woman sitting on bathroom counter

Understanding Your Body’s Response To Hormones

Hormones, can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em. When you’re a teen, they hit you like a mac truck, wreaking havoc on your formerly clear skin and relatively easy going parents. Then, just when you thought you’d got them under control, the 40’s hit, hormone levels go down and you’re wishing for just a smidgeon of the estrogen you had in high school. Hormones can be a tricky thing, and sometimes they can seem to have a lot more control over your skin than you do, but there is a way to make peace. Read on for a little insight on hormone fluctuations, what to expect, and how to deal with them.

The Teen Years
When girls hit the ages of around 12 or 13, the introduction of hormones begins. The female body starts to produce estrogens and androgens in high quantities and the skin is impacted. Estrogen is responsible for the “female aesthetic”, causing breasts to develop and giving the hips their curves. In the skin, estrogen decreases the size of pores, giving it a smooth surface and builds elastin and collagen to give skin elasticity and maintain moisture. However, it is the male hormones which lead to the oiliness. Androgens, including testosterone, stimulate hair growth, enlarging pores and boosting sebum, the oily substance in the skin. The result? Acne.

The 20’s and 30’s
The twenties and thirties are definitely the best it gets as far as hormones are concerned. Estrogen peaks and the testosterone boosts sebum, giving skin radiant glow. The hormones are in balance.

The 30’s and 40’s
Of course, nothing gold can stay. After the estrogen effect peaks at around the age of 25, it begins to drop, slightly in the 30’s and more noticeably in the 40’s. Production of collagen and elastin decrease and the skin begins to lose elasticity, affecting the aging skin in a far greater capacity than sun damage. By the late 40’s women enter perimenopause, the purgatory between ovulation and menopause. Hormones cycles change and women may notice a resurgence of acne, an increase in facial hair, and thinning hair on the scalp.

50’s and Up
Most women have reached menopause by the age of 50. Estrogen and testosterone production declines, and with it, the skin manufactures less collagen and elastin. In fact, according to a study in the Venus Week, collagen production declines 2.1% every year in the 15 years following menopause, leading to a 30% decrease in collagen between the ages of 50 and 65. Hot flashes may occur and the skin will get drier, thinner, and more wrinkled.

Controlling Hormones
Because hormone fluctuations are often the result of excess weight and lack of exercise, a good dietary and exercise regimen is key in maintaining hormonal balance. However, underweight women are also at risk for hormonal imbalances. Experts advise aiming for a body mass index between 20 and 25.

Women in their 20s can control acne by using face cleanser including salicylic acid, while older women with decreased skin elasticity should use an exfoliant weekly and an antioxidant containing moisturizer. Retinoids can help with wrinkles, and all women should wear sun screen, as sun damage can intensify unwanted changes in the skin.

The first step to finding treatment is diagnosing the problem. Says Rebecca Booth, MD, “Women must first understand the effects of their hormones on the skin and overall health to seek lifestyle changes to navigate these natural fluctuations. With the power of knowledge, they can seek solutions to achieve the maximum flow of hormonal balance all month long and all life long.”

Are your hormones wreaking havoc on your skin? Let us know how you’re coping. We love to hear from you.

Your Tush Can Predict This

Ah, the big busted ladies. They have been an inspiration for great artists over the years. But, who would have guessed that when Sir Mix A Lot professed his honest admiration for ladies with extra padding, that his interest was purely intellectual? Recent studies have shown a correlation between big butts and levels of intelligence. Could it be possible to have brains and booty?

Recent studies for the University of Oxford and Churchill Hospital in the United Kingdom show that having a larger derriere may be tied to increased intelligence and lower risk of disease. Researchers believe it all has to do with fat distribution. Apparently, a little below the waist padding can help to prevent diabetes, heart disease, and conditions related to obesity.

Scientists in the Journal of Obesity write, “It is the protective role of lower body, that is thigh and backside fat, that is striking, The protective properties of the lower body fat depot have been confirmed in many studies conducted in subjects with a wide range of age, BMI, and co morbidities.”

Apple Vs. Pear
In the race between apple and pear, the pear comes out on top in this match. Individuals with an excess of belly fat tend to have more problems related to obesity than those who have extra weight on their thighs, butts, and hips.

According to Dr. Robert Kushner, of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, “There’s a lot of evidence that shows that the fat depots are not the same in the body. Belly fat is more metabolically active.” That is, the fat stored in the lower half of the body tends to be more stable compared to the fat stored in the upper half. Upper body fat has a greater effect on the overall body and can invoke proteins associated with the onset of diabetes.

Weight Gain and the Brain
Leptin levels are another factor affecting fat distribution. These levels, crucial for appetite regulation, are connected to derriere size as well. According to Elite Daily, obese individuals stop responding to the hormone completely, leading to leptin resistance, a condition similar to insulin resistance. Having a big butt, favors leptin levels in the body, causing the tissue to trap harmful particles and prevent cardiovascular disease.

Larger Butts Equal Larger Minds
As for the correlation between larger behinds and higher IQs, the maintenance of a big behind requires the storage of significant quantities of Omega # fats to boost memory, brain function, and cognitive abilities. Also, research shows that children born to wide hipped moms are smarter than those conceived by thinner mothers.

What do you think of this? More brains, more booty? Let us know!

Woman running

Here's How To Increase Your Stamina

So you’re all set. You’ve got your sports bra, your yoga pants, your sweatband, and your athletic sneakers. You’ve even got a cool pair of those cut-off gloves to help you grip the equipment better. You’ve got it all planned out. Ten minutes on the treadmill, a few lifts, ten minutes on the stationary bike, and a few reps on the elliptical. Start with a few stretches, check yourself in the mirror, you’ve got this. You step up on the treadmill, start it up, two minutes later, you’re ready to hit the showers. If you want to make your investments in workout gear and gym memberships pay off, it’s probably in your best interest to be able to use them for more than ten minutes at a time, and that means you need to build stamina. Stamina is the body’s ability to partake in physical activity without fatigue or having to quit before reaching your goals. If you need to increase your endurance and make your investments pay off, here are some exercises that may help.

Balance
Balance is key to endurance. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, improving balance is a crucial component of stamina building. Training tools like a balance pillow, balance disc, foam roller, balance board, or a stability board are all great for building balance. If you’re using a balance disc, try to stand or sit on it while keeping your body steady.

Woman lifting dumbbells

Free Weights
Free weights can increase stamina while increasing your muscles size and boosting overall health levels. Use hand-held barbells for lifts, focusing on the legs, torso, and upper body. One to three sets of 15 to 20 reps should help with building muscle endurance.

Intervals
Interval training entails alternating between short bouts of high-intensity exercise with longer bouts of lower intensity ones. Research published in the journal “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise,” found that while subjects who engaged in moderate cycling for an hour a day for six weeks showed improved physical endurance, they showed no such change in anaerobic endurance. In contrast, cyclists performing eight sets of high-intensity 20-second intervals with 10 second rest periods for six weeks improved not only aerobic endurance but also increased anaerobic stamina by 28 percent.

Woman working out

Circuits
Circuit training refers to the use of three to twelve different exercise stations that combine strength training with cardiovascular exercise, putting all muscle groups to work. Because circuit training challenges both anaerobic and aerobic endurance, it is a great way to build stamina. Aim to perform each exercise for thirty seconds, giving yourself a 30-second break in-between. As your stamina increases, try reducing rest periods to 15 seconds while increasing work time to 45 seconds.

Medicine Balls
Working out with medicine balls is another way to lengthen staying power, and are great for doing V-ups. V-ups require lying on your back with your arms outstretched overhead holding a medicine ball with your legs down. Raise your legs into a V-position while using your arms to raise the medicine ball over your head. Lower your arms and legs and repeat.

How are you working to improve your stamina? Let us know how your lasting longer to reach your goals!

Heart-healthy foods

Foods That Boost Your Cardiovascular Health

When we use the term “hungry heart,” we are usually not speaking in the literal, scientific sense. The Hebrew bible associated all feelings with the heart, hunger and thirst included and quoted Abraham as saying we shall eat to “sustain our hearts.” However, today we tend to more often associate these signals with the mind and brain. However, is the whole body concept so far-fetched? After all, if our heart does fuel our body, and our stomach does fuel our heart, then maybe the heart can be hungry. And if the heart is hungry, what should we feed it?

The Food-Heart Connection
According to Julie Zumpano, RD, LD, and dietitian for the Preventive Cardiology and Nutrition Program at Cleveland Clinic says, “You can definitely reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by eating certain foods every day. Try to eat foods that are in their natural form, as they come from the ground.” Here are some suggestions for a heart-healthy diet.

Fish
Fish are packed with omega-3’s to support your heart. Eating fish with a high omega-3 content, such as salmon and mackerel can help prevent the formation of blood clots, and help maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

Salmon

Almonds
A handful of almonds contains a huge load of nutrients! Not only do these nuts have protein, magnesium, and fiber, but they are also high in vitamin E, biotin, monosaturated fats and antioxidants to protect against oxidative stress. They have also been shown to help reduce risk of heart disease and lower bad cholesterol levels.

Beans
Beans, beans, good for your heart! Beans are rich in soluble fiber and help decrease blood pressure and reduce inflammation. They are also full of phytochemicals that reduce oxidative stress, a known contributor to heart disease.

Pomegranates
These lovely seeded fruits have incredible anti-inflammatory properties to decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and blood disease. They also contain punicic acid, a fatty acid proven to combat risk factors associated with heart disease.

Pomegranates

Whole Grains
If you want to improve heart health, swap out that white bread for whole wheat. Web MD cites research showing that the consumption of just 25 grams of whole grains per day can reduce heart disease by 15%.” A diet rich in whole grains has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer,” says the website.

Red Wine
Don’t get too excited. Moderation is the key. Scientist suggest that one glass of red per day can raise HDL, or good cholesterol, which prevents blood clots and inflammation that can contribute to a stroke or heart attack. However, they also warn against too much of the good stuff, which may have a detrimental effect on mental and physical health.

Dark Chocolate
Bring on the dark chocolate to help protect your cardiovascular system. This wonderful treat contains flavanols. an antioxidant which has been shown to lower blood pressure, increase blood flow to the heart, and decrease the likelihood of blood clot formation.

Dark chocolate

Tomatoes
Tomatoes are rich in antioxidants, folic acid. and beta carotene, but it’s lycopene that really gives these veggies their heart healthy kick. Lycopene reduces risk for heart disease and reduces blood pressure, inflammation, and stroke which make these veggies a great pick for a snack or salad topper.

What do you feed your heart to keep it healthy? Let us know! We love to hear it!

Woman getting a spa treatment

Lifestyle Habits for a Healthy Body

A healthy body is the result of a healthy lifestyle and intentional actions.The decision to work towards a healthy body can be a little bit overwhelming because it may feel like you have to overhaul every aspect of your life. When adopting new lifestyle habits, it’s best to start slow and to add new habits gradually. The following five lifestyle habits are among the most important when it comes to getting, and maintaining, a healthy body.

Woman having a salad

Eat Well
Increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, reduce the amount of sodium you eat and eliminate refined or processed ingredients as much as possible for a healthy body. Doctors and health experts suggest adopting a “meatless Monday” mentality and prepare at least one entirely meatless meal every week. Your diet should include plenty of dark leafy greens, complex carbohydrates like brown rice or whole grains and healthy fats like avocados or olive oil.

Woman exercising

Physical Activity
Getting your body moving is so important to achieving a healthy body, both mentally and physically. If you’re a busy individual (and who isn’t?), you might stress about when you can find time to get to the gym or how you can fit 45 minutes of exercise into your nightly routine, but physical activity does not have to be an all or nothing thing. Making small changes to the way you live your daily life can result in some serious health benefits. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine showed that taking short walks after eating a hearty meal reduced the amount of fat and triglycerides more effectively than long exercise sessions. Taking the stairs, taking stretching breaks every hour and parking your car further away are ways you can increase your physical activity without needing tons of time.

Woman reading labels

Read Labels
One habit that super healthy people always practice is to read the labels of everything they purchase. You might already read the ingredients list on the foods you buy, but what about the dish soap you use or your favorite shampoo? In order to treat your body well, you have to offer it the healthiest and most beneficial ingredients, which means that you need to be fully informed of what you’re putting into and onto your body. Always read labels on any product that goes in your body or on your body and avoid things like sulfates and parabens.

Woman meditating

Reduce Stress
With the busy lives most of us live, it’s no wonder that high stress levels are rampant. Unfortunately, stress has more serious effects on your body than simply making you a bit cranky or grumpy. The American Psychological Association states that stress has negative effects on your respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, reproductive and nervous systems. Stress is commonly associated with tension-type headaches or migraines, it increases your risk of long-term heart disease and a higher risk of developing diabetes. Luckily, you can help to reverse these negative effects: “Relaxation techniques have been shown to effectively reduce muscle tension, decrease the incidence of certain stress-related disorders, such as headache, and increase a sense of well-being,” according to the American Psychological Association. Practice breathing exercises or meditation to help get your stress under control.

Woman washing hands

Wash Your Hands
Washing your hands is one of the most important things you can do to keep your body free from illnesses and infections. For the most effective clean, wet your hands with warm or cold water, then apply soap. Work soap into a lather for at least 20 seconds, making sure to clean the fronts and backs of your hands, in between your fingers and under your fingernails. Rinse your hands with warm or cold water and pat dry with a towel.

Achieving a healthy body is absolutely in your reach if you practice lifestyle habits that focus on all areas of your health. In addition to the above, drink plenty of water and make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Lifestyle habits for a healthier body improve both your physical and mental health, and lead to a happier life overall.