My New Year’s beauty resolutions are actually more about health—but in a plump, glowy-skin way (no treadmills or crash diets here)

Woman exercising

I might be a complete nerd about beauty—if your definition of “nerd” involves being able to cite mascara launches from 2005, or to understand the difference between primers versus mattifiers versus serums.

But secretly, I am even more of a geek about health. And maybe not in the way you might think.

You see, I’m of the school of thought that beauty is just the trimmings on top of an already-healthy main course… er, body. It’s why I’m not that much of a product junkie (okay, maybe a tiny bit). While I’m obviously in support of enhancing what Mother Nature doled out, many of the things we use prodz to achieve—shinier hair, clearer skin, rosier cheeks, brighter eyes—are things that just come naturally when you’re in good health.

And my definition of good health is perhaps not that mainstream. (Hint: my resolutions do NOT involve waking up at 6am to do do tons of cardio in the gym or going on a restrictive low-fat diet.)

So on that note, let me tell you more about them. Here’s what’s in my game plan for a healthier AND prettier 2011:

1. Say no to sugar and partially-hydrogenated vegetable oils.

sugar cubes My New Years beauty resolutions are actually more about health—but in a plump, glowy skin way (no treadmills or crash diets here)

These are the REAL bad boys in our diets (along with unfermented soy, which I haven’t touched in years now—PLEASE ditch it if it’s still in your diet). Although I already make a concerted effort to avoid them, I sometimes fall off the wagon.

Sugar in any form—glucose, fructose, sucrose, dextrose, newfangled versions like agave or just the old-fashioned white stuff—has zero nutritional value (and artificial kinds are even worse for you). Every time you eat some, it makes your blood sugar spike, and then crash—which makes you feel and LOOK tired.

And I’m really not kidding about the looks part. In the past few years, beauty scientists discovered that sugar actually CAUSES aging (and I suspect breakouts too), and although they’ve come up with a whole new product category to combat this (they’re called “anti-glycation” prodz), your best bet is to just avoid the stuff in the first place. Try sweetening with molasses, maple syrup, honey or stevia instead.

As for the partially-hydrogenated vegetable oils—a.k.a. trans fats—they are pure EVIL.

trans fats My New Years beauty resolutions are actually more about health—but in a plump, glowy skin way (no treadmills or crash diets here)

Hydrogenation is the high-temperature process by which oils that are normally liquid at room temperature are turned into solids. You’ll find these oils in margarine, shortening and a crazy amount of packaged foods, eg. cookies, crackers, chips, etc. (Oh and a lot of fast-food places fry their French fries in them too.) The problem is that they’re completely toxic to the body: they’re correlated with cancer, diabetes, obesity, immune system dysfunction and loads of other scary stuff.

And here’s the beauty angle: because the high-temperature processing creates free radicals, by consuming them, you’re actually aging your own skin and body. I’ve also noticed another consequence: breakouts! So avoid, avoid, avoid.

2. Say yes to coconut oil… and butter… and (even more) fermented cod liver oil.

Eat Fat Lose Fat My New Years beauty resolutions are actually more about health—but in a plump, glowy skin way (no treadmills or crash diets here)

I’m jumping back on board with the book Eat Fat, Lose Fat this month. The premise is that you can actually lose weight and/or maintain a healthy weight by eating a diet that’s high in healthy saturated fats—which, duh, not only taste great, but are also essential to our bodies for the fat-soluble vitamins they contain.

(And seriously? The idea that fat makes you fat is a big (fat) myth. Here’s another book to read if you don’t believe me.)

The Eat Fat, Lose Fat book is big on coconut oil, cod liver oil, butter and meat (yep, the red kind)… and to me, these are the real health foods, and by extension, BEAUTY foods. I mean, you already know how I feel about cod liver oil—it’s basically the Holy Grail of Skincare.

Anyway! It’s kind of mind-blowing that you can lose weight this way instead of semi-starving yourself on a bland and restrictive low-fat diet. So you’ll be killing two birds with one stone: great skin AND a great ass. (And here I thought we had to choose…)

3. Speaking of getting a great ass… trade cardio for weight-lifting.

weights My New Years beauty resolutions are actually more about health—but in a plump, glowy skin way (no treadmills or crash diets here)

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably logged far more hours on the treadmill than in the weight room.

Apparently this is wrong.

I recently tore through The Female Body Breakthrough by fitness pro Rachel Cosgrove, and I’m TOTALLY buying what she’s selling. Which is that the secret to losing fat isn’t cardio but strength training. Sheesh! I’ve had it backwards all these years. (Another fitness dude who advocates this is Craig Ballantyne, who has some excellent vids on YouTube.)

This article has some deets (and studies!) that back up the no-cardio philosophy. (Note: it’s only no-cardio at first. Apparently you have to first *get into good enough shape* for your body to be able to handle cardio. Wow!) The book comes complete with a 16-week program and detailed explanations/photos of all the exercises.

And here’s where health segues a bit more into beauty… I also plan to:

4. Get more sleep. Take more baths. Do more masks.

woman sleeping My New Years beauty resolutions are actually more about health—but in a plump, glowy skin way (no treadmills or crash diets here)

In general, just RELAX more. I interviewed Pure + Simple’s Kristen Ma last year (who you may remember from the Babe in the Biz series) and one of the things she told me really stood out. It was that many people who come in to her spa for facials end up looking a zillion times better when they’re done, and it’s not necessarily because of any product applied (although they are all fab, trust me).

It’s because they’ve simply given their over-worked, over-tired, stressed-out bodies the chance to calm down and peace out. So important and yet how many of us EVER treat ourselves to a hot bath, a yummy face mask or a luxurious 10 hours of sleep? Kristen is really big on self-care and I vow to do more of it myself this year.

5. Choose more natural beauty products.

organic beauty My New Years beauty resolutions are actually more about health—but in a plump, glowy skin way (no treadmills or crash diets here)

It’s not that I don’t love all the prodz out there like they are my children. But after my Oil Cleansing Method disaster, I’ve just become a bit more wary of what I’m putting on my apparently VERY sensitive skin. (To say that I’m terrified of having another skin freak out like that would be an understatement.) So: I’ll be looking to use purer products with fewer chemicals when it comes to makeup, skin and hair care.

6. Stop being so darn lazy!

woman applying mascara My New Years beauty resolutions are actually more about health—but in a plump, glowy skin way (no treadmills or crash diets here)

Confession time: I may write about beauty, but I can be really lazy about it when it comes to my own habits. (No, I still shower every day, thankyouverymuch.) What I mean is: too often I just let my hair dry naturally without bothering to do anything with it… I let my hair accessories gather dust instead of trying them out… I tend to rely far too much on just mascara and lip balm… well, you get the idea.

I hereby vow to make more of an effort—not because I want to impress anybody else with my beauty skillz (okay, maybe you guys)… but because it makes you FEEL good when you look good. (And this will start tomorrow, because I’m realizing as I write this that I’m wearing not a stitch of makeup. Oops!)

7. Cultivate inner beauty.

red lips smile My New Years beauty resolutions are actually more about health—but in a plump, glowy skin way (no treadmills or crash diets here)

Not to get all Pollyanna on you (that’s Janine’s usual M.O. anyway), but there is no point to any of this beauty stuff if you’re not also working on being a more beautiful person on the INSIDE. Charm. Grace. Kindness. Generosity. Good manners. Yes? So even though I prefer to surround myself with bitchy people (they’re just so much more INTERESTING, non?), I’m really going to try for 2011 to keep my snarky side in check. Within reason, of course—because a beauty faux pas is still a beauty faux pas.

Annnd that’s it! Remember to check with your doc (since I am not one) before you follow my lead on any of the health stuff, and then tell me—

What are YOUR New Year’s resolutions?
Are they more health- or beauty-related, or a mix of both?
Isn’t “eat more butter” a fabulous resolution? I think we should all adopt it.

22 Comments

Lesa
Monday, January 3/2011 at 6:51 pm

I have fully converted to the Church of Cod Liver Oil. Assuming that’s what’s been keeping my chin clear this last month or so, that liquid gold has worked miracles.

PS Life is too boring without snark! :)

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, January 4/2011 at 6:45 pm

True. I just do it so much (between PR fails and beauty fails there is so much material!). I have snark guilt.

So happy you have had CLO success. Now it needs to find its way into a magazine so we can spread the gospel! I tried to get it into an acne story I did for Glow but (predictably) it got cut. And yet Accutane and birth control pills were in there…. arrrgh.

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Sarah
Wednesday, January 5/2011 at 1:45 pm

Michelle, I missed that month’s issue of Glow and I can’t seem to find your article on the internet. Is there anywhere to read it?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, January 5/2011 at 2:26 pm

Hi Sarah! Glow doesn’t have a website anymore (!!) so they don’t post any articles online, unfortunately. Honestly not to diss my own work (or Glow!) but it was the usual anti-acne story… most likely you have heard it all before.

Not to be such a raving lunatic about cod liver oil but that is the one treatment that really works without side effects. Accutane, birth control pills and spironolactone (an anti-androgen drug) were what the derms mentioned and all have risks. (And topicals don’t really do all that much.)

I did quote an ND for the article who had some insights on food and I agree that can help too (eg some people are sensitive to dairy, wheat, soy… although I don’t think *anyone* should be eating soy anyway). But in my opinion – whether you have acne or not – the best thing you can do for your skin is to take CLO.

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Tracy
Monday, January 3/2011 at 6:57 pm

Eat Fat, Lose Fat????!!! I am soooooo getting this book. I came home today after eating low fat all day at work and was STARVING.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, January 4/2011 at 6:47 pm

There’s lots of info in the book but the main thing is having about 1 tbsp of coconut oil before every meal… it makes you feel full and apparently speeds up metabolism!

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tracy
Monday, January 3/2011 at 9:09 pm

I am definitely going to try the cod liver oil this year. I got on the eat fat train last year and used only coconut oil, butter or olive oil for cooking, etc. I completely buy it b/c I feel so much better when I eat this way.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, January 4/2011 at 6:49 pm

Yay – so glad to hear that Tracy… sometimes when I talk about the fatty fat diet people think I’m nuts, so it’s nice to have another testimonial. Changing to this way of eating makes me feel better too – so much more energy and I’m not always snacking.

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Makeup Morsels
Monday, January 3/2011 at 10:46 pm

ohh superintense first picture! Nice post :) And even though I agree with everything you said here, I know deep down that I will still get those McDonald’s fries. What can I say? They’re yummy! My New Year’s Resolutions (which I posted a couple of days ago) are pretty much 50/50 for health and beauty. Actually, it might lean a bit more heavily towards health. Health is important! :)

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, January 4/2011 at 6:51 pm

I hear you – anything salty like fries or chips is my weakness!

Glad you agree re: health! This is a pretty good book which explains how all the things we praise as “beautiful” have a genetic origin – http://www.amazon.ca/Survival-Prettiest-Science-Nancy-Etcoff/dp/0385479425

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Marina(Makeup4All)
Tuesday, January 4/2011 at 2:41 pm

Great post.Michelle! I’d also add “to take a good care of your teeth because it is SO important”. I don’t think that I even have to say why. Plus dentists are expensive (I’ve been there today)…

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, January 4/2011 at 6:55 pm

Cosign on that! YES. In fact I’m going to be posting soon about teeth as I’ve just had some veneers done and wowwww did I ever learn a thing or two about dentists. Mostly that a lot of them will scam you… and they don’t necessarily have any clue what should be done cosmetically or otherwise. Seems like the go-to thing these days is to just recommend a full set of veneers—which destroys perfectly good teeth!

Thankfully I found an amazing guy who is the real deal… I did whitening, just 2 veneers (even though the other scammer guys told me I’d need 6), laser contouring and gum reshaping. So worth it.

Anyway more on that later!

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Gimped
Tuesday, January 4/2011 at 5:46 pm

Wait a minute … a beauty blogger that’s lazy?? That just seems backward. Lol!!

I kid. Everyone gets lazy.

I LOVE #4. And I totally agree with the skin-looking-amazing-after-a-facial comment — I feel like a different person after a facial, inside and out. I think that will be one of my resolutions this year (I haven’t made any for 2011). Take better care of myself. Treat myself to face and body treatments, instead of buying more clothes to fit in an already overflowing closet. I’ve always wanted to get some kind of body wrap or exfoliating treatment, and this year is the year!!!

BTW, the red lip on the woman in photo 7 — GORGEOUS!!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, January 4/2011 at 6:59 pm

Good point, Gimped! I do the same… way too many clothes/shoes etc and what is the point if the body they’re hanging on doesn’t look so good? (And by that I mean tired/stressed out… not necessarily “in shape” although I definitely need to do more exercise too!)

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Gimped
Wednesday, January 5/2011 at 10:59 am

Yeah, losing some el-bees would be great, but I’m not going to put any pressure on myself to do it. I’ll get by butt back to the gym, and whatever happens happens. I REALLY want to get my hands on Portia de Rossi’s new book about her struggle with body image. Every interview I’ve seen ends up striking a cord with me. Her issues are EXACTLY why I don’t believe in dieting.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, January 5/2011 at 2:30 pm

I love the term “el-bees”!

And yes, dieting is stupid and in fact makes you fatter! Or with problems like Portia’s… scary. I hear she doesn’t dish that much about the Ali McBeal ladies in the book… too bad because they all appeared to have eating disorders. I would love to read more about how that came to be.

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Kat
Wednesday, January 5/2011 at 9:12 am

Cultivating your mind and expanding your range of interest is another stimulating way to start a new year! You feel and look beautiful when you’re confident, and knowledge makes you more confident in general, you get the drill, you’re a smart one yourself! ;)

I wish you a lot of new (or not so new!) discoveries and a lot of small moments of happiness to share with your loved ones. Happy 2011!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, January 5/2011 at 2:33 pm

Great point, Kat – I’ve been slacking myself on the extracurriculars (well *healthy* extracurriculars) so I need to get going on that. (Because keeping up this blog does not count!)

Happy 2011 to you too! xoxo

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Nicole
Wednesday, January 5/2011 at 5:13 pm

I definitely hopped on the CLO train due to your advice. I figured I’d give it a try and I noticed a difference in my skin so quickly I almost didn’t believe it. However, after about a month on it I missed a couple days and it confirmed what I thought… that stuff is gold. I’m trying to get my hubby on it too :P

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, January 10/2011 at 5:57 pm

Hurrah! Another winning CLO testimonial. Thanks for letting me know Nicole! I wish derms would enlighten themselves… so much better to be natural than to cover your face with (or ingest) chemicals.

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Jane
Tuesday, January 11/2011 at 12:18 pm

I cannot endorse the weights over cardio ENOUGH!!! I could jog or cycle 5 days a week with no change in my body shape or weight, but 3 45 minute weight lifting workouts a week and my body becomes strong and burns more calories while just sitting still. I have not weighed myself in over 15 years & if the doctor does I look the other way. I go by how my clothes feel & how I look naked- how much I weigh does not matter- muscle weighs more than fat & you can make yourself crazy trying to stick to a number.

Weights give me strong muscular limbs (any woman who is afraid she might bulk up too much is kidding herself), burn yucky fat, strengthen my bones and make me feel strong! Not to mention they help quash that desire to strangle people I get during a tough week. You go girl! Pump that iron.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, January 12/2011 at 7:36 pm

Me too! Whenever I have to get weighed I tell them not to tell me! So much better not to obsess about it – I just know when I’ve gained because my jeans get tight. (Which they indeed are lately…)
So glad you’re with me on this weights over cardio thing… so many females think I’m crazy for even suggesting it. But all you need to do is look at sprinters’ bodies vs. long-distance marathon runners! The marathoners look skinny and sickly.

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