A Seasonal Checklist for Your Skin

KEEP IT REAL / KEEP IT SIMPLE

WINTER:  The focus should be on moisturization and hydrating products.

SPRING:  Think spring cleaning with deep pore cleansing and exfoliating products to revive skin from the winter dryness.

SUMMER:  Focus should be on protecting skin from the sun with sunscreen and antioxidants, which have powerful protective qualities. Products should be lighter-weight in the spring and summer since there is more humidity in the air.

FALL:  Increase exfoliation to repair the skin from the summer sun damage.

By:  Rebecca Louise | Realife Co

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The feel-good exercise that makes make me want to work out … Every. Single. Day.

I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to realize that the problem wasn’t the exercise, it was the all-or-nothing pressure to turn every muscle twitch into an obsession.

In early January, I was in North Carolina on a work trip, reporting on the Umstead Hotel just outside of Raleigh. Two women led me on a tour of the hotel’s organic farm: one with a neat bob and a polished trench, who worked in marketing for the hotel; one in hiking boots, who worked on the farm and was excitedly pointing out edible flowers and cardamom plants. We were all close in age, and talked about the stuff a group of women who’ve never met before but are quickly bonding do: Growing herbs, favorite restaurants, pets, workouts. “I’ve decided to try this new thing where I do yoga every day,” I told them.

The other girls gave me a look. Daily yoga classes were clearly a more serious fitness commitment than they were expecting me to profess. I wondered if it was because I looked ill-equipped to pursue such a rigorous fitness schedule, or because my vibe was more Media Elite Skeptic than She Who Has a Mantra. “No, no, no,” I said. “Just a little something: 20 minutes of sun salutations in the morning, a restorative stretch in my bedroom before I go to sleep. I’ve been doing these videos on YouTube.”

“Wait — are you talking about Yoga with Adriene?” asked the hotel marketer. I nodded. The farmer gave us both a high five. “You guys, I do Adriene, too.”

In the wellness era, as self-improvement has become an ever bigger Big Deal, being “well” is no joke. These days, fitness is increasingly marketed and perceived as an immersive experience, a “lifestyle choice,” costly (for a reason!) and difficult, it sometimes seems, for the sake of being difficult.

Like, if you’re not spending more than a car payment on that gym membership — with a 12-month commitment — you’re not really trying. Which may be why for the past decade, I’ve exercised in fits and starts. I get way into SoulCycle/Barry’s Bootcamp/New York Pilates, attend maniacally, and burn out after a few weeks or months — sick of spending half my life and all of my disposable income on $35-plus (each!) exercise classes. I end up ditching it all, and going back to doing nothing beyond walking my dog around the block until the next phenom beckons.

I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to realize that the problem wasn’t the exercise, it was the all-or-nothing pressure to turn every muscle twitch into an obsession. Science is on my side here: A study published last year in Circulation, the journal for the American Heart Association, found that committed but moderate exercise four to five times a week was almost as effective at protecting the heart against aging as the kind of extreme workouts that elite athletes (and Barry’s devotees) do.

Hence the new-to-me appeal of Yoga with Adriene: Exercise that is free, low commitment, even…pleasant? That’s the kind a girl could stick with.

Which may be what turned 4.4 million subscribers on to Adriene Mishler. Known as “the people’s yogi,” she is the biggest yoga star on YouTube. In 2015, Yoga with Adriene was the most searched workout on Google. Yet her popularity still feels niche enough that I, an avid yoga fan who doesn’t spend a great deal of time on YouTube, had never heard of her until last year, when I asked a friend to recommend the best yoga video one could do in a hotel room. The thing about Yoga with Adriene is that once you start talking about her, you realize everyone in your life is secretly obsessed with her. The friend who first recommended Adriene has done her videos almost daily for at least a year. Another woman I know keeps a count of how many consecutive days she’s done Adriene sessions — the millennial version of a snap streak. She’s on 436. I know this because she posts the running tally every evening on Instagram Stories.

Adriene has posted hundreds of free videos, one for every mood. Her hour-long classes are just as sweaty and challenging as any vinyasa class in a big city studio. There’s a 20-minute video for stretching after travel. Yesterday, I did a 7-minute routine without ever getting off the couch. All are filmed in her Austin, Texas dining room, usually with her cattle dog, Benji, napping in the background. Her body is fit, obviously, and marvelously bendy, but it’s also kind of normal — a welcome relief from the washboard abs and Terminator biceps of the mic’d up warriors who teach SoulCycle. Adriene is slightly goofy: She might advise you to spread your arms as wide as “a big Texas T,” or break out into Janet Jackson’s All for You while breathing through warrior pose. Her workouts don’t require straps or blocks or anything, really, but a tiny bit of space and a mat, or even a humble towel. Her instructions are precise and geared toward avoiding injury: When you take your left wrist into your right hand and bend it just so, she lets you know that you should feel that stretch all over your left side, not just in your arm and shoulder. But that’s all just…teaching yoga.

If there’s some more ephemeral magic at work here, it’s a specific low-key Adriene-ness. Unlike the classic fitness coach stereotype, she has no expectations, no hardcore goals — she’s not pushing you to do more or try harder. This low-stakes, no-commitment, little-something-every-day approach has made exercise a joyful, and pleasurable, part of my day. Yes, every day. These days, I feel less creaky when I wake up in the morning, my posture has improved, and I’ve noticed some definition in my shoulder muscles. But I keep at it, first and foremost, because it makes me feel good.

Yesterday, what made me feel good was a 7-minute couch workout. Tonight I think it’s going be something a little more energizing for an early-evening pick me up. But at the moment, I’m on deadline, so excuse me: I have a date with 12 Minute Yoga for Brain Power.

By Marisa Meltzer
This article was originally posted on Shondaland.

How bad posture can affect your mental health and ways to remedy it

Poor posture doesn’t just affect your physical health, it can wreak havoc on your mind, too. Stylist examines the more serious side of slumping.

Are both of your feet firmly on the floor? Is your back resting against your seat?  Are your shoulders relaxed? Or on reading this are you all of a sudden shuffling your body into a more presentable posture? Thought so.

New research from the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) has revealed that more people in the UK are experiencing weekly back or neck pain compared to five years ago – and our posture while at work has been highlighted as the biggest culprit. But since four in five people in the UK now have a desk job and 94% of adults own a smartphone (which also affects how we hold our bodies), it’s near impossible to swerve the effects your posture can have on your health. As well as damaging your physical wellbeing, studies are now showing that posture can have a knock-on effect on your mental health, too.

The way we hold ourselves is ingrained in our habits from day dot. From a young age, we spend hours sitting at desks at school. But at least playtime broke up the static sessions. Once we graduate to desk jobs and several hours of phone usage every day, we’re at real risk of misalignment.

Ameet Bhakta, postural alignment specialist at Health Through Posture, says: “Your muscles keep your posture in alignment and require a variety of work to stay functional, balanced and healthy. Our modern-day lifestyles rarely allow the diversity and frequency of movement that maintains this balance.”

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HEADS UP

It’s not just your desktop that’s to blame. We now spend an average of two or three hours a day with our heads bent over reading and texting on smartphones and devices (maybe more, if you’re brave enough to check your phone’s time management analytics). A study conducted in New York found that weight on the spine dramatically increases the more our heads tilt forward.

Now consider this: an adult head weighs between 4.5kg and 5.4kg in a neutral position (ears aligned with the shoulders and shoulder blades retracted). When the head tilts forward by 15°, the weight increases to 12.2kg, and it reaches a staggering 27.2kg when the head is tilted to 60°. The extra weight puts pressure on the spine, causing back discomfort and neck pain – also known as ‘tech neck’.

If you’re one of the 22% of Brits who have experienced aching after using a smartphone or tablet, Catherine Quinn, chiropractor and president of the BCA, suggests sitting with your head up rather than resting your chin on your chest. “When using a smartphone or tablet, break your position on a regular basis,” says Quinn. “Even if it’s just shrugging your shoulders or moving your fingers; this helps to keep the respective muscles more relaxed.” Suddenly, binge-watching You on your daily commute doesn’t sound like such a good idea.

Getting a desk assessment at work might rank somewhere down with fire drills in the list of enjoyable things to do, but take one whenever you can. The governmental Health and Safety Executive states that these checks are mandatory, and considering that the UK has the longest working week for full-time employees in Europe (42.3 hours on average), it’s especially important.

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WORK WOES

The perils of sitting still for hours on end are real. “While sitting by itself doesn’t lead to back pain, long periods of time without movement, especially if we’re seated in the same position, can affect our bodies,” says Quinn. “It’s also important to note that sitting is different to not exercising, as it limits movement.

“For example, sitting for long periods of time can tighten your muscles, particularly your hip flexors and the muscles in your neck.” This could explain why you’re struggling to squat in the gym or why your shoulders shrug.

To combat the sedentary hours of an office job, more and more companies are now kitting out workspaces with standing desks and stability balls. Despite being all the rage, working at standing desks comes with its pros and cons. A study led by researchers at the University of Leicester found a mixed response with 52% of people who used one feeling more engagement at work after a year.

When the Stylist team tried out standing desks in June 2016, we discovered that they promoted self-assurance but also caused lower back pain, meaning they might not be a full-blown solution. “Standing desks can be a good way of promoting a healthier working posture and some of my patients have found they help to reduce back pain at work, but they do not negate the need to move regularly,” says Quinn.

As for stability balls, besides looking like fun, there isn’t much research that confirms they’re a good substitute for your chair. Spine biomechanics researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada found no evidence that they increase muscle activation compared to when participants sat on a stable stool without a backrest.

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KEEP IT MOVING

If you’ve found yourself trying to force your body into a ‘perfect’ posture, you’re probably doing it wrong, according to Bhakta. “Consciously trying to sit or stand up straight never lasts – plus most people do it incorrectly, and force their body into a position which is uncomfortable or painful,” he explains. “The best thing you can do is some daily posture exercises which get your muscles doing their job properly, so they hold you in a better posture without you having to even think about it.”

Quinn recommends starting with small exercises you can do at your desk – like shoulder shrugs, shoulder circles and buttock clenches – to keep the body active throughout the working day. “A three-minute programme of simple exercises can be slotted in to your daily schedule to help prevent back pain by promoting movement, balance, strength and flexibility in the spine,” she says. So, if while reading this, your shoulders have crept back up to your ears and your neck is bent forwards, you know what to do.

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ARE YOU SITTING COMFORTABLY?

Fran Hallam of The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy shares her checklist for maintaining a good posture, whether you’re working at a desk or scrolling on your phone.

  • Try to keep your smartphone, tablet or laptop screen at eye level to keep your neck in a relaxed, neutral position while you work.
  • Push your bottom to the back of your seat and rest firmly against the back of your chair for support.
  • Imagine there’s a taut string running through your body up to the ceiling. This will prevent slumping and help to keep you upright.
  • Change your position regularly and try resting your elbows on a surface to keep arms comfortable.
  • Be conscious of your shoulders and relax them as much as possible – don’t allow them to round or rise up around your ears.
  • Make sure both of your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are level with your hips.

By Hanna Ibraheem

People are trying face yoga in an attempt to reduce wrinkles and signs of aging

Hang your tongue out of your mouth while your eyes drift to the ceiling. Breathe loudly and use your hands to pull your head in every which way. This is yoga for your face, and some people are using it as an alternative to Botox or plastic surgery.

“When you exercise your face muscles you can improve blood circulation on your face,” Fumiko Takatsu, the creator of Face Yoga Method, told “GMA.”

Takatsu has written six books on face yoga and has been practicing facial exercises for about 15 years.

Takatsu, 50, said she came up with the idea of face exercises after a car accident when she was 35 years old.

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“It made my body out of alignment and, as a result, it made my face out of alignment,” she said.

Around the same time, Takatsu said she began to notice signs of aging but gave up on creams and facials after they became too expensive.

“One day I realized that I have muscles on my face. Why not exercise [the] muscles on my face?”

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Koko Hayashi, a face yoga instructor in Los Angeles who founded Face Yoga with Koko, said she first heard of face yoga by discovering Takatsu’s work.

Hayashi, 39, said she had a chin implant when she was 27 years old, but took it out because it distorted her face.

“That’s why I’m so interested in more natural beauty instead of plastic surgery,” Hayashi said.

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Hayashi, like others who practice facial exercises, believes it can fix signs of aging and help reduce wrinkles like crow’s feet and smile lines.

The origins of face yoga are unclear, but there are articles in the U.S. dating back to the 1970s and 1980s.

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The question that often pops up when someone mentions face yoga is, “Does it actually work?”

A study out of Northwestern University found that the exercises may help middle-aged women.

“This is a preliminary study that suggests that there might be some elements of face exercise that can be helpful to at least certain patients — middle-aged women — in improving certain signs of aging cheek fullness,” said Dr. Murad Alam, vice chair and professor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“But we definitely need more studies to better understand exactly how much exercise is necessary to cause the benefit, whether it works for men and women and people of different ages, and then how much exercise is needed to maintain that benefit,” Alam said.

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ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton said there is no solid evidence that face yoga works and that any benefits are most likely going to be up to the person trying it. If you feel better after trying face yoga it may be something to keep doing, she said.

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“What are the risks of doing facial yoga? Pretty much none,” Ashton said.

“What are the benefits? That’s the big question and that’s going to be very subjective,” Ashton said. “If you look in the mirror after doing a couple of facial exercises and you think you look better that’s terrific. But benefits are going to really be in the eye of the beholder.”

By OLIVIA SMITH