Seven Daily Habits Help to Keep Slim and Fit

I have had been fortunate to have a fit body for most of my life. As an avid exerciser, bodybuilder and fitness competitor for most of my younger years, I developed good habits and a strong commitment to personal health that have served well now that I am a mom of three .

I don’t have the time for the gamut of exercises and strict diet I had back in my “glory days.” But I maintain seven specific habits that have played a critical role in my staying slim, healthy, and strong. These are the real reasons that I maintain good fitness and health.

  1. I move my body whenever I have the chance. I get up from my seat and walk around the house, the yard, the grocery store, and when I do I perform isometric exercises throughout the day. Walking from my car indoors, I purposefully contract my bottom muscles with each step, standing in line I contract my stomach muscles or bend my leg back and contract my hamstring muscles (muscles in the back of the thigh), sitting down I extend one leg out at a time and flex my quadriceps muscles (front of the thigh), and many others – which will be the subject of a vlog coming very soon.
  2. I seldom eat after 4:00 in the afternoon. At dinner with my family, I just have a glass of water or Perrier while we sit together and enjoy one-another’s company. Sometimes I have a small bite of something here and there.
  3. I drink black coffee first thing in the morning. I happen to love the taste, and caffeine revs up the metabolism, suppresses appetite, and is very satisfying
  4. I begin each day (after my coffee) with a homemade green smoothie. I add carrot juice, almond milk and about 1.5 cups of raw lettuce, like a spring mix, and sometimes broccoli, kale, spinach or whatever greens I have in my fridge. This makes me feel full in the morning, but more importantly, it packs an enormous punch of nutrients and fiber with a very small number of calories. This comprises at least three servings of vegetables in one sitting. Important note: I don’t do this for the taste. This is almost like taking medicine sometimes. Drinking this helps me look at food as fuel and nutrition as opposed to purely pleasure.
  5. I drink lots of water throughout the day. There is a reason we are constantly being reminded to do this by fitness magazines, doctors and wellness professionals. Distilled water is ideal, although not necessary. Drinking about two quarts of water a day will keep you hydrated as well as help to quickly flush out excess sodium, and with that, excessive bloating.
  6. I perform deep breathing and meditative practice throughout the day. I belly-breathe as often as I think of it – and always when I feel stressed. I try to use any menial or repetitive chore throughout the day as an opportunity to concentrate my attention in the moment and fully experience the task without allowing my mind to race into the future or linger in the past. Doing this is very freeing and creates joy.
  7. If I take a bite of something, especially if it is high in calories, and it does not taste good or as good as I had hoped (like a hunk of chocolate) I will spit it out (discretely and in private, of course). There is no reason to ingest the calories if it doesn’t taste really good. This practice also discourages me from takin the second bite.

There you have it. They are pretty simple and easy to follow. It just takes practice and diligence to incorporate some or all of them into your life. If you change nothing else in your life and do these things, you will be slimmer and healthier at the end of the year.

Advertisements

Increase Exercise Pre-Holiday

The Holidays are officially here – and so are an extra ten pounds on my stomach and hips. This time of year I find it nearly impossible to avoid eating sweets. I am eating sugary everything – cookies, candy, desserts. Even sugary, creamy coffee (I usually drink it black). Even though I get caught in the cycle of eating then craving sugar, then eating more and craving more, almost every year, I still find it a distressing byproduct of holiday cheer.

The fear of gaining so much weight that none of my clothes will fit is less worrisome than the mood swings and sleepiness the additional sugar bring on. Sugar truly is poison – and as addictive as alcohol or cocaine. It is nasty unhealthy stuff disguised as a harmless jellyroll.

One way I alleviate some of the distress of this bad habit during the holidays is to begin stepping up my exercise routine around the first week of December. Specifically, I increase my weight bearing exercise to gain additional muscle on my body. More muscle I increases our metabolism – so by having more muscle, I burn more calories just sleeping.

Also, I find that getting a head start on regular exercise before the new year,naturally helps me want to continue positive change in the new year. It is like creating a new and healthy cycle.

Finally, exercise improves my mood and reduces stress. These benefits really are huge for me this time of year.  This strategy has helped me get through the holidays without losing my mind – or gaining (too much) weight.

 

Infusing Skin with Moisture

Nothing increases facial lines and wrinkles like dehydrated skin. All the anti-aging actives in the world, even those mentioned in my previous post, do not have as immediate and dramatic effect on the look of skin as well-hydrated skin has. Skin becomes less moist as we get older. In order to keep skin healthy and maintain dewy youthfulness, we must correct this dryness.

When I first started using Retin-A every night, my skin became incredibly dry – it pealed constantly – which was great for uncovering new skin cells, but not so good to look at. I tried several moisturizers and oils to counteract the dryness, but they did not really help. Stopping using the Retin-A was not an option because the known anti-aging benefits are too compelling, so I had to determine a better method of moisturizing. After trial and error and research, I found the solution to keeping my skin always well hydrated: Applying moisturizers in layers.

To hydrate skin after cleansing or after applying Retin-A at night, I apply a hyaluronic acid (HA) – based serum. HA is a humectant megastar ingredient that carries 1000 times its weight in water into your skin. I then apply a moisturizing cream that has an occlusor as a primary ingredient.  An occlusor is an oil, butter or wax that stays on the surface of your skin and locks in the moisture from the humectant. Examples are dimethicone, mineral oil, shea butter and beeswax – just to name a few.

It is very important to use the occlusor after and on top of the HA especially in dry air – your heated home, or in arid climates.

Without the occlusor, water molecules will be pulled out of your skin and released into drier air – very bad for your skin’s health and appearance. If your climate is humid and moist, this step becomes less urgent.

Here is my routine when I am staying in very dry air for a period of time: I apply my HA serum, then mist my face with water and apply the occlusive moisturizer immediately on top.

This is also an excellent moisture boost for anytime you’d like your skin to have an infusion of water. There really is no substitute for well-hydrated skin. These extra steps I describe here are well worth it for glowing healthy skin.

Dream, Believe, Achieve, and be Gorgeous

Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be pretty. I was under the mistaken impression that if I was beautiful, I would never have any problems, or ever be lonely. Obviously, I was wrong about that. My desire to be pretty was so great – that it was really something I HAD to do. I am convinced that my obsessive desire made it happen for me. I believe intense desire for anything, combined with action toward achieving that desire, will make that desire come true.

I confess, I still have high standards of my appearance that must be met. So, I prepare for my day as though I am trying to be the best looking person around. While I am certainly not always best, I have that secret goal in the back of my mind which gives me the internal edge to make it happen. I purposely don’t allow the fact that I often fall short of best upset me or make me feel diminished.  I separate my value as a person from my looks. I also do not judge others on their looks – whether or not they are attractive.

As with any endeavor, true creativity and artistry are necessary in looking beautiful. I have carefully, methodically, designed a skin care routine to maximize the look and health of my skin. I have done similarly, with my hair and physique. As well as practiced and perfected application of make-up to create a beautiful appearance. I formulated skin and hair care products for myself that perform the functions I specifically need to look my best – which, for me, includes looking more youthful.

Because of my background as a cosmetic chemist and artist, I know the difference between hype and what creates real results. I want results: skin care that will smooth my skin and keep it moist and luminous, hair care that adds body and shine and keeps my hair scrupulously healthy, and make-up that makes my best features bigger-than-life and minimizes my worst. I am constantly researching trade journals to find cutting edge agents that work to keep me younger looking and trying tons of  products that I intuitively think may have a positive effect to give my looks an advantage.

This website is dedicated to sharing with you my special insights, applications and science of beauty. My list of anti-aging agents on my skin care page was a result of my effort. My 12-minute workout routine in my book and that I write about on my fitness page is also a result of that effort. My bare-minimum make-routine is too.  And I have so much more.

But, I cannot stress enough the importance of our mindset and attitude toward anything in life that we wish to accomplish. First, we need to know exactly what we want to accomplish and why we want to accomplish it. When it becomes a “MUST” for us, we will find a way to make it happen. Ninety percent of our successes are a result of our states-of-mind and resolve. The rest is in action toward accomplishing them. Dream big, educate yourself, and work hard. Anything you want is yours.

 

Fitness is Bliss

Training with weights builds and strengthens muscle. Training with weights strategically sculpts your body. We all have ideas in our minds how we would like to reshape our bodies to conform to some standard we have in our minds. For me, when I was very young, it was Barbie – a slightly unrealistic ideal.

For instance, for those of us who have pear-shaped bodies, we usually want to balance our bodies by slimming our hips and butt, and increasing size in our shoulders. That helps create symmetry. For those of us who have rounder bellies and thinner legs, we want to shrink our bellies, bring our waist into an hourglass shape, and perhaps add some shapely muscle mass to our thighs. If you have skinny calves, you may want to increase the size of your calf with specific strength training exercises for this area.  All of these reshaping attempts are called body sculpting, and it can be a powerful ally in helping us look and feel more beautiful.

If we want to trim some extra body fat, we can add walking, jogging, jumping rope, swimming, dancing, tennis (singles), bicycling, stair climbing, elliptical exercises, or rowing machine. Those are all exercises we do at a sustained level for an extended period of time. Walking for ½ hour is a good start, working up to an hour, then add jogging. The above exercises, work our cardio-vascular systems (strengthens the heart and blood circulatory system) and are key for your overall health. They also burn body fat – helping you to lose weight, quickly.

We don’t have to spend hours in the gym to get and look fit and fabulous. That is a myth from the ‘80’s. I wrote a book describing in detail my personal 12-minute full body workout. It works, and can truly be completed in 12 minutes. There are other sources of good information for quick and effective weight training exercises for body sculpting and general fitness. There is no lack of information stopping you. Adding the cardio-vascular exercises, at least ½ hour three times a week, you will steadily lose weight and reshape and tone your entire body.

I will describe my 12 minute workout next.

 

ANATOMY OF HEALTHY HAIR

I am a huge proponent of conditioning hair cleansers, or, as the Wen product calls them, cleansing conditioners. I personally use only non-lathering conditioning hair cleansers instead of traditional hair shampoos and recommend the same to all my friends. Scientific evidence reinforces the benefits of using non-lathering, detergent free cleansers. Here is why:

Our hair is healthier and looks more beautiful when the outer layer of each strand is intact. Called the cuticle, the outer layer surrounds and protects the hair cortex – which is the middle, bulkier portion of each hair strand. The cuticle is made up of multiple layers of overlapping protein “scales” that look like shingles on a roof, or scales on a fish. Like roof shingles these protein scales are most effective when they lay flat, all in the same direction.

The scales are held together by a lipid (fatty/oily substance) scientists have labelled 18-MEA. The 18-MEA lipid acts as “cement” keeping the scales properly aligned and sealed together so that they protect the inner part of hair. A healthy amount of 18-MEA keeps hair healthy by repelling water from entering the cortex. When water is easily able to infiltrate the inner hair shaft, hair becomes weak and damaged. Maintaining a strong well-sealed cuticle is vital to the health and look of hair.

The 18-MEA lipid is also crucial in making hair look shiny and vibrant as the lipid itself creates shine, and, because it smooths and seals the scales of the cuticle to lie flat and reflect light better – more shine.

Washing hair with detergent shampoo breaks down the 18-MEA lipids by bonding to them and flushing them away. While it is good that cleansers bind with excess grease and grime in your hair and whisk it away, -strong detergent and sulfate shampoos also bind to and remove natural lipids that are necessary for healthy beautiful hair. The result is a disruption of the smooth line up of cuticle and less of the shine-enhancing natural lipid that bind the scales together.  Styling hair with heat and chemicals further break down the lipid layer. Damaged hair is more vulnerable to further damage – it has a cumulative effect. This is why it is a MUST to keep your hair healthy in the first place.

Because of the vital importance of the natural 18-MEA lipids in the cuticle of hair, detergent shampoos degrade the exterior structure of hair making it dull and weak. Non-lathering detergent free conditioning hair cleansers, keep lipids and cuticle intact and are a HUGE benefit for maintaining and achieving beautiful and healthy hair.

 

 

You Must “Just Do It”

“Just do it” – the motto coined by Nike is great advice. We all know we should work out. We know we would be healthier, look better and have more energy. So why don’t we do it? Here are some of the crappiest reasons I have ever heard. They are also the most common. Do you recognize any of these?

I don’t have the time

I don’t know what to do or how to do it

The gym is too intimidating

I need to shower after every workout – it takes too long

I know I should but I just haven’t gone

I have bursitis, arthritis, fibro myalgia or any of a host of ailments

My doctor told me I need to take it easy

I am pregnant

I don’t enjoy exercise like you do.

Well, I don’t have the time either, nor does almost everyone else who schedules fitness into their day. They simply make it a priority for themselves. Their sense of self includes being fit which makes it imperative that they work out. I do not accept anything less.

There are so many resources out in the world to help you gain an adequate understanding how to work out – at least at a minimum. There is free, good, information online, and there are dozens of books and videos available for beginners.

Nobody gives a darn what you look like at the gym. Everyone who is there is just as self-conscious as you are. Even the ones who look like fitness models – those men and women devote so much of their time and lives to exercise, they are probably limited in their knowledge and experience outside of the gym.

You don’t need to shower after every workout. This is simply bull. 90 % of people don’t smell from a good clean workout – especially if they use powder and deodorant. It is perfectly fine and healthy to wait until you go home several hours later. That is a bad excuse. And it is an excuse.

Nobody understands just how important health is until it is taken away from them. People who become chronically sick say they would give anything to be healthy again. Do it now, before you become sick, before your bones shrink and become brittle, before your joints become stiff and painful.

Overwhelming evidence suggests that exercise improves the symptoms of bursitis, arthritis, fibro myalgia etc. You need to go gently through the pain – but you need to move through the pain in order to eradicate the pain.

If your doctor tells you need to take it easy and not exercise, you need a new doctor. Advising against exercise is like saying “don’t eat any vegetables.”

Pregnancy thrives with exercise. You may need to moderate it slightly, but it is better for you than not exercising. It is a myth that a woman can’t lift moderately heavy things while pregnant – only in extreme circumstances is this a problem. Most of us do not fall into that category.

Nobody loves to exercise. I would prefer if I could get fit by eating a candy bar, or going to a cocktail party. That just isn’t going to happen so those of us who make fitness part of our identity, do it anyway. Most of us don’t really like the hard work, but love the results. Don’t be fooled into thinking there are the exercise lovers and then there is you – someone who is allergic to the gym.

Now that we have dispelled these bad excuses, let’s move on to how to get yourself gorgeous, fit and healthy.