There is a Fountain of Youth & Beauty: it involves some discipline and getting off your butt, but with a handful of affordable products, some equipment, and unshakable commitment, you can look like an A-lister...sans pricey Hollywood trainer or chef on-call, a hair/makeup/skincare team on the permanent payroll, or even a gym membership.
There are five things you'll need to do daily. For them to work, they'll need to become part of your lifestyle, something you do automatically. How? By thinking of them not as a chore but as a solid investment in your beautiful self - the key components of making you feel as sexy in your skin as possible - so you can enjoy the myriad rewards, not just physically, but mentally and spiritually as well. They are:
1. Protect Your Skin; 2. Eat Right; 3. Meditate; 4. Exercise; 5. Have Fun.Here's your can't-fail road map to Fabulousness:
1. PROTECT YOUR SKIN One of the easiest ways to keep your skin looking young without plastic surgery is sunscreen - a high SPF applied daily without exception (shine or, yes, rain). For daily use, look for something that feels nice on - we like Olay Regenerist Advanced Anti-Aging DNA Superstructure UV Cream SPF 25. When you're being outdoorsy, pull out the big guns. The mega-high SPF in Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sun Block, SPF 100+ (which a friend opined would probably allow you to safely walk on the sun) helps make sure you apply a sufficient amount; many of us skimp when we apply sunscreen, which effectively cuts the SPF of the product in half. Don't forget to apply about 15 minutes before exposure, re-apply religiously every two hours, and wear a hat in direct sunlight.
2. EAT RIGHT Most conventional diet wisdom is anything but wise, and relying on sheer willpower or that New Year's resolve will inevitably have you right back in your fat pants...if not up another dress size or two. In Primal Body-Primal Mind: Empower Your Total Health The Way Evolution Intended (...And Didn't), author Nora Gedgaudas diverges from the conventional path - which leads straight to a diet industry (the key word being "industry") that, despite a 95% failure rate, rakes in gazillions annually on food, medical, pharma, and even supplements - to explain how your body and brain actually function. The ancient selective pressures that shaped our minds and bodies are the same selective pressures that created our modern day basic nutritional requirements, which are the key to good health. Neither a "caveman" diet nor "low carb" manifesto, this is more of a survival manual on how to protect yourself from the "disease care" industry, understand how to be healthy, and even save a small fortune on groceries
A Daily Green Smoothie: Throwing a 60/40 mix of dark leafy greens and fruit in the blender is one of the easiest ways to feel good. Victoria Boutenko is arguably the groovy grandma of the Green Smoothie movement, and her book Green Smoothie Revolution: The Radical Leap Toward Natural Health has a ton of good ideas and recipes for making them a daily habit. Not only do smoothies flood your body with much-needed enzymes and antioxidants (did you know many of us are Vitamin K deficient?), but they fight gray hair, abate sugar cravings, fight weight gain, and are akin to giving your body a fresh infusion of sunshine. TIP: we keep our smoothies tasty and chilled by using organic fruit that is frozen.
3. MEDITATE "The key to changing your life is to consciously rewire your brain," advises Patt-Lind Kyle, author of Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain: Applying the Exciting New Science of Brain Synchrony for Creativity, Peace and Presence (Energy Psychology Press, 2009). Rewiring your brain requires mind training, which is achieved by sitting silently each day and controlling your thoughts. "Meditation is a scientifically proven method of training the mind, and thereby of changing aspects of your life...Meditation can train the mind to reduce health problems and stress, and it can also increase your potential and success in life. Essentially, it will allow you to reprogram and evolve your brain to a higher state of consciousness and function. Quite simply, meditation is one of the most valuable tools available to people—if only they would use it."
4. GET MOVING Studies show that quick but exhausting bursts of cardio & muscle-building are the best way to get in shape. "Short and intense interval training sessions can improve whole body fat oxidation by 36% and may offer greater benefits than lengthy bouts of steady-state exercise," advises fitness expert Jenny Evans, the founder of PowerHouse Performance Coaching. "Science has shown that you do not have to do long, continuous workouts to get benefit." In studies where exercisers were divided into two groups, the group doing 30 minutes of continuous exercise in a single session reaped fewer benefits than the group that spread out their workouts throughout the day into 3 bouts of 10 minutes each. "Every time you exercise, your metabolism increases."
Extreme Makeover - Home Edition: Gym-phobic, but enjoy the structure provided by an exercise class? Invest in some workout DVDs! We keep our own workout library stocked with enough DVDs so that we're never forced to watch any one in particular more than once a week. That way, after a week or so has gone by and you do repeat a DVD, instead of being bored by it you'll find yourself elated by the progress you made since the last time you did it. We're particularly enamored with martial arts related workouts (the Bruce Lee factor), but also love cardio & weights combos (skinny jeans & general vanity).
A caveat: While we really wanted to like the Jillian Michaels DVDs, her aggressive, non-stop banter made us want to gouge our (or, preferably, her) eyes out by about the third viewing (a pity because the actual workouts were quite good). Ditto Taebo - Billy Blanks couldn't be more adorable, but his banter...not so much. Note to people who make workout DVDs: these are designed for many, many repeated viewings (if they are to work) which means chattiness and banter need to disappear. Thanks to Amazon, however, we've found a crafty way to gauge the ABP (Annoying Banter Potential) on an unknown DVD: buyer reviews. They're usually incredibly detailed and therefore helpful, plus when you find someone who has reviews you agree with, it's fun to try out some of their picks and discover a fab new tape or instructor. (However, when you inevitably end up with DVDs you can't stand, we've had good luck either selling them on eBay or listing them on SwapaDVD.com.)To get you started, here is what we recommend: CARDIO:
Ilaria Montagnani BODYSTRIKES DVD and POWERSTRIKE 4 & POWERSTRIKE 5 Ilaria is a fabulous instructor, not to mention inspiringly ripped beyond belief. Her fun kickboxing & karate-inspired routines really help your endurance - and your legs and butt.
Cathe Friedrich Kick Max One of the toughest cardio routines...pretty much ever. Consists of a bunch of cardio "blasts" - each more grueling than the last - with tons of plyometrics and other tortures that feel impossible to finish the first couple of times (months?) you attempt this DVD. But that's what makes it challenging: you want to keep at it until you conquer it. Plus, Cathe is inspiring (non-shrill and with a cute personality) and enviably ripped.
Kathy Smith: Cardio Knockout (with martial arts champion Keith Cooke) She's mildly annoying, but the workout that Cooke designed is good; besides, once you learn the moves, you can kind of tune her out & pretend you're kicking and punching the snot out of someone annoying (like Kathy). Just prior to the cooldown, there's a good quickie butt- & kicking-drill portion.CARDIO WITH WEIGHTS:
Forza The Samurai Sword Workout (Ilaria Montagnani) The excuse: you're developing those guns. The truth: you get to play badass with a fabulous wooden Boken (samurai practice sword). How cool is that?! To whet your warrior whistle, here's video of her demo'ing the technique on the Today Show.
Cathe Friedrich's 4 Day Split Cardio + Weights A single case containing 2 DVDs with 4 workouts, each comprised of a cardio portion and a corresponding gym-style weight workout. Each of the four cardio segments is different (variations on step routines and one that is kickboxing inspired), and the accompanying weight routines use a push-pull structure to target different muscle groups. Her step routines are challenging but unnecessarily "dancey" and sometimes when we're cranky, we substitute one of our other cardio DVDs (like the Kathy Smith Cardio Knockout) for that portion, followed by Cathe's weight routine. So you know, you'll need a bunch of stuff: 4 different sets of dumbbells ranging from light to fairly heavy - try a set each of 3 or 5 lbs, 8 lbs, 10 lbs and 15 or 20 lbs - a rubber workout band, blowup stability ball, ankle weights, and exercise mat.
Get Ripped! with Jari Love: Get Ripped 1000 Sweat-intense cardio intervals on a step, alternating with high-rep weight work. The cardio is refreshingly dance-free and mostly brutal - football runs, jumping jacks off & on the step, skiers; the weights are light but challenging. A monster to finish the first few times you try, but oh what a feeling when you finally make it through to the end without having to consider calling in the paramedics.
On our wishlist: Danny Sullivan's Real Kickboxing Bag Workout Includes jumping rope (like real boxers), taping your hands and using gloves (like real boxers), and a massively manly striking bag (like real boxers). What's not to love?BODY SCULPTING:
Ilaria Montagnani ABS & PUSHUPS Plus Our Ilaria obsession continues with this half hour, shortcut-free series of progressively harder sequences that target shoulders and core.
The Tracy Anderson Method Presents Mat Workout DVD Three words: Gwyneth Paltrow's butt. GP's trainer also shares arm- & shoulder-shaping secrets that actually work.
Get Ripped! with Jari Love: Get Ripped & Chiseled An hour of circuit-weight-training using your dumbbells. A definite endurance test, but worth it.
For a more chill, yet still effective, alternative: Exhale: Core Fusion Body Sculpt With a yoga'ish "quiet" approach & no weights, they really help sculpt arms, legs, butt and abs by reacquainting you with muscles you never knew you had in a series of can-do 10 minute segments. A nice change from usual hard-pushing, embrace-the-burn workout DVDs.
5. HAVE FUN Excuse me? In a 24/7 life, who has time?! Well, if you want to stay young and gorgeous, you do! And the out-there Mama Gena might be just the person to show you the way. Mama helps verklempt women everywhere get back in touch with their inner desires, teaching them to fan those flames, and then have a rollicking good time...which means good times for you & everyone around you. Her book Mama Gena's School of Womanly Arts: Using the Power of Pleasure to Have Your Way with the World gets her fellow "Sister Goddesses" (of which you're one) to be grateful for the good already in our lives and further savor our delicious desires, which allows us to conjure up anything we want, including the best life possible. Sign us up! (which, if you live in NYC, is possible because you can attend her Womanly Arts Mastery Program)
- Lesley Scott
("beauty is more than flesh" image - top: source)
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