Friday, July 23, 2010

Updating Your Style While Dressing Your Age

 Anne Hathaway representing the 20's
Last summer I saw this woman walking towards me on the Upper East Side. She was wearing a very elegant dress, beautiful Louboutins, was thin and fit and had a very up to date haircut and the right accessories. She looked like a very fashionable thirty-something. However the closer she came towards me I realized from her face that she was considerably older than what she appeared to be. Her face appeared to show she was in her seventies! To tell you the truth I felt that I was in a horror movie where the beautiful woman from afar turns out to be a skeleton.
 Joy Bryant representing the 30's
I was so shocked and surprised as she passed me that I stood and looked as she walked down the street with my mouth open. I had always tried to practice making my style as relevant as possible to not cubbyhole myself into looking a certain age the way your grandmother's hairdo would tell the world what decade she became fixed upon. Watching this woman walk pass me showed me that perhaps my practice was wrong. She kept up with all the latest styles and trends but the disconnect between her appearance and her face were much too great. All of a sudden I didn't know what was worse; trying too hard to stay young and relevant or getting stuck in a style rut?
 Kyra Sedgewick representing the 40's
I'm not advocating she should have had plastic surgery to match her appearance. I admire the fact that at her age she worked hard to put out a certain persona which reflects to the world she cares and respects herself. So when Harper's Bazaar put out their annual "Fabulous at Every Age" issue this month I finally understood the message they have been preaching about for years. You do have to update your style at every age. Before I had always resented when magazines came out with their "age" issue and the rules of fashion I now had to follow which usually meant giving up fun trends I had followed in my youth. No more minis, no long hair, no more red lipstick, sticking to less edgier designers. Who were they to tell me how I should look like? Sure I didn't want to look like I walked onto the set of MTV's "The Hills" (a show I am proud to say I never watched) but surely there has to be a happy medium between keeping your style relevant yet not look like you are trying hard to turn back the hands of time and compete with your daughter. 
Iman representing the 50's
This is when you stop and think; "What is it that I want to reflect to the world as I get older?" Do you want to tell the world you are confident? Elegant? Sexy? Refined? Conservative? Successful? Timeless? Find the words that you will be happy to hear when you walk into a room. I picked for myself, "Elegant, bohemian, sexy and classic". When I go shopping or try on different hair styles or makeup I repeat these words to myself and it helps me edit my style to personify how I feel on the inside yet not look like I am racing against the clock. I still have some wonderful dresses in my wardrobe that I love and represent a great time in my life but now I will probably save them for my nieces when they get older.
Carolina Herrera representing the 60's
I also have picked out some public figures that I admire and would like to emulate their style as I grow older. Penelope Cruz, Carolina Herrera, Monica Vitti (Italian 50's movie star) and Jackie Kennedy are some of my style icons for illustrating "ageless style". I love to look at images of these women and get some tips and ideas for myself. I want to make sure that when I am strutting down Madison Avenue when I am in my seventies that the double takes people shoot my way are of admiration not shock.
Lee Radziwill representing 70+
Check out this month's Harper's Bazaar on tips on dressing for every age from the pros. To constantly reinvent yourself is a sign of evolving as a human being, self love and respect. It's a wonderful role model for your children, friends and family to witness and follow.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Two Helpful Tips When Eating Your Food

Just this past week I learned two very helpful tips from my mother for when eating my food at the dinner table. The first is the French tradition of "partage" and the second is how important it is to chew your food properly (yes I know you think I would have learned this long ago as a child). Learning (or relearning) both these habits will significantly help you lose weight whilst having a healthy, delicious meal.

Partage is the French word for division, or the act of sharing. It is something that couples  do when they eat their meals together as in sharing one plate or a meal. This is a common tradition in France and the great benefit that arises from partage is eating reasonable portions and satisfying your taste buds so you don't feel deprived of food which leads to weight control. 

Not so much in New York City but I find when I travel around the rest of the United States that the meal portions served to me are just plain ridiculously large. It has been noted that in the last few decades since the Fifties the average plate size has gotten bigger and with that so have our portion sizes as I know they could feed whole families in Third World countries. I myself actually lose my appetite when I see a large plate of food coming to me as I know I will not be able to finish it (accept if it is pizza then my stomach seems to open up a few compartments).

When I discussed with my mother the concept of partage she confessed that she and her husband often share their meals when they go out to dine (I believe they have to pay a shared plate surcharge). Besides saving money (something he is happy about) it helps keep their weight under control (something she is happy about) as many of their friends and colleagues seem to be overweight which is a little ironic as they live in sunny Southern California where everyone seems to think that all Southern Californians are fit.

So now when I order my food out I immediately make up my mind that half of it will go into a doggie bag for lunch or dinner the next day. At home I consciously serve myself a small portion and now I have relearned to consciously go about properly chewing my food, my second tip.

I know everyone has been told from childhood to properly chew your food. There are even some guidelines as to how many times you should chew your food (it is recommended between 25 to 50 times for each bite!). Years of working and having my meals by a computer have taught me to scarf down my meals in record time. I am now relearning that chewing is the first step in the science of breaking down your food and the digestive process. Powerful enzymes in your saliva go to work breaking down the food as soon as it enters your mouth. The more you chew, the more saliva you will produce, the better the food will break down and be digested. If you can still determine what kind of food is in your mouth by texture alone (not taste), you haven't chewed it enough. So if you are having a sandwich and you can still tell the lettuce from the bread or meat, it means you have not chewed your food enough as it should almost be a puree in your mouth.

You should even chew thick soups and yogurts (not as much but they still need saliva to be digested). Enzymes are more effective with smaller pieces of food. Digestion is a complex process that extracts the nutrients and other useful materials from the food you eat, while discarding with the rest of it. Chewing your food properly helps your body get more out of the food you eat.

So a few tips for helping make sure that you have the right environment set up for chewing your food properly are:
  • Drink plenty of water to keep saliva levels up.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption during eating as it tends to dry up the mouth.
  • Set aside an ample amount of time to eat and a peaceful environment, try to avoid stressful environments while eating.
  • Avoid eating whilst working, driving or being on the go (another reason why Europeans are thinner than Americans, they respect their meal times).
  • Cut your food into half inch pieces (especially if meat or fish).
  • Chew, chew, chew. Enough so that you know you have created enough saliva to break down the food in your mouth and it is all the same texture.
My mother met a holistic nutritionist recently who drove the point of how important chewing is for our health, digestion and weight control. She decided to experiment with really consciously chewing her food till the saliva broke it all down and in just four days she was amazed with her results. She has lost two pounds, her portions are much smaller now as it takes her much longer to finish her meals, her hunger disappears much more quickly now, her cravings for sweets and coffee have disappeared and her digestion has improved so much she goes to the bathroom after every meal (what doctors say we should normally be doing). She also feels much more respectful of the food she is eating as she feels she doesn't take it for granted.

After a week of heavy socializing I am anxious to start consciously eating my food and I hope to share in my mother's results of better digestion and weight control. Please let me know your results should you decided to take partage and properly chew your food. Such an easy method to be healthy and lose weight which is what this blog is all about.



Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Advantages of Eating Dinner Early

Being raised in a Latin environment my family seemed to have carried on certain traditions from dear old Spain. One of them was eating dinner late. 

Now I am not talking ten PM when people in Madrid start thinking of eating their last meal of the day, we had our dinner around 8pm. My friends were always amazed we ate so late as they had their meals six o'clock on the dot. Of course as a child you want to fit in with the other children and I often wished we would eat our meals earlier (especially since we were not allowed to leave the table until the food was all gone which kept my sister and I there till eleven o'clock at night).

Being an adult now and in charge of my own meal time clock I have found out that not only do I like having my dinner earlier but it helps me feel very trim the next day. I have noticed when I eat my dinner at 7pm (no later than 8pm) that the next day I am not bloated or lethargic. My face is less puffy and my stomach does not protrude as if I am four months pregnant. 

With this realization not only did I make a great effort to have my meals early (lets not forget I live in NYC and I am lucky if I get to eat early at least three times a week) but if I drank water for the rest of the evening I even had some weight lost the next morning.

I also changed my thinking of dinner being the biggest most important meal of the day. For me my breakfast is modest but my lunch is where I make sure I get the bulk of my nutrients for the day. Dinner is just a full meal for me and to be eaten in modest portions (again when I am in charge of it).

Other countries take longer with large meals like dinner, and as such, tend to actually be thinner than many Americans and Canadians. Eating dinner early may not be as important as what and how we eat. The main theory behind eating dinner early is that we tend to be less active as the day progresses. Our evenings may consist of TV watching, and our bodies slow down, as we get more tired.

For me I know if I am going to eat dinner early that I should make sure I go to bed early as when I work into the night (and when you are self-employed that is usually is the case) you can wind up having two dinners and a snack by the time your head hits the pillow. The number one way to lose weight is to eat healthfully and get some exercise. If you find that eating dinner early helps this process along, there’s nothing wrong with trying it. On the other hand, if you find that an early meal makes you much more inclined to crave foods or you feel incredibly hungry at bedtime, it may make sense to move your dinner hour to later or add a healthful snack toward the end of the day.

So if you find yourself having dinner later and later and your waistline is expanding try seeing what happens when you are done eating your meals in the early evening and if it has any effect on your weight. What works for one may not work for another and in the end what is most important is what is on your plate and how active your lifestyle is to remain healthy and fit.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Oil Pulling

Recently I was talking with my good friend Rebecca and she mentioned how a mutual friend of ours was looking great and feeling great. Rebecca stated that our friend had been trying out an old Ayurvedic cure called "Oil Pulling". 

I had never heard of Oil Pulling and I made Rebecca repeat the words to me and describe what oil pulling was. She said it was very simple as it comprised of swishing oil in your mouth for about twenty minutes a day for good general health. 

I immediately went to my Magic Eightball I call Google and typed in "Oil Pulling" and was astounded by the articles and claims of Oil Pulling. This was new not only to me but my mother had also never heard of this form of therapy (and she loves exploring any form of alternative medication).

Oil Pulling consist of swishing one teaspoon of a cold pressed sunflower or sesame oil in your mouth for twenty minutes (better if done in the morning on an empty stomach). Move oil slowly in the mouth as rinsing or swishing, sip, suck and pull through the teeth for fifteen to twenty minutes. This process makes the oil thoroughly mix with the saliva. Swishing activates the enzymes and the enzymes draw toxins out of the blood. The oil must not be swallowed, for it has become toxic. As the process continues, the oil gets thinner and white. If the oil is still yellow, it has not been pulled long enough. It is then spit from the mouth, the oral cavity must be thoroughly rinsed and mouth must be washed thoroughly. Just use normal tap water and good old fingers to clean. Remember to clean the sink with an antibacterial wash as the spittle contains harmful bacteria.

What are the benefits of Oil Pulling? It is said to help or cure a vast variety of diseases and conditions including; migraine headaches, bronchitis, diseased teeth, arterio thrombosis, chronic blood disorders such as leukemia, arthritis and related illnesses, neuro physiological paralysis, eczema, gastro enteritis, peritonitis, heart disease, kidney disease, meningitis, and women’s hormonal disorders are completely eliminated from the organism. 

Oil Pulling also whitens teeth, strengthens gums, fastens loose teeth and stops the bleeding of gums. This is when I decided to make Oil Pulling the first experiment for "The Wisdom of Beauty" as I have since a child suffer from weak gums. The tradition cure of being on antibiotics for three months was never an option for me so I am willing to try Oil Pulling to strengthen my gums as I know gum disease can shorten your life span by up to eight years if it goes untreated. I will report back to readers in two months time whether I feel this is a therapy that "The Wisdom of Beauty" recommends and if there was any improvement with my appearance, oral and general health.

After exploring the Internet I read many testimonials on Oil Pulling from people who claimed that it helped their insomnia, cured their gum disease, helped terminally ill patients with their treatments, cleared their skin, got them off medications prescribed for life for their various organs, relief of pain in joints, I can go on. I even saw some videos on the net for teaching how to swish the oil properly through your mouth as it can take time to learn to do it for the twenty minutes it is recommended for. 

So if you are also curious to the claims of Oil Pulling and are willing to try with me I would love to hear from you and if you feel it has benefited you in any way. Warning, it's not a magic pill as it takes a few months for real results so if you have the patience and are open to alternative forms of healing then this might be for you. Any questions or comments please let me know. Hey, it can't hurt?

I look forward to reporting my findings on Oil Pulling in two months time, till then.