It’s hard to get through a day without hearing about a new health or wellness finding. Whether it’s news about another “healthy” food that’s actually bad for us or the latest study on how sitting is killing us, we’re basically inundated with health noise. But despite the often impressive credentials behind the health headlines, I’m more likely to get excited about a health hack that comes from a real person. If you’re the same way, read on for my latest fave wellness findings:
A surprising way to get glowing skin
Due to facial bruising and other complications from minor surgery on my jaw, I recently went a week without any makeup or alcohol. While I’m not a heavy drinker, I do like my wine, so it had been a while since I’d gone seven days without raising a glass of chardonnay. (The fact that it was over Christmas, added to the fun.)
While I wasn’t so happy with the bruises on my face, about five days into the week I started to notice something else. My complexion (the part that wasn’t black and blue, that is) was glowing. And this was without doing anything special to my face beyond washing it and applying my normal moisturizer with SPF. The only difference in my routine was the tee-totaling and going bare-faced.
I attribute most of the glow to skipping the vino, since alcohol is known to dehydrate skin. But I think my actual no-makeup look (as opposed to the “no-makeup” makeup look that’s been in vogue) had something to do with it as well. After all, some skin-care experts believe cosmetics slow down skin-cell turnover. And no matter how well we clean our faces, some traces of makeup stay behind.
With that in mind, if your complexion’s a little lackluster, laying off cosmetics for a few days may help skin regenerate. (And skipping the hard stuff likely won’t hurt either.)
That stuff around the middle isn’t always about being “in the middle”
My weight stayed constant for decades until a couple of years ago when I gradually started gaining weight. It was only about five pounds, but the fact that I’m short with a small build made it seem more like 10. And it was different than weight I’d gained previously, in that it seemed to be around my belly: a.k.a. the dreaded muffin top. I was still exercising regularly, so I thought it was, alas, middle-aged spread.
Women often gain belly fat at midlife because as estrogen levels decrease, body fat is redistributed from the hips, thighs and buttocks to the abdomen. This is known as visceral fat and it’s dangerous because it’s metabolically active and linked to heart disease, type-2 diabetes and breast cancer.
I’d almost come to accept a little bit of belly padding as part of this life stage. But then a month ago when I had surgery and didn’t eat much for a few days, I found myself suddenly down a few pounds. The surprising part was my belly was almost flat again.
I had to cop to the fact that the past few years, which had definitely delivered some hormonal changes, had also seen my portion sizes creep up.
I’m absolutely not advocating drastically cutting calories. But if you’re fighting the belly battle it may be worth asking yourself if you’re super-sizing it too often.
Hit the yoga mat for creativity
There’s a Friday hatha yoga class at YYoga in Toronto I try to do whenever I can. Sure, it’s great for exercise, stretching and stress release, but, lately, I’ve noticed another benefit. While doing a leisurely downward dog or forward bend, I’ll often get a story idea. While it could be coincidental, research suggests that the mindful breathing involved in most yoga styles helps calm brain chatter, which in turn creates a welcoming atmosphere for creative thinking.
If you’re looking for a solution to a problem or need help making a decision, rather than wracking your brain, try striking a (yoga) pose while focusing on your breath.
That’s the scoop on my latest fave wellness findings. If you have any go-to health hacks, I’d love it if you shared them below.