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8 Ways to Change Your Looks and Your Life

  • Alexa Miller

    Eat Your Way to Gorgeous

    Somewhere between Black Friday and January 2, the effects of holiday overindulgence start to take their toll. Exhibit A: tired eyes, too-snug jeans, and through-the-roof stress. But you don't have to live like this another day. FITNESS asked the pros at Canyon Ranch Health Resorts in Tucson, Arizona, and Lenox, Massachusetts, along with several other experts, for the latest and most effective beauty, nutrition, exercise, and de-stressing strategies. These easy-to-incorporate tips will get you feeling balanced and looking more beautiful, stat!

    Before reaching for that cookie, chew on this: For every single gram of refined carbohydrates (think sugary desserts and white breads and pastas) that we consume, our bodies retain 2.7 grams of water, says Jeffrey Morrison, MD, a nutrition specialist in New York City. Short term, that can mean a bloated belly and puffy eyes, but over time you'll notice flaky skin, brittle hair, and chipped nails. "That's because refined carbs contain no moisturizing fatty acids or protective antioxidants," Dr. Morrison explains. He suggests eating two one-cup servings of antioxidant-rich fruits (blueberries are a great source) a day and two five-ounce servings of fish (wild salmon and Atlantic mackerel are two of the healthiest choices) per week.

     
  • Laura Doss

    Fight Flaky Skin from Head to Toe

    Dry, frigid temperatures and indoor heating strip skin of its natural levels of moisture. Instead of slathering on layers of lotion, try this more strategic fix: Apply a moisturizer made with humectants (such as hyaluronic acid) during the day and one with occlusive ingredients (like petrolatum or shea butter) at night, suggests Fredric Brandt, MD, a dermatologist in New York City. Humectants are lightweight — ideal for daytime — and draw moisture from the deep layers of the dermis to keep skin soft, Dr. Brandt adds. Occlusive formulas, on the other hand, form a physical barrier that locks in moisture. Apply both to damp skin (either just-washed or spritzed with a hydrating mist), which attracts moisturizing ingredients like a magnet.

  • Stewart Shining/Art + Commerce

    Soothe Away Fine Lines and Wrinkles

    Habitual squinting or scowling causes skin to wrinkle. "Relaxing your face through massage can help to soften those creases," explains Laura Hittleman, corporate beauty services director at Canyon Ranch. Try this technique from Christeen Millar, training executive for the skincare line Cle de Peau Beaute, which offers free massages at store counters: Spread a nickel-size dollop of cream onto clean facial skin. With the pads of your middle and ring fingers (they exert the gentlest pressure), make long strokes from the center of the forehead up and out toward the temples; do the same from the center of your chin to the jawline. Finally, massage the cheeks in upward circular motions. Repeat the process three times. You'll see an immediate glow (massage enhances skin's circulation) and, when done at least three days a week, less-obvious lines.

     
  • Sonja Pacho

    Get Smoother, Shinier Hair

    Brushing, heat styling, and coloring cause the hair cuticle to lift and reflect less light. Kim Vo, a stylist in Los Angeles, suggests mixing a palm-size amount of deep conditioner, a shot glass of vodka, and five drops of your favorite essential oil. "The alcohol lowers the hair's pH, encouraging the cuticle to close, while the oil offers instant shine," he says. Comb the mixture through dry hair (water-logged strands soak up less of the ingredients), and rinse after 20 minutes.

  • Nick Cardillicchio

    Better Your Beauty Sleep

    Puffy eyes and dark circles are dead giveaways of a restless night (as are the layers of concealer you glob on the morning after). For a sounder sleep, lie on your back and prop legs into an L position against the wall (hands go on the floor above your head) for five minutes. This pose, called viparita karani in yoga, reverses the normal downward flow of blood and stretches the neck, back, and leg muscles, which relaxes you, says Jonathan Ellerby, PhD, spiritual-program director at Canyon Ranch. Or try a hot shower for five minutes. "As you move from hot to cool after drying off, your body releases melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone," says Michael J. Breus, PhD, sleep specialist and author of Beauty Sleep.

     
  • Jay Sullivan

    Get That Just-from-the-Gym Glow

    Exercise isn't great just for your waistline — it also stimulates blood flow, making skin look radiant and dewy. When there's no time for a long sweat session before a night out, try this 20-minute routine by Equinox Fitness Club trainer Key Son: Do three to five circuits of 40 crunches, 10 to 15 push-ups, and 20 single-leg squats (per leg). "Performing the circuits without a break forces your heart to work really hard, and that speeds up circulation," Son explains. The result: energized, luminous skin, plus a tighter tummy, toned arms, and sleeker legs.

  • Laura Doss

    Breathe for Better Skin

    Next time you're rushing to meet a tight deadline or worrying about a meeting with your boss, notice your breathing pattern. "Most of us take short, shallow breaths when we're stressed," says Ann Pardo, director of life management at Canyon Ranch. This lowers our blood-oxygen levels, which could cause skin to appear dull and sallow. Instead, inhale deeply for a count of five, and exhale for the same duration to instantly reoxygenate your blood.

     
  • Kate Powers

    Brighten Tired Eyes

    Forget your double-tall caffeine fix — awake with aromatherapy in the a.m. Citrus and rosemary essential oils are most stimulating, says Kate Price, a massage therapist at Canyon Ranch. Add a drop to your face or body wash. Or pick up a Lush Emotibomb ($3.95, lushusa.com); the perfumed disk goes on your shower floor and releases an aroma of lime and grapefruit when hit with water.

  • Jack Miskell

    The Best Products for Softer Skin and Hair

    Soften up! Stay smooth all over with these tips and treats.

    Perfect for the p.m.

    The petrolatum in Jergens Skin Smoothing Cellular Renewal Moisturizer, $6.99, drugstores, binds to your body before bedtime.

     
  • Jack Miskell

    Your Everyday Essential for Smooth Skin

    Johnson's Body Care 24 Hour Lotion, $5.49, drugstores, is made with glycerin, a powerful humectant, which is ideal for moisturizing.

  • Jack Miskell

    Conditioning Cocktail for Silky, Shiny Hair

    Mix a bit of vodka, essential oil, and Wen by Chaz Dean Cucumber Aloe Re-Moist Hydrating Mask, $72, chazdean.com, to get glossy hair.

  • Jack Miskell

    A Slick Solution for Dry Skin

    Reverse dryness and unwind by massaging skin with Clarins Face Treatment Oil in Blue Orchid, $46, clarins.com.

  • Jack Miskell

    An Elixir for Younger-Looking Skin

    Pre-makeup, apply Avon ANEW Ultimate Elixir Premium, $68, avon.com. It's rich in glycerin.

  • Jack Miskell

    Get Silky Skin Overnight

    Shea butter, found in Murad Age-Balancing Night Cream, $80, murad.com, feeds your complexion while you sleep.

    Originally published in FITNESS magazine, January 2009.

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