1. Just Move
Tired of looking in the mirror and not loving what you see? Start doing some kind — any kind — of exercise. Working out — sporadically or regularly — significantly improves your body image. Researchers at the University of Florida found that people who engaged in nearly any level of exercise enjoyed a significant boost in their positive feelings about their body, even if they only exercised every now and again and weren’t particularly fit. While you will need to work out regularly to make changes to your fitness level and overall weight, even a little bit of exercise (once or twice a week) will provide a psychological lift.
2. Skip the Sweets
Another reason to limit your sugar intake? Wrinkles. Over time, a high-sugar diet can lead to the breakdown of collagen and elastin, the fibers that keep skin taut. And it’s not just soda and candy, either. Simple carbohydrate foods like white rice, bread and cornflakes that are quickly converted into sugar in the bloodstream are just as much to blame. According to a 2007 study in the British Journal of Dermatology, the effects of sugar on the skin start to show at age 35 and become more obvious as you get older.
3. Speak Positively
Do you always have a nice thing to say about others? Or do you bad-mouth friends and colleagues for sport? A new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests how you view others is associated with how you feel about yourself. People who have kind things to say about their acquaintances are more likely to be happy and emotionally stable than those who see others negatively. People who described others positively were also more satisfied with their own lives and better liked by others. Negative perceptions of other people, on the other hand, were linked to narcissism, depression and antisocial behavior. So the next time someone asks you what you think of someone else, choose your words wisely. Seeing the good in others shows how happy you are.
4. Exercise for Clearer Skin
You might think that working out is bad for your skin, but believe it or not, the opposite is true. Sweating alone doesn’t cause acne. Makeup, touching your face and not washing after exercising are more likely to blame. Being stressed out or anxious can exacerbate acne. Exercise may help reduce flare-ups by bringing stress levels down. Also, sweating can help release trapped dirt from your pores – provided you wash it away when your workout is done. If you break out every time you exercise, make sure you’re not wearing any makeup, which can clog pores. Also, wash your face thoroughly with a gentle cleanser immediately after working out. Remember to keep your hands away from your face; instead use a clean towel to wipe away the sweat.
5. Spend More Time in Bed
Turns out, there really is such a thing as beauty rest. To look your most attractive, the best thing you can do is get a good night’s sleep. That’s according to a study published in the British Medical Journal, which found people were rated better-looking when they had received a full night’s sleep. Observers also ranked sleep-deprived volunteers as being less healthy and more tired looking. According to the study’s authors, people are programmed to pick up on exhaustion and may be less attracted to it, because of the health problems and lower life expectancy associated with long-term sleep deprivation. Besides being bad for your appearance, lack of sleep has been linked to a higher risk of hypertension, weight gain, diabetes and heart disease. Set aside plenty of time each night for rest. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, talk to your family doctor. Learn how to improve your sleep -- starting this week!
6. Practice Self-Acceptance
Dieting to feel better about yourself? It’s no secret that many of us turn to dieting out of dissatisfaction with how we look. But research in the Journal of Counseling Psychology shows that women who felt comfortable with their body image had a slightly lower body mass index (BMI) and were less likely to be emotional eaters. These women were more likely to be “intuitive” eaters, that is to say that they ate when hungry and stopped when they felt full. Ditch the crash diets and focus on self-acceptance. Women who accept how they look are more likely to eat healthfully than those with a poor body image. What’s more, a study at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health found that body image is a greater predictor of mental and physical health than one’s BMI. In other words, your view of your body has a bigger impact than your actual weight on your health. To improve your self-image, get moving. Physical activity can make you feel better about how you look and build self-esteem.
7. Sip on Tea
Worried about bad breath? Sip on a cup of tea. Bad breath, or halitosis, occurs when oral bacteria produce foul-smelling sulfur compounds that stink up the mouth. Chemicals in green, black, oolong and white tea called polyphenols help prevent the bacteria responsible for bad breath and, at the same time, keep existing bacteria from making the offensive sulfur mixture. If you’re concerned about getting the most polyphenols per cup, white tea generally has the most, followed by green, oolong and black. However, studies on halitosis and tea show that black tea, which has the fewest polyphenols, is still effective in reducing bad breath. So drink whichever flavor suits you best.
8. Eat Lycopene-Rich Produce
Reduce redness on your face by adding it to your plate. A daily dose of tomato sauce could help your skin stay sunburn-free. Those brown blotches popping up on your face may be called age spots, but they have less to do with how many years you’ve spent on this earth than the hours of sun damage you’ve acquired. In addition to wearing sunscreen every time you go outside, you can crank up your skin’s natural SPF by eating tomatoes and other lycopene-rich produce. Lycopene is a type of antioxidant found in red and pink produce, like watermelon, pink grapefruit, red peppers and tomatoes. A small study in the Journal of Nutrition found that eating two and a half tablespoons of tomato paste with about two-thirds of a tablespoon of olive oil each day for 10 weeks reduced sunburns by 40 percent. The best sources of lycopene are cooked tomato products like tomato soup, paste, sauce and juice. Adding a splash of olive oil or other dietary fat, like avocado or nuts, also helps the body absorb more of the nutrient.