Archive Monthly Archives: October 2017

How Good Nutrition Promotes Healthy Hair

October 30, 2017

Healthy hair needs protein, too.

A healthy diet plays an instrumental role in the health of your hair.

We talk about the importance of nutrition when it comes to our skin, but it doesn’t stop there. A healthy diet also plays an instrumental role in growing healthy hair. With so many products on the market today, including shampoos, conditioners, gels, sprays and more, you’d think that the only thing we can do for our hair is cover it up with product. But that just isn’t the case. Like our skin, the condition of our hair can be a true reflection of what’s going on inside of our bodies. Let’s take a look at the importance of nutrition and our hair.

Our hair is part of our unique look. It can be conservative, quirky or free flowing, and everyone is different. Some like long, bouncy curls while others like a short, polished look. And some prefer no hair at all. No matter what your style is, there’s one thing that experts agree on. A healthy diet that includes a variety of nutrients, including proteins, vitamins and minerals, can help improve how our hair feels and looks. That’s right. Our diet is a direct link to the overall health of our hair.

The Nutrition Link to Healthy Hair

What is Healthy Hair?

Healthy hair is full, bouncy, manageable, shiny, soft and silky. Healthy hair grows out of every hair follicle without issue. It’s strong, doesn’t break easily and it’s attached to a healthy scalp. A balanced diet is important to give your hair the nutrients required to look and feel healthy. And guess what one of the most important things for our hair is? Protein.

The Power of Protein

Did you know that hair is comprised primarily of proteins called keratin? Keratin is actually a family of proteins that are a major component of hair, skin, teeth and even the horns and hooves of animals. In fact, hair is made of approximately 95% keratin. Because of this, hair requires adequate amounts of protein from our diet to thrive.

As Susan Bowerman said, “Many women, especially when they’re watching their weight, often don’t eat enough protein as they try to get by on a lot of salads. Since protein is so important for healthy hair, it’s something they should pay more attention to.” And, boy, is she right. In fact, there are many studies that indicate that occasional hair loss may be due to a lack of protein intake. Crash diets that exclude protein or unhealthy eating practices in general can be damaging to our hair, and may contribute to hair loss. But don’t worry, because including adequate amounts of protein in our diet from chicken, meat, eggs, fish, tofu, nuts and other sources can solve the problem. We never start my day without a delicious protein shake, and our afternoon snack is always a protein bar. Just remember the power of protein.

Nutrition and Your Hair

While protein is important for healthy hair, it’s not the only thing. Trace minerals like iron, copper, magnesium and selenium are helpful, as are vitamins E, D, and C. These nutrients are involved in the production of keratin, so it’s important to include them in your diet. Deficiencies in any of these nutrients can compromise hair health and cause hair loss. Be conscientious of the foods you’re eating, and take a daily multivitamin to ensure you’re providing your body (and hair) with what it needs to flourish. Using the right hair care products is also important. Choose formulas that contain antioxidant vitamins, natural hydrating ingredients like shea butter and aloe vera, and those that are sulfate-free. The combination of inner and outer nutrition is great for your hair.

Here are some of our favorite fun facts about hair.

  • Hair grows all over our bodies except for the palms of hands, soles of feet, eyelids, mucous membranes and lips.
  • When wet, a strand of hair can stretch 30% beyond its normal length. This is why it’s important not to brush or comb hair too vigorously after washing. We don’t want to damage or break the hair strands.
  • Red hair is the most rare, and it’s found in about 1% of the world’s population. Blond hair represents about 2%, with black being the most common color of all.
  • Freaking out over hair in the shower drain? Don’t. The average person has 100,000 to 150,000 hairs on their head. It’s normal to lose 40 to 150 strands each day. The good news is that when a hair falls out, it usually grows back up to 20 times in a lifetime.
  • A single hair can have a lifespan of 5 years. So, take care of it by choosing a gentle shampoo and conditioner. Look for products with clinical tests to improve hair strength. And don’t abuse your hair with excessive drying and styling practices.
  • The only part of the hair that isn’t dead is the hair inside the scalp. So give your scalp a nice massage when cleansing to stimulate blood flow. It’s beneficial and feels great, too.

A healthy diet can lead to healthy skin and healthy hair. It’s our number one beauty secret to looking and feeling fabulous. And it’s that combination of taking care of our bodies inside and out that really makes a difference. It’s about being healthy. And remember, the healthiest skin (and hair) is always the most beautiful.

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Fitness Motivation: Three Tips to Help You Stay Active

Walking can improve your wellbeing.

The more sedentary you become the harder it is to get yourself moving. Try these exercises to get you back in the fitness groove.

Many people find it difficult to get and stay motivated with their exercise and healthy active lifestyle plans. The reasons for this lack of motivation are vast, but two very common ones are: today’s modern sedentary lifestyle and the natural aging process.The more sedentary you become the harder it feels to get yourself moving. Sitting around all day decreases your energy levels and can have a negative impact on your body weight, which in turn makes movement less comfortable. This combination of lack of energy and not feeling good only compounds the desire to remain sedentary. Breaking this vicious cycle is essential if you want to get and stay motivated toward reaching your personal wellness goals.

The natural effects of aging can also make it difficult to maintain your exercise motivation, and although we can’t prevent the aging process, there are some great ways that we can counteract Mother Nature’s aging effects, and keep you motivated and exercising on a consistent basis.

Here are three tips to help you fight towards staying active and motivated.

Meet your minimum exercise minutes each day: Getting your body moving on a regular basis is not only great for helping you to reach your body composition goals, but it also gives you a natural energy boost, promotes increased circulation, and improves your overall sense of wellbeing. When you keep your joints moving with regular activity, you are less likely to experience loss of mobility and joint soreness that are commonly caused by inactivity. It is recommended that in order to experience the health benefits associated with daily activity, you need to exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, five days a week. The first step is often the most difficult, but once you get active, the feel-good benefits make it easier to continue. Even if you can’t commit to 30 full minutes to start with, know that a little bit of exercise is always better than doing none at all.

Mix up your impact: It’s important to strive to maintain healthy bone density as we age, and regain it after spending prolonged periods of being sedentary. Performing exercises that are high impact in nature, such as walking, running or jumping can help you maintain healthy bones. Alternating between low impact activities, such as swimming and cycling, and high impact activities, such as running and jumping, is a perfect way to ensure you are maximizing the bone health benefits of your exercise routine, at the same time as ensuring that you are not putting too much stress on your joints. Mixing up your routine will help you avoid excessive post-exercise joint soreness and prevent you from getting bored.

Focus on your muscles: A common age related issue that can be helped with exercise is the natural loss of muscle mass known as sarcopenia. Muscle loss or body composition imbalance is not always due to the aging process, spending a long time being inactive or being underweight can also reduce your lean muscle mass.

Lifting weights or performing body weight exercises in combination with consuming a protein-rich diet will ensure that you build lean muscle mass and retain your strength. Maintaining your muscle mass is great for your metabolism and for helping you look and feel your best. Try to perform muscle-building exercises at least three days a week.

Whether you are working towards achieving a specific goal, or simply want to feel young and energized, a daily focus on being active will help you get and stay motivated.

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Four Ways to Declutter Your Diet

Get rid of the calorie clutter in your beverages.

Clean eating is trendy, but maybe you just need to declutter instead.

The phrase “clean eating” is pretty popular these days, but the concept isn’t really new.  In general, clean eating means eating foods that are fairly close to their natural state – that is, minimally processed – and getting rid of the excess ‘clutter’ in the form of a lot of added fats, sugars, salt and unnecessary additives.  Cooking foods at home and sourcing fresh, local ingredients is often part of the mix, too.  Overall, clean eating is meant to call more awareness to what we’re putting in our bodies.

It’s a great concept, but let’s not get carried away.  First of all, no one would argue that whole, unprocessed foods without packaging or labels are anything but good choices.  But creating a daily diet made up of only those foods might be intimidating to those who simply need to get a meal on the table at the end of a busy day.  Besides, there are plenty of healthy, wholesome – and yes, even ‘clean’ – foods that come in packages;  frozen loose pack veggies and fruits, canned tuna, salmon or beans, brown rice or whole grain pasta, just to name a few.

Some people take the concept of clean eating a little further, and decide to jump-start their regimen with a short fast.  Some say it feels like they’re giving their system a fresh start – kind of like cleaning out your closets or changing the oil in your car.  Fasting for a couple of days probably won’t do you any harm as long as you’re healthy and you keep yourself well-hydrated..

But keep in mind that our bodies naturally clean and detoxify every day.  We eliminate and neutralize not only via the digestive tract, but the liver, kidneys, lungs and skin get into the act, too.  As long as you take good care of your body and provide it with plenty of nourishing foods, it will take care of you.

So if you’re already eating plenty of fruits and veggies (even if they’ve been frozen), whole  grains (yep, even those that come packaged in a plastic bag) and lean proteins (even those that come from a can), your diet might be pretty clean already.  And even if you’re not eating this way, maybe you don’t need to do a “clean sweep” – perhaps a little “decluttering” is all it takes.

How to Declutter Your Diet

  • Read food labels to help you ditch extra sugar, salt and fat. You’ve heard it before, but it’s generally true – shorter ingredients lists usually mean fewer unwanted additives and more wholesome products.  Check labels for added fats, salt and sugar, and do your best to choose items that have minimal amounts added.  For example, choose plain yogurt rather than pre-sweetened, choose plain frozen vegetables rather than those with sauces added, look for whole grain breads or cereals with little to no added sugar.
  • Lose the refined starches and up your fruit and veggie intake. This sounds so simple, but it’s one of the best things you can do to improve the overall quality of your diet. When you make a point to include a fruit or vegetable at every meal, it “squeezes out” many of the unwanted foods and ingredients you might otherwise eat.  Swap sugary, fatty ice cream for a delicious bowl of berries, have a side salad with your sandwich instead of fries, or try snacking on baby carrots and hummus instead of chips.
  • Get rid of the calorie clutter in your beverages. When it comes to added calories, beverages are – for many people – their undoing.  Between sugary sodas, fruit juices (yes, even 100%, fresh-pressed, all-organic!), alcoholic beverages and fancy coffee drinks, it’s not hard to take in hundreds of calories a day from beverages alone.  Plain tea is a great alternative because it can be drunk hot or cold, it has no calories, and has naturally-occurring compounds that may offer some health benefits, too.
  • Clear the clutter from your fridge, freezer and pantry. A little kitchen ‘spring cleaning’ can really help you declutter your diet.  Fill your pantry with high-fiber whole grains (like 100% whole wheat pasta, bread, cereals and flour, as well as foods like quinoa, millet and brown rice) instead of the refined stuff. Stock up on beans and canned tomatoes instead of prepared spaghetti sauces or soups that are high in salt. Stock your refrigerator and freezer with plain fruits and veggies, rather than those with sugary syrups or salty, fatty sauces. And keep some canned tuna or salmon on hand in the pantry, or frozen fish filets or chicken breasts in the freezer for quick, healthy (clean!) meals, rather than frozen chicken nuggets or breaded fish sticks.

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Five-Minute Workouts to Keep Your Fitness on Track

Start your day with a core workout.

Some exercise is always better than doing none at all. Commit to doing quick five-minute workouts any week you feel too busy to hit the gym.

The great thing about Halloween, if you have kids, is the extra walking minutes you can accumulate for the entire family as you go trick-or-treating around the neighborhood. The week leading up to Halloween, however, can be hectic and interfere with your usual workout routine. The extra treats consumed can mess with your waistline too, so here are some fast and effective workouts you can squeeze into your day to keep your results on track.

We all know that busy days are a part of life, and as a busy working mom myself, I know all too well that some days getting in a workout seems almost impossible. But with a no excuses attitude, I also know that you don’t have to let your hectic schedule interfere with getting in a quick burst of exercise. If getting in your daily 30 minutes is challenging this week, commit to five-minute bouts of exercise to ensure that you stay on track with your personal body composition goals.

Here are five quick at-home routines that you can add to your day.

Morning start: Jump out of bed and do this fat burning routine in your p.j.’s. It’s not as intense as a HIIT workout, but it will help get your blood flowing and promote the release of your natural feel-good endorphins to help you start your day feeling good.

Mid-day blast: This workout will get your heart rate up and challenge your body. It has lots of my favorite athletic style moves that promote muscle strengthening and, because it’s high in intensity, you will burn calories for a while afterwards as your body recovers.

Lower-body Fix: Working the muscles of the posterior chain – a.k.a. the booty and legs – is great because this major muscle group burns calories faster than working smaller muscles, making a lower-body routine a perfect choice when you are short on time.

Upper-body focus: This quick upper-body workout is great for toning the chest and arms.

All about the abs: This core focused abdominal workout is sure to make you feel great. If you have little ones at home, this routine is great for when they are taking a nap.

Stress relief before bed: If you are wound up at the end of the day, consider spending some time before bed doing this stretching routine. It will help you connect your mind, body and breath. Stretching at the end of the day may help clear your mind and slow your energy down to help you get a good night’s sleep. It’s not a big calorie burner, but the relaxation and muscle stretching benefits feel great.

Short workouts are a perfect option for days when you know you are busy. If you perform all six workouts, that’s your 30-minute health benefits of exercise met for the day. If you only have time to do one or two routines, get in the rest of your exercise minutes with walking and staying generally active.

An at-home workout can be highly effective. Even if you only have time to squeeze in a few minutes of exercise, it can make a big difference with how you feel. Getting your body moving each day can build your self-confidence and your muscles too. Make this Halloween a healthy and fit one.

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Recipe: Juicy Pork Tenderloin

Healthy, protein-packed pork.

 This protein-packed, grilled pork tenderloin recipe, full of flavor and with only 400 calories, will melt in your mouth.

This amazing grilled pork tenderloin recipe is moist, full of flavor and only 400 calories. There is no major preparation – just a quick dry rub.  Pork tenderloin is one of the easiest meats to cook and one of the leanest, but you must be careful not to overcook it, or it will be dry. This recipe will seal in the juices, and the meat will melt in your mouth. It’s the perfect protein to pair with some veggies and pasta.

25 g protein/400-calorie meal
(Divide into 4 servings.)
40 g protein/600-calorie meal
(Divide into 3 servings.)
1 (about 1 ¼ lb.) Pork tenderloin
2 TBSP Olive oil, divided
1 tsp Salt
½ tsp Freshly ground pepper
1 tsp Brown sugar
½ tsp Ground cumin
½ tsp Dry mustard
¼ tsp Garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim tenderloin of any fat and silver “skin,” and pat dry with paper towels. Pierce in a few places with a fork and coat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. In a small bowl, mix together salt, pepper, brown sugar, cumin, mustard and garlic powder. Coat pork tenderloin with the seasoning mixture.

Heat large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and sear pork on all sides until nicely browned, about 7-8 minutes. Place skillet in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, or until meat reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest for 5-10 minutes, then slice into small medallions across the grain.

Suggestion: Complete your meal with steamed broccoli and whole grain pasta.

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Recipe: Tuna Patties

Tuna patties are healthy and budget-friendly.

 Tuna patties, tuna cakes and tuna croquets are budget-friendly, and a healthy way to get your protein.

A few cans of tuna, some vegetables, lemon juice, mustard, Greek yogurt and bread crumbs are all the ingredients you need to prepare this budget-friendly recipe. You probably heard of tuna patties, tuna cakes or tuna croquets. Whatever you want to call them, they are done in less than 30 minutes; easy to make, full of flavor and LOTS of protein.

The lemon in this recipe is the secret ingredient to make it go from yum to yummy and the go-to-dish for those lazy days or a quick weeknight meal.

25 g protein/400-calorie meal
(Divide into 4 servings.)
40 g protein/600-calorie meal
(Divide into 3 servings.)
3 cans (5 oz. each) Chunk light or albacore tuna
½ cup (75 g) Diced mixed vegetables
(i.e., red bell pepper, spring onions, cucumber)
2 TBSP Lemon juice
¼ cup Plain Greek-style yogurt
2 TBSP Dijon-style mustard
¼ cup Dry whole wheat bread crumbs
2 tsp Olive oil or canola oil for cooking

Drain liquid from canned tuna, put into a bowl, then flake with a fork.

Set aside. In another bowl, mix together the diced vegetables, lemon juice, yogurt, mustard and bread crumbs until well blended, then add tuna and mix well. Shape into 4 large or 6 small patties.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat and add olive or canola oil. Gently place the patties in the pan and cook until nicely browned on one side, then turn and cook the other side until the patties are browned on both sides and heated through.

Suggestion: Complete your meal with a whole grain bun, raw vegetables and hummus dip.

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6 Ways to Camouflage Dark Circles

October 23, 2017

Eye shadow can do wonders for your look.

Are your sparkling eyes getting dragged down by dark under-eye circles? We all get them on occasion, and some of us seem to be stuck with them long-term. There are a few things that you can do to help take the spotlight off of the dark circles and put it back on your eyes.

Those dark circles under our eyes can be such a downer. They make us look older and they make us look tired. I hate waking up to find dark circles just jumping off of my face. What color are my eyes? I have no idea because all I see are raccoon eyes. Not an attractive look for women or men.

Dark circles are only cute on panda bears

Dark circles for most of us are the result of fatigue, allergies, excessive rubbing of the eyes and even certain skin conditions, such as atopic or contact dermatitis. For others it’s due to heredity, and some ethnic groups are more prone to dark circles than others. Under-eye dark circles are the result of thinning skin and loss of collagen and fat. Unfortunately, this becomes more common as we start to age.

This thinning can make the reddish-blue blood vessels found under our eyes much more noticeable.

While there are many creams, serums and gels on the market to combat dark circles, it’s hard to find that perfect product. Sometimes it can take months before we start to see an improvement. But all hope is not lost. There are things we can do in the interim to help improve our overall look.

Here are some easy tips to help camouflage the area and reduce the appearance of those unsightly dark circles.

Put the focus on the eyes, not the skin around the eyes

Make your eyes stand out with my one go-to tip—an eyelash curler. Men, don’t tune out because this tip can work for you, too. You can pick up an inexpensive eyelash curler at any drug store. The curling will instantly make your eyes look larger by casting a shadow onto your brow bone. If you wear mascara, only apply to your top lashes. If you apply mascara to your bottom lashes, you run the risk of casting a shadow that will only add darkness to the skin under your eyes. I’ve mentioned in a previous post that an eyelash curler is one of my beauty must haves: once you start using one, you can never turn back.

A little tweezing goes a long way

There’s nothing like the power of well-shaped eyebrows to help open up your eyes. Again, this tip is not just for women. Men should also be conscientious of their eyebrows to make sure they are well groomed. Get rid of any strays and tweeze just slightly to help accent the natural arch in your brow. Not comfortable doing this yourself? After one too many tweezing mishaps, I certainly can relate. Have your eyebrows done professionally the first time so you can see the difference, and get a better understanding of just where a few plucks will make a difference.

Just say no to lower lid lining

We tend to like the look of perfectly lined lids. However, by lining your lower lid, you risk putting emphasis on your dark circles. If eyeliner is your thing, apply a darker shade only on top. And if you must line your lower lid, choose a color that’s lighter. It’s a simple trick that really does work.

Perfect the art of eye shadow

Makeup is an amazing beauty tool. The more you practice your technique, the better you’ll be able to apply cosmetics. When it comes to eye shadow, try to avoid using dark colors on your upper eyelids. If you have dark circles, a smoky eye might not be the best look for you. Try using cooler pinks, light, natural mochas or plum colors. Or better yet, go for a monochromatic eye. Use one single shade of eye shadow in a lighter shade, and apply on your eyelid and brow bone. Use highlighter on your brow bone and the inner corner of your eyes to help brighten the area. By keeping your makeup fresh and neutral, it will definitely draw the attention away from the under-eye area. Be sure to have fun with your look and play around with colors to see what works for you.

Cover up with concealer

A good concealer is your best line of defense against dark under-eye circles. While I know that most men don’t wear makeup, there’s nothing wrong with a little concealer to help banish the dark circles. If you do it correctly, no one will even notice you’re wearing it.

It’s important when using concealer to always counterbalance the most prominent undertone of your dark circles. Yellow-based concealers are perfect for most dark circles. But this is trial and error. I learned a long time ago not to try to shade match my foundations or concealers by myself. What looked good in the store always looked a bit off when I applied it at home. I have an entire drawer of only-worn-once products due to my miscalculations. Now I rely on the experts at the cosmetic counters to help me pick the right shades. They are a huge help and provide a service that ultimately can save a lot of time and money.

Make sure your concealer shade is a bit lighter than your skin tone or foundation. Look for something that’s creamy in texture so it won’t settle into any fine lines and cracks during the day. Don’t make the mistake of using too much concealer or applying it under your entire eye. Only apply the product where the actual dark circles are. Usually this is a small semi-circle that starts near your inner eye and goes downwards towards your cheek. Use your fingers, damp makeup sponge or a soft brush to apply your concealer to the dark areas only. It’s always a good idea to apply your concealer last. This way, you can be sure to clean up any makeup that may have landed in the under-eye area prior to applying. Remember, use your concealer sparingly. You don’t want to draw even more attention to the area.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

If you really want to take care of the skin around your eyes and ensure that your makeup goes on smoothly, invest in a quality hydrating eye cream or gel. Hydration always makes the skin look a bit plumper and smoother. This will only help with the application of your concealer and truly help diminish the appearance of those dark circles. And, yes, gentlemen this means you, too. Both men and women will benefit from a good skin care regimen, and a hydrating eye product is a necessity.

I really wish there were a magical product to eliminate dark circles once and for all. Until then, we can continue to look for some quick fixes through trial and error.

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Controlling the Candy Monster This Halloween

Keep candy in small, sweet portions.

When I was little, there was a guy down the street who bucked the Halloween candy trend, and instead pulled quarters from behind our ears. His place was really popular. He also knew all the kids in the neighborhood, so we all knew that one quarter was the limit—no circling the block and coming back for more. But now it seems that in this era of supersizing—where more is always better and there are almost no limits—we’ve managed to supersize Halloween, too.

No longer is it just about scary costumes and fun with friends and family. The focus seems to be more on who can collect the most candy. I don’t recall exactly what I used to carry my loot, but I’m positive it wasn’t a pillowcase. Thanks to its light weight and large size, that seems to be the preferred method for hauling Halloween booty.

Does anyone really need a pillowcase full of candy?

I don’t want to spoil anyone’s holiday—but when you recognize that Halloween revelers spend the evening collecting a staggering 600 million pounds of candy from strangers, perhaps there are things we can do to make us feel as if we’re contributing just a little bit less to the madness.

We’ve learned some lessons from food psychology research that might well apply here. For example, we know that people eat less from smaller bowls or plates than larger ones. People judge ‘how much they have’ based on how well it fills up a plate, bowl or cup. We also know that people serve themselves less when they’re dipping or pouring from small containers rather than larger ones.

So, what if we dole out candy from a small bowl rather than a huge cauldron? Maybe kids would take a little less. And if we provide our own kids with smaller containers for collecting goodies, they might be satisfied with less, too. All they really want is to go home with a full container—whatever size it is. So, out with the pillowcases, and bring back the old-school plastic jack-o’-lanterns.

The other thing we’ve learned is that the more variety we’re faced with, the more we’re likely to serve ourselves. We tend to eat more at buffets for this reason. The same should hold true for candy. If you offer the little goblins an array of candy, they’re probably going to try to take one of each—and you might feel a twinge of guilt for indulging their gluttony. But limit your offerings to just one type of candy, and it’s more likely they’ll just take one.

You could, of course, buck the candy trend altogether. Pulling coins from behind kids’ ears may have lost its appeal, but you could pass out small packs of nuts, colorful stickers, pencils, temporary tattoos and Halloween-themed party favors—all guilt-free alternatives to traditional sugar-laden treats.

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