Erasing the Holidays
Step back from the table, put away the leftovers and get serious about those New Year’s resolutions with these tips to overcome the battle of the post-holiday bulge. Our experts weigh in on how you can successfully shed the lingering effects of the holiday.
article by Michael DeVault
I’s January. The company has gone home, the last of the turkey has been turned to soup stock and still you have that one last nagging reminder of those good times. If only putting away those extra pounds and new smile lines were as easy as packing away the tree or taking down the Christmas lights!
We all fall victim to the pattern. From late November until New Year’s Day, we overindulge on food and drink and we ease up on visiting the gym, effectively dealing our metabolisms and our waistlines a one-two punch. By the time we step back onto the scales January 2nd, we’ve gained ten or fifteen extra pounds–and we didn’t need a scale to tell us that, either. Chances are, we’re showing the signs on our faces and necks.
With a little hard work, diligence, and a bit of planning we can undo the damage. This year, BayouLife reaches out to three experts for their tips on erasing those last, lingering signs of the holidays. Whether it’s pumping up the bruised ego with a bit of carefully applied makeup or jumpstarting the metabolism by renewing that diet and exercise regimen, these tips will help you undo the damage dealt by the holidays.
LOOKING THE PART
Let’s be frank. Part of the drive to knock off those extra pounds is so that we’ll look our best. But packing on the winter pounds starts and ends in the same place–the face. It’s hard to get motivated to lose a few when there’s a plump reminder of that extra slice of pecan pie staring back in the mirror.
It’s a struggle professional stylist and makeup artist Meka Bennett is all too familiar with it. A self-proclaimed “plump faced girl,” Bennett understands the emotional effect the extra weight can have. “Whenever I gain weight, it comes to my face first and then it goes down into my neck,” Bennett says. She encourages women to take heart, though, because with just a little out-of-the-box thinking and judicious use of makeup techniques, you can add slimming depth to your face and neck and minimize those lingering holiday holdovers.
“You can add to your face and take away from your face with a little bit of light and a little bit of shadowing,” Bennett says. The practice, called contouring, has long been a staple of professional makeup artists and industry insiders. However, these days its become more mainstream.
“A lot of companies have created a contour and highlight palette,” Bennett points out. Combining complementing light and dark tones, contouring palettes afford wearers the opportunity to increase shadows and highlights, which helps stimulate a sense of depth, an important step to minimizing the extra weight. “That contour and highlight palette will be your best friend.”
Hair plays an important part, too. While shorter hair styles may be all the rage, not everyone can sport the pixie Emma Watson or the smartly bobbed Victoria Beckham. Even women who normally look fabulous in short hair can start to feel a bit out of sorts once the holidays pass and the time comes to shed a few pounds. “I think bangs, like a long, swooping bang, maybe not at the chin level or at the cheek level but higher, can help take away from that puffiness we tend to see,” Bennett says. “Anytime you have length to your hair, it elongates your face.”
If you have shorter hair, now’s the time to grow it out. And if it’s longer already, she cautions to steer clear of the scissors, at least for now. Meanwhile, pay close attention to color choices for hair and makeup.
“Once we go into the Fall and Winter, we tend to gravitate toward the deeper richer plums and mauves, the holiday lipsticks in particular. On the runway, there was the trend of the barely there,” says Bennett. While the artists are applying lots of makeup, the overall effect is that the models aren’t wearing makeup. “I call it a whole lot of nothing, which is kind of my signature look.”
A bold choice for lipstick is still quite possible, even given the minimalist look. Plums and reds are all the rage, and they’re a good, solid foundation for Spring and Summer, too. Bennett acknowledges that many women may be uncomfortable with the whole lot of nothing look and additional contouring. But, Bennett says, stepping outside the box is important.
“Be brave; be daring. Don’t be afraid to try a color you’ve never tried before,” she says.
BECOME THE PART
Now that you’re looking the part, it’s time for the rest of you to catch up. That means kicking off the lazy, throwing on the yoga pants and a sweatshirt, and heading to the gym. For personal trainer Jeannanne McGregor, the first months of the year are always a busy time, and almost universally, she sees the same thing.
“People swarm to the gym,” she says. The slow slide begins well before Thanksgiving. “They might get into the gym every once in a while. Then, it starts piling on. They’re not counting calories, the diet goes out the door and then there goes the workout. Before you know it, you’ve gained five to ten extra pounds in two months,” she says. She sees this in her regular clients, most of whom are quite health conscious and pay attention to their diets. The effect is magnified in those without a regular regimen.
“Sometimes throughout the year, you’ll gain weight and tell yourself you’ll do better. But it keeps creeping up and hanging around,” McGregor says. Undoing this kind of damage takes radical action. Propelled by New Year’s resolutions, people begin to attack the problem with enthusiasm, and that’s an important motivator. But it’s not just about working out. McGregor says there is a major component people have to embrace early on: a strict diet.
“Cut out all calories that you’re consuming by liquid form,” McGregor says. That includes soft drinks, alcohol, fruit juices and anything else we drink that is calorie rich. That’ll mean fewer trips to Starbucks and commitment when the waiter asks what you’d like to drink. Once the diet is on your radar, it’s time to start working out again.
“Try to get as much time in cardio exercise as possible,” McGregor says. Treadmills, stationary bicycles, the ellipticals, are all important. Jogging and aerobics help, too. And make sure to include weight training and flexibility training, as well.”
Failing to incorporate range of motion exercises and resistive weights for muscle toning are some of the biggest mistakes people make. “After every session of whatever you do fitness wise, you need to be stretching for ten to fifteen minutes, men and women.”
While many benefit from the availability and resources in a gym and with personal trainers, McGregor realizes it’s not something that everyone has access to. For those individuals, she recommends jogging and traditional calisthenics. Pushups, sit-ups and planking are all effective forms of resistive weight training that rely on body weight for resistance. Start with the most basic, the pushup. “See how many you can do each night before bed,” McGregor says. “You don’t really have to leave your house to do some basic body weight exercises to strengthen and tone your muscles.”
Eventually, though, we all reach a point where we can use the services of a personal trainer and benefit from the equipment in the gym. Personal trainers also help maintain a consistent schedule and accountability. You’re much less likely to skip that workout if you know your trainer is waiting for you.
Whatever path you chose, gym or home workout, McGregor urges that you balance your workout. Do some research on not overworking certain areas. The zone workout is dead and, in its place is the whole body workout. Be sure to work legs, arms and midsection equally. Front and back are equally important for both aesthetic and health reasons. “If you did nothing but bicep exercises, what happens to your triceps? They become so uneven it creates injury,” McGregor says.
MAINTAINING THE PART
We’ve lost the extra pounds, we’ve transformed our hair, and our colors are up to date. But still, there’s just something…off. Our skin isn’t right and abuses from our past are starting to show through. Take heart, says Dr. Janine Hopkins. There are steps you can take to undo some of those past mistakes, and it doesn’t have to be traumatic. Part of the end result has to be recognizing what we’re doing early on and taking early action.
Start immediately using sunscreen anytime you’re going to be in the sun. Exfoliate regularly. Add retinoids to your skin care regimen, and incorporate antioxidants, which help protect skin against the aging effects of free radicals. No matter what age you are, Hopkins says these steps help restore skin and prevent further damage.
It’s good advice year round, but in January, after the holidays, many times we start seeing the effects of overindulgence. One particular culprit rises above all others: sugar. Sugar is the enemy, leading to blotchy skin, bloated appearance, and breakouts. “Sugar is the worst thing you can do for your skin. Avoid sugar,” she says.
For some, though, maintenance and prevention may not be enough to restore their skin to its fullest potential. For those individuals, Hopkins recommends Botox, fillers, and laser treatments. Beginning at age 35, Botox helps prevent the kinds of keep lines and wrinkles that exaggerate aging. Fillers provide volume and help restore symmetry, and laser treatments will help restore and rejuvenate the skin’s surface. And remember: earlier is better.
“It’s not about waiting until it looks like you need something,” Hopkins says. “You want to do something before it’s too late.”