Ah, the start of a new year: brand-new calendar, still-dazzling gifts from the holidays, and perhaps most importantly, a fresh start. It’s never too late to turn your skin around, either. Here are 10 tips to get your new year off on the right…face? ;-)
According to Chris Carmichael, Lance Armstrong’s trainer and author of 5 Essentials for a Winning Life, one person in the U.S. dies from skin cancer every hour. That is a pretty dour statistic, particularly when one considers that sunscreen is so readily available. Wear a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 daily, reapply every 2 hours if in the water or the sun, avoid the sun as much as possible between 10 AM and 4 PM, and by all means, stop tanning!
Not only does exercise make you lean, glowing, and gorgeous: it also may help to eliminate acne. According to dermatologist Dr. Richard Fried, M.D. in the November 2008 issue of Women’s Health magazine, “[Exercise] can save your skin…Exercise reduces levels of insulin and stress hormones, which when elevated, can trigger the production of breakout-boosting sebum [with regular exercise conducted over a period of weeks].” However, according to a recent study in the Journal of Health Psychology, patients with severe acne reported being less likely to engage in sports or exercise, perhaps due to reported decreased self-esteem levels. So stop bemoaning your spots and get on the treadmill – it can only help!
We’ve all heard it all before: not washing your face before bed traps bacteria on the pillowcase and your skin…gross. But perhaps there is a positive motivator as well: According to one of my all-time favorite derms, Dr. David E. Bank, core internal temperature rises at night and the facial muscles and pores relax, allowing for skin care ingredients to penetrate the skin more deeply (and hence have greater effect). (Source: the January 2008 issue of Health magazine). In essence, this means that your beloved skin care is even more likely to work when applied shortly before bed to freshly cleaned skin. In addition, a silk pillowcase creates slightly less friction between your skin and the pillow, making for smoother skin in the morning. (A minor effect, but one that may build up over years).
Maybe your momma swears by Noxzema alone, but as for the rest of us, it’s fun to splurge on skin care once in a while. Here are some of my all-time favorite products (talk to your dermatologist about whether or not they are suitable for your skin type):
Oh, bacteria – not only do they not look pretty under the microscope, but they are also breeding grounds for bacteria that can do ugly things to your skin (think: nasty infections and acne). Luckily, most makeup brushes are easily cleaned. I clean mine every Sunday with a quick dab of Cetaphil skin cleanser under running water, and then let mine air-dry for a few hours on towel-covered shelf.
You may think you are too young (what’s the point?) or too old (it’s too late!), but truth be told, everyone can benefit from seeing a licensed board-certified dermatologist. (And I’m not just saying that to drum up business for years from now, haha). Dermatologists can not only diagnose skin conditions the untrained eye cannot detect, but they can also optimize your skin care regime, grant life-saving regular checks for skin cancer, and perform much stronger anti-aging procedures than what is available over-the-counter. For more reasons you can benefit from seeing a dermatologist, visit the blog of my favorite research-loving, derm department-founding dermatologist, Dr. Leslie Baumann M.D.
Wait, you’re thinking, this is a post about skin care. However, according to renowned derm Dr. Jeffrey Benabio, M.D., “Two side effects of increased cortisol [the stress hormone] are increased sebaceous oil production and increased inflammation in your skin. The result: big, red pimples in the middle of your face that make you now wish you were dead.”
Positive thinking changes your life – after all, the only essential difference between when you’re feeling good and bad is how you are thinking. Even when unfortunate circumstances arise, it’s your thoughts about the events that make them good or bad, not the events themselves. My very positive, forward-thinking boyfriend got me into a lot of this (thanks honey), and it has truly changed my life. While I’m still occasionally a stressed-out medical student, most of the time, I’m happy and enjoying the process. That said, here are five books I love: The Secret (Byrne), Finding Your North Star (Beck), Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff(Carlson), You Can Be Happy No Matter What (Carlson), and The Success Principles (Canfield).
Yes, you may want to lose weight in 2010, but make sure that you keep the weight off. As one dermatologist I once interviewed memorably informed me, “Weight gain and loss is one of the biggest aging factors I see in patients…As the weight yo-yos, the collagen fibers stretch back and forth, and they never regain their full elasticity.” To get your weight down and keep it off, here are some of the best tips I have ever heard:
In general, a good rule of thumb for those with average metabolism and activity is 10 calories/day for every 10 pounds you want to weigh. So if you want to be 120 pounds, eat 1200 calories/day until you reach your goal weight. If you want to be 150 pounds, eat 1500 calories/day until you reach your goal weight. After you reach your goal, you can monitor your calorie intake and weight to determine what you need to eat to maintain your weight (usually 200-300 calories more/day).
If you eat healthfully all the time (and I am a size 0 and cannot eat like that perpetually), try Weight Watchers. The point system is amazing and lets you eat anything, provided you just watch for the rest of the day. Sometimes I infamously “save up” points for a small popcorn and candy at the movies, only to eat fruit and a small grilled chicken-laden salad the rest of the day. While it’s not the healthiest approach (nor is it good for everyday), it’s logical for those of us who like to indulge once in a while.
Get weighed first thing every morning. Knowing I have to get weighed upon waking keeps me from indulging at dinner and thereafter.
Don’t eat after 8 P.M. Calories are calories, but self-control is better at earlier times of the day for many people.
Write down what you eat and when you exercise. Holding yourself accountable is a great way to get yourself motivated in the beginning, and to feel proud of your progress later (and re-invigorated about your program!)
Make realistic goals. Make a goal that you would be able to achieve on your worst, most tired-feeling day, and stick to that commitment. I personally have a commitment to work on this blog for at least one minute per day, even on my busiest-craziest-most-lazy day ever. (But usually, for the record, I do much more, ).
From Leo Babauta at Zen Habits: Exercise at least 10 minutes every single day. Even when you feel unmotivated, walk for 10 minutes. Most of the time, you’ll want to continue. But there have been a few days I’ve literally counted 9:57, 9:58, 9:59…out loud. Excitedly. The point is, do something…you’ll benefit in the long run. I promise.
And, I should mention, the above are only opinions and tips from around the grapevine; talk to your physician before beginning any new weight-loss regime.
According to recent research, it takes about 21 days for humans to adapt any new behavior into some sort of a habit. In order to optimize your chances of sticking to it during that three-week period, chart your progress! Write it down in a notebook or journal, log it on an Excel spreadsheet, or start a blog.