The cosmetics industry flourishes both in the US and abroad, and one of the industry’s booming sectors is anti-aging skin care. Some estimates place the U.S. market for cosmeceutical products – creams and serums with medicine-based ingredients – at close to 20 billion a year. There are a dizzying array of products to choose from, each promising smooth, clear, line-free complexions.
I’m a big believer in two things: keeping things simple, and less is more. In keeping with that, I asked my friend, Connie Kakkar, owner of Innovative Aesthetics, for the skin care routine she recommends to her clients:
Here are the essentials of good skin care, according to Connie:
1. A gentle cleanser – one that does not strip a person’s skin of natural oils, drying the skin out. Some of the most popular cleansers that are high in PH (in the area of 9 or 10) are too harsh and can leave skin dry, tight, even irritated. ( Normal skin pH is somewhere in the range of 4.2. to 5.6.) Gentle is better for cleansing for normal skin.
2. Vitamin C Serum. This can be a costly product ($100 and up) because it is very difficult to stabilize. When a Vitamin C Serum is properly formulated, at least 15% L-ascorbic acid and pH lower than 3.5 to allow percutaneous absorption, it can supplement the antioxidant reservoirs of skin and provide meaningful photoprotection. It protects skin against photo-induced erythema, cellular damage as measured by sunburn cells, and thymine dimer formation (these are abnormal DNA bases caused by ultra violet irradiation.). If you live anywhere in close proximity to the sun, as we do in Colorado, Vitamin C Serum is extremely important as a part of a daily skin care regime. It is applied in the morning, right after cleansing and toning.
3. Sunscreen. Connie and her staff recommend a sunscreen that has at least 9% Zinc Oxide, which is a broad spectrum sunscreen, and covers both UVA and UVB rays. Some sunscreen ingredients actually break down in direct sunlight (avobenzone, Parsol 1789) and are ineffective for outdoors. Sunscreen should be applied last, before your makeup. It should be applied every day, rain, snow, or shine, inside or out (unless you live in a cave). The light that comes through windows can be very harmful to skin. We recommend an SPF of at least 30. If your makeup has SPF in it, that is not enough. It’s important to apply sunscreen as well.
4. Retin A or a retinol. Retin A is the prescription form of Vitamin A and retinol is the over-the-counter form. Retinol is a Vitamin A but closer to an alpha hydroxyl acid. Retin A is the only topical proven by way of clinical studies to actually repair cellular damage. It’s good for acne, fine lines and wrinkles and texture. A pea size every night will do the trick. If a person does not use a toner that returns the skin to pH, wait ten minutes before applying Retin A to the skin. A moisturizer may be applied on top of it.
And that’s it! Simple, easy, basic and guaranteed to get and keep your skin healthy and glowing for years to come.
Coach’s action step: As summer turns to fall, how are you inspired to “step it up a notch” in your own life? Maybe it’s time to try out some rich fall colors – in your wardrobe or your environment. When was the last time you treated yourself to a facial or a massage – or a night out on the town? Maybe season tickets for a local theater company, or concert series. What will enrich your experience of life this autumn?
Did you know that over 28 million Americans suffer from bone loss? Or that more women die from complications of osteoporotic bone fractures than die from breast cancer each year? Women are particularly susceptible to bone loss, which can begin as early as age 35. And while women are at greater risk, men suffer from bone loss, too. With bone loss comes the risk of osteoporosis, a disease that causes the skeleton to weaken and the bones to become brittle and break.
One out of every three women over the age of 40 suffers bone loss to some degree, so bone health is important, particularly as we age. Most of us know by now that calcium-rich foods are important to bone health, but exercise, particularly weight-bearing exercise, is just as important. It is also important to make sure you get enough Vitamin D, which aids in calcium absorption. Here are some things you can do now to help keep your bones strong.
- Eat nutrient-rich foods that are high in calcium. These include dairy products such as low-fat yogurt (448 mg/cup), but also foods such as tofu, dark leafy greens, beans, and almonds.
- The RDA of Vitamin D is 600 IU for most adults, 800 IU for those over 70. Foods high in this vitamin include salmon, tuna fish, low-fat, Vitamin D-fortified milk and yogurt, and eggs.
- The RDA for calcium for adults under 50 is 1,000 mg; for women over 50, it is 1,200 mg. If you suspect you are not getting enough calcium in the foods you eat, it may be important to take calcium and Vitamin D supplements, so check with your physician.
- Exercise is important, both weight-bearing exercise and resistance training. Both types of exercise build and maintain bone density. Weight-bearing exercise is any exercise that requires you to hold up your body weight – brisk walking, hiking, yoga, racquet sports. Lifting weights, using weight machines, resistance bands, even your own body weight, are forms of strength training. With strength training, you are working against resistance to stress a sequence of muscles and bones. This stress, in turn, stimulates bone growth and helps build density.
Having a strong skeletal structure has a direct impact on your posture, your energy level, and your sense of wellbeing. Your bones are living tissue, and in a constant state of renewal so begin where you are. A healthy diet and the right exercise program can significantly reduce the risk of bone loss and osteoporosis, and keep you strong for years to come.
What does happiness mean to you? Is it spending time with loved ones, being outdoors in nature, a new puppy? Or is it something less tangible – that feeling of satisfaction you get from a job well done, or a goal attained?
Here’s what Webster’s has to say:
Happiness: good fortune, prosperity; a state of well-being and contentment , joy; a pleasurable or satisfying experience; felicity, aptness.
If I asked you to come up with a list of 10 things that fit any of these descriptions, I’ll bet you could do it rather easily. I’ll also wager it might look somewhat different from mine, or your next door neighbor’s. Happiness is subjective. Maybe your idea of happiness is one of prosperity, good fortune. Maybe mine is browsing an art museum on a Saturday afternoon. Someone else might find a thrill in the feeling of health and well-being that accompanies them after their morning run. Or all of these might show up on your list. Is there a common thread? Researchers have found the following common characteristics of happy people:
- They have close connections to family, friends, and community. When asked what positive psychology was all about, one of its founders, the late Dr. Christopher Peterson, was fond of saying: “Other people matter. Period.”
- They are grateful. Dr. Robert Emmons, UC-Davis, operates the Emmons Lab, which studies gratitude as it relates to well-being. Among his discoveries:
Participants in an experiment who wrote in a gratitude journal on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives, and were more optimistic, compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events (Emmons & McCullough, 2003). In another study, it was found that children who practiced grateful thinking had a more positive attitude towards their schools and families (Froh, Sefick, & Emmons, 2008).
- Their lives have meaning. They found purpose in something which they believe to be bigger than themselves. Whether their work is inside or outside the home, whether they are students, parents, or retirees, they regularly engage in an activity they find fulfilling, and where they can use their strengths and talents.
- They engage in some type of regular physical activity. For anyone who continues to doubt the mind-body connection, there is a host of research to support maintaining a regular exercise program. Just a few of the benefits: Improved moods, reduced stress, increased self-esteem and self-confidence, increase in energy, improved body image, and better sleep. A growing body of evidence also links exercise with mental acuity and improved cognitive function.
So why does all this matter? Why bother to pursue this state called happiness, well-being and contentment? Turns out there are some very good reasons. In general, people in this category:
Are more sociable and energetic;
More charitable and cooperative;
Better liked by others;
More likely to get and stay married;
Have richer networks of friends and social support;
More flexible and show more ingenuity in thinking’
More productive at jobs;
Better leaders and negotiators;
Make more money;
More resilient in face of hardship;
Have better immune systems; and,
So what can you take from this? Your well-being counts in more ways than meets the eye. Happiness = well-being, and it’s important, for you and those around you.
Coach’s action step: Pick one of the characteristics of happy people above and put it to work in your life this week. Call a friend (or friends) for a get-together, make a gratitude list, or help out in a cause you care about. Note how you feel afterward. If it’s something that makes you feel good, you may want to do it more often.
When I talk to people about exercise, it often seems they fall into one of two categories. There are those who really enjoy their workouts, and look forward to them. Then there are those who really don’t, but make themselves do it anyway. (There are also those who don’t like it and don’t do it, but we’ll leave that for another time.)
I have usually fallen into the first category, although I occasionally have those days when I just want my work out to be over. Over the years, I have found different ways to keep my workouts fresh and enjoyable. I love taking a yoga class when I can, or mountain biking with my family. Another great way to keep workouts fun is to do it in company. Hiking with friends is a great way to catch up and get in a good cardio workout. And having a partner to work out with regularly can be both motivating and fun. A couple years ago, I felt the need to shake up my routine and decided to hire a personal trainer for a few sessions. Two + years later, and I still work out with Fran and share that hour with my friend Meg most Wednesday mornings. Research shows that friendship and community boost both health and longevity, so I get a dose of both with my Wednesday workouts.
Here are a few more benefits of having a friend or partner to exercise with:
- It makes your workout time fly by. Having a stimulating conversation or catching up on the weekend makes your workout time more enjoyable, which means it will go by faster. You will be done before you know it!
- It keeps you accountable. When you know someone is counting on you to show up, you are less likely to blow off your workout. When you’re tempted to sleep in, or skip the gym after a long day, knowing your friend is there might be the motivation you need to get there, too.
- It’s a great way to get – and give – support. Working out with a supportive friend can give you just the encouragement you need to push past the limits you set for yourself. Celebrating your successes helps you to realize how far you’ve come, and keeps you motivated to keep going.
- It’s a great way to spend time together. Everyone’s busy these days. Scheduling a power walk 3 times a week with your best friend, or your spouse, gives you time together that you wouldn’t ordinarily have. A fringe benefit can be a stronger relationship.
- It’s just plain more fun! We don’t always get a chance to play as much as we would like. Socializing, laughing, even a little friendly competition – these can all serve to make your workout time something you look forward to.
How can you find the right person? One thing to look for in a fitness partner is someone who is similar to you in fitness level. Be sure the person you choose is committed to their fitness goals. You can also ask around at your local gym. Fran introduced Meg and I, and we have worked out ever since. And I’ve made a wonderful friend.
If your fitness program is feeling a little stale, try adding in a workout or two with a partner. It might be just the thing to shake things up for you.
What do running, jogging, walking, biking, swimming, Stairmaster and rowing have in common? All of these are examples of cardiovascular exercise – a chief component of any fitness program. Any exercise that increases the work of the heart and lungs is cardiovascular exercise. And, you don’t have to qualify to run a marathon in order to reap its benefits.
In order to reap the benefits of cardiovascular, or aerobic, exercise the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, published by the CDC, recommend s the following:
2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week;
OR 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running) every week
OR An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
If this sounds like a lot of time to you, remember that you don’t have to do it all in one day. It’s best to spread your exercise out during the week, into smaller chunks of time. If you take a brisk walk 5 times a week for 30 minutes, you have your 150 minutes. You can break it up even more, but it’s important to continue your activity at a moderate or vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes at a time, in order to reap the benefits of this type of exercise.
And what are the benefits? They include:
- Improved body image, and self-esteem;
- Increased energy and metabolism;
- Improved heart function and reduced risk of heart disease;
- Decreased body fat and cholesterol;
- Reduced risk of osteoporosis;
- Improved muscle mass;
- Decreased anxiety and depression, and an increase in endorphin production, generating a feeling of well-being;
- Improved sleep; and
- A decrease in physical and emotional pain.
In order to get the maximum return on your time, it’s important to exercise at a sufficient intensity. Anywhere from moderate to vigorous intensity will give you the most benefit, and what may be moderate for one person might be vigorous for another.
One way to measure relative intensity is the talk test. Generally, if you’re doing moderate-intensity activity you can still carry on a conversation during the activity. If you’re exercising at a vigorous level, you will not be able to say more than a few words without catching your breath. And, if you can’t talk and do your activity at the same time, you are exercising too hard.
Another simple way to measure exercise intensity is how you feel while you’re doing it — your perceived exertion. Your perceived level of exertion may be different from what someone else feels doing the same type of exercise. An easy workout for one person may feel more difficult to someone less fit.
Your heart rate offers a more objective look at exercise intensity. In general, the higher your heart rate during physical activity, the higher the exercise intensity. Studies show that your perceived exertion correlates well with your heart rate. So if you think you’re working hard, your heart rate is likely elevated.
You can use either way of gauging exercise intensity. You can also use a heart rate monitor, but if you are paying attention to how you feel and your level of exertion, it’s not a necessity.
It’s important to warm-up your body at a lower intensity before engaging in a higher intensity workout, and to cool down as well, by gradually decreasing intensity prior to stopping. Also, pick an activity – or more than one – that fits into your lifestyle and that you enjoy doing. Mix it up. Take a brisk walk with a friend, cycle with your family on the weekends, swim or do the elliptical at the gym. You don’t have to do the same thing every time, and you may discover new activities to include as time goes on. The bottom line is this: Make aerobic activity a regular part of your life and you’ll feel better, look better, and live healthier and younger for years to come.
Aging is inevitable, but how you age is not! You can control and manage your aging process now and in the future. Americans are living longer, but are not necessarily healthier. Chronic disease accounts for 70% of all deaths in the U.S. Fifty percent of Americans have central obesity – middle aged bulge that increases your risk of dementia. Putting on pounds increases your health risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, dementia, high cholesterol, sleep apnea and osteoarthritis. Health care costs are skyrocketing, and yet we are still not addressing the underlying cause of the aging process. Medical care that is centered on diagnosis and treatment of individual diseases is now outdated. Looking at the root cause of your medical condition is ultimately what will improve your quality of life. So what are the factors that affect how we age? Genetics, environment, lifestyle (exercise, nutrition, stress management), hormonal imbalances, inflammation and oxidative stress. Inflammation is how the body responds to injury or stress. Did you know that inflammation is the underlying cause of all chronic illnesses? Managing inflammation by balancing hormones, and improving lifestyle is key to minimizing risks for long term illness. Age Management Medicine helps identify your risks at an early stage before developing these chronic conditions . By addressing these issues you will extend your health span. This is the best form of preventative health. We all want to be productive as long as possible; have good energy, sexual functioning, low body fat, strong muscle mass with good flexibility and balance. Refreshing sleep and clear cognitive functioning makes life so much more enjoyable. To achieve this goal, we need to refocus attention away from what is “normal” to what is “optimal”. While it is certainly normal to develop morbidities as we age, it is certainly not optimal and absolutely not inevitable. By focusing our attention on superior nutrition, daily exercise, optimal hormone management and pharmaceutical grade supplements, we can achieve optimal health. Good health is no accident. It takes your active participation.
Aging is inevitable, but how you age is not! You can control and manage your aging process now and in the future. Americans are living longer, but are not necessarily healthier. Chronic disease accounts for 70% of all deaths in the U.S. Fifty percent of Americans have central obesity – middle aged bulge that increases your risk of dementia. Putting on pounds increases your health risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, dementia, high cholesterol, sleep apnea and osteoarthritis. Health care costs are skyrocketing, and yet we are still not addressing the underlying cause of the aging process. Medical care that is centered on diagnosis and treatment of individual diseases is now outdated. Looking at the root cause of your medical condition is ultimately what will improve your quality of life.
So what are the factors that affect how we age? Genetics, environment, lifestyle (exercise, nutrition, stress management), hormonal imbalances, inflammation and oxidative stress. Inflammation is how the body responds to injury or stress. Did you know that inflammation is the underlying cause of all chronic illnesses? Managing inflammation by balancing hormones, and improving lifestyle is key to minimizing risks for long term illness. Age Management Medicine helps identify your risks at an early stage before developing these chronic conditions . By addressing these issues you will extend your health span. This is the best form of preventative health.
We all want to be productive as long as possible; have good energy, sexual functioning, low body fat, strong muscle mass with good flexibility and balance. Refreshing sleep and clear cognitive functioning makes life so much more enjoyable. To achieve this goal, we need to refocus attention away from what is “normal” to what is “optimal”. While it is certainly normal to develop morbidities as we age, it is certainly not optimal and absolutely not inevitable. By focusing our attention on superior nutrition, daily exercise, optimal hormone management and pharmaceutical grade supplements, we can achieve optimal health. Good health is no accident. It takes your active participation.