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Here's Proof That Photos on Instagram Aren't Always What They Seem to Be

Deep down, we know most of the images we see on Instagram are at least a little staged—the lighting, the angles, the filters. But we still could use a reminder every now and then. That’s why we love fitness blogger Sara Puhto’s recent side-by-side post so much—it shows how a little flexing and posing (not to mention editing) can totally change the way you look.

Here’s what we’re talking about:

It’s tempting to compare our body (stomach rolls and all) to the ones we see in our feed, but that doesn’t mean we should. And we love that Puhto and many others keep reminding us of that.

7 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Work Out at Home When You *Really* Don’t Want To

If getting to the gym is half the battle, it should be easier to just eliminate that half and work out in the comfort of your own home, right?

Well, sort of. Although your place is crazy convenient, it's hard to stay motivated when you're so close to temptation (read: the TV and the couch).

To help you resist said temptation and get in a solid sweat session at home, we went straight to the people who know what it's like: our readers—real people with real lives, real jobs, and really busy schedules just like you. Here they share seven legit tips that'll motivate you to work out at home, even if you don't feel like it.

1. Find your digital fitness fit.

The No. 1 most important thing you can do is find a routine you're actually going to enjoy doing at home. Certain workouts (think equipment-heavy activities) won't translate well. But the good news: It's 2017, and thanks to technology, you have access to an endless amount of at-home exercise options.

Take a moment, think about what types of activities you enjoy, and then do some research. From fitness apps and websites (like this one, ahem) that transform your phone into a personal trainer to live stream videos that turn your living room into a fitness studio, there are plenty of ways to get guidance, motivation, and variety. With a little bit of internet research and soul-searching, you can easily find a fitness routine that will work for you.

"The key for me was finding something I loved doing," says Megan Wakefield of Littleton, CO. "I don't battle myself to do it because I want to do it, and I fully enjoy the process."

Partner Get 30 Days of Free Workouts Need added motivation this winter? Aaptiv is a new app that offers audio-only workouts from top trainers set to music you love. Classes range from strength training and HIIT workouts to yoga and running, so you'll always find something you love. Available at Greatist readers get a free 30-day trial using code GREATIST! 2. Pencil it in.

Would you remember to go to your dentist appointment or make it to that weekly meeting if you didn't add it to your calendar? Probably not. The same goes for your workouts. "I schedule it like it's an appointment," says Holly Van Hare of Boston, MA. Prioritize exercise by blocking out time on your calendar and then planning your days and weeks around those blocks.

3. Set your space.

The tricky part about an at-home workout is that—surprise!—your home is not a gym. If you happen to have a gym in your home, lucky you. (Can we come over?) If you're a mere commoner like us, then you'll need to make whatever space you have work. That might mean setting up a mini gym in your basement or simply moving the coffee table over three inches to fit a yoga mat. Whatever you have to move/set up/dismantle, do it well before your scheduled workout (say, the night prior if you plan on getting up and working out), so there are no barriers or excuses. "I make a space for myself that feels like my own personal studio," Van Hare says.

4. Dress for success.

Now more than ever, it's acceptable to wear spandex just about anywhere. Take advantage of the trend and throw on gym clothes as soon as possible, at every given opportunity. Why? Well, one study suggests that simply wearing workout gear can help motivate you to exercise.

"On workdays I come home and change into my workout clothes before anything else, and on weekends I put them on first thing in the morning," says Antoinette Schoenthaler of New York City. "That way I have no excuses later."

5. Go public with it.

Hold the phone—literally. Before you tweet, message, or 'gram your workout plans, read this: You'll have a better chance of actually working out if you keep them to yourself. One study suggests that social recognition makes us less likely to follow through with our intentions.

But after you've crushed your workout, feel free to shout it from the social rooftops. Take a photo #fromwhereyoustand or snap a sweaty selfie. "I find I work harder for that extra satisfaction of sharing my achievement afterwards," Van Hare says. When you share your progress and accomplishments, you'll build a small group of cheerleaders, and you can tap into that satisfied feeling the next time you're on the fence about working out.

6. Use a carrot.

For real, though. It's okay to use small rewards to persuade yourself to work out. Do we hope you're compensating yourself with something as healthy as carrots? Sure. But if it's sometimes pizza, turkey chili, or a salted caramel brownie, that's okay too, because, balance.

"I usually work out right after work, so I hold off on eating dinner until after I’ve knocked out a workout," says Gassaway. "Mentally, it’s a big reward."

If food's not your thing, treat yourself to a new pair of sneakers if you complete all your workouts for a month.

7. Try a halfsie.

When working out at home sounds like the worst thing ever, barter with yourself. "I say I'll do half of what I normally do," Gassaway says. "Then, eight times out of 10, I do the full workout anyway because all I really needed was to get started." And the two times you don't finish? Well, at least you did half, and that's better than nothing.

The Bottom Line

The best way to motivate yourself to work out at home is to find a routine you truly enjoy, so your at-home workout doesn't feel like work. Then, control as many factors as you can to set yourself up for success and make it a habit. Sure, the couch looks damn good when you come home after a long day, but sinking into it will feel so much better after you've earned it.

You Should Never Get Back With an Ex, Unless…

I've seen friends get into relationships that are reminiscent of yo-yo dieting: The couple gets together, they break up, they get together, they break up, start, fail, start, fail. Every time, some small component of their lives haschanged, convincing them that things could be different this time around. But for the most part, these people are still who they were—he'd still rather stay home than go out; she still hates texting him back throughout the day—and it never works out.

This is why I always advise friends to never get back with an ex, despite the fact that every flawed relationship looks so rosy in hindsight, scrubbed of its passive-aggressive arguments and last-minute cancellations. Biology is actually trying to be kind when our brains wipe out unpleasant memories, but that’s a double-edged sword. In this magical hindsight filter, an ex who didn't treat you very well can look pretty awesome.

I’ve had the relationship that started, stopped, and started again—only to stop for good, with some fireworks for good measure. I’ve also had relationships that simply started and ended in tears. So after all I’ve learned, and all the advice I've told my friends, even I was surprised when I got together with my current boyfriend...

Yeah, he’s my ex.

But not every relationship that fizzled initially is doomed to fail a second time. Here’s why this time feels different.

1. The first time around, we were really young...

In the U.S., adulthood may technically start at 18, but our maturity level at that age leaves something to be desired, to say the least. When my boyfriend and I first started dating, we were the ripe old age of 20—not even able to buy a bottle of wine for date night. Our careers were still in the dreaming-planning stage, our parents still financially supported us, and we lived in the bubble that is student housing. We were two people still figuring out how to start our lives, planning our escapes into "the real world." But anticipating the future and actually living it are very different things.

For a relationship to deserve a second chance, the couple shouldn't still be in the same situation they were in the first time around, hoping against hope that some magical thing will be different. But time, distance, and the opportunity to grow can create that necessary change. These days, we're grown-ups who know more about what we want and need from life, so our relationship is able to be more mature as well.

No longer long distance!

2. ...and we were trying to make it work long-distance.

This is a rule I still tell people not to break, because it’s been such a monumental struggle whenever I've broken it. The truth is, dating long-distance hurts. Waiting all day until a video chat, communicating primarily by text, never getting to hold hands or attend events together… none of this is fun. So when my boyfriend and I started dating shortly before we went off to different schools, we braced ourselves for the distance. We did what we could to make it work, and alternated weekends visiting each other. But not only did this adversely affect my relationship with my friends ("Sorry, I can't make it, again…"), it was exhausting. I always felt like I was missing out on both my relationship and my social life.

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So when we got back in touch—years later, with 3,000 miles between us—I knew that this relationship wouldn't work if it were still long-distance. When we were ready, we made the big, game-changing decision to move to the same city. It finally felt like a real shot at being together.

3. When we broke up, we didn't go down in flames.

When we finally decided that the distance was much to bear, we ended things. I’m not going to say the relationship would’ve lasted forever if we hadn't been long-distance, but this external circumstance was definitely the reason we ended things when we did. That meant that when we reignited our relationship, we didn't have any screaming, ugly fights or hair-pulling frustrations coming back to mind. It finally felt like we were meeting in the right time and the right place.

4. We'd never really left our comfort zones.

I think that everybody should move somewhere new and far from home at least once in their life. Whether you grew up in a tiny town or a giant metropolis, there’s an incredible experience to be had by trying something new, and you can learn a lot about yourself that way. The first time my boyfriend and I got together, we were both Californians through and through; we both grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles and traveled only as far as the Bay Area for college. We'd spent pretty much our entire lives within the same state lines. After we broke up, I studied abroad and later moved to the East Coast. He spent months hiking across the country, coming home only to save up for the next great adventure. In that time, we also expanded our occupational boundaries, completely changing our careers. Getting out of our comfort zones undoubtedly helped us grow into our own selves independently, so when we met back up, we each had a greater sense of our individual identities.

Back in the day

5. I’m not thinking about "last time."

I always let people know that we dated before, since I’m bound to tell a story or mention a time from that early year together. But normally, I’m not thinking about it. We don’t say, "I’m so glad we got back together." We just say, "I’m so happy we’re together." Because history or not, the people we are today make this relationship happen. We didn’t even talk for several years after breaking up, so although we have a long history together, we also have long periods of life that don’t involve each other. This gives us a familiar past to share, but the focus is on now… and the now is looking pretty good—especially since we’re not taking selfies with bulky cameras anymore.

Christie is a Seattle-based freelance writer with a deep interest in why we are the way we are, and how we can be a little bit better. She's an LA native, Stanford graduate, relentless vegetarian, and coffee enthusiast. Follow her on Twitter @ChristieBrydon and Instagram @woweezow33.

7 Party Foods That Are 10 Times Better Than Sports Bar Grub

Why would anyone go to a bar to watch a game or grab some apps when you could make slammin' snacks at home? We'll support this query with recipes from this week's feature foodie, Jodi Moreno of What's Cooking Good Looking. Jodi sees your sports bar nachos and frozen taquitos, and she'll raise you Thai peanut sweet potato skins and veggie-packed lettuce wraps. Just have a look at these seven game-day eats and then try to make dinner of chips and guac. We rest our case.

1. Thai Peanut Sweet Potato Skins These aren’t the potato skins of sad dive-bar menus, kids. Salty, spicy, nutty, and just a little bit sweet, these sweet potato skins will do well at a Super Bowl party or black tie-optional dinner. Just make sure not to skimp on the peanut sauce. 2. Salted Dark Chocolate Bark Cake is fine; pie is pretty darn good—but have you tried dark chocolate bark? Melt high-quality dark chocolate and sprinkle it with nutty, crispy add-ins such as hazelnuts, coconut, and sesame seeds. Oops, is the whole tray gone already? 3. Broccoli Stem Fries With Chimichurri Tahini What food is more crowd-pleasing than fries? And yeah, they’re green—so what? Firm broccoli stems actually make for a truly tasty baked fry, and their spice-and-cornmeal coating adds a satisfying crunch. 4. Veggie Lettuce Wraps With Mint Yogurt Make these lettuce wraps ahead of time or set up a DIY station during your party. The spicy-creamy yogurt makes a cozy home for crisp veg. Now, isn’t this more fun than salad? 5. Almond-Crusted Sweet Potato Tenders With Mint Chutney Entertaining a few vegetarians for the evening? There’s no need to get out the tempeh. For a snack that’s a combo of fries and tenders, look no further than these fat sweet potato wedges. Extra points if you actually make the mint chutney (but we won’t tell if you just grab a bottle of ketchup!). 6. Chocolate Almond Butter Banana Bites Even if you make them all the time, few treats are more satisfying (and easy to serve to a group) than chocolate bites. Using almond butter makes them taste like a grown-up peanut butter cup, and we're seriously fans of that. 7. Deviled Brussels Sprout Salad This green-eggs-and-no-ham salad is rich and creamy, cut with a hint of hot sauce kick. Serve with toast for a twist on classic brunch eggs and greens.

Jodi Moreno is the voice behind What's Cooking Good Looking, a blog that's all about food that's good for us, tastes amazing, and makes us feel good from the inside out. Every recipe featured on her site uses whole, natural ingredients. For more from Jodi, follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

7 Desk Stretches to Ease a Tight Neck, Shoulders, and Wrists From Sitting All Day

Our bodies were made to move, which is why sitting for a good portion of your day—at a desk, behind the wheel, or plopped in front of the televison—is no bueno, no matter how active you are. With time, you'll start feeling tightness in your shoulders, neck, wrists, and lower back. But here's the good news: Taking a quick break to walk around the office or do some simple stretches like the ones in this 6-minute video can keep tightness at bay and keep you moving throughout the day.

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This yoga-inspired series features 7 stretches that will help alleviate tightness in your neck, shoulders, and wrists, and relieve the strain in your eyes from staring at a screen all day. You don't even have to get up from your desk to do them. Whether you rarely work out or exercise every day, you'll reap the benefits of these time-efficient stretches. All you need is a sturdy, comfortable chair to get started. Then hit play.

Looking for more short and effective at-home workouts? Grokker has thousands of routines, so you’ll never get bored. Bonus: For a limited time, Greatist readers get 40 percent off Grokker Premium (just $9 per month) and their first 14 days free. Sign up now!

How Becoming Die-Hard Paleo Backfired on My Body

Not my favorite place to be, but still smiling. I fell for the natural living movement hook, line, and sinker. In the span of a few weeks, I ditched all my harsh chemical cleaners and toiletries, I started reading every label in the grocery store to make sure I avoided food additives and dyes, and I started learning how to can my own tomatoes for sauce. But all of my dedication to natural living didn't transform me into a picture of health—in fact, it landed me in the hospital.

It's not surprising that I was drawn in by the natural living movement's promises of better health and wellness. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease, a progressive genetic disease with no treatment or cure. Doctors focused on treating my symptoms, but they acknowledged there was nothing they could do to stop me from getting sicker. My future suddenly felt limited in a way I'd never imagined.

In my desperate search for a treatment, I stumbled across the Paleo diet. I read Paleo blog after Paleo blog, and all of them assured me that anything could be cured by the right combination of food, supplements, and natural living. Food could be my medicine, they said, and with no other hope, I threw myself into transforming my lifestyle. I ditched processed foods and carbs, bought an essential oil diffuser, and started doing yoga. I was so enthusiastic about my lifestyle change that I even began my own Paleo blog to chronicle my journey to good health.

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At first, it seemed like everything I'd read was true. Following a Paleo diet helped me lose weight almost immediately; it also cured my constant acid reflux and improved my migraines. I looked and felt better, and I couldn't stop singing its praises. Flush with my success, I went to my doctors and asked them whether I really needed all of the medications they had me on. They only offered symptom relief, and I was convinced that through time the healthy food I was eating would make everything better. With my doctors' blessing, I ditched all of my medications and focused on my new natural lifestyle.

It took me a long time to notice that I was weaker and had less energy while eating Paleo, and even longer to admit it to myself. When I mentioned it to other people following the diet, they told me that I just needed to go even more hardcore Paleo and remove even more foods from my diet. I gave up everything from eggs to nuts to tomatoes, but my energy levels didn't improve. After about six months, things got so bad that my doctors ordered infusions at the hospital. I lay in a chair twice a week hooked up to an IV just to have enough energy to go to the grocery store. I was preparing all my meals from scratch, spending an hour or more in the kitchen each day, and I had no energy left for anything else. My life became small and limited.

I lost a lot of weight eating Paleo. I dropped three pants sizes, and people often told me how great I looked. But I was pale, even for me, and I always had deep, black circles under my eyes. I didn't look like any of the Paleo bloggers on Instagram who wrote about their own health transformations, and as time went on, I looked worse, not better. Nothing about me felt healthy, and every day it seemed like my pain levels increased. My feet felt like they were being electrocuted, and my muscles ached so deeply that it felt like the pain was in my bones. No matter what I did, the pain was there, but I still didn't quit. If natural living couldn't cure me, what other options did I have?

I didn't give up on the promises of natural living easily. I kept eating Paleo, relying on essential oils and mindfulness for pain relief, until my IV infusions took their toll; after a few months, all of my veins were scarred and blown. The nurses started talking about a central line… which came with the risk of infections that could kill me. And that's when I called it quits.

I'd embraced a natural lifestyle for health reasons, and I ditched it for health reasons too. I decided to see what medication and a steady dose of carbs throughout the day could do for me before I seriously considered a central line. I stopped spending hours on food shopping and preparation, and I even gave up worrying about every little ingredient in my food. I went back to premade sauces and simple meals, and I put my canning pot in the garage. I ate high-fructose corn syrup sometimes, and I stopped sweating every GMO in my tortillas.

I'd embraced a natural lifestyle for health reasons, and I ditched it for health reasons too.

There's something to be said for choosing mostly whole foods. I still don't eat most grains or dairy because they upset my stomach and give me migraines. I diffuse essential oils when my kids have a cold or cough, and I drop garlic oil in their ears when they get ear infections. Some aspects of natural living have been helpful for me, but it's not a cure for everything, and that line of thinking is where I went wrong initially.

Eating too much of the wrong foods can cause health problems, but that doesn't mean the opposite is true. There's no such thing as a food cure, and not everyone can be healthy. My genes can't be changed by cold-pressed juice and coconut oil, but my desperation made me an easy target for natural-living enthusiasts looking to sell books, supplements, and oils.

My story doesn't have a happy ending, because that's not how genetic diseases work. I won't be cured by medicine or food, but I'm no longer in pain all day, because the prescription medications I take (the ones developed by Big Pharma) relieve my pain. I am happier and more independent because I'm in less pain, and I have more time now to focus on the things I love instead of wasting my energy in the kitchen. Ditching the natural living movement got me off the infusions and gave me my life back.

7 Easy Veggie Chili Recipes That Prove You Don't Need Meat to Make It Hearty

Chili is one of those cozy dinners we make once a week come wintertime. We’re pretty much always craving a spicy, warm bowlful. Bonus: It’s one of the easiest dishes to make vegetarian without changing much flavor or texture. So if you’re trying to cut back on meat or just get in more veg on a regular basis, veggie chili recipes are a must-have. These nine vegetarian (and some vegan!) chilis are just waiting to be made.

1. One-Pot Red Lentil Vegetarian Chili Photo: Minimalist Baker Red lentils and beans make for a super-filling chili that’s the best possible solution to warm up a cold winter's night. The thick, stewy texture won’t leave you hungry for a second dinner either. 2. Slow-Cooker Sweet Potato and Quinoa Vegetarian Chili Photo: Simply Quinoa Expand your chili-horizons and throw cubed sweet potato and quinoa into a black bean-based veggie chili. For added easiness, the whole recipe can be dumped into a slow cooker and forgotten about until it’s time to eat. 3. Pinto Bean and Corn Vegetarian Chili Photo: Umami Girl Classic chili minus the meat doesn’t taste like it’s missing anything, so you best put on a pot of this pinto bean chili ASAP. A side of cornbread is definitely not optional. 4. Miso Tempeh Chili Photo: Dishing Out Health Nope, that’s no typo: This chili has miso paste in it, and it is awesome. The savory paste adds a level of depth to the broth—other veggie versions just can’t compete. 5. Vegetarian Lentil Chili Photo: Little Broken While beans seem a no-brainer for vegetarian chili, give lentils a chance this time. Their quick-to-absorb tendencies make for a super-flavorful base to tomatoes, onions, pepper, and garlic. Our favorite part is that it’s self-thickened: Blend a few cups of the cooked chili until smooth, then stir it back into the pot. 6. Vegetarian Chickpea White Chili Photo: Two Peas and Their Pod White chicken chili is a classic, but who says chickpeas can’t take chicken’s place every now and then? This way-too-easy recipe uses a jar of salsa verde (which you might even have in your kitchen cabinet right now) and spices galore. 7. Vegetarian Tempeh Chili Photo: Homespun Capers This smoky tempeh chili is best served with a bowl of rice and a dollop of zingy cashew cream. But TBH we’re ready to grab a bag of chips and start dunking, how about you?
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