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  • How to Keep Your Commute from Crushing Your Soul

    Photo: ThinkstockPhoto: ThinkstockBy Amy Shearn

    And now, some news from the Department of Things You Kind Of Already Knew: long commutes can be depressing.

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    Recently a group of Swedish researchers performed a comprehensive study on 21,000 commuters, taking into account the mode of commuting (most by car, about a quarter by public transit) and the length of the commute. As reported in The Atlantic, their findings were that, surprise surprise, long commutes corresponded with decreased sleep.

    RELATED: Find the Perfect Balance in Your Busy Day

    Long commutes-particularly in the 30-60 minute range-were also linked with poor health in general, and increased stress levels. Writer Eric Jaffe explains, "People with a lengthy commute show an increased amount of stress, get worse sleep, and experience decreased social interaction. A commute of 45 minutes carries such a cost to well-being that economists have found you have to earn 20 percent more to make the trip worth it."

    RELATED: 3 Ways to

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  • The 5 Best Cocktails for Dieters

    By Corrie Pikul

    Tired of wine spritzers but wary of eggnog? Raise a glass filled with one of one of these lower-calorie cocktails instead.

    What You Want: A Dirty Martini
    (220 to 330 calories*)

    A better choice: Hot-pepper-infused vodka over ice with an olive (105 calories)
    Like the suave gentleman who bought this for you at the bar, martinis can be sneaky. A 4-ounce drink has around 220 calories, and many generous bartenders serve martinis in larger glasses. "The bigger a drink, the more alcohol it has and, therefore, the more calories it has," says Stephanie Clarke, MS, RD, a Best Life nutritionist and co-owner of C&J Nutrition in Manhattan. The addition of olive brine in a dirty martini only adds about 20 extra calories, which isn't a big of a deal- but the sodium is, says Clarke. "It can increase your thirst, which you may try to quench with more alcohol, and can also make you feel bloated the next day." The pepper in this drink is subtle; it's not like drinking a bottle

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  • Common Holiday Fights—and How to Stop Them

    Photo: ThinkstockPhoto: ThinkstockBy Leigh Newman

    Every year it happens: My husband, kids and I are standing on the same cobblestone street, in front of the same romantic Christmas tree stand, being waited on by the same porcelain-skinned, dreamy-eyed girl from Vermont wearing homemade red mittens, when-wham!-it comes time to decide between the 12-foot Fraser and...the short, cheap, ugly, pointless tree.

    Perhaps I am not being clear enough about my side of the argument. I grew up in Alaska. Trees are supposed to be 11 feet or taller. They are supposed to take over your living room. You are supposed to worry-and enjoy the suspense of worrying-if the tippy-top will hit the ceiling and slump sideways into a deep, unsightly bend. The perfume of pine needles is supposed to penetrate your sinuses-and brain-so deeply that your nose runs before you fall asleep and your dreams are tinted green. This is the point of the holiday.

    RELATED: Deck Your Halls for the Holidays

    I could present you with my husband's side-we live on

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  • Boy Brains, Girl Brains

    Photo: ThinkstockPhoto: ThinkstockBy Amy Shearn

    There is an old "Phoebe and the Pigeon People" comic my mother found hilarious and had up on the wall of our basement playroom ("our" being me and my brother)-in the comic these hippie parents are explaining that they don't believe in gender typing and thus have given their little girl a tool set. Cut to the next frame, where the daughter is holding the hammer and saying for it, "Barbie, would you go to the prom with me?" The wrench girlishly replies, "Oh Ken, I'd love to!" I'm now the mother of a girl and a boy, and I get it: We think the differences between boys and girls are socially constructed and that we can outsmart them, but then we see how early the differences manifest themselves, as if by magic. But could it be that we are influencing how boys and girls act, perhaps without even realizing it?

    RELATED: Life with Other People

    At the recent annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, five researchers held a panel on this very topic, discussing the difference

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  • BPA Du Jour: Potentially Toxic Chemicals Found in Canned Soup

    Photo: ThinkstockPhoto: ThinkstockBy Corrie Pikul

    You've probably heard of bisphenol-A, or BPA -- it's the industrial chemical found in clear, sturdy plastics and PVC, and it's been linked to higher risks of cancer, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. It's the reason you switched from a plastic water bottle to a BPA-free stainless steel one, and why you stopped microwaving your leftovers in plastic take-out containers. And though most of the focus has been on plastic bottles, BPA also exists in the lining of canned foods.

    RELATED: 6 Ways to Make the Most of Your Small Kitchen Space

    A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association may change the way we look at those canned goods. The study found that those who ate just one serving of canned soup for five days showed increases in their BPA levels by over a thousand percent. The Harvard researchers told the New York Times they were stunned by the results.

    RELATED: Is Your Friendship Making You Gain Weight?

    So are we, especially because we've

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  • The Hidden Calories in "Healthy" Party Food

    Photo: ThinkstockPhoto: ThinkstockBy Corrie Pikul

    There are nutritious snacks at a holiday party, and there are foods that only seem nutritious. We sort the naughty from the nice.


    At every party you attend this year, there will be cheese. And around every cheese plate, there will be guests who don't realize how much of it they're eating. Tracy Gensler, a Best Life nutritionist, says this is one of the most common party mistakes she sees. An 80-calorie portion of cubes, slices or a spread is only about the size of two AA batteries, she says, and most people eat three to five times that amount (in case you're wondering, the calcium benefits are outweighed by the high fat content). The truth is, Gensler says, a once-a-year splurge probably isn't going to cause too much damage. But given the number of parties you'll attend this year at the homes of fromagophile hosts, it's best to be Cheddar-aware.

    RELATED: Ways to Avoid Stress Eating During the Holidays

    Photo: ThinkstockPhoto: ThinkstockVegetable Platters

    We park ourselves

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  • 5 Things Every Single Girl Should Know About Money

    Photo: ThinkstockBy Lynn Andriani

    Good news: Single women are generally more cautious spenders than men, since they only splurge on a few items (the expected ones: clothing and personal care products like shampoo and teeth-whitening products, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics), while single guys tear through more money overall, on things like eating out, entertainment and car ownership. Bad news: Those same women are behind on saving for their futures. We asked Alexa von Tobel, founder and CEO of the women's finance site, and Barb Chang, head of product for the money management site, what single women should be doing with their money right now.

    RELATED: How to Ask Your Boss for More Money

    You Need to Track Your Expenses (As Annoying As It Seems)
    Chang says single women often say they're too busy and don't see the payoff of putting in a lot of time in tracking. In fact, Mint got started because its founder realized catching up on personal budgeting was taking up an entire

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  • 5 Beauty Stocking Stuffers Under a Buck

    Photo: Courtesy of Sally BeautyPhoto: Courtesy of Sally BeautyBy Amber Kallor

    Small (and very affordable!) gifts for the product lover in your life.

    Sally Girl Mini Quad Eyeshadow
    Get four colors-from neutrals to brights-for less than a quarter each. The best part: These palettes are slim and small enough to tuck into the tiniest clutch. 99 cents each |

    RELATED: Oprah's Gifts That Comfort Mind and Body

    Photo: Courtesy of Forever 21Photo: Courtesy of Forever 21Forever 21 Nail File Set Chips happen-give this set of six small polka-dot files to a friend or co-worker to keep in her purse or desk drawer.

    $1 for 6 |

    RELATED: Dr. Oz's Feel-Good Gifts

    Photo: Courtesy of E.I.f.Photo: Courtesy of E.I.f.E.l.f. Essential Shimmer Eyeliner Pencil Give a black- or brown-eyeliner addict something new to try-these creamy, metallic pencils glide on smoothly and come with a sharpener conveniently located in the cap. Perfect for adding a hint of sparkle on New Years Eve.
    $1 |

    RELATED: Martha Beck's Gifts with Soul

    Photo: Courtesy of NYC New York ColorPhoto: Courtesy of NYC New York ColorNYC New York Color Ultra Moist Lipwear in Retro Red This classic crimson flatters every skin tone. At this

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  • The World Needs More Love Letters Project

    Photo: ThinkstockBy Amy Shearn

    Dear Latte Lady,

    Those hearts you make in my latte foam? I know it's a little thing, but getting lattes is an extra-special-only-sometimes treat for me, and those wispy hearts really make it even nicer. I know you are on your feet all day, I know you go home reeking of coffee so much that you probably don't even like it anymore, and I know people get crabby with you and snap when you mess up an order. And I know that you are a kind soul, and most importantly of all, you are YOU, the only you there is, and that means something, even though I totally don't know your name.
    The Girl in the Corner With the Laptop

    RELATED: Where Food Meets Art

    This is my contribution to The World Needs More Love Letters, the endearing ongoing project of Hannah Brencher, who started writing love letters to strangers on her morning commute to work, when she looked around the train she was riding and realized she wasn't the only one who could use a boost. Since then she's written over 400

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  • The 7 Ingredients Guaranteed to Make Your Crock Pot Dish a Hit

    undefinedBy Leigh Newman

    Let's pretend we all live in some dark parallel universe where we get to own only one thing. Gold bullion, love letters, passports-everything has to go except your one thing, and there is a mean-spirited enforcer wearing a cloak and carrying a machete who enforces the rule.

    In two seconds, I would be headless. I could not choose between my brown mascara and my slow cooker.

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