Beauty is not skin-deep, in fact, your skin, hair and nails are just the product of what is join on inside your body and mind. Cutting-edge nutritionist, yoga and Pilates teacher McLean McGown has pulled together a six-step plan for us that promises to get radiant on the inside & outside! Check it out…!
Vibrant, Delicious Skin In Six Steps
So we all want great skin…but where to begin?!!! For most of us, since puberty with the onset of acne, we have been obsessed with lotions and potions promising clear and gorgeous skin. I for one have spent an embarrassingly staggering sum on such potions. Out of sheer desperation I even tried using my own urine as an astringent (yuck and didn’t work). I had bad acne as a teenager and have dealt with oily breakout prone skin ever since. Even into my thirties when I thought “finally acne will be a thing of the past!” I had major breakouts. If you are like me, have no fear there are a few things that you can do to bring about healthy, shiny (but not oily), gorgeous glowing skin.
Step 1: Eat well! Our skin is our biggest organ. So what we put into our bodies really matters. Less toxins IN means less toxins need to come OUT. Unless you live on an organic farm in the middle of Alaska you are probably ingesting a lot of toxins no matter how clean your diet. Reduce your intake of processed food, white carbs, sugar, caffeine and alcohol. Moderation is key. But caffeine and alcohol as we know are very dehydrating which leaves skin sallow and dull. Pump up your GREEN foods and fresh vegetable/fruit juices. My skin looks amazing when I am downing a good liter or so of the fresh veggie juice a day. And stay as hydrated as possible. Lots of FRESH CLEAN water. If you get bored with regular H20, try a bit of fresh lemon, orange or even cucumber slices added in.
The best veggies for skin in the green category providing vitamin C and folate are spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, broccoli, brussel sprouts and collard greens. For power packed vitamin C and collagen production/protection up your intake of oranges, tangerines, carrots, orange bell peppers, mangoes and apricots. Collagen keeps your skin supported and full of elasticity which helps to prevent/reduce wrinkles. Lycopene is the king of anti-oxidants and can be found in red veggies such as tomatoes, red peppers, watermelon, cranberries, papaya, pink grapefruit and strawberries. And then of course we have blueberries and blackberries, which are the highest ranked anti-oxidant fruits. Cucumbers are also great for cleansing and for use as a diuretic if you have eaten something that has bloated you or made you swell (too much salt, MSG, slight alcohol allergy). Cold cucumber slices can also can do wonders for your under eye circles and puffiness after a long night. Also, don’t forget your healthy fats! You need some fat to keep your skin plump and healthy. Raw almonds, avocadoes, flaxseed/ flaxseed oil, fish oils and wild organic salmon (if you eat fish).
Step 2 : Hydrotherapy! If you can get yourself to a spa to soak in hot/cold pools, steam & infrared saunas fabulous! But if not, have no fear. You can do your own at home. You can run a hot bath and then intermittently jump into a cold shower. So you start hot, then cold for a few minutes (or minute) and back to hot for a few and back to cold. This method shocks the body and acts as a pump for blood and lymph cleaning. The hot water relaxes the cells and opens them up by expanding. Then the shock of cold water contracts the cells quickly. So you have a fast open close open close process happening which presses out the toxins. Another nice (and brave) morning ritual is after you skin brush, slather your body in a yummy organic oil. I like an Avuyvedic blend that can be found at whole foods. Really cover yourself in it. Then jump into a freezing cold shower and rub your body briskly. Akin to skin brushing- start at your feet and work your way up the body. Use your hands and arms to get your blood flowing!! Take extra time around your chest and heart. If you are a woman this is an excellent time to rub your breasts and massage out any lumps or toxic build up in the breast tissue. If you are breastfeeding do simple light strokes starting out around and away from the nipple and move in. After a few minutes jump out and rub your body vigorously with a towel. If you can get your hands on a comfy but rough towel that can really buff the skin all the better. Look into the mirror at your gorgeous glowing skin!
Step 3: Get it out! Make sure you are going to the bathroom. You know what I mean. Cleansing the colon and bowels at least once a day. If you are not going once a day you are constipated and that is toxic waste build up throughout the body. So do what you can to get things moving. Ideally a Woods type colonic will help you flush out any and all toxins over a period of time but if that is not available or desired, you can use an at home enema kit for cheap and easy access. Up the greens and fiber filled organic foods and down play the gooey yeasty sugary carby stuff. Also lay off meat and heavy protein if your body has a tough time digesting that sort of food. A cup of hot lemon water upon rising also helps.
Step 4: Exercise! Clean the blood and move lymph fluid. Move, sweat, play. Walking and swimming are the best exercises for the body. They get everything moving without jarring joints and over utilizing one specific muscle group. Props I love are fitness balls which are great for just sitting on at the desk or when watching TV and a good rebounder trampoline. This kind of bouncing movement moves your lymph fluid throughout the body which whisks away gathered debris and toxins throughout the entire body. Our lymph system does not have a pump mechanism so you need to do movement that acts as a cleaning pump. If you do not have time for a full workout just get on the floor for ten minutes and stretch. You may not burn off a ton of calories but you will be doing something great for your entire body. When it comes to exercise we tend to think in extremes. “I either need to go run 5 miles or if I cant do that then I will just stay on the couch” kind of attitude. But every little bit helps so grab those few minutes a day to sit down, quiet the chatter and stretch your body. A few forward and side bends, some core work, some thigh and hamstring stretches and a quick inversion will do wonders for your flexibility, energy and comfort throughout the day. In yoga, it is recommended to do at least one inversion a day. This means that you are turning upside down to allow your blood to flow in the opposite direction. By doing this you force blood that has been pooling in the extremities to flow to the heart to be re-oxygenated and strengthened. Have you ever noticed that when you have been standing all day your ankles, feet and calves tend to puff up and feel tight? This is because blood and lymph are stagnant in those areas. The best way to remedy this is to do my favorite stretch or yoga pose of all time called “legs up the wall”. I try and do it every night. It is a great way mentally to wind down before bed, is the easiest inversion and just feels so darn good. To get into the pose…sit down on the floor with your left side against the wall with knees bent towards your chest, then gently lie down on the floor which will have you in fetal position on your right side. Then roll onto your back lifting legs up against the wall. Straighten the legs as much as possible. Then you may have to shimmy your bottom up against the wall a bit more. Let your legs be long and straight but relaxed. Open your arms out at your side palms facing up. Close your eyes and enjoy 10-30 minutes of relaxation and internal cleansing.
Step 5: Wash! Find a nice organic cleanser, toner and moisturizer. Moisturizing at night is very important. Try to find brands with little to no unhealthy fillers. I tend to sway towards products that use papaya and seaweed and do not contain ingredients that I cannot pronounce or do not recognize. If you are over thirty you may want to look into an under eye cream as well or just apply extra moisturizer to that area. Fresh avocado masks are also great for making delicious skin. Just mash up an avocado and spread onto a clean face and let stand for 15-30 minutes. Wipe away and watch the glow.
Step 6: Smile and be happy! Radiating happiness from the inside does wonders for your skin. May sound cheesy but its true. When you see an older woman with long grey hair smiling uncontrollably, you don’t say to yourself “look at all of those laugh lines” you say “wow she is lovely and gorgeous!” So up your happiness this new year. Even if it starts with vanity, it will soon spread to all aspects of your life.
I wish you all radiating health and glowy skin!
Peace & Green Juice,
McLean McGown is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Yoga and Pilates teacher, writer, actress and Buddhist. She has studied with Natalia Rose through her advanced training and full-heartedly believes in the healing power of fresh juice for every body!McLean has 10 years experience teaching in NYC, LA, the Hamptons, Nashville, Memphis and Amherst, Ma. Through her own journey of living between extremes, she has come to find true happiness on the middle path. Her aim is to help people find freedom in their own bodies and minds through meditation, movement, whole organic foods, juicing, and a sense of humor.
Checkout her website & follow her on Twitter for more sane, serious nutrition & balance!