Tips from Real Life 101

information to help you become more successful in life.

6 Unhealthy Eating Habits You Need to Break

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1. Skipping Breakfast. Between hitting the snooze button three times, scrambling to get ready, and making it to work or class on-time, sometimes it’s to tough to find the time to eat breakfast in the morning. However, nutritionists agree that skipping breakfast is an eating faux pas!  Everyone has heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but why?

  • Breakfast not only gives you energy first thing in the morning, but also jumpstarts your metabolism for the day. Metabolism is linked with weight loss, so eating in the morning may actually lead to weighing less! You will also have more energy to work out and stay active throughout the day if you eat when you wake up.

 2. Not Eating. This unhealthy and unproductive eating habit is also linked to metabolism. The Mayo Clinic explains that metabolism is the process your body performs in order to convert food and drinks into energy to carry out physical processes (even when you’re resting, metabolism creates the energy to breathe and circulate blood through your body).

  • If you don’t eat, your body may initially drop pounds, but you’ll end up retaining as much weight as possible. If you don’t eat, your body will hold the calories needed to perform these functions, even if you’re not eating.
  • Skipping meals also leads to increased hunger later in the day;  even if you saved yourself a few extra calories by skipping lunch, you’ll probably overeat to compensate by the time dinner rolls around.

3. Binging. It goes without saying that overeating to the point of discomfort is never healthy. We’ve all gone back for seconds (or thirds…) after a tasty Thanksgiving meal, but it is an unhealthy habit if you find yourself binging on a regular basis. If you skip a meal, you’ll probably end up binging later because you’re so hungry.

  •  The best way to avoid this harmful habit is to stay comfortably full throughout the day, and never let yourself reach the point of starvation.

4. Late Night Munchies. When you eat late at night, you’re probably rolling through a fast-food restaurant or grabbing a slice of pizza after a night out with your friends. Not only are these foods generally unhealthy and calorific, but also your body will not be able to fully digest and burn the calories while you sleep.

  • If you desperately need a snack after a night of partying, opt for some raw veggies or a hundred-calorie pack snack!

5. Eating When You’re Thirsty. It’s easy to mistake thirst for hunger; sluggishness and headache are common signs of dehydration, and these ailments can also strike when you’re hungry.

  • If you don’t think you’re getting enough fluids (The Institute of Medicine suggests men drink about 3 liters of water daily, women should drink 2.2 liters daily), try having a glass of water before chowing down.

6. Distracted Eating. If you grab a bag of pretzels and plop down on the couch for your favorite night of TV, you may reach for a handful and realize you’ve plowed through all the snacks. Distracted eating in front of the TV or computer is unhealthy because it is easy to focus on the TV show or website without paying attention to eating habits; you may be eating when you’re completely full if you’re focused on something else.

  • If you’d rather not eat in silence, portion your meals and snacks before you turn the TV on or open your laptop so you’re not tempted to keep eating.

What We Wish We’d Known Before College

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By Jessica Bly

Before freshman year of college, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by every aspect of college: What should I pack? How will I make friends? Should I stay in a relationship with my boyfriend or girlfriend?

I consulted my friends from colleges across the country to compose a comprehensive list of all the things a freshman should know before moving on campus.

1. Pack lightly.

Whether you are traveling across the country or going to a school close to home, it’s important to be realistic when packing for college. Don’t pack every pair of shoes you own, because you will not only be cramped for space in your dorm, but you probably won’t wear half of what you bring.

  • Also keep in mind that you will probably borrow clothes from your roommate or other friends, so your wardrobe will most likely be expanded. One of my closest friends warns: “Don’t bring knick knacks!” –Emily Glaze, Elon, Class of 2013.
  • Be sure to buy certain necessities after you get a look at your room; for example, you may buy tons of storage containers and realize that your closet actually comes equipped with excellent shelving. 

2. It may take time to find close friends.

If you’ve had the same tight-knit group for years, it can be frustrating when you don’t find best friends immediately at your new school. It will take time to meet and get to know other individuals, so be patient!

  •  It is also important to understand that the first few friends you make at college might not be your closest friends in a few months: “It’s so important to branch out and not cling to the first people you meet or just people on your floor. Those people might be great acquaintances but you will probably find your close friends through common interests and activities.” –Allison Kipke, Connecticut College, Class of 2013

 3. It’s OK to be overwhelmed!

If you’ve lived at home for eighteen years and suddenly find yourself hours away from everyone you know, it’s normal and understandable to be homesick, and even scared! It is also important to realize that everyone feels this way.

  • Call up a friend from home or a relative if you’re feeling homesick. If you really feel down, it’s completely acceptable to speak with teacher or counselor; they can help you find a way to be less overwhelmed and more relaxed at your new school.

4. Be careful at college parties. 

College parties can be, in a word, insane. Even if you consider yourself party savvy, college parties aren’t comparable to other types of social functions. There will be plenty of strangers and alcohol surrounding you at every party, so our advice is to use your best judgment. My sorority requires each member to have a “party buddy” for each mixer or formal; party buddies are required to arrive and leave a party together. Although sometimes frustrating when you want to leave a party and your buddy is still on the dance floor, it’s best to stick together at all times to ensure everyone’s safety.

  • As for the alcohol*, “Don’t drink the punch!” –Audrey Taylor, TCU, Class of 2013. Sometimes referred to as “jungle juice” or “trashcan punch”, this particular drink is usually made of just about any type of alcohol, juice, and soda, mixed together in a large container. The concoction will end your night pretty quickly.
  •  Another important note about college parties is that, for the most part, they are all pretty similar. If you have a test on Friday morning and your friends are hitting up a fraternity party on Thursday night, know that you probably won’t miss much that you can’t experience the next night: “I wish I’d known how to stay in before tests and stuff. Showing up to my speech at 8am after Mardi Gras still drunk will go down in history-I completely failed that!” –Jill (name changed) Class of 2013.

 5. Consider all aspects of your long-distance relationship. 

It’s impossible to tell anyone to break-up or continue a relationship through college without knowing the individuals.

  • It is wise to have a conversation with your boyfriend or girlfriend to discuss both of your expectations for the relationship when you’re both away at school. One of my closest friends from college had a boyfriend for the first few months of our Freshman year, and she says: “No one can tell you to break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend when you come to college; that’s for you to decide. But just know you need to go to college with the open mind to meet new people so you can have new life experiences.” –Ashton Minter, TCU, Class of 2013

 6. Wait to buy your textbooks. 

  • Textbooks can be extremely expensive, so wait until after your first few classes to purchase any books. Sometimes professors are simply required to offer a textbook for the course, but they won’t end up using it at all!
  • For the textbooks you will end up needing for classes, don’t immediately run to the bookstore. Chegg.com, Half.com, and other websites and resources provide much better deals on books.

 7. It goes way too fast.

Everyone has heard that “college is the best time of your life”. It’s pretty tough to really understand and appreciate how wonderful and adventurous your college years will be before you even get there, so just keep in mind that it’s important to really soak up every moment of your time in college.  Academics and acquiring the skills needed for your future are, of course, the key elements of college, but remember to have fun!  “Sometimes it’s hard to notice it at the time because you’re stressed about being in a new environment, but freshman year is such a blast- you have to relax and enjoy it!” –Audrey Taylor, TCU, Class of 2013

*Real Life 101 does not support underage drinking, and reminds you to always drink responsibly.

Did we miss anything? Comment and tell us what you wish you would’ve known before you left for college!


Healthy Living Part 4: Know Your Numbers

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Knowing some important numbers, and truly understanding what these numbers mean, is an extremely important step to healthy living. Check with your doctor or calculate these numbers yourself in order to determine how you can adjust your eating and exercise habits for a healthier and improved lifestyle.

Check your blood pressure.  It should be really no higher 120/80.  What do blood pressure numbers indicate?

1.     The top (systolic) number represents the pressure while the heart contracts to pump blood to the body.

2.     The bottom (diastolic) number represents the pressure when the heart relaxes between beats.

Diastolic high blood pressure refers to the blood pressure in between muscle contractions. Doctors and medical experts have stated that diastolic high blood pressure should be taken seriously because it causes more harm to the body than systolic does. Higher rates of diastolic pressure cause adverse effects on the brain, heart and kidney. Individuals with high diastolic blood pressure should try to maintain this number below 90.

If you find that your pressure is above 140 systolic, (the top number) then you have hypertension.  If your pressure is above 90 diastolic, (the bottom number) you have hypertension.  Many people do not have symptoms until something “bad” happens, however, by then the damage has been done. Hypertension is often referred to as the silent killer, and leads to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney failure, and blindness.  If you have high blood pressure, be sure to take your medication as your doctor has prescribed it.

Check your cholesterol.   Your total cholesterol should be below 200.  Your HDL is your good cholesterol, and  the number is raised by exercising.  The HDL cholesterol should be about 50, and the higher the better! Your LDL is your “bad” cholesterol, and this cholesterol should be under 100.  To help you remember which is which, your HDL is happy and your want it to be high.  Your LDL is your loser cholesterol and you want it to be low.  Silly mnemonic, but it works!

Check your blood sugar. Fasting sugar should be under 100. Any isolated level over 200 grants you access into the wonderful world of diabetes.  Diet and exercise as well as maintaining an ideal body weight are the first steps to avoid diabetes!

Check your Body Mass Index (BMI). Many websites offer a BMI calculator; all you need to do is enter your height and weight and it will compute your number. Under 18.5 is considered underweight. Normal is 18.5 to 24.9.  Over weight is 25 to 29.9 and anything over 30 is considered obese. Check out this simple BMI calculator provided by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute! 

Knowledge is power, so know your numbers.  If you know them you can control them, and if you don’t then the numbers can control you!

Tipping Etiquette 101

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One of my favorite restaurants suggests in bold letters at the bottom of their menu “18% gratuity is appropriate and recommended.” With restaurants suggesting how much to tip before you even place an order, appropriate tipping etiquette may be confusing. When do you leave a generous tip? Is it ever acceptable to leave no tip at all? We’ve created a little cheat sheet of the modern guidelines when it comes to gratuities and tipping etiquette.
Restaurant Dining: Tipping used to show an individual’s appreciation for exceptional service. Restaurants now factor in tips as a way to lower wages, and therefore it is customary to leave:

  • 15% gratuity for average service.
  • 20% is recommended for exceptional service. 
  • 10% gratuity is appropriate for less-than-mediocre service. 

It is never appropriate to leave a nickel or dime out of spite, and the manager should be confronted privately if the service does not deserve even 10% gratuity.
Tip Jars: Many small establishments, such as coffee bars and ice cream shops, have a tip jar next to the register. Because these tips are shared between all employees, it is not necessary or expected to leave a tip.

  • Frequent patrons should drop in a few bucks from time to time. 
  •  This guideline can be applied to bar service as well. 

Private Parties: It is not recommended to tip servers or bartenders at private parties, unless the server has provided extraordinary service.

  • Etiquette experts suggest a small tip of appreciation in special circumstances, such as help when you spill on your shirtfront.

There are a few other situations when it is customary to leave a small tip:

  • Valet parker: $2-$5
  • Doorman: $5 for hailing a cab (more generous tips are recommended around the holidays for doormen you encounter regularly)
  • Coat check clerk: $1-$2
  • Hairdressers, barbers, manicurists, etc.: 10% of total bill (more is recommended during the holiday season)
  • Taxi driver: 15% of total bill
  • Skycaps at airport: $1-$2 per bag
  • Grocery loaders: $1-$3 depending on the number of grocery bags

Sources: How to be a Gentleman, John Bridges
Essential Manners, Peter Post

Save that Shirt! Stain Removal Tips

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If you have ever spilled on your favorite shirt, you know the disappointment that ensues when you take the shirt out of the washing machine and a huge stain still remains. However, there are steps you can take to treat a stain before washing to aid the removal and make certain that you will wear your favorite shirt once again!

  • Treat stains as soon as possible! The longer a stain sets, the harder the stain will be to remove.
  • Don’t immediately run to the bathroom and start scrubbing with a bar of soap; basic soap and rubbing will only drive the stain further into the fabric.
  • If you are rinsing a stain, stick to cold water since warm water can also make certain stains permanent.
  • Gently blot with a sponge when treating stains since scrubbing or vigorously rubbing could also set the stain.
  • Check all garment instructions and tags before you bleach, launder, or treat any article of clothing.
  • Keep a Tide-To-Go pen in your purse or car to pretreat any stains that might occur when you are out and about.

Here are a few remedies for common stains:

Beer or Soda: Mix liquid detergent and white vinegar and apply to the stain.

Berries/grape juice: Mix liquid detergent and 5% diluted ammonia and apply to the stain.

Blood (dry): Mix liquid detergent and 5% diluted ammonia and apply to the stain.

Butter: Butter is a protein so try using acetone on the stained item. Do not use warm water on these stains, and check the laundered item before throwing it into the dryer; you may need to treat the stain again, and heat from the dryer may set the stain permanently.

Coffee: Mix liquid detergent and white vinegar and apply to the stain.

Grass: Pretreat the stained area with detergent, and then bleach the stain. BE SURE to read garment instructions fully to be sure the item can be bleached.

Ink: Try acetone then detergent on ink stains. If the ink is stubborn, you can also try paint remover.

Nail Polish: Acetone is a key ingredient in nail-polish remover, so it’s no wonder acetone is the stain-remover of choice if you happen to spill nail polish on your clothes!

Wine: Mix liquid detergent and 5% diluted ammonia and apply to the stain.

Emergency Beauty Kit: Date

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The Date Kit:

By Andrea Lara

There is a lot of thought and speculation about what goes into the perfect “Emergency Beauty Kit.”  Most of this pertains to a kit that will come in handy on a red carpet. Well, I’m not sure about you, but I am not in the habit of frequenting awards shows and movie premieres – much to my chagrin. Nevertheless I do need an Emergency Beauty Kit with me on a date, at the gym, and at work. It is only partially about vanity, these kits help keep me comfortable. 

We need to think about the essentials here, and what is absolutely necessary, since the bag you will be carrying is going to be small. Whatever lip color you have on you are going to want to bring with you – on most dates food is involved, which means sayonara lipgloss. I am a fan of the Buxom glosses, they are highly pigmented, have great staying power, and a minty scent – excellent for those upclose and personal moments. Bonus – they have mini sizes sold in sets of four.

Keeping with the mini theme, Altoids Smalls. The tin is tiny as well as the mints inside of it, this makes it easy to sneak one under your tongue in a flash and not annoy the heck out of you. I enjoy gum as much as the next girl, but I have an unfortunate habit of smacking it – not so sexy – a mini mint is much safer for me.

Floss. I like to think that I have good dental hygiene but this is not the primary reason for the floss pick in my clutch. Ever get a piece of spinach or steak stuck in between your teeth and have it be so distracting and uncomfortable that you can’t stand it – or worse yet – have it be visible? Story of my life. The floss picks are small and versatile – floss on one side, tooth pick on the other. What’s not to like?

Fragrance always makes me feel sexy or flirty depending on which one I choose to wear. Tucking a roller ball fragrance in my bag is a great way to revive how I want to feel on my date. It’s an easy way to freshen up in the ladies room after dinner. My latest favorite is Citron de Vigne by Fresh: summery, light, and sexy.

Hopefully now we can keep the emergencies to a minimum and the troubleshooting to a maximum. We’re savvy, we can do it.

Happy shopping!

Written by Real Life 101, Inc.

June 14, 2011 at 10:27 am

Five Things Credit Card Companies Don’t Want You to Know

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Five Things Credit Card Companies Don’t Want You to Know

You don’t have to look too far to read about someone getting into big trouble with credit cards.  In fact, you may just need to look at your latest statement to see someone who needs help getting out of credit card debt.  We’ve prepared some tips to help you, or someone you know, start climbing out of the hole they’ve dug.

1.  Little dollars make a big difference. Credit card companies earn money from consumers through interest charges and fees.  The higher the balance you have, the more you will pay in interest.  If you go over your limit, make late payments, or skip payments, there will be fees charged to your account.  This lets the credit card company double-dip; unpaid fees add to your balance, which increases the amount of interest you pay each month.

Most people only make the minimum payment each month.  While this protects their credit rating by keeping them in good standing with the credit card company, it does very little to reduce their debt.  Paying any extra amount toward your balance will drastically reduce the time and costs of paying down your debts.  If you have a $10,000 balance on a credit card at an 18% APR, paying only the minimum payment every month will take 26 years and $24,234 to pay off.  Adding $10 extra to each payment will save you nearly 9 years of payments and almost $3,000 in total interest.  If you up your payment by $25 each month, you will pay off your balance in a little less than 13 years and save nearly $6,000 in total interest compared to the minimum payment.

2.  You don’t have to wait for your bill to arrive before you make a payment. Credit card companies calculate the interest you owe based on your average daily balance.  By paying ahead on your balance, you reduce your balance and therefore the amount of interest you owe each month.  If you make a major purchase, and you plan on making a larger credit card payment which won’t pay off the balance, don’t wait until your bill arrives.  Use your credit card company’s online payment service to make your bigger payment early in the month.  This way you pay down more principal and pay less in interest charges.

3.  Everything is negotiable. Your interest rate, minimum payment, payment due date, fee and just about everything else can be subject to negotiation with the credit card company.  You won’t always get your way, and you’ll need to have a good reason for what you are asking for, but you will be surprised at how flexible they can be.  This is particularly true if you are a good customer: someone who makes their payments on time and uses their card regularly.  As the saying goes, it never hurts to ask.

4.  There are other options besides paying off your balance in full. We all know it is always best to pay off your credit card balance in full every month.   However, if you are in big trouble with credit card debt, and you don’t feel you can repay what is owed, you do have options besides defaulting on all that debt.  You can ask to settle the debt with the credit card company for some amount less than the total of what is owed.  This satisfies your obligation to them, and eliminates a costly burden on your end.  However, this is not without its downside.  Settling your debt is like a “mini-default”; it’s not as bad as not paying anything, but it’s not the same as paying everything either.  You will still take a negative hit on your credit report, and your ability to be approved for future credit cards or higher credit limits may be limited.

 5.  The consumer credit industry is extremely competitive, and that can be used to your advantage. There are tens of thousands of credit card options on the market today for most consumers with different rates and benefits.  Credit card companies only make money if they are the ones collecting interest and fees.  If you take your business elsewhere, that costs them money.  This is why companies are willing to negotiate, but if you still aren’t happy with your arrangement, go somewhere else.  Many companies offer low introductory rates on balance transfers, so your monthly payments can pay off your debt faster with the new card.  You have the most options, and are the most attractive customer, if you make regular payments and have a good credit score.  Always keep an eye out for better offers; if your current company can’t match the deal, you can always make the switch.