6 Weeks to a Younger You

Congrats to Our Winners!

September 21, 2011 at 12:41 pm , by

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After blogging about our six-week Younger You plan, we wanted to reward our lovely fans and followers with a giveaway. One of our favorite motivational tips from the series was to wear a pedometer. We love seeing how many steps we can rack up in a day, and we thought you might like to try them too. So we drew three names from our entries, above (that’s me on the left and LHJ‘s health director Julie on the right).

After we picked our winners, we wanted to follow up with them, too. Not just because they each got an awesome Omron pedometer, but also because their tips were inspiring. Here’s what they shared:

“My daughter has swim practice at 5:30 am. Instead of heading back home and into bed, I walk for 60 minutes. I also find myself not looking for the closest parking spot at the market, but will park farther away. It’s amazing how changing one habit in your life ends up changing so many other little ones as well.” —Tricia

“I try to drink more water and eat healthier all the time. I no longer eat meat of any kind, too…More veggies and fruit.” —Cecilia

“I joined Weight Watchers and lost 26 pounds… I need to start walking regularly, more weight to lose :) ” —Heather

Congrats to Tricia, Cecilia and Heather! You can read the rest of our fans’ health tips on our Facebook page here. Thanks for playing, and cheers to a younger you!


6 Weeks to a Younger You: Week 6

September 13, 2011 at 12:22 pm , by

Welcome to the final segment of our “6 Weeks to a Younger You” plan. This week is about finding your balance—literally and figuratively.

FIND YOUR BALANCE
First, the literal. Your equilibrium starts to dwindle as you get more, ahem, mature. And that can lead to falls and fractures later—which can really affect the quality of your life and make you feel old. You can train yourself to have better balance by practicing it. Yoga classes are great for that, of course. Amelia and I are testing out our yoga Tree Pose,  right, and bending in the wind, as young trees do to weather storms. If you don’t want to be a tree, just practice balancing on one foot while you’re in line at the grocery store or brushing your teeth at the sink. Do it every day on both legs and you’ll be surprised how much better you’ll get at it with practice.

Now the figurative.
Too often we go to extremes. We eat too much junk, then decide to starve ourselves in penance. We skip exercise all week because it’s humid and rainy, then go crazy on the weekend and end up with sore muscles or an injury. Balance is better.

That means eating healthy meals and not snacking all day long. You may have heard it’s healthy to eat several smalls meals throughout the day. But studies show that if you never give your digestive system a break, your body may not have time to remove damaged cells and toxic stuff that accumulates. And that can make you more vulnerable to diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Four to six hours between meals is optimal.

Regular exercise is key, too, not just for your body but also for your brain. Just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week for three months increases the part of your brain you use for short-term memory. Yes, regular brisk walks may actually improve your memory! For more details, read our interview with our favorite memory expert and neurologist Majid Fotuhi, M.D. here.

You need to balance your spirit, too. Are you a “doom and gloom” personality type? Studies show that Type D’s, as they’re called, have a higher risk of heart disease and are more likely to die from it, too. You can help yourself become a more relaxed type, like young trees that bend in the wind (see us above, hint, hint!), by practicing yoga or meditation, and getting more exercise, which is guaranteed to lift your spirits.

Woo-hoo to a younger (more balanced) you!

Photo by Cassandra Tucker


6 Weeks to a Younger You: Week 4

August 31, 2011 at 7:05 am , by

Weights 3Do you feel younger yet? We’re in week four of our six-week push to a younger you, and we have weighty matters to discuss!

GET A LIFT
In previous weeks, we’ve been challenging ourselves to move more by measuring our steps with a pedometer and getting our heart rate up with some interval training. That’s great, but we’ve got to add in some resistance exercise to keep our bones strong and build lean muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn!

That’s why I keep these six-pound hand weights in my bedroom. I can do my bicep curls and squats while watching how well the new celebs cha-cha and samba on this season’s Dancing With the Stars. (I’ll be rooting for Chaz Bono, and let’s face it: he needs to shape up a little.) Or I can go out on my terrace in the gorgeous morning light and knock out three reps of 10s before the coffee has dripped. Join me! See four easy exercises here.

FILL UP ON PROTEIN
You know when celebrities shape up for an action movie and talk about their regimen? They always say they cut back on carbs and pump up the lean protein. A lot of women normally do the opposite. This week, try to get some protein at every meal. That could be eggs or Greek yogurt for breakfast, a big salad with  chicken or tofu and a sprinkle of cheese for lunch and some lovely grilled fish for dinner, for example. If you’re vegetarian, it can be harder to get enough, so you should pay even more attention to your  intake. Try to eat 120 to 140 grams of protein a day. Here’s a good chart to help you figure out how to get there.

IMPROVE YOUR SHUT-EYE
We’re still cleaning up here in the Northeast from hurricane Irene, and almost everyone I know is sleep deprived right now. You may be, too, even if your weather has been perfect. Most American women don’t get nearly enough shut-eye to keep their brains in good working order. Make it a priority this week. Wind down early, avoid caffeine and alcohol, keep the room cool and dark and aim for at least seven hours. I co-wrote a sleep book just for women (with author Ellen Michaud; you can  buy it here). It’s full of great tips—best book I’ve ever read on the subject!

DO SOME GOOD
Ladies’ Home Journal truly believes in the power of doing good. Turns out, if you help others, it makes you feel younger, too! We have lots of good resources to get you started. Cheers to a younger you!

Photo by Stella Capuano


6 Weeks to a Younger You: Week 3

August 24, 2011 at 11:28 am , by

gummy bearsHow did you do on your week 2 assignments? Did you give meditation a try? Or get your blood pressure checked? Hope you at least put on your sunscreen and took your vitamin D. Those are easy!

But the homework gets harder this week with two assignments that I know I need to work on: getting my heart rate up and eating less sugar.

LET’S GET PHYSICAL
Remember step aerobics classes? I think they went the way of shiny Spandex around the turn of the millennium, but they had the right idea: to get your heart rate up without causing joint pain from pounding the pavement. I kind of miss them. I’m lucky that I live and work in New York City, so I walk a lot—but on a very flat island. I seldom climb anything unless it’s a few stairs out of a subway station, and I don’t often break a sweat, either (except when I’m standing on a broiling subway platform, but that doesn’t count).

To improve your stamina and cardiovascular health, you’ve got to raise your heart rate and get the sweat going, too. New research says you can do this through interval training, meaning short bursts of intense activity combined with longer periods at a more comfortable pace. This is good news! I’m not a gym rat, so I want to find a way to incorporate this into my day. Aha—another urban advantage. I can combine my pedometer-guided walks to and from work with the stairs in my apartment building. I’ll try to zoom up and down the six flights to my apartment at least a couple of times a day. Maybe if I put Olivia Newton-John on my iPod, I can pretend I’m back in aerobics class. Woo! Now what are you going to do to step it up?

STEP AWAY FROM THE CUPCAKE

I think cupcakes have become the bane of American women’s existence. They’re everywhere, in schools, at the office, in the mall—and they’re nearly impossible to resist. Let’s face it, when you have a bad day or are stressed out, you don’t crave broccoli. You want the red velvet cupcake with the cream-cheese icing and the cute sugar daisy on top. Or ice cream, cookies, chocolate-covered caramels and gummy bears. Or maybe chips, crackers and pizza (which are basically sugar, too, at least as far as your metabolism is concerned).

I used to think sugar wasn’t as bad for you as fat, but research is showing it’s actually the other way around. Sugar turns into belly fat, raises your bad cholesterol and leads to heart disease—which still kills more women than anything else. So how do you resist? Here’s what works for me: Don’t eat carbs for breakfast. Start your day with some protein, fat and fiber to kick-start your metabolism, keep you feeling full and help you fend off the sugar cravings later. That means no OJ, fruit, cereal, bagels, pastries, energy bars or toast (save those for later). It doesn’t mean you’re never going to give into the lure of the cute cupcake again (I had a pink one with sprinkles yesterday after the earthquake scare), but it lays the groundwork. You can do the rest!

Here are some of my choices for breakfast: eggs scrambled in a little olive oil or a hard-boiled egg I’ve made the night before, a mozzarella stick and a handful of walnuts, low-fat plain (no honey or fruit purée) Greek yogurt with toasted almonds, even a big spoonful of peanut butter spread on celery sticks. If you have time, an omelet with some spinach and feta cheese would be amazing. Sometimes I’ll even munch on cold crunchy leftover green beans, drizzled with a little extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. Hey, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!

See lots more tips and details of our six-week plan here, and cheers to a younger you!


6 Weeks to a Younger You: Week 1

August 10, 2011 at 10:09 am , by

Me w saladOkay, ladies (and any gentlemen who want to join us), it’s week one of our six-week challenge, so let’s do this!

As I said in my intro yesterday, this plan, from the article in our September issue, is a series of small but important lifestyle changes to tune up your body, brain and spirit–in easy-to-swallow doses. It’s all based on evidence proven to make you look and feel younger. It will help you develop healthy habits you can live with. And it’s fun!

Each week we’ll meet here and talk about the four goals for our week: one each for Body, Diet, Brain and Spirit.

BRIGHTEN UP!
Today let’s start with brightening up your diet. Ban the beige and go for Roy G Biv instead, meaning fruits and veggies in every color of the rainbow. It’s so easy to do this time of year, with farmer’s markets overflowing with jewel-like produce. Go for blueberries with your Greek yogurt. Slice heirloom tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, top with fresh basil leaves, salt and pepper and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Blanch kale, chard or spinach and toss with cherry tomatoes, cooked whole-wheat pasta and freshly grated Parmesan. Rub big slices of bright yellow zucchini and red or orange bell pepper with a little olive oil and toss on the grill. Skip the drive-through and head to your DIY salad bar for lunch (as I did yesterday, above). You get the idea. Add color to all three meals for a few days and you will feel different—better. Guaranteed.

LET’S GET MOVING, TOO.
I know; you work long hours and have no extra money and it’s been really, really hot outside. It’s almost impossible to get any exercise. I hear you. All we’re asking this week is that you move more than the week before. Start with a pedometer, any basic one that counts your steps. You can buy one at a sporting goods store for around $10, sometimes less. Wear it all day long to get a baseline of how many steps you normally take. Then your goal is to increase it this week by 10 percent. So if you log 3,000 steps today, go for 3,300 tomorrow. Maintain that or go for more if you can. You’ll be amazed how much you can increase your number just by getting up and moving around more at work, parking farther away from the entrance at the store, going for a walk in the early morning while it’s relatively cool, etc. I’m lucky because I live in New York and can walk to my office. I measured it this morning and it’s 2,240 steps, which takes about 20 minutes. That’s a good start. Now the trick is to add to it. Ideally we’ll work our way up to 10,000 steps a day.

GET IN TOUCH.
Sex is good for your overall health, but now research shows that it may help you grow more brain cells, too. (Gives new meaning to the phrase “sex on the brain,” doesn’t it?) Your new healthy habits should make you feel more sexy, too. So put sex on your calendar this week and keep that appointment! And may I say, while intimacy and sharing are important parts of the sex equation, it’s the orgasm that has the most health benefits. So keep this goal on your agenda even if you don’t have a partner!

NOW REWARD YOURSELF.
No, I don’t mean with ice cream. Reinforce your new healthy habits with something that gives you pleasure but is calorie- and guilt-free. Maybe it’s a movie, a new book, a manicure or a good conversation with your best friend.

Keep your new habits going, and report in on the comments section below to let us know how you’re doing. Then check back next Wednesday for week two of our plan. Woo-hoo for a younger you!


6 Weeks to a Younger You: Let’s Do It Together!

August 9, 2011 at 12:44 pm , by

VegI admit it: I’ve been a little lazy and sluggish in the summer heat lately. I could use a bit of healthy inspiration, how ‘bout you? Luckily, our September issue is hitting newsstands about now, and it has just the ticket: “6 Weeks to a Younger You.”

Here’s what it’s not:
It’s not a depressing, self-depriving weight-loss diet.
It’s not an intimidating workout plan.
It’s not a total health makeover.
It’s not difficult or boring.

Here’s what it is:
It’s a series of small but important lifestyle changes to tune up your body, brain and spirit–in easy-to-swallow doses.
It’s all based on evidence proven to make you look and feel younger.
It will help you develop healthy habits you can live with.
It’s fun!

So grab your copy of the September issue and see page 89, or check it out online here. We’re going to start tomorrow. So get a pedometer if you can and let’s meet here tomorrow for another blog with our first action plan (such as eating more colorful fruits and veggies, like those from my farmer’s market, above). Then be sure to weigh in on the comments about how it’s going. Cheers to a soon-to-be younger you!


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