‘PEOPLE often say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing you are the beholder.”—Hollywood actress Salma Hayek
“A thing of beauty,” John Keats said, “is a joy forever.”
That’s why so many people wanted to be beautiful. But on second thought, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So, how do you keep yourself beautiful?
“For beauty, get enough sleep,” declares American model Hilary Rhoda. “That’s the most important thing. I like to go to bed early, so I average about seven hours a night. For fitness, I work out every day. I think that’s also good for your balance and your mind.”
To Japanese model and actress Tao Okamoto, sleep is also necessary. “Sleep well,” she admits. “I’d love to sleep for eight or nine hours if I could, but in reality I get six or seven. I don’t work out, but I started tap-dancing recently. That’s something where I can enjoy it and it’s still working out at the same time. I do it maybe once a month.”
William Shakespeare wrote a long, long time ago: “Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care, the death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath; balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, chief nourishes in life’s feast.”
The editors of Super Life, Super Health wrote: “The secret of staying young could simply be a good night’s sleep. Sleep rejuvenates and revitalizes your body. Human growth hormone [HGH] is produced only during deep sleep. The amount of deep sleep you get, and the amount of growth hormone you make, decreases with age.”
But what happens when we sleep? Sleep is not merely a “time out” from our busy routines; it is essential for good health, mental and emotional functioning, and safety. For instance, researchers have found that people with chronic insomnia are more likely than others to develop several kinds of psychiatric problems, and are also likely to make greater use of health-care services. People suffering fromsleep apnea are likely to have higher blood pressure while they sleep and suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness.
So, how much sleep do we need? “The amount of sleep each person needs depends on many factors, including age,” the US National Sleep Foundation says. Infants generally require about 16 hours a day, while teenagers need about nine hours on average.
For most adults, seven to eight hours a night appears to be the best amount of sleep, although some people may need as few as five hours or as many as 10 hours of sleep each day. Women in the first three months of pregnancy often need several more hours of sleep than usual. The amount of sleep a person needs also increases if he or she has been deprived of sleep in previous days.
The two beautiful models also suggest taking a regular exercise. It’s not only for being beautiful but also for health’s sake. When you don’t exercise, you gain weight. Excess weight greatly increases the risk of cancer, diabetes and hypertension. A person who is 20 pounds over his/her ideal weight is 50 percent more likely to develop heart disease—and the risk increases as weight increases.
So, you need to shed those extra pounds by doing regular exercise. People who engage in moderate exercise at least three to five times a week can reduce their blood pressure by an average of 10 points and dramatically lower their risk of diabetes. A study at the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas, Texas, showed that men who ran, walked briskly, swam, jogged, or played tennis lowered their risks of dying early by 64 percent.
For lowering blood pressure, walking—and not running—may be the better form of exercise. American President Harry S. Truman took walking briskly until the ripe old age of 88. Astronaut John Glenn credited his celebrated return to orbit at age 77 to his 2-mile daily power walk.
Here’s a tip from Puerto Rican model Joan Smalls: “For fitness, mix it up and always remain active. I mix boxing with cardio and Pilates. If I’m not busy or working, I’ll work out every day. If I am busy, I’ll try to at least sneak in 30 minutes or try to work out every other day.”
You may not believe it but another form of exercise is sex. Yes, you read it right! But can sex make a woman more beautiful? It sounds far-fetched, but Dr. Eric Braverman, founder of PATH Medical Center in New York City, says having sex releases a key compound in the body that is good for all kinds of things—including improving your complexion. During sex, your body produces a hormone called DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone). “It can boost the immune system, give you healthier skin and even decrease depression,” he says.
But exercise is not enough. There are other things you must do: Eat most meals at home (restaurant food tends to be higher in calories). Drink water instead of soda (the sugar in soft drinks is a main contributor to weight gain—and artificial sweeteners have not been proven safe). Don’t eat in front of the television (studies show that people who engage in “mindless” eating take in far more calories).
Eating three portions of yellow fruit and vegetables every day can make you more attractive. That’s according to a study done by the University of St. Andrews, which revealed it took just six weeks for women to notice their skin was firmer and had a glow.
Eating the right kind of food does not only make you beautiful; it also lengthens your life. Studies show that eating 1-quarter cup of nuts five times a week can add two-and-a-half years to your life. Fruits and vegetables lengthen your life by two to four years. People who increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables from two to five servings a day can reduce by half their risk of many cancers—including pancreatic, colorectal and endometrial cancers.
For every 10 grams of fiber you consume per day, your risk of heart attack goes down by 14 percent and risk of death from heart disease drops by 27 perent. People who eat as little as two servings of fiber-rich whole grains daily can reduce their risk of stroke by 36 percent. Fiber-rich foods, which can also reduce colon cancer risk, lengthen life by two to four years.
To end this piece, the words of Margaret Cho come handy: “I am so beautiful, sometimes people weep when they see me. And it has nothing to do with what I look like really, it is just that I gave myself the power to say that I am beautiful, and if I could do that, maybe there is hope for them, too. And the great divide between the beautiful and the ugly will cease to be. Because we are all what we choose.”