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The 16 most stylish guys on the planet

Male birth control shots exist and they work — here's why you can't get one

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Women get a short and complicated stick when it comes to family planning.

Though birth control pills are 99% effective when taken correctly, free in the US, and among the safest and most widely used forms of contraception, there's a lot to dislike, namely the common side effects.

A lot of women on the pill or other hormone-based forms of birth control report experiencing acne, mood swings, depression, cramping, nausea, vomiting, breast tenderness, bleeding between periods, weight gain, and changes in sexual desire, to name a few things. Some formulations can even lead to serious complications (though very rarely) like blood clots, heart attack, stroke, liver tumors, and gallstones, according to Planned Parenthood.

Meanwhile, men don't have any FDA-approved pill, patch, implant, shot, or other medicated form of birth control available to them. The only safe and effective options are condoms, vasectomies (which aren't easily reversible), or abstinence. (Sorry, guys, pulling out is a very risky strategy.)

If some oral or injectable drug could safely, reliably, and temporarily reduce a man's sperm fertility, then family planning options could be more balanced — and millions of women could breathe huge sighs of relief.

Thus the world is in a tizzy over a new study of a male birth control injection, which reliably slowed down sperm production to a crawl.

The research, published October 27 in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, focused on 320 male volunteers in steady relationships with women. Researchers injected the guys with a two-hormone cocktail, which was designed to suppress sperm formation, every two months for 13 months.

The injection was about 98% effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies in the portion of men who responded to the hormones. Furthermore, this clinical infertility reversed within a year after stopping injections for about 95% of volunteers.

As good as this may sound on paper, however, it may be years before it makes its way to apothecaries or doctors' offices.

The reason? A hodgepodge of cultural, bureaucratic, and scientific issues stand in the way.

How the injection works

A nurse prepares a H1N1 flu vaccine shot at a hospital in Budapest, Hungary, in this November 20, 2009 file photo.  REUTERS/Karoly Arvai/Files

Most birth control methods for women exploit a natural moment of infertility, and reversibly so: pregnancy.

By regularly taking the pill, which contains synthetic versions of pregnancy hormones (like estradiol, a progestin, or both), women can prevent ovulation, hinder implantation of a fertilized egg, block sperm from reaching their eggs, or all three.

The new male birth control injection works a different route: by cutting sperm production down to levels less than 1 million sperm per milliliter, which are considered clinically infertile. (The typical fertile man, according to the World Health Organization, has about 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen, or 39 million sperm per ejaculation.)

The injection uses two different synthetic hormones to get the job done.

One is a progestogen, or class of hormones that help women maintain a pregnancy. In men they affect sperm development and, quite literally, whip the cells into a frenzy.

The other hormone is a synthetic form of testosterone. Though testosterone does a lot in the bodies of both men and women, it's best known for its boost to sex drive in men. But too much, as researchers learned in the 1980s and 1990s, can slow down sperm production— and so testosterone became a prime target for male birth control.

Getting the dose correct emerged as one issue, though. While one concentration of testosterone would slow sperm production in one man, it would not for another, and inconsistency is something no one likes in their drugs. The new study also notes there are concerns about significant long-term side effects for taking high doses of synthetic testosterone.

Luckily, scientists in the mid-2000s discovered that mixing progestogens and testosterone provided a double-whammy to sperm production, all while requiring less testosterone.

Trouble is, it wasn't known how well the injection and reduced sperm counts would work in the real world: during unprotected sex.

What the new study discovered

pregnancy pregnant woman baby belly celebrity GettyImages 459679632

The new study, penned by 16 researchers from all over the world, ran from 2008 through 2012 in three phases.

Their idea was to test how regular progestogen-testosterone injections worked on stable heterosexual couples who voluntarily went off birth control.

Researchers set up 10 sites in seven different countries to recruit men "aged 18-45 years, and their 18-to-38-year-old female partners, in stable, monogamous relationships," according to the study. Volunteers were told there was a risk for pregnancy, too, since the procedure was experimental.

The researchers ended up enrolling 320 male volunteers in the first "suppression" phase: a round of four injections over 24 weeks, which shut down sperm production to 1 million cells per milliliter (or less).

At least seven men (2%) didn't see suppressed sperm production, while dozens of other men dropped out. This left 266 volunteers who responded and moved on to the second "efficacy" phase. Men received injections once every 8 weeks for 56 weeks and didn't use condoms — all while their girlfriends or wives went off birth control.

Due to a big and unexpected change in the study (more on this later), plus additional dropouts, the researchers ended up with 111 men who fully completed this crucial phase.

Six men "rebounded" above of the 1-million-sperm cutoff over the 56-week period, and four couples got pregnant. If you compare those pregnancies to all the time couples spent on male birth control — again, not in combination with any female contraception — it was about 97-98% effective. That's pretty close to the 99% effectiveness seen with correct use of the pill for women.

But the researchers also tested a big concern for male birth control: a return to fertility.

Nearly 95% of men who received the injections bounced back to the study's measure of a fertile sperm count within a year. On average, it took about half a year for the volunteers to spring back in this third "recovery" phase of the study.

But eight men had trouble resuming fertile sperm counts. It took five of them longer than a year to recover, with at least one man taking 74 weeks. One man didn't recover fertile sperm counts within 4 years after his last injection, though it's impossible to know if the injections or some other problem led to that result.

Either way, this hiccup matters. According to Susan Scutti's reporting for CNN on the male birth control study:

"It shows that it's a risk, a low-probability risk of it, and it's not to be sneezed at as a risk of it, surely," said Elisabeth Lloyd, a faculty scholar at the Kinsey Institute, professor of biology and an adjunct professor of philosophy at Indiana University Bloomington. She is unaffiliated with the new study.

That was just one issue with the study, though.

Counting the caveats

sperm and egg

No study is perfect, and this one had plenty of complications that are important to consider.

For one, a sample size of 320 men — while seemingly large — is not as ideal as studying, say, 5,000 or even 1,000 men. And again, the injections didn't work on some men, and a lot of men dropped out of the study.

Second, if you live in the US you may be surprised to know that all 10 of the study's recruiting centers were out of the country. Two sites each were located in "Australia, Germany, and United Kingdom and 1 site [each] in Chile, India, Indonesia, and Italy," according to the study.

Third, the requirements that men had to fulfill to be included in the study were strict. They included:

  • a sperm count of 15 million per milliliter, or 39 million per ejaculation (in two separate samples)
  • no sperm abnormalities or other problems
  • typical hormone levels
  • no serious diseases, psychiatric or otherwise
  • no signs of a sexually transmitted disease, either currently or in the past
  • a healthy prostate exam
  • a Body Mass Index of 20 to 32

Already, this may exclude quite a few perfectly "normal" men.

But now add in the study's requirement for a the couple:

"a stable, mutually monogamous partnership for at least 1 year was required, along with a coital frequency of twice/week on average, an intent to remain in the relationship for the course of the study, no desire for pregnancy within the next 2 years, and willingness to accept a low but unknown risk of pregnancy."

Another huge caveat was a major interruption of the study about 3 years in.

By late 2010, the side effects were becoming apparent; for example, about 46% of men reported getting acne; 23% said the injection site hurt, and 16% experienced muscle pain. (If you're one of the 4.5% of American women who get injectable birth control, such side effects may seem all too familiar.)

There were also more serious side effects that were at least "possibly" related to the injections, including "reports of mood changes, depression, pain at the injection site, and increased libido," the researchers wrote in their study.

Two external boards of reviewers met frequently to go over the study's data and determine, ethically, if it should continue.

One review board in January 2011 told the researchers that they could keep going.

In March 2011, however, the other review board told the researchers to stop injections and move on to the recovery phase. In particular, 3% of men in the study who said they experienced depression troubled the latter review board.

For context, compare that the 30% of women who report depression (plus other side effects) on female birth control, as Lloyd told CNN. (Yes, that rate is 10 times higher.)

In their study, the researchers didn't seem pleased with the second board's decision:

"It is well known from other trials of hormonal regimens in men [...] that [adverse events] are reported frequently in these longterm studies, even in a placebo group. That being said, 2 independent safety committees [...] came to different conclusions on the safety of the regimen, which resulted in early termination of the study injections."

The second group's decision caused nearly 100 couples to stop male birth control and resume female birth control.

Because of that interruption, plus the fact that you can't ethically give study volunteers a placebo or "fake" injection (a lot of unplanned pregnancies would happen), "a definitive answer as to whether the potential risks of this hormonal combination for male contraception outweigh the potential benefits cannot be made based on the present results," they wrote (our emphasis added).

Still, the study's authors said their work shows promise.

In addition to being effective, they noted more than 75% of couples wanted to continue using the injections instead of female birth control.

Male birth control is not 'here' — yet

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Some outlets have teased that male birth control is here or "almost here." And while it certainly seems within reach, it has been a strange uphill battle — one that's likely years away from any kind of conclusion.

Until recently, most research into male birth control has focused on animals like rodents. The results have been mixed, with some early successes failing to translate to humans.

A 2015 study of two immune system-suppressing drugs, for example, seemed to decrease sperm mobility in mice. But men who happened to be taking one of the drugs at a properly scaled does were still fertile.

One reason for the dearth of research into male contraceptives is that men have no known, natural cycle of infertility. In short, the testicles are "always on" and making sperm, and well into old age; pregnancy in women seemed like a more natural target for contraception.

The social and historical context is crucial, too.

Until recently, most medical and scientific research was performed by men. Contraception research of yesteryear, in particular, focused primarily on women due to a twisted mix of misogyny, racism, gender stereotyping, and other problems.

Pharmaceutical companies should also accept some responsibility for the slow pace. Even where certain male contraceptives showed promise, for-profit ventures pulled their funding, presumably to maintain a lucrative status quo, according to a 2008 study.

And assuming a new male birth control (like progestogen-testosterone shots) began clearing the FDA's rigorous three-phase drug approval process today, it could still be another 5 to 10 years before it arrives in doctors' offices or pharmacies, according to a September 2015 feature about male contraceptive research by Amber Cox in Endocrine Today.

The cost to develop and test a drug is also steep, typically hundreds of millions of dollars or sometimes billions, and it's no guarantee — it can fail FDA approval. In fact, about 86% of drugs don't pass the FDA's final two approval stages. (And that's before considering the fact that 94% of all drugs that pass initial animal trials fail to pass any of the three human clinical trials.) Even if a drug does pass, it can show weak results or turn up potential side effects that consumers won't be willing to risk in a medication.

So unless the injection passes future clinical drug trials to show it's safe and effective for a much larger and more diverse population, the first male birth control is unfortunately still a ways off.

Should progestogen-testosterone shots succeed, they may not be enough to help all men:

"No single method is used universally by all women; in a way this is analogous to the less than 5% of men who may not adequately suppress their sperm output," the author of one 2008 review of male birth control research wrote. "The need for a range of different options is obvious because no single method can be expected to be ideal for every couple."

SEE ALSO: Babies cry in the womb and 18 other surprising facts I learned when I became a dad

DON'T MISS: Here's why '9 months of pregnancy' is a vexing myth

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: How much sex you should be having in a healthy relationship

Those who base relationships on politics 'haven't lived' — a bipartisan marriage that works

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His wife's ardent support for abortion rights didn't matter when a doctor told Richard Brookhiser that, at age 37, he had a particularly dangerous type of testicular cancer.

Her husband's impassioned support for the Second Amendment didn't matter when a doctor told Jeanne Safer that, at age 64, she had breast cancer.

She votes down the Democratic line each election; he's a committed conservative. But that still didn't matter when, a year later, Safer learned she also had a rare form of leukemia.

The two have been a political odd couple since they were married in 1980. She's a liberal psychoanalyst. He hails from a right-wing family in Rochester, New York, and became a writer for National Review, the influential conservative magazine founded by William Buckley, who was also Brookhiser's mentor.

Their friends thought their marriage was an oddity. His family rejected it outright.

For Richard and Jeanne, it worked.

"We knew what matters, or we wouldn't have married each other," Safer said in her Manhattan apartment.

But for two people whose polarized politics are so core to their beings, it was when Brookhiser got sick 12 years into marriage that they realized how little politics mattered.

After major surgery to remove a tumor from his abdomen, Brookhiser spent four weeks in the hospital. The nausea was unrelenting, and little relief was available at the time — so it was up to Safer to find some marijuana for her conservative husband.

"I'm not a pothead, but I had a trainer who had a lot of pot and taught me how to roll joints," Safer said.

She was a novice, and Brookhiser said he could always tell her joints from the ones the trainer rolled. "We found things to laugh about," she said.

She especially liked that he, of all people, became a poster boy for medical marijuana.

As he underwent treatment, his colleagues from National Review came to the hospital and helped the couple financially.

"It was really quite something," Safer said. "I never had friends from the right wing, and these people really came through and I never forgot it."

Brookhiser survived and thrived. Now 61, he's thought to be cured.

But at the time, Safer said, his family wasn't as supportive.

As she tells it, their marriage was too much for his parents. They objected to her age — she's eight years his senior. They didn't like that she's Jewish. And, yes, they objected to her liberal politics. In the end, he had to defy his family to marry her.

His relationship with his family became increasingly strained, and "they ended up losing him because of it," she said.

Musical chemistry

But somehow Jeanne and Richard's relationship worked.

They had met in a Renaissance music singing group. To Richard, Jeanne was "cute, and she sang pretty."

The man she saw was "tall, clever, with intense blue eyes" and a "lyrical baritone." She recounts their meeting in a collection of essays titled "The Golden Condom." She liked that he was a writer — until she learned he wrote for such a conservative publication.

Yet it was Brookhiser who had been more willing to cross ideologies in relationships. A previous girlfriend had been a Communist. Safer's exes ranged from a liberal monk to a nuclear physicist, whom she accompanied to canvass for anti-Vietnam War presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy.

The wedding of Jeanne Safer and Richard Brookhiser had a dramatically bipartisan guest list. Walking her down the aisle was her mentor, a victim of Joseph McCarthy's anti-Communist purges. Richard's mentor — a big supporter of McCarthy — also attended.

A friend there coined a phrase that became a theme of their marriage: "Bedfellows make strange politics."

The two never compromised their beliefs and values, and they say their differences rarely got in the way. They've learned how to censor themselves to avoid blowup fights over whatever issue is top of mind. In their New York apartment, which is covered nearly wall to wall with overlapping rugs and where they both work feet from each other each day, she's figured out how to limit her own "freedom of expression" when they talk.

It's a price she's willing to pay, she writes in her book, "because the companionship of the other resident is the greatest joy in my life."

'This is true love'

That companionship was tested again when Safer was diagnosed with two different cancers in two years.

"You need your spouse," she said. "Just for getting through the day and the night."

First there was the breast cancer. She had a lumpectomy, then six weeks of radiation and a prescription for a powerful drug she's still taking.

Then came what she calls "the second one" — a rare, curable form of leukemia. But the cure wasn't easy. She was hospitalized for a month, or as she puts it, "incarcerated at New York Hospital."

Doctors gave her high doses of steroids, which made her hysterical. Richard sat by her side, reading her Jane Austen novels to calm her down. The food was inedible, she said, so every night he brought her dinner from outside and they'd sit together, sharing a meal.

When she'd get scared, he'd sleep on the floor of her hospital room.

"This is true love. This is it," she said. It doesn't matter if a partner doesn't do the dishes or doesn't like some of her friends, or if he doesn't vote a Democratic ticket. "If a person comes through for you at a situation like that, what else in the world matters?"

Beliefs vs. character

Good statistics on mixed-politics couples are hard to come by. One 2016 study found that only 3% of Democratic men married Republican women, and 6% of Republican men married Democratic women. Another study from 2014 found that 9% of marriages are mixed politically. It's hard to say how that has changed over time, especially as the US becomes more politically polarized and Americans increasingly live near like-minded people.

As a psychotherapist, though, Safer thinks a lot about relationships — both her own and those of her patients. She laments modern dating, which so often uses apps and websites that make it easy to screen out those with differing viewpoints. Of those who list compatible politics as a top priority in a relationship, she says "they haven't lived. They don't know what real loyalty and fidelity means."

In her experience, a person's beliefs can be totally different than their character. She had a patient who she said called himself a "strong feminist" but was seeking treatment for a porn addiction.

And then there are the men in her own past who seemed so right on paper but proved so disappointing.

That long-ago monk turned out to be selfish. Another ex told her he didn't like an outfit she was wearing. "It was a little thing," she said. "But I remember it because it was mean."

They're "small cruelties," she said.

One ex asked her to marry him in college. They matched fine politically, but one day she said he told her "the things that are most important to you are the things I want to push under the rug."

She learned she'd rather have a conservative Republican who wouldn't want to push things under the rug than a liberal who did.

"It's a minority opinion," she said.

This year, they agree

After 36 years of marriage, this year Richard and Jeanne, who've disagreed — happily — on so much finally have something in common politically: They're united in opposition to Donald Trump.

To her, agreeing on the election "feels like a delicious vacation," she said.

To him, "It's terrible. This is the worst election in American history," he said.

She plans to vote for Hillary Clinton. He's going to leave his presidential choice blank.

And then they'll go back to bonding over everything but politics.

SEE ALSO: How to read election polls

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: 'America has lost': The Philippines president just announced that he's allying with China, wants to talk to Putin

These clever photos show how faces change as they age

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Bobby at 6 and 36

Bobby Neel Adams was 36 when he noticed how much he resembled a picture of himself at age 6. He was inspired to create a composite image, splicing a new photo of himself with the image of him as a kid.

This was back in 1989, so he couldn't use modern techniques.

"In the darkroom I sized up both images to the same proportions and made prints," Adams wrote in an email. "Once these photographs were dry I tore the most recent portrait and laid it on top of the school photo, gluing it down the rubber cement."

Adams continued using the same method for dozens of works in his "Age Map" series. Since then, he has explored other strange techniques, including splicing photos of couples and family members and, most recently, posing dead creatures in beautifully haunting scenes (currently showing in Brooklyn).

Adams shared a set from "Age Maps" below.

SEE ALSO: 10 photo visualizations that reveal hidden worlds

DON'T MISS: Here's how people judge you based on your face

Lorna at 7 and 25



Sally at 14 and 62



Chris at 12 and 45



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The wealthiest Americans have a new attitude about homebuying — and it's led to a crisis in the luxury market

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Before Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, and Realtor.com, someone interested in buying a home would have to consult a local realtor to access information about what was currently available on the market.

But as these online property databases rose to prominence, homebuyers became more picky. That's leading to some serious problems in the luxury market, where expensive homes are increasingly taking longer to sell. 

Websites like Zillow and Trulia let consumers find what the current owners had paid for a particular home, the price per square foot compared to the rest of the neighborhood, and even how many people had viewed the listing page before you. Homebuyers today are better equipped to understand when a home they're seeing is overpriced, which could explain, in part, why some of America's most expensive homes have languished on the market.

The highest end of the American real estate market has indeed seen a fair bit of softening over the last several months.

According to recent data from Trulia, since last year, the US luxury real estate market has seen a significant increase in for-sale homes needing to reduce their asking price. Trulia's analysis, which looked at for-sale listings at the metro and national level, showed that 11.99% of luxury listings — defined as the top one-third of all active listings — had experienced a price reduction since first appearing to market.

That's an increase from 11.01% last year, and significantly more than the 10.66% figure that represents all for-sale listings that had experienced a price cut nationally. 

"The luxury segment is slowing down more quickly this year than it had in the past. California markets, as well as markets in Texas, are the two major ones that have seen the largest increases in price reductions. Home prices got too high too quickly, and people who listed these homes for sale kind of got ahead of themselves," Trulia data scientist Mark Uh told Business Insider, noting that many buyers know more about the market now, and could wait to make an offer once the price comes down a bit.

"In the meantime, income hasn't caught up with such huge increases in real estate prices. There's not as many people who can afford those homes — supply has grown faster than demand."

one57 model residence 58 BIt's a completely different scenario from just a few years ago, when the luxury market — especially in places like New York City and Miami — was hot, and there wasn't much supply to go around. But now that so many luxury condo buildings have either been completed or are nearing completion, supply is way up, and buyers have more options and no sense of urgency to choose between them.

Just in New York City alone, well-heeled buyers with many millions to spend can choose between super-expensive condos at One57, 432 Park Avenue, and 111 West 57th Street, just to name a few. Many of those buildings have reduced the prices of their units, or gotten more creative with the offerings of extra amenities or unique layouts. 

"If they're in the super luxury category, they have to be very realistic on pricing. There's more importance placed on being the really correct price than there had been in the recent past," Douglas Elliman Real Estate's Noble Black told Business Insider. "There's a lot of choice. If you're a buyer looking to spend $40 to $50 million, you know there's a lot more selection than there had been in the past few years."

Black's current listings include a $28.5 million penthouse in New York's trendy SoHo neighborhood, as well as an $18.9 million condo in Tribeca.

"In the past several years, [a broker could] throw out a crazy price and it would sell for that. People are looking at the fundamentals now, really assessing what the property is, and what the price is," Black said. "If those things make sense, there's a demand for it, but it has to be objectively a good deal."

Prices are on their way down

It's not just in New York and Miami that sellers are feeling the effects of a softening luxury market. We've reported on major price chops on properties owned by Tommy Hilfiger, Celine Dion, 50 Cent, and Michael Jordan, to name just a few notable names. There are many reasons why an otherwise desirable home could take months and even years to find a buyer. It could be that the property has a strange layout, that the owner's style comes off as too quirky, or that a less-than-ideal location can't be justified. Political and economic uncertainties across the globe certainly haven't helped the problem.

But to hear the pros talk about it, it sounds more and more like price-chopped homes are being brought down to the prices they should have been tagged with in the first place.

"If you want to sell something, you have to be realistic," Ryan Serhant, a broker with Nest Seekers International and star of Bravo's "Million Dollar Listing New York," told Business Insider. He added that he'll often notice potential buyers verifying listing details on their phone at the same time he's showing them around a property.

"People don't want to overpay, but they like to spend money when it's their own idea. Everyone likes to get a deal," he said.

Hilfiger plaza penthouse

Though Serhant got his start in New York, his team also operates offices in Los Angeles, Miami, and the Hamptons, and he says the slowing of the luxury market is a trend he's seen across the board. Serhant agreed with predictions that the market is headed towards a correction soon, but he thinks it's a great thing.

"It's not like real estate is less expensive. It's like going to a chiropractor to get adjusted — to feel better, it went down to its real price. It's a healthier market for sure," he said. "There have been more bidding wars than I can remember, in part because people are starting to price their homes correctly."

SEE ALSO: Nobody wants to buy Tommy Hilfiger's $58.9 million penthouse in the Plaza Hotel

Join the conversation about this story »

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Here are my 2 new favorite mental tricks to get to the gym even when I'm sick, sore, or busy

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The hardest part of going to the gym is actually getting there.

Sure, the whole sweating-through-your-clothes thing presents its own set of challenges, but once you're on the premises, you might as well. The trick is getting yourself onto those premises.

As a compromise between the miserable outdoor running and living-room floor pushups and wonderful-but-unrealistic $36 boutique workout classes, I belong to an awesome Manhattan gym chain, which includes an appealing variety of classes. It costs me $90 a month. So I have to go.

I've found two phrases to be invaluable when it comes to hitting the gym instead of sloping off to the couch after work. Lately, I've begun telling myself:

1. 'There's always a reason not to go'

I once wrote about how "there's always something" in reference to planning out your spending and your budget. It's the same for the gym. I'm not sure there has ever been a night where I couldn't think of multiple reasons not to go.

For instance, here's a list of reasons I considered not going to the gym in the last week:

  • I'm tired.
  • My calves are sore from a new class I tried.
  • I don't have the shorts I prefer to wear for spin class.
  • I got stuck at work and won't be able to make my preferred Tuesday night class.
  • It's dark.
  • It's raining.
  • I forgot my headphones.
  • I'm going to miss the express train home.
  • I'm coming down with the cold that's been going around the office.
  • I need to pack for a weekend trip.
  • My gym buddies all bailed on me.

Just because you have a reason doesn't make it a good one. Go anyway. If my reason is (well, seems) really persuasive, I reassure myself ...

2. 'You can decide whether you want to go afterward'

This tactic has worked brilliantly.

Instead of spending the day fighting myself over whether I "feel like" or "want to" go to the gym, I postpone the internal debate until after my workout.

That way, I can have a nice, indulgent mental back-and-forth and bask in indignation and reluctance for as long as I want — on the train home, having already done my workout.

I've never been sorry.

SEE ALSO: 14 ways I trick myself into going to the gym

Join the conversation about this story »

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These 12 countries have the best parental leave policies in the world

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The Bucket List Family

Out of the world's 196 countries, the US is one of only four that has no federally mandated policy to give new parents paid time off.

That burden is instead placed on individual states and employers.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have both outlined policies to make child-rearing easier. Clinton has proposed a 12-week leave plan in which each parent would get paid 67% normal wage while their off. Trump has put forward a proposal for six weeks of fully-paid maternity leave.

But some countries really prioritize the well-being of new parents — both straight and same-sex — by granting them more than a year of leave at full pay.

If you're thinking of starting a family, here are the ideal places to call home.

SEE ALSO: 19 companies that offer some of the best parental leave policies in America

Finland

Expecting mothers in Finland can start their maternity leave seven weeks before their estimated due date.

After that, the government covers 16 additional weeks of paid leave through a maternity grant, regardless of whether the mother is a student, unemployed, or self-employed. The country also offers eight weeks of paid paternity leave.

After a child turns three, parents can also take partial care leave, in which they split time between home and work. That lasts until the child starts second grade.



Denmark

New moms in Denmark get a total of 18 weeks of maternity leave: four weeks before the birth and 14 weeks after, all at full pay. During the 14-week period, the father can also take two consecutive weeks off.

From that point on, parents can split 32 additional weeks of leave however they see fit. They can also extend the leave for another 14 weeks if the child or parent gets sick. By law, the government covers 52 weeks of pay, though not always at the full salary. 



Sweden

New parents in Sweden are entitled to 480 days of leave at 80% of their normal pay. That's on top of the 18 weeks reserved just for mothers, after which the parents can split up the time however they choose. 

Sweden is unique in that dads also get 90 paid paternity days reserved just for them. The idea is to promote bonding between father and child during a time when moms are getting a lot of the attention.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

31 incredible photos of Dubai from above

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dubai skyline burj khalifa

Dubai spares no expense when making its cityscape the most jaw-dropping in the world.

In the 2000s, the emirate dropped nearly $600 billion into constructing the world's tallest tower, biggest man-made island, and most luxurious hotel, among other architectural feats.

These aerial photos of Dubai capture the city's elegance and ambition.

SEE ALSO: 12 of the most beautiful new buildings in China

Dubai is a city of superlatives. Located in the United Arab Emirates, the ritzy metropolis is home to some of the tallest, biggest, and most luxurious structures in the world.



These dazzling photos of Dubai, taken from the sky, show off the city's architectural feats.



The Burj Al Arab, the fourth-tallest hotel in the world, dominates the Dubai skyline.



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This stunning turntable plays records in mid-air

3 countries that are inviting Americans to move after the election

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US elections tend to leave half the population disappointed, so this year a few countries would like to remind people of something very important.

There's no shame in moving.

In the 18 months leading up to November 8, people in Ireland, Canada, and New Zealand have all extended an invitation to Americans to relocate if they aren't happy with how the presidential race shakes out.

In most cases, people who talk about moving to another country don't follow through. (Turns out earning citizenship is a hard, time-consuming process.) But in this case, certain places want to make it as painless an experience as possible.

Canada

This past March, a website called Cape Breton If Donald Trump Wins began touting Cape Breton Island, located just off the coast of Nova Scotia, as the hot new destination for people displeased with a Republican in the Oval Office.

The site boasts the island's cheap housing — "You'll find it one of the, if not the most affordable in North America!" — and opportunities for investment.

In reality, Cape Breton is seeing an economic slowdown because people are getting older and no longer work. The threat of a Donald Trump victory might be more of a sales tactic than anything else.

"The truth is, we welcome all, no matter who you support," the website says on its homepage, "be it Democrat, Republican or Donald Trump."

Ireland

There are just 58 people who call the Irish island of Inishturk home. Mary Heanue, Inishturk's development officer, reminded people in a TV documentary earlier this year that Americans are more than welcome to help boost that number, since Inishturk is hurting economically.

"I've heard there are quite a few people in America looking to move to Ireland and other countries if Donald Trump becomes president," Heanue said, adding that kids would have near one-on-one instruction time in schools. "I'd like them to know that we'd love to see them consider moving over here."

Irish passports may be hard to come by, however, as the recent Brexit vote has led to a surge in people looking to leave the UK in search of greener pastures.

New Zealand

As Ruth Bader Ginsburg hinted this past July, New Zealand is a third option for Americans who want a warm welcome come November.

"If you're like many people who move to New Zealand from the USA, you're probably looking for a relaxed pace of life, in an unspoiled country where people are friendly and look out for each other," the country's immigration office says on its website.

The country entices Americans with its mild summers and winters, good education system, and high standard of living.

SEE ALSO: How to move to Canada and become a Canadian citizen

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This is the best way to get the haircut you want

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Most guys aren't really concerned with different hairstyles as such.

When men ask me what they should say when they sit in the barber's chair, nine times out of 10 they just want to know how to get it short on the sides and long on the top — that classic cut that's popular these days.

But sometimes, confusion creeps in, and you don’t know what to say to avoid other, more drastic haircuts that also involve having your hair cut short on the sides and long on the top. After all, you don't want to look like Macklemore or a mushroom.

The solution is simple: add the word blended to your vocabulary. That will signal to your barber that you want the hair on the top to blend seamlessly into the hair on the sides, gradually getting shorter as it goes down.

This is called a natural or blended transition. Most barbers will do this automatically, but if you want to be sure you know what you're getting, it never hurts to ask. Note that this is not the same as a fade — a fade is where the hair on the side is not all the same length, but gets longer gradually as you go from bottom to top.

From there, you just need to specify exactly how long you want it on both the top and sides. Use figures like inches if you're specifying scissors, or clipper blade guard numbers if you're looking for a buzz. If you're unsure how long, you can always ask for longer to see what it looks like, and then go shorter if you'd prefer.

SEE ALSO: If you're going to let your beard grow out, here's the most important thing to remember

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NOW WATCH: These will be the most popular hairstyles in 2017

The 19 most expensive homes for sale in the US right now

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It's no secret that real estate isn't cheap anywhere these days, but these palatial homes give expensive a whole new definition. 

With listing prices well over what most people make in a lifetime, the most expensive homes currently on the US market feature perks like full spas, enormous movie theaters, custom marble staircases, design details fit for royalty, and enough bedrooms and bathrooms to get lost in. 

With the help of real-estate-listing site Point2Homes, we've put together a list that reveals some of the most exquisite mega-mansions, penthouses, condos, and compounds around the country. 

With all that these residences offer, there's no need to ever leave the house. And when you've paid this much, why would you want to?

Brittany Kriegstein contributed reporting to an earlier version of this story.

SEE ALSO: This relatively unknown town in Florida has become a playground for the richest of the rich

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19. This 8,000-square-foot condo in New York City's famous 432 Park Avenue has all of the benefits of being built in 2015. Sleek, modern design details are present throughout, and spectacular Manhattan views can even be enjoyed from the bathtub.

Price:$82 million

Access to the building's state-of-the-art gym and pool, plus the rights to brag about living in the tallest residential building in the Western Hemisphere, make the property even more desirable.

Click here to tour the building »



18. At 15,000 square feet, this six-story Upper East Side mansion is something out of a Gilded Age storybook. It's being sold by real-estate developer Keith Rubenstein of Somerset Partners.

Price:$84.5 million

Absolutely every detail is accounted for in this house, from custom marble and woodwork to steam-resistant mirrors in the bathrooms and a temperature-controlled room for storing fur coats. The dining room spans one full city block, and a two-story staff suite ensures that there is plenty of room for the help.

Click here to tour the home »



14. (TIE) Like something straight out of "The Great Gatsby," this magnificent estate in Great Neck, Long Island, boasts 13 bedrooms, 35 bathrooms, indoor and outdoor pools, health complexes, game rooms, a bowling alley, and an electronic casino.

Price:$85 million

Private gardens lead to a pier for a private yacht, and the iconic New York City skyline is visible from the extensive waterfront. The estate was previously owned by Tamir Sapir, a Russian émigré who made his fortune in New York real estate. He died in 2014.

Click here to tour the home »



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Gorgeous photos give a look inside the closets of 4 famous entrepreneurs

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Since 2011, the fashion website Coveteur has peeked inside the closets of hundreds of CEOs, tastemakers, and celebrities, allowing readers to get an inside look at the luxurious lifestyles of people like Cindy Crawford and Hugh Hefner. 

"Someone's closet reveals a ton about them," Stephanie Mark, Coveteur's cofounder and head of business development, told Business Insider. "It can speak to how they express themselves. What we have found is that a person's wardrobe and personal style tells a lot about their personality."

This year, the site released its first book, "The Coveteur: Private Spaces, Personal Style," with 40 profiles over 267 gorgeous pages. We talked to Mark about the process and got her thoughts on our four favorite profiles.   

SEE ALSO: Take a look inside the Brooklyn loft of a Wall Streeter turned fragrance entrepreneur

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In 2012, Coveteur published a piece on Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. "The great thing about Hugh Hefner is that he's an inspiration to so many people in all different types of fields, not just fashion or media," Mark said.



According to "The Coveteur: Private Spaces, Personal Style," Hefner gave the photographer full access to the interior of his closet. "[It] was stocked with all of his signatures: slinky PJs in every color of the rainbow, loafers, bunny cuff links, velvet blazers, captain’s hats, and even a few novelty keepsakes from the Playboy archives."



"The fact that I wear sleepwear evolved early on," Hefner told Coveteur. "I started the magazine in 1953 and found myself taking the work with me, home to the Mansion. I was working at night — around the clock — and it just became a natural kind of thing to wear the pajamas; they were comfortable."



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We spent an afternoon at the Trump Winery in Virginia and it wasn't what we expected at all

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During a recent trip to Virginia, I spent an afternoon at Trump Winery in Charlottesville. Donald Trump purchased the property in 2011, as well as the adjoining estate the following year. He subsequently handed over control of the enterprise to his son Eric. 

Even though the Republican presidential nominee said during a news conference in March that he owns it "a hundred percent," the winery's website states that it isn't officially affiliated with Donald Trump or his organization.

The winery itself provided a lovely environment for a Saturday afternoon over Labor Day weekend. Along with refreshing, reasonably-priced wines, we found a mix of Trump supporters as well as people who were simply there to enjoy the wine and the spectacular views of the Virginia countryside.

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Here's why added sugar is so bad for you

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Since fat became Public Enemy No. 1 in the 1970s, and Americans started abandoning it like the plague, sugar slowly snuck into our food supply to make sure low-fat food still tasted good.

Today, you can find added sugar lurking in items you'd never expect to be quite that sweet — from yogurts and salad dressings to granola bars and sliced bread.

We now know, however, that fat isn't nearly as bad as we thought, and sugar is much, much worse. Research has found diets high in sugar are associated with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, among other problems.

The US Food and Drug Administration is finally requiring food manufacturers include "added sugars" on nutrition labels by July 2018. (Until then, you can tell if a food has added sugars by checking if words like "sugar," "fructose," "sucrose," or "cane juice" are on the ingredients list.)

This labeling change means companies will have to track any sugars they add to foods that don't come naturally from the ingredients. So the naturally occurring sugars in yogurt from milk, for example, wouldn't count as "added" sugars, but if manufacturers add sucrose or corn syrup, those additional ingredients would.

Americans get most of the sugar they eat in processed foods, which researchers wrote in a 2016 study were contributing to making us "overfed and undernourished." Usually, these processed foods are low in other important nutrients, like protein and fiber, while they're high in things like sugar. It's why people call them "empty calories."

The US government recommends people only get 10% of their calories per day from added sugars (the American Heart Association is even stricter), but Americans actually get closer to 15% of their daily calories from added sugars on average.

daily sugar intake graphic expectations reality

So what's the difference between 'added' and 'natural'?

Whether a sugar is "added" or "natural," the body processes it the same way. But the difference lies in where those types are usually found, Mary E. Gearing writes for Harvard University— and how your body ends up dealing with them.

Fruits typically have a lot of sugar, but they have fiber, too. Eating fiber allows your body to digest sugar more slowly, so you don't get the devastating crash from a sugar high. Processed foods with added sugars, however, have typically filtered the fiber out, so the sugar will enter your bloodstream more quickly, and you'll likely be hungry again soon.

Molecularly speaking, added sugars are no different from "natural" ones. But cutting added sugars from our diets — and the foods they're found in — looks like the best way to reduce our sugar intake and ward off some of the negative health effects they're linked to.

SEE ALSO: More than half the calories in Americans' diets come from something we probably shouldn't be eating at all

DON'T MISS: 15 disturbing consequences of eating too much sugar

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9 horrible body language habits that are hard to quit

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It's not what you say, it's how you say it.

It's an old cliché, but it's true. That's why body language is such a crucial part of communicating. The way you act can warp the entire meaning of what you're saying.

That being said, bad body language habits are the often hardest ones to break. We become so accustomed to slouching, averting our eyes, or folding our arms that we barely even notice what we're doing.

Here are several body language mistakes that are going to be tough to ditch. Still, if you're able to quit them, you'll definitely thank yourself later.

Fidgeting

If you've gotten into the habit of fidgeting, it can be difficult to snap out of it. However, it's important to take steps to reigning in this nervous habit.

Fidgeting demonstrates nervousness and a lack of power, as body language expert and "The Power of Body Language" author Tonya Reiman previously told Business Insider.



Playing with your hair

Leave your hair alone. Constantly running your hands across your scalp and twirling your locks is pretty distracting. Plus, as ABC reported, it can damage your hair overtime. It can
be hard to quit, so try playing around a stress ball instead of your hair.



Adopting a defensive pose

Many people naturally cross their arms or hunch over a bit just because they don't know what to do with their hands.

However, this posture can make you look uncomfortable, defensive, or untrustworthy.

"You should always keep your hands in view when you are talking," Patti Wood, a body language expert and author of " SNAP: Making the Most of First Impressions Body Language and Charisma," previously told Business Insider. When a listener can't see your hands, they wonder what you are hiding."



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Here's how to split the restaurant bill in any situation

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Whether you're taking a client to dinner, grabbing lunch with a new friend, or sharing a meal with your in-laws, awkwardness can immediately settle in when the bill comes and everyone stares, silently wondering, "Who pays?"

Several potential scenarios can play out: Should you split the check evenly? Should everyone pay for their own meal? Is it expected that your father-in-law will pick up the check?

Every dining situation, from a birthday dinner to a double date, commands its own nuances when it comes to handling the check. We spoke with three experts — Diane Gottsman, national etiquette expert and the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, David Weliver, founder of financial advice website Money Under 30, and Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick, founder and president of The Etiquette School of New York— to definitively decide how to handle the bill in 10 common situations.

"Other than business meals, there are no hard and fast rules for splitting the check," Napier-Fitzpatrick told Business Insider. "In business, it's protocol for the person extending the invitation to pay. In terms of all other different scenarios, I would say there are certain guidelines, things one would do to make sure they didn't feel taken advantage of and that they're being considerate when it comes to paying for meals."

Read on to check out who's turn it is to pick up the bill when, and avoid those awkward "How do you wanna do this?" conversations for good.

SEE ALSO: 13 smart 10-minute money decisions our coworkers wish they'd made sooner

DON'T MISS: A financial planner reveals the best money habit for 30-somethings







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