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My parents always told me it wasnt a good idea to brag about something unless I was really exceptional at it. The advice kept me humble and grounded, and it's been the way I've lived my life ever since. So when I say I this, I hope you'll believe me: I am an expert at coming back from the dead—because when I was 24 years old, I got run over by 8 wheels of an 18-wheel truck.

It happened early on a fall morning. I had hopped on my bike for a 10-mile ride, to burn off some calories from an overindulgent weekend. It was a lovely morning, bright and crisp. The leaves on my Brooklyn block were just starting to turn yellow. I was closing out my ride when I saw the sun starting to rise over the low, brick industrial buildings on a busier street near my apartment. I thought that catching that sunrise would make the morning so incredibly perfect.

I was staring straight at it when I stopped at a red light, and didnt pay too much attention to the truck beside me. The driver hadn't put his turn signal on, and I had signaled that I was turning. I was sure he was aware of me, and I was safe to chase that morning-maker of a sunrise.

I took my turn wide and easy, and then I noticed that the truck wasn't going straight. He was also taking the turn, and our paths were going to collide. Before I could register what was happening, I felt like I was tumbling, and found myself pinned beneath the truck's first four wheels. I heard my bones cracking, and watched as the tires rolled over my body. I kept my eyes open as the next set of wheels came for my already crushed middle. I was too terrified to blink.

RELATED: What It's Like to Have Your Immune System Attack Your Hair

The mind is a miraculous organ. Mine went into full psychological triage mode. I thought that I couldnt close my eyes, because if I did, then I would somehow fall into a deep darkness where I had no control. So I kept them wide open. I also amazingly remembered my moms cell phone number and my home number, so the bystanders who had witnessed the accident could call my parents.

But the most incredible thing that my mind did was remember something my best friend, who's a nurse, had told me: that if I ever needed an ambulance and the closest hospital wasnt very good, I had patient rights and could ask to be taken elsewhere.

When the EMTs arrived, they found themselves talking to a woman with tire tracks on her stomach requesting to not go to the hospital nearby, but instead to the best hospital. I watched as they looked at each other dumbfounded, sure that I would die before I made it to any hospital. But I was insistent. My brain wanted my body to live, and it was willing to be pushy to make it happen.

RELATED: 8 Health Mistakes Nurses Warn Their Friends About

Beating the expectations of the EMTs, I remained conscious during the ambulance ride to the “best” hospital. As I was being wheeled into the ER, I asked the closest doctor if I was going to die. She looked at me sadly and said it didnt look good, but she was going to try.

I am not sure why my body didnt just give in at that moment. Or in all the moments that followed during the 10-hour surgery I went through. Amazingly, it didnt. Although it came incredibly close.

Four hours into the surgery, I had been given about 8 pints of blood, but my blood wouldnt clot so I kept bleeding out. The doctors told my family that if I didnt start clotting within the next hour, they were going to have to let me die. Amazingly with 15 minutes left until my literal “deadline,” I began to clot.

When I woke up from surgery, my life was unrecognizable to me. I had broken all of my ribs, fractured my pelvis in five places, punctured my lungs, and torn a hole in my bladder. I couldnt feel my body from my ribcage down, and my bike's gearshift had dug itself into my right oblique muscle, creating a hole where the side of my stomach used to be.

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I spent the next two months in the hospital, working to heal my broken body. When I was released from the hospital into my parents' care, I lived in the family room of the house I grew up in, sleeping on a rented hospital bed for another four months. I did intensive physical therapy every day. After an unbelievable amount of practice, and thanks to endless patience from my friends and family, I finally walked by myself eight months after the accident.

In the early stages of my recovery, I spent the majority of my time grasping at the person that I had been before the crash, trying so hard to become her again. But at some point, I realized she didnt exist anymore. I wasnt that carefree 24-year-old with no understanding of how challenging and precious my life was.

That's when I stopped focusing on the parts of my life that I had lost, and started to focus on what I had gained: a deep gratitude for a life that I almost didn't get the chance to live. I began to feel moments of overwhelming joy, like when my mom wheeled me out to the backyard so I could feel the first snowflakes of winter fall on my tongue; or the day my feet touched the floor for the first time in weeks; and whenever I decided to have champagne just because. The beauty of these little moments would have been lost on me only a few months before.

I dont call myself an expert on surviving just because my body found a way to keep itself alive—but also because I fought to bring my life from a place of brokenness to a place of joy. For me, surviving isn't just not dying. It's also giving yourself the gift of truly living.

You can read more of Katie McKenna's story in her inspiring memoir, How to Get Run Over By a Truck ($16; amazon.com).



<![CDATA[If You Have a Seltzer Habit, This Is What You Should Know ]]>

For anyone who loves fizzy water, picking out a bottle can be a little tricky. Seltzer, sparkling mineral water, club soda—there are so many types, how do you know what's in what? And are they really as healthy as we think? To find out more about our beloved bubbly, we talked to Atlanta-based nutritionist Marisa Moore, RDN.

Is carbonated water as hydrating as flat water?

Yes it is, says Moore. A glass of carbonated water contributes to your daily fluid needs. And it's a great alternative for anyone trying to kick a soda habit: You get the same pleasant fizz without the calories and health risks associated with both regular and diet soda (think weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease).

RELATED:10 Reasons to Give Up Diet Soda

Is it true that fizzy water can erode your bones?

Nope, the claim that carbonated water interferes with calcium absorption, thus upping a person's risk of osteoporosis, is just a myth, according to Moore. (Phew!) "There's no good evidence that carbonated water alone harms your bones," she says.

It can, however, have an effect on your teeth. When water is carbonated, carbonic acid forms, lowering its pH. And consuming acidic drinks can cause your tooth enamel to erode, which may lead to sensitivity and cavities. If fizzy water is one of your everyday beverages, check out these 3 ways to protect your teeth.

RELATED: Best and Worst Foods for Your Teeth

What's up with seltzers that taste sweet?

Just because a beverage is clear, fizzy, and has zero calories, that doesn't mean it's carbonated water. There are some diet sodas that are marketed as seltzer even though they contain artificial sweeteners. The only way you can distinguish a fake from the real thing is by taking a peek at the ingredients. If you see that it contains any chemicals like aspartame, it's not carbonated water.

How are the three types of fizzy water different?

Sparkling Mineral Water, sold by brands like San Pellegrino and Perrier, is bottled at the source, which means that it has naturally occurring minerals and carbonation (though San Pellegrino adds some extra fizz). The bubbles are fine and delicate, creating a slight effervescent texture. Mineral water is less acidic than other fizzy waters, but because it's sourced naturally and often imported, it tends to be a little pricer.

Seltzer—which is also called sparkling water—is carbonated artificially, and has bigger, sharper bubbles. It contains no ingredients other than water. But some brands (like Polar, Canada Dry, and Schweppes) sell varieties that are flavored naturally with lemon and lime.

Club Soda is essentially the same as seltzer with a few additions. Ingredients like salt, potassium bicarbonate, and potassium sulfate give club soda its salty, mineral taste. But the distinction in taste is minimal, and many people don't notice it. Look for club soda sold by brands like Schweppes and Canada Dry.

]]> Getty Images <![CDATA[Anne Hathaway Reveals She's Gaining Weight—and Preemptively Shuts Down Body Shamers ]]>

Anne Hathaway has a message for any future body shamers: dont bother.

The actress, 35, posted on Instagram that shes purposefully gaining weight for a new movie role, and that any critics have no need to comment on how she looks.

“I am gaining weight for a movie role and it is going well,” Hathaway captioned her post, which included a video of her workout. “To all the people who are going to fat shame me in the upcoming months, its not me, its you. Peace xx.”

She also added a cheeky note that she wanted to set her workout video to the Queen song “Fat Bottomed Girls” — “but copyright said no,” she explained.

In the video, Hathaway runs through an intense-looking routine of bench presses, ab work, push-ups and more.

Hathaway is mom to son Jonathan, 2, and has previously spoken out about body image, as well as the unnecessary pressure on new mothers to lose baby weight.

“There is no shame in gaining weight during pregnancy (or ever). There is no shame if it takes longer than you think it will to lose the weight (if you want to lose it at all). There is no shame in finally breaking down and making your own jean shorts because last summers are just too dang short for this summers thighs,” she wrote on Instagram in August 2016. “Bodies change. Bodies grow. Bodies shrink. Its all love (dont let anyone tell you otherwise.).”

And after posting that body-positive message, Hathaway spoke to PEOPLE about learning to appreciate her new, post-baby shape.

“I think shape is an ongoing thing in everybodys life,” she said in September 2016. “Im not trying to recapture something that was. Im going with what it is now.”

“Some things I guess are the same as they were, and other things are a little bit different. Im just so proud of what the changes signify,” she continued. “So, theres no rush to do anything. Im so happy being here.”


Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images

<![CDATA[Embarrassing Questions: Why Do I Have Body Odor? ]]>

Getty Images

Q. I've never had bad body odor—until now. What's up?

A. A quick primer on BO: Bacteria on our skin survive by munching on fat in our sweat; when they digest it, they produce the smell we know and loathe. So why more stink now? If you're perimenopausal or menopausal, fluctuating hormones may be sending your sweat glands into overdrive. Stress can also boost sweating.

In both cases, your perspiration should lessen in time—and the stink, too. For now, try an antiperspirant with the words "clinical protection" on the label—you'll get more active ingredients to help fight off sweat-happy bacteria.

]]> <![CDATA[Woman Dumps Body Shaming Boyfriend Who Says She Has a 'Beer Gut' ]]>

After sharing a text conversation where her boyfriend encouraged her to lose weight from her “beer gut” on Twitter, one woman gained thousands of internet friends — and decided to dump her boyfriend, losing “a hefty 180 lbs.” in the process.

Shelby Johnson, 23, shared their text exchange after her boyfriend said that she didnt look like she did when they first met.

“Its not like I havent told you youve been gaining and needed to lose anyway,” he wrote. “Youre definitely getting a beer gut babe.”

His comments were tough for Johnson to hear, because she went through years of body frustrations. As a high schooler, she had to be hospitalized because her body wouldnt gain weight and got down to 80 lbs., to the confusion of doctors. By age 20, Johnson was finally able to add pounds and her body image soared.

Shelby Johnson

“I havent been self conscious in years. I was when I was underweight, but when I started getting to my goal weight my entire mindset changed,” she tells PEOPLE. “I felt more confident, more whole even. I knew that I was getting where I wanted to be and strived to be. His comments did make me self-conscious. I started trying to work out 24/7. A couple friends noticed and expressed concern in my sudden desire to be so fit. ”

Johnson, who said in her tweet that shes only gained 5 lbs. in the five months that theyve been dating, decided to post the exchange because she thought she might be overreacting, and wanted a second (or 39,500th) opinion.

Shelby Johnson

Shelby Johnson

“I had been struggling in our relationship for a while due to other concerns I was having about his behavior toward me,” she says. “So none of my friends or family knew what was going on. I had a few close internet friends that I thought would give me a good, genuine, non-biased reply. I had no idea it would go viral. I only had about 200 followers!”

But it definitely did go viral, with nearly 39,500 likes and over 5,700 comments from people telling Johnson to break up with him, and that shes beautiful already.

“The reaction was and is still overwhelming,” she says. “But the people sharing their stories has been so heartwarming. Men, women, everyone has reached out and told me my story has inspired them. I couldnt ask for a better outcome. Its not even about me anymore, its about touching other people.”

Johnson decided to dump him — though she says that she had made that choice before the Twitter reaction. “The comments only made me realize I wasnt crazy for being hurt,” she says. And she joked in another tweet that their breakup meant that she was “dropping a hefty 180 lbs.”

And she adds that the split was tough, but she wishes him the best.

“I really did love him,” Johnson says. “He is a good person deep down — he has a lot of growing to do though. Hopefully this motivates him, he said it has.”

The photographer and college student also encourages everyone to love themselves.

“Dont let anyone tell you whats healthy or not healthy besides your doctor, because that is how eating disorders happen,” Johnson says. “Be careful, notice red flags and dont be afraid to stand up for yourself and leave something that is no longer making you feel happy.”


Courtesy Shelby Johnson

<![CDATA[This Teen Fired Back After Being Body-Shammed for Buying Cupcakes ]]>

If youre looking for the perfect way to clap back at body-shamers, this teen showed everyone exactly how its done. Vega Blossom, 19, was standing in line at her favorite bakery when she overheard a woman behind her tell a friend, “Lets hope this fat b*tch doesnt buy all the cupcakes.” Um, WHAT?

We all know how this goes. We hear a mean comment, shrivel a little inside, but ultimately dont do anything about it. It happens to the best of us. But not Blossom. Not on this glorious day.

It turns out, Blossom had originally only planned on buying six cupcakes, but decided to purchase the shops entire stock of 20 instead. She spent $54 in total, and we think it was more than worth it. Though Blossom admitted she was hurt by the comment, she said she wasnt going to let the woman get away with saying something like that about someone she didnt know.

"When I heard the nasty things the women said, I honestly wanted to cry. It really hurt my feelings. How could these grown women be so mean to someone theyve never met, let alone talked to?" she said, according to the Daily Mail.

Following the March 31st incident, she shared her story on Facebook, with the opening lines, “Tonight, I was really petty.” The post has since racked up 70,000 likes and 24,000 shares.

But if you thought buying all the bakerys cupcakes was the best part, youll be pleasantly surprised to find out theres more to the story. Blossom got her final revenge as she walked out of the bakery. She said she looked the woman straight in the eye and asked her if she could open the door for her because – now heres the best part – her hands were full of cupcakes.

If thats not the best revenge story ever, then we dont know what is.


Vega Blossom / Facebook

<![CDATA[How to Respond to Catcallers, Victim Blamers, and Demeaning Coworkers ]]>

Over the past year, accusations against men like film producer Harvey Weinstein and the horrifying behavior of former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar have had an eye-opening effect on how we perceive sexual assault and harassment. Inspiring things started to happen, too—like the explosion of the #metoo movement. Hearing women share their stories solidified how important it is to speak up.

So the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) has launched a campaign, “Embrace Your Voice,” that underscores the importance of speaking up. “We often see that the experiences people are having—where something clearly inappropriate is happening—are accepted in our culture, and that women have been socialized to be passive and stay quiet,” explains Laura Palumbo, communications director at NSVRC. But more than ever, you need to be vocal about things that make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe—such as the following situations.

The obnoxious catcaller

“Hey, give me a smile, sweetheart.” You may hear this kind of remark while walking down the street, and whatever the intent, it is not okay. “Demanding a womans attention is street harassment,” says Holly Kearl, founder and executive director of the organization Stop Street Harassment.

How to respond: If you feel safe enough, be direct, recommends Kearl. “Say, Dont harass me, and keep going.” This identifies what happened as harassment, and then youre removing yourself from the situation.

The demeaning coworker

Hearing things like “This budget might be too advanced for you” from colleagues can be crushing. Women often stew over these comments but dont speak up for fear of being labeled “difficult.”

How to respond: Outline what you prefer to have happen. Say, “Ive noticed you keep doing X, and I dont like it. Id prefer if you did Y.” Too nervous? Ask HR or a trusted superior for guidance.

The victim blamer

Picture this: Youre involved in water-cooler chat about an assault case in the news, and someone blames the victim. Because its not a situation that directly involves you, its tempting to stay silent. Dont. The goal is to get people to recognize how comments like this contribute to victims feeling that they wont be believed.

How to respond: Avoid getting into the nitty-gritty. Whats important to enforce is that victims deserve to be believed. Your response can be as simple as, “Its never the victims fault.”


Simon Potter/Getty Images

<![CDATA[I've Never Felt More Body Confident Than When I Put on This Swimsuit ]]>

I dread trying on bathing suits and the experience is only made worse by one thing: remembering how easy it was to pick out a cute bikini when I was younger. Oh, how I long for the days when the hardest decision I made was bandeau or triangle top. Nowadays, new swimsuit styles are constantly emerging, and since sizing differs from store to store, I usually end up trying on multiple styles in multiple sizes—meaning there's bound to be 10 swimsuits that look terrible on me for every one I actually like. I know it's natural for my body to change as I grow older, but that doesn't make it easier when I notice a new imperfection pop up in the dressing room mirror.

As I've grown more self-conscious of my body, swimsuit shopping has become harder, whether I like to admit it or not. So when one-pieces with cutouts became more popular last summer, I spent months in search of the perfect suit that covered my stomach while still showing some skin. A bathing suit like this would still make me feel trendy, I thought, like I was going to the beach—not to swim lessons.

Recently, though, I spotted Aerie's Wraparound One Piece Swimsuit ($50; aerie.com) on my Facebook feed, and instantly knew I had to buy it (despite that fact that it was February, there was snow falling outside, and I wasn't planning a tropical vacation anytime soon). Strategically-placed cutouts make it look more like a bikini—just with a high-waisted bottom and wraparound top—than other one-piece suits. This time, the hardest decision wasn't if I should buy the bathing suit, but whether I wanted it in red or black.

One of the reasons I added it to my cart so quickly is because despite my best efforts, I fell short of finding a one-piece that I loved last summer. Instead, I settled for two bathing suits that I didn't hate: One was stylish but too cheaply made to last more than a few wears, and the other was flattering, but the material was uncomfortably thick. When it got wet, it put pressure on my stomach, making me feel self-conscious. Additionally, I noticed that many one pieces are quite cheeky, with bottoms cut to be worn high on your hips. My hips and lower stomach are built curvier than the rest of my frame, so this style only drew attention to something I was trying to distract from.

Here I am trying to pretend I'm comfortable on a family vacation:

If you've shopped with Aerie before, you know they offer free shipping and returns on bathing suits, making it easy to order multiple sizes to try on. I knew my size from a previous order, but I bought both colors so I could decide which I liked better in person.

When the swimsuits arrived in the mail, I was so excited, I could barely wait for my heater to start up so it would be warm enough to shed my clothes and try them on. The material isn't bulky at all; it feels like it will stay on without getting too tight. The bottom hits right above my belly button and the wraparound top provides the same amount of coverage as a typical bikini top. This combination hides my lower belly while showing off the top of my abs, a part of my body that I love the most. Additionally, the bottom is full coverage, meaning neither my hips or my butt cheeks will be on display when I step outside.

A quick Instagram search proves that I'm not the only one loving this suit:

The bad news: This style has been so popular that it's now only available in a few sizes on Aerie.com (the black is currently still available in XXL on sale for $30, and the red is available in sizes XL and XXL on sale for $20). Luckily, though, Aerie recently launched another similar style, the Cutout One-Piece Swimsuit (on sale for $30; aerie.com). Like the suit I fell in love with, this style has cutouts that show off the upper abs and a back that resembles a bikini, and is available in the same red and black hues, as well as a gorgeous green shade called royal palm.

Looking at myself in the mirror, I felt confident and ready to book the next flight to Jamaica. The red is a really pretty burnt orange shade, while the black looks a bit sexier on, but is still a great basic. I knew I'd regret it if I didn't keep both, so that's exactly what I did. It may be rare to find a bathing suit that makes you feel like a stronger, more confident version of yourself—but I know now that it is possible.

]]> Aerie <![CDATA[Teens Are 'Juuling' At School. Here's What That Means ]]>

The most popular product in the booming e-cigarette market doesnt look like a cigarette at all.

The Juul, a trendy vape that resembles a flash drive and can be charged in a laptops USB port, accounted for 33% of the e-cigarette market as of late 2017, according to Wells Fargo data. The product is made for and legally available only to adults 18 and older, and its “growth appears to be due to growth with the 18 to 24 year old age group,” according to a Wells Fargo report.

But in many cases, media reports suggest, these devices are being used by kids and teenagers even younger than that — which has some parents, educators and medical professionals concerned. Each Juul cartridge—which lasts about 200 puffs—has as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes. Heres what to know about “Juuling,” the trend sweeping schools nationwide.

What do parents need to know about Juuling?

Although Juul products, like most e-cigarettes, are made and marketed as smoking alternatives, the device is increasingly popping up on high school and college campuses. The term “Juuling” usually refers to this recreational use.

Because of their sleek design and resemblance to USB drives, Juul products are easy for students to conceal and use in school — sometimes even in the middle of class. (Juuls also produce less smoke than many similar devices, making them even more discreet.) The problem has grown widespread enough that school districts in states including Kentucky, Wisconsin, California and Massachusetts have voiced their concerns and, in some cases, begun amending school policy to address the issue. Some college publications, including those at New York University and the University of Illinois, have also reported on the trend.

Ashley Gould, chief administrative officer at Juul Labs, says that the product was created by two former smokers specifically and solely to help adult smokers quit, and that the company has numerous anti-youth-use initiatives in place because “we really dont want kids using our product.” Gould also notes that Juul uses age authentication systems to sell only to adults 21 and older online, though most of its sales take place in retail stores, where state laws may allow anyone 18 and older to purchase the devices.

The design, she adds, was not meant to make the device easier to hide.

“It was absolutely not made to look like a USB port. It was absolutely not made to look discreet, for kids to hide them in school,” Gould says. “It was made to not look like a cigarette, because when smokers stop they dont want to be reminded of cigarettes.”

Are e-cigs safe?

While e-cigarettes contain fewer toxic substances than traditional cigarettes, the CDC warns that vaping may still expose people to cancer-causing chemicals. (Different brands use different formulations, and the CDCs warning did not mention Juul specifically.)

Its not clear exactly how e-cigarettes affect health because theres little long-term data on the topic, says Dr. Michael Ong, an associate professor of general internal medicine and health services at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles. “We just dont have a lot of information as to what the harms potentially are going to be,” he says. “There likely would be health risks associated with it, though theyre not going to be the same as a traditional cigarette.”

Doctors do know, however, that each Juul pod contains nicotine equivalent to a pack of cigarettes. Thats troubling, because nicotine is “one of the most addicting substances that we know of,” Ong says. “Having access to that is certainly problematic,” Ong adds, because it may get kids hooked, which could potentially lead them to later take up cigarettes.

Juuls products come in flavors including mango, fruit medley and creme brûlée — and the chemicals used to flavor vaping liquid may also be dangerous, Ong adds. “Even if the manufacturer doesnt intend it to be something thats kid-friendly, its kid-friendly,” he says. A 2016 study suggested that these flavoring agents may also cause popcorn lung, a respiratory condition first seen in people working in factories that make microwave popcorn.

Does Juuling help you quit smoking?

Its not yet clear. Gould acknowledges that Juul doesnt have great end-user data since its products are mostly sold in retail stores, but she says the company is actively researching the effectiveness of its devices.

Research about the efficacy of nicotine replacement therapy using tools such as e-cigarettes and nicotine gum is relatively inconclusive. A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine even found that smokers trying to quit may actually have less success if they use e-cigarettes.

“The literature has suggested that when you have nicotine replacement therapies, they work best if [people are] being advised by a professional,” Ong says. “When we provide things over the counter, we dont see the benefits of cessation that we would have expected by making it widely available, and thats probably the reason why: because people arent actually getting professional help.”

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the legal purchasing age for Juul. It is 18 in some states, not 21. The original version of this story also misstated Juuls marketing strategy. The product is marketed as a smoking alternative, not a smoking cessation tool.


Portland Press Herald—Press Herald via Getty Images

<![CDATA[Man Frustrated with Stubborn Belly Fat Learns Its a 30-Lb. Tumor: 'I Was Completely Panicked' ]]>

Kevin Daly was always tall and slim, thanks to a history in athletics and his 63″ frame. But he, like many men in their 60s, just couldnt lose weight from his stomach.

The estate planner from Hoboken, New Jersey, started to notice that his stomach was bigger than ever after undergoing heart surgery for a calcified valve in Dec. 2015.

“I came home a week after the surgery, and I looked in the mirror for the first time and I was all upset,” Daly, 63, tells PEOPLE. “This thing was growing, but my shoulders and chest had atrophied from the surgery, so it made my stomach protrude more. I brought it to the attention of my doctor, but [any] doctor would say the same thing — youre in your 60s, low testosterone, visceral fat. Youre fine; its just how it is.”

Dalys doctor did, however, encourage him to lose weight for his heart health, and over two years, he dropped 34 lbs. But frustratingly, the belly fat remained.

“When I went back to him in October 2017, he said Im so proud of you, youve reinvented yourself, your heart and valves sound like a twenty year old, and I said Great, Im thrilled with all of that, except how did I lose 34 lbs. and not lose an ounce off of my stomach? ” Daly recalls.

His doctor agreed that his stomach needed a closer look, and an abdominal cat scan showed a massive growth.

“For a second I was vindicated, and then I was completely panicked, because when a doctor says that you have an extremely large mass, you assume that you have a cancerous tumor growing in your stomach,” Daly says. “Am I going to live, am I going to die, am I going to suffer?”

After consulting with surgeons at Lenox Hill Hospital, Dr. Julio Teixeira took on Dalys case, and scheduled surgery on Dec. 28 to remove the tumor, a low-grade liposarcoma.

“I took a look at the images and immediately got very concerned, given the size of this mass,” Dr. Teixeira tells PEOPLE. “Ive seen tumors that are large, but not of this size. Just the mere fact that something was able to grow this big shows that it has a malignant behavior, so I was concerned.”

And the tumor brought another surprise during the surgery — the surgeons approximated that it would be about 12 lbs., not 30. But after several hours, Daly was down a tumor, a kidney and another 30 lbs.

“I feel tremendous,” he says. “I had lost a tremendous amount of weight already and then I came out of the hospital weighing 172, and that was my high school weight. Im now up to 187, which is my college weight. It feels really, really good. Its made me feel 35 again.”

And Dr. Teixeira says that Dalys story makes an important point about advocating for your health.

“Its important that people listen to their bodies, and are in tune with their bodies, because often, your instincts are right,” he says. “If you have a sudden weight loss, or a lack of appetite, or a loss of energy, or if you see an abnormal asymmetry with your body, those are things that you should bring to the attention of your doctor.”


Courtesy Kevin Daly

<![CDATA[This Fitness Influencer's Underwear Trick Can Completely Change the Appearance of Your Butt ]]>

One fitness influencer wants you to know that social media is all about illusions—no ifs, ands, or butts.

Sia Cooper, who runs the popular Instagram account @diaryofafitmommyofficial, often shares side-by-side images of her body to denounce unrealistic beauty standards and point out how different angles can influence what a person looks like on camera.

RELATED: Do These 5 Moves to Boost Your Booty for Wedding Season

Last week, she posted brilliant insight into butt selfies—showing her followers how pulling up your underwear a certain way can totally change the look of your booty.

“PSA: UNDERWEAR PLACEMENT MATTERS,” Cooper captioned a set of mirror selfies. “If you hike your undies up really high, itll give an illusion of a tinker waist and bigger bum. Just another popular trick amongst Instagram fitness models! So dont be fooled.”

This side-by-side was not a suggestion that her followers lift their undies up next time they take a belfie. In an honest disclosure, she provided an all-too-relatable postscript: “Having a 24/7 wedgie is not fun under any circumstances.”

Commenters praised Cooper for her transparency and thanked her for a much-needed reminder about the almost too-perfect body parts you see on your feed. A couple of days later, she illustrated her point by posting a photo of her “real booty” and then her “IG booty” with repositioned underwear.

“Its amazing what a little bending forward, hiking up your underwear, arching your back, and sticking your booty out can do,” she wrote. “A picture is just a split second. We all look different from different angles.”


Antonio Diaz/Getty Images

<![CDATA[Whole30 Creator Melissa Hartwig Posted a Message About How Hard It Is to Make Time for Your Health—and Finally Someone Gets It ]]>

“We all have the same 24 hours in a day,” the saying goes. Often tossed around by successful people, these words are supposed to motivate the rest of us to to make time for our goals and not put them off with the I'm-too-busy excuse.

Thing is, we actually don't all have the same 24 hours; some people are dealing with life and work challenges that require them to back-burner their goals temporarily. Melissa Hartwig, the founder of the popular Whole30 plan, just posted the most perfect explanation of this on Instagram.

Considering that her post has been liked by thousands of users, it's clearly struck a nerve.

RELATED: 5 Quick Tricks to Stop Stressing Out Right Now

“The problem is, we DONT all have the same 24 hours,” Hartwig wrote. She was specifically referring to the way fitness influencers often use the saying to imply that everyone can and should carve out time for daily gym sessions and healthy meal prep.

“A few years ago, my 24-hours looked like me working my ass off just trying not to fall apart, as my marriage was crumbling, my business was up in the air, and I was single-parenting my young son. Those 24 hours look NOTHING like the 24 hours I have now.”

She went on to explain that while busting her butt to keep her life together, she didn't have the time to vigilantly maintain a healthy lifestyle, and therefore wasn't seeing fitness results.

Life stress, marital stress, financial stress; responsibilities to a job, a child, a sick loved one; your own health challenges, physical and mental… all of these shape our 24 hours,” Hartwig wrote. “WE dont all have the same days, and suggesting someone does ALSO suggests that the issue is THEM; theyre not committed, hard-working, or making the effort. Which perhaps comes from a place of motivation … but really only serves to pile more guilt and shame onto an already burdened mental and emotional state.”

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Of the more than 13,000 comments, the majority praised Hartwig and thanked her for her honest message.

“Thank you for this,” one respondent said. “I am in a season of heavy and it seems like I cant make traction in the fitness area of my life. Its all I can do right now to mom, homeschool our three young kids (ages 3-6), prepare nourishing food and keep all the plates spinning. Thank you for offering grace for this season and a reminder in the process that this season isnt permanent, just like yours was not permanent.”

“I love you. Never needed this more,” shared another. “All of this,” wrote another supporter. “Every.single.word!!”


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<![CDATA[Victoria's Secret Model Apologies for Promoting Unhealthy Eating While She Had Body Dysmorphia ]]>

Model Bridget Malcolm has an apology for her followers.

The Victorias Secret model used to advocate for “clean eating” and daily exercise on her blog, but Malcolm has since realized that she wasnt eating nearly enough food and was overexercising, all because of her body dysmorphia.

“I would like to acknowledge and apologize for some of the things I wrote and spoke about over the past couple of years,” Malcolm, 26, wrote in a blog post on Monday. “I genuinely thought that I was doing the right thing for my health and wellness. I now know that I was completely in the depths of body dysmorphia and it really worries me that I was not a positive role model out there.”

Malcolm said that she feels guilty for declaring that she was eating “loads” of food and maintaining her slim figure when she was actually eating much less.

“When I claimed that I ate loads, I thought that I did. I would fill up on foods that were low calorie, and think that I was eating a healthy balanced diet,” she said. “I was extremely active, sometimes training 2-3 hours a day, and thought that that made me fit. But if someone offered me a piece of fruit to eat, I would become so anxious and fearful at the thought of having to eat it (something unplanned) that I would nearly be sick with worry.”

Malcolm said that a friend helped her see that she was dealing with severe body dysmorphia.

“I would eat such an extreme diet, and train so hard because I would look in the mirror and see someone who needed to lose weight looking back at me,” she said. “My best friend was staying with me once when I was at my smallest, and she was shocked at how I knew cognitively that I was small, but whenever I saw myself in the mirror, I saw excess weight that needed to come off.”

The Australian model has since given up dieting, writing in a March 12 blog post that she feels “free” after “making peace” with her body. But she said Monday that it was a tough journey at first.

“When I made the decision to start eating again, I really struggled with dysmorphia. Because this time I really was gaining weight,” Malcolm wrote. “Nothing crazy — I threw away a few old pairs of jeans, but I am not built to be too curvy. But it was enough to give those head demons a microphone, especially since I had taken away the self soothing method I used to employ (starvation).”

But Malcolm says that now, she actually likes her body, for the first time that she can remember. And shes relieved to finally come clean.

“I am so glad that I got real with you guys. The guilt I feel at some of the things I used to recommend as healthy eating habits, truly because I believed them, makes me sick,” she said. “I want you all to know that I intend to use this platform as mindfully as possible from here on out. I do not want to make damaging recommendations anymore. I only want to speak the truth. So I intend to share with you all my good and bad days — I am no longer hiding behind the veneer of clean eating.”



<![CDATA[The 1 Book You Should Read If You're Struggling With Body Acceptance ]]> For all the artful presentation and obsessive documentation of food that's saturated Western media in recent years (especially since the dawn of Instagram), there's infinitely less ink and fewer pixels deployed to describe the act of eating it. There's the after, for certain, either in the almost fetishistically chronicled "wellness" claimed to be invoked by all manner of powders and pollens, or the cautionary tales of people who ingested the supposedly incorrect amount (read: excess) of food or "unhealthy" ingredients and suffered as a result. There are such vast, heaping portions of all of this served up across pages and screens that it's almost impossible not to choke on it.

Thank goodness for Ruby Tandoh. In her new book, Eat Up: Food, Appetite and Eating What You Want ($17, Amazon), the former Great British Bake Off contestant and Guardian columnist delves into the infinitely less exalted aspects of eating to create an empathetic, intersectional, sometimes celebratory, and often painful account of the complicated ways in which we feed ourselves today.

"How the hell did things get this way?" she asks in a chapter cocking an eyebrow at the especially moralistic components of the contemporary "wellness" movement. Tandoh, who writes openly of her own struggles with an eating disorder and the destructive, futile goal of "erasing" one's own body, takes particular issue with marketers' tendency to conflate their spokespeople's (often lifestyle bloggers and Instagram influencers) thin, toned, expensively fed, and almost invariably white bodies with some sort of moral triumph in the service of selling pricey diet plans, foods, and supplements. "Our judgement is far-reaching," she writes, imagining an onlooker conditioned by the strictures of this regime assessing the contents of a fellow shopper's basket. "You are what you eat and what you eat is bad."

Her antidote: Eat what you want in the quantity and quality you desire, and do not apologize. In fact, celebrate the act of feeding your body, whether that is with a Cadbury creme egg that's been warmed in the depths of your pocket, a ready meal from the supermarket, the first or last biscuit from the office tin, or the humble stew that sustained your grandparents in their native land.

Tandoh is perhaps at her most insightful when she writes about want and shame and their inextricable link to food. In a chapter on LGBTQ+ influences in food culture, Tandoh, who identifies as queer, writes of the sublimation of carnal wants into the sensual pleasures of food—especially when those desires might be seen as taboo. In another, she explores of cultural fatphobia and the slippery language couching "health concerns" as a way to humiliate people into denying their bodies the sustenance they need and the pleasure they deserve.

It's a lot to digest, but the serial essay structure of the book makes it endlessly easy to pick up, flip to the most relevant section for your needs—be that emotional eating, cultural identity, or body shame—and feel sated.

And yes, there are also recipes, but not in the glossy cookbook format that Tandoh has followed before in her previous volumes, Crumb and Flavour. There is no photographic or linguistic food porn, or suggested serving sizes—just small, grey illustrations, ersatz headnotes with guidance like, "If you can love these misshapen, lumpy, bumpy little rocks, you can sure as hell love your own wonderful body," leading into walk-through directions for Toffee Apple Rock Cakes.

To salve the wounds of a breakup, Tandoh suggests an old-fashioned beef stew with the dumpling cooking timed to the romantic arc from the movie The Way We Were, and for depression and seasonal affective disorder, she offers an easily achievable salmon and sweet potato meal packed with vitamins and nutrients that are beneficial to brain function.

RELATED: 7 Foods to Fight Seasonal Depression

By Tandoh's reckoning, food culture is rife with problems, but the food is not to blame—it's the way we're going to find the strength to fix them. Eat what you want, but by all means, consume every word of this book.


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<![CDATA[How to Get Your Doctor to Listen ]]> The way you talk to your doctor may be as important as anything you say. To make the most of an appointment, follow these expert-recommended steps.

Be specific. Instead of just complaining about your pain, Colum­bia University womens-health expert Marianne Legato, MD, says, describe it: “In September 2007 I started having achy upper arms and thighs, and my elbows and the joints of my fingers hurt. I controlled the pain with Tylenol, but it hasnt stopped.”

Keep it short. “Bringing in 10 pages of symptoms is not helpful,” says Caroline Whitacre, PhD, vice president for research at Ohio State University. “The doctor cant get through that in 10 minutes.” Try presenting only three key symptoms. For example, to help identify rheumatoid arthritis, tell the doc where the pain is (on both sides of your body or just one?), what makes it better and worse, and how often you get it.

Know your family history, especially about autoimmune diseases. “They tend to run in families, but not as the same disease,” says Virginia Ladd, president of the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association. “That kind of history is not asked on a medical form.” Talk to your parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, and start an online family-medical-history tree.

Ask for what you want. “If youre assertive and say, I want to be checked for this, this, and this, doctors almost have an obligation to do those tests,” Ladd says.

Dont apologize. Legato says your appointment is a business transaction; docs arent doing you a favor. Theyre paid to listen to everything you say. “Many women say, I hate to bother you, when theyre paying me for that time,” Legato says.

Understand next steps. Legato suggests asking four questions after every appointment: Whats your impression of the reason for my symptoms? What lab tests are you ordering? Why? And whats your plan for contacting me about the results and easing my symptoms?

Switch doctors (if you must). The average person with an autoimmune disease will see four docs and wait four years to get a diagnosis. Dont wait. Get someone new who really hears you—maybe your gynecologist.</div>

]]> Istockphoto <![CDATA[ People Are Posting Their Weight Online for an Inspiring Reason ]]>

Jameela Jamil wants us to count our blessings, not our weight. To spread her message of size acceptance, she just launched an Instagram account, @i_weigh, where people are sharing their thoughts on self-love and absorbing Jamil's kick-ass take on why body shaming has to end.

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“For the past couple of weeks women and men have been sending me what their true value and weight is in beautiful pictures,” she tweeted on Sunday. “I love these people and what they represent and what they overcome so much.”

The roots of @i_weigh go back to late February, when The Good Place star announced she was on a “war path” after seeing a meme of the Kardashian and Jenner sisters, which had each sister's weight superimposed over their photo.

In reply to the meme, Jamil posted a mirror selfie in an Instagram story on her personal page and listed her own “weight” in blurbs about what she loves and values about herself. “Great friends,” “Im financially independent” and “I speak out for womens rights” were just a few of what she considered her “weight.”

“I like myself in spite of EVERYTHING Ive been taught by the media to hate myself about,” Jamil wrote in the same post. Flooded with responses, she created @i_weigh as a place where people could keep sharing their "weight" and be inspired by her message that accomplishments matter more than looks and size.

While @i_weigh keeps growing, Jamil continues to motivate her followers to identify and acknowledge their worth—not their weight.

“We arent supposed to all look the same,” she wrote in an article for HuffPost UK in February, which called for women to stop judging themselves by the number on the scale. “And nothing good ever comes of self hatred. It will never further you. It will always hold you back.”

]]> Tim Robberts/Getty Images <![CDATA[Stranger Things' Shannon Purser Says She Has Been at 'War' with Her Body Since Age 11 ]]> Shannon Purser says shes been at “war” with her body since age 11 — but shes making improvements.

The actress, who played Barb on Stranger Things and is in the new show Rise, called out the body shamers on social media who are only making her self-esteem issues worse.

Purser, 20, tweeted honestly about her insecurities on Tuesday.

“Please do not ever make comments about my weight or tell me that I look good or bad because of it. I look good now. I am happy. I dont need you to approve my body. Thanks,” she wrote.

Purser added later that shes been at “war” with her self-image since her middle school years.

“My war with my body started at age 11 and soon all I wanted was to be thin. Ive struggled with that insecurity almost every day since,” she said. “I still have bad days, but Im much better now. I hope one day well learn to be kind to our bodies and teach our kids to do the same.”

She also offered to talk with her followers about confidence and self-esteem — but warned them against criticism.

“That being said, if you ever wanna have a discussion about body positivity — Im all ears! I just prefer not to hear comments about my body, even if theyre well-intentioned,” she said.

Pursers followers cheered for her tweets, which garnered nearly 24,000 likes and hundreds of supportive comments.

The actress told PEOPLE in August that shes continuously working on her mental health and body image.

“I dont have a typical body type, and that used to be something that made me feel very alone and weird,” Purser said. “Ive gotten so many messages from people saying like, Its so refreshing to see somebody who looks like me on TV, and that really means the world to me.”

“I think,” she added, “once I kind of got to a place of self-acceptance, looking past all the insecurities that I have, Ive really grown so much as a person.”


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<![CDATA[Oprahs Bathtub Is Hand-Carved to Fit Her Body, Because Why Not ]]>

Oprah has a serious hobby: bathing.

Oh, you thought Oprah Winfrey takes a bath in a normal bathtub just like everyone else? Of course, she doesnt—shes Oprah after all. While appearing on The Late Late Show to promote her new film A Wrinkle in Time with costars Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling, the media mogul told James Corden that she has a custom bathtub made of marble and onyx at her home.

If you thought that reveal was peak Oprah—just wait, theres more. “I do have a hand-carved tub,” Winfrey revealed. “It was carved to the shape of my body.” She went on to explain that to design the bathtub, they created a cast model that she lay in to make the mold.

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For Winfrey, the bathtub was a necessity for her “serious hobby.” She told Corden, “Bathing is my hobby. So any kind of bath salts, bath oils, anything for the bath you can get me.” Needless to say, Corden, Witherspoon, and Kaling were left in awe after she told them about her luxurious bathtub. “Thats the dream. Thats all Im really living for. That is all I am ever working for from this point onwards,” Corden said. Ditto, James.

The appreciation for bathing is not new for Winfrey, who told Vogue in September 2017 that she “majors in bathtubs.” “It came from the fact that I was raised with my father in, like, an 1,100-square-foot house where we all shared the same tub,” she told the magazine. “And when I would go back home, after having been in hotels and seeing that there are nicer tubs in the world, and theres that little tub with a ring around it, where Comet could no longer clean the ring around the tub—and it was my job to clean it—because it has been permatized, I vowed if I ever got my own place, I was going to get myself a good tub!”

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While we all cant have a tub custom-made to fit our bodies, we can all take a cue from Oprah and indulge in a spa-like bath experience after a particularly stressful day, complete with bath bombs, oils, candles, and soothing music. If its good enough for her, its good enough for us.

]]> Mike Marsland/WireImage <![CDATA[This Woman Faked a Trip to Disney to Prove How Deceptive Social Media Can Be ]]>

Faking it on Instagram has become pretty common. Most of us have airbrushed out a blemish, enhanced a sunset, or posted a gorgeous meal from last week and pretended we just cooked it that night. But how can we determine the line between appropriate editing and lying?

Carolyn Stritch, a U.K.-based influencer with 187,000 followers on her Instagram account @TheSlowTraveler decided to find out once and for all.Known for posting dreamy photos while sipping coffee and reading books in front of the tall windows in her apartment, Stritch has perfected a light, airy, beautiful, Instagram feed.

But Stritch changed up her approach to social media a few days ago when she posted an image of herself in bed with a caption about her upcoming travel plans. "Tomorrow, I'm going to be 22!" she writes. "I'm treating myself with a trip to Californ-I-ay: I'm off to Disneyland to Instagram the hell out of Sleeping Beauty's Castle."

If the 15,000 people who "liked" her photo had noticed Stritch's heavily edited face or the fact that she claimed to be just 22 (she's actually 32) few voiced their skepticism, and the picture was taken—quite literally—at face value. "After posting the first image, receiving so many birthday wishes and comments from people telling me I'm beautiful, I felt really anxious and uncomfortable," she tells Health. "It was like a four-day panic attack! But I felt strongly enough about the project to see it through."

A day later, Stritch posted another photo standing in front of Sleeping Beautys Castle.

The image was met with 17,000 likes and plenty of impressed commenters wondering how she managed to get a shot of the popular tourist destination without a single other person in frame. Only a few comments suspected Photoshop, and even those were compliments on her editing skills, not accusations that the image was fake.It wasnt until the next day when Stritch shared a lengthy blog post titled "Why I hacked my own Instagram account" that her followers were let in on the secret.

Stritch begins her blog post by talking about an eye-opening experience she had while editing a selfie. "[M]y face changes quickly and dramatically: fine lines flatten, wrinkles smooth out, blemishes unblemish, dark circles disappear, cheekbones rise, eyes brighten, lips get bigger, nose gets smaller," she writes. "When I swipe back to the real image, the flaws seem far more prominent than when I first took the the selfie."

When she uploaded this edited photo on Facebook, not a soul questioned its accuracy—not even her sisters or partner. This lack of reaction caused Stritch to brainstorm a project.

"I came up with a story: my FaceApped perfect self, whos ten years younger than I am, flies off to Disneyland for the day, and somehow manages to photograph herself all alone in front of Sleeping Beautys Castle," she says. "I manipulated images, captioned them with a fictional narrative, and presented them as real-life. I hacked my own Instagram account."

Stritch explains that her photography studies helped her come up with this experiment. "One of the modules on [my photography] degree asked us to stage an 'intervention'," she says. "I decided to stage mine on my own Instagram."

Although she has had a mostly positive experience on the social platform, Stritch knows the app can be triggering for some. "[It's] full of these 'slim, prosperous, happy, extroverted, and popular' [people], a bit like my perfect self," she says. "I wanted my fictional narrative to challenge the way I portray myself online."

Stritch challenged her followers to help her research by responding with their thoughts and questions about her project. "I dont usually FaceApp my face or pretend Ive been places I havent," she explains, "but I do style my images. I do edit them." She adds that she hopes to figure out where the "line" is between a normal amount of editing and deception.

"I'm sure some people look at my account and it makes them feel bad," she admits. "Those are the very best bits of my life. I have to work, study, exercise, clean the bathroom, do all the stuff everybody else has to do. I feel all the same pressures my followers feel. I want people to know that."


The original photo of Stritch versus the Disneyland image she superimposed herself onto. Photos courtesy of @TheSlowTraveler/Instagram.

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