Sam Smith Reveals He Had Surgery to Remove a Stye

Singer Sam Smith regularly posts photos of himself on Instagram, but the one he shared Monday was a little different: In it, the “Stay with Me” singer is wearing an eye patch over a bandage in what appears to be a medical office. “Stye with me,” he captioned the shot.

Smith shared a photo of his (patch-less) swollen eye on Instagram Stories earlier that day and said that he was due to have an operation that he was “fucking scared” about, per People. He followed that up by saying that he was being “super dramatic. It’s like a 15 minute operation.” Pre-surgery, Smith shared on Instagram that he’d “been feeling sorry for myself all day because my fucking eye is in agony and getting worse and worse.”

But post-op, he seemed pretty happy about the whole thing, posting several photos of himself posing in his eye patch to Instagram Stories.

A stye is a painful (and possibly pus-filled) bump along the eyelid caused by an infection of nearby oil glands, the Mayo Clinic explains.

While they typically form on the outside of your eyelid, they can also form on the inside. Along with that red bump on your eyelid, you might also have swelling and pain in the eyelid, and it may cause you to tear up. Another condition that can cause similar symptoms is a chalazion (the two terms are often used interchangeably—and it’s not totally clear which type of bump Smith was dealing with). But, technically, a chalazion occurs when the oil glands become blocked rather than infected.

There are a few things that put you at risk for developing a stye, including touching your eyes with unwashed hands, putting in your contacts without disinfecting them (or your hands) well beforehand, leaving your makeup on overnight, using old or expired makeup, having blepharitis (a chronic inflammation along the edge of your eyelid), or having rosacea, the Mayo Clinic says.

Most styes don’t require surgery unless they aren’t getting better with the usual treatments.

In fact, most styes are so minor that people don’t even go to the doctor for them, Aaron Zimmerman, O.D., an associate professor of clinical optometry at The Ohio State University, tells SELF.

If you start to develop symptoms of a stye, the best thing to do is to put a warm compress over your eyelid for 5 to 10 minutes several times a day and massage your eyelid, the Mayo Clinic says. If you’re dealing with a blocked oil gland, the compress may help melt that oil back into a liquid form so that it will work its way out, Benjamin Bert, M.D., an ophthalmologist at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Calif., tells SELF.

You want to start with the warm compresses at the first sign of symptom of a stye. “The key is to try to catch it early before it develops into a bigger problem,” Mina Massaro-Giordano, M.D., co-director of the Penn Dry Eye & Ocular Surface Center and a professor of clinical ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania, tells SELF. If you wear contacts, you’ll also want to switch to glasses until things clear up; you can get bacteria on your lens that can make the stye worse, the Mayo Clinic says.

If you’re still struggling 48 hours later or if the swelling has moved beyond your eyelid to your cheek or other parts of your face, it’s time to call your doctor.

At that point, they’ll likely recommend antibiotic eyedrops or a topical antibiotic cream to apply to your eyelid, the Mayo Clinic says. And, if the stye persists or spreads beyond your eyelid, your doctor may add oral antibiotics to the mix.

If you’ve tried all of that but the stye still doesn’t seem to be getting better, that’s when your doctor may recommend surgery. “Surgery is often performed if the patient is getting worse with increasing signs of infection and/or abscess formation,” Jacqueline R. Carrasco, M.D., attending surgeon at Wills Eye Hospital, tells SELF.

Luckily, this surgery is pretty simple: First, you’ll have an anesthetic injected into your eyelid to numb the area, Dr. Zimmerman says. Then, using a special clamp, your doctor will flip the eyelid over. Then, your doctor will use a scalpel to pierce the stye and remove the contents of the bump with a curette. Finally, your doctor flips the eyelid back over and removes the clamp.

If you do need surgery, most people can expect to be back at work the day, Dr. Carrasco says.

And you might be working an eye patch a la Smith post-op for a day or so afterward. “It may be more comfortable to wear an eye patch, and it keeps things from flying into the eye,” Dr. Massaro-Giordano explains. Your doctor will also likely send you home with topical treatments (like antibiotic drops and a steroid cream) and possibly even oral antibiotics, Dr. Carrasco says. If you’re having any discomfort, acetaminophen (Tylenol) should do the trick, she says.

It may still take a week or two for all of the swelling to go down, but “if it’s a large stye, you can notice significant improvement immediately,” Dr. Bert notes.

Again, it’s not common for someone with a stye to need surgery. But if you’re having eyelid pain and it’s just not getting better after a few days of warm compresses, see your doctor. They should be able to help clear things up.

Related:

How Circus Training Helps Me Manage My Anxiety Disorder

I hovered 30 feet off the ground, trying not to look down, a long loop of fabric my only support.

How did I get here?

My heart rate increased before I went to complete the drop—the most complicated trick I’d ever done, which involved flipping through the sling from high in the air. (Did I mention I was—and still am—afraid of heights?) I had made my way up the sling at circus school, located in the building of a former Catholic church, crocheting my legs through the fabric.

Nervous as I was, I felt anything but helpless as I waited, wrapped up and eye-level with the choir loft, my coach shouting encouragements from below.

“Remember to bring your arms down!” she called. “Do you want me to count?”

I nodded, adrenaline coursing through my veins, anxiety the furthest thing from my mind.

“One!”

I arched my back.

“Two!”

I clung to the fabric in each hand.

“Three!”

I let go and somersaulted forward, untangling on my way down, until I felt the loop of fabric under my arms.

“You did it!” my coach cheered.

My heart was pounding, but I didn’t panic. Instead, I cheered too.

When I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), I never expected circus training to be a part of my coping strategy.

Specifically, by practicing aerial sling (picture the apparatus used in an aerial yoga class, but higher off the ground) and flexibility training (which I affectionately call “baby contortion”). But there I was, in another circus class, hanging high above the ground, reflecting on when and why my circus training began—and anxiety was at the root of it.

I’ve dealt with anxiety for as long as I can remember. I had crying fits in college when I got a B on an assignment. I can’t do confined spaces. I know I’m about to have a bad spell when I start losing sleep. Once I got an official anxiety diagnosis, I set out to find ways to make myself feel better. Traditional anxiety management tools were part of that—working with a mental health professional, meds, things like that. But putting my mind and body through circus tricks was the outlet I never knew I needed.

One night in 2015, I followed a good friend to a warehouse building on Chicago’s West Side. In the year since we met, she’d described hanging in the air on a trapeze as well as her flexibility classes “like yoga but way harder.” The whole hanging in the air thing sounded way too terrifying for me, but I was intrigued by the latter and was feeling impulsive for once, so I tagged along one Tuesday evening.

The warehouse’s third floor, just above a bread factory, housed a circus training facility with drop-in classes. I somewhat anticipated that first class to be like an advanced yoga session. But this definitely wasn’t yoga: We held right and left splits for a minute each (60 seconds never felt so long), kicked our legs in the air and tried to touch our faces, and circled our arms like little kids playing airplane for what felt like eternity. After an hour and a half of unconventional stretching and flexibility, I had trouble walking for three days.

I wasn’t a stranger to intense physical activity; I’d studied dance since age 4. But after that class, I felt something beyond just soreness. I was calm.

The author working on an elbow bridge.

I started to chase that emotional high.

I was there every Tuesday (barring illness or terrible weather) while my coach pulled, prodded, and occasionally sat on us. (A quick note: Hands-on training is very common in circus, and all coaches should be mindful of consent. Always. Luckily, this was never an issue with my wonderful coach, who always asked first and encouraged us to listen to our bodies first and foremost to avoid injury, especially when working our backs.)

We bent. We twisted. We did center splits, which I particularly hate because it feels like my body is slowly being wrenched into two pieces by some sort of self-inflicted medieval torture device. I’m a fairly flexible human and still, none of this felt physically easy.

But for 90 minutes I could focus only on my body. I had to, or I could get hurt. Though I got frustrated—a lot—I never cried.

Then I started aerial training, where even the smallest movement is incredibly difficult. When my coach first suggested I try aerial, I laughed in her face. You’re literally lifting your own body weight and battling an apparatus that will give you bruises or clock you in the head! Cut to two months later: I went to a Saturday morning “taster” session and left $200 poorer, having committed to eight weeks of classes right off the bat. But at least I committed and was all in, right?

It ended up being completely worth it, despite my nerves. Over the next three years, I trained on silks, which is basically two curtains of fabric; lyra, the head-banging steel loop; and my favorite, sling, which is sort of a cross between the two. These more challenging endeavors gradually improved my shoulder and overall body strength. I usually have some sort of scrape, fabric burn or bruise, or a combo deal of two or three. I can open any jar with the greatest of ease. These activities have helped boost my confidence and quiet my fears and anxiety towards the unknown, or of being “bad” at something before I’ve even given it a chance. (Watch a video of my sling work here.)

While training, whether I’m working on putting my elbows on the ground while in a backbend, or somersaulting around a piece of fabric while trying not to pinch areas of your body that you really don’t want pinched, I’m forced to confront my anxiety. If I overthink, I can jerk out of a trick and gravely injure myself. If I hit my limit without taking a step back or asking for help, I can have an anxiety attack that leads to a major meltdown. I have to find the balance of pushing myself through a sequence and being mindful of my own limits—a delicate formula that changes every time. And, ultimately, nailing a trick, or even just (gasp!) having fun, is the most freeing feeling.

Courtesy of the author

Still, I was curious: Is there any particular reason why circus training helps alleviate my anxiety?

Psychiatrist Monisha Vasa, M.D., chair of the Resident Physician Well Being Committee at University of California-Irvine Family Medicine Center, thinks so. “Certain types of exercise, such as circus training or even weight lifting, engage our minds to the point where we are intensely present-focused, not lost in worries about the future,” Dr. Vasa tells SELF.

She continues, “Studies show a positive impact [of intense exercise] on the central hormonal axis in the body, called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis,” which plays a role in how the brain and body adapt to physical or psychological stressors. Another possible mechanism is that exercise has been shown to increase the release of natural (or endogenous) opioids, “our own ‘feel-good’ chemicals,” Dr. Vasa adds (think: endorphins). While the available studies don’t focus on things like circus stunts or aerial training specifically, I’d argue this falls into the bucket of intense exercise.

Additionally, “Feeling strong helps reduce some of [the feeling of] helplessness that can come along with anxiety,” Dr. Vasa says. “In addition, when we exercise and our heart rate goes up, our brains start to learn that every increase in heart rate isn’t a sign of an impending panic attack.”

Of course, circus training isn’t some cure-all. I’m on medication. I’ve been in therapy.

I practice deep breathing and other forms of self-care. I’ll always have to live with my anxiety disorder.

And, yes, it does still persist through my training, often at unexpected moments. There have been times when I’ve had to step back from learning a new trick, due to frustration, panic, and all those fun symptoms that accompany anxiety.

But much more often than not, the strength, sweat, and surging adrenaline related to my beloved hobby bring on an almost overwhelming sense of calm when I wrap up a session. It’s helped bring out characteristics within me that my anxiety has long buried or overpowered. So if this little slice of circus life that I cherish works as part of my anxiety treatment and management, I’ll take it.

The author practicing a split in sling.

Lauren Emily has written for Playboy, SELF, and BUST magazines, and is the author of the young adult novel SATELLITE. She hangs in the air and bends her body in weird ways weekly. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Related:

A new way by which the human brain marks time

With a little help from HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” University of California, Irvine neurobiologists have uncovered a key component of how the human brain marks time.

Using high-powered functional MRI on college students watching the popular TV show, they were able to capture the processes by which the brain stores information related to when events happen, or what is known as temporal memory. The study appears in Nature Neuroscience.

The researchers identified a new network of brain regions involved in these processes, confirming in humans the results of mouse studies reported last summer by Nobel laureate Edvard Moser and colleagues, who pinpointed the nerve cells in the same areas that give each moment a distinctive signature. A News & Views article in Nature Neuroscience highlights how these findings fit together.

Michael Yassa, director of UCI’s Center for the Neurobiology of Learning & Memory and senior author on the study, said the research may further understanding of dementia, as these temporal memory regions are the first to experience age-related deficits and also show some of the first pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, most notably tangles.

“Whether these alterations have consequences for time-related memory remains to be seen; it’s something that we are currently testing,” he added.

Real-time brain imaging

In the UCI study, participants sat with their heads inside a high-resolution fMRI scanner while watching the TV show and then viewing still frames from the episode, one at a time.

The researchers found that when subjects had more precise answers to questions about what time certain events occurred, they activated a brain network involving the lateral entorhinal cortex and the perirhinal cortex. The team had previously shown that these regions, which surround the hippocampus, are associated with memories of objects or items but not their spatial location. Until now, little had been known about how this network might process and store information about time.

“The field of neuroscience has focused extensively on understanding how we encode and store information about space, but time has always been a mystery,” said Yassa, a professor of neurobiology & behavior. “This study and the Moser team’s study represent the first cross-species evidence for a potential role of the lateral entorhinal cortex in storing and retrieving information about when experiences happen.”

“Space and time have always been intricately linked, and the common wisdom in our field was that the mechanisms involved in one probably supported the other as well,” added Maria Montchal, a graduate student in Yassa’s lab who led the research. “But our results suggest otherwise.”

Testing time-related memory

Yassa said it’s worth noting that his group published another report last year in Neuron showing that the lateral entorhinal cortex is dysfunctional in older adults with lower-than-average memory performance. That study did not test memory for time but rather discrimination memory for similar objects.

Most studies examining time in the laboratory employ static objects on a computer screen, Yassa said, but they tell very little about how the brain processes information in the real world. This is why the UCI study used “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” a situational comedy that mirrors real life, as it involves people, scenes, dialogue, humor and narrative.

“We chose this show in particular because we thought it contained events that were relatable, engaging and interesting,” he said. “We also wanted one without a laugh track. Interestingly, while the show is hilarious for some of us, it did not seem to instigate a lot of laughter among the college undergraduates we tested — which was excellent for us, as we needed to keep their heads inside the scanner.”

5 Things to Know About Katelyn Ohashi, the UCLA Gymnast Whose Floor Routine Just Went Viral

If you haven’t yet seen gymnast Katelyn Ohashi’s floor routine, please immediately halt what you are doing and click here to watch.

The 21-year-old UCLA senior wowed the judges—and the Internet—on Saturday, January 12, with a floor routine that combined infectious personality, challenging moves, mesmerizing choreography, and pure joy. Her skill and pizzazz during the collegiate-level competition earned her a perfect 10 score, and to date, more than 33.9 million views via the @UCLAGymnastics Twitter account, which shared a clip of the crowd-riling performance. Thousands of Twitter users—including Senator Kamala Harris and journalist Jemele Hill—took note, saluting her A-plus-plus performance.

Yet Ohashi is much more than an overnight social media sensation. As a former Olympic hopeful, the world-class athlete has a long, complicated relationship with gymnastics and an empowering message about body positivity in a sport rife with critics. There’s also much more to her wow-worthy performance than its obvious viral-ness. Here, five things to know about the skilled and inspiring athlete.

1. As fun as it looks, Ohashi’s viral routine was far from easy to execute.

Set to a toe-tapping mash-up of popular throwback songs, including Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary,” “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire, The Jackson 5′s “I Want You Back,” and Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel,” the performance on Saturday marked just the second time Ohashi has executed the routine since debuting it at a meet against Nebraska on January 4, according to the Los Angeles Times. And as you can probably tell from Ohashi’s animated facial expressions throughout the 90-second routine, she has a lot of fun with routines like this.

“Floor is where I get to express myself,” Ohashi told NBC News. “That’s like, my party time, like my play time.”

That said, while the routine is undoubtedly fun, it’s also extremely difficult.

“Her whole floor routine is ridiculously hard,” UCLA Women’s Gymnastics head coach Valorie Kondos Field told the Daily Bruin, the school’s student newspaper. “Every single thing about it, including the backward split that she does after her leap pass.”

When she stepped onto the competition floor on Saturday, Ohashi brought her A-plus-plus game. “I’ve never seen her perform like that,” Kondos Field told the Los Angeles Times. “I’ve never seen her facial, her performance quality, be that professional, as I saw tonight.”

2. It wasn’t her first viral performance, though.

Last year, at the 2018 Pac-12 gymnastics championships, Ohashi won the collegiate title in the floor division with a Michael Jackson-themed performance—complete with mid-routine moonwalking and the iconic “Thriller” handclap—that, to date, has more than 4.5 million views on YouTube.

3. As a teen, Ohashi was one of the top ranked gymnasts in the world before injuries and burnout sidelined her Olympic dreams.

Ohashi is one of the last gymnasts to have bested Simone Biles in a major competition. The Seattle native spent four years on USA Gymnastics’ junior national team, and at age 16, won the 2013 American Cup, one of the most prestigious competitions in the world. (Check out her nearly flawless floor exercise and her extremely challenging beam routine from the competition). She was, by all counts, on track for the Olympics.

But everything changed when, according to an emotional first-person testimony shared in a Players’ Tribune video released last year, Ohashi learned that she had been competing with a fractured back and two torn shoulders.

“I think gymnastics can be a really brutal sport,” Ohashi revealed in the video, titled “I Was Broken.” “I don’t think it’s supposed to be a brutal sport.”

Because of these injuries, as well as mounting pressure to conform to a certain body type—”I was told it was embarrassing how big I had become,” Ohashi revealed in the video. “I was compared to a bird that couldn’t fly.”—she decided to leave the pro world in 2015. “I was so mentally drained and devastated,” she told NBC News. “I didn’t enjoy the sport as much.”

Later that year, after joining the UCLA Bruins gymnastics squad, she regained her joy and love for the sport. “At the end of the day, I think this should have been my path,” she told Players’ Tribune. “I haven’t been able to feel this type of happiness in a long time.”

5. Aside from her obvious athletic skills, Ohashi is a writer who blogs regularly about body image and other health topics.

Ohashi maintains a WordPress site, Behind the Madness, with a friend, Maria Caire, on which the two discuss “the various body-image issues athletes endure.” Ohashi’s posts, which also discuss her struggles managing both a rare skin disease and ulcerative colitis, are insightful and candid.

“In life we are told to do or be so many different things and expected to fit so many different expectations; I think that’s something I always had a hard time with,” Ohashi wrote in a 2017 post titled “Dear No One, This is For Me” that discussed athlete body shaming and the pressure that she has felt, both as a gymnast and a female, to look a certain way. “Women are ‘expected’ to have skinny waists, yet still be voluptuous. People surrounding us tell us we need to eat but then look at us in disgust if we cross the invisible line of overeating…Ignoring the opinions of those around me and focusing on what I believe in has been one of the greatest impacts on saving me. Why should we allow anyone else to dictate how we feel about ourselves?”

While the rest of us won’t be going out and mimicking Ohashi’s splits, jumps, and flips anytime soon, her messages about self-acceptance and body image are relatable and inspiring, whether you’re a pro athlete or not.

The Benefits of Yoga for Runners

“Down Dog,” the teacher says. It’s the last one of class; by now my body is dripping in sweat and my muscles are particularly loose. With 10 minutes until beloved Savasana, I know which pose is coming next.

“Lift your right leg to the sky and pull it through for Sleeping Pigeon. Keep your right thigh parallel to the mat, and make sure your foot stays flexed.”

I glide my foot forward just as she says, anticipating what I’m about to feel. Sleeping Pigeon, a deep hip opener, is one of those love-hate poses for lots of yoga enthusiasts, but I presume even more so for runners like myself who have notoriously tight hips. I bend forward, the yoga pose directly targeting the part of my body that always feels like it’s taking the brunt of my daily runs on road or trail. I inhale deeply, trying to watch my exhale like the teacher often suggests, as I feel the effects of my 50-mile week.

I’ve been a runner for 15 years and a yoga practitioner for two. In those two years, yoga has become an irreplaceable complement to my training. When I started doing yoga more regularly (three to four times a week) I simultaneously became both stronger and faster. I’m not sure yoga can take all the credit, but I know it must deserve some.

Yoga can strengthen particular muscle groups that may get neglected when you run.

To find out, I hopped on the phone with one of my favorite yoga teachers from Colorado, Peter Michaelsen. With a B.A. in yoga studies from Naropa University, I figured he’d know a thing or two about how the practice might benefit other runners like me.

“One of the things that running does in our body is it strengthens particular muscle groups,” he says. Most runners primarily use their quads and hamstrings, he says, which over time can lead to fatigue and pain from overuse. It can also lead to imbalances: If you’re only ever working a few muscle groups, other areas may end up a lot weaker and more prone to aches and injuries.

This makes sense to me; before I did yoga I often experienced lower back pain, which was due to a lack of hip mobility and core strength. I’m happy to say that doing yoga regularly has helped with this discomfort.

“Yoga is comprehensive,” Michaelsen adds. When you do this sort of total-body strengthening work, it can have a big impact on your running. “You can become faster because your [core] is [contributing to your run] as much as your legs, and your shoulders are now helping your arms swing.” Yoga helps get the whole body involved while running, he says.

Like any good patient (and writer), I decided to get a second opinion. I spoke with yoga instructor and running coach Cara Gilman. She was an all-in marathon runner until she suffered consecutive injuries and found her way onto a yoga mat. Interestingly, she echoed many of Michaelsen’s statements:

“Yoga is a great way to activate the muscles we don’t typically use when running alone,” she confirms. “As runners, we’re not used to activating our glutes and hips. Many key poses and postures in yoga force us to strengthen those muscles.”

Gilman asked if I ever found standing one-legged postures in yoga, like Warrior III and Airplane, particularly challenging. I shake my head vigorously, saying yes. The reason, she suggests, is because those poses require me to use my hips and glutes, muscles that are often a runner’s biggest weakness.

It also helps to increase range of motion—something many runners may need to work on.

I wanted to run this concept by someone who wasn’t a yoga instructor. I was curious to hear from someone who was trained in exercise physiology.

Enter Alex Harrison, Ph.D., a sport performance coach who works with triathletes, runners, and weightlifters. I wanted to know: If a runner only runs, what happens? And how could inserting different types of movement—say, yoga—impact their performance?

Harrison explains that devout runners will most likely have limited ranges of motion for doing non-running kinds of movements. This is because when we run, our bodies are only moving forward and backward (also called the sagittal plane). This means that moving in other ways, say, laterally to do a side lunge, or diagonally to do a woodchop, might feel difficult and unfamiliar. If you only ever run and don’t do exercises that get you moving in other directions, you end up not only overworking the muscles you are using but also making it difficult to move in other ways, potentially increasing your risk of injury on the rare occasions you do.

This is where yoga comes in; it requires the body to move in frontal and transverse planes in poses like twists, lunges, and Warrior II.

Still, I wondered (and asked): So what? How does having better hip mobility and a larger range of motion affect my running performance? Harrison argues that a larger range of motion might not make you faster, but it will certainly help you avoid injury. That’s because if we’re used to staying stuck in one type of motion, any small change we make to our running form, from wearing new shoes to opening up our legs during strides, can cause the body to go beyond our typical range of motion, which could lead to strains, sprains, and tears galore. When you’re more used to working in a broader range, there’s less of a chance you’ll do something outside of your body’s capabilities.

Learning to breathe mindfully in the studio may also help you on a run.

OK, so the muscle stuff made sense to me. But you can arguably target ignored muscle groups and planes of movement with other activities besides yoga. So I wanted to dig deeper and find out: What other benefits can yoga provide runners that you can’t necessarily find in a weight room?

One particularly interesting physical benefit of yoga for runners has to do with breathing. I’m a big fan of Baptiste Yoga, which emphasizes ujjayi breathing, where you inhale and exhale out of your nose. Many forms of yoga utilize specific breathing techniques, teaching you how to breathe in a purposeful way. “There is a focus on diaphragm breathing and expanding your lungs and the space around your chest,” says Michaelson.

This can be helpful for a few reasons, says Marta Montenegro, M.S., C.S.C.S., adjunct professor of exercise science at Florida International University in Miami. When you focus on your breathing pattern during exercise, you’re actively connecting your mind and your body. This, she says, will help you better control your respiration rate, so you can maintain your pace for longer. Being acutely aware of your breathing (and not just zoning out for the duration of your run) will also get you focusing on other things like your body positioning and core engagement, both of which can help you run more efficiently.

“Also, yoga focuses on working the core, and the respiratory muscles are part of the core,” says Montenegro. When these muscle are stronger, it takes longer for them to tire out. “If yoga is training you to keep your core engaged and your respiratory muscles expanding and contracting, you will use less energy doing those things and that will improve your running economy.”

The mental benefits of yoga can help you stay focused when things get challenging.

I would argue I’ve personally experienced more mental gains from yoga than physical ones. As a runner, my mental game used to always be my biggest weakness; my brain would give up way before my body. During a race, as soon as I started feeling fatigued, I’d convince myself why it was OK to ease up and not chase a new PR. Instead of embracing a runner’s beloved nemesis—the pain cave—I ran (slowly) away from it. Yet my normal yoga practice has forced me to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, through sitting in the poses that incorporate a lot of hamstrings or core strength, focused on just noticing what it feels like versus reacting to the discomfort and trying to get out of it. This has translated to my running; now when I traverse up hills, I notice where my mind is going versus freaking out right away and slowing my pace down to that of a snail’s.

“Your body is capable of doing so much more than the mind thinks. In yoga, we try to be in each breath, which is like being in each step of a running practice. That’s the freedom of the ‘now, here’ moment. Not the one we think is going to come up in a mile or two from now,” Michaelson says.

Another basic element of the mind-practice in yoga is concentration, or directing our mental awareness in a certain direction. “The mental component with yoga translates to all parts of our life, but especially when things start to get tough,” Michaelsen describes. In his words, the practice of yoga brings us to more of a central space of listening.

Gilman says that mental strength from yoga is crucial when it comes to running. “Your mental game during speed work, a hill workout, or balancing in half-moon pose [hinges on] what you’re thinking while these things are happening. [Yoga] allows you to practice mindfulness and to simply show up, no matter how hard a hill or holding a pose may be.”

You can add yoga to your routine in a couple different ways.

Yoga can definitely be a great item in a runner’s toolbox for both your physical and mental self. I for one have found immense value in it, and have more mobile muscles and mind because of it. There are so many different types of yoga, too—from restorative Yin to vigorous vinyasa—so don’t hesitate to try a few different styles out to see what works for you, your body, and your training schedule.

Whether you’re a newbie or seasoned yogi, Gilman recommends that runners hit their yoga mats two to three times a week. The best part? Every class is guaranteed to end in Savasana.

Part-time working mothers with flexible schedules end up doing more work without pay

Part-time working mothers who have the ability to control their own schedule often end up working an increased amount of unpaid overtime, new research from the University of Kent has found.

On average in the UK men work an extra 2.2 hours a week in unpaid overtime while for women it is about 1.9 hours. In new research, Kent’s Dr Heejung Chung, working with Dr Mariska van der Horst from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, set out to explore if different types of flexible working add to this unpaid overtime.

They did this by using data from the Understanding Society surveys carried out between 2010-2015 to examine three types of flexible working that people use and how it impacted their workloads:

  • Flexitime, where workers have set weekly hours but can work them within a schedule that suits them (e.g. 08.00 — 16.00 or 09.00 — 17.00)
  • Teleworking — ability to work from home for personal reasons on a regular basis
  • Schedule control — where workers are able to determine their own hours and schedules, so long as the job is done.

For the first two types of flexible working, there was little evidence of an increase in unpaid overtime hours, but they did not detect a decrease in overtime hours for this group either.

However, for those who gained schedule control over their work there was an increase in the amount of unpaid overtime worked. This was found to be the case for both professional men (about one hour more a week on average) and women without children (about 40 minutes more a week on average).

Notably, though, the research also found that although full-time working mothers did not appear to increase their unpaid overtime, part-time working mothers did work more unpaid overtime, with an average of around 20 minutes more a week, which was surprising.

The researchers suggest this increase may be because part-time working mothers feel the need to work longer to compensate for the possible stigma, perceived or otherwise, attached to them by other workers, especially when their schedules do not match normal working hours. It may also be that part-time working mothers have a greater ability to work unpaid overtime compared to full-time working mothers.

This stigma felt by those working part-time has been documented in other research by Dr Chung, with two-fifths of those (and more than half of mothers) who have worked part-time believing it has had a negative impact on their career progression.

Dr Chung, from Kent’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, said: ‘More control over your work is supposed to make life easier for workers, particularly those with children. However, it is clear that for many, blurring the boundaries between work and home life expands work to be longer, even when it is unpaid. Employers need to be aware of this and ensure staff are not over-stretching themselves and undoing the benefits of flexible working.’

She added: ‘Another point to note is that unlike popular perceptions, we also do not find much evidence that those who take up flexible working arrangements for family/care purposes reduce their work loads. Employers need to be made more aware of this, to tackle our perception against those working flexibly.’

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Kent. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Update: How Will the Government Shutdown Affect the FDA?

By Beth Mole for Ars Technica

Update: Last week, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., said that some routine food safety inspections were suspended during the government shutdown, but that he was working on finding a way to resume inspections on high-risk facilities. Yesterday, Dr. Gottlieb announced on Twitter that some inspections would be able to resume.

For instance, inspection teams will return to facilities that are considered “high risk”—such as those producing soft cheeses, custard-filled bakery products, some produce, seafood, and baby formula—as early as today, the New York Times reports. And Dr. Gottlieb said more inspections will continue to resume throughout the week.

“[We’re] re-starting high risk food inspections as early as tomorrow. We’ll also do compounding inspections this week. And we started sampling high risk imported produce in the northeast region today. We’ll expand our footprint as the week progresses. Our teams are working,” Dr. Gottlieb wrote.

In total, about 400 people are returning to their jobs as part of this effort, the majority of which are inspectors or staff who support inspectors: “This includes about 100 staff focused on inspections of high risk medical device manufacturing facilities; about 70 staff focused on inspections of high risk drug manufacturing facilities; and about 90 staff focused on inspections of high risk biological manufacturing facilities,” Dr. Gottlieb said. Another 150 or so employees “are focused on other aspects of our mission,” he said.

Unfortunately, the inspection teams will be doing this work unpaid until the shutdown ends, he continued. “These men and women are the tip of the spear in our consumer protection mission. They’re the very front line. And they’re on the job. The entire nation owes them gratitude. I’m inspired by their dedication,” he said.

Original report (January 10, 2019):

After a year plagued by deadly E. coli outbreaks linked to widely distributed romaine lettuce, 2019 is off to an anxiety-inducing start. With hundreds of food inspectors furloughed in the ongoing government shutdown, the FDA has suspended all routine inspections of domestic food processing facilities, according to Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., who revealed the news in an interview with the Washington Post published Wednesday.

Dr. Gottlieb said that the agency, which oversees about 80 percent of the food supply, is continuing to surveil foreign manufacturers and imported food, as well as any domestic producers involved in a current recall or outbreak.

But the agency is skipping the 160-or-so routine food inspections it usually performs each week. In those evaluations, FDA inspectors assess manufacturing practices at food-processing facilities, as well as check for unsanitary conditions, such as infestations, and contamination issues. About a third of those 160 weekly inspections involve facilities that the agency considers “high risk,” Dr. Gottlieb added. High-risk facilities are those that either handle foods particularly vulnerable to safety issues, such as soft cheeses and seafood, or facilities that have a track record of food safety problems.

“We are doing what we can to mitigate any risk to consumers through the shutdown,” Dr. Gottlieb told the paper.

He’s now working on a plan to call back 150 inspectors to focus on the high-risk facilities. While those workers still wouldn’t be paid until after the shutdown ends, Dr. Gottlieb said he was setting up an agency travel account to help those inspectors keep large balances off their personal credit cards.

Still, Sarah Sorscher, deputy director of regulatory affairs at nonprofit advocacy group The Center for Science in the Public Interest, called the missed inspections unacceptable in the Washington Post. “That puts our food supply at risk,” Sorscher said. “Regular inspections, which help stop foodborne illness before people get sick, are vital.”

Each year, an estimated 48 million people are sickened by foodborne illnesses in the U.S., leading to 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths, according to the CDC.

The good news is that meat, poultry, and egg facilities not inspected by the FDA are overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has maintained inspections during the government shutdown.

Related:

Here Are All the Different Ways to Use Your New Food Processor

Food processors are easily the most versatile kitchen gadget around. You can use them to slice vegetables, chop nuts, grind meat, and much, much more in mere seconds. Basically, the gadget has a magical ability to turn tedious work into something you actually won’t mind doing.

When I finally added a food processor to my kitchen collection, it totally unlocked my cooking potential. I went from spending way too long grating cheese, chopping veggies, and making pie dough by hand, to doing all of the same tasks in a fraction of the time. If I had to go back to life B.F.P. (before food processor) I could, but I probably wouldn’t cook nearly as much as I do now.

If you were gifted a food processor over the holiday season, or you’ve decided to leap into 2019 by buying one yourself, these are all the different ways to use it depending on your model.

Every food processor is a little different—find out what yours can and can’t do before you start using it.

While all food processors will probably make your life at least a little bit easier, they aren’t all created equal. Some are really small and best for little jobs, some are big enough to prep food for a crowd. Some have higher power outputs that can run for a long time without burning out the motor, others can only blend for a few minutes before they run out of steam. And some are sold with attachments that make it possible to thinly and evenly grate cheese, veggies, fruit, and more, while others can only do the most perfunctory chop.

There are two kinds of food processors: mini and full-size.

Mini options are sold in sizes from one to three cups, and they’re great for basic chopping duties because they can’t handle a lot of food at once. With my mini food processor, I usually have to divide whatever I’m chopping into two batches so that I don’t overwhelm the machine by throwing everything in at the same time. If I were to try to put too much of an ingredient into my food processor, it might not be able to process anything at all. It’s basically the same when you put too much stuff in a blender—the machine stalls.

Full-size food processors are sold in sizes that can handle five to 20 cups, and they can process a large amount of an ingredient at once. If you need to grate a ton of cheese, chop a pound of Brussels sprouts, or make big batch of homemade nut butter, a full-size food processor is the tool for the job. You don’t need to buy the biggest food processor you can find, though. First of all, they’re pricier and unless you work in a restaurant, you probably don’t need a 20-cup food processor. Save your money and swing for a seven- to 10-cup model, which should be more than enough for whatever you’re cooking at home.

And they can have a power output anywhere between 400 and 1200 watts.

The higher the wattage your food processor has, the better. For heavy duty jobs or recipes that need the motor to run for awhile (like chopping hearty veggies or making nut butter), it should have at least 600 watts to avoid burning out the motor. If its wattage is below that number, save it for things that don’t need as much maintenance. For example, soft dishes like hummus or sauces like mayo are perfect to make in a food processor with a low wattage.

Most full-size food processors are equipped with slicing, grating, and shredding attachments, as well as an opening at the top that allows you to add ingredients while the motor is running, and a pusher to push the ingredients into the processor without while keep your hand away from the blades.

The opening at the top (also known as a feeding tube) is especially great for oil-based recipes like salad dressing, mayonnaise, and pesto. Instead of placing all your oil in the food processor at once, you can use the feeding tube to gradually add it to your other ingredients as the machine runs, which will create a smoother and silkier final product.

As for the attachments, most full-size food processors are sold with disc-shaped grating, slicing, and shredding tools. When you’re ready to use one of these discs, place it at the base of the feeding tube. Then, push your ingredients through the disc into the bowl of the food processor and watch them go from un-prepped to prepped in no time.

Unfortunately, most mini-food processors don’t have the same additional functions.

Mini food processors aren’t usually sold with attachments or equipped with feeding tubes like their larger counterparts. That means you have to dump all your ingredients into the bowl of the food processor before you start the motor, which isn’t great for things like pesto that need to have oil gradually worked into them. Instead, they’re better for basic chopping and blending tasks, like making salsa. Of course, there is an exception—the Kitchen-Aid 3.5-cup food processor has a small well at the top for adding things like oil as you blend.

Now that you know, these are all the different things you can make with your brand new food processor.

Nut butter

http://minimalistbaker.com

You’ll need a food processor with a high wattage to make nut butter, because the nuts need about 10 to 15 minutes in the machine to fully breakdown and get that buttery consistency. However, it’s not impossible to make nut butter with a lower wattage option, but you may need to pause the machine every few minutes to avoid burning out the motor. Get the recipe here.

Hummus

http://cookieandkate.com

This hummus comes together in any food processor in just a couple of minutes. Get the recipe here.

Pesto

http://simplyrecipes.com

When it comes to things like pesto, you can’t add all the oil at once because it won’t incorporate into the rest of the ingredients properly. Be sure to use a food processor that’s equipped with an opening at the top so you can add the oil while the machine is running. Get the recipe here.

Grated cheese

Grating cheese by hand is a nice workout if you feel like it, but if you don’t, use your new food processor instead.

Salsa

http://skinnytaste.com

If you aren’t already a salsa believer, your new food processor will probably turn you into one. Get the recipe here.

Dough

http://epicurious.com

Making dough by hand is super tricky—making dough with your food processor is not. Get the recipe here.

Ground meat

If you can’t find the ground chicken you were looking for at the supermarket, don’t fret—you can use your food processor to grind chicken yourself. And beef, and lamb, and pork for that matter.

Shredded veggies

Using a food processor to shred, grate, or slice hard-to-handle veggies (like Brussels sprouts) will cut your prep time in half.

Chopped nuts

Chopping nuts is way less frustrating when you have a machine to do it for you.

No-churn ice cream

Andrew Purcell; Carrie Purcell

You can make no-churn ice cream by simply blending frozen bananas in a food processor with whatever other ingredients you like. Try this pumpkin spice-flavored recipe out here.

Helping anxious students excel on science exams

A new study reveals that helping lower-income high school freshman to regulate their test-taking anxiety can cut their biology course failure rates in half. The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and conducted by Barnard College President Sian Leah Beilock and her research team found that brief pre-exam de-stressing strategies could reduce the performance gap often seen between lower-income and higher income students.

“It’s not just about what you know in a particular moment, but your perceptions of the situation, your worries also matter. Your anxiety can affect how you demonstrate what you know when it matters most,” says Beilock, a nationally recognized cognitive scientist who studies the pressures children face in school. “We were particularly interested in whether we could help improve test scores in STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics], an area where a broader representation of students is needed.”

Job opportunities in STEM fields are expanding, but students from lower-income families are often ill-prepared for them. Much of the discrepancy begins in high school, where they don’t take as many STEM classes as other students, in part because they perform poorly in them. One factor may be that they’re not expected to perform well, creating performance anxiety. The researchers hoped to address some of the downstream psychological consequences of this anxiety, freeing students’ minds to unleash their potential.

“This study shows that students’ grades are not just about what they know,” said Christopher Rozek, lead author on the study and a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Psychology at Stanford University. “Students’ emotions factor into how well they do in their classes, and schools should continue to prioritize students’ emotional well-being in order to help students perform up to their potential.”

Close to 1,200 freshmen at a large high school in the Midwest took part in the study. They each completed emotion-regulation exercises before their mid-year and final biology exams. Those randomly assigned to the “expressive writing” intervention were asked to spend ten minutes writing about and openly exploring their feelings about the test. Beilock and other researchers have previously shown that writing about one’s anxieties paradoxically reduces their burden, making them feel more manageable and freeing cognitive resources for the task at hand.

Students given the “reappraisal” intervention instead tried to turn their anxiety into excitement. They read a passage explaining that physiological arousal — a fast heartbeat and sweaty palms — is actually the body’s way of preparing for an important task and that such energy can be harnessed for success. Then they summarized what they’d just read. Previous research has shown that reappraisal, too, can improve performance.

A third group of students got versions of both the expressive writing and reappraisal intervention. A final group served as a control by summarizing a passage instructing them merely to ignore their stress.

The researchers were especially interested in the performance of lower-income students, those who received free or reduced-price lunch. They found that for these students, using one of the three key interventions — expression, reappraisal, or both — instead of the control task significantly improved exam scores. Average exam scores increased from about 57% to about 63%, reducing the performance gap between lower-income and higher-income students by nearly a third.

Looking beyond exam scores, but at whether students actually passed both semesters of their 9th grade science course (versus neither or one), the results were even more dramatic. The interventions increased the passing rate for lower-income students from 61% to 82%. Again, all interventions helped them equally, and none helped the higher-income students.

“We found that emotion regulation interventions reduced the substantial achievement gaps between higher-income and lower-income students on course-passing rate by more than half,” explains Rozek.

The researchers also asked students at the end of the year to rate their belief that emotional arousal during a test can benefit them. The emotion-regulation interventions increased lower-income students’ beliefs regarding the potential benefits of stress (e.g., as energy to be used to improve performance).

“Students from higher-income backgrounds were more likely to hold the belief that a little stress during tests can be helpful for performance while lower-income students were less likely to view exam stress as helpful — unless they completed the emotion regulation interventions,” Rozek added.

“What our research shows is that by giving those students who feel the most performance anxiety during evaluative situations in school an opportunity to think differently about their worries and anxieties, we can boost performance,” Beilock says.

This work shows that brief emotion regulation exercise — 10 minutes, twice a year — can dramatically reduce failure rates, and that it can be readily implemented on a large scale in a working school environment.

Alleviating inequalities in resources will surely be part of any solution to the performance gap. “But one other aspect that is less often focused on is how students feel in those important evaluative situations,” Beilock says. She considers these exercises to be part of a toolbox of techniques that can improve the whole person. “It’s something we think about at Barnard as well,” she adds, “not just what our women are learning in the classroom but how we give them the motivation, the psychological tools, so that they can succeed in any situation.”

Rozek, now a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University who previously served as a postdoc in Beilock’s research group, has an extensive background in experimental and longitudinal studies in school contexts that involve understanding the psychological factors associated with students’ motivation and success. A major focus of his research has been utilizing psychological insights to increase equity in educational outcomes between students from more advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds.

Beilock, who joined Barnard as its eighth president in July 2017, after serving on the faculty at the University of Chicago since 2005, has conducted extensive research on performance under pressure. She’s the author of “Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal about Getting It Right When You Have To” (2010) and “How the Body Knows Its Mind: The Surprising Power of the Physical Environment to Influence How You Think and Feel” (2015).

She believes anyone can benefit from expression and reappraisal in high-stress situations — even a college president. “I do some ‘me-search’ in addition to research,” she shares. “I practice what I preach here, such as reminding myself that all the anxiety symptoms I sometimes feel in important situations are actually a sign I’m ready to go.”

Bike share programs show infrequent helmet use, little disparity among neighborhoods

People riding free-floating bike share rentals in Seattle are wearing helmets infrequently, according to a new analysis conducted by University of Washington researchers. Only 20 percent of bike share riders wore helmets in the study, while more than 90 percent of cyclists wore helmets while riding their own bikes.

Different research on the free-floating bike share systems showed that bikes were usually available in all Seattle neighborhoods across economic, racial and ethnic lines. However, more bikes were located in more-advantaged neighborhoods.

“There’s nowhere that was systematically ignored during the first six months of the program,” said Stephen J. Mooney, an epidemiologist at the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center and professor at the UW’s School of Public Health. He’s the lead author of both studies.

The helmet study shows that bike share riders may be adopting a casual approach to cycling that doesn’t include helmet usage.

“What we’re concerned about is: What are the implications of casual riders not wearing helmets?” Mooney said. “What’s the risk for them and for other people?”

Researchers counted the number of cyclists — noting helmet use -at four strategic locations around Seattle: the Fremont bridge, the Burke-Gilman Trail, Broadway Bike Lane and NW 58th Street at 22nd Avenue NW. Researchers found that only one in five people riding bike shares wore helmets.

So far, researchers haven’t seen an increase in head injuries among free-floating bike share riders, but they’re watching. It’s important to observe and better understand rider behavior in addition to looking at crash data, Mooney said. The ways people ride free-floating bikes, and where they ride them, and how they fall from them when they crash may lead to a very different risk profile than that of private bike riders. Still, an overwhelming amount of research shows that wearing a helmet helps to prevent serious head injury in a bike crash.

The researchers observed fewer cyclists wearing helmets — both on private bikes and on bike share rentals — in areas where there were lots of bike shares.

The research finding may be an indication that the adoption of free-floating bike shares may support more casual use, different from commuting or training, in which helmet use is less part of the culture.

That’s troubling, but not yet cause to take action, Mooney said.

“There’s a lot of nuance in bike safety — we know that helmets protect heads, but we also know that places where more riders cluster usually have lower risk per rider. Obviously, we’d love to see more riders with helmets. But we recognize that not everyone wants to lug a helmet around just in case they decide to ride casually later in the day. So we’re monitoring both ridership and injuries,” he said.

Other studies have found similarly low statistics of bike helmet use in other bike share systems, with about 15 percent helmet use in New York and about 39 percent in Boston compared with Seattle’s estimated 20 percent use of helmets. However, Vancouver’s system, Mobi, provides helmets and boosts usage there as much as three times Seattle, at 64 percent.

The helmet study, published last month in the Journal of Community Health, was co-authored by Bella Lee and Allyson O’Connor of the UW. Funding was provided by a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shiver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development.

In a separate study, published recently in the Journal of Transport Geography, Mooney again looked at bike share programs. This time the research team wanted to see if the benefits of bike share — such as improved health and reduced travel times — were available to all neighborhoods regardless of economic status, race and ethnicity.

“Free-floating bikes went everywhere. Pretty much everyone has some access,” Mooney said.

Prior studies showed that docked bike share systems, which are geographically constrained by station locations, tended to favor advantaged neighborhoods. There were not stark differences in availability of the free-floating systems, the research found.

Researchers used the aggregate data collected from all the free-floating bike share operators in Seattle and combined that with neighborhood based census data. While the distribution of bike shares was broad, they reported, there was a higher concentration of the rentals in more affluent areas of the city.

“If you look a little bit deeper, there is some inequity in where the bikes go,” Mooney said. “But bikes were usually available throughout the city.”