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10/30/2006

Beautiful Readers,

Thanks to your super endorsements of Beautiful Fitness’ services, business is booming right now, and new clients seem to be just pouring in! So this week, instead of my more typically long-winded story about whatever is on my plate that I hope will interest y’all that day, I’m going to give you some bite-sized bits of wisdom.

* There is a lot of buzz right now about something called CR…Calorie Restriction… studies seem to suggest that living at near starvation (literally) slows down your metabolism in such a way that bacteria and mice live nearly 50% longer than average, and in quite good health too.

Please, God, let it not be true that optimal health is based on perpetually starving yourself…but stay tuned, and don’t try this at home until these guys have done more research on humans…

* Don’t ever try an at home electrolysis kit.

* Self-tanning looks much better sprayed on in a booth than at home.

* Pre-menopause can begin as early as 40.

* Regularly carrying heavy weight on your shoulders can be very helpful in terms of avoiding osteoporosis of the spine. Weighted vests are great for this. Consider owning one.

* There is a lot of discussion about female hormone replacement. There is no evidence that synthetic hormones are any different than naturally occurring ones.

I take soy isoflavones and dong quai, both contain some level of estrogenic compound.I have taken them for years. Studies seem to suggest that taking low doses of estrogen earlier in life can help combat some symptoms of menopause later on. High doses of estrogen years into menopause correlate to increased risk of heart disease.

*Laughter releases endorphins.

Fondly and with love,

Alix

Beautiful Fitness

Freeze 24-7 and the Big Pout

10/19/2006

Beautiful Readers,

I have been facinated by the idea of all those new creams that claim to immobilize regions of your face, immitating the effects of Botox, even since they hit the shelves several years ago. I have also been curious about the new world of Lip Plumpers which use skin irritating additives to give you bigger lips, imitating the effects of Collagen Injections, to which many a celebrity owes their sexy ‘trout pout’.

Big lips. Damn. I wish that someone had told me that big lips were sexy when I was a kid…I have kind of big lips, and my best friend (blonde, bookish, polly-purebred type) in elementary school used to tease me about them, suggesting that they were a little too ‘ethnic’ looking. In fact, I imagine that a number of black and latina friends would have likely been happy to hear that their big lips were cool a couple of decades ago–but then maybe way back then; they weren’t. I guess that’s a certain kind of progress…

So, for now, cosmetic fashion tells us that smooth brows and big lips are best, that they offer a ‘more youthful’ look (lips tend to shrink as we age–and forehead wrinkles–well, you know how all that stuff works..) and that for those of us who are a wee bit afraid of needles, or don’t want to have to cough up the $1000 some dollars that it can cost to get ‘done’ every 3 months, there’s freeze 24-7.

Now this stuff is cool chemistry. Expensive, but cool. I recently visited a store in Park Slope that seems to have the market on real skincare product around Brooklyn ( I seriously don’t know of anywhere else around the burrough that sells actual product that I might be interested in ((no Sephora, or Bloomingdales to be found)) called Luilei. A small place, with too much real estate devoted to men’s products and indie perfume labels for my taste, but a pretty good selection of high-end lotions and potions that have done at least some kind of clinical trials…

I was delighted to find that they carried a product called ‘Plump lips’ made by freeze 24-7…all full of claims to have some super special secret patent pending ingredients to make your lips puff right up like you had been kissing chili powder. $40, and using my teeth to get through the mighty tight shrink wrap around the very cute cardboard tube which looked like something you might find expensive chocolate in, and I was smearing the clear petroleum jelly-like goo all over my mouth as I walked down the sidewalk towards the gym.

Mistake #1. Apply this shit carefully. Within a minute I was swollen all around my mouth like I had eaten something I was allergic to. Not painfull or itchy, but a little warm all over…the real surprise though, came after I had put my stuff in the locker at the Y where I work out, and checked myself out in the mirror. I was puffy lipped like Angelina Jolie (who, by-the-way, uses collagen to maintain her signature pout– which, in my book, does not make her one bit less hot.) but rash red all around my mouth like I should have been searching for my epi-pen.

Questions flooded my mind…If this stuff makes your lips puff out to twice the original size, wouldn’t that make your lip-skin stretch out so much that eventually you would have wrinkly lips? and Where can I get more of this stuff? The truth is, in a somewhat artificial way, puffy lips do actually look really sexy. Feathered hair and more cleavage and I would have been one of those neon paintings on black velvet from the seventies.

Yet, the effect wore off disappointingly quickly, and within 2 hours, I had lost my fuel injected lip size. I felt somehow, flaccid, and wanted more ‘plump lips’ to get me going again…so I reapplied the stuff in the ladies’ room, more carefully this time, and was delighted (though still somewhat shocked) by the result.

At Luilei, they had given me samples of all the other freeze 24-7 products. A scrub, a moisturizer, some eye cream, and a tiny package of the original stuff, called simply, freeze 24-7 anti-wrinkle cream. That’s the face-freezing cream that these guys got famous for.

Once I was home, enjoying my plump lips in the mirror, I skeptically tried the ‘anti-wrinkle’ cream. Now, while I am not saying that I have actually tried Botox myself, I am also not totally ignorant of it’s effects let’s say– and it seemed to me very unlikely that a topical cream, even with all the GABA (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid) in the world, would make it as hard to raise your eyebrows as the toxin itsself would. But I believe that I may have been wrong.

I followed the instructions, rubbing the stuff into my forehead for a minute, feeling like this exercise was akin to tapping your head and rubbing your stomach, singing "Oh-wah-ta-goo-si-am." but within minutes, I discovered that I could not raise my eyebrows. Whoa. Over the counter too.

Freeze’s  website claims that in their research 100% of the women in the trial saw a decrease in their wrinkles, and I believe them. Now, if you have trouble with the notion of making your lines leave your face by paralyzing the muscles underneath, this stuff will give you the willies the way Botox would, yet it, undeniably works, and you have to give them credit at least for that.

However, if you are not distressed by that idea, and feel giddy like a schoolgirl, at the thought that you could look like you have never smiled or frowned in your life—freeze 24-7 anti-wrinkle cream could be for you.

Thanks for reading,

Alix Florio, President; Beautiful Fitness

Chilly fitness

10/13/2006

Beautiful Readers,

Brrrrrr….woke up this morning to the hissing of the heater. Damn. It’s getting cold out.

Even for those folks who love wintry weather…it can make exercising a bit of a challenge (for some of us it can make just getting out from under the covers in the morning a bit of a challenge). So for those of you who feel a little more sluggish in the wintertime, Beautiful Fitness has some tips for you…

1) Keep your apartment warm. Seriously. Except for the lucky few who are more psyched than ever to rush out to the gym when the weather gets cold…keeping your apartment warm enough that changing your clothes to exercise doesn’t scare you is generally a good idea.

2) Just do it. Heard it before? Yes. Tired of this advice? Probably. But really, there is no way around it. Sometimes exercising sucks, especially when you are fighting off a mild cold or feeling chilly with your coat on, but the cure for winter exercise phobia, is often, more exercise. Show those endorphins who’s boss.

3) Buy the right clothes, and walk more. In the winter people tend to be more inclined to jump in a taxi or take the subway, when in the balmy summertime, they would walk. Invest in some good long underwear (I recommend Patagonia’s ridiculously expensive selection, for awesome warmth, light weight, stylish-as-long-underwear-gets looks and terrific durability.((I have worn the same pair for 15 years now–also great for snow sports)) and take to the road again. And if you have kids–invest in some long johns and super-warm, wind-resistant outerwear for them too, so that they grow up without irrational (and limiting)fear of the cold.

4) Get a massage or stimulate your body in other ways (not meant to be suggestive–though, I guess, there is that too). I don’t know about you, but there are certain times of year when I’m especially tired. This fall-winter season change is one of them, and I find that I dread the thought of exercise. I want to drink hot chocolate and stay in bed. Sometimes an easier transition to my usual rather intense exercise routine is in order.

Occasionally, my jump-start back into physical action can be a yoga class or Tai Chi (my new love) other times, the only thing I can get myself excited about is something really passive like a massage, or some other cosmetic treatment. Not exactly exercise, but I find that just getting out and attending to my body in some way–tends to perk me up and can get back on track with exercise again.

5) Make sure you are  getting enough sun on your face. I know I often forget to do this, especially since I pride myself at being covered in SPF 30 at every waking second. But many more people are affected by SAD (seasonal affective disorder) than are aware of it. It is one of those things that has a range of easily ignorable, or otherwise explainable symptoms…anxiety and fatigue predominant among them, and of course, when you are feeling fatigued and anxious, if tends to make people less likely to go run around outside.

Just know that New York life conspires against getting the correct amount of sun exposure in the cooler months. You are probably working a bunch, all covered up when you are outside, and rushing to get back inside again as quickly as possible when you are out. A recipe for SAD.

I usually don’t know I have it, until I am whining to a friend about feeling ‘low’ and they suggest that I might not be getting enough sun. When year after year I realize that they are right, I go find a bench to sit on ( or a sunny stoop, or plot of grass) and hang out in the mid-day sun for 40 minutes or so, face up, eyes closed. (sunlight on your eyelids is best). I often feel kind of light headed, and peaceful afterward (like a day at the beach), and my outlook tends to improve almost instantly. Try it.

6)  Make sure you are getting enough water. 8, 8oz glasses a day is the traditional rule (though there is a fair bit of debate about whether there is anything special about that quantity). More when the heat is on. More if you are exercising and sweating. Eight glasses seems like plenty–so if the heat is on and you are exercising, it may feel like you are drinking water all the time, at a time of year when you may not feel as thirsty.

A nice side benefit though from all this water drinking…better skin. I have noticed that many clients skin tends to look a fair bit drier and ashier in the winter…I suspect that it is a combination of stress, less exercise, and the heat being on. More water will help. So will a good prescription Retin-A cream, and keeping up with the exercise.

So enjoy the lowering temperatures with a conviction to fight against the urge to hibernate. Lazing the winter away was a respectable instinct when we lived in caves and ate far less at this time of year, but unnecessary when you are getting all the calories you need to keep going!

Fondly,

Alix Florio; President, Beautiful Fitness

Beautiful and fit across the pond

10/09/2006

Dear Beautiful Readers,

I have just returned from a short visit to New York’s venerable, crumpet-eating, counterpart across the sea–London. London, in case you haven’t been there in the past decade, has changed. It is not the stiff, and insular place it once was, it is now cool, chic, cosmopolitan, and crawling with the new fashionable and fit Euro-Brits.

London has also, like New York, totally embraced wellness and exercise-but they do it a little differently. My buddy, Mark, Operations Manager at Virgin Active (a trendy new set of health clubs purchased recently by the Virgin Group in England) said that it is very common for people to have some kind of exercise equipment in their homes, and that most of them actually use it.  Mark also said that  at-home personal training is quite common over there, and that nearly every client in the Virgin Active gyms is working with a personal trainer.

The English also seem to see health, wellness, and fitness on a kind of continuum, in a way that we often do not in this country. The health club that services Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs offices over there is owned and operated by a hospital. That same hospital also owns several other corporate clubs. The club offers weekly sessions with chiropractors, cosmetologists, a nutritional counselor, and a massage therapist to their clients.

And when a client joins the club, they screen them by doing all the standard fitness testing (the same one’s Beautiful Fitness does for the most part) and they also do blood testing for cholesterol and glucose (checking for diabetes) levels.

I believe that this kind of medical/fitness crossover is great on a number of levels. First, it makes the whole ‘35 minutes of cardio 3 days a week’, and ‘weight bearing exercise 2 days a week’ thing make sense, much more than just trying to look hot does. In truth, one can look pretty conventionally ‘hot’ without exercising very much at all. Get enough sleep, drink water, don’t eat very much, and walk a little, and everyone can look pretty darn good. There are some very attractive people out there with very high cholesterol, various stages of osteoporosis,or heart disease.

I also believe that allying fitness with medicine accurately addresses the fact that exercise is a health requirement and not just a kind of suggested extra-curricular activity. And that feeling of course, that fitness is important, also positively affects the way folks in those professions feel about their responsibility to their clients.

In general, I admire the seriousness with which the British tend to approach any job–the English rat catcher generally feels that caught rats bring him closer to God. So you can imagine that the average personal trainer in London, being considered part doctor, brings enormous dignity to the role, and thus, the experience of exercise on the other side of the ocean is, in general, a somewhat deeper one.

The whole London experience was terrific. We might even get some Beautiful Fitness press in the London Times Body and Soul section (accidental meeting with the nicest editor with 4 kids ((gasp)) at Virgin Active club), and perhaps the character, Ms. Beautiful, who we are considering using as sort of a mascot for the new website might just end up being English…

Cheerio!

Alix