How to shave

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How you can avoid such a grisly fate–and how experienced shavers can get better results.

1 If this is your first time, or you haven’t shaved in a couple of weeks, use a beard trimmer to take your hair down as short as possible–just stubble on your legs.

2 Get into the shower and go through your normal washing routine. This way your skin gets warm and pliable, and the hair becomes soft. Never shave when you have goosebumps or you feel at all cold. That’s how you get razor burn.

3 Keep the shower running if you can step away from the direct stream (which otherwise will prematurely wash off shaving cream). If you can’t get out of the spray and the room is warm, turn the shower off, but keep a trickle of warm water running to clean the blade. If you can’t get out of the stream and the room is cold, turn your back to the water and do the best you can.

4 If you’re inexperienced or frequently cut yourself, apply a pre-shave oil to the problem areas. These are usually the ankles, the contours of the kneecaps, and the backs of your knees.

5 Apply shaving cream to your entire leg, from thigh to bottom of ankles. Ideally you use a shaving brush to apply it. A brush spreads the cream most easily and efficiently. A washcloth is next in preference, then your hands.

6 Start shaving. It’s okay to go against the grain, and it doesn’t matter if you shave from the thighs downward or ankle up. Just go slow and, around the problem areas, use short but smooth strokes. If you’re working in dim light, check for missed patches.

7 When you’re done, you’re not done. Rinse and look for spots you missed. Touch up the job. Repeat the process as necessary.

8 When you get out of the shower, use an alcohol-free moisturizer or aftershave balm. That will keep the legs from chafing. Swap out the blade after every two or three shaves.

The high-heel workout: can you walk your way to gorgeous legs?

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You’ve known the power of high heels from the moment you slipped on your first pair. There’s no denying they instantly take off a few pounds while making your legs look impossibly long, sleek and Gisele Bundchen-esque. And, of course, they ratchet up the sexiness factor of every item of clothing in your closet. But there’s another benefit you may not have considered.

Walking in heels trains your legs to produce muscle, especially in the calves and thighs,” says David Kirsch, a celebrity trainer and the owner of Manhattan’s Madison Square Club. Consider this: When you’re in heels, you are doing what amounts to a full day’s worth of calf raises. We’re talking about adding definition, not bulk, so don’t fret if your legs are already “sturdy.” Check out any stiletto-lover’s calves–they are bound to be sexily sculpted, even without time spent at the gym.

Play it safe

As with any good thing, it’s easy to go overboard. Wearing too-high heels for too long can result in lower-back pain, sore knees and heel damage. “Don’t walk more than two miles at a time in high heels, and try to keep them around two to three inches,” suggests Suzanne Levine, M.D., a New York podiatrist who caters to the fashion set (she’s also the proud owner of more than 300 pairs of Manolo Blahniks; Jimmy Choos and Pradas). There are a few steps you can take to minimize highheel discomfort: Make sure your shoes fit–nine out of 10 women buy shoes that are too small for them, Levine says. Always try on the next size up, just to be certain. Also, vary your heel height during the day by keeping a pair of flats at work or in your bag.

Work it

Try these exercises from Levine to stretch and strengthen your feet and to help stave off high-heel pain:

* Sitting in a chair, use your toes to trace out the letters of the alphabet with each foot.

* Roll a golf ball under the ball of each foot for two minutes.

* Place a small towel on the floor. Curl your toes and use them to pull the towel toward you.

Pet power!

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Puppies, kittens, birds, bunnies, ferrets, hamsters, snakes, lizards, fish–many people enjoy having pets. Are there health benefits to being a pet owner? What are the potential downsides? That’s all for you to find out!

* First, focus. Typing pets and health into a Web browser would probably yield mainly sites about keeping pets healthy. So narrow your topic for better results. Examples: pets and allergies, pets and Alzheimer’s disease, pets and grief. Sort through the sites you find to identify the trustworthy ones. Collect information relevant to your topic.

* Next, do some primary research. Have a pet yourself? Then you may have a head start. Otherwise, find a place in your community that relates to your topic. Maybe a nursing home welcomes therapy animals, or a veterinarian can tell you about fleas spreading from pets to humans. The firsthand anecdotes you gather by talking to people aren’t a substitute for studies and statistics, but they may help interest people in your topic.

* Take what you’ve learned, and try to educate people about it. Perhaps a pet store will display your poster about how to avoid catching a disease from a pet. Or maybe your newspaper will let you write an article on service animals. Use your imagination!

START HERE: These Web resources can help.

CDC Healthy Pets Healthy People

www.cdc.gov/healthypets

HealthLink BC

www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthfiles/hfile61a.stm

Delta Society

www.deltasociety.org

6 ways to get ready by summer

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Summer is here. Are you ready for it? As busy as our lives are, there’s a very good chance that you are like most of us, and the warm weather and all that comes with it has caught up with you, Never fear! The following are six tips to help you get ready for this incredible season of outdoor fun:

1 GIVE YOURSELF AN HONEST ONCE-OVER. Stand in front of a full-length mirror and look at yourself from head-to-toe–naked. Really. It may not be the easiest thing for you to do, but it’s important for you to assess your physical body. If you need to work on it, the time is now.

2 TEND TO YOUR SKIN. This is the season when bare becomes essential. That means you’d better pay attention to the skin you’re going to be showing. Have you been exfoliating and moisturizing? How do those elbows look in the light of day? What about your legs? Do you need to shave? And fellas, this includes you and your skin. Men commonly don’t use lotion on their bodies. Trust that nobody wants to see ashy skin when you put on those shorts.

3 EVALUATE YOUR WARM-WEATHER WARDROBE. Go through your closet carefully to see what you own for the season. Lay out outfits together as well as individual pieces. Try on everything to ensure that the clothing still fits you well and represents your style. Anything that doesn’t work, remove it from your closet. Give it away. Sell it on eBay. Don’t stash it farther into your closet.

4 REVIEW YOUR ACCESSORIES. What bags, shoes and jewelry do you have in your possession for the season? Match them with your outfits to see if you have what you need. And here’s another area where you may be able to show your generous side and give some of your goodies away. For the past few years, accessories for women have been key signature pieces. As the prices have skyrocketed, the desire for the next “it” accessory has become all the craze. Be mindful not to fall into that hole. Check what you’ve got before you go shopping.

5 MAKE A SHOPPING LIST. For women, key items for the season include floral dresses, navy and white ensembles, full circle skirts, enamel jewelry, wedge sandals and colorful, strappy stilettos. For ideas, visit neimanmarcus.com. For men, look to add argyle sweaters (argyleculture.com), skinny jeans and flat-front pants.

6 SELECT A SWIMSUIT. One of the toughest purchases per season is to select a swimsuit that looks just right on you. If you haven’t selected one yet, the pickings could be slim, so go now–with a buddy, if you dare. Appreciate a bit of control? The Miraclesuit offers just that with varying degrees of tummy control (miraclesuit.com). For modest swimwear, look for whole-pieces that have color emphasis where you want the eye to go, suits that are darker in camouflage areas, or you might want to consider tankinis. If you dare, go for a bikini. Just make sure it fits! Ready or not, summer is here. Enjoy!

Why am I eating a lot but losing a lot of weight?

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There’s no way for you to know without getting checked out in person. For an overview, though, we asked Dr. Yolanda Reid Chassiakos, clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of California, Los Angeles. Besides rapid growth in the teen years, there are other possible reasons.

Problems with the thyroid are one common cause. That tiny organ in your neck is “the engine of the body,” according to Chassiakos. It can “speed up the metabolism and burn more fuel and calories, resulting in .”

Sometimes, infection can cause unintended weight loss by messing with the digestive system. So can enzyme deficiencies, rogue cells, hormone problems, and diabetes. “Certain medications, as well as legal and illegal drugs, can cause a teen to lose weight,” adds Chassiakos. And people worried about their weight, or other mental and emotional issues, may overestimate how much they’re eating.

So see your health provider. He or she will ask about your life, health, diet, and activity level, plus perform a physical exam and other tests. With a diagnosis, says Chassiakos, “medical treatment, nutritional coaching, or counseling can often help a teen regain desired weight–and good health.”

The great outdoors offers a ton of ways to get active and have fun

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In warmer parts of the country, spring has sprung. It’s a great time of year in those places to go outside for a walk, a hike, or a bike ride before it gets too hot. On the other hand, there might still be snow on the ground where you live. But whether the weather feels like spring or winter, March is a great time to get more exercise outdoors. Get up, get out, and try some of these activities!

It’s Healthy!

You can get active outside in many different ways, says Kristen Laine. She writes the blog Great Kids, Great Outdoors for the Appalachian Mountain Club. That organization teaches people to enjoy the outdoors and help protect the natural world. Things teens can try range from observing plants and animals on a hike (great for beginners) to what are sometimes called extreme sports or wilderness activities.

Getting up and moving is exercise, for sure, but there are other healthy benefits of being outside, Laine notes. People who are in touch with the natural world often are less stressed and feel better. Heading out together with friends and family can help you connect and build healthy relationships. Outdoor activities are good for the environment, too, says Laine. People who get to know nature tend to be more interested in protecting it.

Getting Started

Volunteering is one way many teens get in touch with the natural world, Laine says. Building or cleaning up a trail can help you develop teamwork and leadership skills while you learn about the environment. Plus, those projects could meet community service requirements or beef up college apps. See whether you can help with a trail cleanup day in your area.

Extracurricular activities offer another way to volunteer and get moving. Already enjoy an outdoor sport? Perhaps you can establish it as a team or club sport at your school, Laine says. For instance, if you’re interested in cycling, try starting a cycling club. Or look for ways to teach younger kids a sport or an activity you love. A local elementary school might want to start an intramural soccer team or a hiking club, or help with a trail cleanup.

Looking to try a new activity yourself? Opportunities to learn outdoor sports are often available just for teenagers, Laine says. Take advantage of special programs for climbing, backpacking, or other adventure sports. Those classes are often free or much cheaper than learning the skills on your own (or later on, when you’re an adult). Check with your local parks and recreation department, or a nonprofit group that raises funds or cares for parks and wilderness areas.

Even walking can be a great way to actively enjoy the outdoors, Laine says: “You don’t have to be a thrill-seeker-you don’t have to be climbing mountains if you don’t want to–in order to be outside.” You don’t have to join a team either. Create a walking tour near your school or home, or in a nearby area. Include stops at points of interest such as parks, cafes, and historical markers. It’s similar to blazing a trail through the woods–which you can do, too, of course!

Move It Out

No matter how you get outside this spring, consider asking a friend or a family member to join you. “Think of something you do indoors that you might want to do outdoors,” Laine suggests. “If you are reading, read outside. Go sit on a park bench. If you’re hanging out with your friends, do it on a nice spot of grass at the playground.” While you’re at it, take a spin around the walking trail or a ride on the swings. Researchers have found that just getting outdoors means you’re more likely to be active and healthy, Laine says: “See what you can take outside.”

SMALL STEPS ADD UP

Would you believe a group of hikers covered the 2,178-mile Appalachian Trail in one day?. That’s what happened on Oct. 10, 2009, as part of “AT in a Day.” Hikers from Georgia to Maine each set out on a small portion of the trail to mark the 100th anniversary of the Dartmouth Outing Club at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. People liked being part of something big, says organizer Matt Dahlhausen, 20, a Dartmouth student “It was a really cool feeling for people,” he says, “to think that there were a lot of other people doing the same thing.”

Adventurous Exercise

Questing is one way to get out. You don’t need a suit of armor and a horse–just yourself, a sense of adventure, and sometimes a journal and stamp pad. That’s because outdoor scavenger hunts, letterboxing, and geocaching are all forms of questing. Those activities involve following clues to search outside for a “treasure,” and often you’ll get in a great walk or hike along the way. People share clues online or with fellow questers they know. Team up with friends or classmates to get started on this activity, and you’ll also spend some quality time exploring the outdoors.

Explore What’s Around

Go out and explore what’s near you. Pick a spot near your home, whether it’s a forested park or a route you take on paved sidewalks. Observe the ways spring–or any other season–comes to where you live. How do the seasons affect plant life and animals? Go out to the spot regularly, and document it with photos, videos, or drawings over the course of a season. While you’re at it, consider new ways to get there. Can you pedal a bike, strap on in-line skates, or ride a skateboard? Or just mix up your route every once in a while, taking a longer course or one with more hills to make it even more of a workout.

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