Woman looking at her skin in bathroom mirror

How to Clear Clogged Pores Properly

It seems like recently, everyone’s been doing their best to prevent clogged pores. Let’s face it – clogged pores are one of the biggest nuisances there are.

And, once you get them, it’s a bit annoying trying to get rid of them.

Every day, your skin battles pollution, your own sweat and makeup. Sometimes, its defenses get a bit sluggish. And, when that happens – you’re faced with clogged pores.

But, don’t worry. Where your skin falters, you must continue. There are ways to clear clogged pores properly, with perseverance, tenacity and, of course, a few tips from professionals.

What Are Clogged Pores?

Pores are basically small holes in the skin through which oil and sweat go out.

Clogged pores occur when dead skin cells get trapped in your skin. They are supposed to be shed into the environment, but sometimes they can get stuck.

You can usually see when your pores are clogged if you see pimples or, in general, a certain dullness to your skin.

Now, many people think that clogged pores necessarily lead to pimples. However, that is simply not true.

While yes, many such pores do end up becoming pimples, there are some that don’t involve inflammation. Unlike with pimples, there’s no need for your body to get rid of them and they can remain like that, blocked, forever. (Well, not forever, but you catch the drift. For a very long time.)

You can usually see them in a certain light or, when you tilt your head just so. But, even the clogged pores that don’t immediately become pimples can become pimples at one point. That is why it is best to deal with them on a regular basis.

Infographic on clogged pores

What Causes Clogged Pores?

There are a lot of things that can cause clogged pores.

Truly, a lot. Our skin reacts to various things, both internal (like hormonal changes), to external (like air pollution).

But that is truly unfortunate, because it means that there are a lot of things you and your skin have to fight. Here are some of the things which can cause clogged pores.

  • Puberty. Yes, during puberty, our bodies increase its production of oil, that is, sebum, which can combine with dead skin and bacteria at times. And you get stuck with clogged pores which, as you may have guessed, can easily turn into pimples.
  • Smoking. You may not have known this, but greasy particles from smoke can easily land on your skin, thus contributing to unclean pores. Aside from the other adverse effects smoking has on the skin, it also contributes to clogged pores.
  • Stress. During stressful times, our bodies produce stress hormones in excess. This, in turn, triggers sebaceous glands to produce a lot of sebum.
  • Using certain beauty products. Basically, many of your favorite beauty products can be the culprit here. You should only buy non-comedogenic formulas. That means that they use ingredients which won’t clog your pores. Also, you should only use face products that specify that they are oil free.
  • Not cleansing or cleansing too much. Yes, this one is really the trickiest cause of clogged pores. Basically, while not cleansing your face can lead to a buildup of sebum, if you do it too much, this can also be a bad thing. Too much exfoliating strips your skin of its natural oils. Then, your oil glands decide to overcompensate and create more oil. That is why finding the golden middle is perfect for your skin.

Professional Treatments for Excessively Clogged Pores

If you have particularly specific skin and you’re not quite sure you can deal with your clogged pores on your own, going the professional route can often prove to be the best option.

Basically, you go to a dermatologist or a skincare specialist for a facial treatment which can be done in several ways. They test your skin and decide how best to proceed.

1)   Extractions

We know how it sounds – a bit terrifying, to be honest.

However, you have to have faith sometimes – professionals know what they’re doing (and they’ve done it a thousand times).

They extract what should not be there in the first place by using a metal extractor tool to apply pressure around the clogged pores. This causes the content to spill out.

Now, this can also be done with pimples if they can be unclogged. If they can’t, your skincare specialist will not suggest this treatment.

After unclogging your pores, the specialist usually applies some antibacterial or antiseptic which should bring back the natural pH levels of the skin, preventing further breakouts. They may even apply a soothing mask or carry out some other treatment. You can go on these treatments once a month to keep your skin healthy and glowing.

In any case, such extractions should be left in the hands of professionals. If you try to pop your pimples at home, you can damage your pores and cause further buildup of sebum.

2)   Steaming

As blasé as this may sound, this treatment is simply heaven.

You can literally feel your skin getting clean. Of course, steaming is something you can do at home with a towel and a pot. However, that requires more effort than a professional doing it.

Your dermatologist or skincare specialist uses a steamer to put warm, moist air on your face, which helps your pores open.

Woman undergoing face-steaming procedure

Then, they can apply treatments such as masks and moisturizers more easily. After steaming, your skin absorbs those treatments more deeply, and this can, and usually does have better results.

3)   Exfoliation

Exfoliation basically includes a process of removing dead skin cells from your skin. It typically includes using an exfoliation tool or a chemical or a granular substance.

Regular exfoliation, whether done by professionals or not, improves the overall health of your skin and unclogs your pores. It also improves skin elasticity and encourages collagen production. Truly, there are many benefits to exfoliation.

Exfoliation usually includes the use of a few abrasive materials:

  • Loofahs
  • Cleansing scrubs
  • Exfoliating mitts
  • Micro derma rollers
  • Dry brushes

These are the products you can use yourself at home with a good chance of success. You can combine them with a facial exfoliant for truly magnificent results.

On the other hand, you should never attempt to do chemical exfoliation yourself. This should only be done by professionals.

If you choose chemical exfoliation, consult with your dermatologist first to find the best option for you. Typically, this usually includes alpha hydroxyl acids, beta hydroxyl acids, retinols or topical enzymes.

Precisely because some of these chemicals are harsh and can dry out your skin if handled improperly, it is important to talk to a professional.

At-Home Treatments for Clogged Pores

While many, many people go to professionals, fearing that they won’t be able to deal with their clogged pores properly, there are plenty of options that are definitely safe to try at home and quite effective when it comes to unclogging pores.

You simply need to be a bit more persistent. Here are some products you can use at home to clear your pores efficiently.

1)   Pore Strips

Pore strips come in various shapes and sizes. While most people use them for their nose, you can use them for any part of your face.

You can use pore strips to remove bacteria, oil, dead skin and everything else that is left on the surface of your skin.

And the process is quite simple. You wet the strip and put it on the part of the face with clogged pores. Leave it there for five or ten minutes, and then slowly peel away.

Make sure to rinse the area with warm water. You want to remove any residue that the strip left.

However, you should avoid pore strips if you have any skin allergies or if you have sensitive skin. Also, they can be used once a week at most. Don’t overdo it if you want to avoid skin irritation.

2)   Charcoal Masks

Everywhere you look nowadays, some Instagram celebrity is praising this invention. Activated charcoal is now used in facial and body cleansers, scrubs, and even masks.

And truly, it does have many benefits, as it removes toxins, dirt and pollution from pores.

For most charcoal masks, you should first rinse your face before using them. Also, you should leave it between 5 and 10 minutes and then remove it. While some should be rinsed off, others harden and should be pulled off.

Spa professional applying black face mask on woman's face

However, dermatologists warn that you should never make your own charcoal mask at home. This can be dangerous and can cause irritation of the skin. It’s better to buy a charcoal mask from a certified distributor.

3)   Pore Vacuums

Pore vacuums have also been gaining on popularity in recent years. Many people praise them as the best invention in recent years.

The principle is pretty simple – there’s something in your pores, this sucks it out.

However, experts recommend that you don’t use it too often. Apparently, while they may work for blackheads that are already loosened, they do not have the same effect on other types of clogged pores.

Also, while there are pore vacuums that can be bought for as little as $10, experts also recommend that you don’t buy cheap ones. If you are to do this at home, you should at least

Another option is to go to a professional. They will be able to see which areas need more suction and which areas need less. They can then adapt the treatment to your particular needs.

Natural Remedies for Clogged Pores

There are really a lot of ways you can clean your pores at home, without buying anything. You can simply use what you have in your cupboard.

No, we’re not talking about the chemicals you use to unclog your sink, if that’s where your mind wandered.

Basically, people have long found various uses for common things you can find in every home. Some of those uses can include purifying the skin.

1)   Baking Soda

Yes, this is truly an ingredient everyone has in their homes. But it’s one of the most versatile ingredients there are in this world.

First, mix two teaspoons of this epic ingredient with one teaspoon of water. This should make a paste. Then, you should gently massage it onto your face.

Don’t leave it on for longer than five minutes, though, this should be perfectly enough to unclog your pores. Then, rinse if off.

You can do this once a week if you want balanced skin but don’t want to overdo it with cleaning.

2)   Lemon Slice

Lemon also has quite a lot of benefits for many parts of our bodies, not just our skin. But it is also a superb ingredient when it comes to unclogging pores.

Slicing a lemon on chopping board

All you have to do is cut a lemon in half and run it over your skin where you’ve been having problems with clogged pores.

You should leave it on the skin for about five minutes, and then rinse it off with cold water. Again, don’t leave it for longer than five minutes, because it can irritate your skin and possibly cause other problems.

This works because the acidity present in the lemon can help break up all the old skin cells, dirt and grime that have accumulated over time.

3)  Parsley

Parsley is not just a garnish, it’s a life saver!

Parsley is known to pull out impurities and toxins out of your skin and it’s incredibly effective.

Put a handful of parsley in a pot of water, bringing it to a boil. After that, let it cool down a bit. (Yes, you’re basically making parsley tea, which has all sorts of benefits.)

Simply dip a clean washcloth into the water, and then squeeze out excess moisture. Place it on your face for about 10-15 minutes. Wash your face afterwards.

This treatment can actually be repeated every other day, as it has numerous benefits.

There have recently been some claims that such home-made treatments of clogged pores do more harm than good. However, that is simply not true. The key here is not to do it too much, as some of these ingredients can harm the skin if left for too long. But, if you use it the way they’re supposed to be used, they will clean your pores in no time.

Happy smiling woman looking at herself in bathroom mirror

How to Boost Your Blood Circulation for Better Skin

It seems like this is common knowledge, but it definitely bears repeating – blood circulation is truly essential for your body.

Look at it this way – the body’s most ardent soldier, the heart, is fighting for your health by sending tiny, tiny blood cells to every part of your body, giving your cells oxygen and helping them to thrive.

But, did you know that great blood circulation is also beneficial to your skin? If you’re looking to improve your skin, you might want to consider boosting your blood circulation, as it will definitely benefit it!

How the Cardiovascular System Works

The cardiovascular system is essentially made up of the heart and the blood vessels that pump blood to the farthest parts of your body. There are basically two types of vessels:

  •         Arteries, which carry blood away from the heart;
  •         Veins, which bring it back.

Now, basically, the heart is a pump that gets oxygenated blood to our organs. Then, de-oxygenated blood returns to the lungs to get its refill of oxygen. This all happens through the pulmonary circulation (in which the blood is oxygenated) and the systemic circulation (in which the blood goes to the rest of the body to deliver the oxygen).Infographic on blood circulation in the body

That way, all the cells get their necessary fill of oxygen.

The Importance of Good Blood Circulation

Good blood flow is essential to our body, and any problem with it will, in some way or the other, reflect on our general health.

Circulation is pivotal in transporting nutrients to cells and transporting waste from them. That means that it is extremely important for nourishment and detoxification. It is also important for maintaining the body’s pH balance and stabilizing its temperature.

Poor circulation can cause a number of issues – swelling in extremities, numbness and tingling, cold hands and feet, cramps, fatigue, digestive issues, skin problems, and even memory loss and problems with concentration.

That is why boosting your blood circulation will not only have benefits for your skin, but for your general health, as well.

And here’s how to do it!

Start with Exercise

This should be a no-brainer, really.

Basically, in order to increase circulation, you simply need to get the “old ticker” ticking faster.

That’s where exercise steps in.

When your heart contracts at a higher rate, naturally, blood will flow faster and improve your general circulation.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should immediately hit the gym and start working strenuously on your pectorals (although that is an option, too!). Simple exercises will do.

In this day and age, it can be difficult to find the time to exercise and we tend to spend a lot of it sitting behind desks. But, that is not good for our overall health. And, as many other parts of our body, our cardiovascular system gets “lazy,” as well.

That is why any movement is – good movement.

Even walks are exceptionally valuable to getting your blood pumping, especially if that’s not something you tend to do on a regular basis. Just 20-30 minutes of brisk walks will do the trick. You don’t even have to do it every day, every other day will suffice. Walking even strengthens your heart and muscles. You can even do all sorts of exercises with your family and it will be incredibly beneficial for your circulation and, thus, your skin.

Happy young family walking in the woods

Also, another good exercise to boost your blood circulation is, in fact – yoga! Stretching, headstands and many other yoga poses, paired with deep breaths, do wonders for your blood flow! Just make sure you do it regularly and you’ll notice changes in your overall health, as well as your skin, in no time! If you choose to go outdoors to exercise, then you’ll also have the added benefit of the sun rays, that is, vitamin D, which is vital for your skin.

Some other types of exercise that can improve your blood flow and, with it, your skin, include aerobics and weight lifting. If you’re unaccustomed to exercise, start slow and work your way up! It never fails to get results!

Dry Brush

Dry brushing basically includes massaging your body with a dry, stiff-bristled brush. And there are truly many benefits to dry brushing. This is mainly done to get rid of flaky skin typical of wintertime and to increase circulation. It also unclogs pores while exfoliating and stimulates the nervous system. That way, you get the added benefit of being energized.

It is best to use a natural stiff-bristled brush with a long handle to reach your back. However, when you’re choosing your brush, make sure to choose the one that will be most adequate for your skin. Some people have more sensitive skin than others and brushing with a brush that is too stiff might cause more harm than benefit.

Brush just before you shower for best effect. After brushing, you’ll be able to wash off the dead skin cells and the flaky skin. Just make sure to use a good soap or shower gel and, remember, after showering, make sure to apply lotion.

The most common way of dry brushing is to go from your feet upwards. Use long strokes to brush from your feet towards your torso. Don’t apply too much pressure, especially not where the skin is sensitive, such as your breasts or abdomen.

In general, you want to be gentle when dry brushing, as the brush will “do its thing” mostly. If you’re too rough, you can cause irritation and even bleeding.

It goes without saying that you should never brush already damaged skin. This includes scrapes, sores, cuts, burns (and yes, even sunburnt skin should not be dry brushed). Also, if you have any areas that are inflamed or already irritated, don’t go over them with the dry brush. The same goes for your face – it’s off limits!

Indulge in Cold Showers

Yes, it may not be something you can try when it’s freezing out. However, take advantage of the warmer days that are coming soon and take as many cold showers as you can.

Cold water aids circulation because it tells your blood to go faster to maintain the average body temperature. In a way, a cold shower “shocks” your body, getting your heart to pump faster.

Another great side-effect of that is that you will also feel more energized.

And that is also the reason why many people prefer cold showers in the morning.

In addition, a cold shower tightens your cuticles and pores, which makes your skin look smoother and your hair more shiny.

Young smiling woman taking a shower and using a luffa

If you’re unaccustomed to cold water early on, go with lukewarm and work your way down, so to speak. That way you can gradually get used to the feel of cold water against your skin. You can also alternate between hot and cold showers. Simply shower with hot water for one or two minutes, and then immediately switch to cold water. Do this four or five times to flush out the skin and oxygenate it.

However, if you’re feeling too overwhelmed with such abrupt shifts in temperature, then this switching is not for you. But don’t worry, you can shower with cold water and your skin will still have incredible benefits!

Try a Face Massage

A regular massage is the best way to improve your skin. This goes especially for a face massage. It boosts blood and lymph circulation, thus enhancing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the cells.

A good face massage also relieves stress and helps with PMS symptoms, if you needed any more convincing.

When you massage your face, make sure that your movements are gentle, that they’re not too harsh, as you can irritate the skin that way, and that is the opposite of what you’re going for. Remember, gentle movements are quite sufficient to get the blood pumping for healthier skin.

Before you massage your face, do the following:

  1. Wash your hands with warm water and an antibacterial soap.
  2. It’s also a good idea to steam your face first.
  3. Then, you should cleanse your face before you start massaging.

These steps will prepare your skin for a great, almost professional massage you’re going to give yourself.

Now, there are various types of massages for your face, but your skin will benefit most from the most common massage there is. It’s easy and you can do it any time of day (or night, whenever you have time!). Here’s how:

  1. Massage your lymph area. With the tips of your fingers, massage under your ears down to your throat and up along your jawline.
  2. Using wide circular motion, massage the side of your jaw, past your mouth, and over your cheekbones. It’s good to always push skin up and out. Never push your skin down, as it can cause it to sag.
  3. Then you should massage your forehead, using both hands. Start massaging your temples and move towards the middle of your forehead.
  4. Using gentle strokes, massage around the eyes to deal with puffy eyes.

You should massage each part of your face for about a minute for the best effect.

Ionize with Clay Masks 

You may not have known this, but certain types of clay can boost your blood circulation. For instance, bentonite has negatively charged ions. When you put it on your skin, it attracts positively charged ions, like environmental pollutants and some bacteria.

That’s what makes your blood rush to the surface, causing a temporary redness of your face. But not to worry, together with all those pollutants that need to be flushed out, it also causes a rush of endorphins.

Woman applying clay mask on skin

That is why you should definitely indulge in a clay mask from time to time. It’s easy to use, and the benefits are really multiple!

Try LED Therapy

LED light therapy was initially invented to accelerate the healing of wounds and scars after surgery. However, as in most things in life, there was another, quite lucky coincidence – the rejuvenation of healthy skin.

When the light energy is the appropriate wavelength, cells convert it into ATP, i.e. the fuel cells in the dermis layer use to do their job. These are called the fibroblast cells and their job is to produce collagen and elastin.

And collagen and elastin are the two greatest things for skin in the entire universe.

Collagen gives the skin its fullness, while elastin is in charge of, you’ve guessed it, the elasticity of the skin.

With the help of the LED light therapy, the fibroblast cells “work overtime” and the main result here is – rejuvenated skin.

According to experts that deal in LED light therapy, it doesn’t have any contra-indications. It can be used with all skin types and conditions, and, it’s even safe for your eyes.

Also, because it was initially discovered in order to treat wounds, one of its main uses is increasing circulation. That is, it increases the body’s healing processes, which later, you’ve guessed it, improves the health of your skin!

Check Your Diet

If this proverb were really true, most of us would likely be giant slices of pizza running around our pizza towns, going about our pizza life.

But, thankfully, the proverb is simply meant to point to the fact that our dietary choices are actually incredibly important for our overall health.

And, you may not have thought about this, but what we eat is vital for our blood circulation.

For instance, trans fats and processed sugar are, you might have guessed it, truly awful when it comes to blood flow. And, another thing you can reduce if you don’t want your circulation to suffer is salt.

However, the following foods are super healthy for blood flow and you should eat them on a regular basis:

Whole garlic and garlic cloves on a wooden chopping board

  1. Onion and garlic. We figured we should put the best news first, as it’s a well-known fact that these two friends are the soul of every dish.
  2. Citrus fruits. As you may know, citrus fruits are full of antioxidants and they reduce stiffness in the arteries, thus improving circulation.
  3. Leafy greens. They dilate blood vessels, which allows your blood to flow more easily.
  4. Various types of spices. This includes cayenne pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, etc.
  5. Tomatoes. They act similarly as leafy greens, as they open up your blood vessels.

These foods are also great for your overall immune system, so you might benefit from eating them in numerous ways.

Pregnant woman stretching

Exercises That Keep Your Pregnant Body In Great Shape

There was a time when pregnancy was thought of as the ultimate “get out of exercise-and-dieting free” card. Being with child entitled you to nine months of lying on the couch with your swollen ankles propped up surrounded by gallons of ice cream and jars of pickles. Well, that was all well and good until women began realizing that the more time they spent engaging in that behavior, the less likely they were to return to anything resembling their original shape. Although pregnancy should be a time to avoid strenuous activity, it is important for most pregnant women to remain moderately active to maintain healthy vital conditions. Here are some exercises to keep your pregnant body in great shape.

Stretching Exercises

Pregnant women in fitness class

Neck Rotation
Neck rotation can be helpful in relieving neck and shoulder tension. Drop your head forward and slowly rotate it toward your right shoulder. Bring it back to the middle, and then over to the left. Repeat four times slowly in each direction.

Thigh Shift
It is important to keep legs flexible to maintain balance during pregnancy. Start the thigh shift by standing with one foot about two feet in front of the other with your toes pointed forward. Lean forward supporting your body weight with your front thigh. Change sides and repeat, doing four stretches on each side.

Shoulder Rotation
Rotating your shoulder helps to maintain range of motion. Bring your shoulders forward, rotate them up toward the ears and back down again. Reverse direction pulling shoulders back up toward the ears and back down. Do four rotations in each direction.

Ankle Rotation
Ankle rotation is a good way to minimize swelling of the foot and ankle associated with pregnancy, increasing circulation and decreasing fluid buildup. Sit with legs extended. Rotate feet in large circles using your entire ankle and foot. Rotate four times on your right and four times on your left.

Leg Shake
Leg shakes are helpful in maintaining circulation in your lower body. Sit with legs and feet extended and move legs up and down in a shaking motion.

Swim
Swimming motions can help you to remain flexible while reducing tension. Begin with your arms at your sides. Bring your right arm up, stretching your body forward while twisting slightly to the side, as if you were swimming. Repeat using your left arm, completing the entire sequence 10 times.

Kegel Exercises

Pregnant Exercises

Tailor Sit
Sit on the floor in a cross legged position. Lean forward keeping your back relaxed and straight. Assume this position throughout the day as often as possible.

Tailor Press
Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet together. Hold ankles and pull feet toward your body gently. Put your hands under your knees and inhale. Press knees against your hands while pressing hands up against your knees to create counter pressure. Hold for a five count.

If you’re pregnant, congratulations! And let us know how your exercising to keep your pregnant body beautiful and healthy.

Woman exercising on elliptical

Kickstart Your Heart With These Cardio Staples

There is such a variety of exercise tapes available today, it is sometimes difficult to determine which ones are meant to be taken seriously. Since Joanna Rohrback created a sensation with her much spoofed “Prancercise” video, the health conscious public has been confused by an assortment of bizarre aerobic tapes ranging from the “Dixie Carter Country Hiphop Workout” to the “Japanese Poodle Workout” to the “Exorcise” video. With all this insanity, it is sometimes hard to define what is meant by cardiovascular exercise.

Cardiovascular exercises are so called because they improve the function of the heart, build muscle mass, and enhance consumption and transportation of oxygen. They also strengthen bones, increase joint support and improve cholesterol. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a weekly exercise routine consisting of 2 and a half hours of moderate cardiovascular activity or 75 minutes of more vigorous cardio per week. Here are some tried and true examples of cardiovascular staples to help kickstart your health.

In the Gym
The elliptical trainer, which features footpads that require a pedaling motion to operate. is one of the most comprehensive pieces of gym equipment for cardiovascular activity. This, along with the stairclimber and the treadmill, provide their users with opportunities to build endurance and lung capacity while toning the lower body and burning fat.
If instructed gym classes are more your speed, spinning, exercise dancing, and water aerobics are all challenging options. Looking for something more traditional? Step aerobics are an age old way to work the lower body, while jumping rope provides for full body workout, sharpening coordination and boosting lateral movement.

Couple running

Walking and Running
You can burn 180 calories by speed walking at moderate intensity for 30 minutes, while running can double that number. Although body weight can affect the number of calories burned while running, speed has little to do with cardiovascular benefits. Therefore, you can enjoy perks of lower blood pressure, decreased risk of heart attack, and increased lung capacity while still working at a relatively low intensity. However, more vigorous activity has the added benefits of greater calorie melts and metabolism boosts which can last for days after working out.

Sports
If you enjoy competitive sports, racquetball is considered the most heart healthy sport and can burn more than 400 calories in the course of a vigorous 30 minute game. Rowing, skiing and climbing follow hot on its heels, turning in similar figures. Swimming weighs in at a whopping 500 calorie burn in thirty minutes and is known to stimulate circulation, increase endurance and flexibility, and provide stress relief, while strengthening the heart.

Indoor and Outdoor Activities
Biking can be done outdoors or from the comfort of your home and can burn up to 500 calories in a period of 30 minutes. A hilly terrain can increase resistance outdoors for an even greater calorie burn and an increased test of stamina, while stationary bikes include manual intensity adjustments. Equipment free cardio options include unweighted squad, jumping jacks, lunges and squat jumps.

How do you like to kickstart your workout? Let us know how you get your 2 1/2 hours in. We love to hear it!

Woman measuring her dress size

What It Takes To Drop Two Dress Sizes

You just got an invite to your high school reunion. Great, right? You’ve stayed chummy with all your old friends through social media; now you’ll get some time to catch up face to face. There’s only one problem. The picture on your Facebook page is about two years old and you’ve gone up about two dress sizes since you took it. What are you going to do? You can’t possibly show up looking like you spent the last ten years channel surfing with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s! You need to drop two dress sizes and you need to start now! What can you do?
Well, Khloe Kardashian did it, Jennifer Hudson did it, and Oprah Winfrey did it, several times! Here’s what you need to do to drop two dress sizes in a few weeks time.

Eating
Leading naturopath Max Tomlinson says, “You need to be clever with your diet to see optimum results, especially within a relatively short time frame. Crash dieting or starvation will only lead to weight gain down the line,” These are some of the suggestions Max recommends:

Eat Regularly
If you skip meals, your body will store the food you eat rather than burning it as a source of energy. Regular eating will kick start your metabolism and help you lose weight. Breakfast is the most important meal for raising metabolic rate and ensuring that the body uses food effectively for the remainder of the day.

Control Portions
Try to reduce food intake by 45 percent. Try to consume 1,000 calories per day to lose weight without slowing metabolism.

What to Eat
Avoid empty calories and make sure to eat food that is nutrient rich. Plan a menu consisting of foods such as organic fish, eggs, poultry, lean meat, brown rice, quinoa and oats. Satisfy the RDA with two servings of fruit and three of vegetables, sticking to leafy greens and avoiding peas and sugar rich roots vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes.

What Not to Eat
Steer clear of junk food and saturated fats. Restrict dairy intake, or cut it out completely, and replace it with goat milk and soy cheese. Limit treats like cakes and chips and don’t drink too many fluids. Many people up their liquid intake when they diet, but water can be taxing on your kidneys causing poor digestion and bloating.

Training
Tomlinson says, “When you diet without exercise, at least half of your weight comes for lean body mass. (muscle and non-fat tissue.) This slows your metabolism, setting you up for weight regain as soon as you increase your food intake.” Here’s one of the exercises Tomlinson suggests for his celebrity clientele.

Pile Squats
Stand with your feet a hip-width apart with your feet turned out holding dumbbells in each hand with your palms facing inward. Put your weight on your heals and squat, curling arms to your shoulders and keeping your elbows tucked in. Hold squat, and push your arms up, locking your elbows. Lower arms and come out of squat. Repeat 20-30 times.

Let us know your tips for keeping slim and, if you ever dropped a dress size or two, we’d love to hear how you did it! Let us know!

Woman working at desk

The Downside Of A Desk Job

For artistic Gen Xers, the desk job was the ultimate sign of failure. The death sentence. Rebellious rock and rollers and artists would claim that suicide was preferential, much to the dismay of their concerned parents. If those Gen Xers know how dangerous desk jobs were, they might have been more kindly disposed toward them.

You may have heard the currently circulating slogan, “Sitting is the new smoking.” Suddenly, every activity associated with excessive sitting, desk jobs included is labeled as not only unhealthy, but also dangerous. Rebellious Gen Xers may have a legitimate excuse! However, if you consider the new mantra, a little bit of an over exaggeration, judge for yourself.

Side effects of sitting for an extensive time period may include:

Organ Damage

Heart Disease
While you are sitting, your muscles are burning less fat and blood flow is slowing down, allowing fatty acids to clog the heart. Sitting too long can cause high cholesterol and blood pressure and chronic sitters are twice as likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease than more active people.

Over-productive Pancreas
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that carries glucose to cells, providing them with energy. When cells are idle, they don’t respond as well to insulin, causing the pancreas to produce more which can cause diabetes, among other diseases. In fact, according to a 2011 study, insulin response begins to decline after just one day of sitting.

Muscle Degeneration

Abdominal muscles
When you slouch on a chair, your abdominal muscles go unused. That along with tight back muscles can create a condition called hyperlordosis, or swayback.

Tight hips
Your hips help you to keep balanced, but sitting calls for such few opportunities to stretch hip muscles, that they become tight, limiting range of motion.

Upper Body

Brain Fog
You need to move your muscles to get blood and oxygen to your brain and trigger the release of mood-enhancing chemicals.

Neck Strain
Craning your neck forward to type on a computer keyboard or cradling a phone while you type, while can strain your cervical vertebrae and causing posture imbalance.

Spine Stiffness
As we move, discs between the vertebrae contract and expand soaking up nutrients and fresh blood. However, when we sit, these discs are squashed into uneven positions causing collagen to harden around ligaments and tendons.

Legs

Poor Circulation
Long periods of sitting slows blood circulation, causing the fluid in the leg to pool, resulting in everything from varicose veins and swollen ankles to dangerous blood clots.

Soft Bones
Physical activity that incorporates the lower body stimulates hip and lower body bones to grow stronger. Hence, lack of activity can lead to decrease in bone density, and has even been attributed to cases of osteoporosis

What can we do?

If you are destined to sit behind a desk for long periods of time, there are some things you can do to keep from ending up hunched and unfocused. Here are some expert recommendations.

1. Sit on something wobbly. Sit up straight on an exercise ball or backless stool with your feet flat on the floor.
2. Stretch hip flexors. Once a day, three minutes easy side
3. By walking during commercial, couch potatoes can burn twice the calories of sitting, even at a pace of 1 mph.
4. Alternate between standing and sitting at your desk or workstation, or stand up and walk at regular intervals.

What do you think? Is sitting really the new smoking? Let us know! And tell us your strategies to give up the sitting habit.

Woman smoking

Smoking Makes You Look Terrible

We all know that while smoking may make you look cool in the moment, it can make you look terrible for the long term. If you are finding yourself seduced by the allure of the cigarette, here are some facts which may make you change your mind.

Bags Under Your Eyes
If you think bags under the eyes is a good look, keep smoking. According to a study by John Hopkins University smokers are four times more likely to feel unrested after sleep than nonsmokers. Scientists have speculated that it may be the overnight nicotine withdrawal keeping smokers from resting peacefully.

Psoriasis
Although psoriasis can manifest itself in smokers and non smokers alike, your risk of developing scaly skin is a lot higher is you puff. A study done in 2007 showed that individuals who smoke a pack a day for 10 years increased their risk of psoriasis by 20% and those who smoked for 11-20 years increased the risk by 60%.

Yellow Teeth
Unless you want to spend a lot of time and money whitening your teeth, you should give up the smoking habits. Nicotine is known to stain those pearly whites, so if a great smile is important to you, make sure cigarettes aren’t.

Yellow Fingers
Don’t think your teeth are the only things affected by yellowing nicotine. Nicotine is infamous for its tendencies to stain fingers and nails alike. Of course, you can always scrub your fingers with steel wool and bleach them to restore your natural skin tone, but quitting might be a more civilized option.

Thin Hair
Here’s one that should cause you to drop the habit like its hot. Smokers not only have thinner hair than non smokers, their hair is also more likely to grey. Experts believe that the chemicals in cigarette smoke are capable of not only producing free radicals which cause cell damage, but also of damaging the DNA in existing hair follicles. In fact, a 2007 study in Taiwan showed that male smokers are two times as likely to lose their hair than their non-smoking counterparts.

Scarring
Nicotine causes blood vessels to narrow and limit blood flow to the face and other body parts.The result? Your wounds will take a longer time to heal and your scars will be worse than they would have been for a non smoker.

Smoking is also more expensive than you might think, the average person pays more than $1,652 a year for smoking. (source)

So smoking may make you look cool, but scars, yellow fingers and teeth and thinning hair probably won’t. If you were able to kick the habit, we hope you are looking prettier already, and if you’re still trying, we wish you luck! Let us know about your smoking experience and what you think about smoking and coolness.

Women jogging on the beach

Yes, Women Can Be Fit

“I’m not flawless. I have unattractive feet. unruly hair and oversized calves, but I push this body to its absolute limit and it has never let me down.” These are the words of Ironman Chrissie Wellington. Chrissie’s sport of choice is one which entails completing a 3.8 km swim, a 180 km bike ride and a full marathon, consecutively executed. Athletes staggering toward the finish line is not a rarity in this challenge. Wellington won the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii in 2007, on her first attempt, easily outperforming many top male athletes. Talk about endurance.

Although women may never be a physically powerful as men in general, recent studies show that women can exercise at the same intensity as men for a longer time. Read on for what these studies show and what this means for ladies.

Why is This Important?
Knowing the differences between the way women and men perform may be helpful in determining which sports are best for each gender. A new paper published in the “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise” journal reports that most studies on performance and activity are only done on men. However, the few that do involve women have shown that routines designed for men may not be well suited to women.

Men and Women Are Different
Sandra Hunter, PhD, associate professor of exercise science at Marquette University says, “The bottom line of training or rehab is that you have to fatigue a muscle in order to increase its strength. So if men and women fatigue differently, they should be treated differently.”

Research that women have more strength in their legs after cycling or running for a long time than men. Ladies can also hold isometric contractions (flexing a muscle, making a fist)for longer periods of time at maximum strength as their male counterparts. “We perform these types of subtle contractions all day long,” says Hunter. “They’re important for holding us up, for example, while we’re standing or sitting upright.”

Another reason for women’s increased endurance has to do with their metabolism. Women’s bodies burn fewer carbohydrates and more fat than men, which, as Hunter says, “sets them up to perform potentially for longer periods of time. But they have smaller hearts, smaller muscles and more body fat than men, so it can be hard for them to keep up with men in a sport like running, while in activities like swimming the differences are less important.” Hunter refers to Diana Nyad, “The first person to swim from Cuba to Florida was a woman.”

The Tougher Sex?
While it would be nice to claim it, there is still no hands down winner for the title of “The Tougher Sex,” but for now it is safe to say that women get more points when it comes to withstanding fatigue. However, it is a small victory for women in that they’re being recognized as a force in the athletic arena and that they’re specific concerns are being addressed. Thank you, Chrisse Wellington, et al.

So, what do you think? Does this give women the edge or are men still on top when it comes to sports? Let us know! And, if you’re a female athlete, let us know how you endure!

Woman exercising on stairs

Switching Up Your Cardio Routine

In Dante’s Inferno, the Sixth Terrace of Purgatory is devoted to the gluttonous, or those who have spent their lives overindulging on food, drinks and comforts of the body. As punishment, they are starved in the presence of trees whose fruit they can never reach. Some would argue that a more apt punishment for these gluttons might be endless cardio. Many refer to cardio as the most monotonous form of exercise, comparing treadmills and stationary bikes to hamster wheels, yet few would ever argue its myriad of benefits. The American Heart Association suggests 40 minutes of aerobic exercise three to four times weekly to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. So what can you do to switch up your cardio routine to keep things interesting?

Supersets
Supersets are great for combining weightlifting with cardio. Supersets usually consist of two or more exercises done in sequence with no rest in between. You might want to try, for example, a workout of 10 push ups, followed immediately with 10 squats, and then move onto shoulder presses, into bicep curls and ending with 10 trip extensions. You could consider his one set, and complete it three times, with a two to three minute rest in between. Certainly no hamster wheel there!

Cardio Rounds
Sure, you might get bored with the seemingly eternal sets on the elliptical, treadmill, and bike, but how about doing all three for a short amount of time, one after another? Pedal for a minute, run for a minute and use the elliptical for one minute. After five times, you should be anything but bored!

Stairs
Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator to earn some cardio points during the day. If you want an extra challenge, try taking them two at a time.

Take a Class
Sign up for a zumba, kickboxing, or hip-hop dance class. Muay Thai is a martial art from Thailand, similar to kickboxing and you can burn up to 1200 calories per class. Also, exercise in a group setting can raise motivation and improve performance while adding an element of camaraderie.

Do Cardio Between Sets
Try jumping rope or jogging between weight lifting sets or pilates routines to develop lean muscles and get your heart pumping and your blood flowing.

Timed Exercise
Another way to switch things up is by using the clock. Pick an exercise and give yourself 30 seconds to perform as many reps as you possibly can. Have a friend time you for an added incentive. See if you can increase your reps weekly or lengthen the set for some real calorie burn.

Still bored? One would think not. Let us know how you get through your cardio. We always love to hear from you!

Woman applying lipstick

The Beauty Of Poliosis

How we all wait for the day when our mother’s promises come true. When the features that we most wish we could be rid of become the envy of the ‘cool kids’ at school. When the thick heavy brows we spent our lifetimes trying to pluck into non- existence show up on the cover of Vogue, when the poliosis that made some a target for classroom bullies becomes an inspiration for the latest trend in hair.

What is Poliosis?
Poliosis is a condition resulting in the depigmentation of the hair. It can affect hair on the eyebrows, eyelashes, or head. It is caused by a decrease or lack of melanocytes and melanin in the hair bulbs of the affected follicles.
Poliosis may be mistaken for age- related hair graying. It can affect both men and women and is often associated with thyroid disease, chemotherapy, irradiation and malignancy.

Types of Poliosis

  • Genetic: Sometimes poliosis is inherited. White patches of hair can be present from the time of the baby’s birth and are caused by genetic issues, such as gene mutation.
  • Acquired: If poliosis is non-congenital, it may be due to a side effect of medical conditions that reveal themselves later in life.

Diagnosis
Although this disorder is not linked to any certain medical condition, it is important that it be properly diagnosed. Most healthcare professionals will do so by establishing the patient’s family history followed by a physical examination, nutritional and endocrinal surveys, a skin sample analysis, and a blood test.

Treatment
Although there is no “cure” for poliosis, there are a few preventive methods which include:

  1. Elimination of factors that lead to the formation of white patches
  2. Treating those factors.
  3. Discontinuation of the use of antibiotics
  4. Exposure to UV-B lamps
  5. The application of Ammi magus lotion or ointment
  6. Epidermal grafting on the depigmented skin under the white patch

The Beauty of Poliosis
One needs only to look at 23- year old Brianna Worthy to appreciate the beauty of poliosis. Brianna says, “I had several names, such as skunk, that kids would try to insult me with as a child. Sometimes it would bother me when I was younger, but I grew to end up really loving it in my hair and was confident that it was my own unique signature look.” And the biggest perk? Brianna’s daughter will carry on the legacy. Millianna was born with her own white streak making the mother-daughter duo one of the cutest teams ever seen.

Let us know your stand on poliosis! To dye or not to dye? Let us know!