Wednesday, April 13, 2011

10 Biggest Girlfriend Mysteries Revealed and Solved

Written By Belisa Vranich for our content partner Men's Life Today -- Handpicked for you by our team.

10 Ultimate Girlfriend Mysteries -- Solved!

In this day and age, mankind has figured out how to engineer a nanoparticle to walk the dog, post a letter and empty the crumbs from the kitchen toaster. And yet, your lady (or the lady you want) can still confound you with wants and needs you just don’t understand.

Is there some way to hack into this FOS (Female Operating System)? Maybe an online translator that can interpret the language of the modern girlfriend?

Well, we can’t explain every inexplicable thing she does. But we can highlight the most familiar (no doubt) scenarios and give you a cross-sectioned, 3-D snapshot of her brain at that moment along with a little bonus perspective.

Here, the top 10 confounding girlfriend mysteries, defounded:

Mystery No. 1: She wears killer shoes.

She insists on wearing shoes that have no resemblance to the human foot, then complains that her feet are killing her.Her brain: She knows how sexy these skyscraper heels make her legs look -- no matter what her weight. (Bonus: Unlike her other clothes, her shoes always fit since her feet stay the same size.) There is a God.
How to handle:
Don’t even try to convince her that loafers are sexy. Besides, you too like how those heels make her legs look! Just make sure she has a chair, stool or lap to sit on at all times.

Mystery No. 2: She’s fickle with frenemies.

She can go from best friend to mortal enemy with someone within 48 hours (and revert back in 72).

Her brain: They talk a lot more than guys, start talking younger, and in general, use a lot more words. So of course women argue more -- it’s a numbers game.

How to handle: Is this really crazy behaviour? What do two boxers do at the end of bloody fight? They hug like old school pals. See, we aren’t that different. Just try to jump ahead and envision her endgame, and you’ll get fewer surprises.

Mystery No. 3: Her self-esteem is a fashion victim.

An article of clothing can make her feel thin or fat.

Her brain: Since she’s been old enough to point and say “I want,” she has been subliminally and not so subliminally programmed by marketing. Of course she actually believes that those trousers -- and this hairspray, that lip gloss and that perfume -- can actually make her into a different person (the pushup bra excluded, ingenious wicked invention that was).

How to handle: Tell her that nothing makes her look fat to you and that her skinny clothes indeed make her look very lean. She’ll roll her eyes at how daft you are in the first scenario (“Just look at my bum in that skirt! It needs its own postcode!) and smile at the second.

Mystery No. 4: She gets flash hunger attacks.

When she gets hungry, she has to eat “right now” or she’ll faint. (Didn’t she see it coming?)

Her brain: It’s just wired more delicately when it comes to intake and output of energy. Because of hormonal changes throughout the month, at times she needs more “fuel” than others. Plus, she’s by nature a caretaker, so tuning into her own grumbling stomach comes last. Result: You have that girl clawing at you to stop at a late-night kirana-walla for a snack of nuts … or anything!

How to handle: Don’t take this as a nuisance; see it as a fantastic opportunity to look like a great guy when you stop to get her a yoghurt or paratha.

Mystery No. 5: She clones her clothes.

She buys multiple items of clothing that look exactly the same.

Her brain:
: “How does this look?”
(You squint. Don’t say it. Don’t! We warned you.)
: “Don’t you have one just like it?”
The consequences: She rewards you with a long list of reasons why the second identical little black thingie is better than the first.

How to handle: Instead of stating the obvious, the correct response would have simply been, “Great!” Plus, now you know what to get her for Valentine’s Day: something that looks exactly like something she has.

Mystery No. 6: She bans many foods.

One food can become vilified virtually overnight. (Salad dressing has to be on the side etc.)

Her brain: Every week, magazine after magazine uncovers a new reason why everyone is obese. Add to this the Armageddon-like disaster of a hint of cellulite somewhere, and no wonder she can count a meal’s calories faster than you can say, “We’re ready to order.”

How to handle: Encourage less neurotic eating habits, and make sure to over-tip the poor bullied waitress who was interrogated about e-v-e-r-y s-i-n-g-l-e ingredient in her dish.

Mystery No. 7: She’s best friends with celebs.

She feels perfectly entitled to talk about an actress/singer/socialite and that celebrity’s outfits/boyfriend/makeup in detail, though she’s never actually met her (and probably never will).

Her brain: She’s grown up with Kareena Kapoor and Katrina Kaif. Their pain has been hers; their struggles and successes hers as well.

How to handle: You can either fight the power by making her clarify “Kapoor” or “Kaif” every time or just know that it’s one of 10 celebs who are pretty much interchangeable anyway.

Mystery No. 8: She preps forever.

“Throwing on some jeans” takes at least half an hour.

Her brain: Looking “spontaneous” takes time and effort. Her mental process: “Makeup, a touch-up with the curling iron … hmm, maybe I’ll floss while it warms up. Better cover up that spot too.”

How to handle: Take a chill pill on this one.

Mystery No. 9: She hairballs the pipes.

Much like steel wool, small dense nests of her long hair clog the sink and shower drains constantly.

Her brain: She has to trim, colour, style, straighten, curl and fluff. We assume you don’t.

How to handle: This is the price you pay for her beauty: having to yank this stuff out of bathroom pipes. Just look unphased.

Mystery No. 10: She’s 360-degree self-obsessed.

She’s as obsessed about looking as good from the back and sides as from the front (hence the yoga-inspired contortions in front of the mirror to inspect herself from all angles).

Her brain: Half the time people look at her, it’s from the back, right?

How to handle: Keep in mind you benefit when you get a glimpse of that thong peeking out from her trousers -- which she’s totally aware of. See how it all works?


Belisa Vranich is a clinical psychologist, author and public speaker specialising in relationships and sex. She is also the new sexpert at Fox News.

The right facial hair to attract the girl of your dreams

Written By Belisa Vranich and brought to you by our content partner Men's Life Today -- Handpicked for you by our team.

Facial Hair to Attract the Girl of Your Dreams

Rather than just relying on prayer and luck, you can actually change yourself into the man she seems attracted to. And this power to morph into her dream guy lies right at your fingertips -- or rather, at the tip of your mug. Yup, we’re talking facial hair.

Look, we don’t want to stereotype, but ever notice how certain lady types tend to go for certain guy types? Sure, you already know they’re assessing your God-given attractiveness, career choice, wealth aptitude, tattoo-titudes and Avatar action figure collection. But are you also aware that they're judging you by your facial hair choices? The trick is to groom your facial hair to attract the girl you want.

Below, we present six lady archetypes and the kind of facial hair they’re likely to go for. (Just don’t do any major shaves on date night: You don’t want a tan line around where the spot your face fur used to be.)

The Biker Chick

She’s into: Motorcycles and classic rock (like Motorhead), and loves the WWE.

You grow:

A Fu Manchu -- that’s a ’stache shaped like a horseshoe, named after an evil genius movie character in the 1930s (current wearers include Hulk Hogan). Add large sideburns or lamb chops for a more extreme effect.

Possible hairy situation:

While you can let the ends grow past your chin or curl up off your face (turning into a handlebar mustache), never, ever let the hair above your upper lip grow to the point you can grasp it with your bottom teeth. Eww.

The Intellectual

She’s into: Smart. You’ve seen her with guys obviously destined for professor-hood.

You grow:

… take a deep breath … a beard.

Possible hairy situation: While it gives the impression you’re too busy finishing your dissertation to shave, take a second careful look to ensure symmetry and a lack of errant hairs.

The Cool Chick

She’s into: Retro. Or hipster. Her style says, “I’m original and I like original.”

You grow:

Either a pencil mustache (think Rhett Butler or Gomez Adams) or a caterpillar, a slightly thicker version. She’ll make a beeline to you at the coffee shop to comment on your “courage” faster than you can say “latte with skim milk.”

Possible hairy situation: Brace yourself for teasing from friends. Also: If you get carried away with trimming the sides, you’ll end up with a “Charlie Chaplin” (also called a “toothbrush” or “Hitler”).

The Goth Girl

She’s into: Black hair, black clothes …

You grow:

“The Satan,” (aka “The Magician”), a mini-handlebar and goatee combo shaped into a V. Note: the darker your hair, the better.

Possible hairy situation:

If you’re tempted to include arched eyebrows (a la David Navarro) into the mix, go to a professional so you don’t end up with Boy George brows.

The Free Spirit

She’s into: … different. Just a tad. The guys you see her with are never clean-shaven. She likes subtle pizzazz.

You grow:

A small facial hair commitment just to catch her eye -- think soul patch, chin patch or petit goatee. If time is of the essence, consider shaping your sideburns into Vulcan-like points.

Possible hairy situation:

If you do go Vulcan, resist the temptation to sign off with “live long and prosper” or hail your friends with the requisite three-toed sloth hand signal.

The Corporate Gal

She’s into: … smooth -- as a baby’s butt. Keep it simple, stupid. Shave in the a.m., and gosh darn it, maybe even a second time in the p.m. just to drive home the point.

You grow:

Nothing. Sure there’s a hint of 5 o’clock shadow (on weekends). But otherwise, you are one human-resources-guidelines-following mofo.

Possible hairy situation:

You’re late and your razor went by way of your lost luggage at the airport. Basically, you look like you pulled an all-nighter. Don’t bother pretending that the look was deliberate. She’s with the corporation, remember, and they don’t like padded truths or expense reports.

Belisa Vranich is a clinical psychologist, author and public speaker specializing in relationships and sex. She is also the sexpert at Fox News (both online and on cable).

Get more fit and healthy with Plyometrics

Written By Ethan Boldt and brought to you by our content partner Men's Life Today -- Handpicked for you by our team.

Get a Jump on Your Fitness with Plyometrics

Elite athletes know plyometrics. Simply put, they know it improves athletic performance by making them quicker and more explosive. Once used in a small percentage of athletic programs, plyometrics are now an integral part of the elite athlete’s regimen, with everyone from Drew Brees to Kevin Durant to Tiger Woods swearing by them.

But the average gym-goer, no matter how fit, probably doesn’t fully understand them. While a plyo program has tremendous value, it is a highly specialized fitness activity that needs to be done in tandem with an overall strengthening program, and it needs to be done right.

The Basics

“Plyometrics capitalizes on strength,” says certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) Gregory Haff, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist at West Virginia University who coaches Olympic weightlifters. In other words, make sure you have a strong base before embarking on a plyo program, especially in your legs, hips and core. If you’re doing plenty of power exercises like squats, lunges, leg presses, stiff-legged dead lifts, leg curls and core moves, then you’re ready.

For the beginner, Haff recommends doing plyos twice a week for 80-100 jumps (do cardio and weights on two to three other days). Your plyo program will consist of a 10- to 20-minute warm-up and only about 10 minutes of plyos. Haff advises a four-to-six week program before a sport season (not during one). If you’re not playing a sport, simply cycle in a month of plyometrics every three to four months.

Why So Limited?

According to Haff, fatigue cuts down your ability to engage the strength-shortening cycle, or SSC, which is what plyometrics is all about.

Any explosive movement involves the two phases of muscular contraction: the eccentric phase (muscle lengthening under tension) followed by the concentric phases (muscle being shortened). A pre-stretch of the muscle lengthens it and creates tension that can be used to increase the concentric contraction, which must immediately follow, or else the tension goes away as heat. Take, for example, the quick countermovement before jumping, when you rapidly switch from descending to ascending. The faster the muscle is stretched eccentrically, the greater the force on the subsequent concentric phase. In other words, the shortest amount of time spent on the ground (amortization) during a jump results in the greatest jumping performance.

Tire your muscles and you’ll lengthen the amortization, which then decreases the effectiveness of the plyometric exercise.

The Warm-up

Complete a dynamic 10- to 20-minute warm-up prior to plyos: high-knee walking, heels-to-butt walking, skipping, walking lunges, shuffling sideways, carioca (moving sideways in a grapevine movement of step, step behind, step in front), running backward with heels hitting butt, rope skipping, and finally dynamic stretches (neck rotations, shoulder rolls, arm rotations, trunk twists, hip rotations, knee rolls, ankle rotations and leg swings).

The Program

The following program was provided by Jim Radcliffe, CSCS, strength coach at the University of Oregon. Use a flat, cushioned surface, and rest for 30 to 60 seconds between each set.


# Reps

# Sets

1. Pogo



2. Squat jump

4 to 6 (first 2 weeks); then 6 to 8

2 (first 2 weeks) to 3

3. Rocket jump

4 to 6

2 (first 2 weeks) to 3

4. Star jump

4 to 6

2 (first 2 weeks) to 3

5. Galloping



6. Fast skipping



Pogo: Take upright stance with knees slightly bent, chest out and shoulders back. Jump straight up by projecting hips upward for height, using only lower portion of legs; you’ll resemble a pogo stick, with knees staying slightly bent throughout exercise. With arms bent at 90 degrees, swing them up for each jump to assist. Upon each takeoff, keep toes pointed up (instead of down).

Squat jump: Take relaxed, upright stance with feet about shoulder-width apart. Interlock fingers, and place palms against back of head. Flex downward to half-squat position, then immediately explode upward as high as possible, extending hips, knees and ankles to maximum length as quickly as you can. For first two weeks, pause between each jump.

Rocket jump: Take relaxed, upright stance with feet about shoulder-width apart. Slightly flex arms, and hold them close to body. Flex downward to half-squat position, then immediately explode upward as high as possible, extending whole body (including arms) vertically.

Star jump: Same as rocket jump, except extend limbs outward in all four directions away from body, arms pointed at 10 and 2 o’clock and legs at 7 and 5 o’clock.

Galloping: (For this and the following exercise, you'll need access to a large, open space.) Assume a standing position with one leg in front of the other. Gallop like a horse by pushing off with back leg and foot, and continue to keep same leg behind hips while maintaining other leg in forward position. One foot will always come off the ground before the other. Keep ankle locked to emphasize spring-loaded landing and takeoff. Switch position of legs after 10 gallops.

Fast skipping: Assume a relaxed standing position with one leg slightly forward. Skip as quickly as possible, maintaining close contact with the ground and eliminating air time.

Style your hair productively -- For Men

Written By Jessica Lothstein for our content partner Men's Life Today -- Handpicked for you by our team.

Be Product-ive With Your Hair

Know your mop needs taming but don’t know where to begin? Start here, with our quick guide to men’s hair products -- and how to use them.

Gel, goop, putty, pomade … it’s all scary enough to make a guy’s hair stand up straight. But it doesn’t have to be that way -- unless that’s the look you want, of course. In truth, you only need to stock your arsenal with five different kinds of lotions and potions and know two rules on using them:

First, don’t use too much -- a dime-sized glob does the job for most guys. Second, the drier your hair, the stronger the hold. “The rule of thumb with any product is you’ll get a stronger hold if you apply it to drier hair,” says Chuck Olson, a New York-based hairstylist.

Here’s what to use to get the look you’re after:

Hair Cream

Level of hold: 1

What it does: This stuff feels like lotion and works as a light conditioner.

“Cream is good for reducing dryness and taming frizzy hair,” says Olson. “It gives shape without a lot of hold.”

What to do with it: After you get out of the shower, squirt the cream into your hands, run it through your wet hair and comb to distribute evenly.

Celebrity style icon: George Clooney


Level of hold: 2

What it does
: This is a cool product because it does everything: It offers hold, it defines, it adds shine and it has a slightly pasty feel. “This is the product for a really slicked-back look,” says Cori Randall, New York City-based hairstylist and instructor. “In the old days, it created a cement helmet-head appearance, but new water-based pomades create the same look without all the stiffness.”

What to do with it
: For a wet and shiny look, apply it right after you get out of the shower. For a more natural look, wait until your hair is about 50 percent dry, then apply. “It’s also great for curly hair,” says Randall. “It’s a humectant (a moisture-retaining ingredient), so it keeps hair tamed and under control.”

Celebrity style icon
: Andy Garcia


Level of hold: 3

What it does
: “This is the magic stuff behind the I-spent-20-minutes-on-my-hair-to-look-like-I-just-rolled-out-of-bed look,” says Randall. It’s fiber-based and matte, so it’s good for creating texture and separation.

What to do with it: Put a dime-sized amount in your palms and rub your hands together vigorously for 20 to 30 seconds (you want to really warm it up). Then use your fingertips to apply it to your hair -- first at the roots, then at the tips.

Celebrity style icon
: Robert Pattinson in Twilight

Goop or Putty

Level of hold: 4

What it does
: Use this when you want some shine and a strong hold without all the crispiness. “It looks a little more natural than gels or pomades,” says Randall. It also has a more versatile finish -- you can go back and play with your hair and restyle it throughout the day.

What to do with it
: Squirt a dime-sized glob into your hands, rub them together, then run them through your hair, starting at the roots and working outwards. If you want to create spikes or chunks, separate your hair into large sections and apply some extra goop to each section, focusing on the tips, with your fingertips.

Celebrity style icon
: Brad Pitt


Level of hold: 5

What it does
: “Gels are good for guys who want a strong hold,” says Olson. “On straight hair, it creates a really slicked-back look; on wavy locks and curls, it adds definition.” Bottom line: Gelled hair is going nowhere -- this stuff makes your locks feel almost crispy.

What to do with it: Use on just-showered hair for a wet look with lots of hold; or apply on dry hair, then blow-dry for a slightly more natural look.

Celebrity style icon: Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight

Jessica Lothstein is a freelance writer and former editor at Best Life magazine. She writes on a range of subjects, including grooming and fashion.

Get your business casual on a budget

Written By Michael Rovner and brought to you by our content partner Men's Life Today -- Handpicked for you by our team

Business Casual on a Budget

So the dress code at your new job is “business casual,” and you’re thinking, “What the … ?” Don’t fret, at least not about your wardrobe. Business casual is less straightforward than a suit and tie, but it’s not rocket science. And if you’re smart about it, you can look as sharp as the next guy for a whole lot less.

While it depends on the kind of office in which you work, business casual typically means crisp, professional and sober. “You don't need a tie, per se, but we're not talking about sweatpants. Think of the overall look and make the pieces work together,” says Khurshid Begum, creative director for Modern Culture at Oved Apparel and a fashion industry veteran who's worked for Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and Giorgio Armani. Here’s how to do it:

Step No. 1: See What You Have
Everyone owns jeans, and if you don't have a pair of dark, fitted denim, you should. If you work in a more creative environment, the same goes for a pair of simple black sneakers in either canvas or leather, like Converse Jack Purcells or Adidas Stan Smiths. You probably own a few long-sleeve button-up shirts and a pair of khaki pants as well. These are keepers. "The key here is to look polished, but not too formal. That means your things can’t look too worn-in. If you see yellowed armpits or frayed collars, replace the item," says Begum. For everything else, he says, get thee to a dry cleaner. “Get the wrinkles out and show up looking crisp."

Step No.2: Fill in the Gaps in Your Wardrobe
If you're on a budget, keep the colors basic; don't buy orange pants or green shirts, because you'll be limited in how you can put them together. Stick to blues, grays and beiges and you'll get more outfits out of the same group of clothes. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to pair every item you purchase with at least two other items. This is how you build upon your wardrobe rather than just buying more clothes.

Keep the following in mind as essentials: a nice belt, a good pair of leather dress shoes, a few pairs of khakis, a good sport coat, and several shirts (a couple of whites, a couple of blues and a couple of stripes to mix it up). Begum also recommends owning a half-dozen pairs of dark socks that come up to the calf. “The easiest way to look like an idiot is to show up in a great casual outfit and ruin it with white sweat socks," he says. If there’s still room in your budget, a couple of sweaters in different styles, while not necessary, can be useful extras: a cardigan that can be worn in place of a sport coat or under one if it's not too bulky, and a crew neck or v-neck or even sweater vest that can be worn in the same way.

Step No. 3: Put It All Together
You can wear a blue shirt and khakis twice in a week, but change it up the second time, maybe with that cardigan, or with a navy knit tie (another good extra if you have the budget). If you go with the tie, and you’re in the right work environment, you could also wear sneakers that day to balance out the look. Get the idea?

Step No. 4: Shop
Consignment shops, thrift stores and eBay are great if you genuinely enjoy shopping and have a gift for putting things together. If not, contemporary men’s brands like Banana Republic and J. Crew are good for inspiration even if they’re a bit out of your price range, because practically everything goes together already. Pick up a couple of basic outfits at either of those stores, or use them for ideas before you head to H&M or the Gap.
Michael Rovner is a freelance journalist who has covered fashion for The New York Times Magazine, Details and the New York Post.