Month: November 2011

Surviving the upcoming Holiday Feasts

It’s just a matter of time before all of the holiday invites start coming your way– Christmas Eve, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, the excuses to eat continue! Prepare to sit down at a table filled with stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet corn, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and cookies.  Thank god you’re wearing stretchy pants!

While the holidays are a time to celebrate and indulge, you want to be sure not to go overboard. Enjoy the holiday season without adding inches to your waistline with these basic healthy eating survival tips.

  1. Start your day off by exercising. The more calories you burn now, the more you can enjoy later.
  2. Eat small, healthy meals throughout the day to prepare for a big dinner.
  3. Don’t arrive at a party hungry. This may lead to poor eating decisions. Eat a piece of fruit or yogurt before heading out.
  4. When at dinner, first fill half your plate with fruits and veggies. Then add the holiday treats; just be mindful of portion control.
  5. Pass on sugary soft drinks and instead satisfy your sweet tooth with one piece of dessert.
  6. Hydrate with water. Often when we think we’re hungry, we’re actually just thirsty.
  7. Be mindful of alcohol. Beer, wine and alcohol are high in calories and will definitely stimulate your appetite.
  8. Leave the leftovers. It’s okay to indulge here and there, but don’t take the holiday grub home to your fridge.
  9. Remember, it takes about 20 minutes to start feeling full. Eat slowly and enjoy every bite to help curb overeating.
  10. Finally, have fun! Don’t stress about treating yourself during the holidays. Just enjoy your time with friends and family over good, delicious food.
Advertisements

Get the most of your next session by adding a scent

Roses. Fresh-cut grass. Your mother’s perfume. Mint. An orange being peeled.

These are smells many of us can imagine. Whether good or bad in our minds, smells can take us back to an event in time and provoke emotion. They can wake us up – or relax us. And that’s what’s at work behind aromatherapy.

“Fragrance is processed in an area of the brain that also processes memory and emotion,” says Mindy Green, co-author of Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art and owner of botanicals consulting company Green Scentsations.

“It’s a lock-and-key system,” adds Kathy Padecky, certified massage therapist and instructor at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. “You can smell a scent and immediately feel an emotion.”

Aromatherapy and Its History

It’s important to note that aromatherapy isn’t just about any smell, Green says. A number of perfumed products on the market, she says, have diluted the reputation of aromatherapy – and given consumers the wrong impression.

“True aromatherapy is only gained by essential oils derived from nature,” she says. “You might find a fragrance that smells nice and even evokes a memory, but you don’t get the same therapeutic effect from a synthetic.”

So, what are essential oils? They’re complex mixtures of chemical compounds found in aromatic plants, writes Anne Williams, author of Spa Bodywork: A Guide for Massage Therapists. Specialized structures that store essential oils are found in leaves, needles, twigs, bark, heartwood, flowers, fruits, stems, roots, flowering tops, zests and peels.

While plants have been used as medicine since early civilizations, modern aromatherapy owes its beginning to French chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé. Already familiar with chemicals because of his exposure to his family’s perfumery business, he began experimenting with oils to heal wounds, later coining the term aromatherapy.

The Benefits and Caveats

Essential oils have various uses. “For example, some essential oils are topical analgesics,” Williams writes. “When they are applied to soft tissue they decrease sensations of pain. Oils like lavender, Roman or German chamomile, and sweet marjoram sedate the body and decrease stress because they stimulate an area of the brain which causes the release of serotonin.”

During a massage, an oil like lavender can help you relax in order to maximize the effects of your massage. And at the end of a massage, a stimulating oil might be used to help you wake up.

But, Green warns, not all scents are for everyone.

“Everybody has different scent perceptions,” she says. So, if you favor a certain scent over another, go with your preference. Something you dislike may not relax you just because it relaxes someone else.

And, Padecky notes, pregnant women are advised not to use aromatherapy, particularly during the first trimester. In addition, people with allergies or asthma may find triggers in certain oils and should be cautious. Plus, some oils, such as citrus oils, can make skin particularly sensitive to the sun.

For most people, however, aromatherapy has tremendous therapeutic benefits especially when
combined with a massage therapy session. “The whole premise of taking a deep breath and slowing down is part of meditation,” Green says. “Then, you add that to inhaling something you find pleasant, and stress just melts away.”

Relieve Tired Eyes

Finally, you have a great night’s sleep and feel relaxed and rejuvenated. You start your morning routine, look in the mirror and notice that those annoying dark circles are still there. We know how frustrating this can be. But it’s important to remember that the skin around your eyes is very delicate. One night of restful sleep may not do the trick. So, we called upon the skincare experts at Murad® to learn more about dark circles and how to prevent them.

The skin around the eyes is fragile, and readily shows the signs of age, fatigue and stress. The tissue is thinner, water evaporation is rapid and the collagen and elastin fibers are less numerous. In addition, the eye area has few (if any) oil-producing glands, so it requires intense hydration that my not be appropriate for the rest of your face.

Although some dark circles are genetic, you can reduce their appearance by getting plenty of sleep and keeping your body hydrated by eating lots of raw fruits and vegetables on daily basis.

You can also relieve tired eyes with products that contain wild yam and soybean to increase firmness, caffeine and light refractors to minimize puffiness and chamomile extract to calm and soothe.

Most importantly, take time to relax! Sleep and relaxation are key to keeping your eyes looking refreshed and youthful. Try taking a hot bath before bed and make sure to shut off all distractions (television, Smartphone and computers) an hour before you turn in for the night.

At all Massage Envy Spa clinics, we offer four different Murad® Healthy Skin facials, as well as an array of Murad® skincare products. To determine what treatment is best for your skin, visit http://www.massageenvy.com/facials.