Networking tips that really work

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By Colleen DeBaise | Entrepreneur

Networking goes hand in hand with running a successful business.

But many of us dread walking into a room and introducing ourselves to a bunch of strangers.

I’ve been asked to share my best networking tips at a meeting today of the National Association of Women Business Owners in Philadelphia. Here are the most valuable tips I’ve come across – and put to work myself – over the years:

1. Resist the urge to arrive late. It’s almost counter-intuitive, but showing up early at a networking event is a much better strategy than getting there on the later side. As a first attendee, you’ll notice that it’s calmer and quieter – and people won’t have settled into groups yet. It’s easier to find other people who don’t have conversation partners yet.

2. Ask easy questions. Don’t wait around the edges of the room, waiting for someone to approach you. To get the conversation started, simply walk up to a person or a group, and say, “May I join you” or “What brings you to this event?” Don’t forget to listen intently to their replies. If you’re not a natural extrovert, you’re probably a very good listener – and listening can be an excellent way to get to know a person.

3. Ditch the sales pitch. Remember, networking is all about relationship building. Keep your exchange fun, light and informal – you don’t need to do the hard sell within minutes of meeting a person. The idea is to get the conversation started. People are more apt to do business with – or partner with – people whose company they enjoy.

If a potential customer does ask you about your product or service, be ready with an easy description of your company. Before the event, create a mental list of recent accomplishments, such as a new client you’ve landed or project you’ve completed. That way, you can easily pull an item off that list and into the conversation.

4. Share your passion. Win people over with your enthusiasm for your product or service. Leave a lasting impression by telling a story about why you were inspired to create your company. Talking about what you enjoy is often contagious, too. When you get other people to share their passion, it creates a memorable two-way conversation.

5. Smile. It’s a simple – but often overlooked – rule of engagement. By smiling, you’ll put your nervous self at ease, and you’ll also come across as warm and inviting to others. Remember to smile before you enter the room, or before you start your next conversation. And if you’re really dreading the event? Check the negative attitude at the door.

6. Don’t hijack the conversation. Some people who dislike networking may overcompensate by commandeering the discussion. Don’t forget: The most successful networkers (think of those you’ve met) are good at making other people feel special. Look people in the eye, repeat their name, listen to what they have to say, and suggest topics that are easy to discuss. Be a conversationalist, not a talker.

7. Remember to follow up. It’s often said that networking is where the conversation begins, not ends. If you’ve had a great exchange, ask your conversation partner the best way to stay in touch. Some people like email or phone; others prefer social networks like LinkedIn. Get in touch within 48 hours of the event to show you’re interested and available, and reference something you discussed, so your contact remembers you.


18 Most Sickening Food Ingredients

Gross stuff in food

News about gross-out ingredients like pink slime and ammonia (more about both later) got us thinking: What other surprises lurk in the food we eat? We put that question to food safety as well as food manufacturing experts, and it turns out all kinds of things go into refined and processed foods that you wouldn’t willingly put in your mouth. Here’s a few…read at your own risk!

That’s not to say it isn’t safe to eat. The Food and Drug Administration and other agencies spend lots of time and energy to make sure you’re not eating stuff that will kill you. But the idea that something seems “just plain wrong” often isn’t part of the calculation.

Here’s a list of food ingredients that rate high in the yuck factor.



What it is: Vegetarians prepare to be shocked! The same stuff that puts the jiggle in Jello and other gelatin-based products is derived from collagen, a protein often collected from animal skins.

The source varies depending on the type of food, says Andrew L. Milkowsi, PhD, adjunct professor of animal sciences at the University of Wisconsin Madison. The gelatin in desserts, for instance, comes mainly from pig skin.

Where you’ll find it: Gelatin, which is a thickening agent, can also be found in frosted cereals, yogurt, candy, and some types of sour cream. (Check the label.)

Gross-out factor: High for vegetarians, low for everyone else.

Mechanically separated meat

Mechanically separated meat

What it is: Mechanically separated meat is what’s left over after the meat clinging to the bones of chicken or pork are forced through a sieve-like structure using high pressure. “It looks like a paste or batter,” says Sarah A. Klein, a staff attorney with the Food Safety Program at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “You have crushed bits of bone and cartilage and other things that can end up in that final paste.”

Because of the risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease, mechanically separated beef is no longer allowed in human food.

Where you’ll find it: Some hot dogs and other products (again, check the label)

Gross-out factor: High

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide

What it is: We have carbon monoxide detectors in our homes for a reason: this odorless gas can be deadly. But the same stuff that comes from the exhaust pipe of your vehicle is also used in packaging ground beef and some fish like tilapia and tuna. It helps them retain their youthful blush, says Patty Lovera, assistant director of Food & Water Watch.

Where you’ll find it: Carbon monoxide is injected into plastic wrap after all the air is sucked out to block the process of oxidation that can turn pink meat brown. The process is considered safe for humans although it isn’t widely used anymore, says Lovera. Consumer groups have objected to the treatment’s potential to mask meat spoilage.

Gross-out factor: Medium



What it is: Candy lovers, cover your eyes: pretty, shiny treats like jelly beans come at a price. They’re often coated with shellac, a sticky substance derived from secretions of the female Kerria lacca, an insect native to Thailand.

Where you’ll find it: Shellac makes jelly beans, candy corn, and other hard-coated candy look shiny. It may be called a “confectioner’s glaze” on the packaging. So sweet, and yet so sick.

Gross-out factor: Low

Saltwater injections

Saltwater injections

What it is: Saltwater is fine in the ocean, but injected into food? Believe it! Too much salt can contribute to high blood pressure and other health problems, so less is better. But in a practice called plumping, manufacturers inject salt and other ingredients into raw meat (mostly chicken) to enhance flavor and increase the weight of the meat before it’s sold.

Where you’ll find it: In packaged meat, and you should avoid it! Check the fine print and the nutrition facts label. Meat that’s been injected may say “flavored with up to 10% of a solution” or “up to 15% chicken broth.” Regular chicken has about 40 to 70 mg of sodium per 4-ounce serving, while plumped chicken can contain 5 times or more than that amount, or 300 mg and up.

Gross-out factor: High, for health reasons



What it is: Don’t viruses make us sick? Well yes, but bacteriophages —tiny bacteria-killing viruses—actually help us by making bacteria sick. First approved for use on food in 2006, bacteriophages infect food-contaminating germs, not humans, says Milkowski.

Where you’ll find it: Manufacturers spray these on ready-to-eat meat and deli products that are sold in sealed plastic pouches. The bacteriophage products come in two types: One that combats E. coli and the other Listeria bacteria. (Only the second is used on food; the first is used to spray cattle.) Check the ingredient list for the words “bacteriophage preparation.”

Gross-out factor: Low



What it is: Ammonia is a strong smelling chemical found in household cleaning products, but it’s also used as gas to kill germs in low-grade fatty beef trimmings.

“The trim (of animal meat) is prone to having more bacteria on it,” Lovera explains. “They use ammonia as a kill step to deal with the bacteria during processing.”

Where you’ll find it: This controversial practice started around 2001, and the resulting product—sometimes called pink slime—is used as a filler in ground beef.

Gross-out factor: High

Pink slime

Pink slime

What it is: Pink slime is a product derived from the bits of meat clinging to fat, which are separated out by melting the fat away and spinning in a centrifuge.

The result is a pinkish substance called lean finely textured beef that’s treated with ammonia gas to kill germs, and then added to ground beef as a filler. Lots of ground beef, as in 10 billion pounds per year.

Where you’ll find it: Recent furor over the concoction has caused companies like Wendy’s and McDonald’s to report that their hamburgers are pink slime-free and some supermarkets like Safeway and Wegmans to say they will no longer carry it. Schools participating in the National School Lunch Program now have the option of ordering beef without it, according to the USDA.

Gross-out factor: High

Bisphenol A

Bisphenol A

What it is: Though the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, has been removed from most hard plastics (including baby bottles and sippy cups), it can still be found in the sealant in the lining of some cans, says Lovera.

Where you’ll find it: “This can be especially problematic with acidic foods like tomatoes,” she says. “The concern is that it leaks into foods.”

BPA has been linked to brain, behavior and prostate problems, especially in fetuses and children.

Gross-out factor: High



What it is: Brace yourself—this food flavoring is extracted from the castor sac scent glands of the male or female beaver, which are located near the anus. According to Milkowski, the substance is pretty expensive (think about what it probably takes to obtain it) and is more common in perfume than in actual foods.

Where you’ll find it: While it sounds downright disgusting, the FDA says it’s GRAS, meaning it’s “generally recognized as safe.” You won’t see this one on the food label because it’s generally listed as “natural flavoring.” It’s natural all right—naturally icky.

Gross-out factor: Medium

Sodium benzoate

Sodium benzoate

What it is: Did you ever take a slug of soda or juice and feel a tingling sensation in your throat? That may be sodium benzoate. This common preservative is also generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA, meaning it shouldn’t pose a hazard. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t avoid it: a 2007 study published in The Lancet found that a mixture of sodium benzoate and food dyes was linked to hyperactive behavior in children, although it was hard to tell if the dyes or the preservative were to blame.

Where you’ll find it: Soft drinks and other carbonated beverages, fruit juices and jams, salad dressings, condiments, and pickles.

Gross-out factor: Medium



What it is: People take antibiotics to kill germs. Livestock get antibiotics because they grow bigger and faster—and thus are more lucrative.

Where you’ll find it: “The main concern about overuse of antibiotics in livestock production is the growing problem of antibiotic resistance,” says Lovera. Researchers are concerned about antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the overall environment and in livestock facilities.

But foodborne illnesses can result from resistant bacteria in food, including a ground turkey recall in 2011 (resistant salmonella) as well as a 2012 ground beef recall (also salmonella).

Gross-out factor: High

Silicon dioxide

Silicon dioxide

What it is: Silicon dioxide is what gets in your bathing suit and your hair at the beach. Affectionately known as sand, it’s also found in food. “It’s used in a lot of things as a flow agent and partly because it does a nice job of absorbing a little bit of atmospheric humidity that would cause clumping in a variety of things,” says Milkowski. Swallowing a little sand at the shore probably never hurt you and it probably won’t hurt you at the dinner table either.

Where you’ll find it: Salts, soups, and coffee creamer.

Gross-out factor: Low



What it is: Yup, insects again. In your food. When it comes to food, insects are handy for other things besides their shine. They’re good for color too, especially red. Carmine is a red food-coloring that comes from boiled cochineal bugs, which are a type of beetle.

There have been reports that the bug-based coloring can cause severe allergic reactions in some people, including potentially life-threatening anaphylactic reactions, so the FDA now requires that the ingredient be listed clearly on food and cosmetic labels.

Where you’ll find it: Carmine can be found in ice cream, Skittles, Good n’ Plenty, lemonade, and grapefruit juice.

Gross-out factor: High if you’re a vegan, medium for the rest of us

Propylene glycol

Propylene glycol

What it is: This chemical is found in antifreeze, it’s true. But, says Milkowski, “it’s a very, very safe material.” In fact, it’s much safer than a kissing cousin, ethylene glycol, which is particularly toxic to dogs.

Propylene glycol has lubricating properties which aid in making spice concentrates, not to mention condoms. And if you need good mixing in food, this is your compound. “You’ll find things that don’t mix well in water do disperse well in propylene glycol,” says Milkowski.

Where you’ll find it: Sodas, salad dressing, and beer

Gross-out factor: Medium



What it is: Cellulose, derived mainly from wood pulp and cotton, is used in paper ­manufacturing—and sometimes added to food.

Where you’ll find it: Cellulose is added to shredded cheese to keep the strands from sticking together, and also can be found in ice cream. It’s found naturally in corn. Cellulose is “is very innocuous material,” says Milkowsi. “Humans can’t digest it.”

Gross-out factor: Low



What it is: Do you eat seaweed? If you said no, prepare for a surprise, because carageenan is everywhere. Extracted from seaweed, carrageenan is a gel used as a thickening agent and emulsifier (keeps food from separating.)

Where you’ll find it: May be injected into raw chicken or other meat as a way to retain water, as well as in dairy products like cottage cheese and ice cream. Chocolate milk often contains carrageenan to keep the cocoa from separating from the milk.

Gross-out factor: Low

Liquid smoke

Liquid smoke

What it is: We worry about smoking and eating too much smoky barbecue. We also wonder, what exactly is liquid smoke, anyway? Liquid smoke is made by burning sawdust and capturing the components in either water or a vegetable oil, explains Milkowski.

Where you’ll find it: The resulting product can be purchased and added to sauces and other foods to give it that—yes—smoky flavor. If you’re used to cooking on an open fire, this might not seem all that gross to you, and manufacturers certainly don’t shy away from it. Liquid Smoke is also added to barbecue products, baked beans, hot dogs, bacon, and beef jerky, among others.

Gross-out factor: Low


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Posted by James Altucher

Honestly, you should have a huge party. You should turn to your left and have a high five with the guy or girl next to you. You should turn to your right and do the same thing.

The key, key, thing is not to spend your money. Not to go to zero.

Here’s what I would do. Every day you need to get in shape. You are in the Olympics now. So begin training. Every day you must do The Daily Practice [note: I don’t want to seem like a constant advertisement for it but its the ONLY thing that has ever gotten me off the floor, motivated, executing, selling, and successful].

View it as a treat to yourself:

Physically: improve yourself today: eat well, sleep well, move well.

Emotionally: keep trimming the emotional bonsai tree of the people around you. Any diseased branch, cut off. No matter what, no matter who. Diseased branches spread.

Mentally: you MUST exercise the idea muscle every day. Every day write down 10 ideas for things you can code (I see from your twitter handle that you are a coder). Then look to see if those ten things exist. Are they succeeding? Can you do it better. Then tomorrow come up with ten more ideas. Ideas will start mating. Within months you’ll have 50 generations of ideas. Then start building your ideas. You can code quickly. If you can’t then get faster. Code ten ideas and see what works. What actually helps people.

Spiritually: Every day get down and thank whatever entity you want that you are in the lucky position you are in. Be grateful for your mother and father. Be grateful for the friends who have helped you.

Track what you are doing every day with Use the forums there to get help from your peers. Share your goals so people can comment on them and help you. Build community and network.

Then live long and prosper.


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Posted by James Altucher

As Yoda says, “Try not. Do!”

Here’s what you can do:

A) Take a pad of 100 sheets. Write a note to her on each sheet of why you love her or a receipt for something she can do to you in the future. Let your imagination run wild. Hide each sheet in something she will eventually find (kitchen cabinets, books she likes, pockets of coats she’ll wear next winter. She won’t find all 100 sheets today but eventually she will and each time she will be grateful to you for putting the thought in.

B) Make dinner for her. Look up recipes. Go shopping. Make it a great dinner.

C) Take one negative thought you have about her. Study it. Why is it that you don’t like that about her? What from her past or your past could be causing that dislike. Really dive in. Try to understand what is happening. Heck, try this with two negative thoughts you have about her.

D) Clean yourself. Shave. Brush your teeth twice. Shower. Dress in a nice suit. Comb your hair. Taking care of yourself is the best way of loving her.

E) Oh, what the hell: let’s take another negative thought about her. Why judge so much? Are you overly judgemental? Can’t you just let her be the woman you fell in love with?

F) Surprise her. How? I don’t know. It’s a suprise. Hmmm, let’s brainstorm: Buy her a dress that fits her just right. Call her mother and ask her how she’s doing. Ask her about her day, about the people she encountered. Whatever she says, ask her to “clarify” (I put that in quotes because Claudia always announces to me, “now it’s time for you to ask me to clarify things.”) Plan a staycation for the two of you (see above).

G) Find one thing new about her that you didn’t know before. Put it down in a notebook. One new thing a day. Then you’ll have a book of new things about her. You can make a drawing for each one. Give her the book on your anniversary.

These seem like kitchy things. But if you do them, it’s not that you will love her more, it’s that she’ll appreciate you more. And then you’ll see sides of her you maybe didn’t recognize before.

10 Rules About Blogging

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Posted by James Altucher

1. Say something nobody has ever said before, ever!

Example: My recent post, “I’m scarred”. Its a response to a large part of the self-help industry. I view many things in self-help as methods of hypnosis. They hypnotize you to be happy when you might not be. Then, if you are hypnotized, you can function in the real world and achieve success. That, in a nutshell, is 99% of “self-help”. But I don’t want to be hypnotized. I want to be the real me. The real me is scarred and proud of it. Rather than being hypnotized into being a functional human in a brainwashed world, I want to be a superhuman, riding on top of the zombies. I AM LEGEND!

2. Say it with blood.

If your blood stops, you have a heart attack. You die. If your blood doesn’t leak onto the page, your post will have a heart attack. It will die. If you can’t say something with blood, then don’t say it, else it won’t reach the heart.

Example: my “Note to Facebook Shareholders”, I start with how much money I lost in the dot-com boom. Result: its a big number so people get shocked. Just like you get shocked when you see a car accident and you stare out the window as you pass. You can’t keep your eyes off of it. All of that blood! Blood gets to the heart. If you can’t say something you are embarrassed about, then don’t say anything.

3) Tell a story.

Not just blood but tell a story with a beginning, middle, end. For instance, something is wrong in the world and you have an idea to save it: beginning is How this Problem Has Effected Me. Middle is How it’s Affecting the World. End is Solution. Then the real End is how people react to your thoughts. The bloody aftermath.

4) Deliver something of value.

Everyone has read blog posts like “10 ways to have more confidence in a meeting”. Without the above three items though, nobody will read that post. But people want help. They need it. It’s a hard world. If you really have something you are expert (through personal experience or heavy reading that you can synthesize) then share it. But deliver value in every post. Deliver value in every sentence. Try to in every word if possible.

5) Pictures.

There’s a reason Instagram just got bought for $1 billion. There’s a reason Pinterest is the fastest growing social network ever. There’s a reason Facebook is considered just one big photo sharing service (on my “facebook ticker” on the right is just just people commenting on other people’s photos. People LOVE pictures. And people have little attention span. (everyone likes a good photo).

There’s 800mm blogs. You have to compete. It’s not enough to have the above 4 rules. If you are going to have a post greater than 200 words you need to get people’s eyes to dance down the page. There are three ways to do that: photos, bold text, and lists (or all three). Photos because their eyes jump from photo to photo (and hopefully read everything in between). Lists because their eyes jump from point to point and then they decide what to read in those points (each point is almost like a mini-blog post. Plus its like a road map of how to read your blog). BUT, if you go the list route, you still need photos. But not the other way around.

6) Challenge conventional wisdom.

I don’t want to read the NY Times on Sunday and then see more-or-less the same thing in your blog the next day. If you think Romney or Obama should be President, give reasons nobody has ever thought of before. If you think kids should be unschooled give: reasons, curriculum, results of unschooling, experiences in unschooling, etc. Maybe you think Israel should be relocated to Montana. Maybe you think Google should be implanted in the eyes like in a cataract-style operation. Maybe you think the SEC, IRS, and FDA should be abolished. I’m not saying I agree with any of the above but if you are going to take a stance, go out to the furthest, weakest, limb on the highest tree , and shout it loud. then Bleed. The bleeding will carry the blood back to the root of the tree. Back to the people standing watching the tree.

Don’t do it just for the sake of controversy. But a blog should help people how to think. Everyone is brainwashed all day long. The blogger is the deprogrammer. You have to look at things in a different way. If you don’t, then go back to being a robot and wait for the next instructions from the mothership.

7) Show, Not Tell.

Don’t tell me “Apple has a better phone than Google”. Give me specific examples why and how you specifically used the iphone. Don’t tell me “Richard Nixon was a liar”. Show me when he lies. Put me in his shoes and make me lie as if I were Richard Nixon. Start off “You are Richard Nixon and you are scared. Everyone standing in your office right now might be testifying against you but you don’t know who. What do you do? You stand up and lie…” Don’t tell me the FDA causes companies to spend too much to develop a drug. Show me a company that spent a billion dollars and had to drop out at the last moment because they couldn’t raise enough money for the one drug that everyone deep down knows cures cancer.

8) Titles need to be GREAT.

You don’t want titles to be link-bait. Like, “10 Ways I Peed on Politics”. But make sure they suck someone in. This is no different than direct marketing from the 1940s. Making a title on an envelope so good that people HAVE to open it despite the piles of junkmail. Lists are good for this. But check out the book “Tested Advertising Methods”. There’s scientific evidence what is a good title and what is not. You want people to CLICK. I wrote a recent article on TechCrucnch: “Why Google Might go to Zero“. I was talking about the article to a friend of mine the morning it was released and he said, “why didn’t you title this “This is like the XYZ Case Number 2″. I can’t even remember what the XYZ case was. BORING! My article ended up being popular. In part, because of the title. And also, in part, because I told a personal story about never getting the girl’s number.

I bled, I delivered value, and I gave evidence nobody had ever thought of before.

9. Use Facebook, Twitter, Google+

and any other platform you can think to spread the world. Offer to syndicate on various sites. You need to built your platform. There’s no such thing anymore as “build it and they will come”. People say if you syndicate then Google Search doesn’t like that. WHO CARES!? If you consistently deliver value, then value will come back to you.

10. This is almost a summary of the above but: NO RANTS.

Personal story, great title, blood, problems, solutions, value, challenge wisdom. But no rants. The personal story weaves it all together. Even this post started with my own personal pain about blogging. Every day I have to decide, “is this the day I stop.” Why am I even doing this? I don’t really know. But I like to do it so today it continues.

How to charm the female mind

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By Chelsea Kaplan

Just like renowned thinker Sigmund Freud, many regular single men ponder the question, “What do women want?” — and find themselves dumbfounded. According to Kathy Freston, author of The One: Discovering the Secrets of Soul Mate Love, understanding the female mind isn’t actually that difficult. Need some direction? Here are her suggestions on how to understand — and woo — women.

Q: What is the number-one mistake that men make when trying to impress women?

A: When men feel insecure, they sometimes compensate by acting arrogantly or being grandiose. As much as bragging about your car, house or big bank account might initially get a woman’s attention, it will soon thereafter be a major turn-off. Women like confidence and security, but they know that when those qualities are real, a man doesn’t have to throw them around for show to impress anyone.

Q: What else would you warn men away from doing?

A: Another thing healthy women find unappealing is when a man is too needy, i.e., grabbing for too much of her attention and affection. That kind of behavior communicates that there is not much else going on for him in terms of friendships or intimate relations.

Q: But don’t many women want to be “needed” by men?

A: Sure, but there’s a fine line between “needing” a woman and being “needy.” No self-respecting lady wants to be the man’s “everything” in life! It is simply too much of a burden — and an impossible one to fulfill. If you want to find a loving, well-rounded, happy female partner, you need to be loving, well-rounded, and happy on your own and in your own unique ways as a man.

Q: How much does a man’s physical appearance count in terms of charming a woman?

A: Women value men who take care of themselves, just as men admire the same quality in women. If he eats well, exercises, and takes a little time to think about what he is wearing, it shows he has self-respect and honors the body that was given to him. The subtext of this behavior is: “I like myself enough to present myself well and make sure I have the energy to live life to the fullest.”

Q: OK, what would you say is the one way a man can charm any woman? What’s his best bet on that front?

A: First and foremost, nearly any woman loves an attentive man who values her thoughts, opinions, and feelings. You’ve probably heard it numerous times, but it’s the truth: Women want to feel heard and considered seriously by men. It’s not that a woman is just looking for someone to agree with her; she wants to know that how she approaches life has an impact on him, she she also wants to know that her ideas have been taken in and digested… hence, she matters and makes a difference in his life.

Q: May I play devil’s advocate and ask why then are so many women seemingly charmed by jerks?

A: Often, it’s a function of one’s personal psychology. Much of that kind of attraction has to do with being drawn to what hasn’t yet been worked out from someone’s childhood wounds or painful experiences. People are often attracted to the very thing that will bring up their old issues; it’s the wisdom of the unconscious pushing us to confront the things that need to be addressed and healed in our personal lives. In this case, the old “it’s not you, it’s me” excuse actually does come into play quite a bit.

Q: Interesting! Last question: There are some men that women are just instantly drawn to… what’s their secret?

A: There is nothing more magnetic to love than love itself. When a man loves his life, his friends, and his job, he is incredibly magnetic. Additionally, when he is as nice to the janitor as he is to the CEO of his company, he shows heart… and most women are always drawn to kind men; I believe it’s human nature. Ultimately, a man who is genuinely — and that’s the key: genuinely — attentive, considerate, kind and chivalrous will always be able to captivate a woman.

The #1 Reason You Aren’t Losing Weight

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By Lucy Danziger and the staff at Self magazine

Half of Americans down at least one sugary drink a day, and some guzzle more than 567 calories’ worth—that’s almost the calorie equivalent of a Big Mac in a glass. Gulp! SELF experts Stephanie Clarke, R.D., and Willow Jarosh, R.D., reveal better-for-you bevvies ( cocktails included) from your favorite spots so you can sip and stay slim.

At the smoothie shop…
Skip it: Jamba Juice Original (24 ounces) Aloha Pineapple Smoothie (410 calories, 1.5 grams fat)

Sip it: Jamba Juice 16 oz Apple ’n Greens Smoothie (220 calories, 1 g fat) We applaud the high-fiber fruit and calcium-rich yogurt in the Aloha Pineapple. But sherbet adds mega sugar (91 g here!), and the shake falls too short on protein to make a balanced lunch. Swap it for the Apple ’n Greens to cut 190 calories and 51 g sugar. Our pick also has 2 g more fiber, thanks to extra fruit (mango, peach) and veg (spinach, kale). Pair it with 1 oz protein-packed nuts for a complete lunch.

At the coffee shop…
Skip it: Starbucks Grande Iced Caramel Macchiato with whipped cream, extra vanilla syrup and caramel (440 calories, 21.5 g fat)

Sip it: Starbucks Tall Coffee Frappuccino with skim milk, no whipped cream (160 calories, 0 g fat) There’s room for treats in every diet , but the added syrup and caramel and whipped cream turn the Macchiato from a small splurge into a calorie and fat overload. Trade it for the Coffee Frappuccino: It has the same craveable qualities. (Creamy texture? Check! Tastes like a milk shake? Yep!) But forgoing the high-cal extras and opting for skim milk trims 280 calories and 21.5 g fat. And it’s still plenty flavorful, so the smaller cup is enough to satisfy your sweet tooth.

At the convenience store…
Skip it: Snapple Lemon Tea (160 calories, 0 g fat per 16-oz bottle)

Sip it: Honest Tea Half & Half Organic Tea with Lemonade (100 calories, 0 g fat per 16.9-oz bottle) Four of the Snapple ingredients—water, tea, citric acid and natural flavors—are virtually free of calories and sugar . That means the drink’s 36 g (3 tablespoons) of sugar come from the only other listed ingredient: added sugar. By contrast, Honest Tea delivers the same refreshing tea-and-lemon combo for 60 fewer calories. It does have some added sugar but 12 g less than Snapple does. Honest Tea also contains all-natural ingredients, making it a good alternative to soda, which has artificial stuff.

At the gym…
Skip it: Juice Generation 24 oz Mucho Mango Smoothie (370 calories, 4 g fat)

Sip it: Juice Generation 20 oz Pure Energy Juice (150 calories, 0 g fat) Juice Generation’s blends are made with lots of produce and nothing artificial—bravo! But the smoothies are too high in calories to count as a snack, which shouldn’t exceed 200 calories. If you want a small pre- or postworkout pick-me-up, our choice, Pure Energy Juice, gives you 5 g energizing protein for 220 fewer calories. If it’s lunchtime, opt for the 24-oz Protein Buzz Smoothie (410 calories, 6 g fat). Blended with fruit and hemp , soy or whey protein, it’s more of a meal than other less caloric choices, and has the ideal combo of carbs and protein.

At happy hour…
Skip it: Oaxaca old-fashioned with tequila, mezcal, agave and bitters (159 calories, 0 g fat)

Sip it: Club soda and a splash of fresh lime juice with a shot (1.5 oz) of tequila (100 calories, 0 g fat) You know a cocktail a day may help protect your heart, but we’d offer this advice: Order carefully. Specialty drinks often have multiple types of liquor, and every 1.5-oz shot adds an additional 97 calories. (Plus, some bartenders are heavy-handed.) Also, beware excess agave: The plant-based sweetener can be 80 percent fructose, a sugar shown to increase belly fat in a study at the University of California in Davis. Stick to one type of booze with a zero-calorie mixer like club soda. Cheers!

Does Microwaving Veggies Kill the Nutrients?

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SHAPE Magazine

Is it really safe to put veggies in the microwave?Does microwaving “kill” nutrients? What about other cooking methods ? What’s the best way to cook food for maximum nutrition? We wanted to know, so we went to SHAPE’s diet doctor, Mike Roussell, PhD, to get the scoop. Here’s what he had to say:

Despite what you might read on the Internet, microwaving your food does not “kill” nutrients. In fact, it can make certain nutrientsmoreavailable to your body. In terms of the impact on your food’s nutrients, microwaving is the equivalent of sautéing or heating up in a pan (just a lot more convenient). Research on this topic shows that whenever you cook greens (broccoli, spinach, etc), some of the B vitamins and other water-soluble vitamins are lost. The amount you lose depends on the duration and rigor in which the food is cooked-steaming broccoli in the microwave for 90 seconds is a lot different than nuking it for five minutes. Another example: Sautéing green beans in a pan allows for much better vitamin retention than if you were to boil them. Boiling leaches the most nutritients out of your food, so with the exception of potatoes, try to avoid boiling your vegetables.

Although cooking vegetables does reduce the amount of certain vitamins, it can also liberate other nutrients, like antioxidants, allowing for greater absorption by the body. Research from the University of Oslo found that microwaving or steaming carrots, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, green and red peppers, and tomatoes led to an increase in the antioxidant content of the foods (in that the antioxidants become more available for absorption). And still more research shows that lycopene, the powerful antioxidantthat gives tomatoes and watermelon their red color, is better absorbed by the body when it’s consumed in cooked or processed tomato products-salsa, spaghetti sauce, ketchup, etc.-rather than fresh tomatoes.
Eating cooked vegetables has its pros and cons, but the bottom line is that it’s important to eat your food in a variety of ways. Enjoy raw spinach in salads and go for wilted or steamed as a side dish with dinner.

If you use a microwave to steam your veggies, be careful not to add so much water that you’re actually boiling, and watch the clock to avoid overcooking (the amount of time needed will vary greatly, depending on the type of vegetable and how small it’s cut). The primary takeaway is to incorporate both raw and cooked foods into your diet. It’s the easiest way to ensure that you’re getting the maximum amount of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

10 Health Mistakes Doctors See You Making

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Content provided by: Redbook

They’re watching. Doctors are everywhere. In the car next to you while you scarf down a Sausage McMuffin and Diet Coke in morning traffic. At a nearby table while you sneeze your way through dinner. In the house across the street when you finally turn out the lights at 2 a.m. Most of them have too much tact to intervene when they spy us doing something bad for our health, but now they’re breaking their silence on the health mistakes we’re making every day.

‘For Pete’s sake, cover your mouth’
I was on an eight-hour flight to France and was sitting behind a woman who started sneezing and coughing as soon as we took off. It was nonstop throughout the trip — and she wasn’t covering her mouth when she did it! At the very least, sick people should direct their sneeze or cough into a folded handkerchief or a heavy-duty napkin or tissue. I wished I had brought my face mask with me; I usually bring one on planes to use if I see people being cavalier about coughing. Of course, three days after we landed, I got sick, and it ruined half of my week in Paris. — MICROBIOLOGIST PHILIP TIERNO, PH.D., AUTHOR OF THE SECRET LIFE OF GERMS

‘Time to lay off the sugar, sweetie’
This morning I was at a coffee shop and saw a woman chatting with the salespeople about how she wants to lose weight, so she’s cutting back. Then she hands over her huge reusable cup and orders a nonfat vanilla latte and a vanilla scone! Nonfat or not, that is buttloads of sugar — she’ll crash and be starving again in minutes. I wanted to shake her and say, ‘What are you doing? Why don’t you just start your day with a milkshake and a doughnut?’ If you want to lose weight, or even just maintain, you should limit sugar at breakfast and have something fiber-rich like whole grains, plus protein like egg whites or zero-percent Greek yogurt. That will keep you full and set you up for a healthy day. — THE BIGGEST LOSER NUTRITIONIST RACHEL BELLER, R.D., PRESIDENT OF THE BELLER NUTRITIONAL INSTITUTE IN BEVERLY HILLS, CA

‘Take the stairs, would ya?’
It drives me nuts when I see people waiting around to take the elevator to the second floor of a building when clearly they can just walk up the stairs. Stair-climbing is good aerobic exercise that uses larger muscle groups and increases your heart rate. It all adds up for your heart. — NIECA GOLDBERG, M.D., MEDICAL DIRECTOR OF THE JOAN H. TISCH CENTER FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH AT NYU LANGONE MEDICAL CENTER AND AUTHOR OF DR. NIECA GOLDBERG’S COMPLETE GUIDE TO WOMEN’S HEALTH

‘Stop picking at your skin’
I see pickers everywhere I go — people who scrape at dead skin or blemishes as a nervous habit. It’s a little addiction that can easily leave scars! I’m concerned about dirty fingers; our hands have staph and strep bacteria on them, not to mention salt and sweat that can irritate your skin. Also, picking inflames acne, which makes you more likely to have to pop that same blemish again. It’s a vicious cycle. One time I saw a woman who was picking at her chapped lips. She was talking to someone, and whenever she concentrated, she would scratch at them. I could see she was bleeding a little bit and already had a rippled lip line from scarring, so I actually said to her, ‘Wow, you have such beautiful lips — try not to touch them, because you’ll get scars!’ She said, ‘I know, I know, I’ve been trying to stop this forever.’ So I suggested that she wear really beautiful lipstick. If you see red or some color on your fingers, you’ll realize what you’re doing. Picking is such an unconscious thing, so you’ve got to find a way to bring it to your attention. — ELLEN MARMUR, M.D., VICE CHAIR OF COSMETIC & SURGICAL DERMATOLOGY AT MOUNT SINAI MEDICAL CENTER IN NEW YORK CITY AND AUTHOR OF SIMPLE SKIN BEAUTY

‘Maybe it’s time for a new bra’
News flash: Breasts are heavy! It’s extremely important to wear a properly fitted and supportive bra all the time. Otherwise, stress and straining on the musculoskeletal system can lead to back and neck pain, poor posture, and strangely, even headaches in some women. Larger-breasted women are at a higher risk, but I’ve seen this become an issue even for some smaller-chested ladies. Hit a specialty shop or even your local Victoria’s Secret for a free bra fitting. — MICHELLE BARBER, A CHIROPRACTOR IN DAVENPORT, IA

‘Don’t waste your money on those diet pills’
“When I see women picking up ‘fat flush’ supplements at the drug or grocery store, I really wish I could warn them. Any weight you lose is mostly water from the diuretics in these products, and you’ll just gain it back. In the meantime, you’re stressing out the ‘garbagemen’ of your body, your liver and kidneys, which help eliminate substances that aren’t good for you. Take the money you’re throwing away on those products and use it to schedule a visit with a nutritionist. He or she can help you come up with a healthy diet plan instead. — GUNNAR PETERSON, CELEBRITY FITNESS TRAINER WHO HAS WORKED WITH KIM KARDASHIAN AND SOFIA VERGARA

‘Leave the douche box on the shelf!’
“Douching is a big mistake women still make. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that up to 40 percent of women do it regularly. Some douche before seeing me, thinking that they should be fresh as a daisy for their gynecologist, but doing it actually decreases the sensitivity of the Pap smear. Plus, douching increases your chances of bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections by disrupting the balance of your natural bacteria. Your vagina is a self-cleaning oven with its own little ecosystem — don’t disrupt it! — OB/GYN HOPE RICCIOTTI, M.D., AUTHOR OF THE REAL LIFE BODY BOOK

‘Put down the granola and nobody gets fat.’
As a dietitian, I obviously look in other people’s grocery carts, and when I see women buying granola, I always wonder if they know the truth. Sure, it’s a mix of grains and nuts rich in nutrients and fiber, but it also packs much more fat, sugar, and calories per ounce than many other breakfast cereals. A 1/4 cup of granola, for instance, is equal to 3/4 cup of bran flakes or Cheerios.

A cart full of ‘diet’ food stops me too. I recently saw a woman buying a ton of fat-free stuff like fat-free mayo, fat-free salad dressing, and fat-free cheese, and I thought, Yuck! If you love the taste of mayonnaise on a turkey sandwich, go for the real thing and just use less. You’ll be much more satisfied. Some fat-free products aren’t even that much lower in calories, because makers often add sugar to replace the fat. — REGISTERED DIETITIAN CAROLYN O’NEIL. AUTHOR OF, THE DISH ON EATING HEALTHY AND BEING FABULOUS!

‘Those shoes, really?’
I constantly notice women wearing shoes that are completely inappropriate for the activity they’re doing, like high heels for walking miles through the airport or flip-flops to pound the hard pavement, not to stroll on a beach. No shoe is a complete no-no — you can wear heels if you’re going somewhere where you’ll sit down a lot, and flip-flops are fine for softer surfaces. One shoe that we’ll be seeing a lot this spring is rubber rain boots. They’re cute, but most of them offer nothing in the way of support; you’re meant to wear them for quick jaunts through the puddles, not as all-day shoes. So if you plan to wear them often, get an orthotic arch support and replace the regular insole with it. Your feet — and knees and hips and back — will thank you. — PODIATRIST CHERRI S. CHOATE, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR AT THE CALIFORNIA SCHOOL OF PODIATRIC MEDICINE AT SAMUEL MERRITT UNIVERSITY IN OAKLAND, CA

‘Make it a decaf, okay?’
Whenever I see someone ordering a caffeinated coffee after dinner, I just know it’s a disaster waiting to happen. Studies have shown that people with caffeine in their system at bedtime never fall into restorative deep sleep and stay stuck in the light sleep stages. Always cut off coffee after 2 p.m. — MICHAEL BREUS, PH.D., AUTHOR OF THE SLEEP DOCTOR’S DIET PLAN

What car should I buy?

I’m still in college, but not for long. In a few months I’ll be done and looking for a job. So there are a few things I will need: better place to stay and a better car.

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According to this article which I found regarding what automobiles are most dependable, I made this list of cars to make my selection from.

Cars to think about

  • Lexus
  • Porsche
  • Cadillac
  • Toyota
  • Scion
  • Mini
  • Toyota
  • Ford
  • Nissan

Cars not to think about

  • Chrysler
  • Dodge
  • Jeep
  • Ram
  • Jaguar
  • Lincoln
  • Acura
  • Kia
  • Infinity