A few years ago Salma Hayek stated in an interview that she doesn’t have much time to work out to maintain her lean figure.  Instead of sweating it out in the gym, she holds her body in a way that “activates her muscles” all day long.

When I first heard of this, my mind immediately wanted to dispell her “fitness secrets” as a big fat lie.  Shortly after giving the interview, a bunch of news outlets published articles to dispell the myth that holding your body a certain way to maintain a toned figure is possible.

Over the years, I’ve really reflected on what Salma said and now I realize that she may actually be on to something.
Part of the reason why I couldn’t just dismiss her claims is because I’m fully aware that certain “exercises” don’t require gym equipment to provide solid results.  All we have to do is engage them properly to enjoy the benefits.

I’ll give you some examples.

Most women are encouraged to do kegel exercises for the sake of strengthening their pelvic floor.  Kegals are simply a series of contractions that can be done anywhere, anytime.  By pulling in your inner pelvic muscles you strengthen that area.  If any of you have consistently practiced your kegels, you know that they really do work! Some will notice a difference in strength within weeks.

The other movement I know that offers muscle toning without traditional exercise movements are transverse abdominal exercises.  Basically, these exercises target our inner corset (the transverse muscles).  Back when I was serious about creating a toned/fit waist, I invested a couple minutes a day contracting the deepest layers of my core.  The results were astonishing.  All I did was pull in my tummy as much as I could while holding the contraction.  That movement created enough tension to activate the muscles in a powerful way.

Salma Hayek wearing a corset to help snatch her waist while maintaining good posture.

Planks are another (more advanced) version.  Again, all you have to do is “hold your body a certain way”  (parallel to the floor) and you activate and strengthen your entire core muscle group.  There’s no contraction involved (unlike sit-ups) but they still tone the core in a major way. There’s something to be said about contracting a muscle to help it maintain it’s strength. Obviously, exercises that involve a full range of motions is ideal.  But, we can discount the potential of simply activating our muscles.

I remember the old workout videos from the 80’s.  At the end of each set of reps, the instructor would urge everyone to hold and squeeze the muscle to feel the burn.  And burn it did.  This was often the most difficult part of the workout.  All we were doing was holding and squeezing.

Again, simply contracting and hold the muscle doesn’t create an ultra-toned physique. But, we can’t completely reject Salma’s technique of holding and activating her muscles all day as nonsense.  Because it kinda does make sense. At the very least, we know that by contracting and holding, we activate the flow of blood to that area.  This brings more oxygen to the muscle and that’s a good thing. More blood to the muscle means we create more energy (ATP).

Sitting or standing in a natural, fully relaxed position, requires little to no effort.  But the simple act of focusing on our posture, or better yet, contracting and engaging our muscles requires a bit more effort.  This could this could result in burning few extra calories per day.  Heck, if you simply stood up while working on your computer versus sitting, you could burn up to 50 extra calories per hour.  No extra movement involved.  Imagine the possibilities if you coupled standing with kegels and transverse exercises while squeezing the glutes.

At the very least, I believe we should be conscious about engaging our bodies and maintaining good posture at all times.  Most everyone slouches but if you focus on being poised, it helps you stand out.  I’m sure Salma still works out, she probably incorporates this technique as a supplement for those times when she can’t step for in a gym.  By keeping her muscles engaged, she probably retains more muscle tone than if she were to go weeks or months without working out.  This fully won’t replace your gym visits for gaining muscle but it certainly can’t hurt to try.

I’m back and ready to discuss a wild theory.  I’ve been thinking a lot about this and wanted to share with you all.  The topic today is related to an article I wrote long ago.

Basically, I discussed the premise of how physical exercise could spark hair growth.  When the idea first crossed my mind,  I tried to validate it by searching for the personal experiences of others.  Sure enough, I read multiple accounts of folks who claimed to have experienced increased hair growth once these started working out regularly.

Heck, even Adriana Lima attested to it.

In researching the experiences of others, it was evident that some reaped the healthy hair rewards of exercise while others didn’t.  Genetics is sometimes blamed as the culprit for the disparity. And they could be right. But I think there’s another factor at play.
The weather is getting a bit warmer which means that a large number of you will be starting to prep for spring and summer.  You might be planning to start working out again.

That’s great!  Soon, you’ll experience higher energy levels and greater health.  But you know what else?  You might be setting yourself up to gain extra inches.  Yes, some people experienced an increase in growth rate once they started exercising regularly.

Here’s a sample of what a few people had to say:

 “During my transition, I had some pretty good growth, I also happened to be working at a gym and worked out for an hour instead of taking a lunch break. I ate so much healthier too. Well those days are long gone and my hair is just inching along now.”

“I’m back in the gym too and noticed a growth spurt. I got .5 inch in a little under 3 wks.”

“Yea, when I was losing weight for the military my hair grew like no other, but then I wasn’t take my vitamins, and not eating enough, and starting losing more calories, and not putting in nutrition, and my hair started thinning, but now I know what to do and what not to do….”

“It makes so much sense prior to my hair journey, I would exercise like a mad woman combined with fruits and vegetables and my hair was growing out of control versus, my roommate that exercised and didn’t care about diet. I have to get on the diet part. It makes sense, in the summer, I eat right and the hair spurts.” 

 Exercise and hair growth go hand in hand, IF you make sure to supply your body with a diet high in nutrients.  This sounds like basic information, but let me explain further.

When you’re working out, your body practically breaks itself down to build back up again.  This is especially true if you’re doing a lot of resistance training and toning up.  Obviously, the body needs access to a steady stream of nutrients to rebuild.  Meanwhile, we’re cutting calories and eating less because we’re trying to lose weight. Or, worse yet, we keep our diet the same thinking that working out will make up for it.

If you aren’t careful, you might not be able to fully provide your body what it needs.  When that happens, you don’t get access to the hair growing potential of exercise.  Or, you could get to the place where you actually experience some hair loss.  Why? Because your body allocates what little nutrients it gets towards the muscle and tissue.  Your hair will have to take a back seat.

On the flip side, if you make an effort to eat a highly nutritious diet, your body will have the resources to fuel muscles and have enough left over to feed the hair follicles.   This is just a theory but doesn’t it make sense?

 We’re already experiencing increased blood flow to the scalp, why not ensure that our body has adequate nutrition to deliver the nutrients to the scalp instead of having to ration it for other, more important, tasks.  We want to make sure there’s enough nutrition to go around.

So if you’re planning on being more active in the near future, make sure to you’re boosting up your diet as well.  Add healthy fats like avocado and nuts.  Be sure to get enough protein. Load up on large green salads and hydrate with beverages that also nourish your strands like bamboo tea.  Instead of focusing mainly on cutting calories, make it your aim to give your body a surplus of nutrients and see what you can experience in return.

Once upon a time, I was a “naturally slim” gal.  For the most part, it took little effort to keep my girlish figure. Then, things changed.  It probably was a combination of less activity (working from home) and poor eating choices (constant access to a stocked fridge).  Either way, I slowly put on an extra 10-15 lbs that seemingly came out of no where.

At my height/frame, 10+ lbs makes all the difference in the world.  After experimenting with multiple ways to shed the weight, I came to the conclusion that it’s critically important to incorporate a few powerful and easy to maintain habits that really work.  It’s always nice to learn from others who’ve discovered their keys to keeping a healthy weight.  Recently, Simone shared her go-to tips via Instastory.  I quickly captured them to see what we can learn from her healthy lifestyle.
Before we begin, I want to address the obvious. Simone has a very slim frame.  One might look at her and dismiss her advice because Simone looks like one those girls who don’t have to put a millisecond of thought into maintaining her figure.  If that were true, then would she even have any tips to share?

If she doesn’t have to do anything to keep her tummy toned, then why do ab workout videos? There would be no need.

I used to hold this belief that some people did nothing to experience the benefits they enjoyed. For instance, I classified Kelly Rowland as a naturally slim person born with a set of toned abs.  Then I learned that the woman did hundreds of sit ups before bed.  My mind was blown.  From that day forward, I realized that I need to learn from those who exhibited the qualities that I wanted, and not assume that they did nothing to create their results.

Ok, enough rambling.  Here’s a recap of what Simone shared as her keys to staying slim.

First let’s discuss her disclosure about how much liquid she consumes.  Water, green tea and coffee are her beverages of choice.  According to her, staying hydrated helps suppress her appetite.  Sound familiar?  Ever since I learned that the underlying reason for hunger could be thirst, I’ve started reaching for my water bottle before defaulting to a snack.  So far so good.

We’ve already discussed, at length, how green tea can be a great appetite suppressant. Not only does it help you ward off cravings, it’s loaded with antioxidants. 

The other day I watched a video where a girl addressed a question that she was constantly receiving from her followers.  They noticed that she ate quite a lot according to her Snapchat stories, yet she stayed slim.  One explanation for how she was able to maintain her weight was because she consumed around 8 cups of green tea daily.  Green tea is one of those miracle drinks that you gotta get familiar with.  Not only does it help curb appetite but when paired with exercise, it helps you burn more calories at rest.  It’s an ally in our war against unwanted weight.

Simone goes on to reiterate a lesson that I just recently shared about eating our last meal earlier in the day.  Devouring a heavy meal then going to bed is a recipe for disaster.  Not only are we robbed of valuable human growth hormone (HGH), our sleep isn’t as sound. By the way, HGH is responsible for helping keep us lean and toned. Eating late meals is like you’re begging to put on weight.

Finally, Simone reveals a couple of gems.  Her favorite workout videos.

Whenever I see a workout video on YT, I immediately scan the comments for testimonials.  This slim waist video has over 2 millions views so there were several testimonials available.  Many of the reviewers said they noticed a difference in around 3 days.  That’s super exciting.  I like the fact that focus of the workout is to slim the waist, not just to build bulky abs.

The second video is also from Vicky. Again, the comments are very promising.

Reece Faul

Started a week ago unbelievable the difference I do it once in the morning and once in the evening 4-5 times a week, gunna keep on doing it until I have skinny waist!

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DragonSkaterOfFabulousness1969

i’ve been doing this for 3 days , my waist is so small …. 3 days ! how ?

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Who’s ready to give these workouts a try?


Cindy Crawford’s Tricks Of The Trade

Nobody knows beauty like a supermodel. Nobody. So when we got an email from Cindy Crawford offering up some beauty tips (some more beauty tips, really, because we learned a lot from this), the answer was a thousand times yes. What follows is a bit of that brilliance—one that can only be obtained with decades in the business, coupled with an innate spa mentality. We’ll let Cindy take it from here:

Beauty, to me, is really about two things: confidence and passion. It’s the way you carry yourself, trusting that what you have to say is interesting, being engaged, and having that spark of excitement in your eye. That’s beautiful. But, with that said, I love a good spa day and a hair mask as much as the next person.

People always ask me what my beauty secrets are—but the truth is, there’s really no such thing as a secret anymore. After decades of working with some amazing makeup artists and hairstylists, I can definitely say with confidence that I’ve learned a few tricks. Sharing them is the best part.

While I use my skincare line, Meaningful Beauty, to take care of my face and décolletage, I also really like to take good care of my hair and my body, too. I find that if you have fun with it, it’s easier to see as a treat rather than a chore. But still, finding the time can be hard. This is what I do weekly, from head to toe:

Combine The Spa And The Gym
I’m a huge fan of double-duty beauty—because good things take time, and none of us have enough of it! I try to include beauty treatments into my workouts. For instance, since I know I’ll be washing my hair right after I exercise, I put a pre-wash conditioner in my hair—especially on my ends. A greasy ponytail during a workout never hurt anyone. Recently, I’m obsessed with the Lush Jasmine and Henna Fluff-Eaze Hair Treatment. I also always buff my heels and apply healing ointments to them to take advantage of the fact that I will be wearing socks for at least an hour.

Preserve A Blow Dry
Sadly, my hair isn’t as strong as it used to be. Too many years of abuse and color have left it brittle at the ends. If I do take the time to blow out my hair (or, even better, get a blowout), I want it to last more than that day. I found that if I sleep in a loose topknot, when I wake up in the morning, my hair is still smooth and has the added benefit of having some pretty waves as a result. The key: DO NOT use a ponytail holder. Instead, I secure it with one very large bobby pin. This way, it doesn’t get frizzy and there are no marks.

Don’t Neglect Your Neck!
Over 20 years ago, I saw a woman doing exercises for her neck. She explained that if you keep those muscles toned, it helps preserve the line of your jaw. You can do these exercises anywhere, but I usually do them as part of my workout. They’re simple to do—just lay flat on your back with your chin pointed up, and lift your whole head about an inch off the ground. Without putting your head back down on the floor, bring your chin to your chest. I do three sets of 10 repetitions, but you can build up to that! I alternate the chin-to-chest one with a side-to-side movement. Start the same way—flat on your back with your head lifted one inch off the ground. Without putting your head back down on floor, turn your head to the right, back to the center, and then to the left. I also do three sets of 10 of these.

Get Into Dry Brushing
I love using a dry brush before I bathe or shower. On dry skin, I use the brush all over my body, always brushing toward my heart. Not only do you brush off dead skin, you invigorate your body, stimulate your lymphatic system, reduce cellulite, and decongest your skin (talk about a miracle tool). After I shower but before I dry off, I use Neutrogena Body Oil all over. I let it soak in for a few seconds before drying myself with a towel.

Indulge And Relax
I try to go into an infrared sauna for 20 minutes at least once a week. Before I invested in my own, I just went to a local tanning salon that also had an infrared sauna—my homeopathic doctor suggested I get one because it’s good for detoxing. It’s not like a normal sauna, which can be harsh. Instead, infrared is a super gentle, soothing, and therapeutic heat that helps me relax and improves my sleep (and we all know how much I value sleep). It also works somewhat like a Japanese hot spring in that it stimulates collagen production to reduce wrinkles, improve overall skin tone, and improve circulation. Another added benefit? Twenty minutes of uninterrupted time to read!

—Cindy Crawford

Cindy Crawford photographed by Jen O. Hill. Read Cindy’s Top Shelf here.

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What’s The Best Workout Music?

Hey, what’s up, hello—help me, please. There might be over 1.5 billion playlists on Spotify, but that doesn’t stop me from listening to the same 50 songs over and over again. Actually, it’s something of a theme here at ITG HQ. I’m not the only one in the office who’s copped to questionable taste when it comes to music. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to improve.

I actually don’t notice my pigeonholed taste that much—I fill subway rides with podcasts and work days with conversation. But at the gym, it’s pretty hard to avoid my limited palette. I like Robyn, Gwen Stefani, T.I., and for some reason I have a real soft spot for the FIFA World Cup theme song from 2010….maybe because that’s around the last time I updated iTunes. Kidding, sort of.

The bottom line is I need all the help I can get. Funnily enough, I have no problem getting to the gym, but keeping myself there for longer than 10 crunches and 20 minutes on the elliptical is another story, and better music would probably help. So…drumroll…leave your workout playlist suggestions below.

Yours,

Claire

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