Core Strengthening Exercises That Work

Woman exercising
The most commonly accepted definition of core stability is: “Comprised of the lumbopelvic hip complex and is the capacity to maintain equilibrium of the vertebral column with its physiologic limits by reducing displacement from perturbations and maintaining structural integrity.” And you thought it had something to do with the middle of a fruit.

Physiotherapists Henry and Florence Kendall first acknowledged core stability when they introduced the idea of the “neutral pelvis” in the 1940’s and 50’s. The idea was that the muscles surrounding the pelvis were responsible for the alignment of the “neutral spine” and that the pelvic tilt was the movement which deviated from the neutral position. In short, core stability involves using abdominal pressure to stabilize the spine which, in turn, can improve muscle and gross motor action.

It looks like old Henry and Flo might have been on to something, because, here we are about 70 years later and it looks like core stability is working for some pretty impressive ( and impressively built) people.

1. Side Plank Variation
Celebrity Pilates trainer claims you can catch Miley Cyrus side planking during her exercise routines. Here’s how:

  1. Lie on the floor. Lean sideways, putting your weight on your right hip, and use your right arm to support your body. Bend your legs slightly and position your left foot a little in front of your right foot.
  2. Using your core, elevate your body upward into a side plank.
  3. Reach your left arm over your head.
  4. Pull your abs in high, lower your hips without letting them touch the floor, lower your left arm and press back into the side plank.
  5. Repeat 6-8 times and then switch sides.

Woman completing a plank push up
2. Plank Push Ups
Celebrity trainer Teddy Bass used this one to help Christina Applegate get her post baby body back in shape.

  1. Get into plank position. Put your weight on your toes and forearms. Your body should form a straight line.
  2. Push off your forearms, lift your right hand and position it under the right shoulder on the mat.
  3. Pick up your left hand and place it beneath your left shoulder. You should find yourself in push-up position.
  4. Drop to your right forearm, then drop to your left forearm. You should now find yourself back in plank position. Continue in a push-up pattern going up on the right, up on the left, down on the right, down on the left for five repetitions total.
  5. Rest and begin again, starting with the left arm.

3.V-Sit Twist
Pro Derek Degrazio had Britney (Spears) working out with this one. BTW, you’ll need a 6-10 pound medicine ball for this one, if you don’t have one, a dumbbell or gallon of water will do.

  1. Sit bending your knees. Your feet should be flat and your arms should be by your sides.
  2. Keeping knees bent, lift your feet until your shins are almost parallel to the floor. Lean back at a 45 degree angle so your thighs and torso form a V shape.
  3. Bring the 6-10 lb medicine ball, or object of choice, to your chest, keeping your elbows out.
  4. Move your upper body to the right. Your left elbow will be above your right hip. Then move to the left in the same manner.
  5. Do three sets of thirty.

4.Three Legged Dog
Fitness and yoga instructor Mandy Ingber has client Jennifer Anniston swearing by this one.

  1. Begin as if you were going to do push ups. Raise your right heel to the height of your shoulder and no higher.
  2. Bring your right knee to your head, Round your spine, inhale, and bring your leg back to starting position.
  3. Exhale, bringing your right knee alongside your right tricep. Extend leg and inhale.
  4. Exhale, cross in your right knee to for left elbow. Inhale as you stretch out your leg. Do this three times and then repeat switching legs.

If you are still upright, we would love to hear about your core experiences. How did you measure up to the celebs? Please comment and let us know all about it!

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Trends In Fall Eye Make Up

Let it never be said that women do not suffer for their beauty. In 1770, a law passed by British Parliament declared the wearing of makeup to be a form of witchcraft. The law reasoned that men who fell for a woman in makeup were being lured by a “false face” and were entitled to an annulment when they realized how their wives really looked. Imagine what they would have done if plastic surgery were around then!

Well, if makeup is responsible for the persecution of women, then maybe it is time we start taking the power back! As fall approaches, embrace your inner beauty and start casting some autumn spells of your own with the latest, most sinful runway trends in eye makeup.

Woman with black eye liner

You can hardly get witchier than some down and dirty black eyeliner. What could be more intense than rimming your eyes in inky black lines? Extend them out Khardashian style for a cat eye effect, or, play it a little safer with a soft smudge. From the Baby Boomers to the GenXers to the Milennials, no girl should be without her black liner this season.

All That Glitters….
Belongs on your eyes this fall. What girl can resist a little sparkle? You may have seen it catching the light on Tommy Hilfiger runways where taupe shadow was topped with a dusting of gold or at Anthony Vaccarllo where broken pieces of jewelry appeared carefully affixed to the face. Experiment with sprinkling glitter below the eye or just below the brows for some extra holiday glam.

Psychedelic Swirls
Well, if you’ve got some extra time on your hands or access to a very talented makeup artist, you may want to go pop art this season. You may have seen the Chanel signature quilted handbag pattern painted on the eyes of runway models or trippy florals on the Fendi runway for the rock festival look.

Woman with peach eyeshadow
Smoky Peach

Peach for the fall? Believe it. You may have noticed hints of the traditionally spring- like color for a romantic look at Nina Ricci in her runway interpretations of a secret nocturnal rendezvous or in the Prabal Gurung runway reference to Lord Byron. Seductive, classic and also appropriate for the workplace, peach will be a must have this fall.

Clumpy Lashes
You may have seen this edgy look on the Jason Wu runway. Admittedly an acquired taste, you can get the clumpy look by adding an extra coat to your everyday mascara, rubbing the wand back and forth across the lashes. And, speaking of lash looks, you also may want to arm yourself with some day- glo mascara, in the style of the models on the Emporio Armani runway. Just cover lashes with extra black mascara, allow it to dry and apply the colored product to the outer corners.

Let us know if you’ve experimented with any of these looks and how it worked for you (or didn’t) or maybe you’ve got some great ideas of your own you want to share. If you’re all eyes, we’re all ears!

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How Exercise Affects Your Skin

Women exercising
It all started with two groups of mice, as often is the case with science, in a laboratory far, far away in Ontario at a school called McMaster University. One rodent group was put through a daily high paced exercise routine of running through treadmills and hamster wheels and the other was allowed to sit on the couch all day watching Seinfeld re-runs. Only kidding, but you get the idea; they remained sedentary. It may come as little surprise that the more active group retained healthy brains, muscles and hearts while the others, grew demented, frail, graying, bald, and ill and it had nothing to do with the Seinfeld re-runs.

Enter humans. The scientists decided to back this study by gathering 29 female and males human specimen ranging in age from 20- 84. Like the rodents, about half of the participants were kept physically active while the other half exercised for less than an hour per week. Each was asked to reveal a buttock for examination. Said Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, professor of pediatrics and exercise science at McMaster said, “We wanted to examine skin that had not been frequently exposed to the sun.”

After the skin was biopsied, the results showed that the men and women over 40 who exercised had healthier and thinner stratum corneums and a thicker layer of dermis in their skin. In translation, their skin was closer in resemblance to 20 and 30-year-olds than their lazier counterparts, even those over age 65. Although the effect of exercise on your skin is not completely clear, levels of substances called myokines, which are set off by working the muscles, are released in much greater quantities in participants after exercise. It is suspected that this is what lead to the observed differences in skin quality.

Other experts have weighed in on exercise’s impact on the dermis, and not necessarily only the parts under your bloomers, and here’s what they had to say.

Exercise and Complexion
Celebrity trainer Dalton Wong believes that exercise can tone your skin in the same way it tones your muscles. Wong says, “As we age, our skin naturally loses its plumping, youthful layer of fat. But if you exercise the right way, you can build up muscle which gives that same volumizing effect…. it’s the lean muscle mass that sits just under the surface which can create lifted, taut looking skin.”

Wong recommends you focus on resistance training, including pushups, lunges, and planking for elimination of cellulite and toning of muscles and skin. He advises a circuit routine including three to four sets of activities involving weight bearing with two to four-minute intervals of cardio repeated four times. Wong also warns that doing cardio excessively can actually cause skin to lose elasticity, especially if you are under or overweight. Running long distances places stress on the body, releasing excess amounts of the stress hormone cortisol, which causes inflammation and breaks down collagen, resulting in sagging and wrinkling.

Woman staying hydrated
Sweating regulates body temperature and eliminates toxins. Increased blood flow helps to bring oxygen and nutrients to your skin. Increasing water intake will help in flushing out the toxins and oils that can clog pores and contribute to breakouts of acne.

As Wong tells celeb client J.Law, “No one can work out if they’re not properly hydrated – it makes your skin look better, too. Conversely, if you’re training without drinking enough water, you’ll damage your skin pretty quickly.” How can you tell if you’re dehydrated? If the skin on the back of your hand does not spring back after you pinch it, drink some water. If its good enough for J.Law……

Are you a natural beauty? Let us know what your think. What has exercise done to or for your skin?

We’d love to hear it.

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Fall Wines

Woman holding a glass of wine

If you love pumpkin, there are a lot of reasons to love fall. For those who frequent the coffeehouses and health food joints, there’s the pumpkin pie smoothie, the pumpkin spice hot cocoa, the pumpkin spice chai tea latte and the chocolate swirl pumpkin spiced smoothie. But of course anything goes with pumpkin in the fall, and alcohol is no exception, so, for those looking to let loose, there is the Kahlua pumpkin spice hazelnut coffee, the pumpkin spice whiskey cocktail, the pumpkin spice white Russian, and the always invigorating apple pumpkintini.

While these all seem very exotic, and are no doubt adventurous, to say the least, there may be a group that is not so tempted. There may be a group of purists out there who don’t want their alcohol tainted by large orange vegetables. These, ladies and gentlemen, are the wine connoisseurs. If you swear allegiance to wine, there is no reason to abstain in the fall. Even if your tastes do not run to pumpkins, there are plenty of wines that are perfect for the fall weather. The best choices for fall wines are full- bodied whites and light to medium-bodied reds, which pair wonderfully with cooler weather and fall foods.

Pinot Noir
Celebrated in the movie, “Sideways”, Pinot Noir comes from the Burgundy region in France, and is commonly referred to as red Burgundy by its producers. These wines have flavors of black cherries, sweet red berries, mushroom and “forest floor,” the term sommeliers use to describe the smell of damp, freshly fallen leaves. Pinot Noir can be enjoyed with all types of food and can also be served alone.

Woman holding a glass of wine

Merlot means The Little Blackbird in French. It is soft and elegant and is often the first wine a red wine novice is introduced to. Although it gained popularity in combination with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot came into its own when winemakers began creating wines with 100% Merlot. American winemakers found that the grape was easy to grow and that Americans appreciated its softness and low tannin levels.

Oaked Chardonnay
Rich and full-bodied, oaked chardonnays are buttery with flavors of vanilla and caramel, which come from the oak. Oaked chardonnay from a cool climate will tend toward a more citrussy flavor than its warmer climate counterparts, which tend to favor tropical fruit flavors.

Woman holding a glass of sparkling wine

Sparkling Wines
Although often referred to as champagne, wine connoisseurs will be quick to tell you that sparkling wine should only be referred to as champagne if it comes from Champagne, France. Sparkling wine is made by allowing fermentation to take place without gas escaping. The carbon dioxide returns to the wine in the form of tiny bubbles and can be enjoyed throughout the world.

Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Franc is a red medium- bodied wine which originated in the Basque country of France. It is known for its bell pepper flavor, and its medium high acidity, and its reduced tannin makes it ideal for food pairing. It is most suited to sauces with a vinegar base, BBQ included, tomato based meals and rich veggies. For best results, match it with real herbs.

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What Goes Well With Red

“Red, red wine, Go to my head, Make me forget that I, Still need her so.” These were the lyrics to “Red, Red Wine” as they were first written by Neil Diamond. Many GenXers will be more familiar with the UB40 edit which expanded to include lines such as, “Red, red wine, you make me feel so fine, You keep me rockin’ all of the time” and, “Red red wine, you make me feel so fine, Monkey pack him rizla pon the sweet dep line.”

Whether you prefer the more conventional Diamond version or the slightly more upbeat jams of UB40, one thing is clear, there are a lot of people who give red wine a lot of credit. If you are one of these people and are looking to incorporate red wine into your diet, remember, your tongue is your best judge of what goes well together, but dark to light is the general guideline. Red wines are normally served with heavier foods and are not usually paired with opening courses and appetizers. There are some food choices you may want to consider to complement your red wine choice.

1. Barbera
When Billy Joel sang, “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” he was probably drinking Barbera, the standard red wine found in Italian restaurants and pizza places. Its low tannins go well with tomatoes and the acidity is good for breaking down rich, fatty foods like salami and cheese.

Pouring a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon

2. Cabernet Sauvignon
Known for its nobility, the medium or full bodied taste of Cabernet Sauvignon goes well with hearty dishes like roast beef lamb and coq au vin. Recipe suggestions include slow roast lamb with cinnamon, fennel and citrus and beef fillet.

3. Gamay
Tossing some meat on the barbie? Break out the Gamay. It goes well with veggies from the griddle or sardines and sausage. Store in the refrigerator one hour prior to opening and serve lightly chilled. Try it with a sizzling sausage salad or some spare ribs with barbecue sauce.

4. Merlot
Merlot is a traditional holiday staple. Serve it with your Christmas turkey, road chicken or duck or winter casseroles or just open it up for a Friday night dinner in front of the T.V.

Glass of Pinot Noir

5. Pinot Noir
Another holiday classic, Pinot Noir goes perfectly with roast turkey and lamb and also works well with mild, creamy soft cheeses.

6. Shiraz
Enjoy the full bodied taste of Shiraz in the winter with roasted veggies and grilled steak. Enjoy its hints of mocha and blackcurrants with herbed pork fillet.

7. Zinfandel
Bring on the Zin as a fabulous complement to sautéed field mushroom or succulent roast or braised venison. California’s historic wine, Zinfandel was immortalized by leading producer Joel Peterson who characterized it with the slogan, “no wimpy wines here.” Get tough with this American classic and bring some class to the party.

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Transitioning Your Wardrobe From Summer To Fall

fall fashion with leaves background

Oh, the transition between the summer and the fall. The longer days, the return to school, and the return to real clothes. Time to take those pieces of fabric that were passing for clothing for the last three months and swap them for the heavy artillery. Time to schlep the heavy musty sweaters and boots up from the basement and put the crop tops and sandals away. But, before you fashionistas toss the last pair of hot pants into the storage room, think twice. You can put your summer clothes to better use!

Take a tip a page from the book of Brooklyn Decker who covered her Katie Emilio wrap dress with a blazer or Alexa Chung who wore opaque tights under her black shorts. Rachel Bilson topped her hot pink lightweight Isabel Marant pants with a boyfriend blazer, and while Rosie Huntington-Whitely chose to wear her Elizabeth and Hames trousers with a tee shirt, Olivia Palermo winterized the look by adding a sweater to her Daryl Ks. If you want to rock the looks of the celebs, here are a few fashion ideas you may want to try.

Maxi Dress
Ah, the ease of the maxi dress! One piece of clothing and done, the perfect marriage of comfort and fashion, gone with the shorter days and darker nights. But wait! that maxi can do double duty! Put a long shirt under or a country club style cardigan over for a fall fashion statement. For best results, keep your waistline defined to avoid getting lost in layers.

tights under skirt

What could be easier? A pair of textured or patterned tights under you short shorts or summer skirts and with some motorcycle or cowboy boots just screams autumn fashion!

Layering is functional as well as fashionable. Layered clothing looks great and allows you to adjust your temperature. When it comes to layering,the general rule is long over lean. This will keep the bulkiness factor to a minimum. Try longer tops, tanks, or even skirts over skinny jeans and leggings. Complete the look with a jacket, pair of boots, scarf and hoop earrings for that urban chic.

The Jacket
Nothing says, “I am cool,” quite like a really awesome jacket. When choosing a fall jacket, consider a vintage military jacket with a cinched waist over skinny jeans or a classic bad girl motorcycle jacket. For a summer winter combo, try a leather jacket over a summer dress. A good blazer can class up an outfit on a cool summer night and who can deny the sophisticated allure of the trench coat? Just ask Marlene Deitrich.

The Boots
The importance of boots in the autumn cannot be overstated. Experiment with varying heights. Knee high boots can be worn with summer outfits and lend an edge to your cutoffs and slinky dresses Over the knee boots can be worn with an oversize sweater. Pair booties with a straight-laced cardigan and skirt to add a more daring dimension to your look.

If you’re still in summer mode, your wardrobe probably features a large pastel and neon color component. If you want to extend the wear on a lightly colored piece, try pairing it with the jewel tones of autumn. Try a rust colored sweater over a peach dress and add some statement jewelry and earthy beads with a light scarf.

The emphasis for this fall will be on reinvention. Be creative. Experiment with putting together unconventional looks. Don’t put away your sandals, just put them under your jeans. Add a little color and a little warmth and save a little green.

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Fall Into A Morning Routine

woman stretching after waking up

Oh, the morning! A new day to be thankful for! A new chance for a new beginning! For learning new things! A chance at rebirth! NOT!

Yeah, we all know but they say about the morning being the best time of the day, but let’s face it, waking up is hard to do! Just ask any toddler! The alarm goes off, you have to be somewhere, no time to enjoy a nice breakfast or shower; you’re too busy trying to move as quickly as possible and transform yourself from a puffy eyed zombie who looks like it just stuck its finger in a very powerful electric socket into something that might get through the front door at your place of employment without alarming security. While it may just seem like stressful mornings are just an accepted part of life, they can really impact your productivity and mental and physical health.

Habit Stacking
One of the most commonly recommended ways to get your morning routine to gather is by “habit stacking;” that is a thoughtfully implemented program that lets you get things done in the morning by using one habit as a trigger for another. Here’s an example of what this might look like.

Wake Up Early
If you want to have any chance at a less neurotic morning, the first thing you need to do is make sure you have enough time to appreciate it. You should begin gradually to set your alarm 5 minutes earlier each day until you reach your desired time. This will help your body to adapt more comfortably to your new schedule.

Make Your Bed
Making your bed is a “keystone habit” in the implementation of “habit stacking.” It is more symbolic than imperative. It will show you that you can positively accomplish your first task of the morning and will trigger the ability to perform similar positive actions for the rest of the day.

exercise in the morningExercise
Exercise is a great morning activity because it helps to get you energized. It also gets your endorphins pumping which will put you in a good and more relaxed mood for dealing with unexpected events. You can adjust your wake up time to accommodate the amount of exercise you want to do.

Eat Breakfast
What would morning be without breakfast? Par for the course, you say? Think again. Exercise is another “keystone habit” leading naturally to a healthy breakfast. You can scramble an egg in the microwave in less than 30 seconds or embrace your new health habits with a veggie smoothie.

Visualize Success
Try writing down three daily goals and visualize yourself doing them. That way, you will achieve faster results by having played out strategies in a real world setting.

Meditate for five minutes to help you to focus and achieve peace of mind.

Connect With Family
Being among family always reminds us how important we are and how loved we are. How can this not be a great way to start your morning?

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