New Year, New Exercises!

It’s a new year and, once again, “getting fit” or “staying in shape” is at the top of your resolution list. But if the thought of spending hours on the treadmill or doing a zillion sit-ups leaves you feeling totally unmotivated, you’re in luck.

The latest workout trends will help you avoid the same old routine and have you hitting your goals in no time. Try these suggestions from fitness expert Kim Lyons, former trainer on NBC’s hit show The Biggest Loser and Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Loss Challenge.

Small Group Fitness Classes
Whether it happens in a park, a school gym or a staircase in a hotel, structured classes with a limited size are a hot workout in 2014. The small class size allows instructors to spend more time focusing on each participant to help correct form and maximize outcomes. Plus, classes are a fun way to stay in shape.

“It's a great way to keep each other motivated,” says Lyons. “This is going to be popular because people are supporting each other instead of paying big money to a gym.”

Home Workouts
Between long hours at work and responsibilities at home, finding time to go to a gym or class can be tough. That’s one of the reasons Lyons says that this year, people are going to kick it old school -- by exercising at home. “Jump ropes, medicine balls, kettlebells -- these can all be stored easily in your home and taken with you should you need to travel,” says Lyons. “These exercises are also the most effective when you only have a short amount of time to work out.”

No money for equipment? No problem! Lyons suggests using your own body weight and furniture to make one of the best exercise circuits. “The couch is great for tricep dips and incline pushups, while a chair can be used for one-legged squats,” says Lyons. “There are so many things you can do at home.”

Fusion Classes
If you get easily bored with the same old workouts, mixing it up is the perfect remedy. This year will find exercisers heading to fusion classes that combine different disciplines. The result: an interesting mix of cardio and resistance, training such as Piloxing -- a combo of boxing with Pilates. “The best part -- if you don't like one aspect of the class, you won't be scared away from it because you know it'll change quickly,” adds Lyons. “It's the best of both worlds.”

Functional Training
Instead of hopping on an elliptical machine for 30 minutes or doing a seated bicep curl on a weight-lifting machine, 2014 will be more about exercising using movements that combine functional strength while shaping and training the body for performing life's daily activities with ease. Functional fitness includes exercises such as walking lunges, bicep curls with light weights, and doing half-squats on a BOSU ball to improve balance, coordination, force, power and endurance to make performing daily living activities easy. Many gyms offer functional fitness classes, or look for an independent class near you.

POUND Classes
Zumba is so 2013. This year, the heart-pumping hot trend will have you POUND away the, well, pounds! POUND, the hottest group fitness jam session, is designed to capture the exhilarating feeling of rocking out. It’s the only workout that fuses the most challenging series of core, leg and upper-body conditioning moves with cardio interval training and, most importantly, the fun (and distraction) of drumming. Through continual upper body motion using lightly weighted drumsticks, you'll be a calorie-torching drummer in a beat.

Photo: Corbis Images

Repair Winter Damage -- Fast! -- With These Beauty Tips and Tricks

Winter’s here -- and so are all the beauty challenges it holds. Cold, dry outdoor air and overheated indoor environments make for limp, static-y locks, tight, uncomfortable skin, chapped lips and cracked soles. So not appealing.

The good news? Our beauty tips and tricks will help you repair winter damage fast.

Hair
To fight dry hair and split ends, choose products with rich conditioning ingredients, says board-certified New York City dermatologist Whitney Bowe. “Look for products containing wheat protein, which targets and repairs hair’s most damaged parts without a greasy buildup near the scalp.” The other ingredients you want to see in your shampoo and conditioners? Powerful natural hydrators and masks such as oat protein, dimethicone, macadamia nut seed oil, green tea extract, olive oil, algae extract, shea butter, argan oil, glycerin, wild mango butter and sunflower extract. Cetrimonium chloride also has conditioning and anti-static properties.

Scalp itch and dandruff typically worsen in the winter. “Try using dandruff shampoo,” says Elizabeth Tanzi, a board-certified dermatologist in Washington, DC. “If that still isn’t enough, visit your dermatologist for a scalp solution prescription.”

Face
When skin doesn’t produce enough sebum (or oil), it can get rough, irritated, inflamed, sensitive and flaky -- and wrinkles are more pronounced, explains celebrity aesthetician Renée Rouleau. Winter’s dry air steals even more moisture from your face.

To avoid damage, don’t use harsh scrubs. Wash your face with lukewarm or cool water and a low-lather, creamy cleanser containing soothing ingredients like green tea, aloe vera extract or chamomile. Apply a hydrating serum with marine extract, vitamins C and A, azulene, hyaluronic acid and lipids; then follow up with a good moisturizer containing flower and nut extracts (rose hips, lavender, geranium, macadamia, grape seed), dimethicone and glycolic acid. At night, adds Rouleau, use a humidifier in your room to rehydrate your skin.

Soft, smooth skin comes from the inside as well. Eat plenty of cold-water fish such as tuna, sardines, cod, mackerel, herring and trout, which have the essential fats your skin needs. And remember to drink plenty of water.

Lips
Rule number one: Don’t lick them! Wear lip balm with dimethicone and petroleum, and reapply often.

Body
To relieve dry skin and eczema, Tanzi recommends taking only one bath or shower daily and using a moisturizing body wash with lavender or oatmeal. As soon as you get out of the tub, treat your whole body to a thick lotion or cream with shea or cocoa butter, sesame oil, petroleum and ceramides to lock in hydration.

Elbows and Heels
Exfoliate rough patches with urea-rich healing creams, applied every night. “Then use a pumice stone or washcloth to gently remove the dead skin, and follow up with a ceramide moisturizer in the morning,” says Tanzi.

Feet
Try this bedtime foot treatment from Stafford R. Broumand, a board-certified Manhattan plastic surgeon: Apply a thick layer of plain petroleum jelly all over your feet, and cover them with cotton socks. “When you wake up and remove the socks in the morning,” he says, “your feet will be soft and smooth.”

Hands
All the soap and sanitizers you use to prevent colds can also dry out your hands and nails. Instead, “use a gentle cleanser to wash,” says Tanzi, “and before bed, smear on petroleum jelly or a thick hand cream [honey and shea butter are excellent ingredients], and cover up with cotton gloves overnight.”

For ragged cuticles, apply cuticle oil before the hand cream; you want one containing vitamin E, shea butter and oils such as jojoba, argan and sweet almond. Then follow Bowe’s example and keep a tube of soothing hand lotion by the bathroom and kitchen sink so you can apply a dollop every time you wash your hands.

Photo: Corbis Images

Secrets to Sneaking in More Sleep

These days, more and more people are sleeping fewer and fewer hours. But we don’t need to tell you that. Keeping up with your kids, household and the rest of your life has likely made you a living, breathing -- and exhausted -- example of today’s sleep-deprived woman.

But a sleep deficit can be a lot more problematic than just making you feel tired. It can also negatively impact your health. Studies have shown that people who don’t get enough quality sleep are more likely to be overweight, because the body may create less leptin, a hormone that regulates appetite. Sleep deprivation can also increase levels of C-reactive protein, a substance that puts you at a greater risk for inflammation that leads to heart disease. What’s more, shaving off hours from your rest can leave you feeling extra stressed and make your skin duller and more tired-looking. (Skin goes to work shedding dead cells and repairing itself while you snooze.)

To avoid the pitfalls, most adults need seven or eight hours, says Phyllis Zee, M.D., director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Not hitting the magic number? Here are some innovative ways to squeeze in an extra 30 to 60 minutes of sleep each day.

1. Ban the snooze button
Even if it doesn’t feel like it, you’re actually more awake the first time your eyes open than after a string of 10 snooze naps. “Continuing to fall back asleep after each alarm buzz makes you feel groggier in the end,” says Dr. Zee. So either set your alarm for the time you must wake up or get up on the first buzz and save those snooze minutes for an early-afternoon nap.

2. Become a champion multitasker
You’ve already mastered the art of doing two things at once (sometimes more!), so these ideas should be a breeze. Count the extra minutes you save throughout the day and go to bed that much earlier.

  • Drive and talk Get a hands-free device for your cell phone and catch up with your friends on your way home from work instead of after dinner. 
  • Email anywhere Don’t have a BlackBerry or iPhone? Think about getting one. You may cluck at those people constantly glued to their mini-screens, but the occasional check-in while waiting for soccer practice to end, for example, lets you stay on top of your inbox and Facebook account. Doing this means less time getting bleary-eyed at the computer and more time getting shut-eye.
  • Have a working lunch Instead of going out with co-workers, pack a lunch once or twice a week and pay bills or tackle your online to-do list during the noon hour.
  • Plot a course Think about all your errands and ask yourself if there’s a way to spend less time behind the wheel. For example, can you use the grocery store’s pharmacy instead of the one a mile away? Is your current dry cleaner really better than the one next to your son’s school? Make all your stops as convenient and as close as possible.

3. Limit caffeine after 4 p.m.
You need that cup of coffee or tea in the morning, but think twice before making a Starbucks run or downing a Diet Coke in the afternoon. Depending on how much caffeine is in that venti latte, it could take 24 hours for it to flush out of your system. That means you could still feel the perky effects of your pick-me-up at, say, 10 p.m., and instead of winding down, you’d be gearing up to start the next item on your to-do list.

4. Nap the right way
Four to 7 p.m. is the nap danger zone -- when you feel most sleepy but also when you should most avoid dozing off. Why? Snoozing in the late afternoon or early evening can keep you awake later at night, says Dr. Zee. If you can, nap only between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. and limit actual sleep time to 15 minutes, she suggests. That’s all you really need to feel invigorated, she says. Nap any longer, and you could feel groggy.

5. Make the most of your evenings
Try to prepare for the next day’s activities on the night before. You’ll be able to sleep in a bit longer and rest easier knowing things are in order and ready to go.

  • Prep while you cook Make tomorrow’s lunches while waiting for the pasta to boil or the casserole to bake, or while cleaning up leftovers. Food and condiments are already out, saving you a few minutes in the end.
  • Ditch the blow-dryer Shower and shampoo hair at night and let it dry while you sleep. Better yet, only wash it every few days. A spritz or sprinkle of dry shampoo soaks up oil and revives your style.
  • Set it and forget it Pick out everything you need for tomorrow’s outfit the night before, including shoes and accessories. Double-check that all your essentials -- wallet, keys, letters for the post office -- are in your handbag and place it by the door. Also, keep your daily skin care and makeup products out and ready so you don’t waste time rifling through a bag full of stuff you never use.

6. Establish a bedtime
What time must you wake up to get the kids to school on time and yourself to the office? Now work backward seven or eight hours to figure out when you must hit the hay to get a full night’s sleep. About an hour or two before, take a warm shower or bath, then put on socks to keep your feet warm. Warming up and then keeping your feet toasty allows your core body temperature to fall slightly, helping you relax and fall asleep easier, says Dr. Zee. The scheduled downtime also prevents you from losing track of time while reading, watching the evening news or surfing Facebook.

Photo: Corbis Images

Products You Shouldn’t Share with Him

Admit it: In a pinch, you’ve borrowed your husband’s razor -- and you suspect he’s dipped into your moisturizer on occasion. But all grooming products aren’t created equal! Here are six grooming items men and women shouldn’t share -- and why:

Razors

“Sharing razors can be really bad news,” says Debra Jaliman, M.D., New York dermatologist and author of Skin Rules. “Men’s double blades tackle coarse beards and sideburns -- and exfoliate skin. Women’s single blades protect self-tanners and thinner skin. Use his and you can cut yourself, exchanging blood or inflaming hair follicles.”

In fact, it’s a bad idea to share any grooming tool, from hairbrushes to pumice stones (they can spread the virus that causes warts) to skin-cleansing machines. Keep your items separate and clean them regularly.

Another unintended side effect: Borrowing your husband’s tweezers or razor can also cause stress in your relationship. “We men become very territorial,” warns Matt Fugate, hair stylist at New York’s Sally Hershberger Downtown. “We have so few tools of our own!”

Shampoos and Conditioners

Women and men have different hair habits, and their shampoos reflect this. Men often prefer all-in-one shampoos and combination body-face washes for their thicker hair and skin, while women use separate products for every part of their body.

Hair cleansers for men and women also reflect their individual needs. Men’s shampoos contain ingredients such as mint and tea tree oil that stimulate hair follicles. “Men want that fresh, tingly feeling after a long workout, whereas women want hair soft and smooth,” Fugate says. In contrast, “Women’s hair takes a beating from styling products, hair dyes, blow-dryers and curling irons,” says Jaliman. “We need moisturizing and color-protective shampoos and conditioners.  Use your man’s and you may strip color and dry out hair.”

Finally, if your hair texture is different from his -- which often happens with couples -- sharing shampoos can leave you both looking less than your best. The volumizing formula you use on your fine hair can make a mess of your man’s dense ’do. “The last thing thick, coarse hair needs is more volume,” says Philip B, creator of Philip B Botanicals hair care. “And if you use the rich conditioner that tames his wild hair, your fine tresses would end up glued to your head.”

Skin Creams

Dabbing on his moisturizer or skin lotion can be worse than using no cream at all. “Men need harsher products because their skin is thicker and oilier,” says Aliesh D. Pierce, a makeup expert for Cloutier Remix Agency. “Those can irritate [women’s] dryer, thinner skin that’s been sensitized from exposure to so many products. Our richer creams clog men’s pores.”

The other problem with sharing lotions is the “ick” factor. Because some products are made without preservatives, bacteria can grow in the jar when you and he dip your fingers inside. Even for your own lotion, if it’s in a jar, use a mini-wand for application, and clean or replace it often.

Hair Color Kits

Color is color, right? Wrong!  Guys’ dyes are made to penetrate and stick to their thick, short hair, and they lack the ingredients that add shine and subtle tones. “That dye is too strong and drab for women’s longer hair,” says Fugate. So when your roots start showing, buy a color treatment kit made for you rather than reaching for his touch-up.

Flat Irons and Styling Products

The two-inch-wide irons that women use for a smooth style are the wrong width for a man’s shorter hair. “Guys burn their fingers and hair trying to spike up their crowns,” says Fugate. And using your husband’s hair gel may leave you with helmet head. “Women like their hair to move -- and don’t mind spritzing and styling midday. Men prefer firmer gels, waxes and pomades for all-day hold.”

Deodorant

Let’s face it: Men sweat and stink more than women do, so they need a heavier deodorant. “[Men’s] antiperspirants have more active ingredients to fight stronger odors. This can be harsh on women’s skin,” Jaliman says. “Plus, you risk germ-spreading.”

Philip B adds that some women use their husbands’ deodorant just because it smells good. “Fragrance can be a nice thing to share -- not a lot of couples have a signature scent.” So if you’re fond of his ocean-breeze or piney brand, look for a women’s deodorant or perfume that matches the scent.

Photo: Corbis Images

Quick Dinners Everyone Will Love

It’s hard enough to find nutritious meals that satisfy everyone’s taste buds at suppertime -- and during the holiday season, busy schedules make it an even bigger challenge. Fortunately, a delicious and healthy dinner doesn’t have to take hours or tons of ingredients. These two main-dish recipes take less than an hour from start to finish. Add a side salad or your favorite mixed vegetables, and watch everyone dig in!

Salmon with Mango-Pineapple Salsa

Makes 4 servings

 

4 salmon fillets, about 1-1½ pounds total

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

¼ fresh pineapple (or about 1 cup canned), diced

1 fresh mango (or about 1 cup canned), diced

1 tablespoon cilantro, minced

½ jalapeno, minced (or to taste)

2 scallions, finely chopped

Juice of ½ lime, or to taste

           

1.    Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the salmon on the pan, rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until just cooked through, 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.

2.    For the salsa: In a medium bowl, mix together the pineapple, mango, cilantro, jalapeno, scallions, lime juice, and some additional salt and pepper. Taste and add more lime, salt, and/or pepper if desired.

3.   Place the salmon on a serving platter or individual plates. Top with the salsa.

Peachy Pork Chops

Makes 4 servings

 

1½ teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

4 bone-in pork loin chops, ½-inch thick

Juice of one lime

2-3 tablespoons peach preserves

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro and/or mint

1.    In a small bowl stir together the cumin, salt and pepper. Rub the mixture over both sides of each of the pork chops.

2.    In another small bowl, stir together the lime juice, peach preserves and cilantro or mint. The consistency should be thick enough to glaze the chops, so adjust the amount of peach preserves depending on how much juice your lime gives.

3.    Preheat a sauté pan or oven grill pan to medium-high. Grill the chops for four minutes on each side. Brush the chops with the glaze, flip, and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Brush the chops with glaze again, flip, and cook for 30 more seconds.