Discover Your Inner Beauty

Regardless of where you live, big city or rural community, or your occupation, CEO or housewife and mother, a positive self-image is essential to attaining personal happiness. Throughout my career as a fashion and fitness model, I have met women from all walks of life and although their age, appearance and financial stature may have varied there was always at least one common denominator. It is a pretty safe bet that if you talk to a woman about her appearance she would tell you something about her body she wishes she could change. When you stop to think about it, it is no wonder why.

First of all, we rely on the media to dictate the standard for what is considered beautiful and desirable and if we fall short of their definition, our self-esteem takes a big hit. Whether you realize it or not, that poor self image is ultimately reflected in other areas of your life, and in the long run becomes an obstacle you must overcome to truly be happy.

It may seem unbelievable to you that people in my industry also fall victim to these unrealistic standards but we do, sometimes even more so than people outside the industry. The competition is fierce and I learned a long time ago that to be truly happy I had to set and live by my own standards. I stopped comparing myself to others and no longer measured my success with someone else’s yardstick. I practiced what worked for me, what was healthy for me and what made me happy instead of falling into the media trap like so many of my friends and colleagues.

Set your own standards by evaluating what’s important to you. I wholly support and encourage women who strive to reach their full potential, but I urge them not to lose sight of who they really are along the way. Instead of struggling to be someone else’s idea of perfection, focus on your individual talents and strengths and work on improving those areas you would like to change and can change. You may have your mother’s thighs and your father’s nose. You may not be 5’10”, reed thin, or born with perfect hair and skin. Still, in no way should that translate to you seeing yourself as anything less than beautiful. It may sound cliché but beauty truly is in the eyes of the beholder, and before others will begin to see you as beautiful, you must see yourself that way.

As a model, you learn this pretty quickly. Rejection is something you must get used to yet still manage to muster the confidence to continue going out on job calls. Rather than giving in to self-doubt as so many often do, I choose to focus on what I to refer to as my “inner beauty”. To help me stay centered, keep things in perspective, and never lose sight of who I really am as a person, I practice yoga and meditation and I continue to work on becoming a more spiritual, loving and accepting person. The first step to discovering your own inner beauty is your acceptance of yourself. Love yourself, flaws and all, and focus on being the best person you can be: confident, strong and happy. Now that’s beautiful!

Diet Tips

Diamonds can move over on the best-friend list. Even Marilyn Monroe lifted weights to stay toned, young looking and sexy. If the truth were told, muscles are a girl’s best friend!

What may have started out, as a boy thing has rapidly become a girl thing? Exercise can help prevent osteoporosis, hypertension, stress related illness and chronic fatigue. It is also a mood-elevator, and while the word is overused, many women feel “empowered” by exercise. With an ever-changing balance of hormones, our bodies often control us, and a regular exercise program puts the control panel back in our hands.

Exercise is important for women of all ages; however, as a woman reaches age 35 or 40 the benefits of weight training increase dramatically. During your younger years, building lean muscle mass (not bulky muscle—there is a difference) helps to keep you thin. That’s because your muscles burn off the majority of your calories. Each pound of muscle on your body burns about 50 calories a day (even if you’re just talking on the phone) compared to only 2 calories per day per pound of fat. The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn, even when you’re asleep.

Problems arise at about age 35 when you start losing muscle every day. That’s why it’s so easy to put on weight: less muscle means fewer calories burned. The only way to reverse this loss is with strength training. Weight training gives your body a bigger calorie-burning furnace—it also gives you a better-looking body.

Still, you have to train properly. And women need to train differently than men, using special programs according to age. A good health club and a good personal trainer are the best ways to begin weight training. There are also plenty of good videos to show you how to weight train at home with just a small investment in dumbbells. It’s important for you to keep weight training in your regular program, at least twice a week, for your entire life. This will help maintain lean muscle tissue, keep you stronger and more vigorous, and protect against the bone disease osteoporosis.

Exercise, however, isn’t only about gyms and weights. There are many ways to exercise, and a combination works best. Always be sure your weekly routine includes some cardio, some weight training, some stretching, some mind-body building and some fun.

Staying Healthy For Life

My mother always taught me the importance of being a lady. That meant at an early age I learned appropriate behavior for all types of social settings, including that it was always appropriate to express my appreciation to my host by sending a thank you card. I learned to always respect my elders and treat other people the way I would like to be treated.

These lessons seem very basic, yet I am eternally grateful to my mother for teaching them to me because as I’ve grown up I’ve noticed so many young people lack basic manners. In addition to teaching me good social skills, my mother also showed me the importance of taking care of my body, especially my skin. My mother has the most beautiful skin I’ve ever seen on a woman of her age. She’s passed her secrets on to me and I’d like to pass them along to you so that you may incorporate them into your daily routines. A sense of physical and emotional well being is something we all desire and I believe it is achievable for all of us.

Healthy Inside and Out

Like everyone, I love a good tan but am concerned about sun damage. Thank goodness, there are so many great self-tanners on the market that you really don’t have to spend time in the sun to get great color. When looking for a self-tanner, my advice is to purchase a product that goes on with color so you can see if you’ve missed any spots. I recommend using an exfoliating product in the shower before you apply the self-tanner. You can buy a salt or sugar scrub at any department store, drugstore or even health food store. They make some with great fragrances. Or to save money, mix your own with equal amounts of sea salt and baby oil.

I also use a bristle brush on my skin for increased circulation. This is especially helpful if you sit at a desk all day. You’ll need something to create extra circulation in your hips, thighs and bottom. Make sure you brush your skin in upward motions going toward your heart and keep the brush dry. I like to do this before I get in the shower and exfoliate. Do this and your skin will feel baby soft. After exfoliating, you are ready for the self‐tanner and are just minutes away from a deep, dark tan.

I use a self-tanner twice a week, and to avoid dry skin I always remember to moisturize my body every evening with a creamy lotion rich in emollients like avocado, vitamin E and cocoa butter. Now, let’s talk about your hands and feet. Whether you do them at home or go to a salon, manicures and pedicures are a must! That doesn’t mean just changing the polish. That means smooth cuticles, nails trimmed and filed and your feet always looking sandal-ready. Men love soft, sexy feet. I make sure that I put lotion on my hands and feet every night. In fact, I apply hand lotion every time I wash my hands. Keep a small tube in your purse. This will help keep your hands looking young. Getting your nails and toes done is a great way to pamper yourself.

If you are blessed with perfect teeth, then you should do everything possible to keep your smile beautiful. I make sure that I get my teeth cleaned every six months and I floss daily. There are so many teeth whitening products on the market today in all price ranges, that there really is no excuse for your smile not to be bright. A beautiful smile is something people will always remember about you.

You absolutely must wash your face twice a day with a product appropriate for your skin type and never go to bed with your makeup still on. In the morning after cleansing, I use a moisturizer with a minimum of SPF 15 protection and an eye cream. This will keep your skin hydrated and protected from the sun. In the evening, I prefer a cream cleanser rather than a gel, one that can remove my eye makeup as well. I follow with a non-drying toner. My skin is dry, so I always use a very hydrating night cream along with an eye cream. Bedtime is a great time to pamper your lips because while you’re sleeping, you’re not licking your lips. Keep them soft and kissable by using a lip balm while you sleep to keep them from cracking and looking dry.

Once a month, I get a professional facial. It’s a great way to keep your skin healthy and hydrated. You can also do this for yourself at home.

Makeup Tips

After skincare, the next step to a more beautiful you is makeup. Just like seasons change, so should your makeup. Every season cosmetic companies offer new color palettes to help keep you looking current. Take a trip to your favorite store and have your makeup professionally done. You’ll learn about the latest colors and some fun, new ideas. Makeup should be used to enhance your features. People want to see you, not the makeup. I wear light makeup during the day, maybe some bronzer with a fresh colored blush, some lip-gloss and mascara and I’m out the door. For nighttime, choose between emphasizing your eyes or your mouth—drawing attention to both can be overkill. If you decide that you really want to vamp up your eyes, choose a more neutral tone of lip liner with a neutral gloss. Or try red lips with little or no eyeliner and mascara. Keep your style updated by reading about current trends in magazines.

Another way to keep your look updated is with new hairstyles. I love long hair because I enjoy the versatility and always feel more feminine when my hair is long. But if you are daring, there are some sexy and fun cuts in style that you might prefer. Adding some highlights to your hair is a great way to mix it up. For example, if you have dirty-blonde hair, get some platinum highlights added in. Trust me, it will look great. I am a brunette so I add highlights for richness, like honey and blonde (not too blonde) to my natural color.

If you’re watching your pocketbook like most of us, there are some great ways to save on hair color. Go to the nearest drugstore and pick out a wash-in color treatment. They are quick, easy and not permanent, so you can change them often. Hair color today has so many added conditioners, most are not damaging like they used to be. You really don’t have to spend a fortune to look good. Know what you need and decide what you want to spend your money on each season to keep your makeup and wardrobe updated. Personally, I love accessories.

Shoes, handbags and a great pair of sunglasses won’t put you in the poorhouse and will add to your appearance so you always look smart and stylish. Accessories can make the difference, whether you’re wearing jeans or a summer dress.

You can also find some great values on designer clothes and accessories without breaking the bank by shopping consignment store. Some offer wonderful bargains on brand names you couldn’t otherwise afford. Consignment stores are also a great option for selling clothing and accessories you no longer want to keep.

Diet, exercise, and cosmetics—they all will help. But, let’s not ever forget that nothing takes the place of regular checkups, both dental and medical. I always schedule my annual exams around my birthday. It may sound strange, but it’s an easy way for me to remember and I can enjoy the next year knowing that it’s all behind me. Each one of us has daily rituals we do to help us stay on top of our game. I hope that you will find my tips useful.