We asked the pros about the weight loss cheats you can employ to give your goals a boost in the right direction...
While eating well is imperative to any weight loss regime, we wondered if there were any ‘weight loss cheats’ that we can employ when, say, the lure of the cookie jar proves too hard to resist? (We are human after all).
The good news is after speaking to four of our in-the-know Get The Gloss Experts , there are. From clever contouring hacks to hairstyles to avoid, ways to manage stress to tips on how to get a good night’s sleep, their words of wisdom prove there’s certainly more to losing weight than just what's on your plate...
1. Manage your cortisol
This top tip comes from personal trainer Christina Howells. "Persistent elevated cortisol can be detrimental to weight loss and weight maintenance regardless of your food intake - in fact extreme dieting and over-training can both raise cortisol levels due to the increased stress they place on the body. If you suffer from stress, exhaustion or mood disorders such as depression you are likely to be cranking up your cortisol levels, which in turn for many stimulates appetite and food cravings.
"Short circuit your stress reaction by making yourself a priority and building in daily battery recharge, doing things that you can to allow yourself to just be. This may be yoga, journaling, mindful walking, a nap and so on. If you need some help with this I recently discovered the Daily Greatness Journal , £39.95 which has helped me to recognise how to take care of me more."
2. Don’t skimp on sleep
"When we don’t get enough sleep, leptin - the hormone that controls satiety - decreases, while ghrelin - the hormone that controls food cravings - increases," says Christina. "So your brain tells you that you are hungry even when you don’t need food. The decrease in leptin and increase in ghrelin can result in constant feelings of hunger."
Manage your sleep by developing good sleep habits:
- Maintain a regular bed hour;
- Avoid caffeine from mid-afternoon;
- Keep the laptop and work out of the bedroom;
- Try to finish meals 2 hours before bed, as with exercise.
3. Contour like a pro
Makeup artist Ruby Hammer believes in tricking the eye with a little artistry. "My tips are an extension of contouring : giving yourself more chiselled cheekbones narrows the face and slims it down, as it does with your jawline too.
"Apply your blusher in a more diagonal shape - upwards to look more sophisticated and graphic, rather than on the apple of the cheeks which looks softer and more rotund."
Get The Gloss loves: We’d recommend trying NARS Blush , £24 for a pop of pigment that’s easy to blend and adds a natural, healthy looking flush to cheeks. Just veer away from anything too baby pink in colour though, warns Ruby.
4. Eyebrow know-how
"Angled eyebrows give a sharper look to the face, particularly when coupled with a darkened crease in the upper eyelids to lift and shape the face," advises Ruby. "My top picks would be Hourglass Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil , £29 and Urban Decay The Basics Naked 2 Palette , £39.50 using the eyeshadow colours Cover or Primal."
5. Avoid a fringe
Craig Taylor, Creative Director for Hari’s advises against the chop. "Fringes always make a face look wider and shorter, and that creates a roundness. Fringes are always best suited to someone with a long, slim face. If you need to soften the forehead, it is best to have the look of a grown out fringe and cut the shortest length at cheekbone length. The extra length will stop the shortening of the face. Wearing the parting just off centre to sweep across helps give some hair to the area without giving further width to the face.
"If having a haircut makes the layers and shaping around the face shortest at the point of the chin, this will stop creating more width and hair volume at the widest part of the face."
6. Reach new heights
"Try creating more height when styling for proportion of width and height around the face," says Craig. "Styling using velcro rollers or a little backcombing can help you achieve the height, or a good volumising product to the top area or even a little dry shampoo can provide the body required for height. Do not give too much volume to the sides of your hair as this will give further width to face shape."
7. The power of your parting
"Keeping partings just off centre stops the hair looking too symmetrical, which can draw attention to a wider face," recommends Craig. "It is best not to have a side parting too far to a side either. Just off centre creates a slight off balance for distraction of symmetry and can look softer and give the illusion of height."
8. Channel your inner Yogi
If stress is a surefire way for inducing an unhelpful episode of emotional eating for you, try meditation and yoga expert Chris James' recommendations of four yoga postures and exercises that will assist in relieving tension, reducing cortisol levels and curbing your cravings.
Corpse Pose (Savasana):
"Ask any Yogi in the Himalaya what the two most important Asanas in Hatha Yoga are (that’s basically all forms of yoga in the west); they’ll say Tadasana (mountain pose) and Savasana (corpse pose). Savasana has some great cortisol-vanquishing qualities," says Chris.
At the end of your yoga practice - or anytime you're feeling overwhelmed - try lying down flat on your back, with your arms at your sides and simply focusing on the breath for one to 10 minutes.
Make sure your feet are hip distance apart, eyes closed. Scanning the body for tension and then releasing tension systematically.
Corpse is the ultimate in terms of relaxation - it really allows the body to sink down into the ground, and it's easier to tune into the breath when you're lying on the back and watching the belly rise up and down.
Another asana great for relieving tension is the Forward Bend.
"Forward bends are excellent for calming our nervous systems. These postures provide a release of the upper body and soothe the mind through gentle inversion either when practiced on its own or between poses.
"In forward bends, the abdominal organs are compressed. This has a unique effect on the nervous system: as these organs relax, the flow of blood to the entire brain is regulated. The sympathetic nervous system is rested, bringing down the pulse rate and blood pressure. Stress is removed from the organs of perception and the senses relax. The adrenal glands are also soothed and function more efficiently. Since the body is in a horizontal position in Forward Bends, the heart is relieved of the strain of pumping blood against gravity and blood circulates through all parts of the body easily. Forward bends also strengthen the Para spinal muscles, intervertebral joint and ligaments."
How to do it:
- Sit on the floor with your buttocks supported on a folded blanket and your legs straight in front of you. Turn the top thighs in slightly and press them down into the floor. Press through your palms or fingertips on the floor beside your hips and lift the top of the sternum toward the ceiling as the top thighs descend.
- Inhale and keeping the front torso long, lean forward from the hip joints, not the waist.
- When you are ready to go further, don't forcefully pull yourself into the forward bend. Always lengthen the front torso into the pose, keeping your head raised. If you are holding the feet, bend the elbows out to the sides and lift them away from the floor.
- Stay in the pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes. To come up, first lift the torso away from the thighs and straighten the elbows again if they are bent. Then inhale and lift the torso up by pulling the tailbone down and into the pelvis.
Beginner's tip: never force yourself into a forward bend, especially when sitting on the floor. Often, because of tightness in the backs of the legs, a beginner's forward bend doesn't go very far forward and might look more like sitting up straight. Be patient!
Pranayama breathing practice:
Sit on the end of your chair. Wait for the natural breath to settle. Do not try to do anything.
Having allowed the natural breath to settle, count the number of seconds on the inhalation and the number of seconds on the exhalation. Take a mental note and remember your breath ratio. For example, you may be breathing in on 3 seconds and exhaling on 3 seconds.
Place hands on belly. Middle fingers touch at navel, heels of hands on side of tummy. Note how on the inhalation, as the tummy expands the middle fingers part from each other and on the exhalation the middle fingers come back towards each other.
Gently lengthen your exhalation by a second or two (do not go beyond your comfort zone) for 5 minutes.
Rest your hands on your knees and observe the effect on the body and mind.
Extending the length of the exhalation engages the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system or R+R response (rest + relaxation response).
Evening quietening breath: three-part breath and full complete breath
To be done each day while sitting in a comfortable cross-legged or kneeling position. If sitting, place a block or book under the backside - half on and half off the block. If sitting is difficult, you can practice the following technique at the edge of a chair with your back straight.
Sectional breathing – each day work through all sections.
Allow the natural breath to settle and:
a) Visualise the air flowing into the abdomen x12
b) Visualise the air flowing into the ribs x12
c) Into the top lobes of the lungs x12
d) Complete this Hatha Yoga Breath x12.
(Alternate the method of filling and emptying the lungs – whichever feels more comfortable for you).