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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Do You Fix Your Mood With Food?

There's a good reason you might have the urge to scarf an entire tub of ice-cream when you’re feeling down: certain foods can temporarily boost your mood. That's because your body and brain are ruled by a complex group of chemicals and hormones, many of which influence appetite, emotions and energy levels, according to research scientists. Natural fluctuations of these compounds - like those that occur during the week before your period - can make you feel anxious, annoyed or blah. Similarly, when you're upset, say because some loser guy dumps you, those feelings can trigger changes in those same body chemicals. Enter yummy food. Some research shows that certain foods - particularly high-fat goodies such as cheese, ice-cream and chocolate - stimulate your body to produce endorphins, magical mood boosters that give you an instant high. If you're anxious, for instance, you may crave carbs such as bread, potato chips, pasta and soft drinks. These contain ingredients that trigger your brain to release serotonin, which has an uplifting, yet calming effect. High-protein foods, including peanut butter, yoghurt and chicken, do the opposite: they release a chemical that pumps up mental alertness. That may explain why you're more likely to grab a handful of peanuts when you're up studying late at night. As for those cravings many girls get before their periods, there's biology behind those too.

During this time, the chemical that regulates your desire for fat surges and levels of happiness-producing serotonin are super-low. Voila! You're suddenly hungrier, and cravings for foods such as chocolates, muffins and biscuits may feel stronger than usual. That's because your body is trying to prepare for a baby, which would need lots of fatty nourishment to grow. Because these foods are so good at lifting your spirits, you get hooked on treating yourself with them. And the very next time you need a pick-me-up, you may crave those self-same snacks. But if you're chowing down when you're not hungry - and eating fattening stuff - you could pack on pounds. Plus, the food makes you feel better only for a short while; once the cake is gone, the problems or bad feelings remain. Of course, there's nothing wrong with an occasional treat if you're feeling blue. Eating only becomes a problem when you "swallow" painful feelings instead of facing them.

What's Your Food Attitude?

Answer true or false to the questions, then read on for the scoop on your gut reactions.

1. I often munch on junk to help me get through studying or work I've taken home from the office. (True / False)

2. Sometimes I find my hand at the bottom of a family-sized bag of chips, or see that I've eaten a whole packet of biscuits, and I don't know how it happened - it's like I totally zone out or something. (True / False)

3. When I get great results on an exam or kick butt at the gym, I indulge in my favorite treats. I deserve it after all the hard work! (True / False)

4. When I'm a bit down, I tend to think about or plan out what a great meal I'll have next - it really gives me something to look forward to. (True / False)

5. Whenever I have my friends over to chat, I make sure there are plenty of snacks on hand. Gossip's just not as fun without plenty of munchies! (True / False)

6. If I get into a fight with my parents or a guy breaks my heart, the first thing I do is grab a bag of sweets or an extra-large serving of French fries. (True / False)

7. In between all my stressful activities - for example, going right from work to the gym, then rushing home to clean the house and crash - I sometimes scarf something to calm myself down. (True / False)

8. When I'm depressed, I eat - even if it's my weight that's making me depressed. (True / False)

Fixing feelings with food, unfortunately, is mainly a girl thing. Many of us are taught to smile and not to complain, and we learn not to express negative feelings. Instead, we drown our sorrows in a slice of cheesecake or leftover noodles. The food comforts us, and will never think we're whiners.

So how do you break that feeding of frenzy/feelings cycle? If you're upset, before you reach for eats, find a way to vent. Try talking things through with a friend or parent, or try keeping track of your eating patterns in a diary. You may think you're bugging people by spilling your guts, but in fact, confiding in others makes them feel needed. Expressing yourself is like anything else - you get better with practice. Try to label your feelings and be direct.

It's also key to tune in to your tummy as well as your mind before you munch. Next time you find yourself marching zombie-like towards the fridge, ask yourself, "Am I really hungry?" Do this out loud, which may knock you out of that snack stupor. If the answer is no (and you've got to be honest!), there's a good chance something's bugging you, even if it's not at the front of your mind.

Try jotting down your feelings in a notebook. Once you start seeing trends in your diary (are you a total sucker for ice-cream at deadline time?), you can learn to stop eating for the wrong reasons - and find non-food ways to satisfy your emotional needs.

Cure Your Mood Munchies!

Instead of pigging out when cravings hit, try these healthy alternatives to alter your body chemistry and lift your mood even better than food.

When you're sad or depressed

You might crave:
cake, biscuits, muffins
Instead, try: working out - with headphones on. Both exercise and music increase levels of the same happy chemicals that these foods trigger. In fact, studies show that 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise, performed three times a week, can actually make people who are mildly depressed feel better.

When you're broken-hearted

You might crave:
Instead, try: calling a funny friend or inviting your friends over to watch your favorite comedy movie. Just like eating chocolate, laughing releases endorphins, body chemicals which instantly lift our spirits. Curiously, having a good cry on a friend's shoulder can do the trick as well, since sobbing also releases endorphins.

When you're stressed, angry or anxious

You might crave:
loads of pasta, noodles, bagels, pretzels, crackers, potato chips
Instead, try: taking a warm bath. Carbohydrates like these encourage your brain to release serotonin, which helps to reduce the levels of the chemicals your body produces under stress. A hot soak can work the same magic by encouraging your muscles to relax. Also calming is meditation, which can convert stress hormones into feel-good endorphins. Studies also show that prayer - or just thinking good thoughts for 15 minutes - can reverse levels of stress hormones.

When you're feeling tired, blah or unable to concentrate

You might crave:
jelly beans, hard candy, sugary drinks
Instead, try: eating an apple, an orange, a banana or some grapes. Experts say that candy and soft drinks that are high in sugar make you tired, since they spark a sharp rise in blood-sugar levels and then make you crash. Fruit also gives you a boost, but the effects last longer thanks to nutrients and fibre, which help keep blood-sugar levels steady.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

#25: Smooth Operator

With images of Gisele in a G-string, Kylie and Liz in split-to-whoa Versace dresses, and teen songbirds showing off their midriffs, sleek skin has never been more in-your-face. Fact: hair removal is a drag and it hurts. So you need to know the right techniques to suit you. Read on... and take off.


What's the deal: Waxing yanks the hair clean from the roots

What's good: Your state of hairlessness can last up to six weeks. Plus, the hairs will eventually grow back softer. There are also cases of hair eventually become non-existent on some individuals - but whether or not it does, depends on the individual's genes and chemistry.

What's a drag: One word - ouch! Tip: avoid waxing just before your period. The best time to wax is five days into your cycle. Aspirin can also help. Also, DIY-ing with warm wax can be really messy, but while cold wax strips are more user-friendly, they're not as effective at removals because warm wax grips the hair better.

What's new: Salon-style, beeswax-based hot wax - it hardens as it cools, and is then peeled off without the need for cotton strips. Also, sugar-based waxes are big again. They arrive gooey, require less heating, and the residue can be washed away.

Works best: Before a DIY wax or a session at the salon, it is advisable that you try some dry body brushing plus wet exfoliation and, immediately prior to waxing, sprinkle on a layer of talc to absorb perspiration and help the wax to grip. Therapists will apply a post-waxing antiseptic and soothing lotion.

Salon advantage: You can be guaranteed that the hairs are pulled out in the right direction, which prevents ingrown hair. Plus, there's less pain because it's quicker, and with two pairs of hands you can keep the skin taut.

Watch out: If you're using Retin-A, AHAs, or taking Roaccutane or tablets for high blood pressure, waxing will thin your skin too much. Avoid waxing on cut, sunburned or acne-prone skin, or if you've recently had a laser peel. For varicose-vein sufferers, a therapist should use a self-peel wax, which is more gently.


What's the deal: Razor blades cut the unwanted hairs off just exactly at the surface of your skin.

What's good: The sexy, shiny, silky-smooth finish it gives you. Plus, it's exfoliating.

What's a drag: The morning-after prickly feeling. Shaving also makes a fake tan fade faster.

Works best: On primed skin. Exfoliating first will help to prevent ingrowns, and soaking for a couple of minutes before shaving will soften the hairs, making them easier to cut. For the tricky areas, such as the underarms, you may need to shave in two directions.


What's the deal: Lasers target the pigment in the hair. They heat up the follicle and destroy the hair, sub-surface. You feel a pin-prick sensation.

What's good: After two years, there has been found to be an 80 percent permanent reduction of hairs.

What's a drag: The cost, which can range from $200 - $500 per session; you'll need between two to six sessions of them. Plus, it's only effective on dark hair, and can cause discoloration in darker skins.

Works best: Unwanted facial hair and the bikini line are popular targets. Avoid if you're pregnant, taking skin-sensitizing drugs or Roaccutane, or using Retin-A.


What's the deal: A needle is inserted into the follicle; an electric current fries the hair at the root.

What's good: The hairs never return, so after you've had a series of treatments, you're fuzz-free.

What's a drag: It's near torture. And, in the wrong hands, you risk scarring and burning.

Works best: On small areas of dark, coarse hair such as the bikini line or upper lip.


What's the deal: Epilator heads feature rows of rotating discs that work like tweezers, grasping hairs and plucking them out.

What's good: They're easy to use - you sweep them over your skin like an electric razor. Plus, they work well on shorter hairs.

What's a drag: It's definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Works best: Do it after dry body brushing and granular exfoliation, to prevent in-grown hairs.


What's the deal: A depilatory cream will dissolve hairs just below the skin's surface.

What's good: The smoothness lasts slightly longer than shaving, and it's particularly handy for the bikini line.

What's a drag: Most creams still have that underlying smell of rotten eggs. Plus, some skins react to the chemicals in the creams.

Works best: When removed with a flannel, which doubles as an exfoliator, and helps to nip those ingrown hairs in the bud.


What's the deal: You bleach the dark pigment out of the hairs. This can be a more carefree alternative to other forms of hair removal.

What's good: It lasts two to three weeks, until the hair drops out - but it can actually last longer if the hair is exposed to sun (sometimes six to eight weeks).

What's a drag: It can sensitize skin (and skins being treated with Roaccutane, Retin-A and AHAs are no-gos). And it's not advised for dark skins - unless you want a coating of white or yellow fuzz.

Works best: On fair skins and shorter, thinner hairs. It's also great for the stomach and thighs.

Hairy Issues

Let's get to the roots of all evil to make sure that all your hairy dilemmas are (un)covered.

Nipple Hairs: No, it's not just you that has them! Stray, dark nipple hairs are actually a very common phenomenon. All you need to do is pluck them out - but do so very carefully, to avoid the problem of ingrowns. If they're not too dark, simply trim the hair off at the surface of the skin, with a pair of curved nail scissors.

Snail Trail: There's nothing you want to see less above your hipsters than a line of dark hair. If you're fair-skinned and have medium-hued hair - or only a few dark ones - bleaching will airbrush it out. Depilatory cream and waxes are also safe to use on this area.

Furry Arms: They're a fact of life for many women, particularly those with Mediterranean backgrounds. Some (like Penelope Cruz, no less), see their hairy arms as being natural and very sexy, but for others they're a major issue. If so, bleaching these hairs is a cinch - but is only effective on light skins and fairer hairs - otherwise, an at-home or salon wax is your best sleeveless bet.

Toe Tufts: Why spoil the effect of those meticulous pedicures and summer's sexy sandals with... hair toes? De-fuzz your digits by shaving or waxing with cold-wax strips.

Follicle Flare-Ups: Follicles aren't always too happy about having their hairs ripped out and can sometimes flare up in response. When you get these pimply-looking spots, resist all temptations to pick, squeeze and exfoliate, which could lead to further infection. Instead, use an antiseptic cream or lotion until the skin calms down.

Stubborn Ingrowns: You go to all that de-fuzzing effort and... all you get are in-grown hairs! If you're ingrown-prone, you're probably not exfoliating properly, so start to dry body brush and shower-scrub regularly (keep this up post-wax, but go gently). Regular moisturizing will also help. You do all this and still get the bumps? Either go back to your beauty therapist, who should lance out the trapped hair for you at no cost, or treat it yourself with a dead-cell dissolving lotion (anything with salicylic acid in it should do the trick). When the hair starts to peep out from the bump, carefully flick it out with sterilized tweezers, and dab on antiseptic.

Face Facts

Got a five o'clock shadow to rival your man's? Here are a few face-saving solutions...

"Witchy" hairs: Tweezers can be employed on finer hairs but if the strands are dark and coarse, plucking could lead to ingrowns. In this case, brace yourself for electrolysis. If the hair sprouts from moles, see a doctor.

Major mo: If the hairs aren't too dark and your skin is fair, you can bleach them. Wax is best left to salon therapists, unless you're really confident (in which case, use cool wax strips, or a sensitive-skin hot wax).

Bushy brows: Get a professional shaping from the start. After that, if you're happy with the line, you can maintain it at home by regularly tweezing the regrowth.

"Peach-fuzz" face: De-fuzzing strategies include using facial depilatories and pre-waxed strips. But these methods generally have fast regrowth; you may want to consider longer-lasting methods (laser or electrolysis).

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

New Blog Address

The new blog migration is ready. For those of you who only logged onto the Internet like once every week or month (or maybe... a year), the new blog URL is http://puniaopuniao.blogatize.net/. Following us is still easy to manage too!

On your BlogSpot Dashboard, scroll all the way to the bottom and you'll see a Reading List, and there'll be 2 blue tabs namely Add and Manage. Just click on Add and enter the new blog URL manually and voila!, you'll be following our blog at the new URL in an instant!!

And as said on the previous post, Missy Yuuko won't be migrating with me and the blog, so it'll be a one woman show and the next new post will be coming up a.s.a.p while I try to figure out the buttons that control Wordpress...

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