Fess up ladies, how many of you wear makeup to workout? You know that it’s not the greatest idea to wear makeup during rigorous exercise, but you do it anyway. Maybe you just want to look picture perfect while you exercise. But hey, we’re not here to judge. You would probably agree that if you have perfect skin, there would be no need to suffocate the skin while exercising.
Yet skincare for active women to look their best is a hardly touched on topic in the running world. Nonetheless, the Body and Mind Workshop has done a great job in educating women on taking care of their mind and body.
On Saturday, the Body & Mind Workshop 4, one of the workshops under Great Eastern Women’s Run 2012 Fringe Activities, invited Ms Nora Tien, a trainer from Fusion Cosmetics to impart her skincare expertise to the ladies.
While the first segment covered skincare and looking good, the second segment dealt with the inner being- the benefits of exercising and tips to deal with the challenges of keeping a disciplined fitness routine.
Ms Catherine Chan, a full-time mother of 2, and Ms Vikki Jonied, a working mother of 3, shared how important exercise was to them and encouraged us to actively make disciplined choices.
Learning about our skin
Enthusiastic applause greeted the youthful-looking Ms Nora Tien who credited her appearance to dedicated skincare and the goodness of natural products that Fusion Cosmetics represent.
Nora introduced some interesting facts about the skin, that it was the largest organ in the body, and weighs about 8% of our body mass! Also, despite the many layers within the skin, its total thickness is about +/- 2mm.
Multiple functions of the skin
Each cm2 of skin contains 10 hairs, 3 blood vessels, 12 nerves, 15 sebaceous glands, 100 sweat glands and 3 million cells, and each of these serve a different function.
The interesting point she raised was that exercising helps us to secrete sebum (sweat) as a protective layer that acts as a natural moisturiser. That certainly is an additional motivation to run- knowing that not only do you sweat toxins out, you are giving natural protection to your skin.
The importance of skincare
Nora stressed the importance of hydration, sunblock and exfoliation, saying that if even children can have lines on their skin if they are frequently dehydrated, all the more reason we should be ensuring that we are hydrated with water and with moisturiser.
Interestingly, she used the example of two cups of water: one with a layer of oil and one without. Left overnight, the cup with a layer of oil over it has retained more water than the one without. That’s what moisturiser does for our skin when it acts as a protective oil barrier to keep moisture in.
The reason for her emphasis is that pigmentation is commonly misunderstood to be the result of a lack of sunblock, but it is actually caused by dehydration.
How pigmentation comes about
With the example of an apple, we were able to understand her explanation. Because hydration acts as a covering for the skin, preventing it from oxidising and turning brown by allowing melanin to come to the surface.
We all know what happens when an apple is cut into slices. The exposed apple flesh will turn brown in time. The longer you leave it exposed to air, it will get browner and deeper down the levels. But if you keep the apple submerged in water, it will remain yellow.
Seeing that playing sports keeps us out in the sun a lot that stimulates melanin production, it is extremely important to keep hydrated to prevent pigmentation.
Different skin types
Nora also gave a very elaborate and technical explanation of the layers within our skin before explaining and asking the audience to identify their skin type. Though too much information to relate here, you can click the links for two informative articles (skin layers and skin types).
One of the skin types not mentioned in the article is Aging skin, which Nora explained through a breakdown of ages.
25 years old
Collagen production by the body starts to slow and environmental factors such as the sun, smoking, and pollution will begin to show its effects.
35 years old
The first visible wrinkles will begin to appear on the forehead and sides of eyes. Nora’s tip is to massage and tap your face each time you find yourself frowning to reduce onset of wrinkles, as repeated muscle contraction causes loose skin and causes the skin surface to form wrinkles.
45 – 50 years old
Depending on the onset of menopause which causes a drop in oestrogen levels, there will be a severe reduction of collagen and elastin and skin will droop if not taken care of.
She then ended her talk by demonstrating how to use dry oil for face, body and hair and passed around a bottle, which saw enthusiastic ladies smoothing their hair and slathering their arms with nods of approval.
Guests were invited for a comprehensive beauty analysis at the booth outside during the break time before the next segment.
The demands of being a woman
Coincidentally, both Catherine and Vikki opened their separate talks by discussing the various roles demanded of a woman.
There were laughs as the list compiled by Vikki and added to on the spot was rolled out: a daughter, wife, mother, friend, teacher, provisions shopper, launderer, cook, nurse, counselor, events coordinator, financial controller, chauffeur and even gardener!
Indeed we unconsciously play so many roles daily, and this isn’t even considering the professions that working mothers hold as well.
Catherine urged mothers to not put themselves last even though holding so many roles, and reminded them that it is okay to take an hour a day for yourself to go for a run or head to the gym without feeling guilty about leaving your kids in the care of someone else.
Exercising helps you cope with life
Catherine spoke of the mind and body connection that is the correlation of our thoughts, emotions and beliefs and how they can play a role in the evolution of painful symptoms and disease in the body.
The link between mind and body is the key to maintaining good health.
She used tension headaches suffered by stressed people as an example, testifying that she used to suffer from it, but not anymore as exercising helps her destress.
Vikki too, mentioned how running helps in stress management, for concentrating on body movements and breathing patterns helps her to calm down and take her mind off things.
Sometimes, she is even able to solve problems while running!
“When stress makes you feel like everything is out of control, running empowers you to feel like you’re in control again” - Vikki.
Overcoming a lack of discipline through conscious living
Catherine brought up unconscious living as a reason behind why there is a disconnection between our desire to be healthy and take good care of our bodies and acting on that desire.
When you live unconsciously, you make decisions without conscious effort, from choosing what to have for lunch, to how to spend the weekend and even that one hour.
‘Unless you think about your choice, you will not reap the maximum benefits of each decision,' - Catherine
Each hour is precious and can never be gotten back, so why not spend the hour, that most spend watching television aimlessly or surfing the Internet, out exercising and working towards better health and fitness?
As a healthy diet is crucial to weight loss and better health, Catherine highlighted that unconscious food choices more often than not leads to regret if you choose something that doesn’t help your fitness goal. That is why we need to consider our goal and plan accordingly from workout to our meals. Guys, this is for you too.
Catherine’s ideal meal is a plate that is half vegetables, a quarter protein and a quarter carbohydrates.
Find your motivation and stick to it
For some people, looking good may be their motivation. If so, hang a piece of clothing in a smaller size behind your door to remind you each day of what your goal is.
For others, visual quotes may be their motivation. Get a corkboard and pin up inspirational figures and words.
Catherine shared that her motivation was to continually be stronger and fitter, which she is, more than ever before. And that keeps her going.
“I don’t think that anybody ever regrets exercising.” - Catherine.
Setting realistic goals
The ‘yo-yo effect’ that Catherine shared as her personal struggle is probably one that many of us can identify with as we go through different periods of enthusiasm and laziness.
She would lose weight, then gain it and be depressed for all the weight gained. The cycle would continue.
It seems that the failure that comes with fallen discipline must be overcome, or else we could be stuck in a rut indefinitely or succumb to a vicious cycle.
Sometimes these failings can come about from setting unrealistic goals of weight loss within a certain time, or unrealistic race timings to achieve.
We need to know ourselves, and love ourselves by being okay with our timings and motivate ourselves to slowly get faster and faster. With realistic goals, you will feel better when you meet it rather than failing it.
“(Running) is something we can do by ourselves and under our own power. We can go in any direction, fast or slow as we want, fighting the wind if we feel like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of our feet and the courage of our lungs.”
Vikki flashed this quote at the end of her talk, while Catherine flashed her favourite inspirational visuals.
Each lady running the race in 1 week certainly left the room with new information and new energy.
Even I, not a race participant, felt so spurred to run!