashews), buy dates, and any flavorings (try an extract, like lemon or vanilla, or even throw some coca powder in). Blend your ingredients in a food processor, then mold into bars!

Milkshakes

Blend a frozen banana, some low-fat milk, and whatever mix-ins you would like! Some suggestions for mix-ins: add an Oreo or two to make a cookies and cream milkshake, throw in some sugar-free vanilla pudding mix and sprinkles for cake batter, or simply opt for some cocoa powder and vanilla extract for a sweet and simple chocolate shake.

Kale chips

Pre-packaged kale chips from grocery stores have way too many unnecessary ingredients! Instead, purchase kale next time you go food shopping and make your own. Wash and thoroughly dry the leaves, then spread them on a sheet pan.  Next, drizzle the leaves with olive oil and any seasonings you want. Lastly, bake them until the leaves become crispy chips. Try sprinkling some vinegar on your leaves too, for a healthy spin on the well-loved oil and vinegar chips.

Peanut butter

You’d be surprised how different natural peanut butter tastes in comparison to peanut butters that contain some strange ingredients, such as hydrogenated oil. After a while of trying a more natural type of nut butter, you’ll be hooked on both the taste and the health benefits. And, luckily, making your own peanut butter couldn’t be easier. Blend some peanuts and salt in a food processor until you’ve reached your desired smoothness. Then, spread onto whatever your heart desires!

Buying the ingredients to make your own versions of your favorite snacks can seriously save you money in the long run. Additionally, you can be assured that the food you’re eating contains only good-for-you ingredients. Chances are, these homemade products will taste better anyway!

Eliminating misinformation and promoting miss information.