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Youth Homelessness Is An Invisible Issue, But It Doesn't Have To Be

Sun, 2014-09-07 10:23
"Is this the life I'm going to live for the rest of my life?"

Those are the words spoken by one of the three young people at the center of "The Homestretch," a documentary that offers an unprecedented look into the day-to-day lives of three of the estimated 1.6 million homeless youth living in the United States.

The film, co-produced by Chicago documentary powerhouse Kartemquin Films and New York-based Spargel Production, follows Roque, Kasey and Anthony throughout Chicago over a period of five years, from their teens into their 20s.

Kasey became homeless after she came out to her mother as a lesbian.

While the subjects all have different stories, they share in one important common theme: the dissolution of their bond with key family members. Their stories are powerful in how they counter the prevailing misconceptions surrounding what leads many young people in the U.S. into homelessness.

"What was really apparent is that these young people become homeless because the family somehow broke apart or couldn't fulfill the role it needed to fulfill to take care of these young people," Brooklyn filmmaker Anne de Mare, one of the film's directors, told The Huffington Post.

Kasey, for one, was kicked out of her home when she came out to her mother as a lesbian. Roque, meanwhile, was left homeless when his family was torn apart due to immigration issues. An estimated 40 percent of homeless youth served by agencies identify as LGBTQ, and a staggering number of U.S. immigrant youth who become separated from their families end up homeless.

Anthony, on the other hand, grew up in foster homes and became homeless at the age of 14 when he left an unsafe living situation that was rife with abuse. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, nearly half of all runaway and homeless U.S. youth are estimated to have experienced physical abuse, and 38 percent of them have been abused emotionally.

"You're looking at young people who really need help understanding how to launch as independent people because of the trauma they've experienced to that point where they are on their own and in such danger," de Mare explained. "They need that support, love and care around them to help them grow."

Anthony is a savvy and dedicated young man featured in "The Homestretch."

The obstacles facing the film's subjects are many, but their struggles typically go unseen in society at large because their stories don't align with the stereotypical narrative many Americans associate with the homeless.

In the film, Roque is hopeful that he will be able to attend college but a low high school GPA stemming from his familial instability -- as well as his undocumented status -- threatens to thwart his dream. Kasey's struggles with drugs and alcohol resurface after another bout of family tension. And Anthony hopes he will be reunited with his young son, a dream that still feels distant at the film's end.

Jeri Linas is very familiar with the struggles. As the executive director of Chicago's Teen Living Programs, which operates the Belfort House transitional housing facility where both Kasey and Anthony previously stayed for a time, she has seen them firsthand.

"When these young people run away from home, they are traumatized before they even get to the street," Linas told HuffPost. "They're fleeing or leaving situations they can't go back to and of course in their minds they're safer away from that, though the reality is that they actually might not be at all safer."

Roque was taken in by and essentially joined the family of a former teacher.

The bright moments are in the documentary too, of course. Anthony flourishes through his participation in an intensive job training program. Kasey graduates from school after re-enrolling and secures an apartment. And under the watchful eye of a former teacher who has taken him in, Roque seems destined to succeed.

It is these moments the filmmakers hope viewers will carry with them as they consider what small steps they can take to become part of a larger safety net for youth in crisis in their own communities. These steps may include lending a hand to local organizations benefiting homeless youth, or pushing lawmakers to support increased funding for programs tackling the issue.

"This is the point where if nobody has stepped in until this point, we really as a society need to step in because they're building their entire future," Kirsten Kelly, also a director of the film, told HuffPost. "Something is broken here that we really need to pay attention to because these numbers have hit a crisis level."

"The Homestretch" debuted this spring at Hot Docs in Toronto and comes to Chicago, where it was filmed, with a two-week run at Gene Siskel Film Center on Sept. 12. The film will also be screened in Overland Park, Kansas, and Port Jefferson, New York, next month.

Chicago Named Top Travel Destination For Closeted Gay Men

Sun, 2014-09-07 08:19
We have plenty of data on where gay men like to vacation -- but what about men who aren't out of the closet?

According to a recent poll by, the most popular destination for closeted gay men in the world is Chicago, Illinois, followed by Sydney, Australia. A press release from the site claims that over 5,000 "male members seeking male travel companions" were initially polled to learn if they were out and the 41% "who were in fact closeted were then surveyed to discover their top destinations for discreet travel."

“With gay marriage recently being recognized by the state of Illinois, it is not surprising that many closeted men are flocking to The Windy City,” Brandon Wade, Founder & CEO of, said in a statement. “Chicago offers a wide variety of gay­-friendly attractions that complement the midwestern values the city was founded on.” The press release for the survey also noted that Chicago "is a business hub, making it a plausible destination for prudent travel" and that "all cities that made the final cut were gay-­friendly destinations that also catered to a heterosexual audience."

Check out the full top ten listing in the slideshow below.

REMINDER: Michigan Taught Notre Dame How To Play Football

Sat, 2014-09-06 13:39
The University of Notre Dame may not want to play football against the University of Michigan any longer. But that doesn't mean the rivalry has to go away entirely. Even if hostilities between the athletes on the field are halted indefinitely, the competition among the school archivists on Twitter may just be heating up.

Ahead of the 42nd and possibly final meeting between the Midwest football powerhouses on Saturday night, U-M’s Bentley Historical Library dusted off a letter from 1894 to tweak its rivals in South Bend, Ind.

As #NDFB game approaches enjoy 1894 letter from @NotreDame requesting @umichfootball teach their students to play

— UM Bentley Library (@umichBentley) September 4, 2014

The archivists at Notre Dame didn't take the tweet lightly. No, they didn't insist that Notre Dame didn't need Michigan to learn the rules of that newfangled football game back in the nineteenth century. Rather, @NDArchives pointed out that Michigan's football team had taught the game to Notre Dame students even earlier than 1894.

@umichBentley It was 1887 when Michigan, led by #ND Alum GW DeHaven, "came to instruct them in the points of the Rugby game" ...

— Notre Dame Archives (@NDArchives) September 5, 2014

@NDArchives That's right, in 1887 #UM played #ND (W8-0). In 1894, #ND requested the "services of a good coach to make a first-class team."

— UM Bentley Library (@umichBentley) September 5, 2014

Like many with an appreciation for college football history, both @NDArchives and @umichBentley expressed sadness that there a no more scheduled games in the storied rivalry.

@umichBentley Yup, @NDFootball owes a lot to @umichfootball. Sad to see the rivalry go dormant. Strong competition made the series great

— Notre Dame Archives (@NDArchives) September 5, 2014

@NDArchives @NDFootball @umichfootball Yes, very sad to see the competition end, but the rivalry will live on in the #UM & #ND archives!

— UM Bentley Library (@umichBentley) September 5, 2014

7 Netflix Hacks That Every Binge-Watcher Needs To Know

Sat, 2014-09-06 12:00
Back in olden times before Netflix, you had to wait days, even weeks, between episodes of your favorite show, and it was terrible. Then the streaming service came along and changed everything.

Today, the time between episodes has been reduced to seconds, the term binge-watch has been added to the Oxford Dictionary and, thanks to Netflix's seemingly endless options, there's really not any reason to go outside any more. (Who needs sun when you have self tanner, Vitamin D fortified milk and "Orange is the New Black"?)

And if you thought Netflix was amazing already, here are some easy tips and tricks to make your viewing experience more impressive than the "Cosmos":

1. Watch Titles In HD

Many Netflix users aren't aware that HD is already available through their subscriptions. They just haven't been using it. To set up your account for HD, Netflix says to perform the following steps:

1. Navigate to Your Account.
2. Select Playback settings.
3. Under Data Usage, click High.
4. Click the Save button.

Just remember that streaming in HD uses up a lot of data, so you'll probably want to make sure you're using a Wi-Fi network and not your data plan. After you've done that, your picture will be so clear that next time you watch Walter White throw a pizza on his roof, tomato sauce will probably splash in your face.

2. Access A Hidden Menu To Eliminate Buffering

As far as first world problems go, it doesn't get worse than buffering, but now there's something you can do about it.

Netflix has a secret menu you can access while watching videos in order to cut down on buffering during playback. To access the menu, perform the following action: Shift+Alt+Left Click (Shift+Option+Click on a Mac).

After that, select the stream manager and manually match up the playback with the buffering rate. This should cut down on the buffering issues you're experiencing, and your friends will think you're the coolest.

3. Use A Cheat Code To Log In On A Gaming System

Being stuck in someone else's Netflix account is the worst. Your preferences are all wrong, the recommendations are atrocious and anyone who stumbles in thinks you were the one who left off halfway through "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never."

As Lifehacker explains:

If you want to log out of your account and login into someone else's on a Xbox 360 or PS3, you just need to get into the debug menu. From the Netflix app's main screen, hit the following buttons on your controller:

Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, up, up, up, up.

In addition to logging out of an account, the debug menu can also help improve playback.

4. Clear Your Netflix History To Stop The Haters

Okay, so you've clicked on some embarrassing titles in Netflix. Who hasn't? Somebody has to watch "Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3: Viva La Fiesta," right?

If you're trying to clear your viewing history, you have a couple different options. The simplest way is through profiles. According to Netflix, you can have up to five different profiles for each account. Once these are created, all the preferences and everything you watch is associated with the profile you're using. Deleting these profiles will clear all viewing history.

The only issue is your main profile can't be deleted. If you're trying to remove the viewing history from your main profile, you must delete the account and resubscribe to Netflix. This may sound like a hassle, but it's actually pretty easy and super worth it if you've been watching a few too many critically panned movies with George Lopez pretending he's a Chihuahua. (We've all been there.)

5. Turn Your Phone Into A Personal Netflix Remote

Besides the debugging menu, another Netflix hack for PS3 is turning your smartphone into a remote. All you need to do is connect your gaming system and your phone to the same Wi-Fi network and log on to the same account in the Netflix app on both devices.

Speaking of remote controls, there are also tricks you can use with a remote on an Apple TV, according to Tech of the Hub. Just hit the up arrow twice on the remote to display a banner with the thumbnail of the show, its description and a rating. Also, clicking the remote's down arrow breaks up the program into 20 sections of equal length. By hitting the left or right arrows on the remote, you can jump between the sections.

6. Use Keyboard Shortcuts To Binge-Watch Like A Pro

Netflix has a variety of keyboard shortcuts you can use to improve your viewing experience. Here is a list via Reddit (for the Silverlight desktop version):

Space – Toggle Play/Pause
Enter – Toggle Play/Pause
PgUp – Play
PgDn – Pause
F – Full-screen
Esc – Exit full-screen
Shift+Left arrow – Rewind
Shift+Right arrow – Fast Forward
Up arrow - Volume Up
Down arrow - Volume Down
M – Mute toggle

Additionally, if you want to scroll through a video by frames, click Ctrl+Space and use the arrows to navigate forward or backward.

7. Websites And Add-Ons Make Netflix Even Better

When it comes to Netflix, there's usually an app for that.

Using is a user-friendly way to navigate Netflix, allowing you to review titles, check out ratings, see what's expiring and be connected directly to the video you want to watch by clicking on it.

There are also a lot of different Chrome extensions, such as Netflix Enhancer, which can let you get more out of your streaming by showing you trailers and ratings.

Bonus: Never Fall Asleep During Netflix Again

During Netflix's 24-hour hack day, the company discovered how to use a Fitbit to tell devices when a Netflix user had fallen asleep. Using this technology, you could doze off during a binge-watching session and start from the same point you left it at the next time you use Netflix, without having to scroll back through episodes.

Though the technology is not available yet, there is one other guaranteed way to not fall asleep while binge-watching Netflix: Just turn off Netflix!

Best Tweets: What Women Said On Twitter This Week

Sat, 2014-09-06 08:12
Stolen nude celebrity photo scandal (read: crime), Beyoncé's birthday, the start of New York Fashion Week, the sad passing of Joan Rivers -- this week has been full of both good and bad news. Through thick and thin however, we can always rely on the women of Twitter to make us laugh.

With New York Fashion Week kicking off on Friday, Carly Ledbetter thought she'd be a team player when she tweeted, "In honor of #NYFW, I'll be eating bagels for all the people who can't this week." Such a sweetheart.

While some great minds attempted to skip school by claiming Beyoncé's birthday is a national holiday, Twitter user Bryn had the day on lock: "You know you were a born winner when you have the same birthday as Beyoncé." But actually.

For more great tweets from women, scroll through the list below. Then visit our Funniest Tweets From Women page for our past collections.

All I'm saying is, you've never seen anyone eat Oreos during a killing spree.

— Texapino (@hpb777) September 3, 2014

what kind of monster would go to work today? it is The Lord's Day, Beyoncé's birthday, have some respect.

— cassandra (@cassandralately) September 4, 2014

Damn good bottle of wine.....

- attitude adjustment

— ALICE (@In_Twittaland) September 4, 2014

What do people do with all the time they save by writing “K” instead of “Ok”?

— Your Mom (@HorribleDancer) September 4, 2014

No pressure said the vagina to the small penis

— Tequila Sunshine (@tequilasaltlyfe) September 4, 2014

In alcohol we trust.

— 3Dee (@mydmac) September 1, 2014

It's Beyoncé's birthday so I turned my clock back an hour and then washed my linens with lavender water like it says in the scripture.

— albertina rizzo (@albz) September 4, 2014

Part of me truly feels for these workers striking outside McDonalds. The other part of me is DYING for an Egg McMuffin

— Lauren Sivan (@LaurenSivan) September 4, 2014

I do not hold grudges. Also, I do not accept your apology.

— Elizabeth (@Elizasoul80) September 3, 2014

You never realize how sexual a song is until you listen to it with your 16 yr old

— L O R I (@LoriLuvsShoes) September 3, 2014

My purse is just an expensive trash can.

— Quinn Katherman (@QuinnK) September 4, 2014

In honor of #NYFW, I'll be eating bagels for all the people who can't this week

— Carly Ledbetter (@ledbettercarly) September 3, 2014

IDEA: makeup remover for male privilege

— Aparna Nancherla (@aparnapkin) September 4, 2014

I just remembered that slippers exist and I’m not so bummed about the end of summer anymore.

— Taylor Casti (@thecoppergirl) September 2, 2014

It is 2014 why can't we edit tweets

— Taylor Trudon (@taylortrudon) September 3, 2014

I have balls..

They are all up in the air and I try to keep from dropping them all the time..

But balls, just the same.

— Valerie (@MissvalCa) September 3, 2014

you know you were a born winner when you have the same birthday as beyonce

— bryn (@bindlebeautyx) September 4, 2014

Googles "how to become rich without working"

The first time Google didn't have a answer

— Tammy (@OkieGirl405) September 5, 2014

I'm always on the verge of running three miles or drinking a bottle of wine.

— Cloudypianos (@cloudypianos) September 4, 2014

My biological clock just lets me know that it's time to eat again.

— moody monday (@mdob11) September 4, 2014

I would only stop cuddling a kitten if I saw a cuter kitten.

— Noodles (@Dawn_M_) August 30, 2014

I hate when I see a guy with a better messy bun than mine

— Brooke Shunatona (@brookeshunatona) September 5, 2014

Eat like nobody wants you.

— Jewdacris (@jewfacekilla) September 5, 2014

Agenda for Beyoncé's birthday

1. Wake up ***Flawless
2. Post up ***Flawless
3. Ridin round in it ***Flawless
4. Flossin on that ***Flawless

— (@iamkiyonce) September 4, 2014

Astronauts Spot Cities From Space For A Geography Lesson That's Out Of This World

Sat, 2014-09-06 07:19
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station are taking sightseeing to new heights.

In the video above, viewers are invited to join Expedition 38 crew members Mike Hopkins and Rick Mastracchio as they pick out various cities on the planet's slowly spinning surface.

The footage was taken from the station's Cupola, a multi-windowed observation module that's a favorite spot for astronauts.

In this image provided by NASA, astronauts Mike Kelly, left, and Ron Garan get their picture taken in the Cupola by astronaut Mike Fincke while he floats outside the International Space Station on Thursday May 26, 2011.

Can you pick out the cities before the astronauts do? Watch the video to find out -- and enjoy a geography lesson that's literally out of this world.

It's Time to Retire Our Definition of Retirement

Fri, 2014-09-05 20:12
Tomorrow in San Diego I'm speaking on "Thriving After 50" at the AARP's annual Ideas@50+ conference, which has me thinking about what retirement means in our culture today.

To withdraw, to go away, to retreat: These are the literal definitions of "retire," but, increasingly, they fail to accurately describe the possibilities of modern retirement. If we were choosing a word today for what life looks like as we hit our mid-60s, 70s and 80s, it seems unlikely that we'd land on "retirement." While these years bring many changes, for a growing number of people, this time of life is about anything but withdrawal or retreat.

So what to go with? "Second act"? F. Scott Fitzgerald notwithstanding, most people have long entered, and exited, multiple second acts long before they hit retirement age. So "third act"? "Next act"? "Final act"? (Much too morbid.) "Evolution"? "The shift"? "Metamorphosis"? "Transformation"? They're at least closer, because retirement now is mostly about change. And it may not look all that different from what immediately precedes it.

Just as the binary division of our day-to-day lives into "work" and "non-work" has broken down, retirement no longer means simply ending a long career. In the workplace there's a growing movement to think more holistically about our time -- a realization that our productivity, creativity, work time, leisure time, sleep, mental health, physical health and general well-being are all of a piece.

The same principles that allow us to thrive in our daily work lives can also help us thrive in retirement, or whatever we call it. Just as a productive workday depends on how we prepare ourselves for it (for example, by getting enough sleep and taking time to recharge ourselves in our off-hours), a productive, meaningful and purposeful retirement depends on what we put into it.

And right now putting enough into it, at least financially, isn't happening for far too many people. Experts estimate that for workers to keep their current standard of living, they need to have available anywhere from 10 to 20 times what they earn each year, yet, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, around 36 percent of American workers have less than $1,000 in retirement savings (outside their homes and pension plans), 60 percent have under $25,000, and 58 percent of working Americans say they have debt problems. Another study found that among middle-class working Americans, nearly half will be poor or almost poor in their retirement years, able to spend just $5 a day on food.

All this comes at an especially challenging time. The Great Recession has not resulted in anything like a "Great Recovery," with millions of workers still left out in the cold and many of the job gains coming in lower-wage sectors or in part-time work, neither of which is great for building up a retirement-savings account.

Add to that the fact that the so-called "sandwich generation" -- those who are supporting parents aged 65 or older while at the same time supporting a child -- will soon be approaching retirement. Though we Greeks have been happily sandwiching for, well, generations, for many it can be a severe financial strain. An astounding one in seven middle-aged American workers is giving some kind of financial support to both a parent and a child, and this is a number that seems likely to increase, as 14 percent of those aged 24 to 34 are still living with their parents.

All told, according to Boston College's Center for Retirement Research, the current retirement-income deficit -- the difference between the retirement resources current American workers will need and the retirement resources they have -- stands at a staggering $6.6 trillion.

On the upside, we're also living longer, with the remaining life expectancy of a 65-year-old American male having risen from 14.7 years in 1980 to 18.7 years in 2012. So it's no wonder that, on the downside, retirement is the top financial worry of most Americans, according to a recent Gallup poll.

So financial security is obviously important. And that means incorporating our retirement years into our day-to-day thinking in our younger working years -- something that's easier to do when we think of our lives and our well-being as a whole rather than split up into "work" and "non-work." This requires us to regularly pause, reflect and think about what it is we really want out of retirement. If we are engaged in a manic and distracted climb up the career ladder, it becomes just as easy to ignore our long-term financial well-being as it is to ignore our day-to-day well-being. At the moment only 44 percent of American workers say they've even tried to add up what they'll need for retirement.

I know, I know, every piece gives us all the same financial advice, on maxing our employer contributions, saving, etc. We all know it, just like we know we should eat a healthy mix of fruits and vegetables and get daily exercise. But we also know that life doesn't always work out the way we plan. And at a much larger level recent years have seen major changes in our economic and job landscapes, prompting more and more arguments that government policy should reflect those changes. Teresa Ghilarducci, an economics professor at the New School, says it's time to acknowledge that simply recommending that people save more isn't enough. "This do-it-yourself pension system has failed," she writes. "It has failed because it expects individuals without investment expertise to reap the same results as professional investors and money managers." So she calls for the government to create mandatory, guaranteed retirement-savings accounts, which would be managed professionally. Likewise, Steven Rattner, who ran President Obama's task force to overhaul the automobile industry during the recession, advocates more government involvement, especially given the low savings rates of millennials. He notes the Australian policy of requiring that 9 percent of wages be put into retirement accounts, along with tax incentives to encourage even more savings voluntarily. "Young Americans are on track to be worse off in retirement than their parents," he writes. "Let's not just sit by and watch that happen."

Unfortunately, given the current toxic situation in Washington, it's unlikely that grand solutions, even those that would benefit almost everybody -- especially those that would benefit almost everybody -- are going to be getting a presidential signature anytime soon.

In a practical sense what this means for many Americans coming up on retirement is... not retiring. Indeed, three quarters of American workers believe they'll continue working past their retirement age. Many already are: Another poll found that the average retirement age is now 62, the highest since Gallup began asking the question in 1991. And for those born after 1960, the Social Security Administration has upped the age of retirement with full benefits to 67.

Of course, many will keep working because they have to financially. Others will keep working because the "gold" in our so-called "golden years" doesn't have to come from just watching sunsets. For many 70 really is the new 50. Increasingly people are rejecting the idea of retirement as a withdrawal. They want their later years to have as much meaning and purpose as their primary working years -- or, in the case of many, more purpose and more meaning.

Since retirement is often discussed in purely financial terms, we tend to think of retirement as a fixed supply of resources, to be drawn down little by little. So we are advised to prepare for our retirement by amassing a big-enough supply of resources and planning for how to protect those resources and dole them out in amounts as small as we can.

As necessary as this may be financially, there can be a tendency to let this kind of thinking dominate our approach to other aspects of retirement. This is what can make retirement seem like a diminishing, a disengagement, a time of constriction and shrinking possibilities.

But this doesn't have to be the case. A thriving retirement can, and should, be an amazing time of connection, engagement, expansion and widened possibilities. And the same forces that are converging to redefine success in the workplace -- the growing rejection of burnout, overwork and exhaustion, along with the recognition that thriving should go beyond the pursuit of money and power to include well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving back -- are also redefining retirement.

A growing number of resources exist to help people find their way in this new retirement landscape. The AARP has launched a project called Life Reimagined for Work, which bills itself as "a think-and-do lab dedicated to helping people reimagine their lives." The project helps connect people with companies looking to hire experienced employees, hosts group LinkedIn discussions on work and life issues and features stories about people who have gone on to successful second, third and fourth acts.

In partnership with the Small Business Administration, the AARP has also promoted April as Encore Entrepreneurial Mentor Month, in which those over 50 can attend workshops and seminars and take free online courses. This year nearly 120,000 people participated.

In 2007, at age 75, Jan Hively co-founded Shift, a nonprofit networking group that helps people find fulfilling and sustainable work later in life. is a nonprofit dedicated to promoting "second acts for the greater good" for those over 50. "We're envisioning this chapter as a time when we make some of our most important contributions, for ourselves, for our world, for the well-being of future generations," says founder and CEO Marc Freedman.

And just this week saw the publication of a new book called Unretirement: How Baby Boomers Are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community, and the Good Life, by Chris Farrell. "I don't think there will be a retirement crisis if we continue to work longer," he told Time's Mark Miller. "But we're going to want to do it with jobs that provide meaning rather than those that make people just miserable enough that they have to continue to work." The first step to a thriving "unretirement," he says, is to "begin by asking yourself what it is you want to be doing."

But to really know what we want to do, we have to know ourselves, what we really value and what makes us truly happy and fulfilled. It's not a surprise that when we define ourselves solely by our work and that work is taken away, we can find ourselves feeling lost and adrift, as happens to so many retirees. But if we realize that we're more than our résumés, it will make for a much easier transition to a time when we stop adding new items to those résumés.

One of the best ways to know ourselves is actually to connect with others. And giving is one of the most meaningful ways to connect. Of course, the principle of giving has been a pillar of virtually every religion and philosophical enterprise for millennia, but recently there has been a deluge of scientific studies validating this ancient wisdom about the power of giving to transform the giver as much as or more than the recipient. And retirement can be one of the richest opportunities to give.

More and more businesses are creating programs that encourage volunteering among their retirees. For instance, when 72-year-old Alan Toney retired from Michelin, he bought a motorcycle for a long-planned ride across all seven continents. Nine years later, having traversed all but Antarctica, he began volunteering by teaching underprivileged boys as part of Michelin's retirement program. "I love travel and motorcycles, but in the classroom it comes down to one basic truth," he said. "When I see the light come on in a kid's eyes, and he says, 'I get it!' It's priceless. I feel invested in these kids."

It's the kind of investment that's not often included when we talk about retirement. Whether our financial resources when we retire are fixed or not, our mental, emotional and spiritual resources are definitely not. They need to be regularly replenished and can continue to grow. And the way to make those resources grow the most is to constantly give them away.

As a building contractor, 59-year-old Barry Duckworth was looking for something where he could, as he put it, "be a kinder person." So he created a tutor-placement business that matches tutors to children who need them. "I get to hear about children who blossom as they grasp concepts that were alien to them before," he says. "Success for us means losing a customer."

Then there's 72-year-old David Roll, who was a Washington lawyer until his retirement 10 years ago. Now, in addition to writing books about history, he runs a nonprofit called Lex Mundi, which offers free legal services to social entrepreneurs. "I love it," he said. "It has its frustrations, because you've got to raise money to keep it going. But to have created something that is having an impact. ... Not every social entrepreneur is changing the world, but they are some doing amazing things."

Still other seniors are choosing to downsize, often selling nearly all their possessions, which they trade for mobility and freedom, qualities that can become diminished for many seniors. And with that freedom they have an even greater ability to connect and engage, like Gary Norton, who, after retiring from his 34-year career as a science professor at a South Dakota community college, bought an RV with his wife. Now he drives around the country volunteering, guided by organizations like Nomads on a Mission Active in Divine Service and Habitat for Humanity's RV Care-A-Vanners. Their projects often include helping rebuild communities hit by natural disasters. "Now what we're doing is so satisfying and fulfilling, even though we have some health issues, we say we don't want to quit," Norton said.

When we talk about retirement, we often use the same rhetoric that dominates our economic debate: how big our deficits are, how little we have to work with, what we can't do. It's time to open up the conversation to include our surpluses and what we can do, not just individually but collectively. All around us there are millions of the most creative, productive and entrepreneurial workers, people who have amassed incredible expertise and talents over decades, and then we "retire" them, along with all that accumulated talent, expertise and potential.

The way we think and talk about retirement needs to catch up to what is already happening. The time has come to retire the old definition of retirement. A thriving retirement is, of course, greatly aided by financial security, but to truly thrive means much more than just having met your "number" on a 401(k) statement. It means realizing that retirement can be a time of expansion, engagement and adventure.

Brandon Marshall Tackles Stigma Of Mental Illness In The NFL

Fri, 2014-09-05 17:17
In our culture, being masculine often means not being vulnerable; this is especially true in the NFL, where it seems players must act like stone-faced warriors to survive unscathed. But Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall has weaknesses, and he isn't afraid to talk about them.

In this video from GQ, Marshall opens up about his struggle with mental illness in hopes of galvanizing the conversation around mental health in the NFL so that players don't have to live in fear of being tormented by teammates.

"We have to break the stigma," Marshall says in the video. "And it starts with creating the conversation."

Although he proved himself a powerful player during his first seasons in the NFL, Marshall's life, off the field, was filled with arrests, violence and more. In 2011, Marshall was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), a mental illness "characterized by a persistent instability of emotions, behaviors, and relationships," the video notes.

Since then, Marshall has opened up about his challenges and come out as an advocate for ending the culture of silence around mental health in the NFL.

Earlier this year, Marshall also gave $1 million to mental health care initiatives.

"I worked hard to conquer [BPD], and I made it," he says in the video. "But how many other people are out there...suffering in silence?"

It's Amazing How Much More Money You Earn With A Penis, Report Notes

Fri, 2014-09-05 16:49
As debate over the high cost and sometimes diminishing returns of a college degree these days continues, a new report suggests the relative value of the degree really depends on whether you're a man or a woman.

According to a new report from Fusion Interactive, women of all degree levels tend to end up getting shorted salary-wise when compared to men with less education.

The report notes that the median male college dropout still out-earns the median woman who graduates with a four-year degree -- a trend that persists in virtually every combination of degree type and gender. Female community college grads, for example, end up with nearly identical estimated lifetime earnings as a male who only finished high school.

Even when arts and science degrees are pitted against each other, men with arts degrees, on average, earn more throughout their lifetime than women with science degrees.

(See larger image)

The report, which cross-references years of salary data (via salary information company PayScale) with gender and college degree, also helps users answer how long it will take to pay off various degrees.

Fusion also takes stock of the some caveats with the data used to generate the interactive report, including the fact that salary information from older workers reflects graduation trends from 20 years ago. It notes:

This charting tool does not provide information about how much any given person can expect to make, or even how much the average college grad makes. Instead, it shows the results of millions of surveys from PayScale, a company that asks Americans every day what job they have, what education they have, and how much they’re earning. Most people fill out this survey because they want to see what they’re worth—what the going rate is for their type of job. One consequence is that precious few surveys are taken by people who are unemployed. The PayScale surveys are also bad at capturing data from jobs where it’s common knowledge how much people earn -- government jobs, for example, or minimum-wage jobs.

You can read a full analysis of the report breaking down other important caveats over at Fusion.

5 of the Most Boring Cities in Illinois

Fri, 2014-09-05 16:16
Illinois has a lot of interesting things going for it -- restaurants, museums, state parks, Lake Michigan, Lincoln historic sites. Plus, there's never a dull moment in Illinois politics. But mile after mile after corn fields, though pretty, can get monotonous, and not every Illinois city has a lot going on. Movoto's real estate blog made a list of the 10 most boring places in Illinois.

Movoto made the list by ranking the 100 most populous cities in Illinois, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, on the following criteria:

Least nightlife and live music venues per capita
Least active life options per capita
Most fast food venues per capita
Lowest percentage of non-fast food restaurants
Lowest percentage of residents ages 18 to 34

Here are the 10th through sixth most boring places in Illinois:

10) Streamwood Population 40,000. Here is how Streamwood ranks in each category:

Nightlife: 84th
Music venues per capita: 43rd
Active life options: 84th
Fast food venues: 53rd
Non-fast food options: 92nd
Youth population: 39th

9) Vernon Hills Population 26,000. Here is how Vernon Hills ranks in each category:

Nightlife: 46th
Music venues per capita: 56th
Active life options: 25th
Fast food venues: 99th
Non-fast food options: 92nd
Youth population: 85th

8) Oswego Population 32,000. Here is how Oswego ranks in each category:

Nightlife: 64th
Music venues per capita: 56th
Active life options: 33rd
Fast food venues: 86th
Non-fast food options: 88th
Youth population: 77th

6) Hanover Park (tie) Population 39,000. Here is how Hanover Park ranks in each category:

Nightlife: 94th
Music venues per capita: 39th
Active life options: 92nd
Fast food venues: 63rd
Non-fast food options: 100th
Youth population: 19th

6) Bolingbrook (tie) Population 74,000. Here is how Bolingbrook ranks in each category:

Nightlife: 88th
Music venues per capita: 56th
Active life options: 86th
Fast food venues: 52nd
Non-fast food options: 65th
Youth population: 60th

See the fifth through number one most boring places in Illinois at Reboot Illinois, including the town that was ranked as having the worst nightlife in the state.

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Donor Complaints May Have Prompted Controversial Professor To Lose University Of Illinois Job

Fri, 2014-09-05 16:09
A number of angry e-mails from university donors sent to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Phyllis Wise apparently served as the impetus for the school to abruptly rescind a job offer to academic Steven Salaita.

The Daily Illini, which obtained the emails through a Freedom of Information Act request, reported Thursday that Wise and other university officials began to receive messages from donors threatening to withdraw their support from the school unless they dropped Salaita. The emails began after Salaita's controversial and often explicit social media postings criticizing Israel's role in the conflict in Gaza began to receive media attention in late July.

As recently as July 21, the school had confirmed Salaita's post in the American Indian Studies program would begin last month -- pending approval from the school's board of trustees. The Daily Illini reports that on Aug. 1, Salaita received an email from Wise stating that his appointment would not be passed along for board approval.

The news comes amid continued criticism of the school's decision from the academic community, both on the U of I campus and elsewhere, as well as some support from certain U of I facility.

Multiple departments and programs at the university have issued votes of no confidence in the chancellor and over 17,000 people have signed a petition in favor of giving Salaita the job back. The American Association of University Professors also issued a letter addressed to Wise, criticizing Salaita's dismissal and calling for him to receive his full pay for the position pending an examination of the incident.

"We are deeply concerned about the action taken against Professor Salaita," the AAUP letter reads. "We see that a very serious issue of academic freedom has been raised by the actions against him, an issue that will not be resolved as long as the actions remain in effect and their soundness has not been demonstrated by the University of Illinois administration under requisite safeguards of academic due process."

A separate group of more than 260 professors at the university have signed a letter expressing their support for Wise's decision, the News-Gazette reports.

"We support Chancellor Wise because of her sense of duty, her measured judgment and her principles of collegiality, inquiry and inclusiveness," it reads.

Wise told the News-Gazette that she had no intention to change her decision to cancel Salaita's appointment. But she admitted this week that the school's hiring process needs updating in response to the Salaita controversy, telling the paper "there have been some errors in the process" and noting that she should have consulted more people in arriving at her decision. She addressed the decision at length in an open letter addressed to the campus last month.

Meanwhile, Christopher Kennedy, chair of the university's board of trustees, told the Chicago Tribune the school is willing to enter into a financial settlement with Salaita.

These Puppies Were Left In A Box At A Gas Station. Now They're Getting The Royal Treatment

Fri, 2014-09-05 14:55
Just like that, Johnny Ping had 10 more newborn puppies on his hands.

They had been left in a box at an Indianapolis gas station in early August, and the odds of survival weren't good. Local police called a nearby shelter, but it wasn't a great option.

"Young pups with no mother to feed them are a high risk of mortality," says Ping. "With the probability of disease at a large shelter, the risk of mortality is even greater."

Piper the princess puppy is available for adoption through Casa Del Toro Pit Bull Education and Rescue. Photo credit: SaraRenee Photos&Design

The shelter reached out asking if Ping -- a musician who volunteers with Casa del Toro, a nonprofit pit bull rescue group based in Indiana -- could help.

He could. Casa Del Toro has cared for 58 dogs so far this year, already more than double from 2013. That means the group's resources -- like its puppy formula supply -- are stretched. But the enthusiastic foster network was still ready to jump.

"We had already rescued a partial litter of orphaned pups just a week before, so there were already willing volunteer homes to help take on this effort," Ping says.

The volunteer network includes photographer SaraRenee, who has been taking care of three of the puppies, while taking photos of their growth. Photo credit: SaraRenee Photos&Design

Those volunteers have bottle fed these wee ones, taken them to the vet, and "cleaned up their cute little messes," says Ping, all while getting the now-month-and-a-half-old doggies socialized and ready for adoption. They should be ready for their loving new homes in mid-October.

Here's the bad news, for those of us who aren't Hoosiers: the loving new homes must be in Indiana.

"We only do in-state adoptions, as we do require a home check, and to meet other animals in the house if it applies," says Ping, who encourages the heartbroken many who'd have otherwise wanted these precious babies to "volunteer, foster, donate, or visit their own local shelter and make a difference to the animals who need that extra bit of help to survive."

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Post by Casa Del Toro Pit Bull Education & Rescue.

Find out more about the puppies from Casa Del Toro, and see more great puppy photos on foster mom and brilliant photographer SaraRenee's Facebook page.

Get in touch at if you have an animal story to share!

17 Signs Your Pet Is A Stage-5 Clinger

Fri, 2014-09-05 13:38
We all love our pets, but for every indifferent cat and laid-back dog, there are animals who can only be described as stage-5 clingers.

If you're the owner of one of these overly attached pets, you probably already know (they're probably trying to prevent you from reading this right now), but in case it's not clear, here are 17 tell-tale signs that your pet is obsessed with you.

They follow you everywhere you go.

Whether you want them to, or not.

They're constantly seeking attention.

Whether you're trying to sleep ...

... Or play a game on your phone.

... Or go to the bathroom in peace.

They won't even let you leave them to take a shower.

You can forget about driving your car.

Or taking a photo.

Think you're going to use the computer?

Think again.

If you do make it out of the house, they'll just wait for you to come home ...

... Or Worse.

But we put up with all that clinginess for a few good reasons.

They love us.

They need us.

And, let's face it: the feelings are mutual.

Proof Women Are Taking Nude Pictures -- And They're Not Stopping Anytime Soon

Fri, 2014-09-05 13:22
Taking nude pictures is a pretty common practice, if a new survey is to be believed.

In the wake of this week's leaked celebrity photo scandal, polled readers about their own nude picture-taking habits.

Of the 850 readers who responded to a poll in a Cosmo twitter callout (99 percent of whom were female, with an average age of 21), 89 percent had taken nude photos of themselves at some point. Of that group, only 14 percent regretted doing so, and 82 percent said they'd do it again.

Images courtesy of

According to the poll, around 83 percent of women would take nude photos again -- 26.21 percent stipulating that they would only do so if they weren't recognizable in the images.

Around 5 percent of those who shared their images with others reported that their pictures had been further circulated without their consent -- a move that constitutes "revenge porn," unless you are a part of that special (read: despicable) class of people who thinks anyone who takes nude photos deserves to have them leaked.

Cosmo readers are certainly not the only ones taking sexy selfies. In December 2013, software company McAfee polled 1,500 consumers aged 18 to 54, and found that 49 percent of U.S. adults use their smartphones to send or receive risqué content like images, videos or text messages.

It's time we all agreed that sharing nude photos of anyone without their consent is a gross violation of privacy. If a woman enjoys taking nude images, more power to her -- the world is not entitled to see them.

Illinois voters think Bruce Rauner is more trustworthy than Pat Quinn

Fri, 2014-09-05 12:24
A Reboot Illinois/We Ask America poll earlier this week Republican Bruce Rauner leading Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn by eight points. The numbers were much closer, however, in a poll a few days later that asked respondents which candidate they found most trustworthy.

Rauner led Quinn by only about 3 points - 44 percent to Quinn's 41 -- on the issue of trustworthiness.

But 16 percent of respondents were undecided. That's significantly higher than the 10-percent undecided response from Tuesday's poll, which asked participants for whom they would vote if the election were today.

Both Quinn and Rauner recently have hammered each other on issues related to trust, with Rauner pointing to Quinn's possible involvement with patronage hirings and misusing grant money on an anti-violence program and Quinn questioning Rauner's business dealings and criticizing his changing views on raising the minimum wage.

Another Reboot Illinois/We Ask America poll conducted Thursday found that Sen. Dick Durbin's lead over Republican challenger Jim Oberweis has shrunk to 10 percentage points from 15 points in July.

Durbin, the Senate's assistant majority leader, is considered a strong candidate in a blue state. His three U.S. Senate election victories, in 1996, 2002 and 2008, have been by margins of 15, 22 and 39 points, respectively. See how Durbin and Oberweis fared in various demographics at Reboot Illinois.

In Illinois, Preschool Access Worst For Latinos

Fri, 2014-09-05 11:55
How to break the vicious cycle of poverty and academic failure is one of the most troublesome questions of our time, but this much we know: High-quality preschool helps children from poor families prepare for kindergarten and beyond. Yet as the child poverty rate is climbing, those are the kids least likely to attend such programs.

A new report by the research and advocacy group Voices for Illinois Children provides insight into the extent of the disparities in that state, along racial and economic lines. The findings are particularly stark for Latino children, only 40 percent of whom attended preschool in Illinois at most recent measure, compared with 58 percent of white children and 55 percent of black children. In Chicago, preschool enrollment was lowest on the northwest and southwest sides, both predominantly Latino, and highest on the affluent north side.

Given national concerns about Latino preschool access, “it wasn’t a surprising finding, but it’s important that people be aware of it,”said Larry Joseph, one of the report’s two authors. He and co-author Lisa Christensen Gee write that Latina mothers are in the workforce less than other groups, and children are more likely to live in households with extended family to care for them. That might be a reason they stay home at a time when research shows it would be beneficial for them to be in school. Other barriers include inconvenient program locations and immigration-related problems. Nonetheless, the authors note national surveys of Latino parents saying the most common reason they didn’t enroll their children in preschool was that they didn’t know what programs were available. Children who are native Spanish speakers particularly benefit from the language exposure in preschool, they say, but among Latinos, those with American-born parents are more likely to enroll than children of immigrants. State officials have been trying to provide more opportunities with new preschool construction and bilingual programs, but outreach is still needed and budget cuts are blocking progress.

Also in the important-but-not-surprising camp: Forty-four percent of young children in low-income Illinois homes attended preschool in 2012, compared with 60 percent in wealthier households. When the authors looked at different geographic regions, the gap extended across the entire state.

And that’s just access. Quality is another matter entirely, one much harder to measure, and not quantified specifically in the new report. But a national rating scale estimates that only about a third of preschool programs anywhere, public as well as private, qualify as “good.”Once again, look at class and race, and children from wealthier homes are more likely to attend good programs. African-American children are least likely to attend quality programs.

Illinois was a state celebrated when, in 2006, it set a goal of providing free quality preschool to any 3- or 4-year-old whose parents wanted it. But that never quite happened, the program title Preschool for All notwithstanding. Funding peaked at $327 million in 2009, with 95,000 children from low- and moderate-income families enrolled. Since then, budget cuts have wiped out the gains, and enrollment statewide dropped to 70,000 kids, targeting the neediest. Last year, the budget was down to $241 million. Annual spending per child declined from $4,018 in 2009 to $3,153 in 2013.

Grim though the situation may be, Illinois fares better than the nation at large in a few key areas. Fifty-four percent of all its 3- and 4-year-olds were enrolled in school in 2012, versus 48 percent nationally. The state’s 44 percent preschool enrollment rate in low-income families is better than a national rate of 37 percent. When Joseph and Christensen Gee compared the 12 largest states, Illinois also did well in terms of its policies to promote preschool quality: the maximum class sizes and minimum teacher qualifications mandated, for instance. How closely those mandates are followed in practice, particularly in times of budget cuts, again is another matter. (The state is using federal Race to the Top money to improve quality control.)

And Illinois got low marks for cutting its preschool budget the past few years, rounding out the bottom of the 12-state rankings for per pupil spending with Florida and Texas. Those two states did poorly for both their preschool-friendly policies and funding while New Jersey topped both categories. In New Jersey, reform was spurred by a lawsuit. In Illinois, advocates are still asking for change.

This story was produced by The Hechinger Report.

WATCH: This Sister's Tribute To Her Autistic Brothers Will Make You Rethink What It Means To Be Different

Fri, 2014-09-05 11:45
Faith Jegede speaks passionately about the beauty of being different in this short, inspiring ode to her two autistic brothers. Forget being normal, she says: Be extraordinary.

We want to know what you think. Join the discussion by posting a comment below or tweeting #TEDWeekends. Interested in blogging for a future edition of TED Weekends? Email us at
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Our Creepy Attachment To Cell Phones Could Be An Addiction

Fri, 2014-09-05 11:13
I’m taking a community college stats course right now through the UCLA extension program, and even though I’m only 29, I've found myself experiencing a lot of horrifying "back in my day" moments.

Here’s one: The class costs $575, and a parking pass for the quarter costs an extra $129. Because this ain’t high school, presumably no one is being forced to take the class, except in the sense that you can use the credit when applying to a four-year college down the road.

This is why I’m always amazed that many of the (mostly younger) students around me sit in class with their phones in their hands, quietly scrolling, playing and texting while the teacher lectures, writes math problems on the board and asks the class to participate. In fact, a group of friends who sit behind me in class has appointed one person to take notes for everyone to scan later, so the rest of them can scroll on their phones until it comes time to sign the attendance sheet.

What’s going on here? Disrespect (for the teacher and their own education) and a misguided belief in multitasking, are a couple of things that come to mind. But what if my fellow students actually can’t put down their phones — not even to pay attention to a fairly complex class that they paid a lot of money to take?

Research on the possibility of cell phone addiction is an emerging field, and a lot of it centers on the habits of the youngest millennials (now teens and young adults), a generation that can’t remember what it was like to not have a cell phone. A recent study published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions found that female college students spend an average of 10 hours a day on their cell phones, while male students report spending nearly eight. The study also found that about 60 percent of study participants think they may be addicted to their cell phones.

“That’s astounding," said lead researcher James Roberts, Ph.D. in a press release about his research. “As cellphone functions increase, addictions to this seemingly indispensable piece of technology become an increasingly realistic possibility.”

Roberts, a professor of marketing at Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business, surveyed 164 college undergrads about their relationships to their phones and explored which cell phone activities seemed to be most associated with cell phone “addiction.” He found that they differed between male and female participants. For instance, for women, Pinterest, Instagram and number of phone calls were good predictors of a possible cell phone addiction, while listening to music was not.

Meanwhile, for men, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter were stronger addiction predictors, as were phone calls, texts, emails and reading books and the Bible on their phone. More utilitarian applications, like visiting Amazon and news, weather and sports apps seemed to reduce the likelihood of a possible addiction.

Roberts hypothesized that the gender differences could mean that women use their phone to foster social relationships, while men are more interested in entertainment and usefulness. But because the participants weren’t randomly sampled (they all came from a class at Baylor), it’s unclear how generalizable the results are to a larger population of college-aged people. Still, based on the behavior of my fellow classmates, I’m guessing Roberts’ findings are a pretty accurate reflection of how attached young people are to their phones.

“Cell-phones have become inextricably woven into our daily lives -- an almost invisible driver of modern life,” Roberts concluded in his study. “It is incumbent upon researchers to identify the all-important ‘tipping point’ where cell-phone use crosses the line from a helpful tool to one that enslaves both users and society alike.”

Heavy stuff.

Of course, it’s important to note right now that gambling addiction disorder is the only diagnosable behavioral addiction officially listed in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM. Gambling addiction disorder is classified this way because of its similarity to substance abuse disorders in terms of “clinical expression, brain origin, comorbidity, physiology, and treatment,” according to the American Psychological Association.

But researchers like Roberts, who created his own scale for measuring addictive cell phone behavior, are building a body of work that explores whether or not cell phone “addictions" could be a diagnosable condition in the future. In the U.K., researchers surveyed a sample of 1,529 teenaged students about their cell phone use for a 2013 study and classified 10 percent of them as “problematic users.” They tended to be public school students, considered themselves expert users of cell phones, used their cell phones extensively and even identified the same kind of problem in their peers.

Another study of college students in Turkey found that people who scored high on a scale for problematic cell phone use were also more likely to come from a poor family, have a type A personality and receive their first cell phone at 13 or younger. The researchers also found that as cell phone addiction levels increase, sleep quality decreases.

One note of caution: It’s important to remember that Roberts’ study shows that most people who are “addicted” to their cell phones are primarily using them as a way to stay connected to other people. In a 2013 blog post for Psychology Today, psychology professor Ira Hyman, Ph.D., writes that researchers may just be observing the rise of a new norm in social interaction: immediate, hyper-connected and here to stay.

“Feeling a need to be socially connected hardly seems like an addiction to me,” Hyman writes.

Until psychologists sort it out, I’ll continue to keep my head down and suppress the urge to say something to my classmates about their classroom scrolling habits. And to be perfectly honest, I’m no model of healthy cell phone use either; I checked Instagram no less than five times while writing this story to see if anyone had "hearted" my latest photo.

What We Can <em>Really</em> Learn From That Low-Fat vs. Low-Carb Diet Study

Fri, 2014-09-05 10:31
A new study comparing low-carbohydrate diets to low-fat diets is making waves with the finding that cutting down on carbs not only results in more dramatic weight loss, but is also more successful at reducing the risk of cardiovascular heart disease than a traditional low-fat diet.

The findings, first reported by The New York Times, add to a growing debate about the role of fat in our health. A recent TIME magazine cover story declared our decades-long attempts to avoid fat in favor of carbs misguided.

While federal government guidelines have focused on low-fat eating, based on multinational studies that found a connection between traditional low-fat diets and favorable cardiac death rates, more recent clinical data paint a more complicated picture. This latest study strengthens the notion that high-protein, high-fat diets like Atkins or Paleo can be better for one’s overall health than what the government currently recommends for healthy adults: 45 to 65 percent of calories from carbohydrates, 20 to 35 percent from fat and only 10 to 35 percent from protein.

Tulane University nutrition professor Lydia Bazzano, M.D., Ph.D. and her team of researchers divided 148 racially diverse, obese men and women into two different groups: a low-carbohydrate group that was encouraged to consume only 40 grams of carbs a day (the same amount in two slices of white bread, and the same amount recommended in the maintenance phase of Atkins), and a low-fat group, which was encouraged to consume less than 30 percent of their calories from fat and 55 percent from carbohydrates (based on the National Education Cholesterol Program guidelines). For ethical reasons, Bazzano chose not to include a control group in her experiment.

Bazzano found that the low-carb group lost, on average, almost eight pounds more than the low-fat group by the end of the year. The low-carb group also gained an average of 1.7 percent more lean mass and lost 1.5 percent more fat mass than the low-fat group, despite everyone’s physical activity levels remaining steady throughout the study. Finally, the low-carb group significantly decreased their estimated 10-year risk for coronary heart disease, while the low-fat group didn't.

The low-carb group made these gains despite the fact that they, on average, never reported meeting their 40 grams/day carb goals during the three “check-ins” throughout the year. They ate more than double and at times even triple the amount of carbs they were directed to eat every day, but those elevated levels were still about half as many carbs as the low-fat group was eating. The low-carb group also upped their protein over the course of the year, going from 18 percent of calories from protein to 25 percent by the end of the year.

The low-fat group, on the other hand, seemed to replace their fat not with protein, but with more carbohydrates, above and beyond the 55 percent from calories that Bazzano's team recommended.

Walter Willett, M.D., Dr.P.H., chair of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, who wasn’t involved in the new research, praised the study for the way it was conducted. For Willett, the most important feature about Bazzano’s study was the equal intensity of dietary counseling for both intervention groups -- which in and of itself has been shown to have an effect on weight. But he demurred from proclaiming one diet superior to the other, instead espousing a “whatever works” attitude.

“These are the average results, and some people [would] do well on either diet," Willett wrote in an email to HuffPost. “The key issue for each person is finding a way of eating that is healthy and can be maintained for the long term.”

Brad Johnston, Ph.D., a professor of clinical epidemiology at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, agreed with Willett, noting that comparable results could be achieved with other diets and that the desirable results from Bazzano's low-carb diet over the course of the year could simply be due to diet adherence. (The low-carb dieters in the study lost an average of more than 14 pounds, experienced a 7-inch decrease in waist circumference, and also had lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels.)

Johnston recently authored a meta-analysis of other randomized, controlled trials that compared different classes of diets and found that there was no significant difference in weight loss results between several low-carb, low-fat and moderate macronutrient regimens. His meta-analysis was one of the first to synthesize randomized, controlled trials that tested different branded diets, and the experiments had both at least six-month and 12-month follow ups.

“The take-home message is that people should choose a diet they can best adhere to, given that the differences [in results] between them are minimal,” Johnston told The Huffington Post. Still, in congruence with the Tulane study, Johnston found that the low-carb and low-fat diets stood out as the most effective diets after six months and 12 months.

As for the Tulane research itself, Johnston said that while the methods used in the study were of high quality, showing that perhaps low-carb diets are good for some cardiovascular risk factors, people should still not make a dramatic lifestyle change based on these findings.

But for anyone who wants to approach their doctor about a low-carb diet based on the results of the Tulane research, it's important to consider that the diet itself was just one component of the study’s intervention for both groups.

Bazzano said that she did indeed make adherence a key goal for both the low-carb and low-fat groups, which perhaps explains why her study shows lower-than-average study drop-out rates (82 percent of participants in the low-fat group and 79 percent of the low-carb group completed the year-long study).

Throughout the course of the year-long intervention, both groups had access to private appointments with nutritionists, community support and "accountability measures." In a phone interview with HuffPost, Bazzano described one such measure:

We tried to develop very close relationships with participants. We also gave them a behavioral commitment contract. They had to sign that they were really committed to doing the study, and that they understood this was a long-term lifestyle change study -- in addition to their consent, of course. Sometimes, if a participant felt like dropping out, we’d call on the phone, send a card and include the signed commitment form that said they were willing to do this for a whole year.

Bazzano’s behavioral modification curriculum also included advice on how to plan meals, order healthy food from restaurants, avoid overeating triggers and control portion sizes. Participants learned about mindful eating, a technique that emphasizes the ability to feel when you’re full, slow down the eating process and pay attention to the sensation of eating.

And both groups were also encouraged to eat monounsaturated fats like olive oil and canola oil while avoiding trans fat, which is found in processed food.

“We wanted them to have more of an understanding of the sorts of things that would help them lose weight,” regardless of what the proportions of their diet were, Bazzano said. This comprehensive approach may partly explain the fact that both groups significantly lowered their average daily calorie consumption over the course of 12 months, despite the fact that they were never given a calorie goal. For the low-carb group, the average calorie consumption per day went from 1,998 calories to 1,448 calories, while the low-fat group went from 2,034 calories to 1,527 calories.

In other words, Bazzano planted the seeds for lifestyle change, challenging participants to completely rethink their relationship to food the way that all behavior-modification programs around weight ought to do. However, she disagreed that her study simply showcased the power of adherence to a diet.

“If you are an obese person with high cholesterol, I think you’d be highly unlikely to hear from your health practitioner that you should go on a low-carbohydrate diet,” said Bazzano. “The public perception is that a diet high in fat could not possibly be healthy, but in fact it is healthy and is doing an even better job of lowering cardiovascular risk, according to my study.” Indeed, the low-carb dieters in her study went from consuming an average of 32.5 percent of calories from fat at the beginning of the study to 40.7 percent by the end of the year, most of it healthy monounsaturated fat.

Because the majority of dieters gain back all the weight they lost and more after four to five years, a long-term study on which diet is best is the most valuable perspective of all. Those studies are few and far between, and the ones that do exist reveal a depressing truth: Not only are you likely to gain lost weight back, but going on a diet and losing weight is in fact a very reliable predictor that you will gain weight in the future.

Bazzano hopes to take this on one day and follow a smaller group of dieters for a longer period of time to see if there are any ultimate differences between the two.

What Dudes Thinks Girls Do vs. What We Actually Do

Fri, 2014-09-05 10:10
While Carrie and Samantha's friendship from "Sex and the City" was an amazing one, most female friendships come with fewer frills. So fewer cosmos and more tequila shots, please.

Buzzfeed Violet's new video "What Guys Think Girls Do vs. What They Actually Do" is a comedic reminder that women's friendships are not (all) made up of pillow fights, intense discussions about potential crushes and trading makeup tutorials.

Instead of a pink spandex-outfitted Jane Fonda fitness session, working out looks more like a sweaty torture session where you will find no one smiling. Girl talk isn't always about a love interest and sometimes (re: many times) revolves around digestive issues. And for the last time: Women aren't psychos on their periods, we just need some Advil.

Some assumptions do hold true. Men who envision women driving with friends singing their favorite songs in delight with the radio blaring can rest assured that this is exactly how it goes.

So, can we get those tequila shots now?